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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Learn to Hyperlink Like a Pro!


Most of the time I write about different tools that teachers can use in their work for and about education, but sometimes one needs to stop, look around and see if there are some basics that people seem to have bypassed without realizing their importance. In a course I am co-presenting, I noticed that many of the participants are not using hyperlinks, and when they do, they just stick the entire endless URL in and let that hyperlink automatically. 

So I'm taking a step back, to help some of you jump ten steps forward.

The URL (internet address of a webpage) is long and complicated. I can remember when the Internet first came into my life, you used to have to go to the browser window and type in the whole interminable thing (MAN am I dating myself now! ;-) Even though on most digital platforms where you stick a URL (a website, an email, a wordfile, a Googledoc, etc) the gobbledygook URL automatically turns it into a live hyperlink (it gets underlined and turns blue without you having to worry your little head about it) but still ...it looks... how shall I put it...? Awkward.

In order to prevent this, there are three things you can do.

1) You can add a hyperlink to a word, phrase or object (ex. picture/graphic) which, when clicked on, will take you to another website.

2) You can make a long URL shorter. You would want to do this for digital products that are going to be printed out, or presented via an online  platform where hyperlinks are not live and clickable, or if you want to project something for an audience, so that they can go into a website (like with the new Q&A tool for Googlesides that I wrote about in my previous blog). 

3) For when you need to kill off a few trees and print material out hardcopy,  or project it on a screen because you want an audience to go into a website, you can also turn the URL into a barcode. Barcodes are fun, and get people using barcode scanners. I did that - and wrote about it - in an activity last year, although that blog was about the activity rather than the technicalities of how I made the barcodes). But fear not, for Google URL Shortener (one of the tools I talk about in this tutorial) will do that for you easily. 

I hope the following tutorial, which introduces bit.ly, tiny.url, goo.gl url and the (ridiculously simple) art of hyperlinking,  helps you get your head around this, in under 6 minutes. 

If you have any questions; if anything isn't clear, please write in the comments. I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Promise :-)




Digitally yours,
@dele


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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Google Presentations latest capability: Q&A Live

It's REALLY new, hot off the virtual presses: the ability to really interact with your audience, real time, regardless of how many people are there! It rolled out at the beginning of the month, and I had the opportunity to try it out this week at a workshop I gave!


Here is a short explanation of what it does:




And this is Karissa Bell's blog post on "Mashable" explaining a bit more.

It sounded so exciting, that I decided to jump straight into the deep end (that's the ONLY way to learn how to swim, right?)

I made my presentation using Google Slides, as you normally would. When it came time to start the session, I clicked on the "Present" button. With Q & A, you are given the options of "Presenter View" or "Present from the beginning". In order to use the Q& A, you want the first option.



Once you open that "Presenter View" you see a screen that looks like this:


Click on "Audience Tools" and another window pops open, giving you a short (relatively) URL, and you can see the window where all of the audience questions will be visible. The URL will be viewable at the top of each of your slides throughout the presentation.



Another convenient tool that is here is a laser pointer - try that, too!

The tool worked really well. The only suggestion would have are the following:

1. Since the screen that is projected is the same screen you are working from, the audience can see all of the questions. They can ALSO see the questions on their devices, of course, which is where they write their own questions and vote for questions they "second". However while I was giving the presentation, I wanted to check the questions on my own, to see when they were coming in. I was not happy with the fact that I couldn't do that without obstructing my presentation slides. In future when I use this tool, I will have another device (either bring my laptop or view on my phone) so that I can check audience feedback without interrupting the flow of the presentation.

2. It would be REALLY helpful if, in addition to the URL, there were a barcode (which is easier to scan than it is typing in the letters).

I DEFINITELY plan to use this tool in future presentations, and highly recommend you try it, as well! It is a tool that will be making appearances in my future sessions and my high school classes! How about YOU? Have you tried it?

Digitally yours,
@dele

PS (I must admit that until now, I have used PowerPoint presentations more than Google Slides, but with this new function, it could be a game changer for me!)