The Five Things I’ve Been Asked About the Most at the Start of the New School Year

Every week I receive dozens of emails from teachers asking me for advice on all kinds of things related to education and technology. Many of those questions get answered during
Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff on Thursday afternoons. Many of the questions I answer directly via email. As many of the questions I’m receiving lately are similar in nature, I thought that I’d address them broadly in a blog post.

Timed Quizzes/ Cheating Prevention
I’ve received a lot of questions along the lines of “how do I make sure my students are looking up answers for quizzes?” and “how can I give a timed quiz online?”

Back in April I published this video on how to give a timed quiz with Google Forms and Classroom. On the question of preventing cheating when students are taking online quizzes at home, I have a couple of significant concerns. First, if your quiz or assessment is easily aced by students Googling the answers, you might want to reconsider the questions that you’re asking. Second, without installing monitoring software on students’ computers and requiring webcams to be on (and opening up a whole can of worms regarding privacy) there isn’t a way to force students to stay in one browser tab while taking your quiz.

Like many of you, this fall I’ll have some students in my classroom and some joining remotely. For the times that I can be at my desk I’ll be using my Blue Snowball microphone that I’ve had for years. When I’m not at my desk I’ll be using this handy wireless mic and receiver combination hooked up to my computer.

Earbuds/ AirPods
Related to questions about microphones, I’ve had a bunch of questions about using earbuds or AirPods instead of dedicated microphone. Rushton and I addressed this issue in the last episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. The short answer is it will work, but there are better options. One of the key points to consider is that if you are wearing earbuds/ AirPods to broadcast to a remote audience while also trying to teach students in your classroom, will you be able to accurately hear the kids in your classroom? I know that I can’t.

Video Lesson Production
I use Screencast-o-matic Deluxe on my desktop to produce most of my videos. If you’re looking for a browser-based video creation tool, Loom is a solid choice. One easy way to make short instructional videos is to record a screencast over an existing set of slides. Another easy method is recording over a white background and drawing on the screen.

Flipgrid is quickly becoming a go-to tool for making screencast and whiteboard videos. Here’s a quick overview of how to make a whiteboard video with Flipgrid.

Zoom vs. Google Meet

Many of us are not getting a choice of Zoom or Google Meet. Instead, we’re just told by the IT department which one we have to use. If you do have a choice, here are a few things to consider.

At this time Zoom has more meeting controls and options than Google Meet offers for free. Google does appear to be trying to catch up in that regard, but it’s still a long way off. For example, green screen and virtual backgrounds are still not possible in Google Meet. At this time, breakout rooms are a great Zoom feature that Google Meet doesn’t have. And while you can use meeting nicknames to control the start of a Google Meet, it’s still a clunkier process than using waiting rooms in Zoom.

The one slight advantage I’d give to Google Meet over Zoom is the option to have an assigned Meet link readily displayed and re-usable in Google Classroom.