Seven Wishes for Education This Holiday Season

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My latest BamRadio Network EdWords blog post, Seven Wishes for Education This Holiday Season, covers a wide range of things I would like to see in education from integrating schools to getting teachers on YouTube. Please read and share what you are wishing for education in comments or tweet me @edtechtom.

Comparing Digital Breakouts in New Google Sites and Classic Google Sites

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The New Google Sites is live in personal GMail accounts. It is vastly different from what is now known as “Classic Sites.” Here are my thoughts on using both tools to make digital breakouts.

Looks are important.

Students are more likely to engage with a breakout if it is visually appealing. The New Sites makes much nicer looking websites. Have a look at my digital breakout templates in Classic Sites and New Sites to see the vast difference. Speaking of design, use Canva to make beautiful header images. 280 pixels high and 767 pixels wide are the ideal dimensions.

It is so easy!

Classic Sites is difficult to work with. It is not intuitive. New Sites could not be any easier to use. Make one site with it and you’re a pro. I am thrilled to share New Sites with teachers because they can point, click, and make a beautiful website!

The one drawback.

Beautiful, easy sites! So what’s the catch? There is one, and it is big. Third-party sites that embed in Classic Sites, such as EdPuzzle, ThingLink, and Quizlet, don’t embed in New Sites. Instead, there is a preview that opens a new tab when clicked:

edpuzzle-in-new-sites

New Sites is still better.

New Sites’ beauty, ease, and fantastic G Suite integration make it well worth it. EdPuzzle doesn’t work? Find a short video and pair it with a Google Form! Google Slides, PDFs in Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and even My Maps embed flawlessly – with no code needed! Simply click and drag to move or change size.

I am perfectly willing to use only G Suite tools in New Sites while I wait for embeds to be added to the platform’s functionality.

Beware the navigation!

New Sites has two navigation settings:

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This means that all site pages are visible by default. However, you can hide pages individually:

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Here are some suggestions.

For what it’s worth, here are some suggestions from someone who made many digital breakouts in Classic Sites and can’t wait to get started in New Sites:

  • Figure out what you want your students to work with before making your digital breakout. What PDFs, Google Docs, Google Slides, YouTube videos, Google My Maps, etc. do you want your students interacting with during your digital breakout? Figure that out and your locks will flow from there.
  • Keep the elements on each page minimal. Do not overload students with too many things to view on any one page. Keep it simple and visually appealing. New Sites and Canva help those of us (like me!) who are not artistically inclined.
  • Make one lock super easy. Once students crack one lock, they are hooked. I don’t always follow my own advice on this one. I should.
  • Make digital breakouts in personal Google accounts. No one has a crystal ball. Making a Google Site in a school domain means it could go away if employment status changes. Use personal Google accounts to ensure sites do not disappear when changing jobs.
  • Beta test! Before students try a breakout, have your PLC beta test it to make sure everything is correct. Errors from incorrect links to grammar are common when making digital breakouts. Beta testing makes sure students work on a refined finished product.

Thank you for reading. Comment below or send me a tweet @edtechtom with questions.

Digital Breakouts in the New Google Sites

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The new Google Sites is live. This is a template website to give you ideas for making digital breakouts in the new Sites. Currently, there is no way to copy sites or publish them as templates. The good news is that the new Sites is so intuitive that making digital breakouts is easier than ever!

If you have never tried a digital breakout, please watch this video where I take you through the template to show you how it works:

Please make copies of the files in this Google Drive folder to help you make digital breakouts. This template site uses Google Forms, an embedded PDF, an embedded YouTube video, and Google Slides. Google My Maps and Google Sheets are other G Suite tools that are great for embedding in digital breakouts.

Comment below or send me a tweet @TomEMullaney with questions.

All Digital Breakouts I make are inspired by the innovators behind BreakoutEDU,  James Sanders and Mark Hammons, as well as by the creators of Digital BreakoutEDU,  Justin Birckbichler and Mari Venturino.

Update June 4, 2017:

Have a look at my video about a small problem with digital breakouts in the new Google Sites and a solution:

Use These Templates to Make Your Own Digital Breakouts!

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Author’s note: This post is intended to help teachers make Digital Breakouts in Classic Google Sites. The New Google Sites has gone live. Please read my blog post about making Digital Breakouts in New Google Sites. Additionally, please read my post comparing the classic and new versions of Google Sites.

Digital Breakouts, the entirely online offshoot of the BreakoutEDU movement, are a great way to help students fall in love with problem-solving. I make and use them, as do my colleagues who have found innovative ways to incorporate them into instruction.

Recently, I have had colleagues and educators on social media tell me they would like to make digital breakouts but the task seems daunting. One colleague asked me to build a template website to help him get started.

So here it is – a Digital Breakout template website, a replicable Google Site template, and a Google Folder with template files. Makes copies of them and have at it! The website is a Digital Breakout itself. Go through it to see how they work.

The site demonstrates some great tools for digital breakouts: Google Forms with Quiz Mode enabled for feedback, Quizlet, EdPuzzle, and Thinglink.

Comment below or send me a tweet @edtechtom with questions.

All Digital Breakouts I make are inspired by the innovators behind BreakoutEDU,  James Sanders and Mark Hammons, as well as by the creators of Digital BreakoutEDU,  Justin Birckbichler and Mari Venturino.