You’ve likely heard about Remind from one of our Techscouts, Mona Parekh, at ICHE or Collaborative Learning Days (if not, check out this quick video for an overview). One of the criticisms I’ve heard about Remind is, well, not about Remind actually, but about Talon and how we use it.

Most instructors publish announcements on Talon, and some don’t want to have to publish twice just to get the extra benefit of reaching students through their beloved cell phones. If there was a way to display your Remind announcements on Talon, that would solve both problems, right? Talon widgets can help us here.

When it comes to my workflow, I’m a big fan of a principle in software development known as DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself). If I find myself doing the same thing over and over, I look for ways to automate at least part of it. In this article, you’ll learn how you can publish all of your class announcements through Remind, and let the Remind widget show those announcements on Talon. This combines the best of both platforms. This allows us to reach students quickly through their phones, and have a backup archive of announcements in case a student loses their phone, or gets a new one without re-joining the class in Remind.

It is not an obvious process to set this up, but the video below shows a step-by-step walk-through of what to do. No coding is required; just strategic copy and pasting. I hope this can help you get a little more joy out of Remind. Let us know if you have any questions!

Get Office MixIf you’ve been using Powerpoint slides for lecture  and would like to tryeasy lecture capture, Microsoft Office Mix may be just the thing for you.  Mix is an add-in for Powerpoint 2013 and Office 365.  The download is free and installation is simple.  Then Mix shows up in the toolbar of Powerpoint with voice capture and editing tools.  You do need a Microsoft Account to download the add-in; these accounts are free and do come with some other benefits, such as a secure “wallet” for payment information and access to Microsoft’s free cloud storage space.

Once installed, the “Mix” tab at the top of Powerpoint will give you this toolbar:
Mix Screenshot

Mix supports insertion of quizzes with student device interaction and analytics, à la Poll Everywhere and Socrative.   You can also annotate slides as you add your voice-over, and your presentation can easily be uploaded to the Microsoft Mix cloud but you can also export to video, so you can put it on Youtube or whatever video platform you are used to using.

Once you’ve created a presentation video, it can be played from any machine; Mix and Powerpoint don’t have to be installed, just the usual sort of media player.

Microsoft has created some really nice video tutorials for Mix and this nice “cheat sheet” for teachers.

Mix is an obvious asset to Powerpoint; one wonders that it has taken this long to appear.  It is amazingly full-featured, actually.  I am often creating video tutorials or lessons on things other than Powerpoint presentations: how to navigate an application we’re using in class, marking up a Word document, etc. and I thought I would still need to use a separate screen capture application such at Tech Smith’s Snagit (my fave) for that.  Wrong!  Mix supports full-screen recording (and the interface is remarkably similar to SnagIt’s!)

It is possible to add Mix to the menu of External Tools on Desire 2 Learn’s Brightspace (i.e. our Learning Management System, Talon), but I think it’s just as easy to set the privacy on your Mixes appropriately and insert a direct link to them.

I’ve only started to explore Mix.  Thus far, I’m pretty smitten.  Do you use Mix?  What do you think?


“Free Technology For Teachers” — that’s the name of a Facebook page and matching website that regularly publish links to, yes, you guessed it, free technology for teachers.  Much is targeted at K-12 educators; I don’t know about you, but I’ve found many such apps to be quite helpful.

One recent link was to a newsletter called Practical Ed Tech.   Both sites are written by the same busy guy named Ed Byrnes.  I’m impressed!  Anyway, the newsletter entry was titled “5 good tools for creating audio recordings online.”

Who would need such a thing?  I do, actually.  For all kinds of office skills classes, I need both to have a library of “answering machine” messages that students can practice transcribing onto written message pads, as well as an easy way for students to record speaking exercises, everything from vocabulary to “how would you respond to a client who asks this question?”

The app I chose to go with is Vocaroo, which is absurdly simple.  You navigate to the website from a computer or device that has a microphone installed; you record your pieces; the app asks for an email address and then it emails the voice file.  That’s all there is to it!640px-His_Master's_Voice

If you’d like to try it, I hope you’ll add to my library of “grooming request calls.”  All you need to do is to pretend to be a pet owner seeking pet grooming services, or asking questions about the same.  Remember, there’s no such thing as a dumb question, and also that all too many callers assume the recipient of a message can easily guess the correct spelling of their name, the area code of their phone number, etc.  If you do record a message, please email it to me at  Thank you!