Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Wikispaces is shutting down

If you're using Wikispaces for any class projects, you should know that the service is shutting down later this year, according to this post.  If you need to come up with an alternative solution for a project, let's get together and look at some options.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Transparent backgrounds in images

In my last post, I mentioned that LucidChart can export images with transparent backgrounds.  Why are transparent backgrounds important?

Take a look at these two beach chairs. The bottom one has a transparent background; the top doesn't.  Against a white background, you can't see the difference. But change the background-- first to solid black, then to a beach scene-- and the distinction becomes clear.

So, how do you find images with transparent backgrounds?  In a Google image search, click on Tools..Color, and choose transparent (while you're there, you can apply additional filters, such as usage rights and image size).

Note that the file extension for transparent images is png (although not all png files are transparent).  Other types, such as jpg, gif, and tiff, do not support transparency.  In many applications, you are given an option of how to save images-- choose transparent png if don't want the white background.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Filtering search for recent results

I was just researching activities for Black History Month.  I found several results that led to dead links (i.e., pages that no longer exist).  Frustrating!

Usually, the reason for dead links is a web page that hasn't been updated in some time.  Here's a quick way to avoid those-- filter your search for more pages that have been created or updated more recently.

In Google search, click Tools, Time, then choose how long you want to look back.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tools for creating graphic organizers

Need to make a flowchart, mind map, Venn diagram, etc? Below are two tools you can use-- LucidChart and Google Drawings.

Before getting to the tools, there are a few basic concepts that are important to understand when using this kind of software:

  1. There are multiple layers on the canvas. You can change the order of shapes on the canvas, sending one shape in front of or behind another, or bringing a shape all the way to the front or back.
  2. You can group shapes together so they are treated as a single entity (to move them all at once, for example). You can also "ungroup" shapes to edit them individually.
  3. These and other options are usually available by simply double-clicking or right-clicking a shape.
  4. As you drag shapes around the canvas, guidelines will pop up that allow you to align them with other shapes and with the canvas itself (e.g., to center the shape).
  5. Exporting the file in png format will typically give you an image without a background (i.e., the white space will be transparent), which is useful when you'll be placing the image in front of a non-white background (see below).


LucidChart (from the same company that brings us LucidPress) is the more powerful of the two. It makes all kinds of different graphics. You can control all kinds of details. You can log in with your cvsdvt Google account. You can also go to Google Drive, click New...More and choose LucidChart (which will save your document in Drive).

There are lots of templates to start with

Drag shapes onto the canvas, click and drag from one shape to another to make connections (that stay connected even when you move the shapes).

You can export the final product as an image to insert into a text document or presentation.  You can also import a data file with which to create your graphic.

Here are some diagrams made with LucidChart, to give you an idea:

Google Drawings

Drawings are part of G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Education). Go to Google Drive, click New...Drawing. Google Drawings is less sophisticated than some other tools, but it is simple to use.    You can connect shapes with lines/arrows and they stay "attached" as you move the shapes.  You may find that the canvas provided is too small; click on the lower right corner to expand it. 

Note that you can also create a Google Drawing from within a Google Doc by using the Insert menu.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Second Semester Tech Recharge

A new semester is a great time to think about integrating technology into your courses.  I'd love to help with this.  We can meet one-on-one to brainstorm. Or you can send me your curriculum plan and I can review it for opportunities. Or I can come visit your class.  Or...

We can use technology to water each leaf!