Dice UP the Classroom Episode 6: If this then Edu

In episode 6 of Dice UP the Classroom, I talk about IFTTT. The web resource that allows you to create “recipes” for better streamlining and productivity both in the classroom, business or at home. The transcript is below.

(Pretending to cook) Many don’t know this but I use to be a cook. No, really and I even ran a coffee nook for a while as a coffee lead barista. How’s that for Coffee Edu?  While food has never been a main passion of mine, I have always enjoyed creating my own recipes over the years and that includes creating lessons and projects. Now, I know what you are saying, we don’t want students or even teachers making the same thing fifty times. We want them to create and find their own path but at the same time, we want to teach them the tools that will start their journey. In this episode of Dice UP the Classroom we are going to be talking about IFTTT. What is IFTTT? IFTTT is a resource that gives you and your students creative control over the projects and apps you love on any device from IOS to Kindle to create new ways to learn and streamline your productivity. So, fire up your digital stoves and great ready for: IF This, Then Edu (Introduction). Episode Six for July 2015, hi I’m Ryan Read and welcome to Dice UP the Classroom. Back in March around my birthday of all weekends I was introduced to IFTTT a web resource that works on all platforms. IFTTT stands for: If This Then That, which is the classic cause and effect clause. An example would be: If I toss a large pebble into a pond, then it will create ripples that will spread out from the impact. If This Then That. With IFTTT I could simple say: “If I take pictures of my family on my iPhone” instead of going through tagging each one to an email, or uploading them to my computer or Google Photos and then sharing it with specific people. I can instead create a recipe that will automatically upload it to a shared Google Drive, Flickr or iCloud and then email to a family member who can then download the pictures and print them or add it to their digital scrapbook. If This, then That, pretty neat huh? But how can that work with you or your students? Its pretty simple.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 10.19.34 AMIFTTT is free to sign up for, once you do you can access to recipes. Recipes are simple connections between products and apps. There are two types of Recipes: Do Recipes and IF Recipes. Do Recipes run with just a tap and enable you to create your own personalized Button, Camera, and Notepad. You can access them simply by clicking on the top menu bar and selecting them. You can either find your recipes and select them or simply do a search for them and find the one you need and activate them. IF Recipes run automatically in the background so you don’t have to worry about constantly checking them and you can turn them on and off at anytime. Create powerful connections with one simple statement or follow a hashtag on a simple subject without constantly reloading the search — if this then that. Are you tired of posting your latest blog post on every social network you are a part of? Simply set up an IF. I post a new entry on WordPress or Blogger then post on my Twitter, Google+, Facebook ect. right away. Saves me a ton of time and even better it will post a snapshot of your blog post on your networks. We all know that followers and browsers will check out your posts more if there is an image attach to them. IFTTT does that automatically. Speaking of posting pictures, one of my favorite features on IFTTT is posting a picture of Instagram and then having it not only post on my Twitter feed without selecting the share option but post it as a full image. If I don’t want certain pictures automatically showing up on another network than on my instagram, no problem. I can simply turn it off through the website or through the free IF app and then turn it back on when I do want to share on my other networks. What’s great is that when you turn it back on, IFTTT won’t automatically post any previous pictures that I posted on my other networks, it will only post what I share when the recipe is on.

You can even set up an auto reply or link to your website when you get new followers or likes on your pages. It saves a lot of time and also gardens new networks to check out your previous work without copying and pasting or resharing links. However, be careful, while this is a great feature for productivity it doesn’t help with spammers or social network bots. Some can even then reshare what you said about them on your other networks and spam things up real quick. Trust me, I’ve been there. Just like with any other social platform, THINK before you set up your recipe. Now, I’ve talked about the  basics of IFTTT but how can this help with your classroom productivity or knowing that your students apps can be used? IFTTT has Channels, Channels are the basic building blocks of Recipes. Each Channel has its own Triggers and Actions for what you use from a tablet to a smartphone. I love astronomy and something my students love to do is create stories based off recent NASA news. You can set up an IFTTT recipe to send breaking news from NASA to their Pocket App to read about. All you do is set up the IF trigger and then the Then trigger. The Then trigger will always ask to allow access to your App or account depending on the resource but once you allow access the recipe is created and will appear in your My Recipes tab on IFTTT. Students can read the latest Space News on their mobile or desktop device and then go from there. A favorite of mine is students creating blackout poetry from the articles they read by taking snapshots of the article and then opening them in an App like Skitch and creating the poetry with the App and speaking of the Evernote system. I have teachers come to me wishing they could put their Evernotes in Google Drive in a simple fashion, with IFTTT you can. Simply move your Evernotes right into your Google Drive as soon as you take them or even set up certain Evernotes to go to your Google Drive than others using a simple tag like Math Notes. They’ll go into your Google Drive or even Dropbox without opening them in other Apps or syncing them across multiple platforms. Its that simple and you can redo the tags at any time just in case your unit lesson is short and you don’t want to shut off your recipe and just move it to another subject all you have to do is redo your IFTTT recipe and you are all set.

Do you have a set of students task that they need to perform every week? Automatically create Trello cards on a schedule of your choosing and then share them with your students. IFTTT doesn’t just work with Apps and web resources it can also be used with notifications too. Maybe you are doing a lesson on weather and you want students to see how many days it rained and during what times of the day. You can set a recipe to trigger a notification alert that can synch right to your google calendar and if you want to go a step farther have that weather data be put on a Google Spreadsheet that students can later access and create flowcharts from. Its what I like to call a Recipe Mix, taking several recipes and mixing them together to create a lesson or project. Similar to an App Smash but it allows you to use one trigger and create a productivity flow that you or your students can later pull from and create an amazing lesson from. It also works great about lesson work time, I always get teachers wondering if their students are working on their group projects and wondering how much one group member put in with another. You can set up an IFTTT recipe to keep a time card when they login in to their Google Drive to work with their classmates on a project. While Google Drive can show when a student last worked or accessed a shared file or folder they don’t know always know how long they spent on it. With IFTTT you can do that and it works great for teachers who work on projects and lessons in their classroom or at home and wonder just how long they spent on it. You can create your own productivity card with IFTTT and keep it organized anywhere from Evernote to Slack if your school or organization uses these tools. Its really simple and all you have to do is select your trigger and create.Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 10.07.43 AM

Also, IFTTT isn’t just about using other resources to streamline your workflow and productivity, they have their own Apps too. The Do apps are available for iOS and Android. They work just like IFTTT recipes but you set them up right from the Apps and they can save you a lot of time. They range from photos to tallys. If you are a one device school and you want your students to do a tally on what lessons to do first or how much they loved or disliked the lesson. You can set up a tally where each time you press the button, it will be stored in a Google Drive spreadsheet and then you can read it on your android or IOS device and even create infographs on them. Maybe your school uses social networks and you want to share pictures of your activities but don’t know if they are appropriate or you have to go through other channels to be approved. You can use the Do Photos app to take your photos and automatically send them to the necessary parties for approval or posting as soon as you take them with a simple message set up to ask: “Can you post these pictures from track and field day?” And you can set it up to send one or multiple pictures at the same time instead of each one individually or being limited to how many you can send at once. You can even scan documents with Do Apps to send to other devices like a home computer or Classroom Dropbox to keep your notes organized and flowing effortlessly.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 10.06.26 AMThe fun doesn’t stop there either, if you are into STEM, STEAM or Maker Spaces there is even the Maker Channel on IFTTT. The Maker Channel allows you to connect IFTTT to your personal DIY projects. With Maker, you can connect a Recipe to any device or service that can make or receive a web request and more. How cool would it be to create your own drone and then have it automatically send its recorded data not to just your mobile device but also to an organized spreadsheet without all the transcribing, or retyping, you can do that with the Maker Channel. I don’t have any examples of my own to share but what’s great about using IFTTT is that you can mix a few ingredients together and make your own triggers that will create learning in new ways. There are so many ways to use channels, triggers and Do Apps.

These are only a few examples of ways you can use IFTTT in your school, home or business with almost 200 recipes and growing each day there are almost endless possibilities. Head over to ifttt.com and see how you can start using it to Dice UP the classroom. That’s going to do it for this episode of Dice UP the Classroom, I want to thank everyone who has supported my work and my friend Carrie Baughcum (@HeckAwesome) who originally shared the tweet that made me aware of IFTTT and how to use it from the ICE Conference back in March. If you want to check out any of my other tutorials and lessons please check them out here on my website or look for me on twitter @Ryan7Read. I’m also on Periscope if you want to see any of my live stream tutorials and examples. In the mean time, I’m off to the kitchen to make some new recipes and I’ll see everyone later.


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