Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Three Options for Digital Timers for Zoom/Google Meet Lessons

Helping students manage time and stay on task during synchronous lessons is very important. One way to do that is the use of a digital timer. Many educators out there have made great use out of various timer programs such as the Kagan timer app among others. If you don't want to download another app, I have three options, all web based. 

The first digital timer option involves YouTube. This option works when you have a second monitor attached to your computer. In a nutshell, you will be dragging a "smaller" window, with a YouTube countdown timer video, into a larger window. The larger window is the window you are presenting synchronously to students. If you have students working independently, drag the smaller window into the larger window. In the larger window, you can display instructions and other info for the independent work while the smaller window counts down the time. Take a look at the screenshots below to learn how.

Step 1: On your other screen, open YouTube. Search for a countdown timer for the amount of time you want to give students. Once you've found the video, make the window smaller (as seen below).

Step 2: Drag the smaller window over to the window you are sharing on your Zoom/Google Meet call. The example below is from a class a recently taught where I gave students 10 minutes to build vocabulary with Quizlet. I shared the screen with Quizlet and dragged the "timer" window over. When finished, you can close the smaller window or drag it back.

Another option is to add Eggtimer as a search engine into Google Chrome. This is a trick I learned years ago at a demo slam conducted by my good friend Joe Marquez. What you see below is the finished product. Essentially, what you do is "train" Chrome how to start a timer right from the address bar aka Omnibox (Yes, that's what Google calls it). Once "trained", simply type "eg" in the address bar, click the spacebar, then type the time you want for a countdown.

Here is what it looks like when I set it to countdown for 10 minutes. This is something I use almost daily during synchronous lessons on Zoom/Google Meet. I use this option when I want the timer to be full screen and don't want to share anything content related on my screen during independent work.

Step 1: In the top right corner of Chrome, click the three dots. In the dropdown menu, click Settings.

Step 2: Scroll down and click Manage search engines.

Step 3: Where it says Other search engines, click Add.

Step 4: In the Search engine line type Eggtimer. In the keyword line, type "eg" (Make it lowercase because it's easier to remember). In the URL line, type this exactly e.ggtimer.com/%s then click Add

After Step 4, exit the Settings. Open a tab in Chrome. In the address bar aka Omnibox, type "eg" (lowercase) and push the spacebar. When you do, it will say Search Eggtimer. In the address bar, type the time you want for the countdown and hit enter. 

The screen will turn white with the countdown in big black numerals in the middle of the screen.

A third option is to insert a YouTube countdown timer video onto a slide in a Google Slides presentation. This is a very common and popular option. If this is new to you, check out the screenshots below to learn how. This is very useful when teaching on Zoom or Google Meet with a slides presentation and you want to give students some think time. This option allows you to not have to exit your presentation to access the timer. 

Step 1: On the slide(s) of your choice, click the Insert button and select Video.

Step 2: Click Search and use the search bar to find a countdown timer video for the time you want. For example, type "2 minute countdown timer".

Step 3: From the search results, click on the video you want and then click Select.

Below is what it looks like on your slide when in Edit mode. 

When in presentation mode, click the play button on the video to start your countdown timer.

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