Mailbag – Answers to Questions from Readers

Every week I receive a questions from readers of Some of those questions are very specific to a classroom or school while others have a more broad appeal. Those with a broader appeal end up in my periodic mailbag columns. Here are some questions that I’ve recently received whose answers may benefit a number of people. If you have a question for me you can email me directly at richardbyrne (at) or if you’re an email subscriber just hit the reply button on any email I send out.

My colleagues and I are looking for a way for students to post ideas (but not a polling site). Do you have any suggestions? is a tool that makes it easy for students to post ideas. is another that I like for that purpose. A video on how to use Padlet is available here. A video on how to use Tozzl is available here.

I teach journalism and have been exploring apps to help my students record, edit and post audio interviews and, if possible, narrated slideshows. Any free apps for iPhone and Android that you can recommend?

A few options come to mind for your situation. First, is designed to help people conduct and record great interviews. The app includes a set of questions that you can use in your interview. The question sets are varied depending upon the relationship that you do or don’t have with your interviewee. While recording your interview you can swipe through the questions to help you keep the interview on track. Completed recordings can saved on your device and or shared with the StoryCorps community. Second, AudioBoom offers an app (iOS and Android) for creating audio recordings. You can apply a background image to display with the recording when it is posted online. Finally, I often recommend ShadowPuppet Edu for making audio slideshows on an iPad, but I fear that university students might find it a little too simple.

My local professional org. wants to create a free website for our group. And, we are using smore for a monthly newsletter. Is there a way we can combine our needs into a website with pages that archive monthly content say with Google? Where would we find info/training vids on this?

When you say, “say with Google” I assume you’re talking about a Google Account. If that is the case then Google Sites is a good option for developing a website for your organization. You can have multiple page formats including an announcements page within your site. If you’re trying to divide the workload in your organization then you can add multiple editors to the site too. As for training, I have a tutorial on Google Sites that can be viewed here. I also offer online training on Google Apps.

With my students I have created bilingual dictionary in Google sheets (two columns, one for English and one for translation). Do you happen to know of any way to turn it into online dictionary with a search box?

If you share the Spreadsheet with students in a “view only” mode they should be able to search within the spreadsheet (Ctrl+F will bring up the search box). The process for doing this would be to publish the spreadsheet to the web as “view only” (that setting is found under the File menu) then post the link on your blog or simply direct to students to the link through a shortened URL.


Thank You Readers for 14 Amazing Years!