Get a direct link to files hosted in Google Drive

Update [10/2/2016]: It appears that Google has finally put a stop to this trick.

Update [11/7/2016]: Looks like Jonathan in the comments has figured a new way to do it!

Update [2/7/2017]: The website works too!

Imagine you want to use a QR code so guests at Parents’ Night can scan the code and stream video or audio straight to their mobile device. If you share the files in Google Drive, users will be taken to a Google page where they have to download the file first. But if you can create a link that points directly to the file, users can access the content right in their mobile browser.

Direct link files in Google Drive
Direct link to files in Google Drive

Turns out you can do this while still using Google Drive. Any public folder in Drive can host files and provide direct links to the files.

How to create the hosting URL:

This will provide a folder that will give direct links to files inside the folder.
Note: hosting view will not display files created in Google Docs.


Once in the hosting folder, you can right click on any of the files to get a direct link to the file.

Trouble embedding YouTube in PowerPoint? Fixed!

I’ve heard from several people last week that they could no longer get their YouTube videos to play in PowerPoint. If you didn’t know, PowerPoint (starting with version 2010) allows you to easily embed online videos using the video’s embed code.

Here is a quick tutorial that explains how to set this up.

HOWEVER, last week this method seemed to stop working. After a little tinkering, I figured out how to get it working again.

It turns out that you need to remove a little bit of the YouTube embed code before you paste it into PowerPoint.

Delete a bit of the embed code
Delete the highlighted text before embedding in PowerPoint

For example, to embed the video Read More

Eight reasons to keep YouTube out of schools

noyoutube.jpgFrequently, I hear teachers yearn for access to YouTube in their classroom. Yet, I question if this really is a good idea. Below are eight things we need to worry about if YouTube is allowed in the classroom:

  1. copyright infringement: it’s so easy to get videos that were posted to YouTube illegally. You can’t expect students to do their own work when you showed them a pirated video yesterday. However, I am afraid that the temptation will be too great for many teachers. Read More

Don’t flip for the Flip

Not the FlipSome times I think what is hip and cool is not always right for school. The latest trendsetting gadgets are Flip Video’s digital camcorders. It seems like everyone is in love with the Flip. These little camcorders fit in your pocket and have a handy flip out USB connector so you can transfer your movies with ease.

I think the Flip camcorders are a little overhyped. It might be a great little camcorder to carry in your pocket for a night out on the town but we’re not sending our students to shoot video in the clubs. If you’re looking to just record short video clips, many affordable digital cameras can do the job and you’ll be able to use that camera to take great still images too. Here are a few reasons why I don’t flip for the Flip: Read More

Eight reasons to use YouTube in school

youtube1.jpgNot a week goes by without one of my colleagues asking me how to show a YouTube video in class. Because of it’s history of inappropriate content, ranging from pointless to tasteless, YouTube has been blocked in schools across the nation. However, the same content filters that are supposed to be blocking the bad sites are preventing “…teachers from accessing cutting-edge widgets and digital materials that have enormous potential for expanding learning.” [1]

I think it’s time for schools to take another look at YouTube’s use in the classroom.  Here are a few reasons why we should let YouTube into our schools:

  1. viewing is easy: there are a lot of video sharing websites out there, but YouTube makes the experience simple and seamless Read More

All hail the clip show

As a huge fan of The Simpsons, I’ve been slowly buying the DVD sets for each season. I have always thought about going through each DVD and pulling out clips that I could use in class. Perhaps I could create a log book to record the timestamp for each clip. I’ve even considered using some DVD ripping software to make a master DVD to hold all my physics-related Simpsons clips. Of course, both of these methods would take a lot of time.

However, I think I’ve found a better solution. More and more content is being put online for viewers to watch on demand. I think the service that does this best is Read More

Using viral videos to spark learning

Cell phone pops popcorn videoHave you seen the video where they popped popcorn with cellphones? Seems hard to believe? Well, you’re right. It was created by a marketing company and it’s known as a viral video. Viral videos spread across the web so quickly that they often wind up on regular television news programs. Even the MythBusters have taken on a few of these online gems.

I’ve had some success using viral videos in the classroom. This past year I used two videos; one with my ninth grade physical science students and another with my 12th grade physics students.

Mountain Dew Glow StickWith the ninth graders, I showed a video that demonstrated a glow stick being made out of Mountain Dew, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. The students were thrilled to see the video and even more eager to give this claim a try. So we did! I provided the supplies and off they went. However, none of the students were able to light up their lab tables like the video suggested. With only a few minutes left in class, I told my students that their homework was to go online to find out what went wrong.

In my ten years of teaching, I’ve never had so many students come back the next day talking about yesterday’s lesson. Students rushed into class exclaiming, “I know how they did it” and “it’s fake, it’s fake!” Now that I had their attention, we explored how chemical reactions can give off light and made our own glows sticks that really worked.6 volt battery hack

In physics we investigated a video that claimed six volt lantern batteries contain 32 AA batteries. My students began to see if this was possible. I gave them the challenge of designing a circuit that used 32 AA (1.5 volt) batteries but still produced an output of six volts. With the help of an online circuit simulator, students were able to design the circuit. However, after measuring the volume of a lantern battery and a AA battery, students realized that the 32 AAs take up more space than one six volt lantern battery has to offer.

Viral video lessons do three important things:

  • use media that students find attention-grabbing and familiar
  • raise interest and give purpose to examinations and investigations
  • teach skepticism so students can spot rip-off artists and scammers

Viral videos are a perfect way to engage students. After all, the videos were designed to capture people’s attention. So the next time you see a video that makes you say, “no way” bring it into class.