Friday, December 28, 2012

“Oh, No!” Moments and Charging Multiple Tablets

By Second Grade Teacher Julie Stewart

We have had our share of memorable moments since receiving our Nexus 7 tablets.  Things like charging multiple tablets and having non-homeroom students also using the tablets was now on my list of daily things to manage. It was going to be so easy...

I did not think too much about it, at first, because I thought it would be one of those easy tasks that did not take a lot of effort.  When the tablets needed to be charged, I would just plug them in.  It all seemed so simple.  I suddenly found myself wondering how was I going to do this, and where on earth do I put them in my already crowded classroom?  The minor problem came when I realized that I did not have enough power strips on hand.  I called my teammate, Beth, and asked if she had some that I could use.  Thank goodness for the IT department for having a secret stash of odds and ends for technological emergencies!  With her spares, I had enough to set up charging stations all over my classroom on any horizontal or vertical surface that was available.

Before I could actually start plugging them in and charging them, my next task was to remove each charger from its box and take off the plastic bags and ties.  After I got the USB cables plugged into the charging units, the tablets were finally ready to be charged.  As I started this task, my college-aged son, Stephen, stopped by my classroom to lend me a hand.  He helped me find a few more open outlets for the power strips, and we got them all plugged in and charging in less than 10 minutes.  They were scattered all over my classroom, but each tablet had a home to charge.  My “Oh, no!” moment was no more!



I had mentioned in an earlier post that it was important that I have identification names and numbers on all of the tablets. This was done to prevent major “Oh, no!” moments.  Since my school does ability grouping for math and reading, my class decided that we should share our tablets with the other second graders who have me as their math and reading teacher. Doing this has allowed me to put the Nexus 7’s into the hands of close to 75 second grade students! This kind gesture made the other second grade classes very happy.  By assigning each guest student a specific tablet, I have made all of them accountable for using them.  This, along with adding LanSchool to each tablet, has made the students very aware of computer security.  It also prevents 25 students from asking me all at the same time as to which one they should use!

A funny moment happened one day when I heard an “Oh, no!” from one of my homeroom students when she was looking at her photos in her photo gallery.  She brought her tablet over to me to see.  One of the guest students assigned to her tablet had been exploring the camera feature while usng her tablet and snapped a self portrait. My homeroom student remarked, "Well, it is okay, Mrs. Stewart.  She took a really good picutre, and now you don’t need to show her how to use the camera. She will be an expert pretty soon."  All I could do was smile!  This is the kind of moment that makes this teacher pretty darn happy.

My next post will be showcasing some of the work the students have done out in the field using their tablets and the camera  to show their creative “wow” moments.  You will be amazed at what they did with just a few minutes of instruction on using the camera feature and being set free on their photo safari in and around our school.

Nexus 7 Rollout in 4th Grade

We're all so proud to be involved with this effort. The second class set of Nexus 7s the EdTechTeam donated for 1:1 student use was rolled out earlier this month...

YEAH!!!! The Nexus 7s arrived in Maine on Friday afternoon and we were able to give them to students just three days later. Kate Parkin (4th grade teacher) and I had spent time preparing for the devices, exploring apps, becoming familiar with various resources like Edutecher and Android4Schools and thinking about how to bring this to her students in the most productive way. Some weekend work went into charging, updating and preparing the tablets with each student's Yarmouth Google account.  
Read More on Kathy Wolinsky's Blog...
Do any of you know of any schools purchasing Nexus 7s for student use? We'd love to connect with the educators in those schools as well - to share challenges and best practices. Thank you in advance for any comments you might leave.

Meanwhile, we hope you all have a happy new year celebration. :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

EdTechTeam Values... And Thanks

Cross-posted from edtechlife.com.

This is an excerpt from something I wrote for the team back in February. It has stood the test of time well, and I'm excited to finally share it here. I look forward to any comments, feedback, or pushback from others. :)

Over the past few years I’ve found that my personal and professional values have more or less converged, so I’m particularly passionate about my commitment to these values... and I think they’re a good fit for this team.

Passion

We do only work that we are passionate about. Don’t accept a job from the team that you aren’t passionate about. Do feel free to send us leads you’re not passionate about, but know that I won’t move on a lead unless I am passionate about it... or unless I know someone else on the team that is. It follows that we also don’t provide or recommend products or services that we are not passionate about. Sticking to your passions is also a very positive way to ensure you never threaten your own integrity.

Flexibility

We are a flexible team. This is probably the essence of the EdTechTeam, and I often pitch this benefit to clients: “We are a nimble organization, able to be flexible and responsive to your needs... Our services can be scaled up or back as necessary, and we are experienced in developing custom services based on client requests. Because we always work on a contract basis, few of the commitments required to hire an employee are necessary for your organization to tap into our expertise.” I value flexibility over systems, rules, and precedents - and I value flexibility over checklists, goals, and plans. Flexibility is critical to the philosophy of the “lean startup” and that philosophy is key to our success and future growth. If I say “thank you for your flexibility” it is high praise coming from me.

Openness

We are an open team. I mean this in many ways. Most importantly, we are open with each other. Hopefully this message is a good step toward making that even more of a reality. If you have questions, concerns, or potential conflicts... let me (and anyone else involved) know. We are also open with the clients, educators, and students that we serve; we always share our opinions (and identify them as such); we always disclose potential conflicts of interest; and we always disclose any additional funding or support we might be receiving. And, of course, we always thank the people and organizations that have contributed to successful events and projects. Also, we share as much of our resources as we can. That is why all of our workshop resources and publicly posted materials (including blog posts and wikis) are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. We’re paying it forward to other educators and learners.

Creativity

We are a creative team. Creativity is a cornerstone of my educational philosophy. I believe that encouraging creativity is both a means for learning other things, and a valuable end for education to aspire to. I value working with creative people (like all of you), and our creative solutions to others’ problems are in a very real way what we are selling. We find creative ways to help people learn.

Simplicity

Simplicity is good. All things being equal, simplicity is better than complexity. Simple solutions are better than complex solutions. Simple tools are better than complex tools. Simple rules of thumb are better than complex manuals, and simple values are better than complex contracts. If in any case, a simpler tool can be used, simpler words will suffice, or a simpler route can be taken... we should always choose the most simple path to the solution we want. I feel my language in this message is simple, but I know it is still unnecessarily long and complex. I look forward to the day I’ll be able to express these things in only a few lines.

Health, Balance, and Authenticity

We live healthy, balanced, and authentic lives. I mentioned that my personal and professional values have converged over the years. These are three values (collected for simplicity’s sake) that I aspire to in my personal life, that I admire in many of you, and that we should look to for guidance as a team. We should not suggest things to clients, educators, and learners that would not be healthy or that would lead them to lead an unbalanced or inauthentic life; rather, we should encourage healthy choices, balanced behaviors, and authentic communication. I’m a fan of teaching “the whole child” (regardless of the political baggage this term may have acquired), and I think it is critically important to always deal with everyone, educators and students included, first as people. Discover their passions and their challenges if you truly want to help. The technology in our name and mission does not outweigh the health and happiness of the people we serve.

Giving

We donate 5% of our net income to put devices in the hands of students. As I’ve worked to reboot this business in 2012, I’ve wanted to ensure that giving is baked right into the business model. (Among other things, I was inspired by Blake Mycoskie’s Start Something That Matters.) When I asked myself what we could do, I kept coming back to the importance of putting devices in the hands of kids... to creating as many 1:1 situations as we can (even on an individual scale). We can’t offer any sort of 1-for-1 deal similar to Mycoskie’s TOMS shoes (it would be too expense to include the price of a mobile device with every workshop ticket... or to give away a workshop for each one sold), but we can dedicate  5% of our net profit to putting devices in kids hands. Inspired by Warren Dale, who provides some very convincing arguments for giving kids iPod Touches (which they will carry and use everywhere) I am giving iPod Touches to kids in schools with teachers (and visionary educational technologists) who will provide the best chance for the devices to be put to good use. UPDATE: The entire core team for the Google Apps for Education Summits has committed to giving away Nexus 7 devices... and I just shipped our second class set yesterday!


Synchronicity

We embrace synchronicity. Whatever cause or causes have brought all of us together, there is no doubt in my mind that this team is greater than the sum of it’s parts - that I am better working with you than I am working alone. Similarly, I trust my intuition... and I trust yours; your opinions and insights are extremely valuable to me. As a team, we should continue to embrace the happy accidents and meaningful connections that our work presents us with. I look forward to seeing how our efforts will be shaped in the months and years to come.

I feel the same way about this (sometimes dormant) blog. And on this particular day I'm Thankful for all of the happy accidents and meaningful connections I've found here with all of you as well. :)

See also a flashback "Thank You" post that still resonates with me 9 months later: http://edtechlife.com/?p=2942

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What did I learn? Search Google News Archives

This is cross-posted from the EdTechLife blog.

I wrote (most of) this on the plane ride home after the Google Apps for Education New England Summit last week...

If I'm going to blog publicly, I can ask myself... what did I learn this weekend? I usually learn something new at each summit... from dropping in on sessions, or from good questions asked in my own sessions... or, of course, from new tools or features released since I last ran my sessions. :)

Thanks to an attendee question, I relearned how to search the Google News Archives using the new interface. If I post this to my blog, I'll have to re-record a new video of it. It's awesome. In short, though, you can now access the Google News Archives by simply visiting Google News, and clicking on the drop down arrow in the search box. One of the options is to search in the archive – and you can limit your search by date as well.

Here's the video... my first screencast using my new Linux laptop. I used RecordMyDesktop to create an ogv file and then uploaded it directly to YouTube. I forgot to turn up my audio input first... and YouTube seems to have crunched the resolution down pretty far, but considering I wasn't up for a second take, I'm pretty happy with how it gets the point across. :)



Given my difficulty in articulating what else I've learned this weekend, I think another take away is this: I've got to make it more of a priority to spend substantial time in the other sessions in order to learn something new each time (and to take advantage of where we are, and who we are with). It will also help me have an even better idea about how each presenter runs their sessions and how the events are going. Right now I stick my head into every session (when I'm not presenting) to see how it's going. I busy myself taking pictures (as unobtrusively as possible)while I get a sense for how the energy in the room, but I don't usually stick around for the content. Most of the content is of course familiar to me, but I still pick up nuggets here and there, and there's no doubt in my mind that the speakers at these events have vastly different experiences and expertise from mine - that I could benefit from if I put more time into listening.

That being said, I did learn A LOT this weekend, but not necessarily about educational technology. I continue to learn a lot about business... and about people (and organizations)... and about myself. These things just might not be appropriate for an educational technology blog. Depending on the reflections, though, they might work here (it is an "and life" blog too after all), or they might work on a separate blog – or perhaps on an anonymous blog. Or perhaps only in a private file – in a hidden directory on an encryped drive. I've been doing some journaling too. ;)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nexus 7 Tablets Given a Test Drive by Second Graders


By Second Grade Teacher Julie Stewart

Anytime a class set of items enters a classroom, there needs to be an organized method to monitor them.  I realized that our new tablets could be managed just as easily as anything else in my classroom.  I would just use the classroom student identification numbers I assigned the students on the first day of school.  This would ensure that each student would always get their own tablet.  (I will let you know why this is so important to me in a later post.)  I made labels with their last names and ID numbers.  I took a photo of each box with their last name and number.  I then attached the labels to the back of the Nexus 7 tablets.  After attaching the label to the tablet, I took a simple colored dot with the ID number written on it and attached that to the box.  (This was cheaper than using label tape!)  This allowed me to store the boxes and remember which tablet belonged with which box and have a file stored with this information.  Beth and I also opted to leave the clear plastic film on the tablets to help protect the screens for as long as possible.  We figured that this was better than nothing for the time being.  We shall see how long this packaging film lasts as our cheap screen protector!


After getting the tablets marked with ID numbers and handed out to their new owners, we were finally ready to get started!  I gave the students a brief overview of the Nexus 7,  how to turn it on, and basic care and handling.  Since the students had already set-up their Google accounts the week before the tablets arrived, it was so simple to have them enter their information after turning them on. Oh, there were a few who had to try it a couple of  times, but it really was easier than I thought it was going to be.  The only minor glitch was when it came to the step where the wireless security code needed to be entered into the tablets to allow for an internet connection.  I realized that I had to put that information into each tablet myself!  It happened to be our lunch and recess time, so I was able to get it all done by the time the students got back to class.   Needless to say, they were pretty happy that I had every tablet ready to go.  Their excitement was pretty high at this point.

After all of the start-up steps were completed, they were ready to take their tablets for a test drive.  The first thing they wanted to do was visit was Google Earth!  It was a simple and easy first task. Their first couple of stops on their virtual trip was their house and our school.  Then one of the students suggested that we visit different countries.  It was not long before most of them were gathered around the world map in our classroom and found the places they wanted to see.  By the end of the class period, I believe that every continent had been visited by my classroom travelers.  This proved to be a very exciting virtual field trip.  I think the most exciting moment that I captured in a photo was when two students found out that they could visit Paris!  It was a great teacher and student moment!



We definitely had a great first lesson with our new tablets.  Our test drive was a huge success!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Second Grade Teacher’s Dream Fulfilled With the Arrival of the Nexus 7 Tablets

By Second Grade Teacher Julie Stewart

It is just about a year ago when I told Beth Mossholder, our resident Google Certified Teacher and technology teacher, that I was going to try to find a way to get tablets into my classroom.  Little did I know that I could actually make it happen!  After attending the Google Apps for Education Rocky Mountain Summit this past August, I knew I had to get the 21st century into my classroom for more than just one day a week when my class had a technology class.  When I saw the opportunity offered from the Ed Tech Team to place Nexus 7 tablets into the hands of students for a pilot program, I knew this was my chance to make this a reality.  I applied and am now thrilled to be part of this amazing journey that has already opened the world up to my students.



September 24, 2012 marked the beginning of this amazing journey for my second grade class with the arrival of our classroom set of Nexus 7 tablets.  We had been following the shipment via UPS with their tracking system, so when we saw that they were in Colorado at a UPS depot just miles from our school, the class could hardly sit still!  The school office was alerted to make the phone call once the truck arrived with this very special delivery.  Beth and I knew our world was about to change in a matter of hours.

The phone finally rang with our much anticipated phone call.  I quickly got the students to line up; how I managed that I will never know!  I went two doors down from my classroom to get Beth as my second graders followed me like little ducklings all in a row.  We started to hurry down the long hallway when hurrying suddenly turned into something similar to running.  The chatter of  happy voices disturbing every classroom along the way was priceless!  Little faces peered out from behind classroom doors as we made our way to the school office.  We were greeted with a smiling UPS delivery man with the special delivery from the Ed Tech Team!

This had to be the best day ever for my second graders!  The addition of these tablets is going to change the way my students learn this school year and beyond into their futures.  The 21st century has arrived in my classroom, and I cannot wait to see where it takes us.

Thank you, Ed Tech Team, for making a dream come true.  Our journey has just begun and what a ride it is going to be!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Laptop, Phone, & Service: Open Source, Unlocked, & Contract Free

I shared this elsewhere and thought I'd share it on the team blog as well. I hope others might find it useful.

UPDATE: I buried the lead... by switching from AT&T to StraightTalk I'm basically getting my new phone AND laptop for FREE. :)

Wow. I exhausted all the possibilities and finally settled on a new laptop, phone, and phone service. I'm going all open source, unlocked, and contract free. :)

Laptop: ZaReason UltraLap 430 w/Ubuntu 12.04
https://zareason.com/shop/UltraLap-430.html

Phone: Google Galaxy Nexus by Samsung
http://www.google.com/nexus/#/galaxy

Service: StraightTalk Unlimited (Month-to-Month)
https://www.straighttalk.com/secure/ServicePlans

BTW, I'll save more than $1000 over two years by leaving AT&T... plus another $1400 since I'll be canceling my MiFi as well. I can buy a new phone whenever I want! (This made it easier to say no to the Samsung Galaxy SIII for now, as did the promise of Jelly Bean sooner on the Nexus... not to mention the Nexus was half the price unlocked. I really wanted to do the SIII on Credo for $199, but the two year contract at AT&T like prices turned me off despite Credo's social mission.)

Also, the laptop has double the RAM of a Maxed out Macbook Air, and more SSD storage than possible with a Macbook Air... for over $300 less. And, I found great looking alternatives to all my favorite Mac Apps, including TextExpander and FlyCut. Oh, and they're all free.

These are still not inexpensive purchases, but I feel like it's money well spent... I was out the door for 15% less than I would've been with a maxed out Macbook Air and a basic iPhone 5. And with the savings over time with the cell plan, I basically just got my new phone and computer for FREE!

I guess I buried the lead, eh?

And of course I'll be sharing my experiences switching from OS X and iOS to Linux and Android... and I'm looking forward to finally walking the open source talk. :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Google Apps EDU goes Rocky Mountain!

There’s something about that Rocky Mountain skyline that can’t help but inspire, and when 250 educators arrived on a balmy Thursday morning to the Boulder Marriott for the Google Apps EDU Rocky Mountain Summit, they certainly did not disappoint!


Ever-awesome committee member Molly Schroeder helps check in scores of excited educators to the Summit.

Attendees were teachers, educators, administrators, professional developers, and technical staff. All came and packed the house for our opening keynote, Allyson McDuffie, from the Google geo team right there in Boulder. Her keynote inspired in the ways geographic education is changing with technology, and flew us right into a great kickstart to the conference. The next morning, fellow Googler Tina Ornduff shared her wisdom from the Google Geo Teachers Institute and geo tools she works with and sent a similarly inspiring message out to the crowd.

Our two keynotes (and family!) smile for the camera.

There was plenty of networking time throughout the two days, and it was so nice to walk around and hear conversations about the issues, initiatives, ideas, and passions amongst educators from around the region and beyond. Nexus 7 tablets were being explored, there was a lab of Chromebooks that educators got to play with during sessions, and partnerships and collaborations were brewing right alongside the morning coffee. The hallway was full of the event’s sponsors, including Wikispaces, Schoology, Haiku LMS, Cloudlock, and Jordan Pedraza from the Google Apps EDU team, all ready to share how their products worked with Google Apps for Education and answer questions from folks.


Attendees show off how “Googley” they are at the Summit Photo Booth.

Sessions ranged from getting started to getting geeky, and popping in and out of each packed house it was exciting to see some of the ideas being generated - from Mark Wagner’s search contest to giveaway Search Education’s helpful “Google a Day” books to to Allison Mollica sharing some global applications of Google Sites, it was tough to choose which session to go to each hour. The conference ended with a special tour for several attendees, a cornerstone of many of the Google Apps EDU Summits, of the very unique Google Boulder office just down the street! A handful of attendees got to view the Googley culture that only few get to see-- a rockwall and ping-pong table made for engineers to "work out a problem," a VW van in the middle of the office if you need to get some solitude, and plenty of unique and collaborative work spaces sprinkled throughout.

Personal learning networks were alight with #gafesummit’s hashtag and Google + Hangout Demo’s, and it was exciting to add these folks to each other's PLN's. At the end of the sold-out event, it was sad to see so many passionate educators go, but we knew they were off to begin their school years and put into place so many of the groundbreaking ideas they’d discussed for the past two days, and we look forward to following them online and see them next year to share their stories of success!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

EdTechTeam Donating Nexus 7 Tablets for Students!

During our initial planning discussions in preparation for the Google Apps for Education Summits, our team committed to donating a percentage of the net income from each event directly to classrooms - specifically to put internet connected devices into the hands of students. Happily, Google has recently released the Nexus 7, the next generation Android tablet in a student-friendly 7 inch form factor - for only $199. We've now committed to donating 24 Nexus 7 tablets to a classroom. We're working with our sponsors and others to make this a full class set of 30 or more devices in the coming weeks.


Google is only positioning these devices as consumer products at this point, but the EdTechTeam believes they have great potential for student use and would love to see how an innovative teacher facilitates this - and we'd love to learn more about what challenges this might present. We'd most like to see these placed in a 1:1 pilot program (either at the elementary level, or for a single class at the secondary level) that allows students to take the devices home with them on a daily basis. So... what would you do with a class set of Nexus 7 Tablets? Write up your proposal and then submit it via this form: http://goo.gl/rVwqi

Be sure to describe how students might use the devices in your class, and what you'll do to facilitate student use of the devices for inquiry and creation. On August 21, 2012 we'll select the winner of the first class set. 

If you're not selected for funding by us, we encourage you to develop an account on DonorsChoose.org, where anyone else can fund your proposals! We see this as a way to empower teachers to seek funding for far more classes than we could ever fund ourselves. If you setup your proposal on DonorsChoose, please use the form above to let us know, too. You can promote your proposal anywhere - and we'll help spread the word! Please let us know if you have any questions about this. We look forward to seeing your proposals, helping to make them happen, and hearing about the impact these devices make in your classes.

BONUS: iBallz has generously offered to provide iBallz Minis for every Nexus 7 we give away!



UPDATE 2012/08/21: Three finalists have been chosen, and more information has been requested from them. All other applicants have been notified as well. The form above is no longer accepting submissions. We will launch a new application as soon as we are able. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

No Account Needed to Complete a Google Form

If you are like me, than you know that Google Forms are the best thing since sliced bread. A check for understanding from students, a parent survey, a workshop evaluation, a classroom walk-through...well, the list is endless for what you can do with a form.  What is even better is that the end user does not need a Google account to actually fill out the form.  Isn't that great?!  You simply provide a link to your form and you can begin collecting data. You can send the link via email, you can embed the form on a site, or you can even use social media such as Google+ or twitter to share the link.  As long as your form is accepting responses, just about anyone with an internet connection can complete the form. Google Forms Rock!

You can find out even more about Google Forms at the Google Apps for Education Rocky Mountain Summit on August 2 & 3 in colorful Colorado.  Join us!

EdTechTeam Donating Nexus 7 Tablets to Teachers!

During our initial planning discussions in preparation for the Google Apps for Education California Summit, our team committed to donating a percentage of the net income from the event directly to classrooms - specifically to put internet connected devices into the hands of students. We debated for some time whether these should be iPod Touches (because the $199 price point allows us to reach more students - and because their size means students will use them more) or perhaps Chromebooks (since these were the focus of the event). Happily, Google has since released the Nexus 7, the next generation Android tablet in a student-friendly 7 inch form factor - for only $199. We've now committed to donating 12 Nexus 7 tablets to a classroom. We're working with our sponsors and others to make this a full class set of 30 or more devices in the coming weeks.


Google is only positioning these devices as consumer products at this point, but the EdTechTeam believes they have great potential for student use and would love to see how an innovative teacher facilitates this - and we'd love to learn more about what challenges this might present. We'd most like to see these placed in a 1:1 pilot program (either at the elementary level, or for a single class at the secondary level) that allows students to take the devices home with them on a daily basis.

So... what would you do with a class set of Nexus 7 Tablets? 

Write up your proposal on DonorsChoose.org, and send us the URL of your proposal via the form below. Be sure to describe how students might use the devices in your class, and what you'll do to facilitate student use of the devices for inquiry and creation. On August 21, 2012 we'll select the winner of the first class set. And bonus... if you're not selected for funding by us, you'll already be setup on DonorsChoose.org, where anyone else can fund your proposal! We see this as a way to empower teachers to seek funding for far more classes than we could ever fund ourselves. 


Here are a few simple steps to get you started:*

Step 1. Create a DonorsChoose.org account here: http://www.donorschoose.org/teachers/

Step 2. Setup a project on DonorsChoose.org describing how you would use a class set of Nexus 7 tablets. Be specific about how students might use the device in your class. Also, be sure to price out the tablets (and any cases or other accessories you might need). You can learn more about the Nexus 7 here: 

Step 3. Send us the URL of your project by filling out this form here: 

Step 4. Start promoting your project elsewhere! Anyone can fund it, not just us!

Please let us know if you have any questions about this project. We look forward to seeing your proposals on DonorsChoose, helping to fund them, and hearing about the impact these devices make in your classes.

On behalf of the Google Apps for Education California Summit Planning Team (Chris Bell, Wendy Gorton, Jim Sill, Molly Schroeder, Lisa Thumann, Sean Williams, and myself), thank you to everyone who attended the summit and make this possible.

-Mark

UPDATE - iBallz has generously offered to provide iBallz Minis for every Nexus 7 we give away! So, there is no need to include the price of a case with your grant proposal on DonorsChoose.org!


*UPDATE - It's come to our attention that the Nexus 7 is not in any of the DonorsChoose catalogs and that it may not work for new members of DonorsChoose to apply for grants outside the pre-approved catalogs. So, we have modified the form in step 3 above to allow you to describe your project directly on your form. If you are new to DonorsChoose (or do not yet have an account), this is probably the best option for you: proceed directly to step three and fill out the form. We can fund a request directly and we don't want DonorsChoose to hold anyone back. (That being said, we still believe it's a great tool for connecting donors and teachers, and we encourage you to join on your own to request other donations!)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Google Voice for Educators


Google Voice is a free service that works on Android, iPhone, and Blackberry devices. Some of the features that are offered by Google Voice are:

  • One number. Make calls and send text messages from your Google Voice number.
  • Voicemail transcription. Voicemails are automatically transcribed to text so you can read them like email.
  • Free text messages. Send and receive text messages to numbers in the US and Canada for free.
  • Cheap international calls Make low-priced international calls directly from your mobile device.
  • Integration. Google Voice integrates with your device's native address book or Google Contacts.
  • Custom greetings. Set up different greetings for different callers.

Teachers can use a Google Voice number for parents without giving away their primary phone number. You can also easily create custom voicemail greetings for parents and a different greeting for students.  Educators can even put a call widget for a Google Voice number on their website!


Recently Google Voice added another feature: two new groups for sorting callers into people in your address book and anonymous callers. This lets you further fine tune how you sort your calls.


Ready for more with Google Voice? Point your phone to m.google.com/voice


Then come to the Google Voice Session at the California Google Apps Summit!

Graduate Credit for GAFE Summits: You Spoke...We Listened

Woohoo! Graduate is credit is now available for the Google Apps for Education Summits.  One hour can be obtained from Adams State College for $55. Certificates of Attendance will also be made available to attendees. 

Join us in Colorado on August 2&3 for the Rocky Mountain Summit.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Tip for Recovering Word Addicts

I'm taking a break from my #inbox0 series to talk about a great Docs tip I heard earlier this week. If you already know it, read this instead: http://xkcd.com/1053/

Easing Formatting Whiplash when Converting a Word document to Google Docs

Amongst the work I'm supposed to be doing recently, I've found myself brainstorming ideas for a workshop I've titled, "Google Docs for the Recovering Microsoft Word Addict." Actually, I haven't made it much past the title, but I really like the title, and I've been motivated to do more by less.

While I don't know how far I'm going to make it on this workshop before the next shiny thing spins by my watering hole, I do have at least one tip to add right now:


Word 97/2000 .doc as the Methadone for the recovering Word Addict


Use a copy of Word to convert .docx files to .doc before importing for improved formatting conversations!


Remember when Microsoft decided to make every previous version of Word obsolete by introducing the .docx file? For those of you that occasionally move between the MS/Word and Docs platforms (probably all of us) You may also know that .docx files don't always convert well into Google Docs. However, if you let Word do the conversion from .docx to .doc with a simple "Save As" You can expect to keep almost all of your formatting!


In that troublesome .docx file go Save As, and then change the format from Word to Word 97-2004. Try to hum some REM while doing this. I'm not sure if it helps, but I'm hoping a little "What's the Frequency Kenneth?" will help your document get into character.

Upload the new .doc file, and you are back on track!


I will have more #inbox0 tips in the coming weeks, but sign up for the Rocky Mountain Google Apps for Education Summit and attend my series of Gmail management workshops!

To learn more about Gmail and all the Google Apps for Education, join us at a Google Apps for Education Summit!
Register now for the CA Google Apps for Education Summit July 12-13th in Santa Clara CA and the Rocky Mountain Google Apps for Education Summit August 2-3 in Boulder CO.



Monday, June 11, 2012

Google Presentations: Updated and Worth the Wait!



Google Presentations is a tool I use in my small corner of education for pretty much everything BUT creating presentations. That said, I've seen some folks do some really GREAT things using presentation. My daughter's first grade teacher uses presentation for "Kid Quotes," and to share "Themes and Units" with the parents. A few years ago (3+) Tom Barrett and his 80+ interesting ways to... showed how a collaborative slide deck could be pretty cool even if the tool editor was lacking in cool.
I can also remember the first time I saw the way that Chris Atkinson (#GCT) used it to deliver and share the nightly homework or project updates with parents a few years back; what a really great way to use this tool I thought. Then there are the teachers that have leveraged the "backchannel" aspect of the older version of the tool. A bit wonky at times, but still an early use of a backchannel tool and a great way to "view a presentation together"
Now though, you can actually use Google Presentation for, ahem, Presenting. :)
With updated themes and the new animation feature, it can allow for a much more aesthetically pleasing experience for the designer and for the participant.
There are a bunch of new and really useful updated features available in Presentations like presentation view with speaker notes, an updated commenting feature, new themes, ability to upload .pptx files, easier collaboration UI, and a cleaner revision history. I wanted to share quickly the animation feature, as I believe this could unlock some creative-ness in learners looking to share or "animate" their slides. (Stop motion videos anyone?)


mo.morsi.org (source)
Quick Tips: 
  • The three ways to open the Animations pane:
    • Select a slide. Then, go to the View menu and select Animations. The Animations pane will appear on the right side of your screen. 
    • Select a shape. Then, go to the Insert menu and select Animations. The Animations pane will appear on the right side of your screen. 
    • Right click on a selected shape and select Animate.
  • Animation display order is the same order that they will appear, disappear, etc. 
  • You can slide them up and down to change the order
  • You can delete them by clicking "delete" next to the entry.
Keep in mind that there is no limit to the number of animations you can include in a slide, although I would adhere to some semblance of an enjoyable viewing experience for your audience. :)

To learn even more about Google Docs features, tools, and latest nuances; join us at an upcoming Google Apps for Education Summit!
Register now for the CA Google Apps for Education Summit July 12-13th in Santa Clara CA and the Rocky Mountain Google Apps for Education Summit August 2-3 in Boulder CO.


Rocky Mountain Google Apps for Education Summit August 2-3 in Boulder CO.
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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Which Way To Navigate?

Did you know that there is a semi-hidden feature in Google Sites that will allow you to change the page navigation from vertical to horizontal?  While we love the ease with which you can put a site together and have all the pages linked automatically, there are those of us who like the flexibility of changing the navigation up a bit.

To access this feature in sites you need to do the following...
  • You can start by either editing your Sidebar or selecting the More button on the top right side of your site and choosing Manage Site
  • Select Site Layout text on the left and then the Change Site Layout button
  • In the middle of the window, you will need to check the box for Horizontal Navigation Bar and click OK







  • Your next step will be to delete Navigation that is found under sidebar unless you would like both vertical and horizontal navigation



  • Manually adding the pages you want in the navigation bar is the next step and you do that by selecting the Edit Horizontal Nav Content


  • Select the Add Page text and choose the page you would like to have visible.  Repeat for all pages.  You can also Add URL to insert a link into the navigation bar
  • The final step is to choose either Boxes, Tabs or Links found under Style in the same window and then click on OK
  • You can select the Preview button to view your new look and then Save to accept the changes



 
All in all this gives you a little more flexibility with the navigation on your site.

To learn more of these tips and tricks, attend one of the many Google Apps for Education Summits coming to a city near you.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Inbox 0 for Google Apps Users Tip #4

In anticipation of the upcoming Rocky Mountain Google Apps Summit, I will be posting a series of #inbox0 tips for Google Apps users. Thanks for your interest! +Cory Pavicich


No two emails are created the same

#inbox0 Tip #4: Every Gmail email has a unique, stable url that can be copied and referenced from any open tab.

Have you ever found yourself returning again and again for the same reference email? Maybe you've stared the email, or maybe you search for it each time you need to review the contents. Either way, the content is an important reference tool for a larger project, and you need quick and easy access to the email.



Reports of a creative mind in the area are highly exaggerated

In the life of an #inbox0 ninja no email is allowed to survive in your inbox, and every extra keystroke counts! Unnecessary searches are extra key strokes, especially when you are trying to get real work done (not just check your email). For each major project I keep a Project Planning Document using David Allen's natural planning model as a framework. My planning documents are peppered with email reference links, which allow me to work from a document without having the pestering annoyance of email interrupting each time I need to check a reference email. Of course, a folder in your bookmarks with reference emails can work just as well. What doesn't work is letting that email point its accusatory finger of failure each time you open your email...


I will have more #inbox0 tips in the coming weeks, but sign up for the Rocky Mountain Google Apps for Education Summit and attend my series of Gmail management workshops!




To learn more about Gmail and all the Google Apps for Education, join us at a Google Apps for Education Summit!
Register now for the CA Google Apps for Education Summit July 12-13th in Santa Clara CA and the Rocky Mountain Google Apps for Education Summit August 2-3 in Boulder CO.









Monday, June 4, 2012

Math Apps + Google Drive = A Winning Combination

As I continue to watch the evolution of working in the cloud, I get really excited by both the possibilities for educators and students. The idea of the paperless classroom, while not a new concept, is certainly more appealing when you have an integrated creation and storage solution ala Google Drive. When everything is baked in, you no longer have to come up with workarounds to suit the needs of your students and/or colleagues.

As of this writing, there are two mathematics applications as add ons for Google Drive--Geogebra and Graphing Calculator by Desmos that allow students (and teachers) to both create and store their work online. The former has long been available as a desktop application and is used extensively in online courses and classrooms worldwide. Desmos is a more recent entry into the space having developed web applications and Chrome Apps over the past couple of years. Both are simply awesome when used through Google Drive.

GEOGEBRA

Geogebra is dynamic mathematics software for all levels of education that combines geometry, algebra, graphing, and calculus. The software is free and open source and has only recently been ported over to Chrome and Drive. While the Drive app doesn’t yet offer all of the functionality available in the desktop application, that’s no reason to ignore this diamond in the rough. The authoring tool also allows users to create and share interactive online learning materials through the GeogebraTube repository. Having students develop their own learning materials and contributing to the repository would certainly be a great way to develop higher order thinking skills.



GRAPHING CALCULATOR BY DESMOS

The Graphing Calculator Drive App is a boon for both students and teachers. While also not entirely new, this application started out as a website, then became a Chrome App, and is now a full fledged Drive App.  This HTML5 app is slick, fast, and powerful--just what the students need to replace their expensive TI graphing calculators.

Creating, graphing, and sharing student work with this app is incredibly quick and easy. Want to save it Google Drive? Check. Want to also post it to Twitter or Facebook? Check. Care to save the graph as an image for your Google Presentation? Check. 



If you're interested in learning more about this application, I’d recommend Audrey Watters’ review of it over at Hack Education or the blog post over at Desmos. I think they're doing great things over at Desmos and I hope they are around for a long time to come.




BONUS MATH APP!
Bonus app for use with geometry students: Floor Planner


To learn more about Drive Apps, start here or join us for a Google Apps in Education Summit in your region. I'll be leading a Google Drive workshop at each event and hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Youtube.com/Teachers



There was a time when you had to convince teachers that Youtube had any classroom value.  Don't get me wrong, there has always been a way to incorporate a video or two into a lesson.  Today, it is a whole lot easier with Youtube.com/teachers.  

The channel was released months ago, but continues to be updated with the latest playlists for all your subjects.  Head over to the site and you will land on a page that features some of the hottest videos for the classroom today.  Tap through the list of featured videos that are hand picked each week from channels like TEDEducation to jump start your week of teaching.
  
Scroll down a little further and find playlists for all the testable* classes from elementary to high school.  Working with
CUE and teachers like the amazing, James Sanders, Youtube searches their huge vault of videos for videos relevant to subjects like High School: Statistics & Probability. 

The channel doesn't stop at great subject matter playlists, but it also goes into detail on how to get started using Youtube in your classroom. 




Check out the Getting Started tab for a tutorial on how to create and customize your own Channel.  

If you still need inspiration on how to use Youtube, just click on the
Top 10 Ways to Use Youtube.  This list is not only helpful to you, but also to your administration that needs a little more convincing.  

Working with
Teacher and FlipTeaching expert Ramsey Musallam and yours truly, the Types of Videos and Video Production Tips page will help you get a better handle on "feeding the beast".  The tips are there for you to begin uploading your own resource videos for your students and teachers around the world.

In the tools tab, you will find great examples on
Screencasting Hardware and Software and video editors so you can start flipping your classroom in no time. 



Are you creating awesome playlists for your own classroom or school? Click on the Suggest Videos tab and let them know.  Perhaps your playlist will end up on the site and start helping countless teachers from around the world. 

I can help guide you through the process at some of the Google Apps Summits popping up around the world.  Looking to get started sooner than later, join me at the 
CA Google Apps for Education Summit July 12-13th in Santa Clara CA.

* As a video production teacher, I always feel a little left out of the standardized tests. :(


To learn more about YouTube in Education, don't miss the Google Apps for Education Summit produced by EdTechTeam in partnership with Google, coming to a region near you in 2012-2013: http://www.gafesummit.com



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Inbox 0 for Google Apps Users Tip #3


In anticipation of the upcoming Rocky Mountain Google Apps Summit, I will be posting a series of #inbox0 tips for Google Apps users. Thanks for your interest! +Cory Pavicich


Are you an inbox horder?

#inbox0 tip #3
: Make choices about an email the FIRST time you see it. DO IT, DELEGATE IT, or DEFER IT.

Many people love the Superstars feature of Gmail, but I'm not a big fan. Why? staring and flagging emails is an often abused way to not have to decide what to do with a recently read email. Most of us are guilty of reading emails, closing them, and then leaving them in our inboxes as a reminder to deal with them later. However, avoiding decisions about email is the #1 way to NOT get to Inbox 0. Instead, decide to decide what to do with your email.

There are only four decisions you can make about an email (with apologies to the much more gifted @gtdguy David Allen, whose Getting Things Done system best defines this advice).


Delete It
Do It
Delegate It
Defer It


That's it! There are no decisions that you can make that do not fit into one of those three categories. So how do you use this to get you to Inbox 0?

Delete it: Of course, you should never delete an email in Gmail. So archive instead. Is something reference material or noise? Go ahead and get it out of your inbox as fast as you can. I recommend keyboard shortcuts, and then advanced search tools (covered in a later tip).


Do It: When you open an email and it's a simple decision, usually a yes/no or informational question, then you can do it right then. However, when you are "checking your email" DON'T reply to emails that take more than two minutes to resolve. That's work, and emails that require more than two minutes are work that should be organized and prioritized. 2+ minute emails should be deferred.

Delegate It: Can someone else do this better, faster, or easier than you? Is it another person's job to resolve this email? Don't do work that someone else can/will do for you, especially if it's their job. Good email habits have clear boundaries. Here's your opportunity to set your own.

Defer It: Beware urgent work in the disguise of important work. Often the urgency of an email will entice you to break the two minute rule outlined above. But few urgent emails are also important (they just seem like it. When something comes into your inbox and it will take you more than two minutes to respond, defer it into a trusted system. For the Google Apps devotees, how about Google Tasks?

Once you've decided that an email cannot be Deleted, Done, or Delegated, and you've Defer it, go onto the next email. Once all your email is clear, THEN you can decide, from within your trusted system, what work is really important. But if you take on new email projects while there are still unprocessed emails in your inbox, you might as well assume you are doomed to inbox \infty.

I will have more #inbox0 tips in the coming weeks, but sign up for the Rocky Mountain Google Apps for Education Summit and attend my series of Gmail management workshops!

To learn more about Gmail and all the Google Apps for Education, join us at a Google Apps for Education Summit!
Register now for the CA Google Apps for Education Summit July 12-13th in Santa Clara CA and the Rocky Mountain Google Apps for Education Summit August 2-3 in Boulder CO.