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!