Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shake Up Learning With Google Apps at June's Texas Summit!

Guest Blogger Kasey Bell, Shake Up Learning
Attendee of EdTechTeam New England Summit
Cross-Posted from the Shake Up Learning Blog

 I spent the latter part of my spring break attending the New England Google Summit in Burlington, Massachusetts. The very talented Ed Tech Team produce these dynamic learning experiences for educators all over the world. If you are a Google Apps for Education district, I highly recommend attending a Google Summit near you. For my Texas friends, the EdTechTeam Texas Google Summit will take place June 10-11 at Richardson West Arts & Technology Magnet. It will be worth your time and money! Oh, and watch the #gafesummit hashtag to learn from other summits that are going on throughout the year.

I have so many great tips to share that I decided to make this a series. Below are a few ideas and resources to get you started with the new feature in Google Docs and Sheets: Google Add-Ons.

Add-Ons for Google Docs and Sheets

Recently, Google launched a new feature in Docs and Sheets: Add-Ons. Add-Ons allow you to use third-party apps to make Google Docs and Sheets even better. For instance, Avery has an Add-On that makes it a snap to create labels in Google Docs. The new store of Add-Ons has something for everybody. Add-Ons will appear in the toolbar when you create a new document or sheet.
Since this feature was so new, it was a hot topic at the #gafesummit. (Note: You must be running the new version of Docs and Sheets to use this new feature. If you are using a GAFE district domain, you may not see this right away--depending on your administration settings.)

If you have used scripts in Google Sheets, those have now been replaced with Add-Ons. You will find a lot of your favorite scripts are now converted to Add-Ons. For instance, I love Doctopus. The basic concept behind Doctopus is that it enables teachers to quickly share documents with all of the students on a roster, monitor usage of shared documents, and give students feedback within that roster spreadsheet. It is now an Add-On, and has been combined with G-Class Folders. So Doctopus, Goobric, and G-Class Folders are all tied up in one neat, little bundle.

Special thanks to Molly Schroeder for a fantastic presentation on Add-Ons and Scripts. Her resources can be found here. If I am speaking a foreign language to you, check out the tutorials from Jay Atwood that explain it all! Doctopus can make a teacher's life so much easier! Below is a tutorial to get you started with Doctopus and the Add-Ons Gallery.

Ready for More Add-Ons?Google Guru has a great post on 7 of the Best New Add-Ons For Google Docs and Sheets 

One of my favorite sessions from the New England Google Summit was “Gone Google, Got iPad,” by Dee Lanier. There are many of us that do love both worlds, but getting Google Apps to play nicely with iPad can be challenging. Dee reminded me of many apps that deserve a second look, and introduced a few new features that I love. Below are my highlights from his session.

Google Search App with Google Voice Search - Better Than Siri

I have the Google Search app installed on my iOS devices, but I never use it. I didn’t see the point when the omnibox gave me what I needed in Chrome or Safari. I have since learned of some great new features.

You probably know you can search in Chrome using your voice just by clicking on the little microphone icon. What you may not know is that you can now use Google Voice Search hands free using the Google Search app! This is a fairly new feature to app on iOS devices, but I think has been working for Android devices a bit longer. Instead of having to click on the microphone, you can enable “Okay Google,” and search hands free. Just by starting your search with, “Okay Google,” the app will pick up your voice and conduct your search. AND it will read the results back to you! This would be great for younger students, struggling readers and writers, the list goes on and on. This is also something you can also enable in your Chrome browser on the desktop.

Google seems to interpret my East Texas accent better than Siri, and what is read back is a much better quality voice than what Siri has to offer. Try it in the Google Search app or in Chrome on the desktop. No really, try it now. I’ll wait...Okay, on to the next app!

Below is a video example of how the “Okay Google,” voice command works:

Classroom Application Idea: Have students use the Google Search App to guide inquiry-based research, especially great for younger students.

Google’s Gmail App
This is another app that is worth a second look. Here are top 3 reasons to switch from the iOS Mail App to the Gmail App:

  1. Web-based and will not take up space on your iPad
  2. Search for old emails (I’ve tried this in the mail app many times. It leaves a lot to be desired.) Links from Gmail will open in other related Google Apps: Chrome, G+, etc.
  3. Google+ App
If you aren’t using Google+, you should be. It is the fastest growing social network. It also seems that Google is making G+ the hub for all of the other Google Apps. The Google+ App also offers a few additional features you may have not discovered. You can use the G+ app to auto-backup your camera roll. This can save you precious storage space on your iPad. Don’t worry! These are private until you tell G+ otherwise. Dee suggested setting up a dummy account for shared school iPads to collect all your images and files in one lovely, cloud - based location.

Other Google Apps for the iPad

  • Google Chrome
  • Google Translate 
  • Google Play for iPad (Yes, Google’s music will play on the iPad.)
  • Google Hangouts 
  • YouTube YouTube Capture (also mentioned in my TCEA Top Ten List) 
  • Google Drive Quick Office 
  • Google Keep
  • Google Maps
  • Google Earth 
  • Google Play Books 
  • Blogger 
  • Snapseed 
  • Goo.gl (iPhone) 
  • Google Admin (Account management at your fingertips for your GAFE domain.) 
  • Chromecast 
  • The Official List of All the Google Mobile Apps for iOS

Dee also shared a great project for vetting and promoting device agnostic apps--great for BYOD. Check out: Quixey.com and THINK OPEN.

Special thanks to Dee Lanier and the EdTechTeam! No Google Summit would be complete without a few sessions dedicated to the beauty we call the Google Chrome browser. I am a self-proclaimed Google Chrome addict (I even have a session on this coming up at TxGoo in May), and I'm always looking for new apps and extensions that can improve productivity and student learning. So I had to partake in a Chrome session at the New England Google Summit! Chrome has made my life easier, more creative, and fun!

Before we dive in, let's take a moment to clarify some vocabulary for the newbies, or for the forbidden Internet Explorer Users (IE is EVIL):
  • Google Chrome: For the purposes of this post, I am referring to the Google Chrome web browser.
  • Google Chrome Extensions: Extensions are installed in the browser and give you added features and abilities to customize your browser.
  • Google Chrome Apps: Apps are most often enhanced shortcuts that optimize the website or app within the browser. 
The wonderful Molly Schroeder did not disappoint with her session, “Chrome Ninja Tips and Tricks.” I picked up some great tips to share. Below are just a few highlights, check out the links to the session for more.
  • Chrome Speak (app): This text-to-speech app is so easy to use. Select the text in your browser, right-click, and click “read selection text.” This is great for new and struggling readers, and learning new vocabulary!
  • Lucidpress (app): This one is for those of you that miss Microsoft Publisher and want some more advanced formatting options in Google Docs. Lucidpress will allow you to create stunning flyers, brochures, newsletters, photo books and more.
  • Google Dictionary (extension): This one is great for students! With this extension, you and your students can:
    • Double-click any word to view its definition in a small pop-up bubble.
    • View the complete definition of any word or phrase using the toolbar dictionary, and Store a history of words you've looked up, so you can practice them later.
  • Snagit (extension and app): You will need both the extension and the app to take full advantage of this great screen capture tool. Snagit will allow you to take screenshots right from your toolbar, AND save all your images to your Google Drive! But what you may not know is that if you enable experimental features in your settings, you can now do screencasting too! So easy!
I could talk all day about Chrome Apps and Extensions but I’m going to be brief. However, I must include this hilarious video for your viewing pleasure. (Thanks again to Molly!) Everybody Chromercize!!!

Additional Resources

If you are thirsty for more check out these resources:GAFE Summit Session Resources (Click on the title of session to find links and resources for each session.)

I’ve bookmarked all of my resources in Diigo.

I’ve also storified all my tweets for my own reference, and they are loaded with links and resources as well.

Need some Texan spirit like Kasey? Register now for the Texas Summit this June! 


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