Archive for the 'Google in Education' Category

New Workshop Descriptions: Thoughts?

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

This past year has been a blur, with 20 Google in Education Summits and dozens of other events. I’ve really honed (and continue to improve) my favorite three sessions:

I still love these sessions (and the seemingly timeless Blog if You Love Learning) and I feel like they are eye-opening to most of the educators I reach. But, it feels like it’s time to put something new into rotation… and I have a few opportunities this summer. Here are three new sessions… I know they’re not on the currently beaten path of Common Core  (or other hot topics), but these are what I have to offer right now – and I hope I might be able to reach educators who could benefit from what I have to share. Meanwhile, I’d love any initial feedback any of you can offer. :)

What’s New from Google in Education

You’ve seen sessions on Google Search, Google Docs, and other free tools for years. Now come learn the latest features (and inspiring ideas) that will benefit you and your students. Google releases “early and often” (with over 120 updates to Google Apps last year), so this session is always new! Discover citations in Google Scholar, news archives in Google News, research tools in Google Docs, multi-media editing “in the cloud” with Google Drive, awesome new mobile apps, and… “even more” – including items newer than this description! This fun high-paced session is delivered in a “play along” format with something for everyone.

Make More of Your Time: Productivity Tools for Educators and Students

Learn simple tips, tricks, and apps for automating tasks. Text Expanders save hours of typing. Clipboard buffers save hours of cutting-and-pasting. Paperless faxes, forms, and signatures save hours printing and scanning (and save trees). Automated rules, filters, canned responses, and prioritizing tools save DAYS dealing with email… and visual voice mail! Collaborative documents, calendars, and to-do lists make teamwork easier… especially with free video conferencing and desktop sharing! These tips and more can benefit any busy educator or student, whatever your roles and responsibilities. Mastering these tools is part of being literate and successful in the today’s high-paced world… and most importantly, they can give you back time for the slower things in life.

Now It’s For You: Open Source in Education

Open Source Software is secure, feature rich, and FREE… perfect for educators and students. Open Source Solutions used to be best for techies and geeks, but recently they have entered the mainstream and *surpassed* expensive proprietary efforts like Windows, Mac OS X, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, Photoshop, iLife, and more. Android Phones and Chromebooks are both Linux at the core. Ubuntu is a beautiful and easy to use operating system. Firefox is a fast, flexible, and secure web-browser (and proudly non-profit). Shotwell and OpenShot replace iPhoto and iMovie. GIMP replaces photoshop… and there are more free tools available to customize (and secure) your computing experience than ever before. Plus, with favorite apps like Google Chrome now available on Linux, it can be the best window into everything “the cloud” has to offer education today, with online and local copies of all your writing, media, and collaborations. (NOTE: This more or less chronicles my past year using an Ultralap 430 running Ubuntu as my main laptop, in conjunction with various Chromebooks and Nexus Android devices… I’m happier with my the tools I’m using, and I saved a ton of money.)

Thanks for taking a look at these, and thanks in advance for any comments or feedback you might be able to leave. :)

Early and often, right? ;)

PS. If you miss me blogging here, you can find me microblogging and social networking at Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Diffusion of Useful Ignorance… and Self Forgiveness

Monday, November 26th, 2012

I’ve been inspired to study Thoreau again, and suspect this will generate a number of posts here. I’m heavily annotating what I read and have found much I want to write about, some of which would be in the realm of “and life” posts – though some of it would be relevant to this blog in other ways as well, which is to say it would relate to education and technology. In the interest of getting something posted tonight, I want to focus on one particular idea that has resonated with me. 

The purpose of education might be said to be the “Diffusion of Useful Knowledge,” but Thoreau suggests that there is “equal need of a Society for the Diffusion of Useful Ignorance… for what is most of our boasted so-called knowledge but a conceit that we know something, which robs us of the advantage of our actual ignorance?” Elsewhere he asks, “how can we remember our ignorance, which our growth requires, when we are using our knowledge all the time?”

In short, as educators, it is often difficult to admit that we are ignorant… but of course, no matter how learned we are, everyone is always more ignorant than not. If we are to be true educators (and if we are to grow and learn ourselves – and be lead learners) we must embrace our own useful ignorance. But we must also work to diffuse this mindset within our institutions – and among our students. Helping them to adopt an attitude of useful ignorance might be one of the best learning tools we can offer to students – and one of the best gifts we can offer them in life.

I’m not drawing this from Thoreau, but I’ve found that this attitude works well hand-in-hand with the practice of forgiving yourself for your own shortcomings. Together these two attitudes can help a learner (or members of an organization) to not only let go of preconceptions, but also to let go of the burden of needing to be responsible for having preconceptions (or accurate understandings) of the world to begin with. This makes it easier to accept the world as it is, to learn new things from new experiences, and in short – to grow.

I think Thoreau means many more things when he talks about “useful ignorance” (including his believe that there is a “subconscious magnetism in nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright”), and I suspect I’ll return to these more abstract ideas, too. But in the meantime, I’m finding this simple reminder to embrace and diffuse useful ignorance a pragmatic source of clarity, particularly in the context of sharing increasingly intoxicating information technologies with others. :)

What did I learn? Search Google News Archives

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

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. ;)

Nexus 7 Tablets Given a Test Drive by Second Graders

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

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!

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

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Cross posted at blog.EdTechTeam.com.

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!

 

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

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

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
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. :)

See The EdTechTeam Blog

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

From May 2 to August 10 we were doing some legit team blogging over at the EdTechTeam Blog.  It was a great experiment in Team Blogging and we hope to be back again soon with more new content. Meanwhile, pop on over, check it out, and leave a comment if you find something you’re interested in. :)

Google Apps for Education California Summit

Friday, March 16th, 2012

I am thrilled to announce this here… it’s the beginning of a new chapter in my career, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

The EdTechTeam invites you to join us for the first annual Google Apps for Education California Summit to be held at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara on July 12 & 13, 2012. This high intensity two day event focuses on deploying, integrating and using Google Apps for Education to promote student learning in K-12 and higher education.

The program features Google Certified Teachers, Google Apps for Education Certified Trainers, practicing administrators, solution providers, Google engineers, and representatives from the Google Apps for Education team.

Plan now to send your teachers, administrators, tech directors, library media specialists, tech support staff, CTOs, and anyone who is interested in finding out more about leveraging Google Apps for Education to support student learning. More…

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about this event.

Apply To The Google Teacher Academy UK

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Thinking of applying to the Google Teacher Academy? Join or watch a live Hangout on Google+ with past participants… at 12:30 PM Pacific time today. Catch it on your lunch break… or catch the recording after the event.

Google in Education's profile photoGoogle in Education originally shared this post:
Thinking of applying to the Google Teacher Academy?Join or watch a live Hangout on Google+ with past participants this Wednesday 8 February at 20:30 UK time (3:30pm EST). Instructions for joining here (and it will also be recorded). Add +Tia Lendo to your Circles.The GTA is a FREE professional development experience designed to help primary and secondary educators from around the globe get the most from innovative technologies. It will be held in London on April 4, 2012 (with an optional unconference on April 5, 2012). The application deadline is 16 February. +Wendy Gorton +Ian Addison +Danny Silva +Dana Nguyen +Mark Wagner +Becky Evans+Molly Schroeder +Ross Mahon +grainne phelan

Chromebook Camp with Google Apps for Education

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Sean Williams and I are hosting this event in Los Angeles on March 7 & 8. We’ll be sharing the latest on Chromebooks (hot off the presses at the Google event in Mountain View later this month), the price is accessible, and the location is spectacular (with good food to boot). Here is more information in case you might be interested:

Chromebook Camp with Google Apps for Education
March 7 & 8, 2011 (at City Club in Los Angeles)

Brought you by the EdTechTeam, this unique professional development event for educators offers hands-on experience with Google’s fast intuitive Chromebooks, inspirational ideas for using Google Apps (and Chrome Web Apps) in education, and tips for getting started with advanced topics such as apps scripting or hosting your own instructional channel on YouTube – all in a spectacular setting. Registration is open for the introductory first day, the advanced second day, or both days. Best of all, everything you learn during the workshop can be implemented right away for FREE, with or without Chromebooks.

More: http://www.edtechteam.com/chromebook

Naturally, we’d love it if you share this with your colleagues in the area (or who might be interested in traveling to the event for that matter). And, of course, I’d be happy to answer any questions about what we have planned.