Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Collaborative Playground in Google Sites

Freedom!

The powerful thing about using Google in the classroom has always been the collaborative nature of their products. If you are a lover of GSuite, do you recall the first time you experienced a collaborative doc? My mind was absolutely blown away by the thought of not having to email a document to my colleague and getting it back. The multiple versions of a document created a nightmare! I was instantly done with the email tag with attachments. I felt like William Wallace for a moment and wanted to yell, "freedom!" Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but it was awesome. 

Out of Site(s)

2017 was an interesting year of changes for Google's lineup, but my favorite was the update to Google Sites. A user could get used to the old version and it ended up not being too bad as long as you put the time into learning it, but the new Google Sites is intuitive, clean, and simple. Teachers actually love the fact that there are not a million font or color choices. "Just pick one already!" will not echo through the hallways of school as much. If you haven't had a chance to try the new version of Google Sites, get started by visiting your Google Drive. Act as if you are going to create a document by clicking on the "new" tab. Google Sites is now able to be organized just like a file in your Google Drive. Pretty awesome, huh? Also, if you're new to it, I created an entire guide about using Google Sites when my school district received an early preview of it. You're just a click away! 

Collaborative Space

Remember that feeling of first experiencing collaborative documents via Google I mentioned earlier? That same sense of freedom is also available in Google Sites! I have teachers that will use it much like a Google Slides presentation. We have a great space in our middle and high schools that have tables with televisions attached. Students gather together there and collaborate on building a website around an entire project. There they can pull in images, text, videos, and even directly embed items from their Google Drive (Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings) into their project. It really ends up being a project to house multiple other projects much like a portfolio for the learning experience. 



So what about you? What would you have students do with Google Sites? It is a great place for students to jigsaw their learning for an all-encompassing topic. As they include links to outside resources, they can also link to one other's content. Thus forcing them to read and digest what their peers produced. This format obviously works in the small group setting, but it could even be used with the entire class. Here are some ideas:
  • Inventors or inventions are always a fascinating topic. Students could produce a website advertising their invention as a product for purchase. These inventions could be broken up among individuals or small groups, but the entire class could essentially be building their own company featuring the products and the inventors. Classmates could even provide fake reviews of the product like it is for sale on Amazon. This could be easily done with a few screenshots pieced together within Google Drawings
  • For you geography teachers (earth science could be included here), a vacation guide website featuring a region of the world would be a lot of fun. Videos, custom maps, and banners with Google Drawings could be all inserted throughout the site to feature places of interest. Geography class can be a complete vacation guide. 
  • Khan Academy, couldn't the class become Sal Khan? Several videos and learning resources could be built and the best options would make the cut. Initially, I was thinking this would be a great resource for future classes, but the reality is that every class would need the experience of building this resource. It isn't about having a resource. It is about the process of creating it. Creating is powerful.
  • In history, a website could be built all around an era and the propaganda of the day. Several websites could be built for the purpose of having a political bent of the time. Students could choose which direction they want to go based on what interests them most and not necessarily their own opinion of the topic. It would be interesting to have students try to support the opposing viewpoint. 

Getting Started

So now that you're all fired up to have your students building Google Sites, you need to get things organized. You'll need to think about the structure of your site. What are the major breakdowns of the topic and group size are all questions we ask when students are going to embark on a group project regardless of the use of technology. In my video, I discuss the setup of a site and how to structure pages to fit the learning experience. This is especially dependent upon the student experience with Google Sites as well as the age level of the students. As a former elementary teacher, I'd at least want some structure in place to get the topic rolling and then allow students adjust it to match the need. I hope the video is helpful in getting rolling with your collaborative Google Site


Have Fun

Students will be excited about the process of building their own site. The collaboration that could take place in making decisions of what pieces/elements need to be added and who will complete the tasks is a powerful process in the learning experience. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Life After the Interactive Board

Is It Worth It?

Long has it been that companies like SMART or Promethean have dominated display options in the classroom. SMART really revolutionized how we as teachers demonstrate or share content with students. Freedom is what it represented in those days. The idea that a teacher to could grab content from about anywhere and manipulate it before their students' eyes. It enhanced our productivity as content creators. 

Technology is ever changing. Students and society is ever changing. Therefore, the way we teach should change was well. Once schools began exploring options for all students to have a device, the need for the teacher at the front of the room (The Sage on the Stage) began to dwindle. Suddenly the students had access to thousands of teachers, and personalized instruction became a reality. If a student wants to know more on any topic of their liking, the resources are just a click away. This landscape causes me to question the need to spend thousands of dollars for teachers to stand at the front of the room with what is essentially a glorified overhead projector. (Actually, it is worse because the teacher's back is turned while operating a SMART board.) $5,000 - $7,000 is a ballpark estimate for an interactive display; that equates to a class set of Chromebooks. A class set of devices that can make personalized learning a reality. A class set of devices that can give students the experience, tools, and skills to be competitive in the marketplace. Can that be done by students watching a teacher write on a website at the front of the classroom? What wins in your book?

Options

At MSD of Steuben, we are exploring options to still effectively display content and save money for other opportunities. The simple answer is merely using a television. A 65-70 inch display is reasonable. Especially when comparing to the likes of a SMART or Promethean Interactive television. The next typical response I get is how it can be interactive like SMART or Promethean products. I'll propose a couple of options. One is more focused on teacher-directed instruction. The capability of having a point of interaction and students utilizing the Interface is a reality at the fraction of the cost. The other is to allow for students to take control. Students can be in the driver's seat and sharing from their very own device. But before I move on, keep in mind that both of these options are with the thought that a teacher would still need to have a PC, Mac, or Chromebook connected to a television via the HDMI port. 

Chrome Remote Desktop

Chrome Remote Desktop run on a touchscreen device (iPad, Chromebook, Android tablet, etc.) provides the mobile interactivity that teachers need. We have a lot of teachers that love Active Inspire or SMART Notebook. You can still operate these pieces of software, but from a smaller touchscreen device. One that you can carry with you around the room. You are not stuck at the front of the room with your back turned from the class. You don't even have to have students go up to the board. You can place your device before a student so that they can respond from afar. Chrome Remote Desktop takes your touchscreen Chromebook and turns it into a remote control for the the device (PC, Mac, or Chromebook) connected to your television. This is a nice transition for teachers that are very comfortable with the software that SMART or Promethean offers. If teachers have invested quite a bit of time creating flipcharts or notebooks, Chrome Remote Desktop will ease the growing pains. 

Keep in mind that there will be some necessary steps for setup on your PC or Mac. The next video demonstrates the installation as well as basic use with Active Inspire. You can install Chrome Remote Desktop from the Chrome Web Store.




Google Cast for Education

Google Cast has come a long way since its inception in the summer of 2016. When it first launched, much frustration took place because of poor picture quality and failed casting attempts. The idea was great because it allowed for the teacher to turn the teacher PC or Mac into a Chromecast location. The best part was the fact that students now had the capability to cast their own screen! The teacher could choose to accept or deny the casting attempt as an alert automatically pops up on the teacher's device. There the teacher can see who is attempting to cast and choose to accept or deny the connection. What a powerful way to give students power. 

As I mentioned before, things were rocky for Google Cast for Education, but it has since greatly improved. I've utilized it numerous times during class visits with very few connection issues. Students love being my demonstrator. Like Chrome Remote Desktop, some installation and setup is required. The next video will give you an overview of how to set it up and utilize Google Cast for Education. 

You will need to first download the Chrome Extension for Google Cast for Education.




Training

Life after the Interactive Board is not only the title of this blog post, but it is also the title of a half-day workshop I run with my teaching staff. During this session, teachers have the opportunity to try casting, Chrome Remote Desktop, and explore various interactive websites that work well on a touchscreen Chromebook. The teachers that have participated have expressed positive feedback as it eases the fear of change. Change is never easy, but my hope is that I can adequately provide support to make it palatable. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Google Forms Question by Question Grading


ISTE 2017

The ISTE conference never disappoints. It is a great opportunity to be oriented with great pedagogy, new technologies, and awesome people to build up your personal learning network. As far as GSuite for Education news goes, one of the awesome additions is the ability to do question by question grading in Google Forms. Forms have certainly transitioned much in the last year or so with an entirely new makeover, the edition of quizzes, automatic grading, and now the ability to grade question by question. It is a small update, but it is mighty in the sense that it fills a void that people have desired since the built-in quizzes debuted. 

Question by Question Grading

In the previous version of Google Forms quizzes, multiple choice and short answer questions could be graded automatically. The short answer has some issues of being unreliable. If a student spells a response incorrectly or add/misses capitalization, the answer is automatically counted as incorrect. This would cause the teacher to have to go into each individual response, scroll the specific question, and reevaluate the response. This is especially time-consuming. Now the teacher has the ability to look at that specific question and analyze every student's response. The teacher can then quickly adjust grades by simply selecting the green check-mark to accept a response; all other responses can be left as is. This is also handy if partial credit is necessary. If a question is worth two points and a student is on the right track, the teacher can simply add a single point to that response. 

The most important scenario as to why question by question grading is important in Google Forms quizzes is in the case of an extended response. To get a more accurate measure of a student's learning, multi-faceted and reflective questions are necessary. These types of questions obviously require more time. The best way to assess these types of question is to focus on one question at a time instead of looking at the student's entire quiz. It saves time for the teacher to have a specific focus while analyzing responses. The question by question feature allows the teacher to accomplish just that. 

Most people are hands-on and would rather jump right in and start trying this feature. You can find it in the exact same place as where the quizzes already exist. You'll see the option in the same place teachers could view student individual responses... 


If you prefer to see it in action first, I made a practice quiz and a quick demonstration of how the viewing of questions can be an asset to you. 


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Be Internet Awesome with Google


Digital Citizenship

Great resources for teaching students to be Internet savvy are here! It is a necessity to be smart about security and digital footprint conscious. We are molding the future of Internet users each and every day. It doesn't matter if you are in a 1:1 technology environment, have carts of devices you wheel into your classroom, or if you take your students to the computer lab once a week, training students to be wise online is a part of what we do. 

Google just launched a new site with more opportunities for students and teachers alike. If you visit beinternetawesome.withgoogle.com, users can access a wide range of resources. 

Interland

Interland is an online game for elementary students to navigate through some of the tough questions we face with the troubles of the Internet. As students navigate through Interland, they explore the concepts of being kind online, secure passwords, information protection, and being Internet savvy. Each world focuses on a different area of being Internet awesome. The worlds are as follows:

Kind Kingdom

Students should be aware that what they say online can affect others. Online bullies should be reported or blocked to create a safe environment for others. This world consists of the user spreading positive messages to others and taking action when bullies are present. 

Reality River

There are a lot of schemes and tricks online to get your to give up personal information and/or buy unwanted services. Being aware that these advertisements and schemes exist will help students to think twice before clicking on them. This world has a series of scenarios where these schemes exist and make the best choice. 

Mindful Mountain

Being conscious of what you share with whom you share is important. Not all information is necessary for the whole world to see. This world runs the user through a series of scenarios and causes him/her to question what information should be shared and with whom. 

Tower of Treasure

Password security is important. Users should change their passwords often to keep data secure. They should also utilize a series of upper and lower case letters along with numbers and symbols. The users collect letters, numbers, and symbols to build a secure password. 

Resources for Teachers

Curriculum

Along with Interland for students, there are also great resources for teachers. Interland shouldn't be used in isolation. The information in the game will not be very meaningful unless there is deeper content taught in conjunction with the game. There is an online curriculum (that can be downloaded) that has a series of lessons and activities to go through with your students. The students should be discussing online safety and their digital footprint to make it meaningful. 

Teacher Training Course

Google is also offering a Digital Citizenship and Safety Course for teachers. To complete the course, the teacher must read through content, watch a few short videos, and answer questions pertaining to online safety. It would be good for all teachers to go through this content. I found it to be beneficial as reminders of things I should be doing to make sure my information is kept secure. 

MSDSC Teachers

If you are a teacher in my school district, please complete the course. If you do so and receive your certificate of completion, forward it to me via email and I will send you a certificate for two Professional Growth Points. 

What's in the Video

The video below gives an overview of where to find all the contents listed in this blog post. I go through how to access Interland, the online safety curriculum, and the teacher training course. So check it out and be Internet awesome! 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Storytelling Slides


A Great Podcast

I'm always on the lookout for a great podcast. If I'm traveling to and from work or if I have a long drive to a conference or workshop, a podcast is a great way to make the most of my time. Just over a year ago, I wrote a blog post about the Bam Radio Network and the great options they have available in short, 10-minute podcast sessions. I didn't list the session there, but Matt Miller (Ditch that Textbook) had a great series by the title: Hook 'em! He has since moved on to a much longer platform and has teamed up with Kasey Bell (Shake Up Learning). This one is the Google Teacher Tribe. If you have 45 minutes to give it a listen, I'd highly recommend it. My favorite times are while I'm driving or going for a run. It is a simple way for me to make the most of my time.

Last week, I was attending the IGNITE conference Lafayette, IN. Since this was a 2.5-hour drive, I was able to listen to quite a few podcasts and catch up on the Google Teacher Tribe. The session that sparked my thinking was one specifically on digital storytelling. Kasey and Matt spoke quite a bit on various tools, but the one that stood out to me most was using Google Slides. My mind immediately went to Slides because of a couple of more recent posts I did featuring the newer video options contained in Google Slides. Google Slides would make for a great platform for digital stories by using the trimming and autoplay in the video options.

Workflow

In order for students to successfully create a digital story, they really need to be accustomed to using Google Slides and Screencastify. It is helpful if students know how to manipulate shapes, images, and utilize animations fluently so that the story can be enhanced. With Screencastify, I find it to be most helpful if students know how to fluently use the keyboard shortcut (alt+shift+R) to start and stop recording. Have students practice using these skills with other projects before expecting them to build a full-blown digital story. You and your students will be more pleased with the results if they know the tools well. 

In my video below, I demonstrate how to quickly record, insert video, and trim appropriately to meet the story needs. By turning on autoplay, the audio of the file will start immediately when the Slides are in presentation mode. Here is the breakdown of the steps:




My Story

The story I created is in the video tutorial, but in case you want to view the published version, I'll include the link here.  I chose to not embed it because it would automatically start playing the audio when you all visit this post. That brings flashbacks of those terrible midi songs that would start playing on all of the Angelfire or Geocities websites from the 90's. Anyone else remember those days? 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Lance Yoder's Hyperslides


The Indestructible Hyperdoc

This has been the year of Google Slides for me. The entire year has had some focus on it as it is such a versatile tool. Teachers can use it to put together learning resources, have students respond and interact with it, and even create collaborative spaces. The real key as to why Google Slides has been such a success this year is the ability to create spaces where students cannot easily manipulate your template. So often using Google Docs can cause the teacher frustrations as the students will drag items around or even delete content. By editing the master in Google Slides, they are virtually indestructible. (Click here for an example of how to edit the master slides to customize your content.)

This process all really kicked off in October at the ICE Conference. I presented on the Indestructible Hyperdoc and since then have been asked to present on the topic at other locations. I have seen quite a few individuals presenting on the same topic as using Google Slides continues to grow in popularity. Since then I've trained my own staff on how to use it as a great way for teachers to deliver content in a blended learning environment. 

Why Google Slides? It comes down to portability. I don't believe you should lay out your learning resources in a learning management system (LMS). What happens if your school district no longer purchases your LMS? What if you change school districts and they are not using the LMS of your previous employer. Google Slides is a portable, flexible option that allows you to transfer to other Google accounts or even download in other formats. 

My Hyperslides

Throughout the school year, I've been building graphic organizers and other fun activities that teachers can import into their own lessons. I've offered this slide deck to my own teachers but decided it was time to push it out publicly so that others may use them as well. You may view the items that are available in my slide deck as it is embedded. I have also included video directions on how to go about making adjustments to the Slides so that you can deliver it to your students for their use. If you would like to download your own copy to your Google Drive, click here

Slide to Slide

One of the tricks I've been training teachers to do is transfer your Slides from one slide deck to another. This allows you to store a load of resources in one presentation and pull them into any lesson at any time. I posted about it back in February so feel free to look over that previous post. Otherwise, you can skip straight to my video below as it explains the process to import Slides. 

Google Classroom

Google Slides works great for teachers using Google Classroom as it manages the permissions on Google Drive contents so well. With Classroom, the document can be automatically copied for every student. If the teacher wants to create collaborative spaces, they can easily create multiple copies of his/her template and give edit rights to small groups of students. A nifty trick for accomplishing the process of creating collaborative spaces can be streamlined by using the "reuse post" option in Classroom. I simply create the assignment one time, reuse the post and there is an instant option for creating a new copy of the attached document. This allows me to assign it to a new set of students without going to my Google Drive, making multiple copies, and creating multiple assignments in Classroom. This method also prevents some of the clutter in Google Classroom and students cannot impose on the conversation taking place in other groups. To see this workflow, view my next video. 


Friday, May 26, 2017

Visually Appealing Google Forms


Depth of Knowledge

Mr. Bounds, the assistant principal of Angola Middle School, is really challenging his staff to contemplate the types of assessment his teachers administer. By utilizing Webb's Depth of Knowledge, teachers are analyzing the tasks given to students and thinking of ways to increase the rigor to get a more accurate representation of student learning. I'm not attempting to play "buzzword bingo" here, but technology has certainly played a big part in the need to question how to assess students. I've posted in the past in regard to Google Forms that my greatest concern is that questions being asked can be looked up with a simple Google search. Certainly, that doesn't accurately represent the student's knowledge on a subject. 

My colleague had a concern regarding Google Forms. As the contemplate the type of questions, they often require more elements. There aren't a lot of formatting options in Google Forms and sometimes you need that capability in order to differentiate between questions and additional content. Visual cues are especially relevant at the elementary level. To solve this problem, one could use Google Docs, Slides, or Drawings to customize the visual appearance of the content and insert it into the Form.

Google Drawings

Google Drawings provides a great opportunity to enhance the tasks. Charts, call-outs, shapes, text boxes, and word art are just a few elements that can be added. This would allow the user to take screenshots of bits of information or even copy and paste the text directly onto the canvas; allowing for the teacher to make adjustments to the font size and style. Once the teacher is finished with the question, they will need to download the drawing as an image (file>download as>png image>.



Then the teacher merely needs to upload it to the Google Form using the image option in the question like in the image below.

What's in the video?

I recognize that my video is slightly lengthy. It goes beyond my rule of thumb of going beyond five minutes. However, I cover a little more than just using Google Drawings. I give a poor example of inserting text into a Google Form to demonstrate  I also chat about using the screenshot tool built into the Chromebook (alt+shift+R) and also how you can accomplish much of the same using Nimbus Screenshot and Screencast if you are using a PC or Mac. I wrap it up with Google Drawings and much of what you can add into a drawing to enhance your question. Drawings is a fun tool. I use it almost every day. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Voice Over in Google Slides


"How do I add voice in Google Slides? PowerPoint does it."

This question should get frequent flyer miles. For so long my canned response was to use Screencastify or SnagIt (RIP) to record a video of the Slides presentation. To do this, students had to be good at using the Screencastify shortcuts to get a clean project without doing video editing. Sometimes this proved to be difficult for students as they could use a keyboard shortcut to pause the video. This typically caused confusion as to when they were actually recording. This was a frustration for a classroom of students that were fairly new to using Screencastify. There is certainly a learning curve when it comes to creating a good quality recording.

Autoplay Saves the Day

Google added a few features earlier this year that makes the process of creating a voice over in Google Slides much more palatable. By palatable, I mean that users no longer have to record the entire Slides presentation as a video. They no longer have to wonder whether or not the video is paused when they need to take a break. They can now record each slide separately, insert the video into the Slides presentation, and even trim the beginning and/or ending of each recording if needed. Let's check out the process.

The first great option was to be able to use videos directly from Google Drive. No longer is it required that you use YouTube to host video. This is important as YouTube is not accessible by users under the age of 13 according to Google's privacy policy. However, Google Drive is considered a "core service." Core Services are accessible by all students with parent permission. So when students use Screencastify, the video is uploaded directly to their Google Drive account in a Screencastify folder. This allows the student to quickly make the video accessible to viewers and insert it directly into a Slides presentation. 
click image to view these features in more detail
The next awesome feature that Google added was the ability to autoplay videos in Slides. When the slideshow begins, the student can make the video automatically start. This is a great option as the video can merely be used for the audio. To do this, I resize the video to a very small box and move it to the corner of the slide. Now when the slide is viewed, all links are clickable, animations do not have to be timed, and the audio will start immediately when the Slide is accessed. (Only in presentation mode.) 

The last great option that Google included was the ability to trim the beginning or end of your video. So if a student makes a mistake or takes too much time at the beginning or end of a recording, it can be trimmed off instead of re-recording the entire presentation. This will reduce the need to continually re-record. If a student stumbles at the beginning of the video, they don't have to stop the recording. The user can catch his/her breath, start speaking again and trim off the mistake at the beginning. (This feature is not in my video below, but you can see how to trim video by clicking the Google Slides Video Options banner.)

Public Display

These features will work well for public displays. Maybe there is some signage on a television for a special event? Maybe you want to send out a message to families? By using the public link, you can automate your Slides presentation to automatically start and change Slides. In the next video, I talk about considering the length of your audio in each Slide. You'll want to make sure that your messages are fairly similar in length. Otherwise, you'll end up with long awkward pauses between each Slide. This would be a good tip for student projects when they are ready to publish as well. 



Let me know how it goes. Send your samples my way. I'd love to see how students like this workflow over the old method of recording the entire presentation. I love to hear feedback!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ten Tinkercad Tips

3D Printing

What an opportunity we have as educators to bring creativity into the classroom. 3D printing is a process that allows users to dream up an idea and make it a reality. I recently worked with sixth graders through this process. For many, this was the first time they had ever seen a 3D printer. It was an obscure concept to them. Once they jumped into Tinkercad and saw it in action, students experienced scale, the metric system, and how ideas can be fabricated into reality. 

A post shared by Lance Yoder (@edgaged) on

Tinkercad

Workflow is key. Just like any other technology, there is a learning curve when it comes to using Tinkercad. The experience of knowing how to operate your tools and how it will affect the outcome plays a big factor int he usability in class. The common denominator when it comes to teachers not wanting to venture into the realm of 3D printing and using Tinkercad is the issue of time. It takes time to learn. It takes time to create. To help with that issue, I created ten Tinkercad tips that will assist with workflow. 

Ctrl to Move

Using the control button in conjunction with the touchpad/mouse will allow users to quickly rotate and move around an object. Otherwise, the user will need to use the navigation cube to rotate the camera angle around the object. Depending on how much you need to move around the object, holding control can save the user time.

Scroll to Zoom

To zoom in to or out from an object, users can use the + or - icon on the left-hand side of the screen. If a user has a mouse with a scroll wheel or a touchpad that has a scroll option (Chromebook = swipe up or down with two fingers.) The instant zoom can help you pinpoint and refine your designs at a more efficient rate.


Duplicate

Use the duplicate icon to quickly manufacture repeated objects. For example, I once was helping a student build a model of the Parthenon. He needed to be able to create the exact same column several times. Using the duplicate option, it not only copied my columns, it also evenly spaced the copied object in relation to my first two. This saves a lot of time with not having to precisely move every object that needs to be copied. 


Type Specific Sizes

Attempting to get a precise dimension size on an object can be frustrating using a touchpad or mouse. If there is a dimensional constraint, the user can click on the object, click on the white boxes that allow for dimensional changes, and then click on the numerical dimension. It will then allow you to type in the specific dimension you are seeking. 


Arrow Keys

Users can move objects around using the arrow keys. The default setting for the metric system is one mm per movement. The amount of movement can be adjusted for smaller units. That way precise connections can be made. On the lower, right-hand corner, there is a small drop-down menu called the snap grid. You can adjust the amount of movement per keystroke down to a tenth of a mm. 


Select All and Move

It is often that a person begins a project and wants to make some considerable changes to his/her design. This often requires moving objects around. By clicking away from all of your objects and drawing an invisible box around all of the shapes, they become selected. You can now move multiple objects simultaneously. 


Select All and Resize

Just like the previous move, you can draw an invisible box around all objects and instantly resize all objects simultaneously. This allows you to scale objects evenly across the board in no time at all. 


Group Objects

If you select several objects, they can be grouped into one cohesive unit. This allows the builder to essentially create their own custom shapes with the combining of several shapes. By grouping them, they cannot be easily separated and will stay together until the user deems unnecessary.


Holes

Using shapes and turning them into holes instead of solids will allow you to create some unique shapes to fit your specifications. This is great if you are building an object that is intended to be a container.


Lock Editing

You can lock objects or even groups of objects into place. This is a must when you are attempting to make precise movements with one object in particular. Fewer mistakes of clicking and moving the wrong object will occur by use of this tool. 

What's in the video? 

All of the tips listed are in my video below. I put them all in video format so that you could see them in action. This video is a little more lengthy than I like, so I put a table of contents near the beginning of my video so that you can quickly identify when I begin demonstrating one of the tips. Merely find which one you want to see visually and move the scrubber to the indicated time-stamp. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Autodraw and Hyperdocs

Autodraw

Google's Autodraw is extremely fun. Everyone has experienced the pains of attempting to draw on a device using a mouse or a touch-pad; it rarely turns out well. Google's Autodraw is an A.I. project where it predicts what you attempted to draw. Every time you release the click on your mouse, it pulls up a list of options at the top of your screen. When you select an item, it replaces your drawing with a clean and more realistic version of your own drawing. You then have the freedom to change the color of the object or insert fill color using the paint bucket. You even have the freedom to move and resize objects after you draw them.  Anyone can be an artist with Autodraw. 

If you think Autodraw is pretty awesome, you should try it on a touchscreen device. Using this activity would obviously be easier if being able to draw objects by hand. It certainly increases the accuracy in predictability from Autodraw. I tried it on my Asus Chromebook Flip and it worked like a charm. 

Interactive Tool

Autodraw would be a great tool for an interactive whiteboard or if you can project from a touch screen device. This would allow you to quickly draw and move objects around for the purpose of sorting or organizing thoughts. Not all drawings have to be in Autodraw format. A regular pen and shapes can be used to make connections between ideas. This will provide a great option for my teachers as my staff is slowly transitioning away from Promethean boards to touchscreen devices with wireless connections. 

Hyperdocs

Over the last year, I've posted quite a bit on the topic of hyperdocs. Whether it is via Docs, Slides, Drawings, or Sheets, teachers have grabbed onto the idea of providing instruction and space to interact and collaborate digitally. Autodraw is a tool for isolated users. However, teachers could easily ask students to respond on Autodraw and share their work via a hyperdoc. The process is pretty simple on a Chromebook as the download feature in Autodraw allows for the user to quickly copy the image and paste it elsewhere. 

In my video below, I give an overview of how to use Autodraw and also how to use it in conjunction with a hyperdoc. Students merely need to paste it into the destination. This would also be handy if students wanted to include an illustration directly in a Slides presentation or a graphic in a report. They could create a custom background for a comic using Google Drawings or Slides. Imagine how much fun students would have creating a sketchnote?  Lots of possibilities exist for students to share their learning in a creative and graphical format with Autodraw. 


Monday, May 8, 2017

Google Sites Updates

Early Access

MSD of Steuben County was fortunate to have a sneak peak at the new version of Google Sites. It was a great opportunity for students and teachers alike. Teachers now had the capability to build websites/resources that were simplistic and easy to use. Students could now build a website that was easy to understand and fully collaborative. We've had several teachers take advantage of the exciting opportunity Google Sites possesses for students to work on a website together. Imagine students being able to take a broad topic, break it down into multiple pages, and students build a learning resource together. This would not only benefit the group, but the entire class as the websites are easily shared via Classroom or a main website built by the teacher to host all the links. 

All GSuite for Education school districts has access to the new version of Google Sites. Teachers will want to start thinking about utilizing it as the classic Google Sites will be depreciated. Google did announce that they have plans in Q4 of 2017 to provide a way to migrate your old site to the new. No news of the process has been released as of yet. 

Updates to Google Sites

Theme Colors

There were three new updates to Google Sites that adds to the overall functionality. One feature is the ability to adjust to a specific color in the themes tab. The user can select a color, but if you want a specific color so that it matches exactly with the objects you insert, you need to use the hex code. In my demonstration video, I recommend using the Colorzilla extension for chrome. You simply launch the extension, select a color on the screen, and it automatically copies the code. You can then paste it into the theme color picker and it will adjust the coloring of your site. 


Vertical Alignment

Another great option that launched is the ability to adjust the text to align vertically with another object. Previously, this could only be accomplished by adding another section to your site. It caused users frustration as only the horizontal alignment worked well. With this adjustment, users can now add a header with text boxes directly aligned underneath. This also allows better alignment of text under embedded objects such as pictures and documents. A text box can be added and utilized for additional information and/or captions.



Site Logos

The final option is to add a site logo. This is a little icon that appears on the top-left corner of your site. You can upload your own logo directly from your computer, search Google, or search your Google Photos Albums and Google Drive. Once you upload your logo, you can then select a transparent, white, or black background in the navigation bar across the top. Another cool feature is that you can select the theme to match the color of your logo. This eliminates the needs to utilize a color picker like Colorzilla (mentioned previously) if you want your site to follow the same color scheme as your logo. (Logos can easily be built utilizing Google Drawings.)


Google Sites Resource

With these new updates, I went ahead and updated my Google Sites resource guide. Feel free to download and utilize as you wish. Let me know if there are things that need to be updated. There is a lot of material residing in the slide deck; it is easy to miss the slight changes that occur from time to time. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Words with Friends Edu


Connections

Words with Friends is a powerful way to make connections with others. For a long time, it has provided a means for me to connect with my father. He and I have a common bond when it comes to word games. (In some ways, it is scary as I often feel like I'm playing against myself.) In my past place of employment, I would play fellow technology coaches and even my superintendent. Words with Friends has lost a little steam in popularity, but I still play with current colleagues. As a technology coordinator, it is important that I spend time with people and making connections. Believe it or not, Words with Friends has helped me accomplish that because the people I play like to discuss our games when I stroll through the hallways.

Great Learning Experience

What a great learning experience Words with Friends has to offer for students. Problem solving, vocabulary, and spelling are all benefits of playing Words with Friends. Long ago I had thought it would be great if students could play each other during downtime in class. It was always a roadblock for the majority of students as being over the age of 13 was a requirement to have an account. Now there is a classroom version that allows the teacher to set up safe connections. Students connect with a class code and are able to initiate games within the members of that class. 

Words with Friends EDU isn't a new thing. It has been around for awhile, but I wanted to provide this resource for teachers so that they know how to get started. So create an account, set up a class, and have your students start playing. Visit: https://wordswithfriendsedu.com/

If you want to see the setup process in advance, check out my video below.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Drive Slides


Need a Sideshow?

Thanks to Matt Miller and Alice Keeler, a long missing feature in Google Slides is here. Ever want to create a quick slideshow with all of the pictures from your exciting field trip or special guest speaker in your classroom? Of course, we've all been there. In the past, I've always sent people to YouTube to use their video editor to import your images and create a video. (Click here to see how.) It is a great, free option. If you want it on a Slides presentation so visitors can click through each picture, Drive Slides will save the day. With a single click, Drive Slides will take all the pictures from a Google Drive folder and put them in a brand new Slides presentation.

How to use Drive Slides

What you'll need first to operate Drive Slides is the chrome extension which you can download by clicking here. Any pictures that you desire to be in a slideshow will need to be uploaded to a Google Drive folder. While in the destination folder, click on the Drive Slides extension in your Chrome Browser. Wait a few seconds and a new tab will appear that will load a blank Slides presentation that will gradually insert all the images that are present in that folder. You now have an instant slideshow with all of the images from your fun and eventful day! 

Here are the directions in video format:



If you want your Slides presentation available for parents to view, you have a couple options. One way would be to give a shared link. By doing so, your viewers would be able to see it just as a Google Slides presentation that they cannot edit. If you use the "publish to the web" option, your Slideshow be in presentation mode so that your visitors only see your slides and not all of the editing options.

View the video below to know how to publicly share your Slides presentation.

For Students

Students can also use Drive Slides. They could take pictures to document a project over time. I think instantly of one of my former colleagues that always did a caterpillar project where the students studied and documented the metamorphosis of caterpillars to butterflies. She had them take pictures to document each day. Drive Slides would be handy for building a Slides presentation that would piece all of those images together!

Another great way students could use Drive Slides would be for stop-motion animation. Students could take pictures of real objects (clay, legos, dolls, etc). Just as in claymation, they would do slight movements and snap another picture. All of these items could be pieced together in a Google Slides presentation very quickly by using Drive Slides. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Google Slides Video Options



Disclaimer: I wrote this being completely free of Microsoft Office since the spring of 2015. I understand updates I have not experienced have occurred since then.

Google Drive 

It was six years ago that I first experienced using Google Drive. I've been a fan of Docs, Sheets, and Slides ever since. It long was before Microsoft had any live collaborative capabilities; prior to any decent cloud storage they had to offer. Access has always been the trump card over the Office counterparts.

Though it isn't as prevalent as it was six years ago, I still get naysayers that love their Office and fire back that it isn't fully functional. I can't really argue that point. For the most part, it is true that Office is much more powerful in regards to function. For the majority of tasks, Google will do the job. Especially for educators, Google will do the job. In some scenarios, Google does it better.

Common Slides questions

Since the dawn of Google Slides, I get some pretty standard questions. Here in the last few months, Google has resolved them for me.

Can you use videos from places other than YouTube in Google Slides?

Inserting video straight from Google Drive is now available. This provides a great alternative for teachers. Not everyone feels comfortable posting content on YouTube even with the privacy options that are available. When selecting Google Drive, you can search by file names or utilize the recent tab if the video is relevant chronologically.

What if I only want part of a video from YouTube? Can I insert just a section into Google Slides?

This was always a difficult question as it was possible; the question of whether or not you were breaking copyright came into play. To be on the safe side, I didn't offer advice on how to go about trimming a video and inserting it into Google Slides. I generally told teachers to state the start and end time in text format on their slides so that their students knew what section they should view. Users can now select a start and end time all while previewing the video straight from Google Slides. No need for a third-party app to trim and download a video. This feature is available whether you insert a video from YouTube or Google Drive.

Can I have a video automatically start when I'm presenting?

This feature is finally available. This will allow you and your students to have that streamlined presentation experience of having a slide automatically start a video without having to move over to the device manually. I'm still looking for the opportunity to have more control over the timing, but this is a step in the right direction. If Google adds the ability to animate a video into the Slides presentation, I'll be fully satisfied.

Can I automatically mute the audio on a video?

Just kidding about this one being a common question. I don't know that I've ever been asked this, but I thought I would make note of it since it is a feature that has been added to the video options. It is handy if you want merely want an animation without going through the trouble of creating an animated gif. You could even create a screencast using Screencastify and talk through the steps that were taken in a live presentation without bending over your device. This would be great in a keynote/traditional presentation scenario.

Video Options

For a quick overview of these features, check out my video below. It will demonstrate for you how to access the video options available in Google Slides.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Google Takeout Transfer

How do I download my stuff?

It was spring of 2016 and our senior class at Angola High School moved on to bigger and better things. I had just finished my first year at MSD of Steuben. My technology director, Chantell Manahan, had started in January and it was her first time in a position in the technology world as she was fresh out of the classroom. Admittedly, we had (still have) much to learn and much of that occurs through mistakes. It was at this time that Chantell and myself started to receive emails from parents and students requesting access to content that students had created in their Google Drive. 

We had made the senior class accounts go dormant in the summer of 2016. It had apparently slipped our minds that this would be a necessary step. In our Google Admin Console, we have it set so that students cannot log out of their school account nor utilize an incognito window. The current plan is to allow our senior class to launch an incognito window in the final quarter, create a new or utilize an existing Gmail account, and transfer their Google Drive and Gmail content to a personal account.

Staff retirees 

We also have quite a few staff members that would like access to their Google Drive content after they leave. Obviously, not all content is desired. Teachers will want to be sure that they are conscious of transferring documents containing personally sensitive materials to their own account. I would recommend removing those items prior to transfer. If this proves to be too difficult, it might be easier to download the desired content and upload it into your personal Google account. Either method would work. 

Why transfer?

You have quite a few options for moving your content. You could download all your content using Google Takeout. The majority of teachers would find it to be cumbersome to decide what elements to keep and then go through the process of transferring by manually uploading content. I like the idea of using the Google Takeout Transfer option because it only lets you choose between Gmail and Drive. That's usually all the content that teachers really want. Also, it automatically moves it over. There is no need for a teacher to go through the steps of uploading content to a personal account; Transfer does it for them. 

Want a quicker route for accessing the transfer site? Visit: https://takeout.google.com/transfer 


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Google Meet





Goodbye Hangouts

For the last year, there has been much discussion about the fate of Google Hangouts. Google announced the launch of Allo and Duo as messaging and video conference apps that would be available on mobile devices in the consumer market. Questions of what would happen to Hangouts flooded the Google world. It was then announced that Hangouts would remain for enterprise accounts (GSuite for Education). This was great. My teachers and staff have been using Hangouts all year. This has been especially helpful for my elementary teachers as they often do grade-level collaboration via Hangouts so that they can all meet at 3:00, finish at 3:30, and never leave the comfort of their classroom. 

Change is brewing

In February, a new player emerged: Google Meet. Hangouts are still in existence and still being used. However, Google Meet is now available. It even appears very similar to Google Hangouts. Much of the same functions and interface are there. You can still screen-share and present to the whole audience. You can still send invitations via Google Calendar. You can still remove people that are being problematic. You can still mute your microphone or camera if necessary. It is almost exactly the same as Google Hangouts. 

What is different is performance. Google Meet is to be able to handle more attendees (30 in enterprise accounts) and provide better video/audio quality. It also is not available for the consumer market to launch meetings. They can join existing GSuite customers, but cannot launch their own Meet session. A link is simply provided via Google Calendar or the meeting organizer can copy the link to the session and email/message it to participants. It is also supposed to allow individuals to call in using their phones, but I do not see that option in my GSuite account during the time of this post. (I will be sure to revisit when it is available.)

For users on mobile devices (iPad, iPhone, Android, etc.), they will need to download the appropriate app to participate in a Meet session. You can download it for iOS here. The download for Android is available by clicking here. If your participants do not have the necessary apps, it will prompt them to download when they click on the Google Meet link provided at the session start in Calendar.

With the changes in performance and accessibility, Meet would provide a great opportunity to hold online conferences with parents/community members. With 30 participants at a time, the majority of your class could have parents sign up for an online informational meeting. How exciting is that?!?

GSuite change

Google Meet needs to be enabled for your school district. You can tell immediately if it is available by visiting Google Calendar. When you create an event, your video meeting details will say, "Joining info" instead. It will also state that it will be added once you save the event. Then when you enter the event again, the joining info will have a meet.google.com address. See below: 




What's in the video?

I created a video covering much of the topic of Google Meet. If it needs to be enabled, I included a small section showing how to enable it for your school's domain. That portion can be sent to your technology department to enable if necessary. I also quickly cover how to create an event and participate using Google Meet. If you have ever used Google Hangouts, it will not be a difficult transition. If this is brand new to you, I'd be happy to do a test run on Google Meet. Let me know if there is interest and I will schedule a practice event!