Today was an e-learning day for the students of MSD of Steuben County. We had quite the winter blast on Sunday as was predicted as we sent all students home with a school issued Chromebook. I went out several times with my snowblower to clean the driveway in phases in case waiting till the snow stopped falling would be too much for my little Toro to handle. It probably would have been fine, but better safe than sorry.
The following day many school districts, like mine, called an e-learning day. MSD of Steuben isn't quite ready to launch an e-learning day the morning of severe weather as some districts are. The day is probably coming in the next few years as I'm continuing to provide training opportunities to learn/refine virtual learning options. My goal is to train teachers to provide learning experiences that are just as beneficial as the experiences students have while in the physical classroom.
What can I say? I'm cheap...
Upon the announcement of our virtual learning day, I also received another notice. As I kicked on my Amazon Music and slipped on my headphones to help me focus while I work, I got a notice from Symbaloo stating that I'm exceeding the traffic permitted on a free account. They kindly recommended that I purchase a pro account. I understand that they have to make money. I understand that they are a business, but I'm cheap, and I know exactly why I'm generating too much traffic...all of the kindergarten, first-grade, and second-grade students in the school district are accessing my Symbaloo pages as their landing page.
Unfortunately for Symbaloo, I'm willing to do some extra work so I do not have to pay for a service that is merely a collection of links for students to access. Since I'm very much a fan of Google for Education, I look to 'Googlify' everything I possibly can so that issues like this don't happen again. Google seems pretty committed to the education world by offering all their goodness for free to schools. Therefore, I'm pretty committed to replacing much of what the web has to offer by using Google products. So I'm proud to introduce my "Googliloo" using Google Drawings.
Google Drawings works amazingly well as a landing page for students and functions much the same as Symbaloo when embedded in your website or Google Site. Especially in the new version of Google Sites. You create your drawing, create a page to insert it on your Google Site and select it from your Drive. Do a little resizing and you are pretty well on your way. Need to update it? No problem. As soon as you update your Google Drawing, it is updated for your students to use as well. No extra buttons. Where the trick lies is knowing a good workflow for using Google Drawings to accomplish this task.
I embedded a video below to demonstrate the workflow with Google Drawings as a landing page in Google Sites. I know that the video is quite lengthy, but I go through some workflow tips on resizing and grouping items for changes in sizing and positioning on the canvas. I also go through some steps on the embedding on the new version of Google Sites (Click here for more information about Google Sites). As a bonus, I also explain how to quickly get it to your students' devices using the Share to Classroom extension and the settings students need to go through to make it work as their home button on their Chrome browser.
It is worth your time to take a look, but keep in mind that the final steps of placing it as a home button are exclusive to school districts that have the home button enabled in the Google Admin Console. If you don't see a house icon right beside your Omnibox on your student devices, ask your tech department to add it! It makes it simple for students to be able to click on the house whenever they feel lost on the Internet.
Here is how to get rolling with a Googliloo:
If you want to see an example of a Googliloo, check out mine I made for my Google resource page. I'm still working on it, but it is slowly coming along. Click here!