Tag Archives: Educational Technology

5 tips to help school administrators make the most of Google Calendar

The is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius

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One of my favorite Google Apps resources is Google Calendar. If your school has enrolled in Google Apps for Education, it is part of your GAFE suite of tools. With a Google Calendar, you can more effectively organize and plan your administrative tasks. Here are some quick tips to help you to effectively wield your Google Calendar tools.

Use a Shared Calendar

With Shared Calendars, multiple people can view and even edit the same calendar. It’s easy to manage a shared calendar with your Administrative Team, Clubs, Faculty, or even parents using Google Calendar.

create shared google calendarYou can give members the ability to subscribe to the calendar to view updates or even grant them the ability to edit it. To do this, simply open up your Google Calendar and scroll down to “My Calendars,” press the down arrow and select “Create new calendar.” Give the Calendar a Title and include a brief description. Next, check the box “share this calendar with others” and select your sharing settings. Do you want it to be a public calendar that others can only view, share it out publicly only with people in your organization, or do you want to invite specific people who can then add items to the calendar?

Google Calendar Sharing Settings

Google Calendar allows you to be flexible here with multiple levels of access and sharing; for example, you can allow some people to view and others to edit. As the creator of the calendar, you can always change or revoke another person’s access to it. This is a great way to keep a group organized. By keeping a shared calendar with faculty, you can schedule tests and major assignments to make sure students don’t get overwhelmed. If you have resources, like computer labs or iPad carts, you can allow faculty to “reserve resources” on a campus calendar.

Set up Appointment Slots

Google Calendar also allows you to set up appointment slots without sharing your whole calendar with others. This is a great way to hold open office hours or allow people to book time with you; it will also let your faculty, students, other administrators, and parents know your availability without publishing your entire calendar. Note that you can only use this feature with a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) or a Business account; it will not work on a personal account.

When you open your calendar, switch to Week or Day view. Click on your Calendar anywhere and select “Appointment Slots” from the pop up bubble. From the drop down menu, select the Calendar you want to use. I recommend using the calendar you use for professional appointments – rather than a shared calendar – so that you don’t inadvertently schedule a conflicting event. Remember, sharing appointment slots will not reveal your whole Calendar only the time slots you designate available for appointments. Give your Appointment Slots a name, such as “Ms. Carey’s Office Hours,” and set the times for your appointments. When you have finished, copy the appointment page URL and click save. When you share the URL with others, they will be able to schedule appointments with you. If you would like a step-by-step tutorial, check out this great video by The Gooru

Sync your Calendar Across Devices

If you’re like me, you’re always on the run; going to a meeting, a class, or just trying to grab a bite of lunch. My Smartphone is my organizer on the go because it’s readily accessible and I can see my schedule at the touch of a finger. One of the great things about Google Calendar is that it resides in the cloud, so you can sync it wirelessly across devices without thinking about it! If someone emails you a calendar invite and you accept it on your desktop, it will populate your calendar on your laptop, smartphone, and/or tablet. Likewise, if you are stopped in the hallway and someone asks for a meeting, you can schedule it on your Smartphone and it will then appear on your calendar across all of your devices. Here are the instructions for setting up Google Calendar syncing with your with Android & iOS devices. If you need a little extra push to keep you going, you can even have Google Calendar send you a reminder with a text message directly to your cell phone (price subject to your texting plan).

Schedule a GHO Video Call

GHO Link in CalendarsVideo conference calls are becoming more popular as they allow you to engage beyond a disembodied voice. Google Calendar allows you to not only schedule a video conference call, but to include a link within the calendar appointment that users simply click to join. This is much faster than logging into Google Hangouts or Skype and inviting people manually. With aGoogle Hangout, you can have up to 10 people in the same call; so you can easily navigate remote meetings, interviews with multiple participants, and more.

Add Attachments to Calendar Events

Often, our calendar events include meetings to review different documentation, such as policies and procedures, or to discuss a specific agenda. To keep everything organized, you can attach a document to your event. This is a feature that requires you to enable “Labs” in Google Calendar.

goole labsNOTE: Labs are features that have not yet been broadly rolled out and are still in beta. It is important to know that sometimes Labs features are buggy. If you experience problems, simply disable Labs. To enable the “Event Attachments” Lab click on the the gear in the top right corner, then select Labs, scroll down and enable “Event Attachments.”

Now when you create a new event you will have the option “add attachment” available. When participants log on to the calendar, they will see the attachment and have the ability to download it.

There are a lot of great ways that Calendar can make your administrative duties more organized and streamlined. Explore other tips and tricks as well as more Lab options.

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4 Ways Administrators can use Google Drive

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

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One of the most effective ways for Administrators to empower and encourage their faculty to use new and innovative tools is to model best practices by employing them in their own administrative duties. Google Docs, a tool withinGoogle Drive, includes a number of robust features that can streamline teacher’s administrative tasks and highlight their ability to foster collaboration among peers and students. If you need a quick tutorial on Google Drive, check out this article on Daily Genius. Here are four ways that Administrators can use Google Docs to both streamline their own administrative tasks and model effective use of technology.

Real-Time Collaboration

One of the most time consuming administrative tasks is writing policies, drafting communications, and updating school documents. Often this is done in a collaborative setting with other administrators, educators, students, and/or parents. Rather than email files back and forth, draft your work on a Google Doc and share it with others for their input. You can share at different levels, giving your collaborators the ability to “view,” “comment,” or “edit.” This can give you control over who makes changes before a final draft. To review changes in a document, go to File → See Revision history. This will allow you to see what edits were made and by whom.

Community Whiteboards

Faculty live a life on the go and as such, it is easy for them to become isolated from their community. A solution to this is posting an embedded Google Doc on a blog, website, or other digital bulletin board. By selecting File → Publish to the Web and select the “embed.” You can then include this on your electronic medium of choice. Faculty can leave notes, engage in discussions about ideas, etc.

Make Comments for Evaluations

Narrative comments are an important component of evaluating faculty. With a Google Doc, you can share your reviews with Department Chairs, HR, and the Faculty being reviewed. You can even populate a document using a Google Form with the docAppender add-on.

Newsletters

Google Docs allow you to include images, live links, and more. You can easily format a school newsletter (using Google’s collaborative features with contributors) and then share it with your Faculty, Staff, Students, and Parents. With “view only” privileges, individuals can still read content, click on the links, and make a copy for their own records. An electronic newsletter saves on printing and mailing costs and allows you to easily catalogue and digitally archive content for later access.

These are three simple tips to help you get started using Google Docs to complete administrative tasks. By harnessing the power of its collaborative tools and ability to share with people both inside and outside of your community, you can streamline your own work while modeling effective and powerful technology use for others.

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An Administrator’s Guide to Google Forms

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

google-forms

The Google Apps for Education suite includes a number of robust tools that can streamline administrative tasks. In addition to making your job as an administrator easier, using them allows you to model effective technology adoption with your staff. One of my favorite tools to tackle this type of tasks isGoogle Forms, one of tools within Google Drive. Here are five ways that Administrators can use Google Forms in their schools.

Google Forms for Classroom Observations

Classroom observations are a key tool for evaluating faculty and providing them valuable feedback. One way to make providing feedback faster and easier is to turn your classroom observation forms into Google Forms. Having the form in an electronic, interactive format will make the process less cumbersome and store the data digitally for future access. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can complete the form easily from your portable device. Also, by using a Google Form, you can quickly email the contents to faculty, department chairs, and HR. Here is an example form for observation.

Faculty Sign Ups for Events

If you need chaperones for a school dance or field trip, lunch duty, or even detention, Google Forms is a simple way to have faculty and staff respond and sign up. You can easily share a form via email or post it on your school’s website. With the new Google Forms Add-Ons, you can limit responses by automatically turning off the form when you reach maximum participation, set up notifications when someone completes a form, and export the results to a shareable Google Doc when you need to dispense information to others (such as chaperone contact information or time slot sign-ups for an event).

Collect Info from Parents

When you schedule field trips or other activities, you often want to collect parental contact information in the event of an emergency. You can easily collect information such as phone numbers, email addresses, and emergency contacts using a Google Form. Because the information automatically aggregates into aGoogle Sheet, you can then share this information with chaperones and sponsors. As it can be accessed digitally, a chaperone can easily access the spreadsheet with their smart phone and contact the appropriate individual wherever they are.

Schedule Meeting Times

Everyone in a school has a busy schedule and finding a time to meet can be a challenging endeavor. You can send out a Google Form for people to indicate their availability. To do this, create a form, use the “checkbox” question option, and list available dates and times. Individuals can select all of the dates and times they are available to meet.

After all of your participants have responded, you can easily view the responses as a spreadsheet. To more easily visualize the results, select Form → Summary of Responses to pull up a visual graph

Summary of Responses Graph

Survey Your Community

Google Forms is a quick and easy way to survey your community both formally and informally. Many schools survey their faculty, students, and parents on topics ranging from experiences at the school, health and wellness, professional development, communication, and more. With Google Forms, you can easily create and distribute surveys, collect the data in a Google Sheet, and share it with appropriate personnel to analyze and assess.

These are five simple ways that administrators can employ Google Forms to facilitate their role as well as model technology use at school. For even more ideas, you may also want to read this article or watch Leading Change in a 1:1 Classroom.

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The Beginners Guide to Chromebooks

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius

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In 2014, Chromebooks surpassed iPads in the world of education. There are a variety of reasons for this: economic needs, more “laptop like” feel, and the ubiquity of Google Apps for Education in schools. If you find yourself the owner of a new Chromebook, you’ve probably noticed that it’s not quite a laptop, but it also isn’t a tablet. Chromebooks are actually their own unique tool outside of these categories. They are just different enough that they can require a little time to get used to. Here are some quick tips to help you familiarize yourself with this new tool.

What are Chromebooks?

Unlike iPads, there is no single manufacturer Chromebooks. In fact, you can buy them from a variety of vendors, with different specs, and prices from $199-$1,100. In general, a Chromebook is a laptop styled machine. Much like PCs run Windows and Macs run OSX, Cromebooks use Chrome OS. While they are designed to run primarily using an Internet connection (via Wireless or 3G/4LTE on select models), you can also use them in a limited capacity offline (data will sync and save when you connect to the web again). Because the OS is a simple system, it boots up in a matter of seconds (unliked a few minutes with computers and tablets). This lightning fast startup is a plus for those of us who grow impatient waiting for everything to start on our systems. Most Chromebooks are structurally robust, making them more resistant to damage and thus excellent tools for children that are less careful with their devices. Unlike computers or tablets, all of your Chrome OS programs, files, and even your personal profile live on the cloud. You don’t need to install software as everything lives on the web!

Getting to know Google

One of the biggest shifts for traditional computer users is moving away from the concept of installing software to have available while offline. Rather, Chromebooks leverage web tools as well as Chrome Apps and Extensions to add functionality. It can take some time to get used to not having desktop applications such as Microsoft Office or iWork. Instead, the Google Drive suite of tools – Docs, Sheets, and Presentations – allows teachers and students to create documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. Most users find the streamlined versions of Google tools much simpler than more robust, traditional word processors. Additionally, with its “share” features, you can easily collaborate with others. Google Drive (with unlimited storage for GAFE users and free 1TB for Chromebook users) allows you access to all of your files, no matter how large. If you would like an overview, read 5 Quick Tips to Get Started with Google Drive.

Navigating a Web Based OS

Another shift that can be an initial struggle for new Chromebook users is transitioning to a wholly web-based system. Chromebooks offer limited software installation on the device itself. Instead, it encourages you to employ web-based tools. As the majority of developers are shifting to the cloud, this is becoming an easier process. You can collaboratively edit videos using WeVideo or YouTube editor, access books via Google Books or Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader, and stream digital content with YouTube. In fact, browse the Google Chrome Store and view their list of tools; if you can’t find a web based version of a tool that you already use, you should be able to find an excellent or even superior substitute. Here is a great repository of web-based tools to use in your classroom.

Finding Your Stuff

You don’t have icons, a finder menu, or a start menu on Chromebook. Instead, you navigate your system using the launcher (the 9 Dot Menu at the bottom left of your screen). If you are a Chrome browser user, then you will be familiar with this tool. The launcher is located on the bottom left of your screen. When you click on it, you will see Chromebook’s default tools (e.g. Chrome Store, Drive, Gmail, etc) as well as any additional tools that you have added. If you are looking for a file that you have downloaded, then click on the “File” icon in this window to open up your “downloads” folder. This is where you will find any documents, images, or other tools that you have downloaded to your device.

As with all tech tools, the best way to learn to use a new device is to play with it and create! Now that you have the basics, take it out of the box and explore what’s possible.

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Have Mobile Phones In the Classroom Reached Their Calculator Moment?

Jennifer Carey:

Some interesting thoughts about cell phones in the classroom.

Originally posted on Museum Fatigue:

High School TI-35 (1980s) High School TI-35 (1980s)

Last week, while reviewing our class syllabus on the first day, I made a decision to do a little experiment. Rather than make the announcement that mobile phones should be turned off during class, I did the opposite. I told my visual anthropology class that unrestricted use of mobile phones in class would be allowed this semester.

Allowing all students to use their devices freely at all times seems very counterintuitive. In fact, even now I am concerned that in spite of my best intentions I will reap the whirlwind. Sometime last month, however, I reached the conclusion that mobile phones in the classroom have reached their “calculator moment.”

Let me explain.

I have a vague memory of debates among teachers back when I was in high school about the place of technology in classroom—specifically the role that calculators should have in math classes. Should students…

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How to Empower Your Faculty in a Mobile Learning Environment

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Introducing a new technology into the learning environment can be an intimidating experience, even for seasoned educators. However, with careful and intentional planning on the part of administrators and educational leaders, they can become powerful tools as part of your curriculum and pedagogy. Here are eight ways that administrators and school leaders can empower their faculty to successfully adopt technology in their curriculum.

Is the Technology on Your School or in your School

mobile learning

Greg Kulowiec, in his talks on iPads and other mobile devices, is fond of asking “Is your technology on your classroom or in your classroom?” Using technology because it’s there, or because you’re “expected to” can be a path to failure. Instead, when choosing a tool, be it a device, a software platform, or another instrument, consider your educational philosophy, objectives, and vision. In his article, 5 Critical Mistakes Schools Make with iPads (and how to Correct Them), Tom Daccord argues that you should explore and examine your curriculum, learning objectives and goals, and pedagogical vision. Perhaps you are in the process of adopting technology at your school in the form of a 1:1 or BYOD; or expanding an existing program, however, don’t just throw technology at existing educational problems. Instead, make meaningful choices.

Reexamine Learning Spaces

A traditional learning environment, with students in rows looking at the teacher, is not an environment conducive for learning with mobile technology. Mobile devices are just that, mobile! Look at restructuring learning spaces to be more conducive to your learning environment. This could include having students work in pods or even taking their classroom outside of the physical building. Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs argues that forward thinking schools are fully redesigning the concept of what a school should “look like.” If you want to see some amazing, innovative architecture look at the cutting edge designs of Fielding Nair International. The Hilbrook School has some great tips on this in “5 Steps Towards an Intentional Learning Space.”

Bring Faculty into the Discussion

All of us in education are advocating for the children. We want our learners to be successful. Teachers are also stakeholders in this experience, in fact, likely the most passionate ones! By bringing them into the decision making and implementation process, you foster their investment, promote buy-in, and can readily address their needs and concerns. Teachers are your greatest allies, use them!

Technology Must be Education Focused

The transition of technology in the classroom has been a rapid one. Many schools are still scrambling to catch up. Because of this, technology often still falls under “Operations” (akin to utilities, car-pools, maintenance, etc) as opposed to “Education.” If you are introducing technology into your curriculum, then youmust ensure that your technology has an educational focus. To this end, it’s important that Educators and Educational Administrators be directly involved in the decision making process for hardware, software, filtering, and more, just as they decide other school supplies like notebooks, textbooks, and pencils.

Professional Development and Mobile Learning

The most important and powerful thing you can do to empower your faculty is to provide them with meaningful, relevant, and dedicated professional development time. In a time when schools are experiencing budget shortfalls, Professional Development budgets are often the first ones slashed. However, remember that when introducing a device into the classroom, even your veteran teachers are back to year one. Their curricular thinking, classroom management, and lesson planning are being entirely restructured and shifted. Professional Development should be tiered and scaled appropriately; do not put AP Science Teachers in curricular training with elementary school science; do not train all teachers with an “introduction to email” course. Instead, professional development should be leveled (Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced), as well as focused on appropriate grades and subject matter. I also encourage you to not add training to already busy schedules. This should be dedicated training time in lieu of other experiences. In addition to in-house opportunities, arrange for funding and provide time off for teachers to attend conferences, participate in webinars, and take classes. While it is great to organize internal opportunities for professional development, look to bring in outside instructors such that you can tap their expertise and let teachers hear from a different voice.

Tap Peer Teachers

One of the best resources that you have are your teachers. Tap your power users and those who have greater social influence in your schools. Even if you make it clear that approaching your Tech Director or Department Chair for assistance is not a “penalty,” it can still be in the back of their minds. A peer is less intimidating. Additionally, they know that their fellow teachers have the same students and work conditions as they do. Their advice and ideas often carry more weight than a Tech Director with decades of experience.

Don’t Lock it Down!

If you allow your teachers to be their best professional selves, to personalize their tools and devices, you give them ownership of the technology in their classrooms. If you send the message: “This item is fragile and dangerous. You can’t be trusted to use it properly, install software, or explore,” then you can’t expect them actively want to use and explore with these devices. I am not saying it should be the wild, wild west. However, set a reasonable use policy and trust your faculty to be their professional selves. By managing their own devices they can explore new tools, become more comfortable, and therefore feel empowered to use it in their classrooms.

Allow Time for Learning and Growth

New devices come with a learning curve. While you can minimize it, there will be some growing pains. Do not make technology adoption a high stakes game for your faculty. Allow for mistakes and failure. One of my favorite podcasts,Freaknomics, posted an episodea few months ago entitled “Failure is Your Friend.” By failing, you take risks, learn, and advance. So don’t just tolerate failure, celebrate it! If you want an innovative environment, then you must celebrate the process of innovation, which includes failure.

Building and fostering an environment where your faculty feels empowered to use mobile devices requires an intentional process on the side of administrators. Respect them as stakeholders, support them professionally, and allow them to explore and take risks. You will be amazed at what they can do!

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