Tag Archives: Educational Technology

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

mobile-learning

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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5 Quick Tips to Get Started with Google Drive

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

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One of the most ubiquitous tools in educational technology today is Google Drive. If you’re unfamiliar with Drive, think of it as two elements:

  1. Online “cloud” storage where you can throw files of all sizes (up to 1TB) and access from everywhere
  2. A scaled down office suite that includes docs, sheets, and presentations tools.

If you would like get to know Google Drive, here are 5 tips to help you get started. While you can use Google Drive with any browser, I urge you to use Google Chrome (free for all devices), as it will enable all features and ensure a more stable experience with this tool.

Get Started With Google Drive: Sign in or Create an Account

If your school is Google Apps for Education or you have a Gmail account, then Google Drive has already been set up for you. Just go to drive.google.com (or simply Google “Google Drive”) and login with your Google credentials. If you’re new to the Google platform, you will be asked to create an account. Once you have signed in or completed the account setup, you will find yourself in your Drive window where all of your files and documents are stored. I recommend that you bookmark Google Drive (clicking the star in your Chrome Browser) for faster access.

Left MenuOn the left hand side you will see your navigation tools: your My Drive Folder (with a drop-down arrow to access all the folders you create), your Incoming (for files shared with you), Recent (where you can quickly access the documents you’ve worked on most recently), Starred(you can mark important documents with a “star” for quick access), and Trash (where documents you delete are stored for 30 days or until you empty the trash).

Create a New Document

The core suite of Google Apps within Drive allows you to create a Doc, a Sheet(spreadsheet), Slides (presentations), and Forms (a great tool that you should explore as you become a more advanced user). Creating a new document in Google Drive is simple. Click on the red “New” button in the top left and select the type of document you would like to create. When you have done this, a new tab will open with your blank document. To title it, simply click on the “untitled document” in the top left and then enter the new name. One of my favorite features about working within Google Drive is that all changes are saved automatically. I don’t have to remember to hit save before logging off of my machine. You will be able to access the most recent version from any machine with a web browser and internet connection.

The Wonder of Cloud Storage

You’ve probably heard the phrase “in the cloud.” What this means is that content is not stored locally (on a computer or other device) but rather it is hosted on the web. The benefit of this is that you can access content from anywhere without having to have the actual device that created it. It also won’t take up valuable space on your hard drive. In addition to documents that you create within Google Drive, you can store your files (videos, images, documents, etc) in the cloud for your own access or to share with others.

Share a Document for Real Time Collaboration

One of the most unique features of working within Google Drive is that you have the ability to collaborate with others on the same document in real time. To share within a document, select the blue “share” button at the top right of the document. You can share at various levels: with specific individuals (via email address), individuals within your domain (if you have a Google Apps for Business or Google Apps for Education account), individuals with the link, or publicly on the web. Additionally, you can give other users the ability to “edit,” “comment,” or simply “view.” This allows you to select the appropriate level of openness for specific documents.

Sharing levels

For example, if you want to share a document for input, but don’t want the viewer to make any changes, then “comment” is the appropriate level of sharing. Those with access can read and leave comments throughout, yet they cannot change the text itself. Good Drive promotes collaboration, so other people can share with you the same way. When a document is shared with you, it will appear in yourIncoming folder. You can access it from there, or move it into My Drive for better organization.

Right now, Google Apps for Education users are allowed unlimited data storage, Chromebook Users 1TB, and individual users 5GB (you can buy more storage for a small fee). To upload a file to Google Drive, click on the red “new” button and select “upload file” or “upload folder” and then select the file(s) you would like to upload. However, if you are using the Chrome Browser you can literally drag and drop files in the browser window! Just like documents you create within Google Drive, you can share these files with others (although editing privileges are often limited).

Go Mobile!

In addition to working within a browser, you can access Google Drive using a Smartphone or a Tablet with the Google Drive App for iOS or Android (free). This gives you access to your files on the go and allows you to upload content directly from your tablet or smartphone. If you’re like me, your phone is your camera. Using the app makes it easy to create and share on the go. For example, you can take your vacation photos on your phone, upload them directly to Google Drive using the app, and then share them with others.

Google Drive is an incredibly flexible tool that you will find adapts to many of your digital projects. Once you have mastered the basics, move on to more advanced features: “10 Things Every Teacher Should be able to do with Google Docs,” “5 Time Saving Ways Teachers can use Google Forms,” and “5 Ways to use Google Presentations, not as Presentations!.”

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Google Makes TeleStory & Toontastic Free for Everyone

Jennifer Carey:

Great news about these creative tools!

Originally posted on Jonathan Wylie: Instructional Technology Consultant:

toontastic free telestory free

In surprising news today, Launchpad Toys announced that they had been acquired by Google. Ordinarily, this may not be of much interest to educators, but as of today, Toontastic and TeleStory are completely free for iOS devices and that includes all the in-app purchases that were previously a paid upgrade! Both apps are great storytelling apps for any classroom that uses iPads. Both apps are current favorites with educators, but their newly free features are about to earn them a whole lot of additional fans.

GOOGLE buys launchpad toysToontastic, if you have not previously tried it, is an amazing digital storytelling app for the iPad. Teachers everywhere love this app because it is simple to use and has a built-in story arc that actively encourage students to build a well-structured story. I have seen Toontastic used in Kindergarten all the way up to high school. Such is the versatility of this app…

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Design Thinking with iPads

Jennifer Carey:

Some more great information from iPad Wells!

Originally posted on  IPAD 4 SCHOOLS:

Design thinking is a powerful tool to really get your students thinking about and tackling a problem or topic at a much deeper level. It is a structured task that focuses on giving considerable time to thinking about and empathising with the people within the situation (Target audience or client), designing and prototyping a possible solution that is immediately challenged in order to improve it. It is used much in business and the design industry but can be used as a general classroom task within any subject area. It also gets students to work quickly without much introduction.

Design thinking promotes creative thinking, team work, and student responsibility for learning.

Design-Thinking-iPadWells

It is a form of solution-based, or solution-focused thinking; starting with a goal (a better future situation) instead of solving a specific problem. This keeps minds open to multiple solutions.

The core rules behind Design Thinking:

  1. The Human Rule: All Design Activity Is…

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