Tag Archives: Technology

5 Quick Tips to Get Started with Google Drive

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

google-drive-810x395

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!.”

Learn more about Google Apps this Summer with EdTechTeacher!

  • Google & Web Tools in the Student-Centered Classroom
  • The Chromebook Classroom
  • Google & Chromebooks
  • And More!

View the Full Course Catalog at ettsummer.org

Opening Keynote at Miami Device

Today is the kickoff for the first ever Miami Device, an educational technology conference in Coconut Grove, hosted by St. Stephens and organized by the esteemed Felix Jacomino.

MiamiDevice_logo_lrg

The first speaker at the conference is Daniel Kim whose YouTube channel covers music, psychology, and education. He’s family for his annual pop danthologies.

Every year, his “Danthologies” go viral. In these mashups, he uses the best parts of the songs and discards everything else. Daniel talks about his own emotional experiences, where children are so used to getting immediate gratification that it pains them to be “bored” even for short periods of time. They are used to immediate rewards and resources. Technology in the classroom doesn’t mean that you will connect with your students. Modern schools with students hungry to learn restrict their access to resources. Students often have access to great materials at home or outside of the school that the tools available to them in educational environments. Daniel says it shouldn’t be this way. Instead, schools need to keep up! Some great thoughts about restrictive practices in education.

The main keynote speaker is Kevin Honeycutt. I’m so excited to finally see him speak in person! Looking at the stage, there’s half a dozen devices, a 3D printer, and even a guitar! Kevin talks about “kids today.” We don’t want to kill them with boredom!

FullSizeRender

Kevin says that teachers need to constantly shift. We aren’t multi-taskers, instead we’re fast switchers. He leads us through an exercise that demonstrates just how we are *not* multi-taskers! So as teachers, we have to be master switchers.

“What can we do to help manufacture confident creative minds?” We need to use our words. We need to blog, tweet, and share. As Kevin says, we need to tell our story “Stop being secret geniuses!!” We need to role model for kids. We can’t blame kids if they mess up. Kids are raising themselves on digital playgrounds and no one is on recess duty! But it’s not about technology, it’s about relationships. If you don’t do something meaningful with it, it’s just “stuff.” “Why will we do this?” Because hands on learners want to hold what they create in their own hands. Kids want to design iPhone cases not buy iPhone cases. It’s not about worksheets, it’s about what you create. Kids need to publish what they’re proud of because they are “publishing puberty!” Think about all of the mistakes they made in puberty… but they’re analogue! We need to role model for kids what good humans do with technology.

Everything that we do doesn’t need to be perfect. Perfect is the enemy of done! If you wait to be perfect, then you will never get started. Just start doing it and doing the work. You improve as you grow. If you apply in class, you can build relationships with your tools. “At any given moment a person can have a renaissance and they’re new again!”

Kevin tells us that school isn’t rehearsal, it’s real life. It’s the show. We need to use technology to connect to people. Build your own network on Twitter and other PLN tools. You need to model for your kids! Tap into your own passions, art, music, literature, science… what do you love? Create and share!

Creating a Culture of Positive Digital Citizenship

My first session of the day is “Creating a Culture of Positive Digital Citizenship” by Matt Scully and Derrick Willard from Providence Day School. I had the privilege of visiting Providence Day last year when I was in North Carolina for a conference. If you are in the neighborhood, I urge you to drop by. They are a school on the progressive, cutting edge of educational technology while maintaining rigorous academic standards. This is live blogged, so please excuse the typos and some poor phrasing!

Providence Day has published a Professional Development eBook. You can get more of the resources here.

Copy of Providence Country Day School Digital Citizenship Compass http://pddigitalcitizenship.wordpress.com/

Copy of Providence Day School Digital Citizenship Compass
http://pddigitalcitizenship.wordpress.com/

After an exercise in groups where we explored what issues our schools are facing with regards to digital citizenship and actions our school is taking, we explored other group’s answers. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of overlap; social media was a primary concern all around (for both students and faculty), as was online dangers and ethics and student devices. The strongest theme in the room was “control,” control of access and behavior.

We all have different definitions of Digital Citizenship. If you look at DigitalCitizenship.net, they will have a number of definitions and resources for you.

Matt states that at Providence Day, they realized that faculty/staff, students, and parents all needed to be engaged in the conversation about Digital Citizenship. All of the actors have different relationships with technological tools and resources from very savvy to luddite. When they engaged the community at Providence Day, they found that there was a sliding scale between “Appropriate Usage Policies” to “Appropriate Usage Guides.” So this was not a cause and effect punishment type model. Instead, they focus on guiding and then dealing with consequences as necessary. They wanted to provide the community with a common language, so that they could have meaningful conversations. They also wanted to engage the community with programming and resources. They also wanted to make the experience and discussion positive. This is moving away from an an Appropriate Usage Policy model and moving more towards guides. I’m a fan of getting away from “stranger danger” and “danger-tale” stories. Scare tactics may work in the short-term, but they aren’t effective in the long term and do not teach student’s necessary skills.

By bringing parents into the discussion, they could draw on the community to engage students both on and off campus. With a common language, they were able to have more meaningful conversations. When tough discussions had to happen, they could do it effectively. Also, use non-technical language so that it is accessible to those who are slick and savvy or those just getting acquainted with the digital world.

In addition to discussion, they put together an iTunesU iBook. This brought together a series of resources to have discussions or engage activities, geared towards appropriate grade level. Derek is quick to point out that this is not a curriculum, it is a teacher resource. For parents, they recommend “Parenting in the Digital Age.” This was created and curated by Matt and provides resources for parents to engage with their children at home and so that they have the power to engage students.

Designing the Future of Learning: Personalized Prototypes

The next session I’m attending is “Designing the Future of Learning: Personalized Prototypes” with Payton Hobbs, the Head of the Lower School at Ravenscroft School, and Bryan Setser, from 2Revolutions. This is live blogged, so please excuse typos and poor prose!

One of the statements that is prevalent in schools is “We don’t know what the jobs of tomorrow will look like.” Bryan, however, argues that we do have a view, namely sustainability and technology. Bryan argues that we need to make a shift in designing the learning of our schools and prototyping to build that.

“Design si where you stand with a foot in two worlds – The world of technology and the world of people and human purposes – and you try to bring the two together.” – Kapor

We live in a world where the model of pursuing a college level, elite education leads to careers success. However, the product is very different – kids with 100-200 thousand dollar educations are working as baristas. We need to learn to improve, experiment, and prototype the world of education. This is especially difficult working in an environment with a strong tradition and culture. So how do we approach this? How do we prepare for the next iteration?

Courtesy of Stockmonkeys.com via Flickr

Courtesy of Stockmonkeys.com via Flickr

If you want your school to be innovative, then it has to be a meaningful and objective goal. You have to be prepared to not only accept, but to celebrate failure. Failure is often life’s best teacher.

This is not an easy process! When you get into the nitty gritty and practice, this is difficult! However, there are successes in real life. Google, for example, has its famous 80/20 policy. It also celebrates failure. Check out Google Graveyard to see how many failures they have experienced. Still they remain one of the most successful companies today.

If you look at people’s needs, we can use that information to build a strategy. Crowdsourcing allows us to build objectives and develop a plan.

INdividual Learning Plans (ILP) is a “specific program or a strategy of education or learning that takes into consideration the student’s strengths and weaknesses.” A Digital Learning Plan is an “amalgam of an ILP, student data, and assessment evidence in service of maintaining, adapting, innovating, and producing e-artifacts for an electronic portfolio process.”

At Ravenscroft, they looked at ePortfolios as a way for students to establish a Digital Learning Process that then allows them (students) to brand themselves. Ravenscroft wanted to prototype digital portfolios to increase staff and student engagement. Ideally, this will allow students to own their learning and engage with it more meaningfully. Payton advises that when building a platform for teachers, organization and time are vital. By having the faculty learn by doing, teachers’ became familiar with the ins and outs of digital portfolios and Google Sites. It also allowed the school to streamline their templates. Students shared their Google Site portfolios appropriate, it is right now a private space and not public.

Time, Talent, & Technology

If you focus enrollment structures around time, talent, and technology you will get an innovative structure that works in your environment. Create a culture of innovation and use technology to help solve your tools.

NYT offers Free, Common Core Aligned Content

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The New York Times blog, the Learning Network, is up and running for the new academic year. If you’re unfamiliar with this tool, the New York Times offers free lesson plans and content for Social Studies and Humanities teachers covering current events. Every week, they post a new Common Core aligned lesson plan include multi-media resources (all entirely free). They also offer monthly “Text to Text” lessons “in which [they] pair an often-taught work in history, literature, science or math with a piece from The Times that illuminates it in some way.”

In addition to lesson plans, they provide a variety of interactive features (quizzes, student contest, and more) for educators and students. All of this material is offered entirely free for educators and students.

Check out the inaugural post “How to Use This Blog” for the NYT Learning Network, or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

Reflections on ISTE 2014 Atlanta

Last night I came back from ISTE 2014 in Atlanta. As ISTE always is, it’s empowering, inspiring, overwhelming, and exhausting. This year, I had the privilege of becoming a board member of the ISTE Independent School Educators Network  (new twitter hashtag #isteisen) and Co-Chair of Professional Development with Kelsey Vrooman. If you want to join us for our first Professional Development event, we will be discussing Danah Boyd’s book “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” (available at book retailers in print and eBook form and as a free download here) with the author on October 7 at 3:30 EST. This event is free and open for all via this link.

It would be impossible for me to discuss everything I took away from this conference – there was just too much! However, I can highlight a few things. Google, as we have seen at ISTE’s past, has really raised the bar with free professional development and resources for educators and schools. You can learn more about Google Apps for Education (GAFE) here. Google expanded on its release of Classroom, that will hopefully be available this fall. The Google Playground also presented several cool features. One of my favorites is fusion tables, Moss Pike of Harvard Westlake School demonstrated how you can use this in conjunction with Google Forms to delve deeper into your data (e.g. using a school survey and then analyzing collected data by age, grade level, department, etc).

Courtesy of Deviant Art

Courtesy of Deviant Art

Gamification was a big theme at the conference as well. Numerous educators and students held poster sessions and talks demonstrating the power of Minecraft in their classrooms. Douglas Kiang of Punahou discussed the power of games in his presentation “From Minecraft to Angry Birds: What Games Teach us about Learning.”

Vinnie Vrotny, the new Director of Technology at the Kinkaid School, organized and hosted the Maker Playground. The Maker Movement has become a key theme in education and the role it can play in children being innovative, inventive, and invested in their own education.

Overall my take away from ISTE is that technology is quickly revolutionizing education and encouraging discussions and change.