G-Suite Learning Center is Better than Ever!

I am regularly helping people become more acclimated with Google tools. Recently, I went back over to the G-Suite Learning Center and was amazed at its complete overhaul, robust features, and ease of access and use. The new learning center focuses not only on teaching users about its tools, but helping them to migrate from common platforms such as Exchange. Information is organized in a variety of ways: tool, tips and tricks, switching from Microsoft, and (my favorite) use at work.

g suite work

If you’re responsible for training people on G-Suite, this is a great resource for you. For example, if you want to do a training on GMail, select the “GMail” option under “Learn by Product.” You will find a variety of useful instructions, including the “Cheat Sheet” which includes instructions for performing basic functions in GMail.

Perhaps the best feature of these resources is that it updates when Google Updates. No more scrambling to create new training resources after the release of a new feature or, worse yet, an updated look! Everything you need is in G-Suite Training.

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Google’s Team Drives are a Great Tool for Project Based Learning

A few months ago, Google began testing a new feature in its Enterprise suite – Team Drives.

 

Google Team Drives are shared spaces where teams can easily store, search, and access their files anywhere, from any device. Unlike files in My Drive, files in Team Drive belong to the team instead of an individual. Even if members leave, the files stay exactly where they are so your team can continue to share information and get work done.

team-drive-intro

Courtesy of G-Suite Learning Center

If you are incorporating more project based learning into your classroom, Team Drives are a great way for students to collaborate and share, especially on robust projects. In addition to creating content, they can use it to store materials, bibliographies, media, and more. Additionally, as everyone in the group “owns” the product, you don’t run into a problem when one of them tries to submit content via Google Classroom.

To learn more about Team Drives in G-Suite, click here. If you do not yet see it as an option for your G-Suite account, contact your administrator.

A Great Interactive, Presentation Tool

Let’s be honest, there are a million ways out there to make a presentation and just as many tools designed to help you do just that. Recently, I was introduced to a new tool for creating beautiful, interactive presentations and infographics that actually impressed me: Visme. Visme allows you to create a variety of presentation media: traditional slide-decks, auto-flowing slide decks with embedded content, interactive infographics, design and product features, and more. Here’s a great introduction to Visme:

If you’re a teacher, Visme is a great way to create flipped content, empower students to create robust and beautiful presentations, or otherwise create material to distribute to others. In Visme’s Learning Center, you can easily learn about new features, access tips and tricks, and be inspired by what others have done.

5 Reasons Why Educators Need to Network

Networking

Terms like “networking” are often reserved for the business world. Many educators not only do not proactively network, but they are often discouraged from doing so. However, networking is essential to professional growth and, thus, for educational professionals. While a few teachers and administrators have taken this call and run, especially on platforms such as Twitter, many teachers are still isolated in their classrooms. Here are a few reasons educators should be actively networking:

Classrooms & Schools are Isolating

Schools are busy places and teachers and administrators often become isolated in their schools and classrooms. If you teach five periods, have 1 or 2 preps, and are inundated with paperwork, planning, and students seeking extra help, it can be challenge to meet with other teachers at your school let alone outside of it. Networking can help you keep your finger on the pulse of education as a whole, your subject matter, or your grade-level. It can bring you out of your island into a richer realm of professionals.

Great Professional Development isn’t Always Formal

One of the best benefits for educators is using their network for extended professional development – new trends in practice, a great book, a profound lesson plan, or feedback on a challenge. These are all reasons to tap your broad network of peers.

Education is a Profession Just Like Investment Banking – Treat it Like One

I often get frustrated about the view that education is not so much a profession, but glorified baby sitting. Educators often hold advanced degrees, regularly hone their skills, and are the most “professional” people I know. As such, networking helps to emphasize all of those points. It’s also why I encourage my peers not to keep their networks to others in the field – talk to scientists, lawyers, politicians, economists, and more. We teach future scientists and lawyers, so we should draw from them as well.

Networking can Save you Time

This seems counter-intuitive, but building your network can actually help to save you time. A lot of teachers share out lesson plans, can help you with training, or help you find financial support for professional development or tools for your school. This can save you hours of your own time.

Networking is still key to Career Advancement

Some teachers teach for life, others become administrators or advocates for education. Whatever your career goals, networking is still vital. Perhaps you want to move to a new city or state, your network can help you to find a job. If you are looking to become the next superintendent, your network can help you to advance within your district. The same rules of career advancement in other fields apply to education (See point 3).

Networking is vital for educators to be successful in their field as well as their careers. So get online and join a twitter chat, bring business cards with you to your next conference, or attend a local professional networking event. Get your name and your ideas out there!

The ATLIS Conference Schedule: Making Magic Happen

I am about to begin my second year as an Executive Board member of ATLIS and my third year as an organizational member. I have to say that my time with ATLIS has given me the unique opportunity to learn from and engage with my peers in new and powerful ways. I am so excited for the 2017 ATLIS Conference: Making Magic Happen in Los Angeles. The conference featured speakers Jaime Casap and Tim Fish are sure to inspire and the array of sessions will be amazing. You can view the full schedule here. Here are some highlights of the 2017 Conference:

2017flyer

If you want to attend but still need to register, check out all of the details here.

Lifelong Learning is a Life Skill not a Buzz Word

Working in education, I have seen my share of buzz words (and concepts) come and go. Often they are rebrandings of past, failed initiatives or great ideas that simply don’t work among the established cogs of the modern educational machine. However, one “buzzword” that I believe has been unfairly branded as such is “lifelong learning.” Lifelong learning is “the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons.” In other words, it’s a self-driven desire to continue to learn and grown in all areas of our lives well after we leave a classroom. I have attended numerous educational conferences and events that highlight the need for educators to inspire “lifelong learning” in their students. In the world of educational buzzwords, it’s easy to roll one’s eyes and get back to the classroom. However, what I have learned in my world of education and technology is that lifelong learning is not the latest flash in the pan. Rather, it is now a necessary life and career skill.

In the past, job changes were few and far between and career changes (barring going back to school for a degree) were practically unheard of. Now, with automation and technology putting more people out of work and a shifting landscape in the economy, job-hopping and career shifts are becoming more prevalent. Forbes highlights that job hopping (moving to a new job every 2-4 years) is becoming a career necessity, often leading to higher salaries, more opportunity for advancement, and a better “cultural fit” at your place of employment.

But besides the fact that job hopping can lead to better opportunity, the reality is that job hopping and career shifts is not just an “acceptable practice” but becoming a necessary one, thus the need for self motivated learning. In his almost dystopian non-fiction work Rise of Robots, Martin Ford argues convincingly that automation and technology will not only be displacing factory workers and manual laborers, but traditionally “safe” jobs that require high levels of (often expensive) education–think lawyers, doctors, and even writers. If the trends that Ford highlights continue, unemployment and (more commonly) under-employment by even the highly educated will persist and grow. The Economist made a similar argument, stating that the solution to these trends is continued education throughout the life of one’s career (whether it stays within a single trajectory or takes a radical shift):

A college degree at the start of a working career does not answer the need for the continuous acquisition of new skills, especially as career spans are lengthening. Vocational training is good at giving people job-specific skills, but those, too, will need to be updated over and over again during a career lasting decades.

In their article “School and the Economy,” economists Murnane and Levy argued that the answer to helping students (and adults) be prepared for the new, shifting economy is to emphasize softer skills: expert thinking and complex communication, primarily “…the ability to solve new problems that cannot be solved by applying rules. (If the problem could be solved by rules, a computer could do it.)”

Lifelong learning empowers individuals to adapt to a variety of new jobs and career paths in the unforeseeable future. Levy and Murnane have a less apocalyptic view of future employment. While they argue that many traditional careers will shrink and even disappear, they view this shifting landscape as one that will open up new avenues and jobs. However, preparing for those jobs requires greater emotional and intellectual agility; a desire and passion to learn new skills and information.

Whatever the future holds for careers, lifelong learning is now a critical component for success. Your current job or position may downsize or all together disappear. New opportunities may be a better fit for your skill set and passions. Whatever the the future holds, being prepared and skilled at adapting to it through continuous learning is vital for success.

My Favorite Podcasts #trypod

This month, there is a big push to recommend your favorite podcasts to others. As an avid podcast listener, I thought that this was a great idea! If you follow my Twitter feed (or know me in person), then you are aware that my interests expand well beyond education, technology, and history. Here are a few of my favorite podcasts!

Social Studies & History

Backstory Radio – Created by historians, this podcasts explores the historical significance of present day issues.

Freakonomics Radio – If you’re a fan of the book Freakonimics, you’ll love the podcast!

Planet Money – Planet money is another economics podcast. It explores the economy of the world today in interesting ways.

Code Switch – This podcast explores race and ethnicity in every day life.

Radiolab Presents: More Perfect – This podcast explores the history of the Supreme Court. I’ve never before heard a podcast that makes the law so interesting!

Just for Fun

Hidden Brain – This podcast explores how people understand their world and the world around them.

The Cracked Podcast – Do you remember Cracked magazine? It went under. Now they have a podcast. I don’t know how to describe it. Just take a listen.

This Life with Dr. Drew & Bob Forrest – I grew up on Loveline. It has since retired. However, Dr. Drew is still an avid podcaster. This Life explores various topics with co-host Bob Forrest.

Note to Self – Note to Self explores the modern, digital world.

The Film Vault – Anderson & Bryan explores various movies and themes. It’s a great podcast for film lovers.

The Miscellaneous Adventures of Mike Carano – Follow Mike Carano as he explores the desert, local diners, drones… wherever life takes him.

Sword & Scale – If you like true crime, check this podcast out!