Tag Archives: Google

3 Virtual Reality Tools for the Classroom

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

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Virtual Reality (VR) has long be seen as the realm of science fiction. However, VR has been making a big splash in education and, with a low price point, is entering the classroom quickly. Here are three tools that you can use to bring Virtual Reality into your classroom.

Google Expeditions

Last year, Google announced Google Expeditions, a system that brings educational virtual reality into the classroom. While you have to be a partner school to try it out, you can use the same features in your classroom with Google Cardboard, a smartphone, and cardboard compatible apps. For example, students can hunt for dinosaurs in their own Dino Park, take a virtual tour of the National Parks and Museums with VR Tours, or learn about the brain by playing InMind. You can even create your own Virtual Reality experiences using an Android Phone or Tablet with Cardboard Camera

ThingLink 360° & VR Editor

This year, ThingLink introduced its own 360° and Virtual Reality editor. It allows users to create annotated and “touchable” 3D experiences, check out this demo below:

https://www.thinglink.com/mediacard/784836856347885570

This is a great way for students to create content to demonstrate their learning. For example, on a field trip, they could record the environment and annotate the vegetation or animals that they see. These ThingLink VR experiences can even include multimedia.

Nearpod Virtual Field Trips

Nearpod VR and Nearpod Field Trips allows you to send students on “virtual field trips” right in your classroom using the Nearpod learning platform. Students can visit the Roman Colosseum, the Great Barrier Reef, or the Great Wall of China (just to name a few). This is a great way to add context to existing learning experiences. Many of these Virtual Field Trips are free, just browse their content catalogue.

These three tools are just a handful of new applications coming into the classroom to enhance student learning using virtual environments. Now students can not only consume, but create Virtual Reality content and share it with others.

Reflections on ISTE 2016

I have just returned from the 2016 ISTE Conference in Denver Colorado. Like every ISTE conference, I return both exhausted and exhilarated. I had a personal milestone at ISTE, becoming the Chair for the Independent School Educator’s Network; I am both excited and a little overwhelmed about the prospects of the new year. Looking back at ISTE, here are a few of the highlights.

Amazon Inspire

gallery-1467038201-amazon-inspire-landscapeAmazon announced the beta launch of its teacher platform, Amazon Inspire. It will be a free marketplace for teachers to access lesson plans, worksheets, and a variety of instructional materials. This is Amazon’s first serious step into the education market and I’m curious to see how it evolves. I signed up for early access, and you can to using this link.

Google Rolls out even more Tools

Google highlighted some very cool tools. One that especially caught my eye is Google Cast; this is a Chrome extensions that will allow users to project their screen wirelessly from one Chrome browser to another. It’s still in beta form, but holds a lot of promise. Google has also double downed on their programming tool Pencil. They have provided a lot of free tools to make programming with Pencil much easier and some tools to help you get started coding music, games, and art. It’s a great tool to bring coding into your classroom.

Microsoft Doubles Down on OneNote & MineCraft

Microsoft_OneNote_2013_logo.svgMicrosoft is putting a lot of weight behind OneNote (its powerful note-taking tool); paired with a Surface or other touch-based computer, it’s a great resource in the classroom. While I’m a great fan, I still see it reserved solely for older students (think High School and College) power users. It’s interface will intimidate beginners and it’s far too complex for elementary and all but the most advanced middle-schoolers. MineCraft was literally everywhere. One of my goals for the next year is to become more proficient in this tool so that I can bring it into my classroom.

Makerspaces are having a Moment

My good friend Vinnie Vrotny has been a makerspace advocate far before they were “a thing.” He put together and hosted our Makerspace Playground, highlighting cool activities and learning spaces that encourage exploration and creativity. Various themes on makerspaces and tinkering were omnipresent on the exhibitor floor as well as in various sessions.

ISTE is always an exciting time for educators, we get to see what’s coming and what has been going on at other schools around the world. I’m excited to watch these new tools unfold over the next year and then reflect on them again next year after ISTE 2017 in San Antonio.

5 New Google Form Features

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

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If you have opened Google Forms lately, you’ve probably noticed that things are looking a little different! Don’t worry, this Google Forms does everything the older version did… agoogle formsnd a few more cool things! If you get a little annoyed with it, you can always go back to the old version. Just click the little the man in the bottom left corner and you will be back in your familiar territory. However, if you’re feeling creative, check out the new tools! Here are five of my favorites!

See Responses, Live!google forms

One of the new features of is that you can view responses as they come in. Select the “response” tab and view a summary of the results or click on “individual” to see how individuals have responded to specific questions. This is a great way to keep tabs on your survey as it runs.

Insert video/image

Ygoogle formsou can now insert images and YouTube videos directly into your survey questions. This is great if you want to have students watch a video and check for understanding or to make a quick demo of a tool you want input on. On the right hand side, select either the “image” button or the “YouTube icon” to add your content into the your Google Form.

Multiple Choice Grids

A new question type has been added, “Multiple Choice Grids.” This allows users to rank a series of questions. For example, if you want to rank a series of new technology features, you can set up a Multiple Choice Grid with the features in rows and rankings in columns. Even better, survey takers cannot select the same column twice. See below:

google forms

Publish with pre-filled responses

google formsA new feature for Google Forms is that you can publish a version of your form with pre-filled responses. This is a great tool if you need to do a “run-off” of one part of your Google Form. To do this, select the three dot menu in the top right and then click on “Get pre-filled link.” A new window will open where you select the answers you want to pre-filled. Pre-fill your select answers and click “submit.” Google will then post a new link for you to share out with your pre-filled form.

Insert add-ons

google formsWith the new Google Forms has come a whole series of new add-ons! To include an add-on, click on the three-dot menu in the top right and select Add-ons (the icon looks like a puzzle piece). Browse through the available add-ons to include in your form. One of my favorites is “Form Limiter” that will close a form once a maximum number of responses have been accepted. Another is “Choice Eliminator.” I use this tool when I want to allow students to select on topic from a list with no duplicate topics. Math and Science teachers, check out g(Math) Forms; using this tool you can insert complex equations into your forms.
The new Google Forms brings with it a lot of promise for further advancement and greater usability. Play with these new tools and try out a few others!

7 Great Things you can do in Google Classroom

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

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Recently, Google Classroom issued a new update: posting a question. This reminded me that Google Classroom has come a long way since its original release. While it’s still a great place to assign and collect homework, Google Classroom has become far more robust in the last year. Here are seven great things that you can do with it.

google classroomAssign & Collect Homework Across Media

With Google Classroom, you are not limited to what type of instructions you can post or what type of work you can collect. As a teacher, you can post an assignment with written instructions or a video “how-to,” and distribute a Google Doc for students to edit and resubmit (just to name a few examples). Even better, if you have an exercise you regularly assign in class (a weekly journal or blog entry), then just select “Reuse Post” to save time. When students complete an assignment, they can turn in a standard Google file (Doc, Sheet, Presentation), files (from Google Drive or the hard drive), a video posted on YouTube, and/or a link. This means that students can submit multimedia projects in a variety of formats; for example, they can submit the completed video of a documentary that they created, attach a written version of the script, and include a storyboard completed via Google Slides (or even PowerPoint uploaded as a file or linked from OneDrive).

Create an Assignment, but Save it as a Draft to Assign Later

Most teachers work ahead. Originally, Google Classroom offered no flexibility when posting assignments. When you wrote it, you had to publish it. Now, you can create an assignment and instead of hitting “assign,” click the down arrow next to it and select “save as draft.” Then you can publish it when you are ready! Now, keep asking Google to allow us to schedule when it should post and I’ll be a happy teacher!

Post an announcement

You can tell your students about a delayed quiz, remind them you are meeting in the computer lab, or make any other announcement to your students. Click on the plus button on the bottom right and select “Create an Announcement.” Just like assignments, you can save an announcement as a draft and publish it when you are ready.

Post a Question (Much more than a Question Tool)

Using Google’s new “Create a Question,” teachers can now post a question for a class discussion or a simple poll to check for understanding. When you select “Create a Question,” you have two options: multiple choice or short answer. With multiple choice, you can ask a question for a quick check for understanding; for example you can ask students to assess a short passage about a reading assignment or check how well they understand a math concept. With the short-answer option, students can even engage with each another by replying to one another’s comments. This is a great resource for an online class discussion.

Take your time Grading

One of my favorite new features in Google Classroom is that now I can take my time grading. With longer assignments, like essays, it was a challenge to effectively grade them. I would generally keep a spreadsheet where I recorded their grades and comments and then transpose them to Classroom when it was time to return the graded assignment. Now, Google Classroom will save your grades as you progress. Students don’t see grades until you hit the return button. No more using multiple tools or pulling an all nighter to grade big assignments.

Team Teach your Classgoogle classroom

Google Classroom is also no longer limited to one teacher per class. Now you can invite another teacher to your class. This is great for teachers who team-teach, student-teachers with a mentor, or a way to collaborate on classes across the school. To add a teacher to your class, open your course, click on “About” and then click on “Invite Teacher.” Simply enter the teacher’s email address and invite them to your course.

Google Calendar Integration

Now, assignments appear in your Google Calendar. This is a great way for students to keep track of their homework at a glance. Classes are uniquely color coded (they can change them in the calendar app). Students can even set the calendar to give them email, pop up, or sms reminders in advance.

No doubt Google Classroom will continue to evolve over time and more features will be added (like scheduling a post!). These robust features make Google Classroom an even more powerful tool in teaching and learning.

10 Google Docs Hacks Every Teacher Should Know

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

Google-Apps

Google Docs is a popular word processing tool because it allows ready access to your documents and files from any internet connected device. It permits users to readily share documents and easily collaborate on materials. If you are already familiar with Google Docs, try out these 10 hacks to up your Google game!

CONVERT A WORD DOC TO GOOGLE DOCS

Microsoft Word is still the most popular word processor in the business, educational, and private world. Even if you have fully jumped on the Google Docs bandwagon, undoubtedly you encounter a Word document on a regular basis or perhaps you have a repository of older Word Docs. You can readily import and convert Word documents into Google Docs. There are two ways to accomplish this. First, you can set your Google account to convert files automatically to Google Docs. Select the gear icon → settings → general and tick the box “convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format.” Second, if you prefer to convert files manually (to keep a copy in Word), leave this box unticked and upload a Word document as is. Next, right click on the word document within Google Drive → Open with → Google Docs. Your document will open as a Google Doc; it will keep your Word document intact.

Convert uploaded files to docs editor

OFFLINE EDITING

You may believe that Google Docs is solely available online. However, by enabling offline editing on your devices, you can access and edit your documents even when you are away from the internet. The next time that you connect to the server, it will sync your changes. For offline editing to work, however, you must enable it on your devices. On your computer or Chromebook, open the Chrome browser (note that this will only work within Chrome) open Drive → gear icon → tick the box next to “Offline” to enable syncing of your Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings for offline editing.

If you would like to access your files offline on an iOS device (iPad or iPhone), it’s a little different. You will need to enable offline editing for specific files you would like to access. If you haven’t already, download the iOS Google Docs App. Open up Google Docs and locate the file you would like to use offline. Click the three dot menu next to the file and click on “Download & keep in sync.” Your device will then download the file and make it available for offline editing.

If you use an Android device (Smartphone or Tablet), open the Docs app → tap and hold the document name for two seconds. When the pop-up box appears, touch the white pushpin icon, when the icon appears a solid black, the file is available for offline use.

RESTORE AN EARLIER VERSION OF A DOCUMENT

One of the great features of Google Docs is how readily you can collaborate on a document. However, sometimes a participant makes changes that don’t quite work. Revision history is a handy tool to not only keep track of changes made and by whom, but it readily allows you to revert to an earlier version of your Google Doc. To access revision history, click on File → See revision history. A revision history will pop up on the right-hand side, listing when changes were made and by whom. You will note that each participant has a color assigned to them. Any text or formatting changes they made on the document will match that color. If a document has numerous changes, Google Docs will provide a condensed record. You can access a more detailed account by clicking on “Show more detailed revisions.” Once you locate the version you would like to restore, click on “Restore this revision.” This change will also be recorded in the revision history so you can always undo it! Google has also added a “See new changes” pop-up that will alert you to recent edits on a document. This is a great feature when you are actively revising a document in real time.

email as attachmentEMAIL A GOOGLE DOC AS AN ATTACHMENT

Not everyone you work with will be a Google Doc user, or perhaps you want to send a finished file to a client or a publisher. You can email your Google Doc as an attachment within Google Docs and Drive! To do this, go to File → Email as attachment. In the pop-up window that appears, enter the email address of the recipient, a subject, as well as a message. You can also tick the box to send a copy to yourself. Next, select how you would like to attach the document from the dropdown menu; you can send your document as a PDF, Word Document, Rich Text, HTML, Plain Text, Open Document, or paste the full document into the email itself. Click “send” and your document is off!

TYPE WITH YOUR VOICE

One of the newest features Google has added to Docs is Voice Typing. Now, you can type hands-free (a great tool when nursing an injury or for a student who struggles with motor skills). To enable Voice Typing, open your document and go to Tools → Voice Typing. A pop-up window with a microphone icon will appear, click on it to speak (you may need to grant permission to Google Docs to access your Microphone). You can add punctuation and even correct typos using Voice Typing. To learn how to navigate the system more effectively, check out this tutorial from Google.

EMBED A GOOGLE DOC TO A WEB PAGE

You can embed a Google Doc directly into your website or blog. This is a great way to share resources (such as a syllabus or a newsletter) or even engage in discussion. To get the embed code, go to file → Publish to the web. Once you click on publish, the document will create an embed code that you can use. If you would like to make the document editable by others, edit your share settings to “anyone on the web can edit.”

USE RESEARCH TOOLS TO UP YOUR GAME

Google has built-in research tools that allow you to do a number of neat things. For example, you can define words and even look up synonyms within Google Docs. To access the Thesaurus, right click (2-finger tap on a Chromebook) on the word that you would like to change and select “Define.” A research pane will pop up on the right-hand side with a full definition, including synonyms; you can click on a synonym for a definition of the word, ensuring an accurate usage of text.

You can also easily do advanced research on the go within Google docs. Go to Tools → Research. A research pane will pop up on the right-hand side. You can then engage a search using Google, Google Image Search, Google Scholar, Google Quotes, your personal documents, and data tables. You can access any content that the research pane pulls up by clicking on it. If you would like to cite it in your document, set your citation format to MLA, Chicago, or APA. Next, select “Cite as footnote” or insert (to insert the full citation text).

Table of ContentsCREATE AND ORGANIZE A TABLE OF CONTENTS

Google Docs will create and organize a table of contents for you automatically! Go to the beginning of your document and place your cursor at the very beginning. Next, select Insert → Table of Contents. Each time you add a new Heading, Google will insert a new section in your Table of Contents with a live link; when users click on this link, they will be directed to the specific location within your document. I was able to quickly create one for this article! This is a handy feature to facilitate users navigating a lengthy document.

EQUATION TOOLBAR

Math and Science teachers now have a handy tool to allow them to draft equations within a Google Doc. To access and enable the equation toolbar and editor, click View → Show equation Toolbar. Next, click “New equation” and enter your equation using the accompanying tools. If you would like a quick tutorial, check out this support document from Google or check out this tutorial:

TRANSLATE A DOCUMENT INTO ANOTHER LANGUAGE

If you have a multilingual community, students whose parents speak another language at home, or want to engage with an audience in another country, then translate your documents into another language using Google Doc’s “Translate Document” tool. To access this feature, go to Tools → Translate document. You can then select from a list of languages and Google will convert your document into a new copy in your chosen language.

Google Docs has a lot of great features that can help you be more productive. By learning these hacks, you can master all of the features that Google has to offer, beyond word processing!

Protect Student Data and Privacy in the Cloud – Come Join the Conversation

Come join the conversation about how we can all work to protect student data and privacy without sacrificing the benefits of learning and working in the cloud.

Source: Protect Student Data and Privacy in the Cloud – Come Join the Conversation

The Power of Google Books

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

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If you’re unfamiliar with Google Books, it is a repository of books that Google has scanned and published digitally using Optical Character Recognition (OCR); this means that you can search for words within a book itself. Depending on copyright status, books can be offered in complete form, in snippets, or available for purchase or loan from a library. Due to a recent legal ruling, you are about to hear a lot more about this service as it will no doubt be more broadly expanded and dispersed in the public forum.

WHAT IS GOOGLE BOOKS?

In an October decision of the case Authors Guild vs. Google Inc., the Second Circuit Court ruled that Google Books does not violate copyright and, rather, rightfully operates within the realm of Fair Use. In the original 2012 ruling, presiding Judge Dennis Chin stated that Google Books “…advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders (Meyer: Atlantic).” In the recent October 2015 ruling, the Circuit Court “rejected infringement claims from the Authors Guild and several individual writers, and found that the project provides a public service without violating intellectual property law(Axe: Reuters).” What this means for the public is that Google Books and the Google Books Library project will continue to provide scanned and digitized content to the public for free.

In addition to more popular academic, fiction, and nonfiction works, Google Books has partnered with dozens of libraries around the world in order to digitize their collections and make them available to users wherever they are. For example, you can access the special collections at Oxford’s Bodleian Library or large sections of Harvard’s Library of out-of-print books. Oxford has lauded its partnership with Google as being in accord with the library’s mission:

The Bodleian Library’s mission, from its founding in 1602, has been based on Sir Thomas Bodley’s vision of a library serving the worldwide ‘Republic of Letters’, with the Library’s collections open to all who have need to use them. To this day over 60% of readers who use and work in the Bodleian Library have no direct affiliation with the University of Oxford. The Google Library Project in Oxford testifies to our ongoing commitment to enable and facilitate access to our content for the scholarly community and beyond. The initiative will carry forward Sir Thomas Bodley’s vision and the ethos of the Bodleian Library into the digital age, allowing readers from around the world to access the Library’s collections over the World Wide Web. — Ronald Milne, former Director of Oxford University Library & Bodleian Librarian.

USES IN THE CLASSROOM

Google Books is an especially powerful tool in the classroom. Educators and students now have access to resources from around the world. Using the advanced searches available with OCR and Google’s algorithms, academic searches can be more comprehensive and encompassing. Additionally, users can create “book shelves” (reading lists) to help organize their research or share information with others.

google booksTo begin your research on Google Books, go to: books.google.com. Enter your search the same way you do in order to Google anything – using a question, key phrase or term, or subject. This will return a list of books that are relevant to the search topic that you entered. You can then refine your search by selecting “Search Tools” and filter by availability (preview available, Google eBook, Free Google eBook), Document Type (Book or Magazine), Time published (by a particular century or a custom range), and sort by relevance or date.

google booksWhen you open a book, if it has been scanned for OCR, you can search within the text for a word or phrase. This is especially helpful for books without an index! You can clip sections of the book, share the book as a link, embed it into a page, or even create shelves on which to curate your Google Books Collection. This is a great way to create a reading list for students. To do this, simply go to your Google Books Library → “create shelf” → “edit properties” to ensure that it is set to public, and share via a link.

With the recent ruling on Google Books, there is no doubt that more resources will become available to the public, allowing educators and students greater access to content and material from around the world.