flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

So often we perceive innovation as being about the big things. However, sometimes it can be something small which can have the biggest impact. Last year, Google released voice typing for Google Docs in Chrome. This had been available both via the iPad app and using Google Keep. However, it was not something built into Docs on the web.

While conducting a writing conference in intervention the other day, I decided to open up a Doc and give it a go. As we read through the handwritten document, it recorded the text. This meant that together we could then add comments in the Google Doc and begin the editing process there. Several other students showed quickly hovered around with interest.

To record, you simply go to Tools and click on Voice Typing. Once expanded, you simply click on the microphone to turn it on and off. There are also a range of cues you can use to add punctuation, such as period, comma, exclamation point, question mark, new line and new paragraph.

For some, such as Clive Thompson, voice recognition technology has the potential to dramatically change the ways in which we consider handwriting and writing. I guess only time will tell.


Postscript

I was recently asked about the ability to record and transcribe interviews on the computer. Naomi Barnes said that Docs was a possibility if the recording was clear enough. This reminded me of something that Alan Levine did a few years ago, where he recorded both the audio and a transcript at the same time. Along with YouTube’s automatic transcription service, both these solutions still require some sort of human intervention in reviewing the finished product. It is for this reason that many who I asked recommended doing your own transcriptions. Ian Guest mentioned that you can get foot pedals that plug into the computer to start and stop recordings, while Clive Thompson said that if you don’t transcribe yourself there are services like Rev which you can outsource to. Testing out another option, John Johnston demonstrates what Happy Scribe can do.


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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

The dream of many when it comes to technology in the classroom is for 1-to-1 devices (actually for some it is 1-to-many). However, for whatever reasons, this is not always the case. (See for example Bill Ferriter’s attempt to raise funds for cheap Chromebooks for his classroom.) Therefore, sometimes we need to be resourceful and think of a different solutions. Here then are some thoughts on different activities that help rethink the use of technology to support learning.

1-1

The ideal situation is having each student with a device. This provides a means for all students to be actively engaged in learning. Here are some suggestions of activities:

  • Making and Creating: There are so many different ways to publish work, whether it be typing up a story, making a slideshow, creating a digital poster, recording an audio or videoing a presentation. Maybe it is using Microsoft Office or Google Apps, what application used depends on what device you are using and what you are trying to achieve.
  • Communicating and Collaborating: One of the greatest benefits of 1:1 situation is the potential to connect and collaborate. This can take many forms, whether it be openly engaging with different ideas and information within various virtual spaces, such as Edmodo, Global2 and Google Classroom, or collaborating via applications such as Answergarden, Google Apps and Piratepad.
  • Sharing and Reflecting: There are many ways to share and reflect. Socrative allows a mixture of predefined quizzes and on-the-fly questioning. Similar to Socrative, Kahoot! provides the means to create game-based quizzies. For a different way of sharing, Verso provides the means to engage in a safe environment anonymously. In regards to surveys and reflections, Google Forms provides for a range of options and a useful summary of responses when finished.  While Padlet provides a simple way to collect and share ideas and information.

Group Work

Not every activity necessarily needs 1:1 devices. There are often benefits to sharing devices, especially when working collaboratively. Whether it be Sigatra Mitra’s 1:4 or Donald Clark’s suggestion of 1:3 or simply 1:2 as the YVeLC pushed. Here are some suggestions:

  • Collaborative Presentation: Although presentations can be done individually, they can also be created with others. For example, students can use Audacity to record and edit a podcast, use Google Apps to work collaboratively, work together to create a blog on a topic or add commentary and feedback to a presentation.
  • Research: Providing groups with a device allows them to find information. Sharing forces students to work together to clearly define what they are actually searching for. This can be useful as each person takes a role, whether it be as leading, questioning, taking notes or searching.
  • Rotations: The BaM Video Delay iOS app allows students to record themselves and then watch back in range of ways. In Physical Education, this can be used to provide students with regular feedback when there are multiple stations running.
  • QR Codes: Using a tablet, QR Codes provide a range of possibilities, whether it be tabloid sports where students watch a short video and then complete the task or a scavenger hunt activity which involves using codes that provide clues to the next code. QR Codes can be a great way of getting students moving around.

1:Class

Whether it be a desktop computer or a solitary iPad, there are many ways that we can use just one device to help drive learning. Some ideas include:

  • Research Computer: So often after students have finished using computers to research they have those odd queries that arise that they just need to look up quickly. One solution is to set up one computer and limit students to a couple of minutes to find their information. To maximise this time, make it an imperative that students have a clear question when coming to the computer, as well as a plan as to how they search for the information.
  • Class Creation: Technology does not have to be (nor should it be) the main focus of a lesson, but can be means of giving voice to it. Even with one iPad in the classroom, apps like Adobe Voice and Book Creator allow you to quickly and easily create whole class presentations. This can be an alternative to having every student stand in front of the class and present, while it also offers the possibility for the user to gain instant feedback and make improvements.
  • Documentation: There are so many ways to use technology to collect documentation. Gary Stager suggests that video and photography offer the easiest means of capturing learning in the classroom. However, there are other useful applications that allow you to build on and organise these, whether it be Seesaw or a class blog. These artefacts provide a way of extending, clarifying and modifying ideas.
  • Measuring the Pulse: Although the easiest way of gaining feedback is in a 1-to-1 environment, there are different things that you can do with an iPad, such as using Plickers, which allows you to easily gauge student feedback by holding up cards, while Post-It Notes and iBrainstorm provide different means to gain information using sticky notes.

In the end, there are so many potentials when it comes to technology, sometimes we just need to think differently. Whether it be a camera, Chromebook, an iPad, a netbook or a desktop computer, each device offers something unique. What needs to be remembered at the end of the day is that first and fore-mostly, no matter what devices you have, it should all start with learning.

So what about you? What are some of the ways you go beyond one to one devices in the classroom in order to create different learning possibilites? As always, comments welcome.


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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

One of the biggest challenges when introducing a new application, such as Google Apps or Global2, is setting up the new accounts. Although programs often make it easy enough to create the accounts in bulk, the challenge is communicating this to students. My answer has been to merge cards for the students using Microsoft Publisher. This involves three steps:

Making a Spreadsheet

The first thing to do is to make a spreadsheet in which you collect all the information required. I find that it is always good to have a document with all this sort of information in one place. I use a few ‘concatenating‘ tricks in Google Sheets that I picked up via Alice Keeler to help combine different pieces of information and then download as a CSV to turn formulas into text and numbers. It is important to use clear headings for each of the columns.

Create a Template

The next step is to create a template. For this step, I use Microsoft Publisher. I begin by choosing a business card template and then enter all the appropriate information. This can include name, website, username and temporary passwords etc …

Produce the Merge

Once I have something that looks like a finished product, I click on the Mailings tab and work through the Step-by-Step Mail Merge Wizard. This includes selecting the appropriate spreadsheet (choosing comma), inserting the various fields and checking through the previews.  Once satisfied, I then print the merge.


Although I have come to use Google Apps for for many things and could possibly use Autocrat, this is still one thing that I still find easiest to do with Microsoft.

So what about you? What steps do you take to support students with new programs? Feel free to share below.


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Creating a Classroom Blog in Four Steps

I have discussed the benefits of blogging with Global2, as well as some of the intricacies, including blogging with students and adding images. However, one of the obvious things that I have overlooked is how to actually sign up and start a blog. So here it is …

Sign Up

The first thing that you need to do is sign up to Global2. In addition to choosing a username, you will need to use an education-based email. If issues occur, you may need to contact the team at Edublogs to get the email domain added to the safe list.

Create a Blog

Once you have signed up, you can create a site. This can then be used as a class blog. A few things to consider is your choice of URLs. For example, for my Year 7 ICT class, I use b7ict.global2.vic.edu.au. Note, this is different to the title.

Another choice you will have to make is whether you make it open and closed. There are a range of options and it needs to be remembered that this can be changed at a later date by going to Settings > Reading. It can be good to start restricted to users only, but this has its limits.

It needs to be noted that you could create student blogs from here. However, I feel it can be best to start in the one space and use categories and custom menus to separate different voices in the one space.

Add Student Users

The next step is to add students. It is important to think about their usernames as it will need to be something they will remember. In addition to this, they will need emails. Just as with teacher blogs, these emails will need to be education-based. My solution was adding a ‘b’ at the start of each of the email usernames so as to be consistent.

Decorate the Space

The last step is adding your own touch to the space. It is like setting your room up at the start of the year. One suggestion to make things better is to activate the Edit Flow plugin. This allows for better editorial options to support students.


For my information, visit the Edublogger blog for various tips and tricks. While if you are interested in digging deeper, maybe enroll with the free course on blogging with students. See this list for different examples of educational blogs.

What about you, what has your experience been? Have I missed something? As always, comments welcome.


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One of the strengths of writing on the web is the possibility of presenting ideas and information in different forms. The most common form is visual images. For some this simply means going to Google and copying the first image found. However, these images are often copyrighted or have little connection with the original creator. One solution is to make your own. There are many different websites which make this possible …


recite-bass
Made with Recite This

RECITE This

This site allows you to quickly paste in some text and then choose from twenty different templates, ranging from a mobile phone to a notebook to a framed picture.


Pinstamatic Bass
Made with Pinstamatic

Pinstamatic

Created to support Pinterest, this site allows you to create an image for a range of things, such as a quote, a website or an event.


Quozio Bass
Made with Quozio

Quozio

Like Recite This, Quozio allows you to create quotes from a range of templates depending on the length. You can also get a bookmarklet which allows you to create images from text straight from the web.


Pinword Bass
Made with Pinwords

Pinwords

This site allows you to add your own image or choose from some that are provided, as well as pick from a range of templates in the creation of a visual.


Quote Pixel Bass

QuotePixel

Like many of the others, this site allows you to paste in text to create an image. Where this site differs is the ability to categorise quotes, making them more easily searchable.


Quotes Cover Bass
Made with Quotes Cover

Quotes Cover

This site provides a wider range of options than most based on colour, images and fonts. It also provides several output dimensions, including wallpapers, e-card and social media headers.


Pizap Bass
Made with Pizap

Pizap

Moving away from the quote based applications, this site allows you to create and edit images, adding filters and borders. One of the popular features is the ability to easily make memes, although Meme Generator is just as effective.


 

Pic Monkey Bass
Made with Pic Monkey

Pic Monkey

Similar to Pizap, this site allows you to create and edit images using a range of features, such as effects, textures and overlays. A very stylish application that is easy to use, the only limitation is that some features are premium only.


 

poster_from_postermywall Bass
Made with Poster My Wall

Poster My Wall

Building upon the complexity of Pizap and Pic Monkey, this site allows you to choose from a wide range of templates or simply create from scratch. It offers many variables and allows you to download the finished product for free with a watermark.


 

Drawings Bass
Made with Google Drawings

Google Drawings

This application allows you to create and compile your own images. In addition to matching different fonts, Drawings can be good for incorporating shapes in the development of diagrams.


Paper53 Bass
Made with Paper Fifty Three by Amy Burvall

Paper53

This iPad application allows you to make digital sketches. For more ideas on sketchnoting, see Sylvia Duckworth’s presentation. In addition to the digital, you can just draw something on paper and capture it.


Created with Canva
Created with Canva

Canva

A web application that can be used across platforms, Canva allows you to create a range of images either from scratch, by using predefined templates or remixing someone else’s work. It requires users to create an account which restricts it to 13+. There are also options for purchasing premium content, including templates and images.


Adobe Post
Made with Adobe Post

Adobe Post

In a recent addition to their suite of iOS apps, such as Voice ans Slate, Post allows you to quickly and easily make images. Where it stands out is the ability to adjust content and styles with the wizard tool. Please note, it does add a small hashtag to each make.


Picasa

A downloadable application which allows you to organise and edit your photos. Beyond the usual filters and edits, Picasa allows you create collages for your images.


Something to be mindful of is that although most of the sites and applications do not require logins, they do however keep a copy of your creations. So if you are adding your own backgrounds you need to consider this. While if you are going to use images found online then at least adjust the advanced settings in Google to search up content that has been marked Creative Commons or use sites like Photos For Class to find appropriate content.

So what about you? What images do you add to extend your writing? As always, I would love to know.


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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Post originally published at eBox

I have always liked the flexibility of the iPad in the classroom, particular as a teacher device. However, one of the problems was how to transfer content, especially video and images. Although the ability to connect the iPad to different computers to transfer information has definitely come along way, the need to connect still seems a little dated. It is fine if you have a Mac providing you the ability to easily transfer files, those using Windows are limited. Google’s move to incorporate Google Photos within Google Drive has changed that. Here then is a guide to using Google Photos to easily share across various devices and platforms.

Download Google Photos App: The first thing that you need to do is download the new Google Photos app. This is available on both the iPad and the iPhone. There is the option of limited full resolution images or unlimited standard resolution. However, with Google Apps, this is not a concern. Be aware though that the initial sync can take some time.

Google Photos App

Collect Content: Whether it be taking photos of student work, recording students read, videoing a skill or creating a movie using a separate application like Adobe Voice, as long as the content is saved to the camera roll then it can be transferred.

Google Photos Sync

Sync with the Cloud: Once connected to wifi, open up the application. It will simply start syncing the content to the cloud. To me, Google Photos just adds to the growing range of applications allowing for offline use. See Brett Sinnett’s post for more ideas and information.

Google Photos Other Devices

Google Drive: Once complete, the content will then be located as a folder within Google Drive. In order to access this content on the computer, you will need to download Google Drive application. Like Dropbox, it will add a folder to your computer and will continually sync in the background.


So what about you? Have you used Google Photos? How have you found it? If not, what process do you use? As always, comments welcome.


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flickr photo shared by Oblong under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license
One of the challenges with blogs is how to follow. Although you could simply ‘check in’ regularly, this is not only frustrating, but also a little tedious. Another way is to follow via links post through social media and other outlets. This is ok, but dependent on publishers sharing, which is not always the case. Here then are some other alternatives for how to follow a blog:

  • Email Subscription: The most obvious way to sign up for a blog is to subscribe by email. Platforms provide a means to add what is called a ‘subscription widget’. This is an add-on which allows visitors to enter their email address and subscribe to notifications via email.
  • Following: In addition to subscribing, most blogging platforms have the built-in ability to follow. This means blogs are posted to a central feed found on the dashboard and depends on having an account. Although you can easily follow multiple blogs this way, this method still has the problem of you having to check-in to find out and is not much different to simply checking the blog itself. It is also restricted to the platform in question.
  • RSS Reader: Another alternative following a blog (or multiple blogs) is using an RSS reader. RSS stands for ‘Rich Site Summary’ and is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. Most websites have an RSS feed. You know if you have found a feed when the link ends with XML. Although many email applications have RSS readers built in, they can be a little clunky. An alternative is Feedly, an application which allows you sort all your feeds and information in one place, although there are many others out there.
  • If This Then That: IFTTT is an application which allows you to create recipes connected with different applications and websites. It allows you to easily automate a lot of processes. For example, by using the application on your mobile, you can set a recipe to automatically save your photographs to Dropbox or Google Drive. Using IFTTT, you can create a recipe where if there is a new post associated with a particular RSS then it will send you an email.

Like so many things online, there are no simple solutions, what is important is finding the method that works best for you.


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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Google Apps for Education is a cloud computing package. It provides access to products powered by Google but administered by your organization. Doing so, the school accepts responsibility of how the services are used by their end-users, as well as for the data stored. By providing organisations with control, schools are given the power to easily create and manage both staff and student accounts.

In many respects, Google Apps replicates the basic functionalities of Microsoft Office. The difference though is that it allows collaboration and sharing at the click of a button anywhere, any time.

Examples of the activities in which you can use Google Apps:

  • Planning & Organisation: Unlike having a document on a projector with everyone watching on, Google Apps provides a means for everyone to work together in real-time.
  • Data Collection: Although Google Sheets does not have all of the intricacies of Google Sheets, it allows for quite a bit. From gathering test results to collecting data, there are many different possibilities for sharing and sorting.
  • Goals and Portfolios: Using Google allows students and teachers to collaborate in regards to supporting goals and maintaining a digital portfolio of work.
  • Feedback: Whether it be adding a comment, filling out an exit ticket or completing pre-test, Google Apps provides many ways to gain and give feedback.
  • Templates: Although most simply make copies of files, Google Apps also allows you to create templates that the whole organisation can then access.

Many of the queries and questions about Google Apps relate to the internet and ease of access. However, these concerns can be overcome by setting up offline access by downloading the Google Drive application and opening documents through Chrome. Although you are unable to work collaboratively with them, you are also able to edit Microsoft documents. Lastly, like Global2, Google Apps provides different possibilities for adjusting access to different groups within the organisation. This can all be done through the Admin Console.

Further Reading

Google Apps for Education: Common Questions – A great collection of responses to everything from advertisements and COPPA to security and filtering.

Education on Air Online Conference – Although not directly related to GAFE, this collection of online presentations is a great place to go when looking for more learning opportunities.

Maybe You Should Go Drive by Chris Betcher – An introduction to Google Drive in a step-by-step format. One of many presentations found at Betcher’s Summit Stuff.

Introduction to Google Drive 2014 by John Pearce – A collection of videos unpacking the four core applications that make up Google Apps: Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms.

Why schools are going Ga-Ga for Google and Transformed learning with Google Apps for Education by Anthony Speranza – Two posts outlining some of the benefits, including some of the potentials for transforming the way students learn in and out of the classroom.

Moving to the Cloud? What should you consider? by Jenny Luca – For those concerned about moving to the cloud, this post addresses many of the questions and concerns.

Going GAFE from Scratch, My Thoughts and In Search of One Tool to Rule Them All by me – Here a couple of more detailed reflections on GAFE and how to go about introducing it.


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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

The term blog derives from ‘web log’ and was initially coined to describe “discrete entries (posts) typically displayed in reverse chronological order.” This though has changed over time. Now it incorporates a range of different methods for creating and communicating. Sometimes it is organised inside a bigger system, but more often than not it is standalone.  There are many different platforms out there, each having their benefits and negatives. What does not change is the focus presenting mixed media, including video, text, images and audio.

Global2 is a blogging community provided by the Victorian State Government to Catholic and State schools. It is the largest Edublogs campus in the world. Providing the functionality of WordPress, plus the added benefits of moderation, content filtering, class management and network administration.

Examples of the blogging activities in which you can use Global2:

  • Individual – Whether it be for personal learning reflections or as a portfolio for finished work, blogs offer students a great place to share a personal story with a wider audience. It also offers a means for providing visible comments and feedback.
  • Class – In addition to telling their own story, blogs provide a means for a whole class to actively engage in their learning by telling a shared story. Elaborating on the idea of documentation, sharing the load not only makes it more feasible (for you only need one device), but also provides for different perspectives.
  • Project – whether it is a passion project or particular topic being studied in class, a blog is a great place for an individual or a group to share everything. Whether it be resources, reflections or the final product, it can be a great way to keep track of everything.
  • Static Website – Often when we think of blogs we conjure up ideas of posts and the need for constant updates. However, a blog can also be more static and simply used to present information and resources.

At their heart, blogs enable students to showcase their learning to a wider more authentic audience. For some this can seem daunting, however it needs to be noted that there are means for managing this, whether it be making the site password protected or simply monitoring comments. What is important is that Global2 is easy and efficient. For although there are many walled gardens, like Edmodo, where we can present information, the need to complete three different steps before getting to the final destination can put many people off.

Further Reading

Global2 – A collection of resources associated with Global2. The first place to go.

Your Global2 Blog by John Pearce – A presentation unpacking everything from tags to widgets. A good run through of all the different things to consider.

The Edublogger – A community blog sharing everything associated with Edublogs, whether it be blogging with students or simply the latest updates and changes.

The Edublogs User Guide – As Global2 is a part of the Edublogs community, this user guide can be useful when trying to figure out some of the different intricacies.

Blogs in Plain English by Common Craft – A video for people who wonder why blogs are such a big deal.

10 Ways To Use Edublogs To Teach – A video unpack some more possibilities to consider when it comes to blogs.

3 Things You Should Know About Blogging by Steve Wheeler – A video exploring some crucial ideas around blogging.


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