Often Google Drawings is overlooked as being a simple graphic program, offering not much more functionality than Microsoft Paint. You are able to add images, text, shapes, links and lines, while in regards to images, you can crop, re-colour and adjust the basic image settings. That means no touch-ups, no effects, no textures. However, what makes this more than Paint is the collaborative nature. The ability to easily share opens up many possibilities, whether it be working on a project, creating a brainstorm or just sharing a file to be remixed. In some respect the perceived limitations of Google Drawings are often its strengths.
For example, there are some out there who use Drawings to create eye catching visuals. Bypassing the many applications, instead using Google Drawings to create infographics. Tony Vincent has made a fantastic video documenting how he did this to create an infographic associated with Periscope.
To support this process, Alice Keeler uses templates so that all the different elements are already there off the page in the margins. In addition to templates, the simple ability to easily share and remix a make is sometimes enough. See Sylvia Duckworth’s wonderful presentation for different possibilities, including:
Creating flowcharts and mindmaps
Developing collaborative brainstorms
Making visual graphics
So what about you, how do you use Google Drawings? Would love to know.
Although considered as a application which allows you to generate surveys, Google Forms is better thought of as a means for organising data, in whatever shape or form that maybe. A part of the suite of applications which make up Google Drive, it has many connections with Google Sheets. At its heart Forms contains nine different question types: text, paragraph, multiple choice, checkbox, choose from a list, scale, grid, date and time. See this Form for a better explanation.
In addition to these options, you can also use a range of add-ons that provide additional functionality, such as the ability to eliminate options after a user has chosen it (Choice Eliminator), write complex math problems (gMath), generate a Form questions from the data in a Sheet (FormRanger) and shut off a Form after a number responses or a certain day (formLimiter).
Some possible uses for Google Forms include:
Creating a quiz as formative assessment
Developing a survey for students to provide feedback
Organising a sporting carnival
Planning an essay or story
These ideas are only the beginning, for seeing Google Forms in isolation limits its wider potential. Once you understand that the data is fed into Google Sheets, you can then start exploring some of the possibilities within Sheets. For example, Kenneth Durham has used Autocrat, a Google Docs add-on, to provide his staff with feedback when he does observations. This includes creating a template in Docs and a Form which then feeds the information into Sheets. All of this means that by filling in the Form, staff are automatically sent an email with their feedback.
So what about you, what are some of the different ways that you have used Google Forms?
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.
It seems that when it comes to blogging there are as many reasons not to blog. These include not enough time, fear of the public audience and feeling that you have nothing to write. What stands out the most to me though is actually knowing where to start. Sometimes this start is about finding a why, but more often than not it is about where and how.
Unsure which platform to use, how to setup a blog or whether you can maintain regular blogging, a good place to start is Medium. Founded by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone, the intention was to encourage Twitter uses to create longer posts. In a reflection on why he loves Medium, Marcin Wichary highlights a range of benefits, such as the simplicity of use, looks great on any device and makes it easy to collaborate. While in a separate post Mathias Elmore suggests that when it comes to writing, Medium has some real benefits, including the ability to write, read, annotate and engage all in the one place.
I am not sure if I think doing everything in one place is the ideal solution, nor do I feel that Medium is the best platform. Here I am with Audrey Watters’ call for a domain of one’s own. However, Medium does provide a good starting place.
Getting Started in Medium: Writing and Reading – two posts from Ian O’Byrne explaining how to get going with Medium.
Syndicating to Medium – a post from Jeremy Keith outlining how to syndicate your posts to Medium in order to gain the benefits of posting in your own space, as well as the reach offered by a space like Medium.
Anywhere but Medium – Dave Winer makes the plea for readers to post anywhere but Medium, rather than let it become consensus platform. Instead, we need to make a stand for the open web and at least post elsewhere first.
GIF stands for graphic interchange format. It is a type of loop-able image that lasts for only a few seconds. Andy Rush explains that originally they were designed for practical visual indicators, such as under construction signs for a webpage or animated email buttons. However, as with most things with technology, as time has passed, GIFs have developed a life and purpose of their own.
A key to the success of a GIF is repetition. Sometimes this is because the image creates a closed loop continually repeating. However, GIFs also have a potential to tap into our curiosity of storytelling, where although the clip may not necessarily create a closed loop, the engagement with the moment keeps the viewer watching again and again. Mariana Funes provides a range of reasons for GIFs, including the creation of the impossible, a representation of how we think, an act of becoming. While Clive Thompson explains,
The animated GIF lets us stop and ponder a single moment in the stream, to resee something that otherwise would zip by unnoticed.
What differentiates a GIF from other short video forms, such as Vine, Twitter and Instagram, is that there is no sound.
In regards to creating a GIF, there are many programs that you can use to make them, including IMGUR, Photoshop, and Camtasia. Common Craft provide a range of options, both free and paid, in their thorough guide. However, a site that often overlooked, that allows you to make GIFs quickly and easily is gifyoutube.com.
Basically, you put ‘gif’ in front of any YouTube video in order to convert it. The site provides a few options, such as adding captions, deciding start time and setting the duration. Although you can search the site for published GIFs, I prefer to publish animations at Giphy, a site best understood as the YouTube for GIFs.
Some possible uses of GIFs in education include:
Providing comments and captions over the top of a short clip
Creating a visual story (see Nathan Bransford explanation of the writing process)
Make a provocation to discuss what might happen next
Developing an explanation for a skill or instruction
Verso is an application designed to engage thinking through the use of questions and provocations. What is different though to other applications is that the students’ identity remains anonymous, meaning that the focus is solely on the ideas and information. While at the same time providing teachers with a range of data and statistics associated with the activities through the dashboard.
Unlike other applications, which only gather the initial response, Verso provides deeper engagement by providing the means to follow up from the initial prompt. Once students have provided a response, they are given view of all of the other responses. From there they are able to interact with different ideas through the use of likes and comments.
The basic Verso account is free. This allows teachers to create classes, activities and review the data and statistics. However, there is also an opportunity to engage with a ‘campus’ subscription. This offers the ability to tie together an entire school of teachers, with features such as sharing activities, the ability to upload via web browser and access for coordinators to see statistics across all teachers, subjects and year levels. Pricing for this is dependent on the size of the school.
Kevin Zahner has written a post which outlines some possible uses for Verso including:
Analysing an image and providing an account of what is seen.
Gathering questions associated with an inquiry topic.
Brainstorming anonymously in silence.
Reflecting and evaluating progress of to learning.
In regards to data and policy, Verso requires only an email address, first and last name, and the school name from teacher users. For student they require first and last name, and a username. Other than that, they do not require any further personal information.
All of the data within the Verso App is securely stored in the AWS Cloud infrastructure and all interactions are handled via secure HTTPS.
Student information is used solely within the Verso application. Teacher users will also receive occasional emails from Verso to let them know of changes within the application, from which they can unsubscribe at any time.
Here are some additional resources:
Verso Blog – A collection of resources and reflections associated with Verso
Mozilla Thimble is a part of a suite of tools, including Webmaker and X-Ray Googles, designed to help teach the web by (re)making the web. It allows you to easily create, remix and share webpages. Using HTML and CSS language, putting in the code on the left and then seeing it come to life on the right. What is great are the hints and errors that pop up as you work.
Thinglink EDU is a platform for making interactive images. Whether it be video, audio or text, it allows you to provide links to additional information. Creating an interactive image involves three simple steps: find an image to use as the background, add links using a range of icons and then share the finished product, whether it be as a link or by embedding it in a blog or a website.
Like many programs with educational support, there are two subscription options. Firstly, a free account, which provides you the basics, including 100 student accounts, simple tagging and a small range of icons. While the premium educational version allows for almost unlimited student accounts, Google Drive integration and over a hundred different icons, including the option to use custom icons.
One of the other great features of Thinglink EDU is the ability to remix. No matter which interactive image it is that you find, you can make it your own, adding your own elements and republishing a new version.
Some of the possible uses for Thinglink EDU include:
Making an image with a series of questions for students to then remix and answer.
Developing a map with links to mark a journey.
Annotating a piece of work, using icons to highlight different features.
Creating an interactive portfolio with links to different references.
Finding an image that allows you to tell a story.
In regards to data and policy, Thinglink EDU requires only an email address, first and last name from teacher users. For the Premium account, payment details are also collected. Data is stored and processed on computers located in USA or EU.
Thinglink collect information for the purposes of providing and developing the service. Some of the features offered might rely on the use of information we have collected from you in order to ensure that the feature in question is customised and targeted for your specific use. The personal data provided can also be used for direct marketing unless you let Thinglink know that you do not wish to receive such content. The personal data can also be used for contacting you if required for the provision of the service.