Why Not Minot?

Google Comes to Minot

I went to a conference in Minot,

Presented by the Google group.

I was so impressed those two days,

I even felt to be in the loop!

From Google Earth to Search and more,

I left each session and with tools galore.

The leaders were all fun, energetic and bright,

And kept us enthralled, knowing our plight.

I left this workshop with both optimism and pride,

And will keep these tools with me and close to my side.

THANKS!!

Mark Reinig – Fairmount, ND 58030

I think this poem from attendee, Mark Reinig, sums it up. Cindy Lane, Lainie Rowell and I read this on the way to the airport to catch our flights home after the two-day Google Workshop for Educators held in Minot, ND.  We then forwarded it to the other Lead Learners that had presented with us: Ken Shelton, Katie Morrow and Steve Dembo.

Apparently, the local news covered the event as well as Craig Nansen, the district technology coordinator for Minot Public Schools is currently the only Google Certified Teacher in North Dakota.

Minot Daily News
http://minotdailynews.com/page/content.detail/id/540143.html

KMOT-TV
http://kmot.com/News_video.asp?news=40689

This was the largest Google Workshop for Educators that Cue has run with about 130 educators attending. Educators rotated through a total of 10 sessions including:

  • Search Part 1
  • Google Docs
  • Picasa
  • YouTube
  • Google Sites
  • Search Part 2
  • Google Maps
  • Google Earth
  • Sketchup
  • Even More

All the sessions were hands-on and the tech staff from Minot (including Brian and Alicia) kept everything running smoothly. But besides the poem, what I really wanted to share were the speed demos that we all chose to present at the conclusion of the first day. Now, I will tell you that Steve wanted to call them “Steve Dembos”, but we didn’t have time to take an official vote. These are the tools that we each had 3 minutes to demonstrate to the group:

I had a great time presenting with these GCTs and learned something from each of them. What a pleasure.

Why not Minot? Seriously, I think I may have to go back for another visit.

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Major updates to Google Docs

Back in October, I posted about some of the updates Google had made to Google Docs. Well, today they rolled out some additional features that I thought you might be interested in.

The one that is most important to me is that Google Docs will now allow you to see other Collaborators changes in real-time as they type. This may sound familiar to you if you are a Wave user, but what it sounds like to me is the chat feature that so many of us have been requesting in this app. You can get a peak of this character-by-character real-time function in the video below.

Additional features that you may be interested in are:

  • Creating collaborative drawings from the Docs list rather than only from within a Google Doc
  • Increased speed in Docs, so you should be able to edit with up to 50 simultaneous users (rather than the actual 10-12 synchronous users that most of us have experienced)
  • You’ll notice a ruler within your document for help with adjusting margins
  • Additional ease with moving images and formatting your documents

For additional information on the Google Docs improvements check out the Google Docs Enterprise Blog.

10 Steps to a Gmail Makeover

It all started a couple of weeks ago at the Google Teacher Academy for Administrators. Hank Thiele and Cory Pavicich did a fifteen minute segment on how to effectively use your Gmail. I have to admit, that even though I’m a major Google Apps user, I was still pretty much relying on Microsoft Outlook to keep myself organized. I must have been crazy.

When Hank and Cory started speaking I had over 14,000 e-mails in my inbox. I am happy to report that as of today, just about 14 days later, I am at inbox zero. Here’s what I did:

1. Archiving
I was not archiving my e-mails at all. When you archive an e-mail it moves out of your inbox, yet it will still come up in your search results. All you have to do is click the Archive button when you are in an e-mail or select a group of e-mails and click More Actions – Archive.

2. Delete
Once I started searching through my e-mails, I realized how much junk was in there. I deleted all the Mailer-Daemons and the solicited coupons /ads / catalogs that had expired.

3. Labels
I created three Labels (or folders) for my mail. The easy ones to quickly lower the number in my inbox were Labels for Twitter, Facebook and my administrator. I started with Twitter and did a search for anything from Twitter and then created a label named “Twitter” and moved it all there. I then did the same thing for Facebook and for my boss.

So, I am proud to say that about 30 minutes after Hank and Cory were done with their presentation, I had reduced my inbox from over 14,000 to about 8,000 just with the first 3 steps.

Over the next week or so I took the following actions to further reduce and organize my inbox:

Filter by e-mail address, subject, keywords, etc.

4. Filters
I created filters for mail coming in and applied them to existing messages. I took a look at the mail each day to see what I was receiving and created Labels and then filters based on what was appearing in my inbox. This took a few days as different e-mails come on different days of the week and it’s easier to organize your inbox a little at a time.

5. Mark as read
I went into each of the Labels that I had created and selected all the mail in the Label. I then “marked as read” and Archived all the messages in each of the Labels to ensure that none would remain linked to my inbox.

6. Colors
Since I accumulated numerous Labels, I began color coding them based on my personal system. But the colors are definitely helpful and if you use the filters, much of your mail will appear in your inbox with the colored Label attached to it. This helps me make a decision quickly as to whether or not it needs my immediate attention.

7. Delete some more
It did get to a point that I was not sure which Label to move some e-mails into and I did not want to make a “Miscellaneous” Label, so I needed to either select where to put things or make a decision as to if it was okay for me to permanently delete them. It was tough at first, but did I really need registration confirmations from January 2008?

8. Starred messages
Since I was used to using the feature in MS Outlook that allowed me to flag e-mails for follow-up, I needed to find a replacement in Gmail. The Starred messages feature in Gmail would accomplish exactly what I needed with a couple  of additional features. I took a look at what I had marked in Outlook that still needed attention and Starred it in Gmail. I then click on the “Starred” button and was able to view all of my Starred messages regardless of their Label.

9. Check out a few more things
Subscribe to the Office Gmail Blog to keep on top of new features as they are released as there is an entire Gmail Labs section that is worth taking a look at. While logged in, click on Settings and then on the Labs tab. Here you will see all the Gadgets that have been developed for Gmail. By default, they are set to “disable”, but you can choose those that you would like to enable and then click “save changes”. One that I chose to enable was the “Green Robot“. It changed the icons in the Google Chat window to indicate whether someone was chatting from an Android phone (which I frequently do).

10. Be Decisive
Hank gave a very wise piece of advice. He suggested that when you get a new piece of e-mail, make a decision about what to do with it. Give it a Label. Read it. Delete it. Archive it. But, don’t just leave it there. It took me 14 days to whittle down from 14,000 e-mails to zero. I feel like I’m going to be more responsive to people now as they are not going to get lost in the shuffle. Well, I hope so anyway.

Do you have any Gmail tips to share? I would love to hear them. Please share them here.

Social Networking in High School

Is the average high school student able to define social networking or give an example of it? I thought most would use Facebook as an example, but during a recent visit to a local high school, one freshman student used e-mailing his teacher in First Class as an example.  Many of his classmates were of the same opinion as he, so it opened up a much-needed conversation during which this classroom full of 20 students spoke about where they preferred to network with each other.
Their preferred places to communicate with their friends:
As for social networking in schools, the students felt that there were just too many places to have to check already (a complaint that teachers share themselves).  It was the one topic of conversation that period that everyone in the room seemed to agree on. The complaint was that in one subject area the teacher would use Moodle, the next Google Apps, the next Diigo and that ultimately they forgot to check something and missed turning in an assignment.
Image Credit: http://treatingyourself.com

When asked which network would be the preferred place to use for school, students had a tough time coming to a consensus. We posed a similar request as to which gaming system the majority of the class would prefer to use (ie X-Box, Wii, Nintendo DSi) and they could not make a decision either. We reasoned that teachers felt the same and found it difficult to find a content management system or collaboration tool that satisfied every staff member in a building which resulted in all these different tools the students had to use.

The conversation ended with a link to a Wallwisher we had set up in the hopes that those that didn’t particate in the conversation might take a stab at it this way. They didn’t really. The comments left were from the same boys (the young ladies remained very quiet during our session together) that shared their opinions during class and the tool, in this case, didn’t reveal anything that our talk hadn’t uncovered. But it did introduce the classroom teacher to an easy way to post a question or topic and have students share answers.
Yet another place to have to check for information.

What My Droid Does – Part 3

I get it now.

I understand why everyone has been so obsessed with their iPhones for the last couple of years. But I am also happy that I can do everything that they have been able to do, and in some cases… I can do it better. One of the videos that I show when I facilitate workshops on iPod Touches in Education is this one. I find it amazing that these young women were able to create such wonderful music and I have been enjoying listening to my own children create their own music with my iPod Touch and now with my Droid using the following music apps.

  1. Strings – Guitar Solo Lite
  2. Piano – Piano Play
  3. Percussion – Hit It! Lite
  4. Wind – Magic Flute
  5. Tap Tap Revenge – There’s talk…Join the Facebook Group to bring TTR to Android Phones

Here are some other apps from the Android Market that I have found useful. I wanted to share them here.

Scan2PDF Mobile
“Scan2PDF Mobile is a  new software release which uses your mobile phone to scan documents and convert them to PDF files. It all happens on your phone allowing you to scan documents anywhere – as long as you have your phone. Think of it as a document scanner/fax machine that you always have with you!”

Google Voice
If you really don’t understand the benefits of using voice, please read this article from MacWorld.  If you want to use your Google Voice number full-time from your Android phone, here’s some tips on how to best go about it. Incidentally, all Android powered phones come pre-installed with the following Google Apps:

  • Quick Search Box
  • Gmail
  • Latitude
  • Google Contacts
  • Google Goggles
  • Gooogle Voice
  • Maps
  • Google Talk
  • Finance
  • Google Calendar
  • You Tube
  • Buzz – (We’ll talk about this in my next post.)

Swift

I also have marveled at how effortlessly folks have Tweeted from their SmartPhones including the fast posting of pictures and video. I started off a couple of months ago using Twidroid but have happily switched to a different Twitter app called Swift.

With this app I can easily follow @Mentions, Direct Messages, the timeline of my friends as well as search Twitter and check out profiles. It’s easy for me to share a picture via Swift as it’s integrated with my camera. Plus I can select which hosting services I want to use for pictures and videos that I take and want to Tweet.

If you happen to be looking for something cool and creative to do with some of your pictures, you might want to take a look at PicSay for the Android phone. You can use it to color-correct pictures, add word balloons and all sorts of effects. The paid version has a few more bells and whistles, but I’ve been happy with the free version so far.

What apps have you been using with your Android phone? Please share them with me here. Thanks.

Going Ga Ga Again

gaga

Back in January I spoke about Google Apps with Dean Shareski and Alec Couros‘s classes. There have been a few changes. We said goodbye to Google Notebook and for many Google Video. We have welcomed Drawing tools to Google Docs and Themes to Google Forms.

I’ve changed the way I am sharing some of the information with Dean’s class tonight. I’ve shared my presentation above. We’ll be meeting in Eluminate as we did back in January if you’d like to join us.

Also, if you have time to take a look at some additional resources. These are the top three I suggest:

19 Interesting Ways to use Google Docs in the Classroom

Google Tools Comic Book

Google Almanac

Rumors Confirmed – Google Teacher Academy #7 in August

Google Teacher Academy

Boulder, Colorado

August 5, 2009

cert_teacher1

Just over 300 educators in the United States have been certified through the Google Teacher Academy and they are gearing up for the 7th cohort this summer on August 5. In order to apply for the Academy you must complete an application including a one-minute video. Both are reviewed by a panel of educators from across the U.S. (Please read some excellent suggestions for your application at Kevin Jarrett’s blog.)

Should you not be prepared to travel to Colorado and you are in the New Jersey area you have another option this July. The CMSCE at Rutgers University has had to pleasure of hosting the Google Learning Institute in partnership with Cue along with fellow GCTs Erica Hartman, Kern Kelley and Jesse Spevack this past March for 40 NJ Educators ranging from 2nd grade through higher ed. We had such an overwhelming response, that we scheduled a second GLI for May 28 (coming up in just a few short weeks) where we will be joined by GCTs Erica Hartman, Andrew Gallagher and Jerry Crisci. But, we still had a waiting list of area educators looking to learn about all the Google Apps and how they can be used to improve teaching and learning.

GWE

Piscataway, New Jersey

July 15 and 16, 2009

On July 15 and July 16, Kevin Jarrett, Kern Kelley and several middle school students from Maine and New Jersey will join me to host a two-day Google Workshop for Educators. This two-day event will take you beyond the one-day fast-paced introduction to Google Apps and end in a proof of concept project. For more information and to register for this event, please visit the Center’s website.