Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Using Doctopus for an improved Google Drive workflow

Many teachers create documents as templates for their students to copy and then edit.  One way to do this is by sharing your document as "View Only" and asking student to make their own copy.  Another is by uploading to the Template gallery in Google Drive.  Both of these methods can be clumsy, however.  Students have to share back with you, they often don't rename the document well (lots of "Copy of _____" file names), and so on.

Doctopus is a tool (technically, a Google script) that automates the entire process.  Basically, you make a folder in Google Drive, put a document into that folder to serve as the template, put your roster into a spreadsheet, and it does the rest.  Each student ends up with his/her own copy of the document automatically and its in the folder that you specify, shared with you.
Here is a nice explanation of the process (in two parts):

I would be happy to help you get this set up if you would like to give it a try in a class.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A simple tip that could make your web experience much easier!

I've found myself giving out this tip several times recently.  It's one of those little things that ends up being extremely useful if you hadn't thought of it previously.  Suppose you have your Moodle course open and you want to return to your dashboard page-- but without closing your course.  Simply right-click (PC) or Control-click (Mac) on the "My home" link, then choose "Open in new tab."  Now you will have both your course and your dashboard open in two different tabs.  This applies to any other link, as well, of course (many links automatically open in new tabs, so this tip is just for those that don't).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Have you tried Prezi lately?

I was in Lezlee's class the other day helping the students were make Prezi presentations.  It reminded me that the interface has changed quite a bit since the early days.  If you haven't made a Prezi in the past year or so, you may be surprised at how much easier it's become.  There are also more templates available to get you started quicker.  One of my complaints about Prezi is that while it is often described as a "non-linear" presentation tool (in opposition to Powerpoint, Google Presentations, Keynote, etc.),  it is really just a different way to create a path between what would be called "slides" in the other applications.  The new interface makes that clearer-- you create a series of "frames" along a path that shows up on the left.  The big difference is that in Prezi, the entirety of the presentation is on one canvas,  so you can zoom in a particular detail, return to an earlier frame, etc. with ease.  Definitely worth taking a look. You can add narration, video, and more.   As always, I'd love to help you and your students with getting started!

Here's a Prezi about Prezi:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Apples Launches Apps for Teachers Category

Thanks to my Williston colleague Bonnie Birdsall for sharing this... If you have an iPad, you're probably always on the lookout for new educational apps.  Apple has recognized this and there is now a special category in the App store for teachers. Read about it here.
Speaking if iPads, we have a Google Group for teachers here at CVU.  If you're interested in joining (no iPad required), click here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Shared folders in Google Drive

Here's a tip that can save you a lot of clicks!  If you create a folder in Google Drive and change the sharing/visibility of that folder, any document that you put in that folder will inherit those properties.  This can be very useful in the classroom setting.  Say, for example, that your students are working in groups on a project.  You can create a folder for that group that is shared with all group members.  When anyone in the group adds to the folder, the document will be automatically shared will all other group members.  Some teachers have gone the route of creating and sharing individual folders for each of their students-- essentially creating a "drop box."  This process has even been automated by a tool called GCLassFolders that was developed by a Vermont educator.

Here's the process:
  1. In Google Drive, click "Create," then "Folder."
  2. Name the Folder.
  3. Hover over the folder name and click the pull-down arrow to the right.
  4. Choose "Share."
  5. Share just as you would any Google Doc-- with specific individuals or an entire group.
  6. Now if you move an existing document, presentation, etc. to that folder (or create a new one within the folder), it will be shared with the same people.
And here is a screencast of the process:
Let me know if I can help you get started with this!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Google Docs 101

Teachers-- Are you interested in what your colleagues and their students are doing with Google Apps, but just haven't had the chance to dive in? If you are a teacher who would like to learn the basics of Google Apps, there is a series of courses that might be of interest.  It's presented by the folks at Powerful Learning Practice, which is a well-respected organization.  The first one is called Google Docs 101,  and it starts Oct 14th.  Check it out!

I would also love to help you discover what you and your students can do with Google Apps.  Please let me know if you'd like to do a one-on-one session.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October is Connected Educator Month

Happy Connected Educator Month (brought to you by the Dept of Ed's Office of Educational Technology)!
Being connected means having a professional network that extends beyond your department and your school-- interacting with fellow educators all over the world as you share and learn together.
Here are some resources to give you a kick-start:
  1. 10 Tips to Becoming a Connected Educator
  2. 20 Ways to Improve Your Professional Learning Network 
If you're looking for one thing you can do right now, head over to Twitter.  As I've said previously, Twitter is not all about celebrities and what people ate for breakfast!  Here is a live feed of people tweeting with the hashtag #edchat (a hashtag is a way to label a tweet so people can search for it.  #edchat is a popular #hashtag for educators).  Or check out #vted feed (people discussing education in Vermont).

Want some help getting started? Please let me know!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Vermont Fest 2013

Once again, VITA-Learn-- the VT organization concerned with technology integration-- is hosting Vermont Fest, a conference where you can get lots of ideas for your classroom.  You may have noticed the posters and brochures I left around school.  You can also get information here.  I'd also be happy to chat about how the conference may be useful to you.