I recently was able to present a couple of sessions at the first Korean Google Apps for Education summit, held at Seoul Foreign School. These events are always high energy whirlwinds, and I’m always left impressed by the many innovative things that people are doing with their students.
In one session, I focused on using various Google tools (Google Scholar, News, and Books) and conducting smarter Google searches when undertaking research. While the slides from my presentation are really just an outline, they may help to build an understanding of just how much is possible when you dig deeper with these very helpful free resources.
As with most things Google, the various interfaces, toolbars, and menu options for these tools regularly change as the products are improved. In its attempt to simplify things (which will be appreciated by the majority of users), advanced settings and features can sometimes become hidden away. But these options can be critical to allowing users to explore the full potential of a given tool, and so it’s worth spending some time playing around and finding the settings and filters that can help you to become a more effective researcher.
An actual, made out of dead trees, book. With pictures. To 16 and 17 year-old IB Diploma students. And they loved it.
Many, if not all of our students in international schools are stressed and juggling (perhaps too many) commitments as they work towards illusive goals. It’s so important to remind them to stop sometimes and do something different of their own choosing, like reading for pleasure, that they can enjoy.
After my story was done, we all had a blissful twenty minutes together of sitting quietly in the library and reading whatever we felt like.
In case you’re curious, here’s the video version of what I read to them:
As the school year came to a close, I thought it important to reflect on the progress that we have made in developing an effective library facility and in delivering excellent services to our school community thus far. Often working in isolation or only intermittently with various constituencies in a school, the work that we do in libraries can sometimes fly under the radar. The annual report that I’ve drafted (below) is an attempt to highlight some of the work that we have been doing. There are of course still many challenges ahead, some of which I’ve attempted to identify in the report, but I feel that on the whole, we have accomplished a great deal over the past ten months.
The past few months have been quite busy, but most definitely busy in a very good way.
After attending the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in Bali in March, I was fortunate enough to also be accepted to the most recent Google Teacher Academy as part of the Google Certified Teacher program. Completing these two programs so close to each other gave me a better understanding of the ethos of both companies and how they are supporting education, and I know that I have already benefited and grown professionally from these events.
The Google Teacher Academy, held at Google’s offices in Sydney, was a very intense few days, but I certainly appreciated the hands-on sessions and practical nature of the event. All of our discussions seemed to be very much rooted in growing our pedagogical practices, and there was a buzz of energy as people shared how they are using Google’s products to enhance learning in their classrooms.
What I probably appreciated most about my experiences at Google was the collaborative nature of our activities there. Googlers (Google employees) and lead learners (Google Certified Teacher alumni) worked together with us to regularly share and learn from one another. Much like what I could garner from the culture of Google itself, there was a very flat hierarchy and an openness to working together regardless of position or stature. This learning continues online within the network of connections that I have now established with fellow Google Certified Teachers.
The next Google Teacher Academy will be held in late July in Chicago, and I would fully encourage anyone who is working with Google tools in their classrooms to consider applying. While intense, the event itself and the community it connects you with represent an incredible opportunity to grow your understanding of educational technology and how it enhances learning.
About two weeks ago, I had the fortune of attending and presenting at the Tokyo Google Apps for Education Summit. The event was a bit of a whirlwind weekend, and I walked away with plenty of ideas and plenty of admiration for what a lot of other fantastic educators are already doing in their schools.
One resource that I keep talking about to people after the summit is the Google Art Project. On this site, Google has collected hundreds of extremely high resolution images of major works of art from around the world. Each work has an accompanying description, links to relevant videos, and many even allow you to zoom out into a Google Streetview mode where you’re standing in front of the work in its gallery. The level of detail in these images is incredible, and for many, is likely greater than what you would be able to perceive with your eye even when standing right in front of the painting. There are many obvious applications for how this resource could be used in art classrooms, but there’s a great deal of relevance for history and geography lessons as well, particularly when you start to examine the descriptions and notes behind each work.
As with anything, there are a couple of things that could be improved on with the site (the artists are listed by first name for some reason, and there are some major works missing), but this is a tremendous free resource that every teacher should be aware of. Many thanks to Jim Sill for introducing me to this fantastic site!
Well it would seem that the third time’s a charm. After applying over several years to join the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) program, I’ve been officially accepted into the class of 2013. I’ve documented my previous attempts to enter the program here on my blog, and continue to get numerous hits every day on that post from people seeking information about the program. Thanks to your feedback on my previous attempts, I was able to fine-tune my application this year, and better express what it means to me to use technology effectively in education.
I’ve had a chance to poke around in the ADE community site a bit already, and am really encouraged by what I’ve seen so far. The ADE network is a community of forward-thinking educators that are genuinely engaging with technology in their classroom in ways that make a real difference to student understanding. I’m proud to be joining this group, and am already looking forward to our institute together in March.
Maybe I’ll see you there?
With an eye towards eventually applying to be a Google Apps Certified Trainer, I’ve been working my way through the various training modules for initial individual Google Apps certification. While I’ve been using Google Apps for many years, and in many different school and individual settings, the training modules have been providing me with great tips on how to improve my use of these tools and reminding me of some of the best practices that I’ve already seen in place. I thought it would be worthwhile sharing five of my favourite Google Apps customization tips with you here:
1. Putting your vacation responder to work
If you’re like me, you can often get many people emailing you asking for the same information (e.g. passwords to get in to a site that your school subscribes to). Have your Google Apps administrator create a new account (call it something like ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’), and then set up the vacation responder in this account with the information that you’d like to provide to everyone. You can customize this so that it only responds to messages from your school’s email domain, solving any concerns about releasing information to external parties. Once everyone in your school is aware of the address to use for this, they’ll be able to get instant access to passwords or whatever other general information you’d like to share without always having to email you.
2. Labs in Calendar
You may have played with some of the experimental labs in Gmail already, but did you realize that there are also great lab add-ons available in Google Calendar? These are experimental features that you can add on to your calendar to better customize it for your needs. Click on the gear icon in the top right and select ‘labs’ to have a look at what’s available. ‘Year View’, ‘Event Flair’, ‘Next Meeting’, and ‘Event Attachments’ are some personal favourites.
3. Offline Apps
If you’re using Chrome as your browser, you can add apps to allow access to your Gmail, Calendar, and Google Drive even when you’re offline. You aren’t able to edit things in Google Drive when offline unfortunately, but this is still a handy feature to access your work when you aren’t able to connect (e.g. sitting on a plane).
4. Quick Add events in Calendar
Using the q key as a shortcut allows you to quickly add events to your calendar. Press q and then type your event in the pop up box just as you would relate the information to anyone else. For example, typing ‘Meeting Friday with email@example.com from 3pm to 4pm’ will create an event in your calendar with all of this information. There are a few tricks to getting the syntax just right, but this can be a great way to create events without searching through your calendar first.
5. Adding on additional apps
That ‘more’ tab at the end of your toolbar list of Google Apps is just waiting for you to customize it. Many products that you may already be using in your school (e.g. EasyBib, BrainPOP) can be added to this list, allowing everyone to access them without needing to enter a password. Ask your Google Apps administrator to add these (in can take a little while to update) after having a look through the Google Apps Marketplace.
These are just a few ways of making the Google Apps experience even better. Even if you don’t intend to seek training as a Google Apps Certified Trainer or even the initial individual Google Apps certification, the training materials on the Google Apps for Education Training Center have a wealth of information, and are definitely worth a read.