I will be the first to admit that I love new and shiny gadgets quickly catch my attention. I love finding new tools and ideas that can help teachers and kids do their jobs better and more effectively. And here at ESSDACK, it’s actually part of my job. I get the chance to play with and learn about all sorts of shiny toys.
My latest gadget? Virtual and augmented reality tools. The potential for engaging students and using this sort of technology to gather, organize, and create information is pretty mindblowing. I especially love the work that Google is doing to make the tech more accessible for schools. The Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer is especially affordable and easy to use. Plus it’s designed to be used with a wide variety of third party tools. And the Google has also developed its own apps that work with their Cardboard viewer. Read more
I was having a conversation with my two twenty-something children a few days ago and referenced an old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial. You know the one.
The one where two people, one eating peanut butter and the other chocolate, bump into each other? The one where they’re both heading headphones, listening to their Sony Walkmans, and don’t see each other until it’s too late.
“Hey! You got peanut butter on my chocolate.” “Hey! You got chocolate in my peanut butter.”
Yeah. My kids obviously didn’t remember either. It’s an ancient ad but I think of it often when we’re talking about app mashups and tweaking tech tools to do things they’re not really designed to do. Cause chocolate and peanut butter is as delicious together as is iMovie and Tellagami.
I shared the Reece reference with my kids because earlier in the day I had spent some time talking Google tools with a group of tech integration coaches. Part of that time was spent exploring the possibilities of mashing up Google My Maps and Forms. And over the last few days, my brain has been going back to different things that we could be doing with Google Forms.
So. Read more
I’ll admit it. I’ve been on a Google kick lately, especially with the recent release of some new Google gadgets. Led some on-site Chromebook trainings. Hooked a few people on the power of Cardboard. And there have been several recent presentations focused on under-appreciated Google tools for social studies teachers.
It was during my trip to and a preso at ISTE that I ran across significant changes to one of my favorite under-appreciated tools, the Google Cultural Institute. It was a little awkward. Have you ever gone to a Google tool and it’s different than when you last visited?
Yeah. That was me. Together the session participants and I all headed to the Cultural Institute and . . . it was not the same. My collections were in a different place. The ability to annotate items in my collections were gone. Finding historical places and their 3D versions was a different process. Even the name was different. Now it’s called Google Arts & Culture.
But as I’ve played with it since then, the new and improved GAC (Cause using Google Arts & Culture is just too much.) has grown on me. If you’ve never been to the site, this is truly one of those tools that needs to be in your instructional tool belt. We’re always looking for primary sources. For artifacts. For places that provide evidence for our students to use. The AC gives you access to millions of items to use as part of instruction and learning.
Basically the GAC is a Read more
Over the last few weeks, Google rolled out a variety of new tools and goodness. Expeditions that focus on using their very cool virtual reality Cardboard tool, Google Cast for Education, new creation apps for Chromebooks, and my new favorite – self grading quizzes via Google Forms.
How sweet is that?
We’ve been using Flubaroo as an Add-on for years to help us collect, organize, and grade student responses. And now we can easily do the same sort of thing right inside the upgraded version of Forms. Read more
I’m a huge Pocket user. I’m either saving to or reading from Pocket multiple times every day. It’s a tool I ran across several years ago and continue to love. It’s a read later / bookmarking app that lets me save online articles and sites for later access. I use it all. The. Time.
But I am also a huge lover of all things Google. So when I learned of a new Google Chrome extension called Save to Google, I had to give it a try. (Not familiar with Chrome extensions?) Save to Google lets you quickly save images and websites with a click of a button to a new Google tool called Google Save. You can then have access to these sites and images whenever or wherever you are.
And while Save to Google is unlikely to replace my Pocket crush anytime soon, it is something that might be very useful for you and your students right now. Especially if you’re working in a Google Apps for Education school, all of your kids already have Google accounts, and you’re all looking for an easy way to archive images and bookmark websites.
Think research and saving articles for later access. Think cross-device access to articles and photos. Think collecting and easily tagging images of Civil War battles or saving photos of the Dust Bowl for a group digital project. Think saving and sharing online primary sources and documents with students. Think simply a place for your kids to collect and organize all sorts of evidence for a research project.
So how does Google Save work? Read more
It’s been a Googlely kind of week.
Much of what I’ve been doing for the last ten days or so is to have great conversations with teachers learning how to best use a variety of Google tools. The problem, of course, is that there are so many to choose from and so many ways to use them. But we’ve been having fun sharing ideas, lesson plans, and tips.
One of the things we always talk about are ways to take advantage of the Google Chrome browser. I was a heavy Firefox user until about two years ago. I liked Firefox but we switched over bigtime to a Google Apps for Ed environment here at ESSDACK and using the default Google browser just seemed to make more sense.
And like many Firefox users, I loved the ability to integrate add-ons and extensions. When I moved to Chrome, I looked for that same ability to customize my browsing experience. Google and the Chrome Web Store didn’t disappoint.
There a wide variety of free and useful browsers extensions available for the Chrome browser. So if you work in a GAFE school, are thinking about switching to Chrome, or already use Chrome but just aren’t sure what all the fuss is about, read on. Read more