A journey across the Googleverse

I am a huge fan of Google Apps for Education after many years as a staunch Microsoft Office user. No, it doesn’t mean I have left the Microsoft offerings behind completely

Image of a globe with Google App icons

Join me on a trip through the Googleverse. Image: CC Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported, Valentyna Sagan

but I am finding more and more I am looking to Google Drive solutions first.

Google Apps makes technology so much more accessible by doing away with the need for software licenses and heavy duty hardware. It also makes available powerful collaboration tools and makes sharing so easy. My perspective is education, particularly adult and secondary, but many of the ideas can be embraced in other environments, too.

Google Apps can help facilitate both differentiation and efficiency. Sure, there are limitations but Google are constantly evolving the platform. I’ll be honest, there are still times I turn to Microsoft PowerPoint in particular  but I am constantly surprised at how much can be accomplished within the Googleverse.

Here I hope to bring together practical tips and ideas, both my own and from others, to help you along with your Google Apps journey.

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Data, charts and Sheets, oh my!

Google Charts video tutorial

Scroll down for video tutorial

Information and communications technology (ICT) skills are these days found across curriculum areas in education throughout the world. Much of the focus is on literacy based applications such as documents, presentations, etc. This is partly because these applications  tend to be much easier for educators and students to learn how to use.

The representation of numeric data using technology is sometimes overlooked in the classroom. There are many subject areas in K-12 education that benefit from the use of technology to represent data including:

  • mathematics
  • science
  • social studies
  • geography
  • design and technology
  • business, economics and commerce

Charts and graphs can be a powerful tool to visually represent numerical information.  For some educators and students, the idea of working with data is intimidating. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be.

Tools like Google Sheets, part of the Google Apps for Education and Google Drive suite of products, make it easy to create attractive, easy to read charts and graphs from your data.

The video tutorial below shows how quick and easy it is to create a chart in Google Sheets. The topic area is a social science subject, geography, and representing contributions to population changes across Australian States. And it all happens in just under 4 minutes:

Note:

At the time of writing, you will need to use the full, Chrome browser based version of Google Sheets in order to insert and edit charts. You can view them on the portable version of Google Sheets but you cannot insert or edit charts in these versions.

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Google Apps for Education and Universal Design for Learning

I recently had the opportunity to attend an excellent workshop presented by Leanne Woodley from AIS NSW on Universal GAfE and UDL: supporting inclusionDesign for Learning (UDL). UDL has inspired me to look at inclusion in a different way. It is a step beyond differentiation as it may be typically implemented which I discussed in the context of Google Classroom in a previous post.  Within the UDL framework learning is designed to be inclusive rather than making adjustments as an after thought.

According to National Centre on Universal Design for Learning:

Universal Design for Learning is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn.

http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl

Here is a short video giving an overview of UDL:

So where does Google Apps for Education fit in to all this? UDL does not require technology to be implemented. However, technology can be a very powerful tool. It embeds digital literacy into learning which is a relevant 21st century skill, with relevance being part of the UDL guidelines. For some students, it also allows them to use skills and technologies they are already comfortable with. Building on existing student knowledge is also within the UDL guidelines.

I am looking forward to implementing UDL within my classes. In the meantime, I have put together a table of three GAfE tools and how they may work to support UDL. I plan to add to this as my experience with UDL grows.

UDL & Google Apps for Education

Google Apps toolMultiple means of engagementMultiple means of representationMultiple means of action and expression
Google DriveEncourage students to collaborate on projects created in Google Drive.


Invite opportunities for self reflection using Google Forms.


Use comments feature to provide feedback that encourages perseverance, focuses on development of efficacy and self-awareness.

Use Google Forms to check for background knowledge.

Access Google Drive through choice of device.


Encourage planning using choice of Google Drive option and provide feedback through comments.


Assertive technologies that can be used with Google Drive include using mouth stylus on touch devices or option to use voice to text for typing.


Option to collate resources/ideas in Google Drive using 'Save to Drive' extension.
Google ClassroomClearly outline goals and objectives and encourage students to revisit these.


Encourage students to ask questions in the stream or privately.


Allow students to work at their pace.


Offer choices in how students engage e.g., PC, tablet, smart phone.


Provide varied sources of information.


Encourage active participation.


Option to use provided template(s).


Set assessments with option to complete at different levels of complexity.


Use announcements and email reminders to support predictability.


Provide resources in different formats, e.g., fact sheets, Prezi, YouTube video, podcast.


Use question and discussion feature to highlight 'big ideas'.


Use questions and discussions to clarify information.


Ensure access to pre-requisite/background information is available.

Accept evidence of learning in different formats including Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Drawings, scanned file, photos, audio and video.


Use discussion feature to assist focus and direction.


Google+ / HangoutsEncourage students to participate in discussions around the design of classroom activities and academic tasks using synchronous and asynchronous social media tools in the Google+ suite.


Encourage collaboration within small groups and the whole class.


Opportunities to communicate to real audiences.

Use Google Collections to represent ideas in different formats.


Present information/ideas using Google Hangouts On Air and allow students to access recorded session at any time.

Option to collate resources/ideas using Google Collections.

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4 Google Apps for Education essentials: one educator’s toolkit

Google Apps for Education (GAfE) has become part of my every day life as an educator. I use GAfE toolGoogle Apps for Education essentials - one educator's daily toolkit. http://googleappsaction.coms for both planned and spontaneous learning activities. Here I have listed 4 of my daily go-tos; tools that I use regularly as part of
my day as an educator.

In terms of what I have to work with, our IT infrastructure is reasonable, with technology available with planning but not available to the level of one-on-one or BYOD school. Sometimes it takes a bit of Macgyver-ing to get the desired result. It’s all about problem solving and working with what you’ve got.

I have excluded the ‘vanilla’, Chrome desktop accessible GaFE Apps from the essentials – I’m assuming they are a given. Also, essentials may vary from educator to educator depending on the infrastructure available to them.

1. Chromebooks

I’m not one to be ungrateful but, if there is one ‘I wish’ that I have, it is that I wish I had more Chromebooks available at ouchromebook-505728_960_720r school. These go from zero to productive in about 5 seconds and have an impressive battery life. Many students love them because they work so well with their Google Drive accounts and they don’t have to wait forever for an operating system to load.

I often walk around with one under my arm, ready to pop it open to help a student with an assessment or to look something up. If we’re logged into the Chromebook under my account, sharing with the student’s account is quick and painless.

Chromebooks quickly and easily plug in to a TV, data projector or IWB via HDMI to view a video, present a Google Slide show or review student work (with permission, of course!).

With the Chromebook Management License that allows admins to manage the devices in your GAfE domain, in theory it makes it easy to manage what users can and can’t access. However, just like many of these types of system management tools, it is not always 100% foolproof.

2. iPad Mini

This would probably work as well with a high end Android device.

My iPad Mini is like my right hand and the iOS Google Apps work beautifully on it. Sure, they might not have as many features as the ‘full’ versions but they are improving all the time. Just like the Chromebook, they have a fast (almost instant) start up and are very portable. And, just like the Chromebook, I use it opportunistically when I need to spontaneously help a student. It’s also easy to snap, upload and share photographs for project work.

I also take photos of student work (e.g., art work), upload it to Google Drive and share it with the student and anyone else that might need access. One example is a portfolio of work created by our vocational beauty class that has been saved to a folder in Google Drive.

My iPad has cellular and a reasonable amount of data so, if the WiFi is slow or down in class (one of the downsides to living in rural Australia), I can use it as a hotspot and keep on going.

For students that struggle with writing and typing, the iPad voice-to-text feature works brilliantly to allow students to ‘voice’ type directly into a Google Drive file. This can be empowering as students can work independently rather than relying on scribes or trying to avoid writing all together (as sometimes happens). Here is a video showing how it works:

Another great use of the iPad with Google Docs is for note taking, particularly during professional development sessions. I I usually use Google Docs and incorporate typed notes with photos of handouts, relevant slides, etc. It means all relevant information is stored neatly in one place and easily referred to in future.

3. Apple TV + iPad Mini

This would probably work as well with a high end Android device and a Chromecast.

My iPad Mini makes another appearance, this time teaming up with an Apple TV. This works particularly well with classes with ipad-718411_960_720learners who may be reluctant to work independently but work better where we ‘crowd source’ solutions; i.e., we discuss possible responses/answers together and type it up using the iPad, working in a Google Drive app (usually Docs or Slides) and mirroring to a TV or projector using the Apple TV with students copying it for themselves.

Often I start off as the typist/editor but, as we warm to our task, I find students are keen to volunteer to ‘drive’ the iPad. This is easily done by passing around the iPad. The other advantage is that the work is saved in Google Drive for students who may need to catch up or for future reference.

4. “Save to Google Drive” Chrome extension

This handy free Chrome extension allows you to save just about anything you have open in your Chrome browser to your Google Drive. It’s a great way to quickly and instantly save resources you have found, including PDFs, into your Google Drive. Once installed, you just click on the “Save to Google Drive” icon to save. Once saved to Google Drive, you can easily find the file, rename it, organise it, etc.

This has mixed reviews from users. Personally, I have found it reliable and easy to use. The trick for me is organising my files (especially renaming to something relevant) as I save then to Drive.

Download the “Save to Google Drive” Chrome extension from the Chrome Web Store using this link:

http://bit.ly/save2driveext

What are your Google Apps for Education essentials? Why not share in the comments!

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Google Drive freebies: fun, flexible templates

One thing I love as much as Google Apps for Education is freebies. And when those freebies are coGoogle Drive freebies - fun, flexible templates for the classroommbined with Google Apps – oh, happy days! I like freebies so much I’ve dedicated much of one of my Pinterest boards, The Thrifty Teacher, to free educational resources that are engaging and easy to use.

So I decided to create and share three flexible, fun and easy to use templates. I’ve used these type of templates in the past so I have put them together to offer both electronic and printable options. I always find this kind of flexibility helpful as it means I have options depending on my students and the environment we’ll be in. And sharing the files with you means you can adapt them to suit the needs of you and your class.

These templates were designed to be used with the full version of Google Slides. However, I have tried them with the latest version of the Google Slides app on the iPad and they seemed to work well.  I would expect the same would be the case with the Android apps. The mobile versions have the advantage of easily taking photos to add into the templates.

To use the templates, click on the links provided. This will open the document. From here, you will need to save the file to your Drive from the “File” menu so you can use it as want.

Fakebook status template

Inspired by Facebook, this authentic looking template allows students to create a “status” update and add an image.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1s9wa_d9VuSc_YblguKjBCfESHEx9ER7MzCBA1PJrdHM/edit?usp=sharing

Newspaper template

Create your own headlines with this newspaper template.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1dczUwblNGRHH3fuJfvHRrsgpCF1l0qflJoJHY6YH0ps

Text message template

This template allows for a short “text” exchange between, well, anyone you like! You can shrink or enlarge it based on your student needs and how you will be using it. Duplicate the slide to have an extended text exchange.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1X41FQhUKg0ggvlEwNHynuqmZM2YeQn3pO51RxN9UrDc

Side note: aaagghhh, Google Template Gallery!!

I tried to upload the templates to the Template Gallery. This has always been a hit-and-miss endeavour. This time it proved to be a…. miss! Hours after attempting to submit the templates to the Gallery, I am still being advised that my templates will be visible in the template gallery “in a moment”. Maybe they mean a Saturn moment 😉

So the links I have shared are directly from my Google Drive.

Applications for education

  • Suitable for most age groups and skill levels.
  • Can be used with many curriculum areas including History, Literature Studies, Creative Writing and Languages.
  • Customise the templates to suit your needs and the needs of your students.
  • For electronic versions of the documents, distribute using Classroom, Gmail or Google Drive.

More free Google Drive templates for educational use

http://googleappsaction.com/?p=174

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4 Google Apps tools to blend your classroom today!

Blended learning is not a new concept. It’s been around for a while. Better and more affordable softwarEasy blended learning with Google Appse solutions and improved internet access means more educational institutions are implementing blended learning solutions. Blended and elearning isn’t ‘good’ just because it is digital; it needs to meet student needs and learning goals.

Even on a budget and with limited resources, any educator can look at implementing some level of blended learning. Blended learning can help create a more individualised and flexible learning environment. Free Google Apps put blended learning solutions within everyone’s reach, whether or not you’re in a Google Apps for Education (GaFE) school. And you don’t need to be an IT expert to use them. You also don’t need to have the latest and greatest hardware and operating systems to use Google Apps.

Here I’ve collected four Google Apps that are easy for beginners to start using as part of a blended learn environment. I’ve included some ideas on how you can use them and links to resources to get you started.

But before that, maybe we should talk about…..

…what is blended learning, anyway?

1. Google Classroom

Only available as part of Google Apps for Education
Available on iOS, Android, Chromebook and full Chrome browser (Windows, Linux, Mac)

Okay, this one might be a no-brainer but no discussion about Google Apps and blended learning would be complete without including Google Classroom.

Google Classroom is described as:

…a free web-based platform…[that] makes it easy to create classes, distribute assignments, communicate, and stay organized. Teachers can quickly see who has or hasn’t completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback and grades right in Classroom.

https://support.google.com/edu/classroom/answer/6020279?hl=en

Google Classroom is a very strong ally in creating a blended learning environment. As well as distributing, monitoring and marking assignments, you can share resources, post a quick question to the class and view results (great for checking understanding), and create and monitor discussions. The great thing is it allows you to share any clarifying questions or comments with the whole classroom.

Once you understand the basics, Google Classroom can be a useful tool to help you implement and manage differentiation.

It is very easy to create your first class and assignment and to have students join, especially if you have your class setup in Google Groups.

Look at the post Google Classroom Goodies for more on using Google Classroom – from the basics to pro tips.

How to access Google Classroom

Log into your GAfE account.

Go to the following website:

http://classroom.google.com

2. Google Sites

Available free with any Google account, including Google Apps for Education
Editing functionality best with full Chrome browser (Windows, Linux, Mac)
View Google Sites on any device using Chrome Browser

As great as Google Classroom is, if you try and cram too much content in, it can become cluttered and unwieldy. If you want to share content, Google Sites is a great way to do it. It is easy to create a simple site even if you’ve never created a website before.

Google Sites is described as:

… a structured wiki- and Web page-creation tool… People can work together on a Site to add file attachments, information from other Google applications.

It is a great way to keep all relevant content related to a class in one place and makes it easy for students to stay up-to-date. You can easily organise different topics or modules into different ‘levels’ on your Google Site and develop it as you go. It also allows students to work at their own pace, provides opportunities for you as the teacher to include formative assessments and to easily make available extension tasks for students who need to be challenged.

As well as embedding other Google apps and YouTube videos, you can also embed other media into your Google Sites. I often include Prezis and Zaption videos, allowing me to use and curate existing content rather than having to create everything from scratch. You can also include the Google Classroom calendar on the site to help students keep track of due dates or a quiz using Google Forms.

Google Sites are also a great way for students to present evidence of learning and portfolios of work. Just like Google Drive apps, Google Sites can be collaborative.

And you don’t have to know anything about web design to use Google Sites. Try the Beginner’s guide to creating a site if you’d like some direction.

Not sure where to start? Create a page with a YouTube video and a Google Form with a few questions to check for understanding. Instant (well nearly) online mini-class!

Web design purists like to criticise the limitations and quirks of Google Sites but I have found no quicker or easier way to create websites as I need them.

How to access Google Sites

Login to your Google account.

Go to the following website:

http://sites.google.com

3. Google Slides

Available free with any Google account, including Google Apps for Education
Editing functionality best with full Chrome browser (Windows, Linux, Mac)
Apps with fewer features available for iOS and Android

Ahhhh, Google Slides. One of my (almost) daily go-tos. So versatile, so easy to use and a great way to introduce blended learning practices.

Google describes Google Slides as:

… an online presentations app that allows you to show off your work in a visual way.

Google Slides can be used as part of a blended learning solution in several ways:

Google Slides can be embedded into a website or blog (like the one above in this post). They are easy to use and easily allow the insertion of links, videos, diagrams, etc.

Google Slides is part of the Google Drive suite.

4. Google Forms

Available free with any Google account, including Google Apps for Education
Editing functionality best with full Chrome browser (Windows, Linux, Mac)
View Google Forms on any device using Chrome Browser

Google Forms offer a lot of possibilities, from the basic to the complex. The great thing is you don’t have to be a guru to get started with Google Forms which is the reason I selected it as part of my easy-to-use blended tools list.

According to Google:

You can plan events, make a survey or poll, give students a quiz, or collect other information in an easy, streamlined way with Google Forms. You can create a form from Google Drive or from an existing spreadsheet that can record the responses to your form.

Google Forms is so easy to use that you could set up your first short quiz in 5 minutes even if you’ve never used Google Forms before. Your students answer the questions and these are saved in a Google Sheet for you to review the answers. If you are part of a GAfE school, you’ll now exactly who has (and hasn’t!) taken the quiz.

Take it to the next level and add images and YouTube videos and have students answer questions based on those.

You can even create self-grading quizzes with a free add-on called Flubaroo. Another use for Google Forms is creating branched learning scenarios where students are directed to, for example, a video or link depending on their quiz responses.

However you choose to use Google Forms, part of its power is that you can quickly and easily check student understanding, apply any required intervention and keep track of progress and student development.

Of course, this would be part of a wider blended learning and assessment process.

Google Forms is part of the Google Drive suite.

So what are you waiting for? There’s no excuse to not start blending today!

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Creating mini-lessons using Google Slides in 6 easy steps

Google Slides is one of my everyday go-to tools in Google Apps for Education (GAfE) and Create interactive mini lessons using Google Slides Google Drive. It is so versatile and easy to use. As an educator, it makes it easy to put together and distribute information and content. It is also a great app for students to show evidence of learning or to curate a portfolio.

One way to use Google Slides is to create mini-lessons that students can go through at their own pace. They are also useful in ‘flipped classrooms’ and other blended learning approaches.

Mini-lessons are presentations that contain content that students need to know and include some sort of navigation, like a menu, and, ideally, some sort of activity, like a quiz, for students to complete to check for understanding.

Below is a sample mini-lesson designed for illustrative purposes and below that are the 6 easy steps to creating your very own mini-lesson as well as a video tutorial. The content in this mini-lesson has been copied from Wikipedia (not recommended!)

6 Easy steps to create a mini-lesson

1. Create your Google Slides presentation

Login to Google Drive and create a new Google Slides presentation.

2. Write your content

Don’t forget to leave a menu slide so you can go back and create your menu links when you have completed your content.

As well as text, you can include images, videos and links to external content.

As this is intended as a mini-lesson designed to be consumed by an individual rather than a presentation, you can include a lot more text than you normally would in a presentation but be careful about making it look too crowded.

3. Create your menu

Once you have completed your content, go back to your blank menu page and add buttons for links to the different topics in your mini-lesson.

To make your buttons clickable go to:

Insert > Link… > Slides in this presentation > Select the slide to link to

See the video tutorial for a demonstration.

4. Add your “return to menu” button

Create your return to menu button using shapes or inserting an image into one of your content slides. Insert the link to your menu slide:

Insert > Link… > Slides in this presentation > Select the slide to link to

Copy your button to the other content slides

Note: ideally, you would add the return to menu button in the slide layout in slide master view. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, when you view the presentation normally, the link is not clickable.

See the video tutorial for a demonstration.

5. (optional) Add a link to the student activity

For example, this could be a link to a quiz created in a Google Form.

See the video tutorial for a demonstration.

6. Distribute your mini-lesson

Test your mini-lesson first to make sure all the links are doing the right thing.

There are different ways you can distribute your mini-lesson. These include:

  • Use the “Share” option to email a link recipients
  • Use the “Publish to the web” options to embed the presentation in, for example, a blog or Google Site

See the video tutorial for a demonstration.

Video tutorial: Creating interactive mini-lessons in Google Slides

 

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6 tips for creating student made ebooks in Google Apps

I have long been a fan of the ebook and have often created and distributed them to support my training and teachingLearning how to self-publish ebooks in Google Slides - googleappsaction.com activities. I have also at different times published and sold ebooks (look me up on the iBooks store!). Google Apps for Education makes it easy for both students and teachers to create attractive ebooks that can be shared in a number of formats.

Here are 6 tips to help you (or your class) create your first ebook using Google Apps for Education. These techniques are just as useful to anyone looking to self-publish an ebook, including general users of the free Google Drive and Google Apps for Work users.

1. Why create ebooks, anyway?

Ebooks can fulfil a number of purposes including:

  1. Creating an eportfolio of a student’s work (or a number of students’ work).
  2. Using students to ‘crowd source’ the creation of resources and text books, created for the target audience by the target audience.
  3. Can be used by students of all ability levels.
  4. Developing relevant 21st century skills.
  5. Easily show evidence of learning to a wide audience (including parents) in an environmentally friendly way.
  6. Create your own text books and resources that you can easily update and distribute.

2. What app should I use?

The app that will provide you with maximum flexibility in terms of presentation and layout is Google Slides, particularly if you are combining text and images.

This is not the perfect book publishing solution but allows for a lot of flexibility and creativity without a steep learning curve.

3. What size should my ebook be?

There is no ‘standard’ ebook size. It’s probably a good idea, though, to set-up the pages in portrait orientation and in you standard printer size, i.e., A4 or Letter depending on what part of the world you are in.

Paper sizeDimensions (cm)Dimensions (inches)
A421 x 29.78.3 x 11.7
Letter21.59 x 27.948.5 x 11

Here is a short tutorial showing you how to change the page size in Google Slides.

4. How can I make sure my ebook looks good?

Do your homework. Investigate websites, books, ebooks, posters, etc, that you like the look of and use them as inspiration for your style, fonts and layouts.

There are also lots of online tools to help you select colour schemes that look good together and even give you the hexadecimal colour code to be able to put in your colour choosers in Google Slides.

Whilst you can have multiple page layouts within your ebook (for example, 1 large picture, 1 large column text, 2 smaller pictures with 2 even columns of text, 1 smaller picture with 2 uneven columns of text, etc) use the same basic elements throughout:

  • 1 font style for page headings
  • 1 font style for subheadings
  • 1 font style for your body text
  • 3 to 5 colours for your colour scheme
  • Make sure your inside covers are blank and you have the ‘half page title‘ to make your book look authentic.

Below is a video on how to easily create page layouts for your ebook in Google Slides (note: all images used are either my own photos or public domain imaged from Pixabay):

5. What platform should I use to create my ebook?

Although you can create your ebook on mobile versions of Google Slides (e.g., iPads or Android tablets) you will get the most flexibility and creativity using the full version through Google Chrome (e.g., Windows, Linux, Mac and Chromebook).

That doesn’t mean you can’t ‘mix and match’ devices. For example, do most of your editing using a Windows computer but use the iPad version to take photos and add them straight into the pages of your ebook.

6. In what format should I distribute my ebook?

The great thing is, you don’t have to stick to just one format!

  • Share the actual Google Slides file (view only)
  • Embed the Google Slides file into a website or blog (File > Publish to the web… > Embed)
  • Save the file as a PDF to easily view on most devices and platforms (File > Download as > PDF document)

PDF results in the most attractive ebook (I don’t know why, try it for yourself and see!) and, depending on the size, can be emailed or made available to download from a website or blog.

More resources

Student-Made E-Books: A Beautiful Way to Demonstrate Learning:

http://www.cultofpedagogy.com/student-e-books/

How to Create an Ebook with Google Slides:

http://www.shakeuplearning.com/blog/how-to-create-an-ebook-with-google-slides/

Free, high quality public domain images:

https://pixabay.com/

 

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5 tips for using Google+ Collections at school

Google+ Collections was added to the Google Apps family in May last year.  Google+ CollectioUsing Google+ Collections at school. Curate, collaborate and discuss using #GAFE. Find out more: http://googleappsaction.com/?p=263ns is a bit like Pinterest, and allows you to group posts together and share them publicly, with your circles, particular users, only yourself or, if you are using Google Apps for Education (GAfE) of Google
Apps for Business, just within your domain. As well as the browser based version, you can access Google+ Collections on your Android and iOS devices using the Google+ app.

I’ve kind of played around with it but this school year I plan to use it as an integral tool in my Community and Family Studies (CaFS) class. I’ve already started setting up boards for some topic areas and am planning how I will have students collaborate and contribute using Google+ Collections.

Here is an introductory tutorial on using Google+ Collections:

And now for some tips on using Google+ Collections within an educational environment.

1. Google+ Collections is only for ages 13+

Because it is part of the Google+ suite of products, the Google terms of service means it can only be used by students 13 years and over (unlike many of the other GAfE apps used by schools). Also, Google+ might not automatically be enabled within your GAfE environment – check with your administrator if you are not sure.

2. Think about privacy settings when you are creating Collections

Note: you cannot change the privacy settings once you create a Collection.

Be very cautious when setting privacy to ‘Public’. For example, would it be appropriate for the content to be published in the local paper? If the answer is ‘No’, think about setting the privacy to within the domain or to a particular group of users only.

Also, it’s a great opportunity to teach students about digital citizenship and responsible online behaviour by assisting them with the appropriate privacy levels.

3. Encourage communication using the comments feature

Users with access to a collection can add and respond to comments. This is a great way to encourage a dialogue about a particular topic or issue. For many students, it will have a bit of a ‘Facebook’ feel which would be familiar.

For example, in my CaFS Collection, I have added a link to the article You told us what it’s like being 15 in 2015. I love the black and white image with the article that now appears in the collection. I will ask students to discuss what they feel is similar and different in their experiences and why they think this is.

4. Using Collections as a research tool

When conducting research, students can use a private or shared collection to ‘park’ links of interest for a project. They could also reflect on the quality of the sources curated using comments and share the Collection with the teacher. Or, the assessment of the quality of sources could be crowd-sourced, with other students being able to provide comments.

5. Encourage small group collaboration

Currently, you cannot have multiple contributors to a collection the way you can in Pinterest. However, students can still collaborate on a Collection in small groups by working together on the same computer, iPad or Android tablet. One student account would need to be the owner of the Collection but other contributors could be acknowledged in the Collection tagline or even in a post in the collection (selfie time!)

Interested in exploring Collections? Here is a link to a Google Drawing template I created that you can use to create size optimised Google+ Collection covers:

https://drive.google.com/previewtemplate?id=17_WBfHZqvOkH9q2lurfN5vbAvzJp7yPkZFK4l1J5RrQ&mode=public

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More Google Apps magic on more platforms

More Google Apps magic on more platforms

As the Google Drive and Google Apps for Education (GAfE) suites have matured, so have the available compatible apps across mobile platforms. This means you can do more on-the-go and using whatever device available than ever before. It also puts the power of GAfE in the hands of more people as they can be accessed on devices across many price points. And, of course, the More Google Apps magic on more platformsapps are free.

It is important to note that not all ‘smart’ devices can access Google Apps effectively – read the post Does Google Apps for Education play nice with BYOD? for more on this. It also has ideas on how to breathe new life into old technology.

Also, the mobile apps tend not to have all the features of the browser based versions; this can be an advantage. Fewer features can sometimes mean greater productivity, particularly for people distracted by ‘bells and whistles’ like hundreds of fonts (yep, that’s me!). You can potentially use the desktop versions through the Chrome mobile browser but I have personally found this to be a frustrating experience.

Sometimes, the mobile versions liberate you to do things that are difficult on a desktop or laptop. Have a look at the post Create a comic in 3 minutes or less with Google Slides (with bonus puppies!) for one idea using Slides on an iPad.

Below is a quick reference table for many Google Apps across devices. It has already changed from when I first put it together as the mobile apps have improved. Some of the mobile apps are closer to their browser based counterparts than others. You will need to do more research to find out specifically what won’t work on the mobile apps. (I tried to find the definitive Google list but I was unable to).

The great thing is most apps retain their collaborative and commenting ability.

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Google My Maps & Sites unite!

Google Sites and Google My Maps unite!
Google Sites make it simple to create a website. Yes, Google Sites may be a little limited but that also means it makes it easy to use. One plus is how easily Google Sites integrates with Google Drive. Google My Maps, one of the newer members of the Google Apps and Google Apps for Education (GAFE) family, is no exception.

Below is a short video tutorial showing how to embed a Google My Map from Google Drive into a Google Site.

Applications for education

Google Sites allow you to draw from different types of media and documents as well as interactive elements. Schools are using it for:

  • flipping classrooms by putting content online
  • student portfolios
  • collaboration
  • student projects
  • communication with the wider school community

Google My Maps is another way of developing the richness of Google Sites.

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