1-minute Google Drawings hack: refine your illustrations using edit points

A1-minute Google Drawings hack few weeks ago I shared this video demonstrating how anybody could create custom illustrations in Google Drawings without even a single artistic bone in your body. Tonight I was finalising an illustration of a motorbike leathers template to use with my class tomorrow. Some of the lines and curves were, well, a little wonky. I remembered I could use the Edit points tool to refine curves and lines of shapes.

As I started to do it, I thought, “Why not share a video on how to do it?” So… here it is!

By the way, the motorbike leathers template is for an integrated unit of study on motor bike safety (I have a lot of students interested in motorbikes!). Students will have the option to customise their leathers online via Google Classroom or they can use a printed version to draw/paint their customisations.

I love that, with Google Drawings, I can create my own resources to suit my purposes and then distribute them in hard copy, online or both.

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Does Google Apps for Education play nice with BYOD?

BYOD (bring your own device) is an emerging educational technology trend according to the NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition. BYOD initiatives open up a lot of opportunities and present some challenges. There are many reasons why a school would decide to implement a BYOD strategy and there is a considerable amount of work that is required to ensure the roll-out is successful. There is already a considerable amount of literature on BYOD best practice and case studies. Here I’ll specifically be looking at issues relating to BYOD and GAFE.

My school is yet to implement a BYOD initiative for students. Staff already utiDoes Google Apps for Education play nice with #BYOD? www.googleappsaction.comlise some of their own technology to supplement the technology made available by the school. I predict we will be looking at BYOD for students within the next 2 years. As a GAFE school, I like to experiment with different devices to see how well they work with the GAFE environment generally and Google Drive specifically. I find it works very well with:

  • Windows computers with the latest of Chrome
  • Linux computers with the latest version of Chrome
  • Apple computers with the latest version of Chrome
  • iOS devices (iPad/iPhone) with the latest version of both the operating system and the Google Drive apps
  • Android devices with the latest version of both the operating system and the Google Drive apps
  • Chromebooks (well, duh!)

Here are some stumbling blocks I have discovered with different devices (please let me know if you have a different experience with the below or have anything to add to the list):

  • Microsoft Surface tablets with Windows RT cannot have Google Chrome or Drive apps installed. You can access Google Drive through Internet Explorer but it is unreliable and can behave strangely
  • Microsoft Windows phones do not work with Google Drive. There are some third party apps but reviews indicate these are not productive
  • Android and iOS devices that cannot be upgraded can only have the last compatible Google Drive app installed. This means with these devices, at best, you can only view files, not create or edit them.
  • Google Chrome will be supported for Windows XP until the end of 2015. Do yourself a favour. If you are running a laptop with an old, unsupported version of Windows, download and install Linux Mint. I have installed it on older desktops and laptops and it has always worked beautifully with Google Chrome.

Should GAFE schools require students to have fully compatible technology? Not necessarily and it is not always realistic. There are no doubt many other issues that schools need to consider when looking at the possibility of implementing BYOD initiatives not least of all understanding what technology students can afford to provide. However, it is important to understand the limitations in order to plan accordingly.

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Google Drive templates – because sharing is caring

Another great feature of Google Drive is the template gallery. In a Google Apps for Google Drive templatesEducation (#gafe) or Google Apps for Business environment, you can choose to share any of your Drive creations (from the core apps) as templates within your own domain only or share them with the whole world.

That also means you have free templates available for use from around the world! Some are great and some are…well, it’s nice for people to share, anyway! Here I’m sharing some of my own templates and some templates that I have found useful. Download them, modify them, use them, enjoy them!

Social media image templates

These are templates I created to the correct image sizes (at the time of creation) to fit the respective social media platform requirements. Use for your own purposes or with students as class assignments to create ‘fake’ social media images (can be used with any subject).

Twitter image template: http://bit.ly/1I2acdX

Pinterest image template: http://bit.ly/1VheQik

Google Collections cover photo: http://bit.ly/1MBuPSn

Infographic template: http://bit.ly/1MdWSJC

Written project templates

These can be used across grade levels and subjects. I find a great way to distribute them to students in a GAFE environment is to save the template on my Drive and then use Google Classroom to distribute.

Basic interactive poster: http://bit.ly/1IbOskc

Picture book template: http://bit.ly/storybook123

Fake book (in the style of Facebook): http://bit.ly/1SvibpP (not one of mine but one both my students and I have enjoyed using)

Timeline: http://bit.ly/1RH3d4X (not one of mine, nice and simple and easy to use)

Presentation templates

Can be used for any type of presentation.

Index card, retro look: http://bit.ly/1Lksb68 (this one is created by Google)

Bold, minimalist designed for few words: http://bit.ly/1IbPAnR

Ancient stone: http://bit.ly/1CJENkC

Design templates

Design-a-cap template: http://bit.ly/1JueICZ (preview will only show part of the template)

Design-a-t-shirt template: http://bit.ly/1GyzDCG (preview will only show part of the template)

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How future proof is Google Apps for Education?

Technology in general, and educational technology in particular, is evolving at a rapid rate. Every week it seems we hear about something that’s going to be the next big thing. And, along the way, we can end up with some expensive white elephants (I’m not naming anything here but I think you can think of at least one!)

Google Apps for Education seems to be going from strength to strength. Whilst maintaining consistency across core apps like Google Drive and Gmail, it is evolving with improved features and flexibility. One of the biggest advances in the last 12 months is Google Classroom which is a bit like a ‘lite’ version of an LMS.

I thought it might be useful to look at GAFE in light of current and future edtech trends and challenges as outlined in the NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition. I selected 10 of the areas listed in the report and gave GAFE a score out of 10 for each area, for a total score out of 100. My score for GAFE future proof score was 76%.

Okay, it was not an exact science, but I think the score indicated that GAFE has a pretty healthy outlook and is well worth hitching your wagon to!

Below is an infographic outlining my ‘report card’ and explaining my scores. I am happy to hear your thoughts!

A visual report card comparing GAFE future proof characteristics

GAFE future proof report card

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Mash-up madness using YouTube Creator Studio

Did you know you can create YouTube videos without recording a single thing? YouTube Creator Studio makes is easy to create your own video using other people’s content – and it’s all above board!! YouTube collects content that creators have indicated they are happy to share under a Creative Commons license. Using the Create > Video Editor options, you can then create your own mash-up of this content.

The tool itself is pretty easy to use but, as with most things, practice makes perfect. I’ve created a video tutorial (see below), to step you through the basics. You don’t need special software or plugins installed – it all works online. You’ll also find a handy cheat sheet here.

This is a great way for educators to create content. Better still, it’s a great way for students to create content and exploring the creation of digital texts. Young people are huge consumers of YouTube videos. A 2014 survey showed that YouTube starts were more popular with US teenagers than ‘mainstream’ celebrities. Not only that, being a YouTuber can be a legitimate career option.

Some students may be shy creating their own videos. YouTube Creator Studios means they can test the water without having to get in front of a camera! Perfect for students who may be a little camera shy.

Once created, you can further refine your video using the editing tools including adding annotations and applying enhancements. You can also go back to your project in the video editor and add or change the content.

Here are links to videos I have created using the Creator Studio editor and Creative Commons content:

The Eiffel Tower: facts figures and a bird’s eye view! (This is the video created as part of the tutorial)

Baby kangaroos doing cute things

Before you start….

  • Check age restrictions for using YouTube (these are different across the world by are generally minimum 13 years of age)
  • Check school policies to see if you need parent permission
  • Make sure your organisational firewall does not block YouTube
  • If you are using Google Apps for Education (GAFE), make sure your students can access Google+/YouTube
  • Explicitly teach appropriate online behaviour, including protecting students’ privacy
  • Decide if you want the videos to be public (anyone can find them online) or unlisted (you can share the videos via links)
  • At the time of writing, I don’t think this is available on mobile platforms. It works fine on Windows, Mac, Linux and, yes!, Chromebooks.

Tips and hints

  • You can’t record narration with the editor (annoying!) You do have the option of downloading video, where you can than record narration using your computer, and then re-uploading the video. This is a little cumbersome so I would say it was more advanced. In some ways, the limitations are good because they force you to be creative!
  • It can be easy to waste time endlessly clicking through content to find the perfect video. Set time limits and model effective search and editing techniques to help avoid this.
  • You can assign projects to groups or individuals, depending on available equipment.

Applications for education

  • Create video mini-documentaries instead of reports, essays, presentations, etc.
  • Get creative and create a fictional short-film.
  • Have a mini-movie festival smack down! Decide on a theme and give each team 20 minutes to create a 30 to 60 second movie. Then have fun showing all the finished projects.
  • As well as the obvious literacy and digital skills, this is great for developing skills for working with time.
  • (For Australian vocational contexts) Great for creating digital texts as part of General Certificate in Education for Adults (CGEA) qualifications.

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