Data, charts and Sheets, oh my!

Google Charts video tutorial

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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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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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Google Apps & digital literacy

One of the great strengths offered by Google Apps is the opportunity for collaboration and interaction. In many instances, the learning curve is not very steep so teachers and students can be up and running quickly.

Students in particular are quick to grasp the technical aspects but may not necessary have the digital social skills to conduct themselves appropriately. They may need some education around digital citizenship.

“Rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t do or say something in real life, don’t do it online either.”

There are lost of resources and theories around digital literacy. One concept that resonated with me was a poster by Adams12 Five Star Schools that suggested digital literacy consisted of 3 parts:

  1. Technology literacy
  2. Information literacy
  3. Digital citizenship

Often students are confident and jump in with the first but may actually lack skills in the second and third. The poster below “15 Rules of Netiquette for Online Discussion Boards” might specifically be around student forums but a lot of the ideas apply to a wide range of Web 2.0 activities. It’s a great starting point for discussion if you are looking at establishing your own “Code of Conduct” for a Google Apps for Education implementation.

Netiquette in Online Discussion Boards infographic

Thanks to Online Education Blog of Touro College for this graphic.

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