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.

Click here to access a free ebook template I created in Google Slides. To use it, from the FILE menu select MAKE A COPY...

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/

 

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

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.

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

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.

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

Google Classroom goodies!!

I have dabbled with Google Classroom and am keen to do more witGoogle Classroom goodies: hints, tips, how-tos and tutorial for using Google Classroomh it, especially will the on-going feature improvements. There is a lot of information out there about how to use Google Classroom, from basics to more advanced management, and I thought it may be useful to bring some of this information together in one post. Whether you’re thinking about using Classroom for the first time, introducing it to others or have been using it regularly, you should find something useful in this collection.

So here you will find tutorials on the basics, updates on features and tips on how to make the most of Google Classroom, especially as new features are added.

This particular post will be evolving as I discover new resources and information. These are all resources I have found personally useful. Please note: Google Classroom is regularly being updated. There may be some information that is slightly out-of-date at times.

First things first – Why Google Classroom?

Quick overview of Google Classroom

Detailed “how-tos” and tutorials

Getting started with Google Classroom: teacher and student perspective

This excellent presentation takes you step-by-step through the basics and also gives you a glimpse of what your students will see:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1NhdSF5n0EP8mxM3kicnVrxbUNjt-vNy273ltuxXl2_U/edit#slide=id.g6596e445c_70_102

Everything You Need To Know In Google Classroom

This series by The Gooroo will sure to prove an excellent resource. I will add the links as each part comes out.

Everything You Need To Know In Google Classroom Part 1:

https://www.thegooru.com/everything-you-need-to-know-in-google-classroom-part-1/

Everything You Need To Know In Google Classroom Part 2:

https://www.thegooru.com/everything-you-need-to-know-in-google-classroom-part-2/

Everything You Need To Know In Google Classroom Part 3:

https://www.thegooru.com/everything-you-need-to-know-in-google-classroom-part-3/

Tips, tricks and updates

Google’s official Classroom feature update list:

https://support.google.com/edu/classroom/answer/6149237?hl=en&ref_topic=6020277

Attach Forms and view responses in Google Classroom:

https://www.synergyse.com/blog/attach-forms-and-view-responses-in-google-classroom/

Moodle vs Google Classroom:

http://wazmac.com/discussion/moodle-v-google-classroom/

Google Classroom – Reuse a previous post:

(15/04/2016) 23 awesome apps that integrate with Google Classroom:

http://www.shakeuplearning.com/blog/20-awesome-apps-that-integrate-with-google-classroom/?utm_content=buffer767b2&utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest.com&utm_campaign=buffer

(18/12/2016) How to create a custom header for your Google Classroom using Google Drawing:

Create a Google Classroom Custom Header with Google Drawings

(2/3/2017) Google Classroom: 10 things students should know

10 Things That Students Want To Know about Google Classroom

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

Differentiation without tears: Speech-to-text in Google Docs

Differentiation in the classroom can be challenging. In theory, technology shouDifferentiation without tears: speech to text in Google Docsld make it easier but that’s not always the case. I remember in the not-so-distant past struggling with expensive dictation software and an expensive head-set with a reluctant writer without great success. We were expected to spend hours to train the software to understand him and it felt like we were both getting no-where fast! Instead of empowered, he ended up frustrated and the situation ended up an assistive technology fail.

Fast forward five years and, now, all you need is an iPad and Google Docs (part of Google Drive/Google Apps for Education) and you’re set! No voice training required! No expensive headset! (Although I suspect using a microphone would work even better).

This video demonstrates how easy it is to dictate into Google Docs on the iPad using the built in speech recognition. I recorded it with a wicked cold and no headset connected to the iPad. See the results yourself:

 

Educational applications

Using voice command dictation on Android or iOS with Google Apps for Education is great for reluctant, struggling and non-writers, e.g., students who may be diagnosed with a learning disability, dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Asperger’s Syndrome, ADD/ADHD, or those with physical or sensory disabilities that impact writing. Depending on student needs it can be an easily implemented assitive technology solution.

This allows for a strengths based approach to learning, focusing on what they can do (talk!) vs what they might not do as well.

For a list of voice commands for Android and iOS see:

http://www.howtogeek.com/177387/use-voice-dictation-to-save-time-on-android-iphone-and-ipad

For more on how Google Apps for Education can help facilitate differentiation in the classroom, click here to see an earlier post.

By the way, that reluctant writer became an excellent typist and, not only that, found out he was quite a talented story teller.

 

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

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.

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

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.

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

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)

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

Responsive elearning made easy using Google Forms

Google Forms is an incredibly versatile and powerful tool. Google Forms has made it simple (not to mention free!) for anyone to create a simple, online form. These days, surveys created in Google Forms are almost ubiquitous, used by individuals and big companies alike.

Over time, Google Forms have improved and evolved. Now you can add videos and images. You can even set-up a form to go to particular sections based on responses provided. And that’s where the branched elearning scenarios come in to it.

A branched scenario throws up a challenge to the student and gives the student choices. This leads to consequences based on the choices made. These ‘3cs of scenario building’ are outlined in the below illustration and explained in the video at the end. Google Forms lets you build these scenarios by moving users through the form based on their responses rather than in a straight line.

Branched scenario

Is Google Forms the most elegant and sophisticated of the elearning scenario building tools? Well, no, but it’s easy to use and quick to learn and the price for Google Apps for Education users is perfect (free!)

Tips and tricks

  • Mathematical concepts can be hard to express properly in Google Forms (as per my example in the video). In hindsight, I should have created the 3 different options in a drawing and cross referenced them in the question.
  • Plan out out scenario and organise all your media (images, video, text, etc) before putting it to together in Google Forms. It will make the process quicker and more efficient.
  • Make sure you test your form before you unleash it (even get a friend to test it for you). You want to make sure your branching works or you could create confusion.
  • Responses will be saved to a Google Spreadsheet. In a GAFE domain, students can login and you can check using the responses spreadsheet how they went, how long it took, etc.

Applications for education

Branched scenarios are great for checking students’ skills and knowledge. You can provide instant feedback, as well as instant support if there is a skills or knowledge gap.

To find out more and see step-by-step how to set up a branched scenario in Google Forms, watch the video below.

References

http://blogs.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/build-branched-e-learning-scenarios-in-three-simple-steps/

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!

Why Slideshare when you can Google Slide?

Slideshare is great! It’s an opportunity to share what you know and what you’re passionate about as well as the chance to improve your knowledge and explore new horizons. It is a great way to expand your personal network and to develop your professional brand. You can also embed Slideshare presentations into websites, blog posts, etc, and they can be accessed by most devices.

There are limitations in the file formats you can upload and share in Slideshare. Also, sometimes images can be distorted or you loose the fonts you so carefully chose once you upload your presentation or document into Slideshare. And, of course, there’s the matter of yet another social network login/identity to manage.

In an educational environment, we might want to share information or have students share information in a similar format to Slideshare but you might not necessarily want to jump through the Slideshare hoops (opening an account, creating a presentation in, say, PowerPoint, uploading the presentation, spitting chips because all your fonts have been lost, etc.) If you are using Google Drive, you can share content and embed in a similar way to Slideshare straight from Google Slides. Some of the advantages are:

  • Create and share straight from Google Slides
  • You’ll see exactly the fonts and layouts you used
  • After embeding, can be viewed on multiple platforms (e.g., Windows, Mac, PC, iOS, Android)
  • You do not have to create a different account with yet another service provider (plus, Slideshare has age limits depending on what country you are in)
  • You can add links to any slides you wish to (Slideshare limits which slides you can add links to)
  • You can limit who sees (and protecting students’ provacy) what by, say, embedding in a Google Sites website within your domain

Below I have embedded a Google Slide presentation demonstrating how to embed a Google slide presentation in a similar way to Slideshare presentations (yes, I know, that’s all a bit Matrix like but, trust me, it’s pretty simple!!)

By the way – if you like the template I’ve made it available in the Google Drive template gallery – click here to preview.

Did you find this article useful? Why not share it!