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Friday, September 21, 2012

Tips for Setting Up Google Apps Training Activities - Part 1: Browser Choice

A couple of days ago I published an updated version of my guide to Google Drive and Documents for Teachers. I know of a couple of people that are using that guide this week and next week in trainings that they are facilitating. If you are considering using the guide too, I have some tips for you. These tips are part of a larger document that I am developing. This is the first part.


Not all browsers support every feature in Google Documents. Not surprisingly, Google Chrome does support all features of Google Documents and Google Drive. For that reason it is preferable to have all participants in your training sessions use Google Chrome. Google Chrome automatically updates whenever a new update is released by Google. A day or two before your training session send an email to all participants asking them to install Chrome if it’s not already installed on their laptops.

If getting all participants in your training session to use Chrome is not an option for you, at the very least stress to them importance of having the latest version of their preferred browsers installed. Not only is this a browser security issue (older versions of browsers are more susceptible to security threats) it is a Google Documents functionality issue. The latest versions of browsers support the most functions of Google Documents. For example, as of this writing Google has officially ceased supporting Internet Explorer 8. 

Finally, regardless of which browser you ultimately have participants in your training sessions use, have them all use the same browser during your training session. Initially, this might be uncomfortable for some participants, but by the end of the day most people will be comfortable with a different browser. Having everyone use the same browser will make your day easier. When everyone uses the same browser if there are unexpected glitches or problems they will likely be the same for everyone in your training session. Solve the glitch once and you’ve solved it for the whole group for the day.

Why Do Leaves Change Color? Video & Graphic

According the calendar Autumn has officially arrived and here in Northern New England we're approaching the peak of fall foliage colors. To help students understand why the leaves change colors in the fall, the Maine Forest Service has an animated video explaining why leaves change colors. The video is titled Maine's Autumn Magic and you can watch it here. To help students understand some of the terms in the video, the Maine Forest Service has a glossary of tree terms.

USA Today has a simple interactive illustration that students can click through to see how the weather affects the color of leaves. Students can select individual tree leaves to see what different leaves look like throughout the seasons.

While not as informative as the two resources above, National Geographic has a couple of nice photo galleries of fall foliage. Click here for a small gallery of images from Acadia National Park. Click here for a gallery of images from the Adirondack Park.

Applications for Education 
Fall provides a great opportunity for students to see science in action in the form of changing leaf color. If you can't get your class outside to look at the various leaf colors in the fall, the two resources listed provide nice visuals to complement your lessons on changing leaf colors.

How to Import Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL Contacts into Google Apps

One of the reasons that people often maintain accounts with multiple email services is that they have a lot of contacts in one service and aren't sure how to go about getting them into another. This is especially true for Google Apps (for Business and Education) users. Yesterday, Google announced that now you can important contacts from Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL into your Google Apps email account. This feature was previously available for consumer (or generic @gmail) Gmail users and can now be enabled by Google Apps domain administrators for their users.

These are the directions provided by Google for Google Apps administrators that want to activate contacts import for their users.
  1. To enable Email and Contacts import: Sign in to the Google Apps administrator control panel. The URL is https://www.google.com/a/cpanel/primary-domain-name.com, where primary-domain-name.com is the domain name you used to sign up for Google Apps. 
  2. Click the Settings tab and then click Email in the left column.
  3. In the General tab, scroll to the User email uploads section.
  4. Check the the box labeled Allow users to import mail from Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL, or other webmail or POP3 accounts.
  5. Click Save changes
Click here for the directions provided by Google for Gmail users who want to import contacts from Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL. 

Chockadoc - A Catalog of Online Documentaries

Chockadoc is a place to find full-length documentaries that you can watch online for free. Chockadoc, like sites similar to it, pulls most of its content from YouTube. The benefit of using Chockadoc over YouTube is the categorization of the videos. The categorization makes it easier than searching YouTube to find documentaries about a particular topic or theme.

Applications for Education
I'm sure that for readers working in schools that block YouTube will not be able to view most of the content on Chockadoc. If that is the case for you and you really want to use a video that you find through Chockadoc, you might want to consider using a tool like KeepVid to download the video at home then display it directly from your laptop. Bear in mind, that using KeepVid may be interpreted as a violation of YouTube's terms of service so use your discretion.

SoundCloud Adds Track Editing to Mobile Apps

SoundCloud, one of my top five alternatives to Aviary, has just released a nice update to their iPad and Android apps. The apps already allowed you to make simple voice recordings on the go. Now the apps allow you to trim the timing of those recordings too. And on the SoundCloud Android app you can add fade-in and fade-out effects. The SoundCloud iPad app doesn't have the fade options, yet.

Applications for Education
As I wrote last month, SoundCloud and the SoundCloud mobile apps can be used by world languages students to record themselves speaking in the languages that they are learning. After creating their recordings students can share them with their teachers. Teachers can then use the SoundCloud web app to insert comments about their students' pronunciations directly into the recording.

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