Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Google Voice on My Syllabus - Texting Encouraged

Tomorrow, after two days of canceled classes, I am finally going to meet my new students. The first day always has me handing out my syllabus in each class. This year I have put my Google Voice number at the top of my syllabus with a note for students and parents to "please text me if you have a quick question." From my Google Voice inbox I can reply to text messages and the other person never sees my real cell phone number. Furthermore, it's free for my to send text messages back to anyone who texts via my Google Voice number. Watch the short video below to learn how this works.

This YouTube playlist walks you through many of the other Google Voice features.

On a related note, Wes Fryer recently wrote a post with detailed directions on how to send text messages from a Google Docs Spreadsheet.

Applications for Education
One of the reasons that I have put my Google Voice number on my syllabus this year is because I know that students are much more likely to text a question than they are to email me with a question (nevermind call, that's so 20th Century). The other reason is that I am hoping parents too will prefer the text option over the calling option because I am notoriously slow at checking the archaic voicemail system at my school (I think it still uses actual cassette tapes). If I'm at my computer I can provide almost instant responses to my students' questions.

Finally! Page Numbers in Google Documents

I don't know why it took them so long to do this, but Google has finally added an easy way to insert page numbers into documents in Google Docs. Now you can insert page numbers into the header or footer of your pages. To do this just open the "insert" drop-down menu and select page number. You can also now insert a page count into ("4 of 23" for example) the header of your pages. You can find the directions for that here.

Watch2gether - Watch Videos and Discuss Them at the Same Time

Watch2gether is a neat site through which you can watch YouTube videos and host text chats about them at the same time. It is really quite easy to use Watch2gether. To get started enter a nickname for yourself (it could be your real first name) then search for a video or enter the url of a video that you have previously bookmarked. When you have found the video you want a chat column will be present on the right side of your browser. You can invite others to chat with you by sending them the url assigned to your chat. Together you can watch a video and discuss it.

Applications for Education
If you teach in a one-to-one environment, using Watch2gether could be a good way to share educational videos with your students and have short discussions or Q&A sessions about them.

How To Do Research - An Interactive Map

One of the challenges that every student faces at one time or another is conducting focused and efficient research. The folks at the Kentucky Virtual Library know this and put together an interactive map of the research process for students. The map, titled How To Do Research, walks students through the research process from start to finish with every step along the way. One of the things about this map that school librarians will like is that it is not focused solely on web research. How To Do Research includes a good section about using library catalogs, books, and magazines.

Applications for Education
The Kentucky Virtual Library's How To Do Research could be a good resource for elementary school or middle school students to have bookmarked as a guide through their research projects. Not every step along the way is explained in depth so you will have to help students actually perform some of the tasks along the way.

H/T to Russel Tarr

K12 Online Conference - Call for Submissions

The K12 Online Conference is an annual free event featuring some of the best presentations you'll find anywhere in the K-12 world. This year's conference will be held the week of October 17-24. The theme of this year's conference is Purposeful Play. There is currently an open call for submissions. If you have a twenty minute presentation that you would like to share with the world, I encourage you to submit a proposal by September 9.

Embedded below is last year's K12 Online Conference keynote delivered by Dean Shareski.