Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Use Custom HTML and Javascript in Google Sites

This afternoon the Google Docs and Sites team announced some very useful enhancements to both products. To me, the most exciting news in the announcement is that you can now use custom HTML and Javascript in your Google Sites pages. I have long be frustrated by how difficult, impossible actually without a lot of work arounds, it is to use many custom widgets like some of these survey tools in Google Sites. Now if you want to use custom HTML, Javascript, or CSS in Google Sites all you have to do is select the "HTML box" from the "insert menu" then paste your code. Read Google's directions here.

In the same announcement I learned that you can now search for, highlight, and copy text in the scanned PDFs that you have stored in your Google Docs account.

The comments feature in Google Docs is great for collaboration on documents and presentations. Now you can find all of the comments for a document or presentation in one column by clicking the new "discussions" button which is located just to the left of the "share" button on your documents and presentations.

Applications for Education
I am most excited about the custom html and Javascript option in Google Sites. That removes a major limitation to customizing the pages in websites built in Google Sites. Now you can add things like educational games, custom flashcard applications, survey tools and more to your Google Sites website.

Where Are My Apps, Books, and Music? In Google Play!

The big Google news that I missed this afternoon while I was flying to the NCTIES conference is that Google announced the rebranding of the Android Market as Google Play. Google Play is where you can now find the Android apps, Google Music, Google Books, and Google Play Movies. If you have an Android tablet or Android phone the Android Market app will be automatically updating (provided you have background data enabled) to provide access to the new Google Play store.

One thing that I was concerned about, and I'm sure many others were too, is how the change will affect the apps, music, and books currently in my Google account. The simple answer is, it doesn't. All of your apps, music, and books are still accessible just like they were before.

The other concern I had when I read about Google Books being integrated into Google Play was if the change would affect the Google Books search tools. The good news is that Google Books search and organization tools haven't changed. The Google eBookstore is what changed. In other words the directions I offer in Google Books for Educators are still accurate.

Learn more about Google Play in the overview video below.

Crash Course - Plant Cell Biology

Last month I wrote about the YouTube channel Crash Course. At that time I was highlighting the Crash Course history videos. Today, I want to point out the science videos. Crash Course is now up to six biology videos. Like the history videos, the biology videos are rather fast-paced and in a couple of spots make some borderline inappropriate comments But as a general rule, the Crash Course videos should be okay for high school students (use your discretion, what's okay at my school might not be okay at your school, before showing the video to a classroom).

How You Can Connect With Me

From time to time I like to post this information for people who have recently started following Free Technology for Teachers. If you're interested in connecting with me outside of this blog here are the places that we can connect.

Facebook page for the blog - I generally don't accept friend requests on my personal account from people that I haven't met in person or virtually worked with in some capacity.

Of course, you can also get in touch with me in two old-fashioned ways email and phone.
Email: richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers (dot) com
Phone (Google Voice): 1-207-619-3291

Audio Memos - A Voice Recorder for iPad & iPhone

Audio Memos is an iOS app for creating and sharing audio messages. The app is available in three versions. The free version is limited to 3MB recordings, the $0.99 version is limited to 15MB recordings, and the "pro" $9.99 version has a nice selection of audio editing tools built-in. Some of the features that are available in all three versions of the app are automatic pause if a call comes in while you're recording, recording volume controls, and recording even when your iPhone or iPad goes to sleep.

Here is a video tutorial on Audio Memos.

Applications for Education
I learned about Audio Memos from Silvia Tolisano's recent post about using voice recordings and QR codes in a lesson that integrates Art and Language Arts. I encourage you to read Silvia's post.

In addition to the ways in which Silvia described using Audio Memos, the app could be great for journalism students to record interviews and then play back the recordings while creating the written version of the their interviews.