Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Google Drive - Store Files, Share Files, and Talk About Them

Today, Google introduced a new service for saving, sharing, and discussing files online. The new service is called Google Drive and it combines some of the best elements of Google Docs and Google Plus into one package. In fact, Google Docs is now a part of Google Drive.

When you upload a file to your Google Drive account you can share it with anyone just like you can share any document in your Google Docs account. You can share files publicly or privately. You can create comment threads for any of the files that you share whether they're document, image, video, or music files. These features alone don't make Google Drive significantly better than something like Dropbox with its new sharing functions. But Google Drive does have a nice search feature that I haven't seen elsewhere. Google Drive has a search function that will allow you to search the contents of your files, even your scanned files. Rather than just searching file names, you can search the entire contents of your files.

Watch the video below to learn more about Google Drive.

Applications for Education
Just like Google Docs, Dropbox, and other online files storage services, Google Drive eliminates the need for flashdrives/ USB drives and eliminates the need to send email attachments in order to share files. The threaded commenting option could be very useful for peer review of work as well as be useful for teachers to use to offer feedback to students.

Google Drive provides 5GB of free storage which should be more than enough for the vast majority of students. The only scenario in which students might use up this space is if they have a lot of video and music files stored in their Google Drive accounts.

And now I need to go make some updates to Google Docs for Teachers to include information about Google Drive.

Listen to Dinosaurs Talk About Themselves has a great little feature called If Dinosaurs Could Talk. In If Dinosaurs Could Talk you will find twenty audio recordings in which a narrator playing the role of a talking dinosaur shares a little information about that dinosaur.

In addition to the If Dinosaurs Could Talk feature, offers a huge glossary of terms about dinosaurs.

Applications for Education
If Dinosaurs Could Talk could be a nice little resource to use in elementary school lessons about dinosaurs. You could use the audio recordings as a way to spark students' curiosity about dinosaurs before sending them off to read and research more information about the dinosaurs that they just heard talking to them.

Build Your Own Video Games on Sploder

Sploder is a website that offers free tools for creating your own video games. There are four basic game templates that you can modify to your heart's content. The four templates are a physics puzzle game, an algorithm creator (which reminded me a little of Zelda), a shooter game template, and a blank platform which I used to create a simple Mario Brothers-like game.

Creating games on the Sploder platform is a drag and drop process. You can select as many elements as like for each scene of your game. Game elements can be resized and re-used repeatedly throughout your games. When you think you're ready to publish your game, use the Sploder game tester to try your game and see how it actually works. If you find something you want to change in your game, you can do that at anytime after testing it and before publishing your final product.

Sploder has a YouTube channel containing some tutorials to walk you through creating games. I've embedded one of the tutorials below.

Applications for Education
Creating a game on Sploder could be a good way to get students to think about the logic and sequencing used to plan and develop video games.

Cookie Offers Excellent Educational Games

Cookie is a site offering dozens of excellent educational games for pre-K and elementary school students. The games that I tried all featured large, clear graphics that make it easy to start playing immediately. Cookie doesn't just provide games, it also offers short animated video lessons. At the end of each lesson there is a short quiz that students can use to test their new knowledge. Each game and lesson automatically launches in full screen thereby eliminating and potential sidebar distractions.

The first lesson that I tried on Cookie was a handwriting lesson. The lesson directed me to draw letters and numbers by following the arrows. If I didn't go in the correct order, a red "x" stopped my progress until I went back and traced correctly.

Applications for Education
An embed code is available for the games and lessons on Cookie. If you have a resource page for your classroom or school, Cookie's resources could be a great addition to that page.

H/T to David Kapuler.

Cartoon - Let's Flip, Think Before You Flip

On Saturday I wrote a short post containing three questions to consider before flipping your classroom. Jeff Branzburg took that post and created a great cartoon based on those questions. The cartoon, which you can see below or on Jeff's blog explains what flipping a classroom means and presents the questions to consider before flipping.

You'll notice that Jeff uses BitStrips to create his cartoons. Here is a list of ten other tools you can use to create cartoons.