Monday, December 17, 2012

How to Open and Edit Word Files in Google Drive

This morning I received an email from a friend of mine who needed some help opening a Word (Docx) file in Google Drive. Google recently made a slight change to how this is done. And since it threw off my friend who is a fairly savvy Google Drive user I thought that there are probably others who have or will have the same question.

To open a Word (Docx) file in Google Drive after it has been uploaded to your account click the check box next to the file name. After clicking the check box you have two options. Option 1 is to right-click on the file name. Option 2 is to use the "more" menu at the top of your Google Drive home. Either way you will have an option to select "open with Google Docs." See the screen captures below for details.

Option 1:
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Option 2:
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If you don't want to go through the process outlined above for every Word file uploaded to your Google Drive account you can enable automatic conversion of documents. See the screen capture below for directions.

Enabling automatic conversion on upload:
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How To Use Google Docs Offline

Earlier this year Google enabled support for using Google Documents offline if you use Chrome and have the Google Drive Chrome app installed. When Google made that announcement I wrote some directions for enabling offline docs. Today, someone suggested sharing those directions again. So I've rewritten the directions and included some screen captures of the process.

To enable Google Docs for offline use, sign into your account and click the sprocket icon in the upper-right corner. Then select "set up docs offline." Google Docs will then launch a dialogue box asking you to confirm that you want to enable docs offline. If already have Google Drive installed, you're finished with the set up. If you don't have Google Drive installed, you will be prompted to do so. If you need help setting up Google Drive on your Mac or on your PC, please see the directions that I have included in my guide to Google Drive and Docs for Teachers (page 7 has directions for Mac users, page 14 has directions for Windows users). 

Step 1: In your Google Drive account open the "more" menu.
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Step 2: Select "enable offline docs." If you don't have the Google Drive Chrome app already installed, you'll be prompted to do that too. Installing the Chrome app takes just one click.
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A Note for Google Apps for Education Users
If you are using Google Docs within a Google Apps for Education domain your domain administrator will have to enable the option for users to use Google Docs offline. Google's directions for domain administrators can be found here. A screen capture of the Apps Domain settings is included below.
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Wonderville - Science and Tech Games for Kids

Wonderville is a great website for kids developed by the Science Alberta Foundation. On Wonderville students can find games, videos, comics, and hands-on activities for learning about science and technology. The gallery of activities, games, videos, and comics is divided into three categories; fun science, awesome tech, and cool jobs.

A couple of the Wonderville games that I like are Reaction Action and Medieval Levers. In Medieval Levers students watch a short animated video about the physics of levers before trying to build their own catapults to use to attack the castle. In Reaction Action students learn about combustible gasses. The object of the game is to collect combustible gasses that can be used to create energy.

Applications for Education
Wonderville's games, comics, and videos can be used by elementary and middle school students on their own. The hands-on activities could be used by teachers as the basis for an elementary school science lesson plan. The hands-on activities include experiments in which students need to record observations.

View Mars in 3D and How To Make 3D Glasses

Mars 3D is a NASA website that features a gallery of images of Mars that can be viewed with 3D glasses. The gallery contains dozens of images to explore in 3D. If you don't have 3D glasses NASA directions for making your own 3D glasses at home or at school. NASA provides a PDF to print as the template for the glasses and the rest of the materials are easily found in stores if you don't already have them.

Applications for Education
Mars 3D could provide a fun way for students to explore and learn about Mars. Additionally, the process of making their own 3D glasses could be a good way for students to learn about the technology of 3D imagery.

The Lincoln Learning Hub

Seeing Steven Spielberg's new film about Abraham Lincoln is on my list of things to do during the upcoming holiday vacation. If you have that on your vacation list too and or you have already seen it, you many also want to check out the Lincoln Learning Hub.

The Lincoln Learning Hub is the official DreamWorks companion site to Lincoln. There are four main features of the Lincoln Learning Hub. Those features are a timeline, What Would Lincoln Do, Team of Rivals, and Who's Who of Congress. The timeline is nothing to write home about, but the other three features are good.

In What Would Lincoln Do? students are given four scenarios that happened after Lincoln's death. Students are given some information about each scenario, some background on Lincoln, and then they have to guess what Lincoln would do before seeing an expert's opinion. Students can find out how Lincoln might have voted on women's suffrage, how he would handle the war on terror, if he would have used an Atomic bomb during WWII, and how he would have handled Reconstruction.

In Team of Rivals students try to reconstruct Lincoln's cabinet by reading short biographies of politicians before placing them into a cabinet role.

The Who's Who of Congress activity shows students short biographies of important Congressmen who had to vote on the 13th Amendment. After reading the biographies students have to determine how each of the featured Congressmen would have voted.

Applications for Education
Even if your students don't see the new Lincoln movie, the Lincoln Learning Center could be a good place for students to learn a bit Lincoln's political ideals. If your students do see the film the Lincoln Learning Center activities could help them gain a better understanding of Lincoln's decisions. 

12 Simple Image Editing Tools

Quick Picture Tools is a free service that offers twelve tools for editing and enhancing your pictures. Some of the things that you can do with Quick Picture Tools include cropping images, combining images, adding text to images, and creating calendar wall paper for your computer. Each of the tools provides the option to resize images and adjust the overall quality of your original image before you use it for a collage, calendar, or mini poster.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a set of image editing tools that your students can use without having to register for a service, take a look at Quick Picture Tools. Quick Picture Tools could be used by students for editing and enhancing images before placing them into a slideshow or video project.

Video - Why The Solar System Can Exist

Last week I discovered the Minute Physics YouTube channel and I have watched a bunch of clips since then. One video that I watched this morning is Why The Solar System Can Exist. This short video explains why the planets stay in orbit without crashing into each other or spinning off without any direction. Take a look at the video below.