Thursday, March 17, 2016

Mapping the Emerald Isle - An Interactive Map of Surnames in Ireland

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Today, is a perfect day to share a neat interactive story map produced by ESRI.

Mapping the Emerald Isle: a geo-genealogy of Irish surnames is an interactive map depicting the distribution of Irish surnames across Ireland according to the 1890 census. To use the same simply select a name from a drop-down menu in the list and the map will change to show you in which counties people with that surname lived in 1890. The map will also provide you with a list of number of households with that surname in each county. For example, I discovered that there were 301 Byrne households in Dublin county in 1890.

Applications for Education
This is a neat example of mapping data. Your students could create similar maps using either ESRI's mapping tools or Google's My Maps tools. I have found Google's My Maps tools to be easier for new users to understand. A playlist of tutorials about Google's My Maps can be seen here.

Mushing Explained - Out on the Iditarod Trail

The Iditarod concluded this week with Dallas Seavey winning for the fourth time in five years. Before the race started I shared some resources for following along on the trail and for learning about the dogs and people on the race. Yesterday, through The Adventure Blog I learned about another good resource for learning about the Iditarod.

Mushing Explained is a series of videos produced by Alaska Public Media. In the series you can learn about what mushers wear, what the dogs eat and wear, how dog sleds are designed, what makes a sled dog different than your average pet, and what exactly is the Iditarod.

Why My Dogs Have Email Addresses and Yours Should Too

People often get a kick out of learning that both of my dogs have their own email addresses. You can send them email at Max or Mason (at) and they'll get back to you as soon as they learn to type.

My dogs have email addresses because I conduct a lot of workshops throughout the year and I don't always want to use my personal email account to either register for a service or to demonstrate a function on a big screen. By using the fake email accounts that I've created for my dogs I don't have to clutter my personal email with lots of account registrations that I may or may not use again. Likewise, I don't have to open my personal accounts on a big screen in front of a group.

The other reason that I use my dogs' email accounts to register for services is so that I can demonstrate how to use a site or app from square one. For example, when I conduct Google Apps workshops I will use Max's email account to demonstrate all facets of setting-up an account, adjusting settings, and adding new content to the account. By doing it this way new users see all steps on my screen the same as they will on their own screens.

If you find yourself conducting a lot of training sessions for colleagues or students, take a minute or two to create a fake email account for demonstration purposes.

10 Things You Can Learn at the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp

This summer I will be hosting two Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps in Portland, Maine. The first one on July 11th and 12th is designed for people who are working or will be working in BYOD (bring your own device) and 1:1 programs.

The Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp is based on my framework of helping teachers help students use technology to discover, discuss, and demonstrate. To that end here are ten things that you can learn during the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp on July 11th and 12th.

1. Clever ways to teach search strategies.
2. Use augmented reality as a search and discovery tool.
3. How to get cheap or free mobile devices for your classroom.
4. Design projects that students can complete even with intermittent internet access.
5. Create engaging video and audio projects.
6. Develop real-world projects that matter to kids.
7. Get parents involved in your students' projects.
8. Workflow in BYOD and 1:1 environments.
9. Develop digital portfolios with your students. Including how to incorporate physical artifacts into digital portfolios.
10. Everything you'll ever want to know about Google Apps.

Register for the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp by April 30th and you can save $50 off standard registration. Subscribers to the newsletter can save an additional $25 by entering the code "subscriber" at checkout.

Have a colleague or two who wants to join you? Special rates are available for two or more people registering from the same school district. Email me richardbyrne (at) for details.

Three Google Drive Features That Impress New Users

I'm currently working with a school that is making the transition to Google Apps (click here for information on bringing me to your school). Last week we started to explore the many features of Google Drive. Within the group there were many first-time users of Google Drive. Like other groups they were amazed by some of the features of Google Drive that don't immediately jump out at you. Here are three Google Drive features that impress first-time users.

1. You can store and share just about anything including videos.
Google Drive will let you upload and share just about any file including video files, audio files, Word Docs, PDFs, PowerPoint, Keynote, and image files. If you select "convert uploads" in your settings the files will be viewable in your Google Drive. This means that videos will play in your Google Drive account. (The exception to this is that Keynote files will not play in Google Drive). To change settings in your Google Drive account click the "gear" icon in the upper-right corner of your Google Drive dashboard.

Any file that you have stored in your Google Drive can be shared with others. To share a file right-click on its name in your Google Drive dashboard then select "share."

2. It is really hard to accidentally delete a file. 
If you do accidentally delete a file it doesn't immediately, completely disappear from your Google Drive account. The file first goes to the trash bin in your Google Drive account. It will stay in your trash until you empty the trash. If you accidentally send something to the trash in your Google Drive account you can recover it by opening the trash, right-clicking on the file's name, and then selecting "restore."

3. You can share entire folders and create folders within folders. 
Folders can be created from scratch by selecting "+folder" from the "new" menu in Google Drive or you can upload an entire folder of documents from your desktop. (By the way, in Chrome you can just drag a folder from your desktop to your Google Drive and have it uploaded immediately). Folders can be shared just like individual files. Simply right-click on a folder's name in your Google Drive account the select "share." You can give people access to view the folder and or to edit the contents of the folder.

If you are a big fan of using folders to organize your materials, you might want to make folders within folders. You can do this by opening a folder then selecting "+folder" from the "new" menu in Google Drive. The other way to put a folder within a folder is to simply drag one folder into another.

Topics like this one and many more will be covered during this summer's Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp. Chromebook Camp is designed for people who are new to using Google Apps and Chromebooks in school. The camp will also be valuable for technology coaches and administrators who are looking for tips on training teachers in their schools. 

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