Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Write - A Minimalist Writing Platform

Write is a free writing platform with the simplest design of all of the minimalist writing platforms that have popped-up in the last couple of years. On Write you simply choose the length of time that you want to spend writing then start writing. Write Surge will show a countdown timer in the right hand corner of the screen. Other than that, you don't see anything else on the screen. Write until time expires then save your work in your browser or download a Write file that you can then upload and edit again later.

Write doesn't have any formatting tools at all. You can't change fonts, insert pictures, or even insert hyperlinks. The user interface is designed to focus you on your writing and that's it.

You don't need to have an email address or create an account to use Write. In fact, there is not even an option to create account.

Applications for Education
Write could be a good little tool for creative writing students who could benefit from "writing against the clock" to get themselves started when they claim that they "can't think of anything to write."

One of the things that you could do with Write is have students choose the one minute countdown and try to write a quick story starter. When the minute is up have them share their story starters with the class. The process of sharing the story starters can help all of the students in the class generate ideas for their next fiction stories.

How to Change Your Google Profile Image

Many of us have multiple Google Accounts. It's not uncommon at all to have one account for school in G Suite for Education and one account connected to your personal Gmail account. If you use the default "initial icon" for your Google Account profiles, it's easy to forget which account you're logged into at a given moment. The solution to this problem is to set a different profile image for each of your accounts. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to change the image avatar associated with your Google Account profile.

How to Create Gmail Filters

At one time or another we have all stared at our email inboxes and instantly felt like marking everything as read or deleting everything and starting over from scratch. It doesn't have to be this way. By using filters in Gmail, including the G Suite for Education version of Gmail, you can apply some automatic organization to your inbox. In the following video I demonstrate how to create filters in your Gmail account.

Three Alternatives to DropItToMe for File Collection

Yesterday I shared the unfortunate news that DropItToMe is shutting down on July 15th. DropItToMe provided users with an easy way to collect all manner of files in their Dropbox and or Google Drive accounts. The best part of DropItToMe is that people sharing files with you did not need to have a Google Drive or Dropbox account.

In the 24 hours since I posted the news of DropItToMe's impending demise I have had a nice email exchange with Eli Shaheen about alternatives to DropItToMe. My first suggestion was to just use a shared Google Drive folder with notification emails turned off so that you don't get overwhelmed with emails when you're collecting files. Eli responded with the suggestion of using this script to collect files via Google Drive regardless of whether or not users have a Google Account.

Eli's suggestion reminded me of the Google Forms upload option which is available to most G Suite for Education users. The shortcoming of this method is that all users must be logged into a G Suite for Education account. So this method won't work if you're trying to collect files like permission slips from your students' parents.

Finally, Dropbox users can use the "request file" option to collect files from people who don't have Dropbox accounts.

Applications for Education
The Google Drive script that Eli Shaheen shared with me and the Dropbox file request feature provide a good way to collect files like permission slips from parents without the need for them to send you email attachments. Both methods also provide a good way to collect large files. Finally, both methods will let you collect files that were not made on cloud-based services.

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