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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Value of Paper In a Digital World

One of the things that I mention in my keynote Leading Students In a Hyper-connected World is the need to teach students the value of occasionally disconnecting from the web to focus on the completion of a task. A few years ago I heard Chris Brogan sum this up nicely by saying "paper doesn't have a new browser window." In other words, doing something on paper creates a good obstacle to distracting yourself by checking Facebook, email, or doing some other non-essential task.

Chris made his comment in the context of planning and task management. I apply that comment to the process of brainstorming and or reflecting. Taking the time to read a book, to write some ideas on paper, or to simply go for a walk give out brains time to wonder and develop new-to-us ideas without the distraction of digital input. My best stretches of blogging always come after I have taken a couple of hours to brainstorm a week or more worth of blog post topics.

Don't get me wrong, I love some of the digital brainstorming and project management tools that we have available to us. There is a time for using those, but there is also a time for not using digital tools too. As our students grow up in a hyper-connected world, it is will be increasingly important to take the time to teach them when being connected might not be the best choice.

Novels on Location - A Map of Novels

Novels on Location is a neat of use Google Maps. The idea behind Novels on Location is to help readers find novels according to the story's geographical settings. When you visit Novels on Location you can find novels by clicking on the placemarks that you see on the Google Map. An alternative way to search is by using the location search bar in the upper, right corner of the site. If you want to contribute to Novels on Location you can do so very quickly by simply entering a location then entering the title and author of your favorite book set in that location.

Applications for Education
You could use Google Maps Engine Lite to create your own classroom version of Novels on Location. Ask your students to write short short book reviews in the placemarks that they add to a shared Google Map. If you have students creating video book trailers, those videos could be added to their placemarks too. If could be a fun challenge for your call to try to collectively "read around the world" by locating stories set on each of the seven continents.

Hacking a "Hacking STEM" Project

In Sunday's Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week email I featured Microsoft's Hacking STEM project library. The idea behind Hacking STEM is to make low-cost or no-cost hands-on STEM projects accessible to as many people as possible. You can follow Microsoft's directions as written or modify the projects to use other materials to build the projects. In the following video I explain how I modified one of the Hacking STEM projects. So you might say that I hacked a Hacking STEM project.

A Replacement for the Deprecated "Announcements" Element in Google Sites

Google's replacement of the classic version of Google Sites with a new version has left some people wishing that Google had left Sites well enough alone. The new version doesn't, yet, have all of the features of the classic version and it may never get all of them. For example, the "announcements" feature of the classic version of Google Sites is not a part of the new version. There is a possible solution to this problem. The solution is to use Blogger for your announcements and then display those blog posts in a page in your Google Site. In the following video I demonstrate how to import Blogger posts into Google Sites.


Learn more about Google Sites in my online course, G Suite for Teachers. Save 20% when you register for the course this week.