Showing posts with label cloud computing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cloud computing. Show all posts

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Make Sure You Can Get Your Data

Source: San Diego International Airport
I've written about this topic before, but a question I was asked this morning made me think that it's time to bring it up again. 

This morning, after my presentation at Hunter College, CUNY, I was asked a question about the reliability storing information in "the cloud." It's not an uncommon question and it is a valid concern. My recommendation is, if you're going to store a lot important information in a cloud-based service, make sure that you can export your information whenever you want. If that is not an option, I would be reluctant to store a lot of important information like grades or exams in that service.

I do 98% of my document creation in Google Docs. Any document that I create in Google Docs that is important to me I download a copy of and store on my computer and or on removable drives. On the other hand, I have plenty of short documents in Google Docs that I never download because they don't contain any information that I couldn't live without.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friendly Reminder: Back-up Your Files

Earlier today I saw a look of panic and horror on the face of one of my colleagues when he realized that he couldn't find his 8gb flash drive anywhere. Months ago he went through the same feelings before eventually finding the flash drive in the woodpile at his house. At that time I gave him another flash drive and told him to make copies of his files, he didn't. Nor did he move them to an online storage service like Drop Box. I hope he finds that flash drive soon because in his words, "losing all of those files could be career ending."

If you haven't backed-up your most important files in a while, do yourself a favor this weekend and take some time to do it. Even if you have files saved in the cloud (Google Docs, Zoho, Drop Box) it's still a good idea to have an offline copy you can access. And if you're a blogger, take a few minutes to create an offline file of your blog entries.

Want to learn more about Drop Box? Watch the video below for an introduction.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Uploading It - Online File Storage and Organization

Ever since shut down last December, I've been using Drop Box for online storage of files that aren't in one of my Google Docs accounts. Recently I came across another nice service for online storage and organization of my files. Uploading It offers four plans for online storage of your files, the free plan offer 10GB of storage. You can upload multiple files at once to your Uploading It account. Files in your Uploading It account can be quickly sorted using a drag and drop interface. The video below provides a nice overview of all of Uploading It's features.

Applications for Education
If you work in a school in which students have to go to a lab to use a computer, services like Uploading It and Drop Box are great services to get students in the habit of using. By using one of these services students can access their files from any computer that they use.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Benefits of Cloud Computing for Students

Here's the third in the series of cartoon slideshows I made a couple of years ago. It's amazing to me that in the world of an ever-expanding web, these cartoons are still relevant in a lot of school situations. For clarification, the web-based word processor mentioned in the cartoon is Zoho Writer.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Google Apps for Education FAQs Answered

As funding becomes tighter and schools are looking for ways to save, switching to Google Apps for Education makes sense for many school districts. The decision is one that is often preceded by a lot of questions from school boards and school administrators. To answer some of the more common questions like "are there ads on Google Apps for Education?" and "what about COPPA compliance?" Google has released a PDF addressing those common questions.

If you're trying convince the decision-makers in your school district to switch to Google Apps for Education, this FAQ sheet is a must-read and a must-share.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Google Apps for Education - Security Whitepaper

Security and protection from lawsuits are two of the most common concerns that school administrators have regarding student use of cloud-based web services. I've heard from more than one school district network administrator that "Google will steal your data" and "we can't use Google because then we can't archive email." Both of those statements are false. Google has a short whitepaper designed to address the security concerns of schools. The next time you're trying to convince someone that Google Apps for Education is safe, refer to this whitepaper. It doesn't provide every answer, but it's appropriate for addressing the "email archiving" and "data stealing" concerns.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Need Storage? Get a Google Docs Account

Google has just announced a huge addition to Google Docs, more free storage for all of your files. Google Docs now allows you to upload almost all file types including video, images, and document to your account. Each file can be up to 250 MB and your total amount of free storage is 1 GB. If you need more space you can buy it for $o.25 per GB per year. Compared to buying even the cheapest 1 GB flash drives, $0.25/GB is very very cheap and comes with the added bonus of not worrying about losing the storage device.

All of the folder and file sharing capabilities that you've come to love about Google Docs will apply to the files you upload and host on Google Docs. So if I upload a PDF or a Word file to my Google Docs account, I will be able to share those files with anyone else that has a Google Docs account.

Applications for Education
If you've been wondering why you should have a Google Docs account, now at it's most basic it provides a large supply of free and cheap storage space for backing up your files. If you're a technology integrator that has struggled to get people to try Google Docs, this might be your "foot in the door" to show them some of the other features of Google Docs.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google Docs Adds Academic Features
Word Counter - Identify Frequently Used Words

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cloud Computing in Plain English - New From Common Craft

Cloud computing is a topic that can be confusing to people who haven't previously heard the term. Once you've explained it, you still have to convince those same people how cloud computing can be beneficial to them. Fortunately, there are folks like Sachi and Lee Lefever who can explain confusing topics in simple terms.

Common Craft
has released a new video in which cloud computing is explained in plain English. Common Craft videos are no longer embeddable so you will have to watch it on the Common Craft site. I rarely endorse buying a specific product, but I make an exception for Common Craft (you can read why in this post). So if you like the Common Craft videos and think that you want to use them for professional development purposes, please consider making a purchase from them. Disclosure: Other than Lee and Sachi footing the bill for some appetizers and a beer at NECC 2009, I do not have any financial interest in the sales of Common Craft videos.

A related video from Common Craft is Google Docs in Plain English. That video is embeddable and I've embedded it below.

Applications for Education
Cloud computing can save school districts a lot of money. If you find yourself in the position of trying to convince your district's administrators to move to a cloud computing model, Cloud Computing in Plain English could be very useful.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Computer Hardware in Plain English
The World Wide Web in Plain English
Lesson Plans for Teaching Web Search Strategies

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Google Docs Improves Drawing Options

Google Docs is slowly, but surely adding enough options that it will eventually offer something to replicate the most of the options available in desktop word processing software. The drawing options in Google Docs recently got an upgrade. Late last week, Google announced improved drawing tools for Google Docs.

The new polyline drawing tools allow users to create multiple segment lines which can be used to create custom shapes within Google Docs. The drawings can then be shaded or filled. Users who create multiple shapes within a document can use the snap-to-guide tool to properly align their images. All of the previously available drawing tools can be used in conjunction with the polyline option to create images like the one I've inserted below.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Something New Coming from Zoho

Late last week, Zoho announced that they have something new and exciting to release on Tuesday of this coming week. Zoho says this new thing, whatever it is, is based on a service that many Zoho users are already using. Zoho makes a lot of very good productivity services that are of value to educators so it will be interesting to see if this new service will also be useful to educators. Based on the short video preview (embedded below) it looks like the new offering will be a collaborative tool.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Notetaking and Collaborative Research
Zoho Docs - Chat and Edit at the Same Time
Zoho Notebook Adds an Import Option

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Three Getting Started Guides for Google Docs

This morning Google announced the completion and publication of three new "getting started" guides for the Google Docs suite of tools. These new guides are designed to help new Google Docs users get started with spreadsheets, presentations, and documents.

These new Google Docs guides could be useful when introducing students and or colleagues to the benefits of cloud computing.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Teaching Internet Search Strategies
The World Wide Web in Plain English
Google Earth and Google Maps Help

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Google Docs Adds Drawings and Shapes

It's official, Google Docs now does everything that I need a document creation program to do. Last night Google announced that you can now insert drawings and shapes into your Google Docs documents. You can create free-hand drawings, use pre-defined shapes and templates, or use a combination of both inside of one document. For the last year I've been creating 90% of my documents on Google Docs. The other 10% were created using Open Office because I needed to be able to insert boxes and circles as I created graphic organizers for my students. Now that I can use Google Docs for those tasks, I can't see myself using anything but Google Docs for document creation.

To use the new drawing options, select "drawing" from the "insert" menu in your Google Docs document editor. I have included some screen captures below to show the new drawing options.

The drawing tool in action.

Drawings inserted into document.

Applications for Education
I was already a huge proponent of using Google Docs in the classroom, now I'm even more convinced that it is the best option for document creation. Students can access their documents from any Internet-connected computer and share them with you at any time. Google Docs completely eliminates the "my printer's broken" or "I forgot it" excuses for not getting assignments done.

The drawing features in Google Docs now makes it possible for teachers to create graphic organizers and other worksheets in Google Docs. The drawing features could even be used to create mathematics worksheets. For example, students could measure the angle in my drawing above.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Create Holiday Cards from Google Docs Templates

Today, the Official Google Docs blog reminded readers of the many templates available for Google Docs users. Of particular relevance as the holidays near (whichever holidays those may be for you) is a selection of holiday themed greeting card and mailing label templates. Google Docs users will also find templates for holiday newsletters (the kind that always include updates about people you haven't heard from in a year) as well as templates for holiday party invitations.

Applications for Education
The Google Docs holiday themed templates could be used to have students create holiday greeting cards and newsletters through which they can develop letter writing skills.

On a related note, the Google Docs templates for students and teachers contains good templates for creating quizzes, attendance rosters, grade books, research reports, bibliographies, and many other useful templates.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Google Docs Adds Support for Footnotes

Yesterday, Zoho announced a new Zoho Writer layout option. Not to be outdone, today, Google announced an improvement to Google Docs. Google Docs now supports the insertion of footnotes and endnotes. The option for inserting footnotes appears in the "insert" drop down menu. To learn more about inserting footnotes, visit the Google Docs help center or watch a Google Docs tutorial on YouTube.

If YouTube is blocked at your school, you may want to try one of these options.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Show Document - Show and Tell for Documents

Show Document is a free service for sharing and editing documents collaboratively. The service is simple and, in my testing, is easy to use. To use Show Document simply upload a document, click "launch a your live session," then enter the email addresses of the people you would like to collaborate with. The screen capture below illustrates the sharing process.

Applications for Education
While you cannot create an original document on Show Document it is a good tool that could be used for peer editing of documents. Show Document is also a useful tool for teachers to use to give feedback to students who are not in the classroom.

I originally discovered Show Document on WebWare and then on Larry Ferlazzo's blog. If you're looking for services similar to Show Document you may want to check The Office 2.0 Database.

Zoho Updates Layout Options

Zoho Writer, a great online word processor, has announced another improvement. As of today, Zoho Writer now supports creating and printing documents in landscape format. This is not a ground-breaking improvement, but it does eliminate another excuse for not using cloud computing word processing programs.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cloud Computing in the Amazon

Back in June the Google Earth Outreach team went to the Amazon to work with the people of Rondonia, Brazil. The team's purpose was to train people on using Google Earth to preserve and document local history. Chief Almir Surui of Rondonia, Brazil invited the Google Earth Outreach team to Rondonia to teach his people how to use the Internet to document, and share with the world, local and cultural stories. Cheif Almir hopes that documenting how the rainforest is changing and how that is affecting his people will raise global awareness of the challenges facing people in the Amazon.

This video shares some of the footage recording during the Google Earth Outreach team's trip to the Amazon.

Applications for Education
This video is a great example of how Google Earth, and Internet resources in general, can be used to document and share stories, and raise awareness about those stories. In this case viewers are learning about a little known group of people deep in the Amazon. Digital story telling is a great way for students to share their experiences. If you or your students are looking for a public service project, consider a digital story telling project to
have students create a video or podcast about the need for donations to a local library or food pantry. You may also consider having students document local history. Students could interview the elder members of their community to document the changes in that community.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New Podcast - Web 2.0 that Works

In the newest edition of the Free Technology for Teachers podcast I share the Web 2.0 resources that I'm using with my students on a consistent basis. I also offer some brief explanations of how and why those resources are used by my students.

You can listen to the podcast using the player embedded below or by using the podcast widget embedded in the right hand column of Free Technology for Teachers.

(If you're reading this post in a RSS feeder, you may have to click on the blog post's title to view the podcast player).

If you enjoyed this podcast or any of the previous Free Technology for Teachers podcasts, please feel free to embed the podcast player on your website or blog.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Zoho Helps Ease the Transition to Cloud Computing

One of the complaints or excuses that I often hear from people reluctant to use cloud computing is, "but all my files are in Word." Zoho Writer's import options alleviate the "but my files are in Word" excuse for not trying cloud computing. With the announcement today that Zoho users can now import Microsoft Word 2007 documents the total number of importable document types is seven. The other formats that can be imported to your Zoho Writer account are html, doc, sxw, odt, rtf and txt. Zoho Writer users wishing to save documents to a local drive to email as an attachment now have the option of selecting from eight different file types. Visit this link for directions for importing documents to Zoho Writer.

Applications for Education
For many teachers adopting new technologies can be an uncomfortable experience. If you've been teaching for any length of time you undoubtedly have many, many documents that you don't want to lose. Importing those files to your Zoho account provides a safe storage option. Overall the most important aspect of the import and export options offered by Zoho Writer is that it can help ease the transition to cloud computing.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Google Is Launching Chrome - Will You Try It?

Google has announced that tomorrow (or later today if you're reading this in Asia or Australia) they will be launching a new web browser named Chrome. Google says that the browser is going to be completely different from those on the market now because Chrome is designed for people using the Internet as a productivity tool. In other words it's designed with people like me in mind. People that use Google Docs or Zoho Writer instead instead of Microsoft Word, Open Office, or Apple Works. In looking at the promotional materials for Chrome a couple of features really shine in my eye.

Google says that the browser will operate in a multi-threaded, non asynchronous system. What that means is that instead of each part of webpage loading sequentially, they will load in a tabbed style. Why does this matter? Loading pages in this manner should prevent slower processes like loading Java scripts from slowing or paralyzing the browser. For example the grade book and student management system where I work runs Java script while my grade book is loading I cannot do anything else with my web browser. Using Google's Chrome web browser that problem should be resolved.

The second feature that I like is a task manager for Chrome. Just like a task manager for your operating system that shows you which processes are slowing your computer, the Chrome task manager will show you the websites that are slowing your browser. This doesn't impress me as much as structure of the web browser itself, but it will be a useful tool for diagnosing the cause of browser slow down.

Google Chrome will only be available for Windows when it is released, but they say that a version for Mac and Linux is on the way. Chrome is an open source project so I'm hopeful that there will be many people building extensions and improvements as Chrome gains users. I'm going to install Chrome on my Gateway laptop as soon as I can, just to try it out, but I'm very much looking forward to trying it on my MacBook. Will you try Chrome? Do you think the concepts of Chrome will make a difference in your Internet experience?