Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sweet! Now You Can Use Google Slides Offline

Google Chrome users have been able to use Google Documents offline for quite a while now. Today, Google announced that you can now use Google Slides (Presentations) offline too. While using Google Slides offline you can create new slideshows, edit slideshows, comment on slideshows, and present your slides.

In you already have offline access to Google Documents enabled, you don't need to do anything to make Google Slides work offline. That will happen for you automatically. If you do not have offline access to Google Documents enabled, click here for directions on how to enable it.

Applications for Education
Google Slides offline is a great addition to Google Docs offline. If your students are using Chromebooks or just a Chrome browser, but they don't have Internet access they can still work on their presentations and documents for their classes.

How to Back-up Weebly Sites

On Monday I shared how to back-up Posterous Spaces blogs and yesterday I shared how to back-up Blogger, WordPress, and Edublogs blogs. This evening on Twitter there was a small discussion started by Ban Ryan about the possibility of backing-up a Weebly site. The answer is yes, you can back-up a Weebly site. In fact, we got our answer because someone from Weebly interjected with a direct link to the directions. Click here for the directions on how to back-up a Weebly website.

Click to view full size.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Export Your Blogger and WordPress Posts

Image credit: Martin_Duggan
Yesterday, I shared directions on how to download the content that is on a Posterous Spaces blog. I shared those directions in response to the distinct possibility that Posterous Spaces could be closing down. Even if you have a self-hosted WordPress blog it is still a good idea to download your content so that you have an offline back-up of it just in case the worst happens.

Creating an offline copy of your blog's content is not as difficult as you might think. I've outlined the steps for downloading the content of Blogger, WordPress, and Edublogs blogs below. On all three platforms when you download your content you're creating an offline copy and all of your current content stays online.


(Click on the images below to see them full size and read the details contained within them).

Backing-up Blogger blogs.
Step 1: Sign into your Blogger account then select "settings" from the drop-down menu next to the blog that you want to back-up.



Step 2: Now select "other" at the bottom of the settings menu and then select "export blog."


Step 3: Click "download blog" and save the file and you're done.



Backing-up Edublogs blogs.
Step 1: Sign into your dashboard and select "tools" menu.

Step 2: Open tools menu and choose export.

Step 3: Download export file. Save file to your local drive.


Backing-up WordPress.com blogs.
The process for backing-up a WordPress.com blog is the same as it is for backing-up an Edublogs blog. The only difference will appear in the third step where you'll be presented with more options for filtering the types of content you want to export.

What to do with blog back-up files.
If you ever decide to change blog platforms you should be able to import the xml files created by Blogger, Edublogs, and WordPress.com into a new blog. You can also use the xml files to create a PDF of your blog using Blog Booker. Turning your students' blog(s) into a PDF book at the end of a semester or year could be good way for them and or their parents to see how much they've written in your class.

While you're backing-up your blog's content, it wouldn't be a bad idea to make sure you have back-up copies of some of your other important files. If you have things saved in Google Docs, select "download" from the "file" menu when you have a file open. If you're interested in creating back-up copies of files that you only have offline, try using Drop Box or Sugar Sync to save copies online. You can read about Drop Box here and Sugar Sync here.

Tracking Polar Bears on Google Maps - And Polar Bear Lesson Plans

Bear Tracker is a feature of the Polar Bears International website. The Bear Tracker plots the travels of collared polar bears in Hudson Bay and the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska. You can view the travel paths of one or all of the bears on each map. The map also offers play the travel paths recorded over time.

Applications for Education
While not specifically tied to the Bear Tracker, Polar Bears International has some lesson plans for teaching about climate change, ecotourism, and conservation. You will also find links to a slideshow on Polar Bears and nice PDF about Polar Bears that contains an educational game. And if you would like to show videos of polar bears to your students, Explore.org has polar bear footage that you can watch here.

H/T to Google Maps Mania

How Free Education Services Stay in Business

Image Credit: loop_oh
One of the questions that I am asked on a fairly regular basis goes something like this, "how do these free services stay in business?" That question is often followed up with a question like this, "how do I know that the service will keep running?" Here are my answers to those questions.

How do these free services stay in business?
There are three basic ways that web-based companies fund their free services. The first two are fairly obvious, advertising and selling premium upgrades from a basic level of free service.

The third way is through venture capital investments. The idea there is a venture capital firm invests in the service in the hopes of turning a profit down the road. The investor sees a profit when the company sells out to a larger company (see Posterous selling out to Twitter for a recent example), the company starts turning a profit through premium service sales, the company starts turning a profit through ad revenue, the company offers an IPO (rare in education market) or a combination of all four options. See companies like MasteryConnect and Edmodo for examples of companies offering free services that have received large investments from venture capital firms. Click here for the MasteryConnect story and click here for the Edmodo investment story.

How do I know that the service will keep running?
The short answer is, I don't. But I do feel comfortable hazarding a guess based on the business model that a start-up is using. My feeling is that companies like MasteryConnect and Edmodo who have received millions in venture capital probably aren't going to squander it so quickly that they will be shutting down quickly. The concern there is selling out to a larger company that does or doesn't keep the service running.

Companies relying purely on ad revenue need to have a massive number of pageviews to be profitable. That's not to say that it cannot be done, it's just hard for a start-up to make it that way unless they experience viral growth.

Disclosure: MasteryConnect does advertise on this blog.