Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Google Forms Become Printer-friendly

Creating quizzes in Google Forms is one of the things that I usually teach people how to do during my Google Apps workshops. Google Forms are very useful for delivering short quizzes online. However, if you need to have a paper copy of that quiz printing the Google Form was less than elegant until today. This afternoon on the Google Drive Google+ page it was announced that now when you print a Google Form it is generated in a printer-friendly format.

Applications for Education
If you need paper copies of your Google Forms for students who cannot complete the form online for one reason or another, the new printer-friendly version of forms will be useful to you and your students.

My Five Favorite Google Reader Alternatives

The final countdown to the end of Google Reader is on. In eleven days Google Reader will be closed. I've tried a bunch of alternatives to Google Reader over the last few months. These are the five that I recommend using.

Feedly is a great service for reading your favorite RSS feeds on your iPad, Android device, or in your web browser. Feedly will import all of your Google Reader subscriptions for you with just one click.
I enjoy using the visual layout of Feedly which I feel enables me to browse through my RSS subscriptions more efficiently than if they were just in a list like in Google Reader. I also find it very easy to share from Feedly to Google+, Evernote, Twitter, and many other services.

Flipboard is an iPad and Android application that allows you to read your RSS subscriptions in a magazine-style format. This spring Flipboard introduced the option to collaboratively create iPad and Android magazines by sharing items from your feeds to your magazines. Watch the video below to learn more about collaboratively creating digital magazines with Flipboard.

The Old Reader is a free service that you can use to subscribe to RSS feeds and read all of the latest content from those sources in one place. So that you don't have to re-subscribe to the blogs that you love, The Old Reader will allow you to import your Google Reader subscriptions. You'll notice that The Old Reader looks and acts very similarly to Google Reader. The Old Reader will allow you to share posts, write notes about posts appearing in your account, and organize your subscriptions into folders.

Feedspot is a simple Google Reader replacement. It doesn't have any of the visual effects of Flipboard or Feedly. What it does have is a clean interface that may remind you a lot of Google Reader. In fact, it even uses some of the same keyboard shortcuts as Google Reader. Learn more about Feedspot in this Tekzilla video.

FlowReader is a free RSS reader that I tried earlier this week. I have to say that they couldn't make it easier to import your Google Reader subscriptions. To start using FlowReader just visit the homepage and click "Import Your Google Reader Feeds Now." After clicking that button authorize FlowReader to access your Google Reader feeds and all of your feeds will be imported into FlowReader. If you are using categories in Google Reader, those will be imported too. After importing your feeds you can connect your social media accounts like Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. You can also connect Evernote, Instapaper, and many other bookmarking services to your FlowReader account. FlowReader lets you read your feeds in full article view or in a headline-only view.

Applications for Education
I've always believed that as educators we have a responsibility to continue to read and learn about ideas shared in our field. Creating a set of blogs and websites that you subscribe to is a great way to read and learn about new ideas in our field. These Google Reader alternatives make it easy to create a set of subscriptions and read them on your favorite device. 

I have also tried Zite, Netvibes, NewsBlur, and Pulse. You might also want to take a look at MyLinkCloud's support for RSS feeds.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Icelandic & 17 Other Languages Added to Google Drive

This afternoon on the Google Drive blog it was announced that 65 languages are now supported in Google Drive. That total includes 18 languages that were added today. You can switch between languages by opening the gear icon in the upper-right corner of your Google Drive home screen and selecting "language" under the "settings" menu. Click here for more directions.

The announcement on the Google Drive blog also reminded me that you can share documents, slides, and sheets with people who use a different language in their Google Drive accounts.

Three Things to Consider When Planning Video Projects

This afternoon at the TICL conference I gave a short presentation about classroom video projects. Part of that presentation is a short list of things to consider when planning a video project.

1. The first consideration is what you want your students to demonstrate through their videos. This will help to determine which video production tools your students will use. For example, if you want your students to demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of Manifest Destiny then you'll probably want them to create longer documentary-style videos by using a tool like WeVideo. On the other hand, if you just want your students to share some highlights of their field trips then a simple tool like Animoto might be adequate.

2. Your students' skill level with video editing tools. Early in the school year when my students don't have a lot of experience with video production tools, I like to start them out with relatively simple tools. Then as they year progresses I introduce them to move complex tools.

3. Be concise. Last year Wistia published some interesting data that revealed that people are more likely to watch multiple short videos all the way through than one longer video of equivalent length. Consider having your students use the YouTube annotations tool to create a series of linked, short videos about a topic rather than one long video. Directions for doing this can be found here.

Four Google+ How-to Videos

Last month I wrote 5 Things I Like About Building a PLN on Google+. Over the last ten days I've had four opportunities to talk with teachers about personal learning networks. In each of those presentations I've introduced Google+. One of the things that I like about Google+ is the ease with which you can start and follow conversations. If you've been considering trying Google+ or you've tried and didn't quite get it, take a look at the following videos from Google about how to get started on Google+.