Monday, August 12, 2013

September Webinar Series - How To Use Google Drive In School

How To Use Google Drive in School is a three part series designed for teachers and school administrators that are new to using Google Drive. I offered this course in four times earlier this year and it sold out each time. This fall I'm offering the course on September 9, 16, and 23 at 7pm Eastern Time. The course covers everything from the basics of creating documents, presentations, and forms to advanced uses of scripts in Google Spreadsheets.

The cost of the three part course is $87. While the webinar series is not free it is significantly less than cost of flying me to your school for the day or the cost of attending one of the Google Apps Summits. Click here to register.

Course Highlights 
*Creating and sharing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.
*Using Google Documents and Presentations for collaborative writing and reading exercises.
*Using Google Forms and Spreadsheets for collecting and analyzing data.
*Using Google Documents as a publishing platform.
*Managing the flow of files in your Google Drive.
*All sessions are recorded and every participant can download the recordings.
*All participants receive digital hand-outs that they can download and share within their schools.
Registration is limited to 25 students per course.

This course is designed for educators who: 
*Are new to using Google Drive/ Documents.
*Have previously used Google Drive/ Documents but would like a refresher course.
*Would like to learn how Google Drive/ Documents can be used to help their students meet ELA Common Core Standards.
Costs & Payments
Payments can be made with a personal credit card, with a school district credit card, or with PayPal when you register online.  Checks and purchase orders can be accepted however the cost of registration is $15 higher to cover additional processing associated with those payments.
Please contact me directly at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers (dot) com with questions about course registration and or payment processing.

43+ Alternatives to YouTube

Excellent educational content can be found on YouTube. However, not every teacher can access YouTube in his or her classroom. That's why a few years ago I compiled a big list of alternatives to YouTube. Over the years some of those sites have shut-down, started charging a fee, or have switched into another market. So this evening I went through and eliminated some sites from the list and added a few new ones. My favorite five alternatives to YouTube are listed below. You can see the complete list here. If you have a suggestion for an alternative to YouTube, please let me know.

1. Next Vista is a nonprofit, advertising-free video sharing site run by Google Certified Teacher Rushton Hurley. Next Vista has three video categories. The Light Bulbs category is for videos that teach you how to do something and or provides an explanation of a topic. The Global Views video category contains videos created to promote understanding of cultures around the world. The Seeing Service video category highlights the work of people who are working to make a difference in the lives of others. Watch this interview I did with Rushton to learn more about Next Vista.

2. PBS Video offers videos from the most popular shows including Frontline, NOVA, Nature, and American Experience. For the younger crowd, PBS Kids offers videos as well. If you're not sure what you're looking for, but you think PBS has an appropriate video you can search the PBS Video center by topic.

3. produces and hosts high-quality documentary films and photographs. The films and images focus on exploring the world and the work of non-profit organizations around the world. The films and images are organized by location and by charitable and or environmental cause. is funded in part by the Annenburg Foundation.

4. The National Film Board of Canada offers many excellent videos that appeal to a broad audience.

5. One of the first things you'll notice about Vimeo is the image quality of the videos. The image and sound quality of the videos on Vimeo is far superior to many of those found on YouTube. Vimeo has all of the sharing options found on YouTube, but in a much cleaner and easier to use interface.

Socrative 2.0 Is Coming In September

Earlier this month it was announced that Socrative had received a sizable investment. Part of that announcement included hints of what is to come from Socrative. Today, Socrative announced what a few of those features will be when Socrative 2.0 is released to everyone in September.

Socrative 2.0 will give students the option to work on questions in any order that they like when they are completing student-paced activities.

Socrative 2.0 will include the option to assign Common Core Standards tags to all of the assessments that you create.

Applications for Education
Socrative replaces the need for expensive "clicker" feedback systems. Socrative works on any device that has an Internet connection. Students sign into a virtual classroom in which you can post questions and they can reply either anonymously or with their names depending upon how you want to use the service.

What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?

What would you do if you knew you could not fail? That is the question posed in a doodle/ poster that was featured on Richard Branson's blog today. The image is posted below and you watch the accompanying video on Branson's blog. With the exception of one line that may not be appropriate for students below high school / college, the poster provides some good thoughts about leveraging failure.

Applications for Education
As we start the new school year this is good time to think about how we can take risks and how we can encourage students to take risks. Without taking a risk and being willing to fail and move forward, we can't move forward in our teaching and learning. To tie this to educational technology, one of the patterns that I see in schools is teachers who try to use technology once and it doesn't go as they hoped so they default back to the safe and old methods. Use opportunities like that to enlist the help of students and or colleagues and learn together to make the experience better the next time around.

A Quick Tip About Editing In Apple's Pages

I’ve been working on a rather large (currently 60+ pages) document all summer. Because it is an image-heavy document and because I like the templates that are available, I have been using Apple’s Pages to create this document. The problem I was having with the document for a while was that every time I tried to expand a section of the document and insert a new image, two, three, or ten other pages had elements shift on them too.

I shared this frustration with my friend Katrina Talley at Pearson OLE a few weeks ago. Katrina is also working on a similar document and was having the same problem. After commiserating for a while we started to explore various settings to see if we could alleviate our shared frustration. What we discovered was that rather than simply letting Pages expand our documents and automatically insert new pages when we added new text or images, it was better to simply manually insert a new page. By manually inserting new pages rather than allowing Pages to insert them for us, we found that each page can be edited individually without affecting the formatting of other pages in that section.

Perhaps this is old news, but I’m going to hazard a guess that there are others who have struggleed with the same problem Katrina and I had. Hopefully, this little tip helps those of you who have experienced the frustration with Pages that I experienced.