Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Video - Three Google Docs Formatting Tips

The transition from Word or Pages to Google Documents often prompts a lot of questions about formatting settings. In the video embedded below I address three formatting questions that I am frequently asked about in my email and in my workshops.

Active Reading Strategies Using the DocHub Chrome App

This is a guest post from Beth Holland (@brholland) of EdTechTeacher - an advertiser on this site.

Active reading strategies are just as critical with digital reading as with their paper-based counterpart. However, until recently, it has been a bit cumbersome to highlight, add notes, and draw on documents - particularly in a BYOD environment with Macbooks, Windows laptops, and Chromebooks. However, by using the DocHub Chrome app, this capability is now possible on any device.

Students and teachers can login to the DocHub app (or DocHub.com) using their Google account. From there, it is possible to upload any PDF, text document, or Microsoft Office file from Drive, the web, or even your computer/Chromebook download folder. Once a document had been uploaded, students can highlight, draw, insert text boxes, and even incorporate sticky notes. These annotated PDFs can then be sent to Drive or even shared with a link. Unlike some other web-based annotation tools, all of the annotations remain with the PDF after it has been sent to Drive though the sticky notes only appear when shared with a link.

DocHub EdTechTeacher

DocHub also allows multiple people to read and annotate the same document at the same time. It’s important to keep in mind that unlike Google Docs, the changes are not instantaneous and do not appear on the other person's screen until after the page is refreshed. In many ways, this makes for an improved reading experience as individuals are not as easily distracted by changes appearing on the screen while attempting to read. From the perspective of providing feedback, this is also beneficial as students would not necessarily see your annotations until after you ask them to reload their document.

Beyond having students use DocHub for active reading, it could also be useful for assessments. With DocHub, students can fill in PDF forms and teachers can even create templates that would allow multiple people to fill in copies of a single document. Much like many of the PDF annotation apps for iOS and Android, DocHub is an excellent option for the Chrome browser and Chrome OS.

Looking to learn more about Reading, Writing, & Research this summer? Beth will be leading Summer Workshops for EdTechTeacher in Boston, MA in July.

Ready or Not...The New Google Drive UI is Coming to You

For over a year now Google has been pushing a new user interface on users. You've probably seen it and you might have even reverted back to the old user interface as I did for a while. Soon you won't have a choice between the old and new interface. Last Friday Google announced that beginning on July 7 all Google Apps users will lose the ability to revert to the old Google Drive user interface.

The change from the old Google Drive user interface to the new UI will not impact the files you have saved in your account or how you go about using Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms. The change may impact where your files appear in your Google Drive dashboard and could change the way you sort some files. It took me a couple of a days to adjust. Since that initial adjustment period I haven't had any problems using the new Google Drive UI.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Knoword - A Fun and Challenging Vocabulary Game

Knoword is a fun and challenging game that tests your ability to match definitions to words. Knoword is played like this; you're presented with the first letter of a word, its part of speech, and the definition. You then have to fill in the correct spelling of the word. If you enter the correct word, you earn points. If you don't get it right, you lose points.

You don't have to register to play Knoword, but you can register if you want to. Registering for Knoword gives you the option to keep track of your game statistics. Registered users can also earn badges based on their performances.

Applications for Education
In the few games that I played I noticed that Knoword is probably best suited to use by students in middle school and high school. I think many of the words would be too difficult for elementary school students and they could end up frustrated with the game. For middle school and high school students though Knoword could be a fun way to refresh their memories of words they already know and add new words to their vocabularies.

Book Creator for Windows - Create Multimedia eBooks

Book Creator has long been a popular iPad and Android app for creating multimedia ebooks. Today, the developers of Book Creator released a Windows version of the app.

Book Creator for Windows (Windows 8.1 or higher required) allows anyone to create his or her own ebooks using images, text, videos, and audio recordings. You can arrange your book in three different formats; portrait, square, or landscape. Each page in your book can include pictures and videos. In addition to the pictures and videos you can include as much as text as you can fit on each page. In fact, if you just want to have text on a page you can do that. If you would like to narrate your book you can tap the record button to add your voice to each page of your book. Every page in your book can have a custom color scheme.

Book Creator for Windows from Book Creator on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Book Creator can be a fantastic tool for students to use to create short stories or to create longer research papers that include multimedia elements.