Wednesday, June 24, 2015

11 Helpful Hints for Combining Google Drive With Symbaloo

Last week I received an email from Travis Towne in which he described how he is using Symbaloo arrange and share Google Drive files. I thought it was a great ideas so I asked Travis if he would be interested in writing a guest post.

One of the problems I run into when trying to find documents, videos, or folders that I have saved in my Google Drive folder is trying to find them again quickly without having to dig through the myriad of my created folders. I also want the ability to quickly share with my students folders that have documents or videos without having to send them a link to each one. With these concerns in mind, I felt that combining one of the best visual web resources (Symbaloo) with one of the best storage resources (Google Drive) was the best way to go.

The video below describes how documents and folders can be linked to a Symbaloo webmix, the importance of groups, how images can be used to visually enhance Symbaloo tiles, and how to share the link or embed the webmix in a Learning Management System (LMS) or in a document.

Click the examples for several ways that Symbaloo has been combined with Google Drive.
1. Useful Technology Webmix
2. AH1 Unit 1 Webmix

Here are a few other Symbaloo Webmixes that I have created but don’t use Google Drive. They are however examples for how the tiles can be organized and images added.
1. AH1 Unit 1 Biographies
2. Historical Places Webmix
3. ACA 122 Webmix

All of these webmixes can be added to your own Symbaloo account by clicking the “Add this webmix” button. *Note: Several of these webmixes are larger than the gallery view so in order to see the full webmix with all of the tiles, you would need to add it to your Symbaloo.*

I’ve listed some additional helpful hints below:

1. Think through how how want your websites to be labeled and listed. Leave space between different sections if possible or sort the tiles by color. *Note: Sometimes it is easier to see it “on paper” so there are many times that I have spent time just moving around the tiles until I’m happy with the results. It probably won’t be perfect the first time you try to organize your sites.*

2. Organize your Google Drive into easy to remember folders. This way you can link either folders or individual documents/videos. *Note: The great thing about Google Drive is that if you move documents to a different folder or change the document, it automatically updates the link.*Use the Symbaloo grouping options as much as possible to help organize documents and websites.

3. Make sure that all Google Drive links have shared permissions (either “Anyone with the link can view” or “Anyone at ‘your organization’ with the link can view”). If not, the documents will not be able to be accessed.

4. Use the Symbaloo grouping options as much as possible to help organize documents and websites. *Note: Remember that groups can hold up to 16 tiles. You can also increase or decrease the webmix size to adjust amount of tile space available.*

5. Take advantage of the unlimited amount of webmixes that can be added to your account. All webmixes can be quickly accessed in the menu bar. *Note: It is helpful to use the webmix icons and colors to help you quickly locate specific tabs. I color code my by unit and give specific icons for each type of webmix.*

6. Spend the extra time choosing images that will be recognized quickly and label the tiles with easy to read wording. *Note: It is helpful to save these images in your Google Drive so you can always access the same ones used previously.*

7. It is helpful to use the Copy/Move feature for both the entire group and individual tiles. This keeps the same image copied in a tile so that you don’t have to keep uploading an image.

8. You can link other webmixes to your original webmix. *Note: This is a great option if you have found another webmix that you like or created one that is a supplement to your original.*

9. Utilize the Symbaloo embed feature when possible (in a LMS) to help keep everything in a central access point. If embedding is not possible, create a hyperlinked title that is easily accessible. *Note: I use Moodle as my LMS and you can click here to see a folder with some example of how I have embedded a Symbaloo into my course. Other LMS options that I have used the embed features are Blackboard and Canvas. Also, I have used the embed option on my school-based website*

10. Remember that Symbaloo does not automatically send out updated changes so you must click the update button in order for others with the link to see any changes you have done.

11. Students usually have good results with using Symbaloo and I actually have several assignments that require students to create their own Symbaloo and link Google Drive documents to it. It is an easy way for them to organize their resources especially if we are dealing with a research based project.

Lastly, I am primarily a History teacher so most of my focus is towards this area and I freely admit that history does lend itself to specific topic areas which can be easier to section out. I know, however that several of my peers have used Symbaloo in combination with their Google Drive in Math, English, and Science classes. It can work with any class structure and I know of several teachers that use this resource to help them organize their individual units. Hopefully, you can use these tips and tricks to enhance your classroom environment and please feel free to share any additional ways that you have used Google Drive and/or Symbaloo in your teaching.

About Me: I teach American History, World Issues, and Life Skills at Johnston County Middle College in Johnston County, NC. I am a digital learning coach for Johnston County and have developed several online courses for the school system. I also teach College Transfer Success at Johnston Community College. I have a Master of Arts in Teaching from Lee University and have taught for 10 years. I also served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) with the Arizona Army National Guard as an Aviation Operations Specialist. I have been married for 16 years and have 3 daughters. I can be contacted at

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Set an "Undo Send" Grace Period in Your Gmail Account

If you have ever hit send too early on an email and wished that you could take it back, now you're in luck. As announced on the Google Apps Updates Blog, beginning today Gmail has setting for all users (previously only available to Gmail Labs users) that allows anyone to un-send an email up to 30 seconds after it has been sent. "Undo Send" is a setting that you can enable in your Gmail/ Google Apps mail under the general settings panel. You can find that panel by opening the gear icon in the upper-right corner of your inbox.

Click image to view full size. 

How X-rays and CT Scans Work

I enjoy some of the TED-Ed lessons so much that I have an alert on my phone that goes off whenever a new TED-Ed lesson is published. How X-Rays See Through Your Skin is the latest TED-Ed lesson. I found the lesson fascinating because it not only explained how modern x-rays and CT scans work, but it also explained some of the history of x-ray development.

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 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.