Friday, March 11, 2016

Change Your Clock, Have a Heart Attack? - Daylight Saving Lessons

In most of North America this weekend we will be moving our clocks forward by one hour for Daylight Saving Time. Last night's edition of NBC Nightly News had an interesting story about the correlation between moving clocks forward by one hour and an increase in cases of heart attacks. The video of the story is embedded below.

After watching the story above your students may be wondering about the reasons for Daylight Saving Time. The following videos offer concise explanations of Daylight Saving Time.

And although it's not about daylight saving time, this TED-Ed lesson about the standardization of timezones is worth watching.

Three Helpful Google Docs Updates Released This Week

This week the Google Docs team released three updates. All three updates have potential to be useful in school settings.

First, Google Docs in your web browser and in the Android app now has a document outlining tool. The outline tool will recognize headers within your documents and create an outline based upon those headers and sub-headers. To access the outline tool select "Document outline" from the "Tools" drop-down menu within your document. It is important to note that in my testing of the new outline tool headings were note recognized by the outlining tool if I didn't write anything under the header.

The second Google Docs update of note for teachers is a new option to export your Google Documents to EPUB format. To do this simply select "download as" then choose "EPUB Publication" from the "File" drop-down menu in your Google Document. If you or your students are trying to create ebooks, using the EPUB option in Google Docs could be a good option for you. The problem you will be faced with after saving the EPUB is getting it onto a Kindle, iPad, or other e-reader. You can find directions for putting EPUBs on Kindles here. Directions for putting EPUBs on iPads can be found here.

The third Google Docs update that teachers might be interested in is the new option to select, copy, and paste content from the print screen in the Google Docs Android app.

Not Google Docs, but Google Slides for Android was also updated this week with support for formatting slides that read right to left instead of left to right.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Wikipedia Releases an Updated App for Exploring Interesting Content

The Wikimedia Foundation has released a new version of their Wikipedia iPad and iPhone app. The latest version, available now, features an aspect they're calling the Explore feed. The Explore feed will provide users with personalized content updated daily. In the Explore feed users will see featured articles of the day, recommended articles based on reading history, featured images, and nearby articles (enable location services on your iOS device). The rest of the app includes improved search and sharing functions.

Applications for Education
While Wikipedia isn't a site that I let my students cite in their research, it is a place that I'll let them explore content to get ideas for resources to consult. It's also a place to let students explore some of their intellectual curiosities.

If you find yourself wondering how Wikipedia works or you find yourself explaining it to someone else, the following Common Craft video can be helpful.

3 Google Docs Options First Time Users Often Ask About

Earlier this week I led a short workshop for first-time Google Docs users in a school district near my home. I have facilitated these kinds of workshops on a regular basis for the last seven years. Over those years I've compiled a list of the questions most frequently asked by new users. Here are three of those questions and their answers.

1. Can I use landscape formatting in Google Docs?
Yes, if you open the "file" menu then choose "page setup" you will have the option to switch from portrait to landscape orientation. In that same setup screen you will have the option to change margin sizes and change the page's background color.

2. Can I use/ edit documents that I have saved on my computer?
Yes, you can import Word documents into your Google Drive account. To import a document select "file upload" from the "new" menu in the upper-left corner of your Google Drive dashboard. To edit the document you will need select "convert uploaded files to Google Docs format" within the settings menu in your Google Drive dashboard. The settings menu is found by clicking the gear icon in the upper-right corner of your Google Drive dashboard.

3. What if I accidentally delete a document?
When you delete a Google Document it goes into your trash bin in Google Drive. Unless you empty your trash bin, your accidentally deleted Google Document can be recovered from your trash bin. To recover a Google Document open the trash bin in your Google Drive dashboard, right-click on your document's name, then select "restore."

Topics like this one and many more will be covered during this summer's Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp. Chromebook Camp is designed for people who are new to using Google Apps and Chromebooks in school. The camp will also be valuable for technology coaches and administrators who are looking for tips on training teachers in their schools. 

Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality Explained by Common Craft

Bit by bit artificial intelligence (AI) is working its way into our lives. If you have seen IBM's Watson in action, you've seen AI at work. Some of the seating chart programs available online today include a small bit of artificial intelligence. See for an example of that. But what is AI? And where is it going in the future? Those questions and more are tackled in the latest video from Common Craft.

Applications for Education
After watching the video ask your students to think of aspects of their lives that could be affected by artificial intelligence. Ask them to brainstorm some problems that AI might help people solve in the future.

I occasionally hear people confuse artificial intelligence with augmented reality. That's an understandable mistake as they do sound kind of similar. Augmented Reality (AR) is explained in the following Common Craft video.