Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Google Offers a Sites Conversion Tool - Domain Admins Take Note

Whether you like it or not, Google is slowly pushing everyone who uses the old version of Google Sites into the new version. For some people this is a source of great stress and for others it's not a big deal at all. If you're a G Suite for Education domain administrator you've probably fielded a few questions about how to make the switch from the old version to the new version of Google Sites. Today, Google announced a new option for G Suite domain administrators to preview a conversion tool for Google Sites.

What today's announcement really means is that the conversion tool that has been available to some current users of classic Google Sites through Gmail accounts will become available to Google Sites users within G Suite domains. According to today's announcement the Google Sites conversion tool within G Suite domains will be available starting this week and will roll out to end users by June 19th. It's important to note that not all sites will be eligible for conversion immediately.

Those who are not using G Suite for Education, but are using Google Sites through a consumer Gmail account can convert their sites now. Watch the video that I published last month to learn how to make the conversion from the old version to the new version of Google Sites.


Learn more about Google Sites and all things G Suite in my online course G Suite for Teachers.

Speaker Deck - A Simple Way to Share Your Slides

Google Slides, PowerPoint, and Keynote all have options for embedding your slideshows into a blog post or other webpage. But there are other methods for including your slideshow in a blog post or webpage. One of those options is Speaker Deck.

Speaker Deck is a free service that you can use to host and share copies of your slides. Before you get too excited about Speaker Deck, bear in mind that it only supports embedding PDFs. The shining feature of Speaker Deck is that it will automatically re-size your PDF to fit each slide in the display that your blog visitors are using. In other words, someone viewing your slides on a phone will have the same experience as someone viewing your slides on a 15" laptop display.


To use the service you do need to create a free account. Once you have created an account you can start uploading your presentations. As mentioned above, your presentation must be in PDF format. Because Speaker Deck only supports PDFs your presentation won't play any videos, audio files, or animations.

Applications for Education
Speaker Deck is a bare-bones service, but it is easy to use and could be useful for sharing presentations that are image and text heavy. For schools that don't use Google Slides or the online version of PowerPoint, Speaker Deck provides a simple solution for publishing presentations.

ClassDojo Introduces a New Digital Portfolio Option

For the last couple of years ClassDojo has offered a digital portfolio feature called Student Stories. This summer ClassDojo is introducing a new portfolio option called simply ClassDojo Portfolios.

The new ClassDojo Portfolios will be student-led portfolios. Students will choose the items that they want to include in their portfolios. They can include pictures, documents, videos, notes, and drawings in their portfolios. Just like in the current Student Stories teachers will have to approve all submissions before they are shared. Parents will be able to see only the work of their children and not of other children in the class. And parents will be able to see the portfolio from the same ClassDojo app that they already use to stay informed about how their children are doing in your classroom.

ClassDojo Portfolios will be available to use on iPads and Android tablets. Students will be able to log-in without a username and password. Students scan a QR instead of using usernames and passwords.

The new ClassDojo Portfolios will be available in July. You can learn more and register for early access here.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Three Ways to Develop Programming Skills This Summer

Summer is almost here and it's a great time to learn a new skill that you can bring into your classroom next fall. One of the skills that seems to be mentioned in almost every education periodical these days is programming or coding. Learning to program isn't as difficult as you might think that is. Each of the following services make it relatively easy to learn to program your own apps. As you learn to program your own app, you'll start to see how your students can do the same and use those skills in your classroom next fall.

MIT App Inventor
Want to create a fully functional Android app? If so, the MIT App Inventor is the place to start. The MIT App Inventor works in your web browser (Chrome is recommended). The only download that is required for App Inventor 2 is the optional emulator. The emulator allows people who don't have Android devices to text their apps on their desktops. If you have an Android device then the emulator is not required and you don't need to worry about installing it. MIT provides excellent support documentation and curriculum for classroom use for new users of App Inventor. Tutorials are available as videos and as written PDFs. A couple of the videos are embedded below.




Metaverse - DIY Augmented Reality Apps
Metaverse launched last summer and became an almost hit with teachers. Through the Metaverse Studio anyone can program an augmented reality app without having any prior coding or programming knowledge. You construct your app in the Metaverse Studio by dragging and dropping media and logic blocks into a sequence. Metaverse Studio has been used by teachers to create digital Breakout games, to create language arts games, and to create local history tours.



Scratch
I couldn't write a blog post about learning to program without mentioning Scratch and ScratchJr. Scratch is a free program designed to introduce users to programming concepts. Through Scratch you can create animations, games, and videos. Students program in Scratch through a process of dragging and dropping blocks into sequences. Each block represents a command. Users test their programs right in their web browsers and instantly know if the program works or doesn't work.

There are many places to find Scratch tutorials, but the best place to start is on the Scratch for Educators site. There you will find many tutorials, activity guides, and a curriculum guide. The ScratchEd community is the place to go for inspiration from other teachers who are using Scratch in their classrooms. For example, in ScratchEd you might find something like this Google Doc filled with ideas for using Scratch in elementary school mathematics lessons.

A Quick Google Docs Formatting Tip

Google Docs has lots of handy features that are "hidden" in plain sight. Many of those features address common formatting needs. For example, in the far right edge of the editor menu there is a function to clear all formatting. This is a handy function to use after copying and pasting from a Word document or even from a shared Google Document whose formatting doesn't fit with what you want. Watch my short video embedded below to how you can quickly clear the formatting of a Google Document.


And if you have ever wanted to change the default font in your Google Docs, watch this tutorial that I published a few months ago.



Please note that changes to default fonts may not take place immediately. Some readers have reported having to log-out, clear cache, and try again in order to make the font changes stick.

Learn more about all things G Suite in my online course, G Suite for Teachers.