Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Kaizena Now Offers Rubrics to Go With Voice Comments on Google Docs

Earlier this year Kaizena released an updated Google Docs Add-on that streamlined the way that you can add voice comments to your students' Google Documents. The Add-on lets you simply highlight a word or a sentence in a document and then record a voice comment about that highlighted word or sentence. Voice comments can be used in conjunction with text comments.

If you find yourself frequently writing the same comment or type of comment in your students' documents then you will want to utilize the canned comments that are available through Kaizena. And now you can also use rubrics in Kaizena.

Today, Kaizena announced the launch of a rubrics feature to go along with their existing voice and text comment tools. Unfortunately, you cannot import a rubric that you have created outside of Kaizena to use in Kaizena. You have to create the rubric within Kaizena by selecting "skills" comments that you write and then grouping them into rubric components. Honestly, I think that the process of creating rubrics within Kaizena is a but cumbersome until you've done it a few times. But you can judge that yourself after you look through the directions here.

I like Kaizena for its voice commenting component. The canned text comments and the rubric components are nice, but you can do those things with other tools that are a little easier to use for those purposes. JoeZoo Express (Google Docs Add-on) and Online Rubric (Google Sheets Add-on) are the tool that come to mind for canned comments and rubrics.

Learn more about Google Docs and Google Docs Add-ons in my online course, G Suite for Teachers

Google Expeditions Updated With New Augmented Reality Content

Since its launch Google's Expeditions app has been a hit in many schools. What started out as a somewhat canned teacher-led virtual reality experience has morphed into a tool that students can use to explore and discover new things on their own. Last summer Google added the option for students to explore the VR expeditions on their own. Today, Google released a new feature that students can use. That feature is new augmented reality tours.

Like any augmented reality app, the new AR content in Google Expeditions lets students view and manipulate digital content in a physical world context. The new AR content can be used as components in science, math, geography, history, and art lessons. Some examples of the more than 100 AR tours that you'll now find in the app include landforms, the skeletal system, dinosaurs, ancient Egypt, the brain, and the Space Race. And as a good Mainer my favorite of the new AR tours is about lobsters.

To use the AR content available through Google Expeditions you will need to print marker or trigger sheets that students scan with their phones or tablets. Once scanned the AR imagery appears on the screen. (You can actually preview some of the imagery without scanning a marker, but the imagery will not be interactive or 3D). Students don't need to look through a Cardboard viewer in order to see the AR imagery.

You can get the Google Expeditions Android app here and the iOS version here. If you already have the apps installed, just run an update to get the new AR content.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Three Google Sheets Add-ons That Can Help You Get Things Done

Google Sheets has a lot of features baked into that can help you organize things and get things done efficiently. Start exploring the Add-ons for Google Sheets and you will find even more ways to get things done efficiently. These are my go-to Add-ons for Google Sheets.

Online Rubric
This free Google Sheets Add-on makes it easy to create a rubric. This Add-on does more than just format your Google Sheet into a rubric template. With Online Rubric you can enter scores, write comments for your students, and email your students directly from the Sheet. When you send an email from the Sheet your students receive a copy of their scores, your comments, and the descriptors from the rubric.

Add Reminders
With Add Reminders installed in your Google Sheets you can schedule reminder emails to be sent to your students, their parents, to colleagues, or to your employees. To use this Add-on just fill in the template with email addresses, recipient names, the tasks they need to be reminded of, and the due dates for the tasks.

Lab Scheduler
If you're the person in charge of scheduling conference room, computer lab, library, or science lab use, Lab Scheduler is the Add-on for you. This little Add-on will give your Google Sheet an easy-to-follow template for coordinating room use without the need to make a zillion entries in a Google Calendar. Share the Sheet with your staff as view-only so they can see who has reserved a lab.

Learn more about how to use Google Sheets and Google Sheets Add-ons during my Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners webinar on Thursday. 

New Common Craft Video - Digital Footprints Explained

As adults we know that everything we do online is a part of our digital footprints. Even those things that you post on your "private" Facebook or Instagram account are public because they're just a screenshot away from being shared outside of your private circle. This is a lesson that every student should learn without having to learn it the hard way. That's where Common Craft's new video could be helpful.

Digital Footprint Explained is Common Craft's latest video. The three minute video teaches viewers how they make digital footprints as soon as they go online, how digital footprints are tracked by organizations, and how to reduce the risks associated with leaving digital footprints.

Applications for Education
You and I know both know that teenagers watching this video might say something like "yeah, but if you do X, no one can track you." This video should help them understand that even those things can be tracked by law enforcement.

In related news, Common Craft is giving away three free pro accounts at the end of the month. All you have to do is be a teacher or librarian and complete the entry form here.

Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft.

SpeakPipe Has New Customization Options

SpeakPipe is a great little service that lets you collect voice messages from visitors to your blog. I used it for many years on a classroom blog so that parents could leave voice messages by just clicking the "send a message" button on my blog. I could then either listen to the message or read a transcript of the message. Last fall SpeakPipe added support for iPad users. This morning I got an email from them announcing some more updates.

The latest updates to SpeakPipe give you options to customize the color scheme and welcome message displayed to your blog's visitors. In addition to the appearance update there were updates made to SpeakPipe to help ensure that your visitor's messages reach you. Now when visitors record a message they will be notified if the message didn't record correctly and in that case they will be prompted to record again.