Mar 302010

Google offers some wonderful tools for teachers, but I’ve learned over the last couple of weeks that while teachers are aware of many of Google’s offerings like search, docs, and maps many teachers aren’t aware of how to use these tools or what these tools offer beyond the obvious. Therefore, I sat down yesterday and started putting together this guide to using Google search, docs, books, news, and maps in the classroom.

This guide avoids some of the obvious things, like using Google Docs for collaborative writing, and instead focuses on some of the lesser-used Google tools options like publishing an online quiz using Google Docs. In all there are 33 pages containing 21 ideas and how to instructions for creating Google Maps placemarks, directions creating and publishing a quiz with Google Docs forms, directions for embedding books into your blog, and visual aids for accessing other Google tools.

You can download the document from Yudu or DocStoc.

Check out the guide in Yudu format below.

Check out the guide in DocStoc format below.

Google for Teachers

Great ideas here on how to take your use of Google Docs to the next level in your classroom.

Mar 232010

They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words. But what if you could make your pictures talk for themselves? ComicLife is a great tool for bringing a story to life without the need of video. Students can easily create a visual storyboard and infuse it with action – comic book style!

This site provides some great applications for using ComicLife in an educational setting. If you think technology is engaging for your students, wait until they hear that they can create a comic strip for your class!

Mar 192010

Want to use your Flip cameras for more than just podcasts and random happenings around the school? Have a look at many other ways you can use your Flip cameras in the classroom. Some of the slides have YouTube videos embedded, so you may want to browse this at home if your school/district blocks this service.

This is information that is open for collaboration, so if something great that you do is not listed here, follow the link on the page to submit your own ideas.

Good luck, and happy Flipping! 
Mar 172010

During an email and computer security training today, I was asked how to set up the password recovery options with an alternate email address and text message alerts in Gmail. I had always guessed that it was the same for Google Apps type of accounts as it was for regular Gmail accounts, but it turns out that they are indeed different. 

In the Google Apps accounts (our solution for school email accounts), there are no automatic alerts or password recovery features. Since they are managed locally, you always have the option of contacting your local technology specialist to help. If Google had to field phone calls from their millions of mail account holders, it would be difficult to say the least to provide that sort of service. 

So, in short, you can’t set up that recovery information for school accounts as I have been presenting this entire year, and for that I feel badly. Here’s what Google says about the matter:

Note to Google Apps users: Automated password recovery isn’t available for your account at this time. Please contact your organization’s IT admin for help with password recovery.

However, for regular Gmail based accounts, you can do it, but it’s kinda buried. I thought about posting the direct link to the page here, but then it would look like some of the phishing scams that I been training teachers about to avoid at all costs! 


Here’s where you go:
–> Log in to Gmail, then Settings –> Accounts and Import tab –> Google Account settings (at the bottom, and you may have to re-enter your password again in the new window that opens) –> Change password recovery options (near the top).

On this final page that opens up, you can set the alternate email addresses, a cell phone number for SMS alerts, and view/modify your security question. If any changes are made to your account – whether you are the one making the change or not, you will be notified through that other email address and via text message if you provided your phone number.

Mar 162010

A person’s Facebook page was hacked and his friends targeted for a phishing attack. If you see this sort of thing, it should SCREAM a scam to you – they are BEGGING you to click on a link and supply your login and password.

His account was easily compromised because his password was ‘123456’. Being lazy has not only compromised all of this person’s personal information on Facebook, but he has also threatened his friends as well.

Another warning shot to USE STRONG PASSWORDS!

Mar 112010

One of the lesser known elements of Google Docs is spreadsheet gadgets. Gadgets are designed to take data from your spreadsheets and use it or display it in non-spreadsheet forms. One example of this is the Word Cloud Gadget.

The Word Cloud Gadget takes the words (and numbers if you choose) in your spreadsheet and generates a word cloud. You can customize the Word Cloud Gadget to use the words from all of your cells or you can specify to draw upon specific cells. You can also customize the Word Cloud Gadget to link words in the cloud to a search engine. To add further utility, you can adjust the Word Cloud Gadget to ignore certain words when generating your word cloud. In the presentation below I’ve outlined the steps you need to take to use the Word Cloud Gadget.

Some of the other gadgets that might interest to you are the flashcard and word search gadgets which you can find in this list.

Applications for Education
The Google Docs Word Cloud Gadget could be a good resource for students to use to quickly identify the words used most frequently in a text or the data most frequently appearing in a spreadsheet. Create a word cloud and have students discuss why certain words were frequently used by an author.

Very interesting… I’ll have to give this a try during a future GDocs training.