Another notorious latecomer has finally made it onto the Android platform: Prezi. The app itself is only partially useful as it is only a viewer and won’t allow you to edit, still you can use it to view presentations and to rehearse them on the go.
Google Cardboard is a very cheap ($20) way of enjoying virtual reality applications. Even though applications for education are still in their infancy, there are a couple of interesting apps for schools, like the guide of Versailles palace or Streetviews included in the Cardboard demo app.
If you have already tried out Google Cardboard app you might have wondered how you can view any Streetview image, and not just the ones shown in the demo app.
Here is the trick: you need the latest version of the Google Maps app. In the lower right corner there is an icon that lets you view the streetview in a look around mode. If you double tap that icon you get a spilt VR image. That’s all. Now you can enjoy the streetview in your Google Cardboard.
This may indeed seem a strange question when neither the majority of schools nor most students have figured out how to use their smartphones for learning yet. What’s more, a quick search on the web will bring up hundreds of articles about how useless and geeky smart watches are and that they are doomed to fail. Until recently I thought the only use for smart watches in school settings ever would be for cheating. Yet, having only worn an android wear watch for a week has changed my mind and here is why.
Chromecast (€35) in der Schule getestet. Für alle die daran interessiert sind: *Tablet Unterstützung für vorhandenen (HDMI) Beamer zu bekommen * BYOD einfacher zu machen *Ein nicht verwendetes TV Gerät für den Unterricht wiederzubeleben * Eine günstige Alternative zu teuerem PC/Tablet /Apple TV/Streaming Boxen für eine digitale Klassenraum Austattung
At the beginning of this school year I was faced with a novel task: putting the school’s library catalogue online for our students. My first thought was simply to use Google Docs or Sheets and publishing the catalogue online (you could use the browsers search ctr-f to find titles). However, after having tried out these options I found them quite cumbersome for users and tried to come up with something more database like, using Google Fusion Tables (you might have to add them to your Drive: New>connect more apps > fusion tables) and was quite satisfied with the result.
A new school year has come upon us and it’s the first time I will have to give feedback to my students using rubrics. After having read and watched a couple of tutorials on the web I wasn’t really completely satisfied with any of them. Most tutorials suggest the use of Google Forms, which is a good idea, but not a perfect solution as you have to use two different tools. Furthermore, I only would advocate Google Forms for entering data if you want to do that on a mobile device as that would be more user friendly than using Sheets for that purpose.
I rarely blog about hardware, as the Google ecosystem is mostly about software and I strongly favour a BYOD (Bring your own device) approach when it comes to devices in the classroom. Copy a portable version of the Chrome browser on a flash drive and you will feel at home wherever you go (at least that’s what I do in the classrooms I teach in) if you use the Google ecosystem extensively. However, many schools urgently need to overhaul their IT equipment and financial resources are often rather scarce.
A few months ago a student of mine asked me if she should buy a Chromebook as she knew that I was using one myself at school as my primary working device. I advised her against buying one as she - like pretty much most of my students - wasn't using Google Drive and wanted a device to use Microsoft Office applications with, which was rather cumbersome on a chromebook at that time.
Fast forward a few months and not only can you natively edit Office documents now but many other features have been added to Google devices which make them ideal for use at school. By “Google devices” I mean Chromebooks, Chromeboxes, Chromecast dongles and Nexus tablets with no particular preference for a specific hardware manufacturer. I’ve been “dogfooding” all of these devices to myself for a couple of years now using a Chromebook and a Nexus 7 at school as well as a Chromebox as my primary computer (unless I need to use multimedia applications), a Nexus 7 and a Chromecast at home. My school(s) uses almost exclusively Windows PCs.
Here are some ideas where I can see Google devices meaningfully (and economically) deployed at schools:
I have been keeping my gradebooks in Google spreadsheets for years now. It’s very convenient to access them from different devices such as my chromebook and my tablet. There are lots of advantages to keeping gradebooks in spreadsheets, the most obvious one being automatic calculation of grades, class average, etc. However, when it comes to looking up information about a particular student having all the information in one row is rather inconvenient and cumbersome to show to students or parents.
The solution is to create a separate report sheet transposing the relevant information and possibly pulling in information from different sheets (e.g. different terms, additional note). The new Google Sheets has a variety of features that makes this an easy process. Here are the necessary steps
Sometimes your students don’t use Google Drive, or you would rather collect files (e.g. podcasts or videos) in one folder instead of separate folders for each student. There are a couple of solutions to this problem. One is using Google Drive apps like Form+ or Dropzone. These apps, however, come with a couple of cosmetic drawbacks, such as little or no customization, adds or limited file uploads.
A common problem I hear from teachers is collecting email addresses from their students. Even though the school might provide the students with email addresses they might use a different address and never check the one given to them by the school. As a result, teacher often have to make new lists for their students’ email addresses. Two of the most common methods are: having the students enter their email addresses into a spreadsheet on the teacher’s PC or passing around a sheet of paper for the students to enter their addresses. Neither of these methods is very efficient, as the first one takes up a lot of class time and the second one is time consuming because the teacher has to type the information into a spreadsheet.
One of the fastest and most effective ways of collecting email addresses from your students is using Google Forms. Just set up a form with a name (or first and second name) field and an email address and make them required questions.
Google Drive is great for quickly finding your documents. The search function will find almost anything in a matter of seconds (even if hidden deep inside documents, pdf and image files) and you can star frequently used documents...
However, there is even a faster way to your documents than staring them. By using Chrome bookmarks you can access your files without having to go into your Drive in the first place
Screen recordings have been notoriously hard to do in Android. You had to tether your device to a PC or root it to do so.This, however, has changed since Android 5.0 Lollipop which supports screen recording natively and there is a number of great and easy to use apps to help you and your students create screencasts. The app that I use for recording is scr 5+ which come both in a free and a paid version.
Even though I’m a big fan of the cloud and cloud applications (I’ve been using Google Drive and Docs for a couple of years now instead of desktop), multimedia has always been a kind of watershed for me demarcating the limits of online applications. Things, are beginning to change, however. Photoshop has been recently made available for chromebooks and there have been many other applications before. What has been missing (not counting professional features not really required in education) is speed and integration.
With some new features in Android Lollipop (screen recording without rooting the device), I have been motivated to give it a try and create a video podcast without any desktop application, just using a smartphone and a chromebook.
Google Translate has been mocked and banned by teachers for the most part of its history. However, many are not aware that Google Translate has evovled tremendously since launched in 2006 and that is serves 200 million users each day.
So far screen recording on an Android device has been only possible either by rooting it or by connecting your device to a PC and record the screen there. With Lollipop this unfortunate situation has changed and it has become really easy to record the screen.
I’ve downloaded and tested two free apps: Mirror and SCR 5+ free and both work fine even though the former is still in beta and the latter has a three minute limit in the free version.
In an educational setting this functionality can be used for a variety of purposes. You can create a demo of a useful app for your students. Students can record a voceover for a presentation. They can do the same thing with a book, to create a multimedia book or simply as reading practise Annotation of PDF files for peer teaching
Google Forms is a great tool for using in the classroom and at schools. However, one of the first questions I usually get asked in teacher training seminars is about how secure it is. If you use a learning management system like Moodle every student has to log in with his or her credentials and it is almost impossible to rig a poll or survey.
With Google Forms there is no such security measure in place as a form is just an open webpage. Of course, you can embed a form in a password protected Google Site, but this doesn’t really solve anything, as students still can submit several forms and distort the result of the poll.
Photospheres are 360 degree photos which can be taken very easily with smartphones using the Android 4.2 OS or above. It is possible to connect them and create a Google Streetview like tour. This can be used for projects in schools, e.g. to create a tour of the school, a nature trail or simply as a souvenir from a school trip.
Life is easy for digital teachers - as long as everybody is using the same digital tools. However, this is not always the case. Often students refuse to sign up for one more web-service or are sceptical in general when it comes to cloud services. Fortunately Google Drive provides an ecosystem which is flexible enough to let you work with your students even when they don't use Drive themselves. What's more, when Google doesn't have the tools required there are third party Drive apps and scripts can be very welcome.
The following video shows tips on how to make the workflow for grading or marking homework easier with Google Drive, the Form+ Drive app, the Save to Drive script and the "Track Changes" add-on, as well as with the Google Drive desktop application and marking in MS Word.
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