Tag Archives: google reader

Google Apps Store and the Classroom

9 Dec

Always the innovator, Google is working to change how we interact with the internet. Earlier this week, Google unveiled their Chrome Web Apps Store. Like what iPhone and iPad apps have done for mobile devices, Google is hoping to do for the internet. If you aren’t already running Google’s browser, Chrome, you’re missing out on what 120 million other people have fallen in love¬†with, myself included. Chrome is, in a word, fast. Combine that with the instant search capabilities that Google recently unveiled and we’re off to the races. One convenient feature is that the address bar duals as Google search, yet again saving you precious milliseconds of browsing time. Pair these tools with Gmail’s new priority inbox and, voila! you’ve freed up approximately 3.6 minutes of your day!

Chrome is King!

But back to the Apps Store…Apps run in Chrome browser and in the future will function as applications on Google’s Chrome OS, which they also previewed recently and have a handful of netbooks from Samsung and Acer slated for debut in early 2011.

While Google is certainly changing the face of the internet, with so many schools going 1-to-1 (mine included), the face of education is changing too. (See here and here for previous posts on how Google Docs can be used in the classroom)

The Apps store is just getting started, so it only has a few hundred apps, but I wanted to preview a few of the early winners for classroom use. [update: in the day or so since I started writing this post, the education apps has gone from around 60 to 111!]

Google Books: Create your own library of ebooks that resides in the cloud. Synchs with all of your web-enabled devices. See a short video touting its benefits here. Google’s new ebookstore just might give internet giant Amazon a run for its money

Aviary: Web-based image editing tool. Feature-rich and easy to use, this is a powerful image editing tool that is impressive for the cost – free!

Wikihood: Calling itself a “world browser” it is basically what you would get if you genetically engineered Google Maps by inserting the gene for Wikipedia. An interactive world map allows you to click anywhere in the world and bring up relevant cultural, historical, and other kinds of info. It goes right down to street level, and would make a killer app for traveling to a new city.

Sliderocket: This is like Google Presentation, on steroids! Too bad you have to pay for an account over 15MB and for synching with Google Apps. Boo!

Planetarium: Another google maps like experience but for the night sky. Tell it your location and you can look up at a virtual sky. This could be great if you teach in a city with lots of pollution like I do, and want your students to see what the sky could look like if only they’d quit turning on so many lights!

Graph.tk: A free graphing utility that looks pretty cool on the surface. Didn’t dive much into it but I’ll leave that up to the math and physics crowd. Seems like it could be pretty student friendly way to quickly visualize graphs though…

Evernote: This is basically just a link to the online Evernote at this point, but maybe in the future it will be a more feature-rich application. Not so much for your classroom instruction, but will help keep you sane. Love Evernote for just keeping track of odds and ends, and in fact just recently bought the full version and dig it.

Get your news fix with apps from NYTimes, NPR, or if you’re feeling less serious, the Onion

Not exactly school, but…

Tweetdeck: The ever popular program for keeping track of facebook, twitter, and everything else social, is now available in your browser as a Google App. Haven’t noticed much difference in the functionality yet…

Others I didn’t get around to trying but look like they could be cool:

Creately: The popular mind-mapping tools comes to Google Apps. Downside: not free ūüė¶
Aerotimer: Basically an egg timer for you browser. I typically use online-stopwatch.com in the classroom and project it up on the overhead, but maybe I can use this to set time limits on the amount of time I spend in Google Reader….
Quicknote: An extension from Diigo, for taking quick notes. I’m pretty fond of Stickies in OS X but maybe worth a shot

The exciting part is that the store is just getting started, and for the moment a lot of the apps are glorified bookmarks. But it’s definitely a start, and the possibilities are exciting…

Get a grip on Google

5 Sep

Last week I led a series of PD sessions on ways to use Google Education Apps to make life easier in the classroom. Jumping on the Google Apps bandwagon can feel chaotic at first. Last month I posted a few Google Apps tips on this blog, but I wanted to play around with Google sites so I went ahead and created a site. It features some suggestions and walk throughs on some basic strategies for managing 100+ students, and hopefully minimizing the somewhat inevitable chaos that will ensue when they first start creating and sharing assignments with you.

Check out the site here.

twitter in the classroom

23 Jul

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m a Twitter newbie. I’m officially a convert. Two main reasons I’m digging it :

  1. Twitter is like Google Reader only the content is selected by actual human beings instead of robots serving the will of XML code.
  2. It’s a two-way conversation. Ask questions and you get answers. Well not me personally, but a guy I know…I think my 23 followers is a little short of the “critical mass” needed to really take advantage, but you can imagine what it’d be like, right?

I also like the idea of boiling an idea down to 140 characters. It’s work. And it really makes you decide on what’s important. This is a valuable skill, and one that I want my students practicing in class.

In my school last year I facilitated a PLC focused on the topic “Brain Research Applied to Education,” and we used John Medina’s fantastic book Brain Rules as a jumping off point for discussions. One of the “rules” from the book is “repeat to remember.” The rule is humorously explained by Medina himself in this video…

The implication for the classroom is obvious. I’ve got 80 minute blocks, so the last few minutes of class is ideal. Last year I experimented a bit with a few different review strategies but this year I’m giving Twitter a go. I’ve created a Twitter id (you can follow our daily class tweets starting August 9th here) and we’ll take a couple minutes to generate a tweet or tweets to summarize the “big idea” of the day.

I think there’s lots to play around with here, for instance maybe I assign the task to one person at the start of class, randomly call on someone, or we do it as a class. Students with Twitter accounts could follow the tweets and the history of tweets could serve as a quick review. Still a work in progress…

a drink from the fire hose

23 Jul

Lately I’ve been feeling a lot like a character from a favorite movie of mine, UHF

No, not Weird Al.

I’m feeling more like little Joe Miller after finding the marble in the oatmeal…

thanks Stanley Spadowski.

I jumped on the Google Reader bandwagon last fall when I started feeling like I was killing too much time surfing the web (I blame you StumbleUpon) thinking that it would streamline the assortment of internet gems that were consuming too much of my precious time. The end result was a huge organizational improvement. Thousands of articles on science, education, sports, trivial factoids, all a few clicks away!

An unintended side effect was that the ease of organizing and adding feeds led to extra feeds finding their way into my daily routine. I love the amount of personally selected, relevant info available in one central location but its hard not to feel like little Joey drinking from the not so proverbial fire hose.

My recent foray into Twitter has only compounded the flow of information. Just starting to get that dialed in but digging the possibilities, so long as I can convince a few folks to start following me who aren’t tweeting about #justinbieber or #freeipads…

PLN is a buzz word (acronym?) that teachers can’t seem to get enough of these days. While I’m the first to admit that I’m a huge slave to fan of connectivity, I’m also continually reminded how much I value interacting with human beings and how this is often lost in all the tweeting and blogging about PLNs. Maybe it’s the summer vacation away from my teaching buddies but I’m looking forward to getting the ole gang back together again.

The notion of information management is one that I’ll be revisiting again soon, right after I finish reading these 6,328 items in Reader…

fyi: if you haven’t seen UHF before, put it at the top of your Netflix queue – you’ll thank yourself, and then me.