Oct 8, 2012

EduOnAir - Build Your Own eLearning Program

The fall rendition of #EduOnAir launched on Friday and I am excited to be sharing the eLearning work we have done at Palisades on Tuesday at 11am. This post is to help frame the conversation for the Hangout and provide some insight on how to start your own eLearning program. There are a number of popular eLearning solutions out there including blended, hybrid, flipped classrooms, and full online programs. No matter what flavor of eLearning you are interested in the following needs have to be met. I will share how we have done it at Palisades and also share some other Google related solutions.

Learning Management System
Palisades - We have chosen Blackboard through BlendedSchools.net. Blended Schools has wonderful support, keeps Blackboard updated, and provides customers with high quality K-12 course content. The content is often overlooked when deploying an online learning solution but it is critical. Blended Schools has over 100 PA approved courses that are fully editable once duplicated for our teachers. This has not only saved our teachers a lot of time but given them ideas, additional resources, and added insight into what a high quality online course design looks like.
Google Option - Haiku Learning is a beautiful, cloud based LMS with drag and drop editing features and a simple user interface. The engine is powerful giving users every bit of functionality as a traditional LMS. It has seamless Google Apps integration keeping usernames and passwords consistent and memorable. I love working in Haiku and I highly recommend it.  If you are bold, you can also take a shot at using Google Apps and Sites to deploy a complete eLearning program at no cost.

Palisades and Google Option - No brainer, Google Apps for Education is the best office productivity suite available. We have deployed Apps for our students and given them Gmail accounts to use in conjunction with their Blackboard accounts. It keeps them mobile, allows for anytime/anywhere access, and is free for K-12 education institutions. Google Drive provides portable storage, students sync accounts with Android devices, Sites fills in as ePortfolios, and so much more.

Palisades - We took the traditional route and provided students with Lenovo laptops. The solution was familiar and continues to provide students with a solid device that is rugged and multi-functional.
Google Option - Chromebooks have exploded in popularity and I admit that I am a bit jealous and a bit embarrassed that we have not deployed this solution. The solid state drive is reliable, the battery life is an eternity, and they boot in 8 seconds. Also, Chromebooks are always up to date and have security built in. When looking at the mobile factor, we all love tablets but they are hardly the complete solution needed for a fully functioning eLearning device. Chromebooks not only have great mobile features as I've mention but they come with a physical keyboard for productivity and the Chrome Web Store has grown to offer a range of great academic products. Even better, Google partners like Promevo are distributing Chromebooks but have also developed gPanel, the top rated administrative app in the Apps Marketplace. After the latest update to Chrome OS, we certainly will be revisiting the Chromebook option and I love this device as a complete eLearning tool.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how we started our eLearning program at Palisades Cyber Academy.  Reach out anytime, I am always happy to help others. I hope you can make the Hangout but I have also include an early version of my presentation below. After the Hangout is loaded to Youtube, I'll update this post with the embedded video as well. See you on Google+!

Here is the video from the #EduOnAir Hangout on 11/9/2012

Oct 2, 2012

Google Celebrates Edu: Must See Events

It is wonderful to see Google recognizing World Teacher's Day coming up this Friday. Education International and UNESCO have done a great job pulling this event together to celebrate teachers all over the globe. This whole week, Google will be honoring teachers by highlighting events, accomplishments, and other educational programs using Google tools. Tune into the Google in Education page and follow the #wtd2012 hashtag to stay informed. Here are some events being promoted and a few other education tools from Google.
Update: Look for some great events being announced by Google on World Teacher Day!

Sep 27, 2012

Top Science Tools Via Google

I was disappointed when Google announced that it was discontinuing the development of Google Body along with Google Labs. I felt like it was a perfect example for what the 20% time policy at Google could create and how autonomy and inquiry drive innovation. The good news for the all the power learners and science folks out there is that soon after the demise of Google Body the company announced that Google Body will live on as Zygote Body.

So I was thinking about other ways Google or Google related products can support science, teachers, and all power learners. Here is what I came up with.

Google Chrome users have the wonderful advantage of the Chrome Web Store and Chrome Apps. Here are some science related gems:

  • BioDigital Human is an outrageous visual tour of the human body that includes includes annotated screenshots, a quiz engine, and a number custom options.  
  • Spongelab is a great community of global science folks with engaging interactive games, multimedia, animations, visualizations, and teaching tools. 
  • GeoGebra is a great tool for interactive worksheets helping both math and science educators.
  • The Web Lab from Chrome Web Experiments is a collection sharing the magic of the web and how it works. Awesome for science, art, music and more!
A few more resources:
Please share any other Google tools in the comments!

Sep 26, 2012

Inside Search: Teaching How To Google It

Google it. Not quite - That is a great start but as I shared in the Advanced Image Search post there is much more to becoming steward of data. The web is overflowing with useless information that we have to plow through to get to the information we need. I am just as guilty, I can't remember the last time I did a Google search and progressed to the second results page. If the answer isn't in the first 10 results the I search again. But, if I have to search again, I will often refer to some power searching techniques to drill down into the data.  Below are some ideas, resources, and methods to help you do the same and share with students.

Sep 25, 2012

The Many Layers Of Google Maps

Eric Schmidt mentioned today that Apple should have kept Google Maps for iOS services. I'm sure the opinions on this statement are intense but I am more interested in the other Maps announcement today that Maps for Indoors has now gone to France. And while using Maps to check out the last flight of Space Shuttle Endeavor, take a walking tour of Downing Street, or just find your way home are all worthy experiences there is so much more to do with Google Maps. Start with a brief history of Google Maps here - The video and interactive infographic are great to get familiar with all the great features. Then check out these other great tools and projects:

  • Google Art Project takes the StreetView technology and allows users to take walking tours of the world's great museums. The project also includes a library of information on pieces of art, artists, and user galleries. Check out the education page for more information on art styles, trends, and other topics in the art world. 
  • Google Map Maker lets you submit information and locations to be added to Maps and Earth for the world to see. Want to promote your favorite coffee shop? Add the location with Map Maker to share around the globe. This getting started guide will help.
  • Google Building Maker allows user to find buildings, churches, or other structures that need a 3D rendering for Google Maps and Earth. Users can find a building, design it using web based Sketchup modeling tools, and submit it for approval. Next thing you know, your 3D model in on Google Earth - A great project for students.   
  • Business Photos - Business owners can have photos or virtual tours of their venue taken and added to their location in Google Maps and Earth, Google+, and other Google properties. While the photography work will cost a little money, you will be able to engage customers all over the world with a visual representation of your company.
For even more, add Google Maps to your Google+ Circles and follow the hashtag #gmapstip on Google+.

Sep 24, 2012

Google For Good: Entrepreneurship And Other Endeavors

Google officially launched the Google for Entrepreneurs program today. It is a wonderful opportunity for thought leaders to get involved with the creative spirit that Google embodies. According to the official release, Google is looking for startups and entrepreneurs that focus on:
  1. Partnerships with strong organizations that serve entrepreneurs in local communities
  2. Google-led programs to bring our teams and our tools directly to entrepreneurs
  3. Placing relevant Google tools in the hands of startups as they are getting off the ground and ready to scale
It is inspiring to see some of the initiatives that Google is already working with like Women 2.0 and 1871. This made me think about other projects Google is involved in outside of its core business.  Here are some more philanthropic, educational, and other purposeful endeavors led by Google.
  • Google Code-in Contest for high school students starts this November. The goal is to give students the opportunity to explore and work with open source software projects. Check out the contest site for more.
  • Sticking with the education theme, Google hosts a number of other educational competitions, programs, and awards for students of all ages at the Google in Education -Students page.
  • Google.org provides "tech driven philanthropy" with world changing projects like Crisis Response, Flu/Dengue Trends, and the Google for Nonprofits Community. 
To learn more and stay on top of other Google endeavors, check out the Google blog directory to subscribe to some of its many feeds.

Sep 23, 2012

Inside Search: Legal Use of Google Images

It is easy to search Google Images and simply copy and paste an image result onto to report, presentation, or some other type of reuse. Even in academic settings, this practice could be a violation of copyright or fair use. While I don't think the police will be knocking on your classroom door anytime soon, this situation does provide an opportunity to teach media literacy and promote appropriate use at all age levels.

Google makes this process simple for all user by taking advantage of the Advance Image Search feature in Google Images. There are several helpful search features available here including filtering results by color, size, and aspect ratio (square, wide, panoramic, etc.). Any of these tools would be valuable alone but when you combine this tool set with the Usage Rights section at the bottom you begin to hone your search skills. There are five setting here ranging from not filtered to completely free to use, share or modify - even commercially. Each of the five categories is explained in detail by Google on the Usage Rights page. Encouraging this practice in the classroom will promote a higher level of digital citizenship and keep students in compliance with acceptable use policies.

Even more, the Advanced Image Search page allows Googlers to change the SafeSearch settings. SafeSearch can be adjusted to the strict filtering setting making the image results much more likely to be educationally appropriate. See a brief tutorial on Advanced Image Search below.

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