As the summer break comes to an end and educators begin preparations for the return of students (and with some already in session), now seems like a good time to chat about the benefits that Google Classroom can have on your class. Google has been hard at work during the summer hiatus listening to the feedback they’ve received from educators like you and have introduced significant improvements to the app. We will spend the next weeks going over these changes, some of which are very, very cool!
To begin, Google has announced a new resource for educators called #FirstDayofClassroom, which has a little something for everyone.
- If you’re new to Classroom, then check out “The Basics” with YouTube videos that cover setting up your class, adding students, assigning work, and grading assignments inside of Classroom.
- If you’ve tried Classroom before and are looking for the next steps, then check out the “Teacher’s Lounge” with videos on tips, tricks, and best practices from fellow educators.
- Do you prefer documents over videos that you can print out and have in-hand at a moment’s notice? Then scroll down to the “Handy Guides” section.
If you or someone you know is new to Google Classroom then this site is definitely bookmark-worthy. If you are familiar with Classroom or perhaps even a veteran, then check back often for news and updates as additional resources and support materials are in the works.
Our IT department has decided to try something different when it comes to providing professional development to staff. We have been hard at work producing videos that cover various tools and tips in a more conversational format. Below is our introduction to Google Forms, hosted by yours truly and Tom Rup, our network administrator.
Google Drawings, an app found inside of Google Drive, has become more and more my go-to resource for creating artifacts and activities that are interactive. You can customize the workspace to any size you need using the File -> Page Setup, access multiple line and shape tools, and insert objects from the same sources as you can from a Google Doc or Slides file. The possibilities for this tool are only limited by our own imaginations.
Case and point, I recently read a how-to article from edtechteacher by Ben Sondgeroth where he outlines the true power of Google Drawings to create interactive artifacts. Ben walks you through how to create an interactive Google Drawing using Parts of a Cell as an example, among several others. My favorite example is the interactive States of the U.S. map, where each state has been linked to a video about that state from the History Channel. You can watch his video as he goes about this step-by-step below.
- Using interactive Google Drawings fits in quite nicely if you are using a flipped classroom setup or use Hyperdocs in your lessons.
- Share this technique with your students and see what interactive Drawings products they can build. I decided to add this to the list of options for my students to use when creating their Upstander Superhero as part of our unit of study on Cyberbullying.
Natural History – The beautiful, the dangerous, the endangered. Up close.
Welcome to the Natural History exhibit from Google’s Arts & Culture project. Here you will gain access to a wealth of information presented in multiple, interactive ways. The various exhibits that you can tour virtually come from museums all over the world (54 at my last count) including the Seodaemun Museum in Seoul, South Korea, the State Darwin Museum in Moscow, Russia, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., USA.
Some exhibits work like Google Street View, allowing you to move through and around the exhibits. Others take advantage of 360° technology to take you on a virtual reality video tour, such as the Jurassic giant Giraffatitan in Berlin, Germany or the prehistoric sea dragon Rhomaleosaurus in London, England.
And there is still more to be discovered! Take an interactive tour on a Brief History of Discovery, or read about animals that exist on our planet right now that are considered to have super powers! Then there is the library of over 260 curated YouTube videos on Natural History. These videos play within the Natural History website and are free of ads and suggested videos.
For more information check out this entry from the Google Keyword Blog, then let your imagination and curiosity run wild!
Spotlight Stories uses the power of 360-degree camera technology to take storytelling to a whole new level. Here the user controls where to direct their attention, just as if they were actually there and experiencing the story themselves. Because you don’t necessarily know where in this 360-degree world the next scene in the story is going to take place, these stories have a much larger replay value over fixed-perspective storytelling.
There are several ways that you can experience Spotlight Stories:
1. YouTube on the web: Navigate to the Google Spotlight Stories channel and access a handful of 360-degree stories, story trailers, and behind-the-scenes clips. Look for the directional compass icon in the top-left corner of the YouTube player window to identify that the video supports the 360-degree technology, then use your mouse to drag on the video pane and change your perspective.
360 Google Spotlight Story: HELP
2. YouTube mobile app: In order to fully take advantage of the 360-degree technology experience, use a mobile device and the YouTube app to immerse yourself in these virtual environments. Note that there is the additional option to enable Google Cardboard and add 3D to the storytelling experience. [YouTube for iOS | Android]
360 Google Spotlight Story: Pearl
3. Spotlight Stories mobile app: Download the free Spotlight Stories app and experience where storytelling and mobile VR meet. Here you will find their complete library of interactive storytelling videos, with more to be released soon.
So, let the storytelling and exploring begin!
Oh, did I mention that a new Simpsons-themed Spotlight Story, Planet of the Couches, was just released? “Doh!”
VideoNot.es is a powerful note-taking tool designed specifically for streaming media. In a nutshell, as you watch a video in the left-hand panel jot down notes in the right-hand panel. As you type the site links the text to the timestamp in the video that correlates to your note. Because the site supports logging in with your Google Apps account, your notes are stored in the cloud via Google Drive automatically. And, because they are stored in Google Drive you can share them with others. The site works with several streaming services including Khan Academy, Vimeo, and YouTube.
A couple of additional features to take note of:
- Once you authorize VideoNot.es to access your Google Apps account, it will create a folder under your Drive directory called “VideoNot.es” where all of your note files will be saved to.
- If you choose to share a VideoNot.es file, you will see the same Google Drive sharing widow as you would for a Google Doc. The site will recognize both the ‘edit’ and ‘view only’ share options.
- When opening a VideoNot.es file from Drive, you may receive a No preview available error. If so, then look for the link to VideoNot.es under the ‘Connected apps’ heading.
For more information please watch this video from BetterCloud MONITOR and/or read their article on this handy note-taking tool.
The YouTube coin:
- On one side you have a ginormous reservoir of digital media that many educators have gone to support and enhance their lessons.
- On the other you have the those suggested/related videos that display at the end of the video, and some use the term “related” very loosely.
But, thanks to a recent posting on Google+ from Tony Vincent over at Learning in Hand, I learned that there is a way to disable the related videos from showing at the end when you go to embed a YouTube video:
- Scroll down beneath the YouTube video and click on the ‘Share’ button.
- Click on the ‘Embed’ option to reveal the embed code for the video.
- Click on the SHOW MORE link located just below the embed code box.
- The window will expand to show a preview of the video an additional customization options such as video size and player controls. The first checkbox is the one you want which is enabled by default: “Show suggested videos when the video finishes.” Uncheck this box to disable the suggested/related videos panels from being displayed at the end of the YouTube video.
- Copy-&-paste the revised embed code and add it to your project.
If you’d like to share a YouTube video without any of the distractions found on their site, then you should check out the site ViewPure.com