Friday, April 10, 2015

@Lucidpress: an online alternative to Microsoft Publisher #GAFE #edtech

Pin It Having students publish their work can help them take pride in their success while developing valuable design and presentation skills. But existing publication software options are slim—and Microsoft Publisher isn’t always friendly to new users. Lucidpress, an online publishing application free to educators, deserves some serious consideration as a viable Publisher alternative. Here’s how it stacks up next to Publisher on a few key issues:

Price - whereas a Publisher license costs about $100, and requires additional payment for each new version, Lucidpress is completely free to educators (non-educational users pay $16/month for comparable features).

Installation and upgrading - Lucidpress runs in a browser, so you never have to download updates. However, it’s only as fast as your Internet connection, whereas Publisher, which must be downloaded, can also run offline.

Ease of use - Lucidpress features an intuitive drag and drop interface, whereas Publisher, while powerful, has a more substantial learning curve.

Templates - While Publisher has many more templates than Lucidpress, most of them are outdated. Each of Lucidpress’s hundred or so templates has been professionally designed to appeal to today’s audience, making this a question of quantity versus quality.

Publication options - Both have a variety of export options, such as PDF and PNG, but Lucidpress also features the ability to publish as a web page with a unique URL and to embed videos in, for instance, a digital newsletter.

Collaboration - while Publisher offers easy sharing options and saves files to the cloud by default, Lucidpress allows for real-time collaboration and chatting, making it perfect for group projects.
How to get started

Getting started is easy with Lucidpress for education. Simply register for a free account using your educational email address, then request the educational upgrade for additional features. With Lucidpress, you can teach lessons that students will never forget.

To learn more, check out Lucidpress on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Jacob Shumway is a content writer for Lucidpress. Having recently studied English at BYU, he appreciates the power of visual communication in education firsthand.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

7 favorite random, creative #Chromebook friendly sites for kids to use when they finish work or need a break! #GAFE #edtech

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Sometimes you have students who finish work early or perhaps need a brain break.  These sites are kid (and teacher!) approved AND chromebook friendly.  They are creative.  They are interesting. They will give your kiddos (and even you!) a little bit of quick fun to break up our hectic days!

P. S. My personal favorites are #1 and #5!  :)
  1. Flabby Physics
  2. This Is Sand
  3. Bomomo
  4. Draw a Stickman
  5. Drum Kit
  6. GeoGuessr
  7. Flappy Code

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Different strokes for different folks ... Different data for different sheets ... How #Google Sheets + IMPORTRANGE function solved a BIG PROBLEM for us! #GAFE

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Soooo, you know how you have those days that are really crummy and hard to survive? WASN'T one of those days!  Today was an AMAZING day!  Today, after hours...DAYS...of searching and Tweeting and Googling and testing, I finally solved a solution to a long time problem in our district with the help of GAFE and the IMPORTRANGE function!  YEEHAW!

Here was the problem...

For years our HR Assistant has maintained multiple Excel spreadsheets for multiple departments/groups.  She and the HR Director, of course, have access to the sheet with ALL of the data, including sensitive information like salary.  However, the Technology Department, for example, needs to know who is hired, who is leaving, who is replacing and so forth to collect and issue equipment, but, we don't need to know salaries.  :)

Now, why do we do this?  Because it's what we've always done.  (I know you know that story!)  But with the hiring of a new HR Director comes new questions and new problems and the brainstorming of new solutions.  YEAH!

Here is our solution...

  • We created a new Google Form (in place of our old Personnel Recommendation Form) to be filled out by administrators.
  • The responses sheet from this form is only shared with the HR Assistant and the HR Director.
  • Side note: we set up Autocrat to create and email a printable version of this form to both the Assistant and Director for workflow purposes.
  • In the responses sheet, which really has more info that HR Assistant needs for her workflow, I created a new tab (sheet) for only the info she needs.  I used a function that looks something like this to pull data from the Form Responses tab.   ='Form Responses 1'!AF3
  • Then, I created a totally separate sheet for the Technology Department and used the IMPORTRANGE function to pull ONLY CERTAIN DATA from the HR sheet.  
Now, are we the first people to ever think of this?!  Nope.  Are there 100 other ways to probably do it?!  Yep.  Do I care?!  Nope.  :)  I think this is going to work for us with minimal work and minimal training, which is a win win in my book!

The short video below will give you a visual overview of the process, which probably needs to be tweaked a little and fine-tuned, but I definitely think we're on to something.  :)  All in all ... not a bad day!  If you would like help setting this up or are doing something similar, I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Instructional Technology "Get out of Jail FREE" card ... how are YOU engaging secondary teachers? (Pssst...I need ideas!) #edtech #gafe

Pin It I am beginning to feel like a bit of a failure at my new campus ... the HIGH SCHOOL.  I have worked on just about every campus in this district ranging from PK-6th grade and in years passed I felt as though I was added value to the campus.  This year ... I JUST DON'T KNOW!  Secondary teachers are independent, strong willed, and highly knowledgeable about their content.  THEY'RE A LOT LIKE ME, but I still just can't seem to tap into the sweet spot of sharing and collaborating!

Soooo...the other morning I was getting ready and a Monopoly commercial came on during one of the shows my kids were watching.  I had a brainstorm ... make Instructional Technology Get out of Jail FREE cards and give them to teachers!  Sometimes a tactile, printed piece of paper can be better utilized that a digital form (yep, I said it).  This is what I came up with...

Feel free to make copies of the Google Drawing versions (front and back) if you would like to use these as well.

Do you have ideas / strategies / activities that work well with secondary teachers?  If so, I'd LOVE to hear / read them!  My well is a bit dry and I am in need of some fresh ideas!!!  Many thanks in advance!  :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 is alive and updated! Jan and Feb tips published by @gottasectech and @sutherland60510! #goointheloo

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Just when you thought I had totally dropped the ball on my #GTACHI idea ... Goo in the Loo is back!  :)  I have had some time to get my wits about me and I am ready to go to step 2 of my implementation ... actually POSTING the tips in public places!  (Yes, I know ... only took me 2 years to get here.)  January and February tips are posted on on the Goo Tips tab and are ready for print.  I will begin posting these on the high school campus where I am now stationed and in the Technology Department office.  I am way totally curious to see if anyone mentions the posters.  Not really sure how this will play out, so I figure I'll start small and expand later.

If you'd like to read how Goo in the Loo came to be, you can read my GTACHI (Google Teacher Academy Chicago) Action Plan here.  If you have an amazing Googley tip, PLEASE post here!

I would love to hear if and how you are using Goo in the Loo in your own school, district or community!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

How #GAFE and #Chrome are helping @BrenhamISD stay CIPA compliant by educating students domain-wide with just a few clicks!

Pin It First of all, if you are not familiar with CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act), you can read more about it here.  According to the FCC:
The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was enacted by Congress in 2000 to address concerns about children's access to obscene or harmful content over the Internet. CIPA imposes certain requirements on schools or libraries that receive discounts for Internet access or internal connections through the E-rate program – a program that makes certain communications services and products more affordable for eligible schools and libraries. In early 2001, the FCC issued rules implementing CIPA and provided updates to those rules in 2011.
Because Brenham ISD receives e-Rate money, we must work hard to make sure we are meeting requirements by monitoring and filtering student Internet access and providing education about online safety, cyberbullying, etc.

A few years ago, we started a meme campaign and posted flyers in computer labs, on chromebook carts and in other public places that illustrated cyber safety topics in a way that would appeal to students.  My at-the-time-colleague-now-boss, Kim Strauss, made this one...

However, this became cumbersome as we tried to keep track of all of the locations, switch out flyers, maintain the little plastic sleeves we bought to hold them, etc.  As we were brainstorming in a department meeting, we remembered that you could set startup pages in your Google Apps for Education domain for every user in your domain.

WHAT WHAT?!  Genius.

As we explored this we totally had an AH-HA moment and there were high fives all around when we got it to work.  Here's what we learned and how you can get it to work for you...

To set a startup page in your Google Admin Console/Dashboard (whatever you call it), follow these steps...

Here's what I learned while I was setting all of this up...

  1. There is a little bit of a time commitment to front load this, but after that it's easy peasy.
  2. Use a Google Presentation that is published to the web - it's the easiest way.  (If you need help with that, let me know!)
  3. Inside of your Google Presentation, just insert the .jpg or .png or picture file of your meme.
  4. Every 6 weeks, all I do is go into the Google Presentation and switch out the picture.  Because the startup page is set to that preso, I don't have to do anything else!
  5. OUTSOURCE!  Let students and teachers submit memes!  It's more fun for them and easier on you!
Here's how it looks to your end user...
  • When a GAFE user logs into a Chromebook, a startup page automatically pops up and your Google Presentation slide is displayed.  The user can close that tab and continue with their business.
  • When a GAFE user opens a synced Chrome account (like opens Chrome on their desktop or laptop), the browser will automatically open to your Google Presentation.

See what we're broadcasting live now here!  If you would like to talk about this further or need help setting it up, let me know!  I'd be happy to help you.  This saved us SO MUCH TIME and it's really fun, too!  Work smarter, not harder!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What I saw today in my rear view mirror ... how are you pre-judging your students?!

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Today I was at a stoplight and I happened to look in my rear view mirror.  Behind me was a car that many people might refer to as a "beater" and in the driver's seat was a man who looked to be a mechanic.  He was dressed in a work shirt with a nametag on the pocket, he looked to be a little dirty and his hair was scruffy.  I am embarrassed to admit that I pre-judged him based on the car he drove and his physical appearance.

In the passenger seat was a teenage girl I assume was this man's daughter.  As I watched them, I realized I had grossly misjudged the man in the driver's seat.  During their conversation, he casually put his arm on the back of the passenger seat and said something to the girl and they both laughed.  The scene now revealed what appeared to be a loving father having a wonderful, engaging discussion with his teen daughter.  They looked relaxed and at ease with each other talking and laughing.  I was engrossed in watching them and nearly sat through a green light!

As I drove off, I felt heartbroken that I had made an assumption based on how this person looked on the outside.  I started to wonder how many times we do this as educators.  How many times have we judged a kid the second they walked through the door because of their clothes or their hair or who their parents are or the car they drive or the house they live in?  I challenge you to look beyond the surface and give everyone a fair chance.  You may be surprised what you see in your rear view mirror one day.