New GAFE Course Begins June 3rd!

Just a quick announcement that I will be running the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) course over the summer for those who are interested in learning more about Google Apps. The second cohort is about a week away from finishing and it has been great to learn with people on this journey into Google Apps. It really is a love/hate relationship. I love all that I learn from people and things they teach me as Google moves so fast. Also I hate it as it makes it hard to keep the content up to date. I’ll be going back and redoing the Google+ videos with the new announcements for sure. You can head over to gafeclass.com and check out the projects from past participants in the course and see how they are using Google Apps in their classroom and what you learn in this 8 weeks online course. Also check out the about page to learn about the pedagogy used in the course. This really is a course that takes advantage of the Internet and living in a connected world. I also allow you to decide what your final project looks like. Giving you as many options as possible and of course I’m always open to your own suggestions. Final Project (50% of overall grade) Well you have made it to the end of the GAFE course now time to put what you have learned into action. There are a couple different options you have for completing your final project. I have outlined them below. If you have an idea that better fits your situation please message me and we’ll talk through it to make sure it fits with the outcome of this course. Option 1 Use Google Apps with your Students/Staff Presentation/Project: You will use Google Apps for Education in your class to enhance the learning experience for students. The outcomes should be student learning focused and age appropriate. You will share the project with the rest of the participants in this course so they can offer feedback and learn from you. You must also “try out” your project with your students and get their feedback on its use. Final Presentation: You will create a video no longer than 10 minutes using Google Presentation, Google Hangout, or YouTube that answers the following questions. What were your goals for your Google Project? What tools did you use? Why did you choose these...

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Social-Networks: Grabbing The Skunk By The Tail

Social-Networks: Grabbing The Skunk By The Tail

A few days ago my friend and fellow blogger Doug Johnson wrote a blog post about social media and feeling overwhelmed  taking aim at my recent blog post about playing with Google+. OK, Utecht, cut it out. I know I should be playing with Google+, but give me a break. I can’t keep up with the social networks I have now.   Of course you can’t! Trying to keep up with social networks is a loosing battle. They move too quickly, change too fast, and most of the stuff shared on them isn’t worth our time….except that it is worth our time (please watch below).  Does every teacher need to be using Google+ today? No. Does every Technology Integrator, or Technology Teacher, or Technology ???? need to be using it today? Yes.  Especially if their school has gone to Google Apps for the students. Soon enough Google+ for K-12 Education will be released and when it does there will be power there to form communities, classes, groups, etc within the ecosystem that is Google Apps.  But what I really want to talk about is Doug’s final question to me in his blog post: Here’s my question: Is the ability to select and discriminate among social networking tools a needed, teachable skill? Or should every tool be used by every teacher? My thought is that when any pundit recommends a new tool, they be required to suggest a tool that is no longer useful.  So, buddy, what is getting less attention from you now that Google+ is getting more attention? I certainly hope it is not Ms Utecht or the Mariners. Great question! Do I think that discriminating among social networking tools is a needed teachable skill? Absolutely! Should every tool be used by every teacher? Nope…but they should be using the ones that fit their discipline.  Why Teaching Social Networking Tools is a Must Let’s start with the fact that today’s students enter our classrooms with some social presence. Whether they have created a Facebook account themselves, or their proud Moms and Dads have created one for them with all the images they have shared on their own Facebook account of their children. Or let’s take the more likely account of some game they play on their iPad in which they had to create a user id and password to play with others.  I’m not going to guess the percentage...

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Why You Should Be Playing with Google+ Now

Why You Should Be Playing with Google+ Now

Google+ reminds me of another social network that started up not so long ago. I remember when I created an account and would talk to people about the service they would shake their head, roll their eyes and then say, “You’re such a geek.” And, at the time they were right. There was nobody using the service except a bunch of geeks. Geeks trying to figure out how to use the service, did it have a place in our network? How did it work? What was the best way to use it? What did it replace and what did it enhance? Us geeks played with this service for four years all by ourselves talking to anyone who would listen about the service and telling people how this was going to change everything. How this service was something new, something cool, and something that everyone should use.  I even went so far as to force participants of the first Learning 2.0 conference to sign up for an account. I still have educators who went to Learning 2.0 in 2007 come up to me and tell me it was at that conference they created their account. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the network I am talking about is Twitter. It wasn’t that long ago that nobody knew what Twitter was how to use it or why you would us it.  Today it is mainstream. Google+ is where Twitter was in 2007. We the users are trying to figure out its best use. We ended up using Twitter in a way that the founders never thought we would. It took people playing with the site, playing with the features, and in the end, we the users defined how it would be use and once that happend it went mainstream. The more I use Google+ the more I like it…..a lot. There’s something there for sure. Exactly what it is I’m not sure yet but I am excited to help define what it is. I find the pages way better than Facebook Pages and of course hangouts….nothing compares. So….if you want to be ahead of the curve start playing with Google+. See where it fits, look at how others are using it. What are people sharing? What are the conversations that seem to be growing? Where is it going to fit?  I have a feeling Google+ is the real deal and...

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GAFE Summit: A Must Attend Event

GAFE Summit: A Must Attend Event

It is day two here in San Jose at the California GAFE (Google Apps For Education) Summit. What a great summit for educators working at schools that have or are about to adopt Google Apps.  Mark Wagner and team have put together a great event. With 70% of the participants new to Google Apps many of the sessions are focused on getting educators started with a sprinkling of real geekiness for those advance users. Of course being just a few miles away from Google Headquarters gives this summit a little extra something special with keynote from Jaime Casap and Dan Russell. The pressure is definitely on for my keynote next weekend at the Great Plains Google Summit.  There’s a couple reasons why I think these events are and will continue to be successful. There are simple things that anyone planning a conference needs to think about. Size Matters: The more conferences I attend the more I am loving conferences that are between 400-600 people. It’s such a great size for discussions, for networking and for sessions. When planning your conference think about the size you want. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. A small group of passionate people can do a lot for the culture of a conference. We could have easily expand the Learning 2.0 conference to be much bigger but that was never our purpose. We want a nice group of passionate people to come and learn from each other. For me these are the ultimate size conferences.  Trained Speakers: Every speaker at the GAFE Summit is either a Google Certified Teacher or a Google Apps Certified Trainer. If you’re going to run a conference around a specific set of tools why not get people who are passionate about those tools to do the sessions? That’s what the Ed Tech Team has done and it has worked out well. Keynotes That Know How to Lecture: See my last blog post. Keynotes go a long way in setting the tone for the day of the conference. If you are going to have a keynote make sure you get a good one. Someone who understands what their job is and is able to make people laugh, cry and motivate them to learn. Or in Dan Russell’s case today, make you realize just how much you still have to learn and then….go learn it.    In the end if you use...

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NinjaProgram.com Launches

 Last week at ISTE12 I officially launched the ninjaprogram.com site. I’m still working on updating it and adding information that people might need to get started. I am excited to finally get the official site launched and make this part of my portfolio of projects I’ll be working on this coming year. I am excited that there are already 220 educators who have asked to have access to the files that make up the Google Apps portion of the program without the official site even launching. If you want more details on exactly what this is I think this blog post does the best of explaining it for now along with the website. The educators who have been involved for awhile have had some good suggestions that I hope to work on in the coming months. First up will be to update the Google Apps tests that we already have made as there have been a lot of changes to Google Apps just in the past week. Next I have had some requests to make these tests available in other languages….Spanish in particular so hopefully I can get some Spanish speakers out there to help me with this when the time comes and I have already had a couple volunteers as well….good stuff.  You’ll notice that the program in the Ninja Program and the future is to not just focus on Google Apps but to be able to make other tests that students can take to become ninja masters. A great way to build skills around programs that schools are using with students and a fun badge based system to motive them.  I’m also in the process of setting up a store where schools and educators can purchase swag. I have got all the buttons made for the different belts that students can earn and am now working on stickers, t-shirts, and anything else that educators want to help promote the program at their school.  A big thank you to Adam Bernard who created the new ninja logos and badges for the program. He was great to work with and I found his fees to be very competitive. If you are looking for some design work I would highly recommend him. So head on over to the new ninjaprogram.com site and check it out. Give me some feedback, join the program and spread the word. ...

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