Become a Google Apps Ninja

Become a Google Apps Ninja

It looks like word finally broke on Twitter yesterday about a project I’ve been working on for about 5 or 6 weeks at my school. It started as a “I wonder what would happen if….” project and has turned into a pretty awe inspiring, self-motivated, get-out-of-their-way, dare I say fun project.    When I was going through the process of becoming a Google Apps Certified Trainer I was taking the required tests on all the Google Apps. The tests run on Google’s own system and once you press start you have 90 minutes to finish. Google also gives you all the training materials which are public and anyone can learn from. So I did what any cheating student would do. I started the test in one browser and then opened up the training materials in another browser. When I came to a question I didn’t know the answer to I would quickly search for and find it in the training manuals. Basically an open book test. As I continued taking the tests I kept asking myself “What is Google after here?” and then it hit me.  It’s about searching and finding information A big smile came across my face when I realized I had been beat at my own game. I’m constantly preaching that filtering and searching are skills that EVERYONE needs to master in today’s information abundant world and here’s Google putting it into practice.     It makes perfect sense! Google Apps change so rapidly that really the right answer today might not be the right answer tomorrow. So the ability to search and find the right answer is what they are testing. I, as a technology coach/integrater/coordinator (whatever your special name is for the job), do this same thing everyday. People ask me how to do things, I look up the answer. So a big part of being in this role is knowing how to find information when you need it. I then thought what a great way to build a tech team at our school. To find the kids that are geeky/eager enough to go and find the answers they don’t know on their own.     So I set out to create the ISB Google Apps Ninja Training Center. Here’s the idea: Students take a test of 10 questions needing to get 80% of better to “earn” their Ninja Belt Once they get 80% or better on the first test they progress through...

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10 Reasons to Trash Word for Google Docs

A blog post I wrote to High School Students. As I’ve been helping students get going with their gmail accounts and blogs over the past couple of weeks I’ve been joking about the “old school” e-mail systems that some of you still use. Hotmail, Yahoo…and seriously….AOL…come on….. But there is another old school tool that I think has seen its best days behind it. Microsoft Word….oh how we loved you back in the day when you were really the only word processing program we needed. But times are changing and it’s time to move on to new and better tools. Google Docs is a very powerful alternative to Word. Here are 10 reasons to consider using Google Docs the next time you need to do some writing. 1. No more corrupt files Nothing worse than staying up all night to finish an assignment only to quickly drag it to your flash drive and turn up at school with a file that won’t open on a teacher’s computer. With Google Docs access to your file is only a click away and you never have to worry about your file their corrupt. 2. No more corrupt USB Keys Of course if your file is not corrupt then it’s your USB Key that fails you when you need it most. Using Google Docs as an online storage locker means never having to worry about a corrupt or even lost USB key again. Simple download the documents you need when you get to school. With 1GB of space you can store a weeks worth of work easily. 3. .doc .docx who cares! Nothing worse than having a file you can’t open or giving someone a file they can’t open. With Google Docs simply share the link to your file on the Internet. If they have a web browser and an internet connect they can view the document. 4. Work Collaboratively By far the best feature of Google Docs. Work collaboratively with others in your class. Missing a day because of IASAS? No problem! Have a friend take notes in Google Docs during class and simply share the notes with you. Just don’t forget to return the favor. 5. Share and Share a Like Simply create documents to share with team members, club members, or anyone else you need to. No more worrying about the latest versions of the document or how many times you’ve revised. Allowing everyone to work on the same...

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5 Gmail Tips for Teachers

5 Gmail Tips for Teachers

As we move to Google Apps for Education at my school I gave a quick 10 minute talk at a staff meeting on 5 Gmail Tips for Teachers. Here they are: 1. Archive is Your Friend  Getting use to archiving everything is a change. Google wants you, begs you, to archive your e-mails so you can search for them later. No need to keep hundreds…even thousands of e-mails in your inbox. Archive and search later. 2. Learn to Search in Gmail After archive, next you need to learn the search syntax of Gmail. Understanding how to search through your archived mail is a must if you’re going to keep thousands of messages. Good search syntax to know: in: (i.e. in:sent dennis will find you all the e-mails you have sent to someone named dennis) has: (i.e. has:attachment will find you all the e-mails with an attachment) from: (i.e. from:jeff will find you all the e-mails from jeff) to: (i.e. to:john will find you all the e-mails to john) label: (i.e. label:Google Docs will search for the word ‘docs’ in your google label) subject: (i.e. subject:dinner will find all e-mails where the word ‘dinner’ is in the subject line) 3. Use Priority Inbox  We get so many e-mails during the day that using Gmail’s new Priority Inbox can help search out the conversations that are current and e-mails from people you communicate with most often. The other advice I give teachers is to star the e-mails that need a response by the end of the day….and before you leave school archive everything in the “everything else” area. You can always search it later and you’re not going to go back and read them tomorrow as there will be new e-mails waiting for you.   4. Use Chat Gchat that can be found in your Gmail sidebar is a great added feature that I’ve been waiting to hit schools for years. A lot of businesses already use some sort of chat client for quick responses and gchat does just that. Use it to communicate with friends at school, with your department, or with students. Have a running dialog throughout the day and get those conversation based e-mails out of your inbox and into a chat format. Gmail also archives all the chats and if you happen to miss when someone chats you it will send you an e-mail with what they said so you never miss the information. Oh….video chat is...

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Appointment Slots in Google Calendar

A great feature popped up in my Google Apps for Educaiton GCal the other day. I was putting in some meetings and noticed an “Appointment Slots” link in the event window. Not sure how long it’s been out (please somebody tell me it hasn’t been years), but it’s turning out to be a fantastic tool for education. Basically you can “slot out” chunks of time on your calendar to allow others to make appintments with you on your calendar. Once you active Appintment Slots you get a special URL that only shows the slots in your calendar you want to allow people to make an appintment with you.       I’ve already used it when teachers have e-mailed me asking for a time to meet. Instead of 3 or 4 e-mails back and forth to find a common time, I just send them the link to my Appointmnet Slots and they choose a slot that works for them. Saving us both time and e-mails. Update: Today I added it to my signature so it’s always in front of teachers when I e-mail them. I could see this being using for elementary conference times. Teacher’s could share their appointment slots with parents and parents could just sign up in a slot that fits their time. No more slips of paper, no more juggling schudules. Simple and straight forward.  When creating your time slots you can adjust the chucks of time you want your appiointments to be. I break my slots up into 30 minute meeting times. If a teacher wants to meet for longer than 30 minutes they just fill out two appintments back to back.  I’m sure there are a million other uses for this new feature in the classroom and schools at large. What ideas do you...

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Officially a Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer

In May I noticed I was being asked to hold more and more trainings at my own school and around the world on Google Apps as schools make the move to Google Apps for Education (GAFE). It’s simple, cost effective, and just so vaulable of a resource to have school wide that making the argument not to go to GAFE is a tough one.  Seeing I was being asked to do more and more training sessions I thought I better make sure I know what I think I know about the whole Google Apps system. So I signed up, passed, and just became a Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer making me an official trainer and, from what I can tell, maybe the only one working in Asia. So if your school/company is looking for some training in Google Apps know I’m here and officially certified.   That’s it….now back to runninng PD sessions as kids arrive on Monday for the new school year and we have a lot to cover....

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