Google I/O Reflection

Google I/O Reflection

Now I have admitted before that I am a google fan boy. I love Google, I love their products, I love the way they take risks in development, I love the future they are trying to make a reality. So it should be no surprise that on Wednesday I prepared myself for the 3 hour Keynote that kicked off Google I/O Developers Conference this year. The conference has now ended and it is time to write my own reflection on the event and how I think this all relates to education. Let’s start with the educational announcements: Facts from the above video: Google Apps 25 Million educational users all around the world In the US, 74 of the top 100 Universities use Google Apps and 7 of the 8 Ivy League Universities use Google Apps. Love that they released these figures as just two weeks ago I had an IT Director tell me students still needed to know how to use Word as that was the standard. According to Google itself over 5 million businesses use Google Apps. What this tells me is platform no longer should be the focus. Wordprocessing the skill should be. It’s Google’s Job to Fix It Now I understand that this is Google trying to sell a product. But really isn’t that exactly what we hear educational institutions say? If only it was easier, faster and of course cheaper. What I love is Google is taking on those challenges and is continuing to try and knock down the barriers of technology in the classroom. At some point educational institutions will run out of reasons not to fully integrate technology. The only reason that will be left is fear….and fear is no way to run a school. Google Play Store for Education Two things here that make this a game changer: 1) The easy of use to volume purchase an app for a school/district or classroom. 2) No syncing of devices or management needed. The next time the device connects to wifi the new app, books or the video is instantly downloaded to the device. This is HUGE and those of you who are in charge of managing iPads in schools know just how huge this is. No need to sync, no need for one computer to manage all the iPads. Just buy and done. WOW! Of coures this is a direct shot at the iPad. The question...

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I Might Never Use A Paper Map Again

I Might Never Use A Paper Map Again

In the middle of completing my month long work/vacation tour of Europe and Asia (as I sit on a plane on my way to Doha), I keep reflecting on the experience that has been these past couple weeks hopping around from London, to Amsterdam, to Switzerland and Ireland and never relying on a paper map. I didn’t have data on my phone, but what I did have was the ability to download Google Maps to use offline. It is a feature that came to Android last June. After experiencing using the offline maps the past couple of weeks, I really think the paper map’s days are numbered. Why my digital map beats your paper map Constantly Updated: Let’s start with the fact that the map that we had in our guide book was two years old. Two years, it seems, in Ireland is a long enough time for roads to be built as we found ourselves on roads that didn’t exist on the paper map we had. Where Am I Now: By far the most useful feature is the ability to know exactly where you are. GPS works all over the world and by turning on my GPS and loading the offline maps we knew exactly where we were on the bus, on the subway, on the running trail or on the street. We were able to plot our route with precision instead of “I think we’re somewhere around here.” Ability to explore and get lost with confidence: What the GPS mentioned above allowed us to do was to explore with confidence. I was able to mark our B&B as a favorite on the map and then off we went. Walked around Amsterdam and when it was time to return home, pull out the map find where we were and plot a route home. Ability to expand and zoom: Your paper map can’t do this which is why you travel with a couple different ones. But on my phone the downloaded Google Map allowed me to zoom all the way in and all the way out to the point I downloaded the map from. Allowing me to see exactly where we were in the larger picture of the city. Ease of carry and no folding: Let’s face it, folding maps is never easy…..in fact I always used to see it as a traveling challenge that I had to solve....

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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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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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