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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Bring Buzz to Edu Apps

Google Buzz has been out for a while now and has been slowly making its mark on the social-networking scene. As I’ve been investigating Buzz (a.k.a. playing with it…but investigating sounds so much more important!) and how it changes social-networking, it hit me the other day how this might just be the communication tool I’ve been looking for in schools ever sense Twitter came out. I’m hoping that Google brings Buzz to the Education Apps soon. There are a lot of schools (including mine) that are embracing Google Apps and taking a serious look at using the set of tools as the default mail, calendar, contacts, docs application for the school. Doug Johnson has been writing about Google Apps a lot lately and his latest post is a must read if your district is considering the move. I don’t know about your school but at my last two schools the ALL MAILS that get sent around are frustrating to many. Like a lot of schools teachers already get close to 100 e-mails a day and adding a couple ALL MAILS that are someone looking for this book or that supply, someone who lost their keys, or a jacket for a trip to cold weather (OK….this one might be Bangkok specific). You name it, it’s probably come through in an ALL MAIL. There has to be a better way to handle these right? Like many schools ISB created a “Public Folder” that was suppose to be a place for people to post such requests. The problem is nobody goes there unless they know that something new is there to look at, but how do you let people know there is something new…..you got it….you send an ALL MAIL. It’s a frustrating circle that Google Buzz might just solve. Think about having a Buzz type program running at your school. A place that you check off and on to see the “back channel” of your school. The latest social gatherings, the 1st grade teacher looking for Paper Towel tubes for a project. or the high school teacher sending a reminder about the art show. What if the school used Buzz as a social back channel. That was there, but not in your daily inbox. A place to share resources, links, and have conversations as a school community. As excited as I am to see Google Groups get added a couple weeks...

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Building your Tribe and Leading a Community

Yes I’m still all about Seth’s new book Tribes and leading communities. If you want to know what skill is going to be needed in the future. It is going to be someone who understands and has the skill to create and lead a community of people. Someone who can organize and help the community lead themselves. When I approached Wetpaint last January I had to sell them on the idea of what they needed was a leader for their educational community. Someone who understood the needs of educators. Someone who spoke their language, understood their concerns, and who could help them figure out what you do with a wiki once you actually sign up for it. That person of course was me. 🙂 ….or so I hoped it was. Wetpaint took a risk on me and the idea that by creating a community around their product, they were in fact creating a user base for their product. It’s not a new approach. Why does Google give away Google Apps to education, or Microsoft give away $3 copies of Windows XP in China. It’s about growing a user base around your product. Because some day those kids are going to be out of school and what they will know and turn to (you hope) is your product. I approached Wetpaint because I believe they had the best product on the market, and although late to the free wiki for education space they had a product that once used would sell itself. Add to that a community of educational users for support and you have the makings of a great community and web service for educators. In the seven months (5 officially) that I have been working with Wetpaint the communities numbers at the Wikis in Education site have gone from around 200 to 1200+. I wish I could say it was all my doing, but again I believe the service sells itself and with more educators getting on board we would naturally see this increase. What I do think is different those is the supportive community that has formed at the Wikis in Education site. The Discussion Forums have started to fill up not only with questions but also answers from other wiki users. The community is starting to breath on it’s own. I’m there to support, answer questions, talk strategies, and once a month give a tip and...

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