Google-Apps-Logo.pngJust 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

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 tools for this/these task(s)?
  • How did you go about introducing your project to the students?
  • How did the students react?
  • Outcome? Did you meet your goals?
  • Evidence of student learning?
  • What would you do differently next time? What did you learn?
  • How do you plan to share this with your school colleagues?
  • What was your greatest learning in this course?

Option 2 Update or create a video for the GAFE Course

Similar to option 1 except your audience would be other people taking the GAFE course and the public at large. You would create a video similar to the ones I created except adding your own learning and showing examples of how you have used that specific tool/topic with students/staff in a learning environment.


Option 3 Complete the application for the Google Certified Trainer Program

Sign up and take the test and complete the application for the Google Certified Trainer Program



Option 4 Taking on the Google Ninja Program

Help me by creating content and setting up a very similar system to this for the Ninjaprogram.com website so students around the world can become google ninjas. It would mean creating study materials or pointing kids in the direction of resources, coming up with activities, and maybe even making a video or two.

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 Google Apps or if your school uses Google Apps or if you are an administrator at a school who uses Google Apps. This is a must attend event for you or some of your teachers. You can check out the GAFEsummit.com website for up and coming summits near you or if there is nothing in your neighbors have your school host one. I for one am looking forward to hopefully attending more summits in the future. When you are surrounded by passionate educators you can’t help but learn something!

(Blogged on a ChromeBook…more on this fun device later!)

Ninja Program

 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. 


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 the Ninja Belts until they reach Ninja Master
    • White Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt, Ninja Master – Total 40 questions
    • Each time a student earns a belt I will send them a widget of that belt they can put on their blog
    • Each time a student earns a belt they can come get a button from me to wear around school
    • Once a student has become a Ninja Master in all 5 areas I’ll give them a shirt hence making them an official student tech team member
  • If students don’t get 80% or better they can simply study and retake the test as many times as they would like.

Next I started creating the tests in Google Forms and embedding them into the site. Once students have taken the test I install the Flubaroo script which grades the tests for me and e-mails the students their scores. Next those students who earned 80% of better get added to a sheet that is displayed on the front of the site so they know and others know who’s taking the tests and where they are in their Ninja training.

Now….how to get this out to kids? We don’t have tech classes, this isn’t a school initiative, there is no buy-in from teachers or admin. This is me….doing what I always do…creating stuff and figuring out the details later and ask for permission last. 🙂

Every middle school and high school student goes to our Moodle at some point in the day so why not start there? I put a message on the front page of our Moodle site that simply read “Do you want to become a Google Apps Ninja?”


That was 5 weeks ago and needless to say I can’t keep up creating and grading the tests. We’ve had 125 students attempt the tests at this point which blew my mind. Then I shared the site at a staff meeting and next thing I know I have teachers taking the tests. We started running parent trainings a couple weeks ago and now parents are taking the tests.

Parents and teachers are motivated to learn because they want the skills…I get that. But what about students? Why are students taking their free time to take a test? Really…is the little widget on your blog that cool? Our the little button you get to wear around school? So I asked a couple kids why they were taking the tests.

“It’s kind of fun.” 

What? Taking a test is fun? Since when? So I asked them how they take the test. Love this student’s response:

“I take the test the first time without looking at the study materials just to see what I know. Then if I don’t pass, the e-mail tells me which questions I got wrong so I can go find the answer or play around with my calendar until I figure it out.”


Or how about this kid:

“I watch a couple of the Youtube videos, maybe 5 to 10 minutes worth and then take the test. It’s pretty easy.”

Let’s see here…they have complete autonomy over how they learn and the timeline to complete it. They have a purpose to learn something new and they can work towards mastery.

Autonomy, Purpose, Mastery….haven’t I seen that somewhere before?  

Released under Creative Commons 3.0 License


Now comes the good news. I am releasing all the work (most importantly the tests) under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License so that any school can take them and use them with their own students and staff. 

All I ask in return is that you share with the community and help keep all the tests updated….actually that’s the hard part. As Google Apps changes keeping the tests updated will become important and I need/want all the help I can get. I need a community!

I have everything you need to get started in a collection in Google Docs please fill out this form and I’ll add you to the growing list of educators helping out and using the tests with their own students and faculty.

Images: I contacted Google about using the Ninja images. Google’s response was that they own the images and that they could be used as part of Google Apps Training but that they hold the copyright to the images. SWEET!

Features Image: By brunkfordbraun

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 document at the same time can increase productivity and save you time.

Google Docs

6. Export to PDF or Word no problem

Still need to hand in the Word or PDF version? Not a problem File – Download As allows you to download Google Docs in a variety of formates.

7. Make it Public

Proud of a piece of work that you want to put on your blog or share with the world? With a couple simple clicks turn any document or presentation into a viewable web page. If you can click you can publish.

8. Work from any computer with Internet access

Never worry about leaving your USB or computer at home again. Any computer, or mobile device for that matter can access your files. From an iPad to a Blackberry it might not be the best view in the world but you can still see your documents.

9. Work on the Go

If you have the Chrome browser installed (and if you don’t you should) install these apps to allow you to work on the go. Turn your bus time into work time.

10. Because it’s the future

We’re headed into a fully web-based world. Even Microsoft is working to make Word fully online in a few years…see I told you they were old school. Get a jump on the future and get use to working on the web now so you’re not playing catch up later.

Those are my 10 reasons….what would you add to the list?

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

Archive 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

Search GmailAfter 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

ChatGchat 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 great too if you are lazy and don’t want to walk to talk to someone else face to face. 🙂

5. Canned Responses

 Canned responses are a must for teachers! Turn on this feature in labs and use it to create canned responses to parents or to students. It can also be used to create multiple signatures that you can quickly add to message. So now you can have a e-mail signature for parents, students and co-workers.

Here’s a PDF of how to get Canned Responses working

What tips would you add to the list for teachers?

Appointment Slots new to GcalA 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.

Appointment Slot URL




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. 

Set the appointment lengthWhen 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 have?

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. :)