Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fun Tools in Google Docs

When you open a new document in Google Drive, you will see it is set up similarly to a Microsoft Word document.  It will have most of the same bells and whistles you are used to, and some that you will wonder how you completed your work before.

The Research tool allows you to open a search bar with the Drive workspace.  Then you can search for relevant research topics and copy and paste links into your document.
If you would like a more readable link to these
Research tips, click HERE!
Voice Typing
For a more readable version of these
Voice Typing tips, click HERE!

Voice recognition used to be an add-on in docs, but now it is a built-in function.  Note, if you are planning to use it in a noisy setting like a classroom, then using a noise cancelling headset microphone will improve access to the tool.

Google Docs Editor Help provides a few quick reference tips and voice commands.

Add-ons are features in Google Docs that can help you perform task in the document on which you are working.  They will not carryover into a web program like extensions, but can support the reading and writing process.

An Add-On I recently learned about has been available for quite a while: Easy Bib.  Had I known about this a few weeks prior, I would have had a much easier time completing my research project.  

So now that you have a few more tools for your digital tool box, try them out and let me know what you think.  Up next, more apps and extensions as educational and/or assistive technology.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Let's Go Take a [Google] Drive....

I have found a great beginners Google Drive Tutorial posted by Anson Alexander.  Rather than recreate the wheel, I embedded the video. It is close captioned as well.  What I really like is how he goes step by step introducing each part of Drive.    

Some organizational highlights I would reiterate:
1. Name your documents as soon as you start.  Getting into this great organizational habit will help you not end up with a variety of Untitled documents in your Drive.

2. Create folders.  Something he doesn't show you is that you can change the color of the folders.  Though he says he generally doesn't use folders personally, creating folders helps provide a visual sorting system that you can customize to match the colors of a student's color coding system that he or she already uses.  But note, the color features do not carryover to mobile device.   Just right click on the folder icon and select Change Color.

3. Star your frequently used or important documents.  Like favoriting a website, starring a file will allow you to quickly locate a document.

4. Delete things you no longer use or need.  If you Trash an item, it will only stay in the trash for 30 days. So be sure that you no longer need or want it.

Up next, Add Ons, Extensions and Apps- How to customize your experience and differentiate for learners of different abilities.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Why Chrome Might Add Bling To Your Educational Experience...

For over the past year now, I have heard so much hype about incorporating Google Chrome into the educational process.  Now that I have gathered a ton of information, completed some trials and tribulations, I wanted to share what I have learned so you can decide for yourself if Chrome will be your new accessory.

Google Chrome is a web browser.  Just like Safari.  You can download it for free onto your Mac or PC; you can have it automatically as your internet platform on a Chromebook.  You can even download it onto your iOS devices (but I’ll get into usability on a later post).  But the magic occurs when you activate a gmail account.  Once you do that (whether it be a personal account or a google-based education account from a school), it opens up a plethora of supports.

So, I’ll wait while you do that….

Are you done downloading and installing your Chrome Web browser?  If you see a Red, Green, and Yellow donut encircling a blue dot, then you should be good.

Did you create your gmail account?
Good, now you can play.

First thing’s first.  I am going to describe a few basics.

This is your email account.  This is your user account.  This is what is attached to everything you do in Drive, the Chrome Store, Google Classroom and Google Sites.

Google Drive is a web based documentation forum that has a word processing section (Docs), an excel-like program (Sheets), a powerpoint-like program (Slides), and another section (Forms).  You can save documents in the happy cloud land.  And bonus, it saves automatically as you work.

Google Classroom.
If you work or are a student that uses google based accounts, then you may have access to setting up your very own Google Classroom.  This will not work if you do not have an email account ending in .edu.  If you are not sure, ask your local IT guy.

Chrome Web Store.
It’s not the Apple App store; but it is similar.  When you find the colorful 9 block icon that is labeled “Apps” (on my browser, it’s in the upper left hand corner) or just enter in the url, you will now have the ability to attach Apps and Extensions to your gmail user account.  This means, the apps and extensions you download can/will follow up wherever you log into a Chrome browser (except on iOS devices but I’ll get into that in a later post).  Most things are free, especially when it comes to education.

What’s an App?
Just like when you download an app from the Apple Store to your iOS device, an App from the Google Chrome Web Store will bring you to a website and you will be able to complete games or tasks within that app.

What’s the difference with an Extension?
Extensions are tools you can use to customize your user experience in any site you could be on.

Now this is only the beginning.  And I don’t want to blow your mind just yet.  What I do want you to do is play and explore.  Because there is a world of digital opportunity ready for the taking for anyone willing to try. Keep an eye out for upcoming posts and how-to sections to discover how Chrome's apps and extensions can help support different learning styles.