Nothing like having a front row seat on the Google Phishing scam that hit Texas school districts (not to mention lots of other folks) today!
Wait, you didn’t know your favorite cloud service was down? While many of us rely on a negative experience to clue us in that our beloved cloud service is down, there are other approaches we can take to find out.
Approach #1 – Negative Experience
I experienced this firsthand today, as I was attending the Internet of Things (IoT) Action with Microsoft (follow the hashtag at #iotinactionms) and trying to save my audio recordings to OneDrive. I found wondering, “Who else is suffering this?”
Approach #2 – Internet Search Engine
Not surprisingly, a two second internet search on your favorite engine may get you some information. For example, I stumbled on my OneDrive outage pretty quickly!
DownDetector tracks more than just Microsoft, though. You can see their complete list here and may be much more effective tool to use than just doing an internet search. Some of my favorites include Amazon, Apple App Store, Blogger (perish the thought that my blog platform would suffer an outage!), Facebook, Apple Facetime and many more!
Approach #3 – Twitter Commiseration
One of the quickest searches you can do is to simply tweet at your solution partner and see if they have shared any bad news. For many vendors, we may not know who to contact. But, if you know, then it’s definitely worth reaching out. For example, here’s the response my tweet received:
As you can see, OneNoteEDU not only let me know there was a problem, they provided a link to a better source of information! Remember, when there is an outage, it isn’t about yelling and screaming, only an effort to find out what’s going on. You can see I avoided legendary twitter complaint type. My intent and goal was to share my sorrow at being unable to access MONTHS of OneNote notebooks I host on OneDrive…and which aren’t backed up anywhere. A loss of those notebooks would be catastrophic.
Approach #4 – Status Dashboards
No matter what service you are using, I suspect that somewhere, somehow, there’s a place where you can go check on the status. For example, check out these dashboards (click vendor names to view dashboards) from Microsoft and Google Suites, respectively.
|View dashboard | Office 365 admins can login to see more|
What approach would you take? I hope these 4 approaches will work for you and save you some time and effort when your favorite service encounters an error. In the meantime, I was unable to access OneNote Notebooks during the outage (which appears to have ended as I was writing this blog entry), which affects the following notebooks that are widely shared:
- TCEA Connect! – features all my resources for my work with TCEA.org, a veritable treasure trove for educators!
- Technology Leadership Summit 2016 – This contains all the resources for the TCEA 2016 Leadership Summit held December 9, 2016. I’m looking forward to sharing the 2017 Summit resources (sign up for the May 12th Summit on Internet of Things)
- Lots more.
- TCEAMEE – This is my Minecraft OneNote notebook. Fortunately, this one is up!
- MGFolio – This is my ePortfolio,which I decided to put into OneNote because the new Google Sites wasn’t quite up to snuff, and the migration tool (to migrate my old Google Sites ePortfolio) was not yet available. I have to admit that I really like OneNote as an ePortfolio tool.
Yay, all’s well that ends well! All my sites are back up again!
MEME INVITATION: Here’s an invitation. Use this template in Google Draw (or make your own, like these Growth Mindset Cats by Laura Gibbs) to make your own Power of…YET poster each day this week, reflecting on YOUR own fixed mindsets. Then share that on your blog or via twitter/Instagram (tag it #yetpower) and post it in the comments. Won’t that be fun?
I had a bit of fun reflecting on Google Educator Level 2 experience I had in December and came up with this Power of YET! to capture some of the topics I recall and pulled from the sample exam questions….It’s also fun to make one of these because you have to ask yourself, “What is that I don’t know about yet?” Yes, this is pretty low-level how-to, but it could be fun to also use this as a way to get folks thinking about what they don’t know how to do yet.
Dealing with how-to is pretty great because it’s low stress…for most folks. “I don’t know how to do something so how can I learn how?” The answer is easy for how-to questions; watch YouTube. For deeper issues (e.g. biases, mindsets that are based on emotions/feelings rather than facts and information), Power of YET becomes a lot more controversial. Making your own Power of YET that inventories those internal biases can be tough.
Of course, it’s tougher if someone else inventories your biases for you! Better to do your own.
- YouTube Annotations:
“Jennifer,” said Superintendent Charlie, “I’m so grateful that you recorded that staff development presentation at Central Office and put it on YouTube. I know that there are several key components in the video that folks may want to jump to rather than sit through the long introduction I gave.”
“Would it help if we added a hyperlinked table of contents to the front of the video?” Jennifer asked with a smile.
“Yes,” said Charlie. “Gotta run! Let me know when it’s there so I can mention it…maybe even at the district gathering!”
“Yes, sir,” replied Jennifer. Then she sighed. “How am I going to add hyperlinks to a Youtube video? Where is a Google Educator Level 2 Certified person when you need one?”
- Google Scholar:
“Today, class,” said Ms. Rosen, “we’re going to be conducting research on immigration.”
“Are we going to build a wall?” asked Nezio.
“No, no,” she said without inflection. “Colonial immigration patterns played a key role in the short immigration video we’re watching later today. What is a tool that we’ve used recently to get information on immigration trends in colonial times?”
“Google Scholar?” inquired Arminda.
“Yes, exactly. Let’s take a moment and use Scholar to research laws during colonial times. Use your Big6 organizer.”
- Google Tour Builder:
Take a moment to read this blog entry on Google Research and Tour Builder. Explore Google Tour Builder and build a virtual tour of your own family’s migration patterns in the U.S. to the best of your knowledge. This can include cross-country moves and involve any scope of time (e.g. ancestors or just your life if you’ve moved a lot). Be sure to include a picture/video and text for each.
- Achieve Inbox Zero:
You are getting tons of email from work colleagues. That’s not so bad, but you’re losing track of the “important” emails from your supervisor and grade level team. Investigate how Google Labels, filters and/or Groups could be used to better manage your incoming email. Create a short how-to screencast demonstrating how you’ve sorted your inbox with labels for Dr. Jackson, Mr. Green, and a Google Group for your grade level.
Note: This blog entry originally published by TCEA TechNotes blog. Read other awesome blog entries by the TCEA team online at www.tcea.org/blog
Practical Uses of Forms in K-12 Schools
|Web link||View Microsoft Forms||View Google Forms|
|Account required||Free Office 365 account or School Office 365 account||Personal Google account or Google Suites for Education account|
|Multiple question types||Includes:||Includes:|
|Embed media such as videos/images|
|Add subtitle description||Yes||Yes^|
|Option to shuffle responses||Yes||Yes for any questions containing multiple responses^|
|Add question to quiz computation||Yes, add any question to a quiz||Yes, create a self-grading quiz|
|Add other option to available responses||Yes||Yes|
|Organize form elements in sections||No||Yes|
|Adjust theme to reflect color of choice or available background image||Yes||Yes, and includes option to insert one’s own image|
|Preview form using built-in desktop or mobile||Yes||No, but features responsive web design|
|Re-order questions at any time||Yes, with up/down arrows||Yes, drag-and-drop|
|Delete or trash question||Yes||Yes|
|Organize question into multiple pages||No||Yes, insert page breaks after questions|
|Branching responses||Yes, dependent upon response chosen||Yes, with the ability to send to a different page.|
|Share form online||Yes, includes the following:||Yes, includes the following:|
|Tracking form completion||Yes, tracking is possible if user is required to login to access the form||Yes, tracking is possible if user is required to login to access the form|
|Export results as a spreadsheet||Yes, results can be exported to Excel sheet (and other formats from there) and saved for further analysis or placed online||Yes, results can be exported in various formats|
|Form data at rest can be interacted with (Google Sheets tab is similar to an Excel Workbook sheet)||No, form data can be printed or deleted but not create a live workbook sheet that can be used, interacted with on another sheet||Yes, form data on one Google Sheets tab can be linked and interacted with another tab|
|Set start and end dates at specific times for when the form is open or closed for access||Yes, by date and time||No, form must be manually shut down to stop receiving responses. FormLimiter add-on can be enabled, however^.|
|When form is NOT accepting responses, create a custom message as to why||Yes||Yes^|
|Handling of individual or summary responses||Yes, options to form creator include viewing, deleting, printing individual and/or summary responses. In summary view, responses are aggregated and appear with graphs when appropriate.||Yes, options include viewing of individual and summary responses. Summary view includes aggregate results with graphs. Removing individual responses may require accessing the Google Sheet where Form responses are archived.|
|View average completion time for the form||Yes||No|
Update 01/26/2017: Microsoft Forms Enhancements
Note: This blog entry originally published by TCEA TechNotes blog. Read other awesome blog entries by the TCEA team online at www.tcea.org/blog
Chromebooks for Students
There are a million uses for teleprompters in every and any situation you can think of. In fact, if I could, I’d have a teleprompter every time I spoke to a large group. It’s quite reassuring to know what to say, when.
No doubt, you can think of lots of teleprompter uses in the classroom. Of course, using teleprompters shown above is crazy. What could you use instead? An inexpensive Chromebook and a free add-on perhaps.
The goal of this quick post is merely to point out two available Chrome add-ons you can use. Each includes a short description from the Chrome Store:
Adjustable automatic page scrolling with mouse and keyboard shortcuts.
It’s easy to use this extension to automatically scroll any page while you read your favorite articles.
A few great features in this chrome extension:
✓ Adjustable min/max and initial scroll speed through options.
✓ Both the use of mouse and keyboard to control the scrolling.
✓ Change scroll direction with both the keyboard and mouse wheel.
✓ Toggle scrolling with a quick double click.
✓ Auto scroll start on page loads.
Simple, free teleprompter. Paste text into editor window, and click “Start Presenting”.
Drink the Kool-Aid!
Solving Learning Challenges
When I started working at my new position at a non-profit education organization on March 21, 2016, I had no idea how I would be handling a fresh challenge–providing professional learning about Microsoft products. The team had its Google advocates, but the position that I was filling as a Director of Professional Development, well, that was meant to fulfill the partnership that the organization had with Microsoft (not that Google or Apple were excluded).
In fact, some people came up to me in workshops just this month. “Miguel,” said one young educator, “I read your Around the Corner blog. I know you write about GNU/Linux a lot, so I was surprised to see your support of Microsoft products.” I laughed at this observation that I’ve often made over the last few months. Yet, I discovered a path forward that allowed me to reconcile differing perspectives. As someone who seeks balance (hey, I’ve been labeled a Libra and grew up seeing the “scales” as my personal symbol without embracing astrology). May I share it with you?
“The journey that I have undertaken, meeting people from all walks of life and learning from them, has been my biggest achievement.” -Aamir Khan
#1 – Give voice to the Community.
Early on, a participant at a Microsoft workshop said to me, “We have been waiting for so long for someone to support us.” I documented this story in a blog entry that was published here and described it in this way:
“We are longing for a community,” said a session participant. “Most of us have adopted Office 365 tools, but we don’t see ourselves in the numerous edcamps and workshops offered. Each of us is struggling to connect.” As instructional coach and author of The Art of Coaching Elena Aguilar says, “With a powerful community I can do so much more. I am happier. I learn and expand and, possibly, I can transform.” The 5 strategies below seek to answer the challenge of community building. Read Build a Community
I detailed this journey in a Skypechat that I gave to Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIE) Trainers. Wow, that’s a LOT of people to connect with and I’m grateful to RH for making it possible.
I realized that our (e.g. bloggers, instructional tech specialists, edtech pundits) fanatical focus on Google Suites, via edcamps/unconferences, being buried in tweets, blog entries, books, articles, how-to videos has left an entire community of educators in the dark. Sure, there are TONS of folks using Google Suites. But there are also lots of folks using Microsoft tools and they have no interest in switching to Google Suites.
No one had stepped up to connect all the wisdom and expertise that this Microsoft-focused community had. So, there was an opportunity to reach people and amplify their voices. And, doing that has been such a rewarding journey! I can’t tell you how much fun it has been to chat with educators who have chosen to embrace Microsoft tools (whether by choice or district mandate) to make a difference in their classrooms and offices. Passion excites, no matter how it expresses itself.
Did you know? I had the opportunity to work with 369+ educators during the 2016 calendar year, exploring Microsoft solutions face to face! Isn’t that incredible? Obviously, I also worked with about 50-60 folks earning Google certifications.
And, there’s been fun in tapping into the cognitive dissonance between these two perspectives. Use one idea to ask, “How would doing this in Microsoft look like?” You can read one example in my Classroom Smackdown blog entry. Often, reading how to do something in one system inspires me to discover how it may be done in another. What fun!
#2 – Connect with a global community of educators.
In addition to building a Texas-wide community of educators, I have been awed by the global community of genuine, authentic educators excited about enhancing teaching, learning and leading with Microsoft tools. I remember my amazement when joining the various Facebook groups in support of Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIE) and thinking, “Wow, these folks are very committed to ‘hacking education.’ That is, they were as passionate about bringing about change as those in the Google camp. And that’s really great!”
“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.” – Izaak Walton.
I can and do interact with people around the nation and the world every day. It has been incredible. And, the Microsoft Education Community–offering tons of professional learning in video format, badges and online certificates, empowering trainers to easily track professional development–has been fun to explore and grow into. At every turn, I have found Microsoft team members who extended their knowledge and expertise to provide assistance. Instead of an impersonal web site, there are many smiling faces willing to reach out and help.
“Friends are as companions on a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life.” -Pythagoras
#3 – Warm Welcome.
What a warm welcome I’ve received since I began my journey in March. Sure, I had to learn a lot (earning Microsoft Certified Trainer, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, and Minecraft Certified Trainer) in a short time but it’s been phenomenal to be able to provide support to folks who didn’t see themselves in the flurry of professional learning opportunities available in Texas. Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve enjoyed a warm welcome. And, in the meantime, I’ve also picked up my Google Educator Level 1 and Google Administrator certification. I’ve learned (again) that technology skills and ecosystems are additive, not subtractive.
For fellow bilingual educators, I need not explain that some detractors refer to learning a second language as a process that must diminish the first. Or to be inaccurate, I added Microsoft and my expertise in Google was diminished. Jim Cummins’ theory is described in this way:
Cummins draws the distinction between additive bilingualism in which the first language continues to be developed and the first culture to be valued while the second language is added; and subtractive bilingualism in which the second language is added at the expense of the first language and culture, which diminish…. (Read Source)
This isn’t true. I love the fact that adding a language, adding technology tools and ecosystems allows one to develop greater expertise and deepens the relationships one has with others.
What is Technological Relativity?
The possibility that access to different technological capabilities could result in differences in thought patterns. (Source)
#4 – On the Shoulders of Giants.
As a bilingual person, I often find myself switching between languages, looking for the right way to express an idea in my head. When I’m chatting with a fellow dual language learner, what’s incredible is that the right phrase in Spanish or English can capture a different nuance of meaning that appears non-existent in one language.
The language I use impacts my perceptions and thoughts about a particular situation or action. This is known as linguistic relativity, which I was introduced to many years ago as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis:
The principle of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects its speakers’ world view or cognition. Popularly known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism, the principle is often defined to include two versions. The strong version says that language determines thought, and that linguistic categories limit and determine cognitive categories, whereas the weak version says that linguistic categories and usage only influence thought and decisions. (Source)
By embracing Apple, Google and Microsoft, learning the way these seemingly opposing systems focus my learning and reflections from my experiences, not unlike the triangle magnifying glass shown above, is exciting. I’m really looking forward to sharing an unpublished blog entry with you, entitled, Dystopian Learning with Apple, Google and Microsoft.
Our brains get more efficient as we do things. Our brain function improves as we learn something, then move onto the next. If we dwell on the same activity then our cortical energy decreases as our brain gets more efficient (Source: 5 Ways to Maximize Your Cognitive Potential).
It explores solving the same problem from different technology worldviews (e.g. Apple, Google, Microsoft). This kind of technological flexibility is fun to cultivate and keeps me learning new things.
“Every single journey that I’ve embarked on, I’ve learned something new.” -Shailene Woodley
As I reflect on my experiences with these technological companions, I wonder what’s in store next.
I had a lot of fun making these flyers using Powerpoint. It was the first time I’d ever used Powerpoint to create flyers, believe it or not!
Note: These were published as a series of blog entries at TCEA.org Technotes Blog! TCEA.org is a non-profit education organization. Check it out at http://www.tcea.org/blog. In the interests of full disclosure, Miguel Guhlin serves as a Director of Professional Development; find out more about his work at http://ly.tcea.org/connect.
3D Printers for Home
Looking for 3D Printing Designs and Tools?
3D Printable Ornaments
- Free Office 365 Account: Students and teachers get the online versions of Office plus 1TB online storage for free! Get it at http://office.com/teachers
- Office Mix: You can add Office Mix to Powerpoint 2016 to create screencasts, video, narrated slide shows, and more! Get it at http://mix.office.com
- Office Lens: Get this document scanner and whiteboard capture tool! You can save to PDF, Mail, Photo Library, as well as Immersive Reader, OneNote, and Office apps. Get it via your mobile device in the iOS App store, Google Play Store, or Windows Store.
- OneNote: A fantastic app for keeping track of every day notes, collaborative lesson planning, and online notebooks. Add OneNote 2016 and Immersive Reader to reach various populations of students! Get it at http://onenote.com
- Sway: A joy to use, Microsoft Sway presents an alternative presentation and storytelling tool. Use any mobile device to create web-friendly, simple yet powerful content for others. Get started at http://sway.com
- Touch Develop: Combined with the Creative Coding through Games and Apps (CCGA) curriculum, create engaging apps that work on any device. Get started at http://ly.tcea.org/ccga
- Microsoft Selfie: For your iOS device, this app makes taking beautiful images possible with automatic touchup features. Get it at http://ly.tcea.org/iosselfie
- Docs.com: Create Sway powered web pages, share Office365 documents, and more with others. Get started at http://docs.com
- Translator: Overcome the language barrier. Use your camera, voice, or keyboard to translate on-the-go, even without an Internet connection. Get it in the iOS, Android or Windows Store.
- OneNote Web Clipper: Clip web page content and save it directly to your OneNote Notebook using Clipper. Get it online at https://www.onenote.com/clipper
- Snip: Why just show when you can show-and-tell? Share your idea in 3 easy steps or less! Get it at http://mix.office.com/snip
- Fresh Paint: Create anything–original artwork, turn photos into beautiful paintings, and more! Get it in the Windows Store.
Note: This is an article I wrote for publication for TCEA TechNotes.
Tool #1 – Google Scholar
Sample Search: Immigration Reform
Tool #2 – Google Tour Builder
Every day, schools struggle to select the right technology to institutionalize in their environments. Limited resources (e.g. staff, funding, time) prevent adopting ALL technologies. And, what’s worse, each company (e.g. Apple, Google, Microsoft) is working to improve their hold on their respective markets. After all, their goal is to be the top predator in their area. Winner takes all, “here can be only one” kind of fight.
Over the last 6 months, I’ve had the chance to hear similar questions to the one that appears below:
My school currently uses O365 which includes OneNote and OneDrive, but is thinking about moving to GSuite… I can see the clash between the two systems being email – would you use Outlook or Gmail? As the email account forms the basis of both systems, can these work together in some way or do they not play nice together at all? If you have to choose one or the other as your school email platform, does that rule out using the other system entirely? Any tips and advice (even if it is “we tried this and it doesn’t work”) would be greatly appreciated.
This is a challenge that many school districts face. When you add technology equipment to the mix, you are facing an expensive problem. What a great chance to have a chat about your school district’s values.
In my role as a technology consultant, I have the opportunity to work with various school districts. Some have chosen one solution over another and moved forward. Others remain paralyzed, leaving the end user the choice of what system to use in the classroom. The classroom teacher must answer the question, “Should I use Apple iPad, Google Suites or Office 365?” And, they have to do this in the midst of a turbulent school climate which may not even support technology use except as an unsupported mandate. “Make it work IF YOU can.”
While self-selecting technology remains a key skill for all learners, this isn’t a question of choosing the right device. Rather, it’s about putting into place background processes (e.g. Single Sign-On) that make using complex, inter-related systems work in an effective, consistent manner. Unfortunately, vacillating between multiple solutions makes each unusable. One example involves automated account management and creation for “Classroom” solutions.
My suggestions include aligning equipment purchases (and existing equipment) to a particular system. If you have Surface Pro tablets, want all your students to take advantage of OneNote, then it’s a no-brainer to jump into the Microsoft world. If you’re 1 to 1 iPads, then chances are, you are going to be buying Macs for folks and creating online content with iBooks Author and iOS apps. If you’re Chromebook heavy, then Google Suites is where you should be headed.
While you can certainly take advantage of some devices in each system, you can’t forget that the vendors are fighting to lock you into their world. Forget this at your peril. What works on one day, may not the next.
Pick the one you would like to be locked in and provides your learners, K-Adult, the most options, aligns to your technology, and stakeholders can support. Anything else is an exercise in frustration for all and a waste of precious funding.
Note: This blog entry originally published at TCEA’s TechNotes blog.
Best Practice #1 – Establish procedures before issuing Chromebooks.
Best Practice #2 – Teach Chromebook basics along with digital citizenship.
Best Practice #3 – Promote collaboration.
Note: This blog entry originally appeared in TCEA TechNotes award-winning blog at http://www.tcea.org/blog
What Is Flipped Learning?
Overcoming Technical Obstacles
Listen to Practitioners
Flipped Learning Tools
Be sure to check out my latest blog entry at TCEA’s TechNotes:
|TCEA’s TechNotes blog has a new look! Check it out! www.tcea.org/blog|
Here’s the start of the blog entry:
“High-quality OER (Open Education Resources) can save teachers significant time and effort,” points out this article at Edutopia, “on resource development and advance student learning inside and outside the classroom. Further, open sharing of resources has the potential to fuel collaboration, encourage the improvement of available materials, and aid in the dissemination of best practices.” Given that OER is increasingly available in education space, representing various “big players” like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft’s OpenEd.com, it’s worth taking a look at new offerings in this space.
What will these services mean for school districts and teachers? And, more important questions linger, such as, “Should teachers and school districts be trying to create their own content when so much is available online already? If not, who curates OER content?”
Let’s explore three current and future sources of open educational resources
Problem: I work at a school where YouTube is blocked. Anyone know how to embed a non-YouTube video (or HTML) in Slides?
I don’t know of any way to embed a non-Youtube video in Slides.
- Take a picture of the video hosted in Google Drive (which shouldn’t be blocked since it’s GoogleApps and you have unlimited storage), then paste the image on the slide
- Link the image to the view screen, then you can
- Click on it during the presentation. Be aware of the note to get it to autoplay.
Earlier this year, I moved my domain (mguhlin.org) from GoDaddy to Tierra.net, my favorite domain registrar. The experience was marked by an hour of hair-pulling, keeping a tight handle on my temper, and wondering, why the heck couldn’t this process be easier? Of course, the real problem is that help is scattered across multiple Google Support pages–think of that cheerfully helpful neighbor that is maddening because he offers advice that isn’t specific to your problem or who buries it in a pile of helpful suggestions, and you’ll know the frustration I refer to–and it’s not obvious. And, it differs for different domain registrars.
If you are the person who signed up your business for Google Apps that makes you the Google Apps Administrator. You need to verify that you own your business domain, such as your-business.com, before you can use Google Apps services, including Gmail. This ensures that no one else can use services or send email that appears to come from your business. Verifying your domain is the first step to setting up Google Apps for your business.
Google Sites needed to VERIFY that my new domain name–www.tceamg.org–is one that I own.
As you can see, the image above shows what success looks like. To get there, I had to modify the TXT entry on Tierra.net account. Here are the steps I followed:
My Approach to the Solution
Step 1 – Get verification code from Google by adding the TXT record by first going to this site, but replacing the mywebsiteaddress with your’s (www.supermanflies.net):
This is what that looks like:
Copy and paste the TXT record (google-site-verification=longstringofvalues) then go to your domain registrar:
Shout Out: I’d like to thank Virgil Kirk for knocking his head against the screen trying to figure this out as well yesterday. He and I spent about 20 minutes on it yesterday, and I’d say I spent about 2 hours on it. Never again! I hope these notes will save time.
“Miguel,” asked an administrator colleague at a school district, “How do I save my emails in GoogleApps forever? I was told they disappear forever after 30 days or something. Is that true?”
The question is one that will occur to any administrator who has had to deal with discovery or open records request on short notice. While many school districts take advantage of email archiving solutions like Google Vault (available at no cost for GoogleApps for Education districts) or DataCove-type options, individual admins may be a little nervous about what’s archived. “Did the email archiving system get it all?”
Without what often involves superintendent approval–if not Human Resources Superintendent prior review–how do you safeguard your darlings?
Here are a few tips on how to archive your own email, most of which will certainly raise an eyebrow in light of email server hacking news stories:
1) Mozilla Thunderbird Offline Option or, if you have a Mac, use Apple’s Mail
Want to maintain an “offline” email archive, no matter what the archiving policy is for your district? Then consider installing a free copy of Mozilla Thunderbird, an email program that is available at no cost for Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can set it up to save a copy of your email to your own home computer. Read these instructions to backup your Mozilla Thunderbird email now saved on your computer. Of course, be aware that any confidential or sensitive data you receive via email will also be archived. Are you taking precautions to safeguard (i.e. encrypt) that data? Before you save it to your computer, you may want to encrypt it and then delete the original, decrypted version.
2) Auto-forward Critical Emails (use GoogleApps filters) to Evernote Premium
While you’ll need an Evernote Premium account (approx $50 per year) for this, you can get a “secret” Evernote email address that you can auto-forward messages to from your Gmail account.
There are some other solutions…
Note from Amy Mayer, actual Texan:
I spoke to Bill Mackenzie, email@example.com, a counterpart of ours in Canada, yesterday. Bill sincerely recommended creating these technical collaboratives in Texas. They’ve had great success in other states and in the great states to the North (and I don’t mean Oklahoma, I mean Canada). If you want to join, please fill out this form: bit.ly/joincollab
Be sure to check out exciting summer events…here’s one more:
Wish you could do more with GoogleForms and GoogleSheets? Then check out these “You can’t live without ’em!” add-ons to our favorite Google tools!
Do you use GoogleForms and/or Google Sheets regularly? I’m amazed at how many neat tools are available to enhance these two Google tools.
Here are a few of the ones I’ve noticed and, when possible, begun slipping into my arsenal of tools to take these two to the next level:
- autoCrat: A nifty tool for blending your GoogleForm responses into PDF templates. Imagine collecting data via GoogleForm then merging it into a PDF form you can print out. Here’s how it’s described: “Automates the creation and sharing of personalized (e.g. merged) Google Docs or PDF email attachments from columns of data in a Google Sheet. Optionally merge documents when forms are submitted!”
- FormLimiter: This has to be THE form enhancer that everyone has been clamoring for: “formLimiter automatically sets Google Forms to stop accepting responses after a maximum number of responses, at a specific date and time, or when a spreadsheet cell contains a specified value.”
- FormPublisher: This is simply amazing, and solves one of the big challenges for folks–how to “disaggregate” data from GoogleForm responses into separate documents without having to export it into a database program or something else. “Form Publisher Add-On generates Google Docs or Google Sheets from a created template, using a Google Form responses.”
- Form Router: Although only available to a “test group” (which it is easy to join, then you get access), “FormRouter appends Google Form question responses to additional Google Spreadsheet destinations.” That means, you can send ONE Google Form responses to MANY destinations. That’s cool.
- Flubaroo & Forms: This combination allows you to have self-graded assessments, as well as push the ability to notify students of their grades. Rather than use an LMS (e.g. Moodle, Edmodo) to assess teachers on digital citizenship with a multiple choice quiz (yes, we still do those), we used Flubaroo and a GoogleForm. Worked great! You may want to read this blog entry that goes into more detail.
- MailMerge Add-ons: If you’re like me, you may have been using a bulk email program of some sort (e.g. MaxBulk Mailer) to get messages out to lists of people. Now that I carry a Chromebook, I want the same ability with GoogleApps.
Although this is the view of “Yet Another Mail Merge” add on, the brightly colored box to the right highlights “Styles” add on for GoogleSheets. It makes it easier for you to format the data in your cells.
Here are two solutions that help you do this:
- Yet Another Mail Merge – While it may be “yet another” one, I’ve used this one to great effect. Folks have no idea that you’ve done a mail merge from a GoogleSheet, and it makes it easier for you as the email sender to customize the information. There are a zillion uses of this in education, especially for campus/district administrators.
- ValMerge – I ran across this one at Spreadsheet Madness and haven’t used it yet. Looks fairly straightforward.
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This blog entry shares my first attempts to use a Chromecast HDMI dongle to stream non-supported Chrome browser video formats (MKV, AVI) using Chrome add-ons, as well as shares 3 tips. The 3 tips include: 1) Dealing with Non-HDMI television; 2) Chromecast Unfriendly Networks; 3) Streaming from Mobile Devices.
I have some digital video files in MP4, AVI, MKV formats on my computer in my upstairs office. I want to watch them on my HDMI capable television without hooking the computer up directly to my television using my home wireless network and a Chromecast–which I bought this holiday. How do I do that?
As I considered this question, I realized that I’d done practically no research on this prior to purchasing the Chromecast device! As such, it was a fun learning experience. Although “casting” video using Chromecast is pretty easy, various video formats I have available resulted in a few wrinkles that forced me to dig deeper. I found this tips and tricks video about Chromecast to be pretty straightforward….
BTW, here’s another video that provides some intro background on the Chromecast (as well as this Top 5 Ways to Use Chromecast) if you’re familiar with it.
Although your Chrome browser has support for some video/audio formats–such as .3gp, .avi, .mov, .mp4, .m4v, .m4a, .mp3, .mkv, .ogv, .ogm, .ogg, .oga, .webm, .wav–it doesn’t support others like some AVI videos and MKV.
A quick note about video formats that were encountered:
The main wrinkle I ran into is that while the Chrome browser will support MP4 video format, it does NOT natively support Matroska (MKV) and AVI formatted files I had. That is, I can drag an MP4 file into the browser window and it will auto-play…but not MKV and AVI; it will just try to save a copy to my Downloads folder. So a follow-up question is, how do you play those video formats via your Chrome browser so that you can “cast” it via your Chromecast to a television?
Here are some of the add-ons or extensions I ended up using to get everything working fine:
- Chromecast device – “Stream online video, music, photos and more to your TV using your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Supports a growing number of apps including Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, ESPN, MLB.TV, Google Play Movies and Music, Plex, MLS, crackle, Vevo, Rdio. Allows to cast a Chrome browser tab.”
- Google Cast extension – “The Google Cast extension enables you to find and play content on your Chromecast device from your Chrome browser. When on Cast optimized sites like YouTube and Netflix, you’ll see new options that let you play video on your TV via Chromecast – using your computer as a remote to browse for videos and to control playback. You can also cast any of your tabs in Chrome to your TV, letting you enjoy sites, photos, or even video from the best screen in your home.”
- Videostream for Chromecast – “Play your own local videos on your Chromecast from your PC – Subtitles supported!” This allows you to play weird video formats not necessarily supported by a Chrome browser such as MKV and AVI. Videostream also supports MP4, though.
- H.265/HEVC player – “H.265 / HEVC player” is a standalone video player using libde265 to playback H.265 / HEVC content. It currently supports Matroska video files with common audio codecs.” I found this capable of playing AVI, MKV, and MP4 video formats, although for MP4, Chrome browser has built-in support. Problem is that it “pops” out a window so you can Chromecast it unless you cast the whole desktop (as opposed to Chromecast a browser tab). Still, great for local playback on a Chromebook of out of the ordinary video formats.
- Chrome Remote Desktop – “Chrome Remote Desktop allows users to remotely access another computer through Chrome browser or a Chromebook. Computers can be made available on an short-term basis for scenarios such as ad hoc remote support, or on a more long-term basis for remote access to your applications and files. All connections are fully secured.”
The end result was that I was able to use Videostream for Chromecast to accomplish streaming MKV and AVI videos to my HDMI television (again, VideoStream isn’t needed for MP4 format). Videostream for Chromecast is essentially free, but does have a Premium plan that’s worth considering because of playlists, as GizMag notes in their article:
The Videostream app is free, but there’s also premium plan with additional features like creating playlists for videos, beta features, premium support, and a completely ad-free environment. Premium plans start at US $1.49 monthly, $14.99 per year, or $34.99 for life.
If you want to use Chromecast as your main streaming device for your video collection, then I think playlists alone make the premium plan worth the price of admission. With it you can reorder your shows, skip files, or entirely delete them from the list.
I was able to navigate to videos saved on my machine using this tip:
Simply enter “file:///” (Mac/Linux) or “file:///c:/” (PC) in the address bar, find a piece of media and you can tabcast it to your Chromecast. via Chromecast Tips and Tweaks
Since I was using the free version, I chose to load new videos using Chrome Remote Desktop, which allowed me to remote-control my upstairs computer with the videos using a Chromebook. While that was fun, I decided that going up and down the stairs to start the next movie might assuage my guilt at being a couch potato.
Oh, you could use a Plex Video Server (free, awesome) solution but I decided not to do that in this situation. 😉
For bonus, here are some additional problems and solutions you can try that I ran into while reading/watching videos about Chromecasts.
ISSUE #1 – DEALING WITH NON-HDMI TELEVISION
By the way, if you’re like me, you’re probably stuck dealing with an old television without HDMI support. Sigh. You may want to take advantage of the wisdom in this YouTube video that walks you through how to convert your HDMI signal to S-Video, which will work on older televisions. I’m considering whether I want to do this or just “junk” my old televisions that are VERY old. In the meantime, this advice is golden:
3 RCA Male AV Cable 6 ft: http://www.amazon.com/Cable-Wholesale…
High-Speed HDMI Cable (6.5 Feet/2.0 Meters) – Supports Ethernet, 3D, and Audio Return: http://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-Hi…
ISSUE #2 – DEALING WITH LOCKED DOWN NETWORKS
In a school district, workplace, or hotel, you’ll encounter the issue of not being able to authenticate your Chromecast. I’ve had this request and, unfortunately, things just didn’t work well. How to bypass that? Here’s one approach that will certainly get you in trouble in a work environment with the network services folks (buy hey, why not?).
You can read about this problem in this HowToGeek article…here’s an excerpt from their article (the whole thing is worth reading!):
Just plug in the portable router to the Ethernet jack in your room, fire up the router, and connect to the router with your smartphone, tablet, or computer to configure the Chromecast just like you would at home.
Pretty neat idea! I’ll have to try this somewhere…hmm.
ISSUE #3 – How to Stream from Mobile Device
I found information about these apps to be helpful…
- Google Chromecast App – Use the Chromecast app to: Set up your Chromecast and connect it to your Wi-Fi network, Set up backdrop and personalize your TV screen with art, personal photos, news and more; Manage your Chromecast settings (such as changing your device name, Wi-Fi password, etc.)
- AllCast – “AllCast lets you send photos, music, and videos on your Android to your TV!” Also works with other devices aside from Chromecast,such as Apple TV, Roku, XBox and many others.
- PixoCast ($1.99) – Send videos or photos to your Chromecast connected television! “PixoCast streams your photos and videos from iPhone, iPad or iPod directly to your TV screen!”
Finally, there are tons of resources on Chromecast I’ll be exploring. Here are a few of those:
- WonderHowTo Chromecast site:
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Earlier this year (last month in fact), I encountered advertisements in GoogleApps for Education–something that wasn’t supposed to happen, especially since ads were switched off in the Google Admin panel.
Although the ads are now gone, this remained a “perception” issue for Google. Should it be scanning information in GAFE, accessing potentially sensitive information to provide better ads to its non-GAFE users? The answer is NO.
Today’s announcement from Google confirms that and directly addresses the perception issue. Will it be enough to resolve fears people have? Probably not unless you’re a dedicated GAFE user.
We’ve permanently removed the “enable/disable” toggle for ads in the Apps for Education Administrator console. This means ads in Apps for Education services are turned off and administrators no longer have the option or ability to turn ads in these services on.We’ve permanently removed all ads scanning in Gmail for Apps for Education, which means Google cannot collect or use student data in Apps for Education services for advertising purposes.
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