Tuesday, September 19, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Makin' copies

This week's Tech tip is one I learned just recently from @MsKraushaar and it is brilliant.

Sometimes you want to share your work inside Google, but then sometimes you want to share it so that a colleague can make it their own.

This past week I learned that by changing a simple word in the share link from a Google document (slide show, spreadsheet, etc) you can send a link which will force the clicker of said link to make a copy of the item you are sharing.

It is as easy as grabbing the url from a file you have in Google:

And then change this portion of the URL

to read like this

When you share the above link with someone they will be prompted to Make a copy of the document after they click it (see picture below)

Happy sharing.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - When is the last time you shut that phone all the way down?

When was the last time you turned your phone off...like all the way off?

It is important to do this at least once a week. 

I know, it's not cool to have to do it, but you are carrying around a computer in your pocket. It is doing more processing than you think and honestly...it needs a break every once and awhile.

So take a moment each week to power your phone all the way down, let it be off for a minute, then boot it back up. You may find that it helps fix those minor "glitches" you've noticed and just pushed aside, it may help speed up it's performance. But what it will do for your phone is invaluable.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Instagram

Continuing our exploration of communication tools, this week we will look at Instagram.

If you are just starting out and looking to share more, then Insagram may just be the tool for you. This Facebook owned application is one of the fastest growing social media services out there, and is is excessively simple to use, while still remaining a very powerful tool.

Once you have created your account you can either follow others or chose not to. You can also connect multiple social media accounts to Instagram so that when you post a picture with a caption you can opt to have it also share directly in these other social media apps ALL FROM ONE PLACE.

This is probably one of the top sought after features when it comes to sharing. With a few clicks you are able to send the single picture to multiple places rather then having to post the same things 3 or 4 times.

I often encourage first time bloggers to start by just posting a picture a day. Capture a moment in your learning space and  tell the story of the deep learning taking place in a few short words. Instagram is designed for this and would be a great way to share with your families. 

Families can either follow you, if they have their own Instagram account, or they can just go directly to your page by entering in the unique url. For instance mine would be https://www.instagram.com/thetechspec/

For those of you wanting to share multiple pictures of the learning going on each day, you can post multiple pics in a single post. Doing this will not over run your followers streams with pictures. To do this, click the plus button to add a photo then click the button on the bottom right hand of the screen which looks like this

Then you will be able to choose multiple pictures for a single post.

For those of you interested in sharing more each day, you may want to check out the Instagram Stories Feature. 

By swiping to the right when inside instagram you will be taken to a "camera view" where you can take a picture inside of the app and then post to a story. (You can also load a picture previously taken by swiping down inside the camera mode)

The story is a place where photos you post there will go away 24 hours later. It is a quick and easy way to share loads of learning without having to feel like you must craft the perfect picture. You can also "go live" within the stories feature and stream the learning live.

Pro Tip: Photo's posted in Stories are best in portrait mode. 

I could spend two more posts writing about all the potential greatness you could do with Instagram, instead I am going to encourage you to go check it out today.

As always,
Stay tuned and stay connected

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Blogger vs Google Sites

Continuing my series on communication tools,  as we get ever closer to the first day of school,  let's will explore just two of the offerings from the surplus that Google grants one. 

Blogger vs New Google Sites

While both are unique and awesome in their own ways, when you have a Google account you have access to both of these fantastic tools, and each of them is worth exploring. My hope for the future is that Blogger is integrated into the New Google Sites so that you can have all of the great googliness in one spot.

For the novice, Blogger has a quick and easy feel and setup time. One can simply go to Blogger.com sign in with their Google account and click the button "+ New Blog" and then choose from several pre made designs, which can be adjusted with a few clicks.

Once you've created the blog you can now start posting.  I always suggest keeping your blog simple in the beginning.

Do a post a day with a picture and a few words. I like to encourage Bloggers to share what they see in the picture. In our learning environments sometimes something that may look like a simple task may be filled with rich thought provoking learning and this tool allows us to show our viewers a glimpse into each day with a different perspective than their own.

One might also use a Blog as an active learning tool. Have one or multiple of your learners write up a daily or weekly summary of the learning which took place in your class. Allow families the opportunity to hear from the learners in the class and encourage your learners to reflect back on the day or weeks worth of learning.

Another fantastic option inside of Blogger are the built in widgets. A widget allows you to show case blog posts, show archived blog posts, and more. My favorite is "subscribe" which allows viewers to enter in their email address and get updates to their email when there is a new post.

New Google Sites

Back in November, Google launched a redesigned Google Sites dubbed New Google Sites. With this update came simple setup, mobile automation (instantly adjusts to mobile and tablet viewing) and more. 

Why might you use this tool?
  • It's a great way to setup a page with all the information your may want to share with your learners or families.
  • It integrates with Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Maps, and YouTube
This integration of the Google suite is a pretty enticing feature. With a click you can add your Google calendar, upload an entire Google Drive folder, embed a YouTube video, add a whole document to your page, and more.

With some clever folder placement or embedding a Google slideshow on the page you can easily share photos from your learning environments, share learner work, or allow others to easily see what is coming up in the future within your Google calendar.

For anyone with a Google account and looking for a starting place for building their own website, check out the new Google Sites by visiting sites.google.com/new

So which tool should you use?
Check them both out, ask yourself what your intended purpose or goal is, and think about your audience. Each has the potential to be a powerful tool for sharing the learning which happens each and everyday in your learning spaces.

In the future I plan to do a video walk through of each of these tools.

As always Stay tuned and stay connected.

Looking for a new podcast? 
Check out 
Tech on the Side 
My new podcast for all learners and technology enthusiasts.

Search for Tech on the Side in your favorite podcasting app and subscribe!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Google Classroom Guardian Summaries

As the new school year approaches it is time to starting thinking about how you will be communicating with your families about what is going on in your learning space, upcoming events, and for some of you sharing homework assignments.

As there are a plethora of tools available for you to do all these things I thought I would highlight a different communication tool each week leading up to school's start to help you explore and think about which method or methods you might employ this school year.

Up this week:

Google Classroom Guardian Summaries.

For those of you who are using or were thinking about using Google Classroom this year with your kids, you are in luck, as Google Classroom has built in a function where you can invite family members to receive emails from classroom regarding assignments and announcements in the class.

To do so, you must start by having kids assigned to your class (you can do this by sharing the code with them or manually adding them to your class).

Once you have kids in your Google Classroom you'll need to activate Guardian summaries
1. Click class
2.Click students
3. Toggle the switch labeled "turn on guardian summaries"
4. Choose the classes you want to have this feature

Now that you have the function turned on it's time to invite families to receive the summary

1. Click the class
2. At the top, click Students.
3. Next to a student's name, click Invite Guardians
4. In the text field, enter a guardians email address.
     (To invite multiple guardians, insert a comma between email address for a single student)
5. Click Invite to send the invitation

Some pros:

1. If you are actively using the assignment feature this is a great way to keep families in the loop about projects and assignments automatically. 
2. You can email all guardians in the class right from Classroom to keep them informed or remind them about upcoming events.
3. It's Google, so you know that they will continue to add new features to help make this tool even better

Some cons:
1. If you do not keep accurate information about assignments in Classroom family members may get summaries of things even though there may not be something that has to be "turned in"
2. The initial setup makes you have to enter in each email address for each kid (though I have been told by some kids that their parents were able to join the classroom themselves, no on has yet showed me how they would've managed this...testing this in the near future)

Over all it is a great function to use for keeping your kids and their families informed about assignments and events taking place with your classroom.

Check it out for yourself by visiting classroom.google.com.

As always,

Stay tuned and stay connected.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Podcasting Made even more easy

 For those of you ever interested in creating your very own Podcast then look no further than Anchor.fm

By using the Anchor app on your phone or tablet, you can now create a podcast on the go with ease. 

Start by grabbing the iOS or Andorid app and setting up your free account. (You can always change the name of your account and profile picture later so do not sweat it)

Once you have your account setup all you need to do is create your first recording. This will then be live on your station for 24 hours after you post it.

If you want to add it as a permanent posting you can do that and then submit your station to become a Podcast to show up in most major Podcasting tools. And the best part, Anchor will do all the heavy lifting for you.

Follow the steps below to setup your first episode to your station and follow through to submit it to major podcasting networks

Step 1: Click on the profile avatar (located on the bottom right of the app) then  click on Epsiode

Step 2: Choose the content you want to be part of your first permanent episode. Start by clicking the +Episode Button and follow the prompts

Choose what you what you want your listeners to hear. Click the play button by each clip to listen to it before you decide to add it to your station

Step 3: After you have your content click the next button (top right) and then Title your Episode 

Clicking next should pop up the option to make your station into a Podcast (able to be found on podcasting networks such as iTunes) If you'd like to do that click "Get Started!"

The App will walk you through the next steps in creating your official podcast, just follow through until you click Finish.

Give your Podcast a name

Add your name or preferred internet handle as the author of the podcast (or perhaps this is a classroom podcast so let the kids choose a handle)

Next choose an image for your podcast (something you might want to have setup and downloaded on your phone  or tablet's camera roll before starting the whole process)

Pick a category for your podcast. What type of Podcast is it? Who is the intended audience? What are you going to be talking about?

Once you have all the above chosen click Finish!

You will now have your first episode setup on your Anchor.fm Station as well as have submitted your first episode for your podcast!

Anchor will keep you informed of the process of your podcast getting picked up by another podcast network (ie when it will show up in iTunes)

Hope today's tip helps you figure out how to use Anchor.fm to create your very own podcast. If you join, be sure to favorite my station anchor.fm/TheTechSpec and others that you enjoy listening to.

Once it is an official podcast be sure to encourage others to subscribe to it

As always,
Stay tuned and stay connected 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - The magic of Shift + Z in Google Drive

 If you have not yet used the function Shift + Z while inside Google drive, then I would like to formally introduce you to it.

This key combination will allow you to create a single document (slide show, drawing, spreadsheet, etc) inside multiple folders within Google Drive. This beats the old school method of creating a copy of the same work in multiple folders which you would need to make changes to individually should a change be necessary.

Here's how you go about trying this function out:

Start by loading Google drive, create or locate a file you'd like to show up in multiple folders within Google drive then single click on it, then press the shift key and z key together to get the following menu:

Next click into the folder you would like this document to appear in as well (again this is not a copy of the document it is the same document, if you need to make a change to it you can in either place and the changes will appear ) Then click Add.

The document, slideshow, drawing, spreadsheet, etc will now appear in both places.

Pro tip: If you have multiple documents you want to appear in multiple  locations start by moving them all to a single place then go through the above steps, but use shift click to select all of the documents you want to appear in the other location then press Shift +Z to add them to the new locations.

As Always,
Stay tuned and stay connected

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Google Photos

I blogged all about it before, and here I go again. If you've not yet downloaded, logged in, and setup Google Photos for backing up all the photos on your phones or tablet devices...what are you waiting for?

Since last blogging about it Google Photos has come along way to becoming your one stop shop for photo storage, slide show creation, and so much more.

Here are a few new tips for making sure you are getting the most out of your Google Photos app.

  • Login with your personal account
    • If you are using your personal phone to take photos then I highly recommend that you login with your personal Google account vs a school account
  • Make sure you open up the app every once and awhile to get the backup process started.
    • When the app first came out you could set it up to automatically backup your photos. You can still do this but the app requires that you open it and let it's assistant do the work for you.
  • Plug it in and let it backup every night or every other night. I like to plug my phone in at night, open up the app and turn the phone over (to avid the light of my phone lighting up the room) and let the assistant back those photos up. Check it in the morning to make sure it got all the photos from the day,
  • Click on the "Assistant" tab on the bottom left of the app. 
    • The assistant will show you the back up progress as well as create videos of a day's outing which can be saved. 
    • Bring up "memories" from days past, (which are always fun to reminisce over)
    • You can also create Albums, Photo Books, Collages, Animations, and Movies within this tab.

Download the app (iOS & Android) today and save those memories.
There's plenty of space at Google

Friday, June 9, 2017

Tech on the Side ep. 2

Thanks to anchor.fm for the innovative tools for helping to create this podcast. Check out more at anchor.fm and check out my weekly Anchorcast here

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Multiple stops on Google Maps

If you are doing any traveling this summer then make sure you know this little tip with Google Maps. 

Learn how to add multiple stops while traveling using a single map.

Start by entering in your location and destination just like normal within the Google Maps app (iOS Android)

Then click the three dots on the right hand side of the menu

Next click "Add a stop"

Last thing to do is enter in a stop along the way. Adjust where you start and where you go to next by dragging the  destinations up or down 

Enjoy your travels, and remember it's all about the journey not the destination. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Nuzzel

The absolute easiest and handiest way to keep track of links, news articles, medium posts, etc that your twitter friends are sharing. 

Nuzzel is a free app (Apple and Android) and website that allows you to see just the links that your twitter pals are sharing. Download the app, sign in with your twitter account and enjoy the streamlined view of just stories/articles/links your twitter world is sharing. Keep up to date on the info that is being shared minus all the tweets. 

I've been using this service for over a month now and love how easy it is to check out the articles and news that is being shared from all the people I follow on twitter. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Google Takeout

 As the school year comes to an end you may find yourself moving to a new place, or perhaps you just want a nice clean backup of everything you created within Google this year. Lucky for us, Google has created a handy little tool called Take Out

Google Take Out allows you to quickly and easily archive/export all of your files, blogs, photos, etc from Google into zipped file.

If you are wanting to transfer your account to a new Google account then you can use the 
Take Out Transfer tool

Using the Transfer tool will allow you to move all of you Google created items directly to your new Google Account. Please note: this process will require you to have your new google account setup before you can transfer.

I would recommend you make the zipped backup before you do the transfer.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

#TechTipTuesday Adventuring into podcasting

I have been experimenting using Anchor.fm as a podcasting tool, much to my enjoyment I might add.

However in this generation of SnapChat like permanence Anchor.fm "anchorcasts"only last for 24 hours. Luckily they give you the option to archive and download your anchorcasts. Combining this with archive.org allows you to capture and share your recording at later dates like this one below.

Give it a listen, and check out Anchor.fm and Archive.org today.

Tech on the Side - Podcast ep. 1

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

Your regularly scheduled Sunday Post will return next week.

Taking time today to celebrate Mother's Day with my wife (@technokato) and mother (@samplermaker2)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Google Keep

I have blogged about it before, and I must admit, Google Keep has only gotten even more amazing since then.

Google Keep (formerly Google's Best kept little secret) is an amazing tool for everyone.

Initially designed as a simple Note taking app, Google Keep has developed into quite the robust  utility app for note taking/to-do lists/reminders and more.

Since 2014 the web tool has added a plethora of new features including the ability to share notes with others. (Very useful when you need to help remind someone step by step what needs to be done) iOS and Android Apps. A direct web link (keep.google.com). Pinned notes, reminders...this list goes on and on.

How can I use this tool today?

  • Use it to keep notes about your day for later blog posts (you can also add pictures to notes)
  • Make and share to-do lists with learners/peers/colleagues to ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows when items have been completed. 
  • Create a Reminder which can notify you of when something needs to be done (set it to repeat when you need daily/weekly/or even monthly reminders) 
  • Document the learning each day in your learning space with pictures, text and even drawings.
The possibilities are endless and one of the best parts is that is accessible on your laptop/desktop/chromebook/tablet, and since it is all part of the Google Suite services it syncs across all platforms. Never leave home without your lists/reminders/notes/etc.

Stay tuned and stay connected

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Google Team Drive

I was recently introduced to Google Team Drive via @AveryHoneyBees and @Cmcgee200 

The concept is brilliant, instead of one person owning the Google Drive files and sharing them, the files own themselves and you grant access to those who need the files.

Ways to think about how you might benefit from this brilliant tool:

  • Create a Grade level Team Drive and relocate you shared files to that folder. IN this way if you ever change to a new grade level as an educator you can simply be added to a new tema drive with all your digital resources at your fingertips. No need to ask for a person to share all their documents with them and vice versa.
  • Department Team Drive - Have shared documents that you all use on a regular basis, add them to a team drive and grant access to all members who need to be able to view make copies and edit the documents. If they ever shift to a new department you can remove their access and grant access to whomever steps into their new role in your department.
  • Admin Teams - Tired of always having to ask that other admin to share a file with you? Just create a single Admin team drive and upload the files. Give access to whomever needs them and revoke access should they ever move up/out/or into a new position. 
  • The possibilities are endless (be sure to share how you are using Team drives in the comments of the blog or tweet me @TheTechSpec
If you are wondering where to create one of these new Google Team Drives look no further than your Goolge Drive.

 If you do not see this feature within your Google Drive reach out to your nearest Technology Support person and ask them to activate it for your school today.

As always, 
Stay tuned and stay connected.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - The NEW Google Earth

Google Earth is back and in 3D.

That's right, one of my Social Studies teacher's favorite tools is back and it's got a some awesome new features. 

Quick run down of new features:

1.Orbit in 3D: Start with a view of the world from outer space then zoom in to any location in the world and view the space in a new 3D model.
2. Knowledge Cards: While visiting new locations around the globe check out the built in 'knowledge cards" about the area. Information about the area will pop as you explore.
3. Voyager: Not sure where to start? Check out Voyager, curated spaces and adventures from the many places around our world. Check out built in cards, pictures and more
4. Feeling Lucky: Not sure what to check out? Click on the Feeling lucky link and let Google take you to a random location in the world and discover something new.

This great new tool is accessible to anyone with a web browser, no application needed. Just load Google Chrome and visit https://www.google.com/earth/

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Clips

Apple has recently released a new app called Clips

Today I explored the many different functions it had to offer. Check out the video at the end of the post.

To sum the application up I would say it is a fantastic video editor for the SnapChat generation.

The basic concept: Capture and create a video "Story" disassociated with a single social media platform. 

Record live using the app or add video or pictures from your camera roll.

Some top cool features: 

  • Live subtitles of what ever you are saying.
  • User friendly interface
  • Fun filters

Some ideas on how this tool may be useful to you:
  • Capture moments throughout your day in a single place creating a story of your day
  • Upload your captured Clips at the end of your day when you can reflect back on the day instead of missing out on the moments you are capturing.
  • Great tool to capture the learning experience each day to upload a single post
Happy Clipping...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Facebook Stories

Today Facebook launched the Stories feature within their main app. Stories is much like...well... Instagram Stories or SnapChat stories.

It's a fun and simple way to share something that's happening (Picture or Video) to you in the moment without having to take the time to craft a whole post. They are treating it much like a "new" camera app built inside of the application. 

After capturing a moment of your 24 hour story(That's right tt goes away after 24 hours) you can add it right to your story(which resides at the top of your Facebook app) or you can add it to a post.

It is a great quick and easy method to access and see what all your friends are up to. 

Who needs vertical scrolling feeds anymore!

Enjoy checking it out and creating new and fun stories

And as always,

Stay tuned and stay connected 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

#TechTipTuesday - Anchor.fm

A little more than a year ago I posted a blog post all about an app called Anchor. They have just recently updated the application with a plethora of new tools.

The app now functions much in the same way allowing you to record audio to the internet, the new features let your continually add content throughout a 24 hour period of time, creating a more podcast like experience. Within your "Anchor-cast"(the term used to describe your online broadcast) you can now add content from other anchor-casts, receive call in's from other "anchor-casters", add background music to your recording, find and add music into your anchorcasts and a few more tools. You can also auto archive your broadcasts daily so that you can export them and use them in other online venues (such as Soundcloud, archive.org, etc)

It is certainly something you should check out today. You can download the app for iOS or Android. And login using your Twitter or Facebook account.

The ideas for how you may use this application with your learners are endless but here are a few suggestions to get your brainstorming how this tool may help expand the learning and cultivate a wider audience for your learners.

- Daily learning reports from Classrooms
- Poetry readings
- Math challenges with call in responses
- A platform for sharing short stories
- Book reviews/talks

As always
Stay tuned and stay connected.

Find my Anchorcast here: