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Google Calendar: How to use a Google Group with GCal to set up birthday announcements

How would you like to post a Happy Birthday wish for people in your school or group on their birthday and allow everyone else to add to those wishes?

I have been doing this for a great group of educators (Google Certified Teachers) over the last year and a friend, Mark Allen, has inspired me to post about how to make it happen. He has also given me the great idea to automate it for use in schools.  Wouldn’t it be great to wish every student a Happy Birthday?

We will look at both methods, one more personal and no automation and the other with automation but with better consistency.

What you will need:

  1. Google Calendar
  2. Google Group
  3. Gmail
  4. Everyone’s birth date

The personal birthday connection.

  1. Have a Google Group set up (this can be an exsisting group) with everyone.  In Google Apps you could use a Google Apps Administrator Group or a Google Apps User-managed Group (A group that a user sets up if User-Managed Groups has been turned on by an Admin) .  If you are not using Google Apps you can use a Google Group.
  2. Create a new Calendar and Share it with the Group so the members can add their birthdays to the calendar.
  3. As a member’s birthday comes close. Post a message to the group to wish that person a Happy Birthday and to encourage others to do the same. (To make things easy on yourself, add a default email reminder to the birthday calendar two to three days in advance.  Then you will receive an email so you will not forget to post to the group.)

The automated birthday connection.

  1. See #1 above (This could be a group that will only allow announcements or it could be interactive)
  2. Create a new Calendar.  You can still have members add their birthdays to the calendar by sharing it, but since you will be automating the process it might be cleaner to use a CSV file to import all the birthdays into the Calendar. (Suggestion: make the “appointment” subject something like “Happy Birthday John Smith”
  3. Be sure to add a default email reminder to the birthday calendar. Because this will be automated you will need to decide if you want to send the birthday announcement on that day or two to three days in advance.
  4. To make this fully automated you will need to create a filter in Gmail to forward the Happy Birthday reminder to the Group email from #1.  You will need to use the advanced filters to make sure only the Happy Birthday messages get forwarded to the group.
  5. If you want to really publicize the birthdays you could use Google Calendar to Twitter to Tweet the birthday news to all of your followers.

Now get out there and wish everyone a Happy Birthday!!!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on January 8, 2011 in Google Calendar, How To, Tech Tid Bit

 

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Five free screen capture / recording alternatives from the web for screencasts

In my last post, Camtasia, Jing & Snagit – Great tools for educators from TechSmith I talked about some great screen capture / recording tools from TechSmith.  I love these tools, but some of you may be saying you always talk about free, where are the free versions of these tools?

Here are five alternatives for screen capture / recording tools that you can use right from the web. No downloads needed (except for a java applet).

ScreenCastle is very easy to use. You don’t even need to register. Click the big red button, adjust the screen capture area and start recording.  You can use a microphone to add voiceovers.  When finished ScreenCastle gives you lots of options (see below). The disadvantages are you will not be able to go back later to watch the video if you don’t have the link because you do not have an account.  I would recommend saving the link and possibly downloading the video file.

  • Link to watch the video
  • HTML embed code
  • BBCode -Big
  • BBCode – Small
  • Direct link to the file
  • The Pure video ID
  • Address – Big  image
  • Address – Small image

ScreenToaster is also easy to use.  You can set up an account with ScreenToaster that will give you lots of options, including adding audio and a webcam. You can publish your videos on the ScreenToaster website, download your videos, embed them on your website, mail it, and even edit your video.  ScreenToaster is probabely the most advanced of the tools here.

Screencast-O-Matic is the next most robust tool but it also gives you the option to GoPro and pay for more features.  With Screencast-O-Matic you can create an account, which will give you the options to Record a 15 minute video; free hosting of your video; upload to Youtube HD; Export to MP4, AVI, & FLV (with watermark); and record from a web cam.

Screenjelly is again easy to start with a big red button similar to ScreenCastle.  Screenjelly will save your videos online with your account.  It is designed to instantly share your captures with a link, through an email, with a tweet, or through Facebook. Screenjelly will even give you the ability to put a screen capture button on your website and has a bookmarklet feature to let you quickly grab a screen capture from a website.  I have to admit, out of the five tools listed here, it is the only one I could not get to work with my Macbook.  I am not sure if it was user error or a problem with Screenjelly.

The last tool which is the simplest in nature is Screenr. Screenr allows you to choose the area to record, voiceover your recordings, and save the videos to your account.  The main idea behind Screenr is to provide “Instant screencasts for Twitter.”  You even authenticate your account through Twitter.

Happy Screencasting.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 31, 2010 in How To, Teaching, Tech Tid Bit

 

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