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Tag Archives: education tools

Google Calendar to Twitter – update

In the post “Google Calendar to Twitter – How to get the most out of Google Calendar” I should you how to set up Google Calendar to post to Twitter.  This worked great at the time I set it up but with time comes updates and changes.  One of the biggest hurdles that I have been questioned about is Gmail’s new verification to forward an email.  There is also the change in TwitterMail being purchased by TwitterCounter.  To help with confusion, I prepared a short presentation with the steps to get you up and running. Be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions.

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Posted by on July 28, 2011 in Google Calendar, How To, Teaching

 

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Augmented Reality Monitor: Make your monitor truly transparent

Do you ever wish you could see through your monitor?  I know at work, as a teacher, I do.  My monitor sits between me and my students, causing me to look over my monitor when I am at my computer (this is a not a big portion of time but is necessary when doing things like taking role).  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to see through your monitor.  Again, Lifehacker.com has inspired me to take one of their ideas to the next level.

Transparent Monitors: A Space Enhancing Solution via Lifehacker.com

Image from Lifehacker.com - Transparent Monitors: A Space Enhancing Solution

In the post, “Tranparent Monitors: A Space Enhancing Solution” Jason Fitzpatrick talks about how a reader has set up his monitors’ desktops or wallpaper with a picture of what is behind them.

I thought about what I could do to use this in my position.  Recalling an ealier post from Lifehacker, “Set a Video as your wallpaper with VLC” I knew I had my solution. I would use software to make my desktop/wallpaper the video feed from a webcam.

Here is the set up:

PC users need a web camera and VLC (a full featured multimedia player).

Mac users need a web camera (the built in iSight camera will face the wrong direction) and Quicktime

PC users:

First, download and install VLC and set up your webcam.

Next open VLC and go to “Tools” and click on “Preferences…” select the Video and change Output to “DirectX video output” and click “Save.”

Then, in VLC go to “Media” and click on “Open Capture Device…” select your web cam for the Video Device and for the Audio Device select “None” and click “Play.”

Last, in the VLC window go to “Video” and select “DirectX Wallpaper.”

The view from your webcam will now be on your monitor’s desktop / wallpaper.  You will see a VLC window open; just minimize that window.  To change back to your existing display just close the VLC window that you minimized.

UPDATE: In the newest version of VLC you might not be able to minimize the window and keep the video as the desktop.  Just shrink the window size down and move it mostly off the screen in one of the corners.

Mac users:

First, download and install “Secrets Preferences Panel”. In Secrets (it will be in your System Preferences), click on “All Secrets” and search for “Fullscreen” and deselect the option to Exit fullscreen when switching apps for Quicktime.

Next set up your webcam.

Then, open Quicktime and click on “File” and select “New Movie Recording.”

Last, in the Quicktime window, you should see the image from your built-in iSight Camera, click on the down arrow to select the webcam, and click on the fullscreen button (arrows pointing in opposite direction).

Note about the Mac version: This is not actually setting your video as your desktop / wallpaper.  You will essentially be running Quicktime in a fullscreen window behind your other running programs. To see your Dock just move your mouse to the bottom of the screen and select the programs you would like to see.  If you click on the video all windows will move to the background.  Use the Dock to bring your apps back to the front.

If I could fix one thing about either of these solutions it would be the ability to run a webcam on each monitor of a dual screen display set-up.

Now get out there and make your monitor transparent.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2011 in How To, Teaching, Tech Tid Bit

 

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Easily share bookmarks to your class or lab with Google Chrome

I recently read an article on Lifehacker.com (one of my favorite websites) about how to use Chrome and Chromium Side by Side.  Doing this will allow you to have multiple users or multiple accounts with the two almost identical allowing you to sync information from one computer to another.

Chrome Sync

Now this is very cool, but it got my brain thinking about another way to use the ability to sync Chrome browsers.  How could I use this ability to sync in a school computer lab setting as a tool for education?  Here is the idea:

Google ChromeFirst, set up a generic class Google account.  This could be a regular Gmail account or a Google Apps account, it really doesn’t matter.  You just need an  account to set up the sync.

Second, set up Google Chrome on your classroom computer and set up the sync with this new account. You do this by clicking on the picture of the wrench, then “Preferences”, and then click on the “Personal Stuff” tab.  (If you would still like to sync to your account and have the class account also, check out the link from Lifehacker in the first paragraph.)

Last, set up your classroom or lab computers with Google Chrome and start the sync with the class account on all of the Computers.  (This may sound like a long process, but I think you will enjoy the benefits.)

Now comes the fun part.  When you present your lesson to your students and need to share a link, you could give them a shortened URL or have the log in to a social bookmarking site like Diigo, but instead all you will have to do is create a bookmark on your browser.  The bookmark will sync with all of the other computers in the lab tied to that class account. You could even do this on the fly in the middle of class (the students might need to hide and then show the bookmarks bar to refresh it). Even better, you could have one student share a link quickly with the rest of the class.  If you wanted to take it to the next level, set up bookmark folders for different units/subjects, classes, or even students.  This is social bookmarking without the extra log in for our students.

Some final clarification: You are only using the generic class account to set up the sync in the Chrome Browser settings.  You and your students are not using this to log in on a Google Apps account.  That is part of the beauty of this setup.  You get to sync all the cool stuff with Chrome but you and your students will still be able to get to your individual accounts with your own mail, docs, calendar, etc.

Who said Google Bookmarks was dead? Now get out there and sync some bookmarks.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2011 in How To, Teaching, 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.

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

 

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Camtasia, Jing & Snagit – Great tools for educators from TechSmith

In my last post “How to become a Google Apps EDU Certified Trainer” I mentioned using Camtasia, a TechSmith product. It made me reflect on their outstanding products and how I use them in my different roles in Education.

As an Educator, I find myself consistently using software from TechSmith. I have used Camtasia for the last two years at school and Jing for at least that long. In my experience, their software is simple to use with outstanding results.

As a teacher and Technology Coordinator for the Le Grand High School District, I use Jing to quickly take screen-shots and screen-captures to help my students and staff. If I need to easily show someone where the submit button is on the screen or how to reserve a room using Google Calendar, Jing is the software I open. With a few clicks I can quickly take a screen-shot or a screen-capture, save and upload it, and have a URL to email or post for students or teachers to view. I find myself also using Jing more and more for twitter to help answer questions or to ask my own questions.

As a Google Certified Teacher and a Google Certified Trainer I have had the opportunity to be a Lead Learner (presenter) for professional development sessions for educators from around the world.  I have found Snagit to have that professional polish for taking screen-shots to add to my presentations. Snagit is as simple to use as Jing but with some great added features, like drop shadows and transparency to name a couple.

As a blogger and an online teacher, I find Camtasia Studio to be a wonderful tool. Camtasia allows me to make great how-to videos and simply save them locally or send them to Youtube to be published to the world or my class. For on-line courses it’s a must have. I can show and explain the process the students need to perform simply, with no confusion. As a blogger some of my most viewed posts are ones with screen-captures demonstrating cool applications or software. Again, TechSmith makes things easy in Camtasia just like in Jing and Snagit, but still gives you the added features to take your screen-capture productions to the next level.

TechSmith has an Education Community and an Education Blog for more information on using their products in Education.  I would love to hear how others are using these products or similar ones in their classrooms.  Please use the comments below and be sure to leave a link to your How-to’s.

(Full discloser, I have been using Jing and Camtasia for two plus years and was recently given a copy of Jing Pro, Snagit, and Camtasia Studio for free from TechSmith through the Google Certified Teachers group.)

Update: Here are some tweets with links to great examples of TechSmith Products in Education;

DeputyMitchell David Mitchell – @iteachag I don’t have ‘How to’ but my 10 year olds do!http://bit.ly/cUfm4z and this is Thomas: A must watch http://bit.ly/fkoe1O

ianaddison Ian Addison  – @iteachag http://www.stjohnthebaptistprimary.co.uk under staff. @baggiepr‘s are on www.ictvideohelp.co.uk

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2010 in Teaching, Tech Tid Bit

 

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How to become a Google Apps EDU Certified Trainer

I have noticed a pattern over the last few weeks of people asking, how do you become a Google Trainer and what does that mean.

The process to become a Google Apps EDU Trainer is fairly straight forward.  I think of there being three stages to this process: Using the Training Center, becoming a Qualified Individual, and finally becoming aCertified Trainer.  The Training Center is always available and it’s your choice if you want to go through all the stages.

The Training Center

The Training Center is available to “teach yourself to become an Apps expert in the classroom.” The great part about the Training Center is that it is broken up into six training modules: Google Apps Education Edition, Apps Mail, Calendar, Docs, Sites, and Other Tools.  What does this mean for you?  It means that if you are in the Training Center to find out more about Calendar, my favorite, you can.  Just go straight to the Calendar Module and become a Calendar expert or look for that one piece of information that you needed.  Don’t forget to use the “Search this site” button in the top right hand corner if you are looking for something specific.  As a teacher you could use the the training center to become more proficient in the use of Google Apps for your classroom.  So if you just want the information, it’s all there waiting for you in the Training Center.

Individual Qualification

If you are interested in testing your new knowledge acquired in the Training Center you can take all six exams.  Passing all six exams will give you the honor of being “Google Apps Education Qualified” and earn you a certificate. Google Apps Certificate The exams are $15 dollars each and you will need to pass each exam with a score of 80% or higher.  You could give your students the chance to become qualified.  I know there are Computer Application courses in high schools that allow students at the end of the course to take tests for certifications for various manufactures of software.  Why not let the student take the tests and at $15 dollars per test, it is very reasonable compared to other exams.

Certified Trainer

You’ve passed all six exams and have decided to go for the gusto and become a Certified Trainer.  Now what?  According to Google, Certified Trainers have extensive experience in teacher training and Apps deployment.  So, if this fits who you are and what you do, go for it.  Here are the requirements from Google’s Program Details web page.

“Certified Trainer” individual applicants must:

  • Have previously achieved ‘Qualified Individual’ status.
  • Demonstrate work history and experience in technology instruction and/or professional development. Strong references from school or business clients are required.
  • Create sample learning materials and provide a short video which demonstrates your ability to create and present instructional material.
  • View the complete application here.

The application is not too difficult, but where most people get hung up is the short video.  If you have given tutorials before in person then you are not that far away from creating a video.  One of the video hang ups is what do I put in the video?  My advice: pick a topic from the training center that you like, something you know how to do, that was new to you, or something that you know colleagues have had problems or questions about in the past.  This will make the video have a personal connection.  Use the Training Center to help you with your script.  The other hang up on the video is how do I create it?  There are numerous versions of screen recording software out there on the web for sale.  There are also a few websites that will let you do the same thing.  I would recommend  Camtasia. It has lots of great tools to cleanup and put the professional touches on your video. Best part is that TechSmith gives you a 30 day trial with no limits.  Here is the video from my application:

And what will you get out of this Certification:

What’s in it for you? As a Google Apps Certified Trainer, you will receive:

  • Early access to technical training and support materials.
  • A Google ‘badge’ for your online marketing, and other marketing collateral.
  • Additional visibility in the Apps Marketplace as a Solutions Provider.
  • Shared training resources from the community of fellow Certified Trainers.

I hope this helps to answer the question.  How do you become a Google Trainer?  Please feel free to ask more questions in the comments.  Now get out there and do some training.

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2010 in How To, Teaching

 

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Google Certified Trainer Program and a Google Calendar Labs How-to

I am very excited, I found out today that my application was accepted to become a Google Certified Trainer.

To become a Google Certified Trainer, check out the “Become an Apps Certified Trainer.”  There is a great Training Center and then you will take six exams.  After passing all six exams, you become a Qualified Individual.  The last step to become a Certified Trainer is to fill out an application and produce a two minute video “which demonstrates your ability to create and present instructional material.” (Program Details)  Even if you are not interested in taking the tests, I would recommend using the training center to learn a great deal of information about Google Apps.

Here is the video that I produced as part of the application process. It is on Google Calendar Labs.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2010 in How To, Teaching, Tech Tid Bit

 

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