#MiGoogleFest Returns in August

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It was a smashing success last Fall and it is coming back for its second year. MACUL presents Google Fest 2016 at the Amway Grand in Grand Rapids on August 9 and 10.Tuesday the 9th will feature a series of specialized “camps” for administrators and users with varying skill levels.  Incredible educator and all-around good dude Kyle Pace will keynote the conference portion on Wednesday the 10th.

GoogleFEST   
#migooglefest
August 9 & 10, 2016
Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
Grand Rapids, MI
Registration Cost: 
  • One day: $89
  • Two days: $169
Keynote Speaker: Kyle Pace is an Instructional Technology Specialist and Google for Education Certified Innovator that has worked with K-12 teachers in his current school district to provide instructional technology professional development since 2004. For more information about Kyle, visit googlefest.macul.org.

60 Second Tour of Kiddle.co – Kid Safe Search Engine

Parents and teachers rejoice! The best safe search engine for our kids is the new Kiddle.co. Not only are search results safe, they are from selected sites and prioritized by readability and depth. Icons are nice and big and image searches won’t return any random inappropriateness. News and video results actually contain quality content that kids can understand and use.

A couple of disclaimers: Kiddle looks like a Google product but IS NOT owned or operated by Google. It runs off of Google’s safe search. Also, it is not completely fool-proof. Some reports of questionable returns have popped up across the web. Thanks to Karen Bosch for sharing this article about that.

Let’s just call Kiddle “the safest search engine yet”. Always, always supervise searching and help kids evaluate the usefulness of search results.

 

Think Different Tim Cook: 10 Reasons Chromebooks Are Winning…And It Has Nothing To Do With Testing

Apple CEO Tim Cook calls Chrome devices “test machines” – Buzzfeed Photo

On Wednesday in a Buzzfeed interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook called Chromebooks “test machines” and cited Google’s take over of the education market as primarily a result of schools just buying hardware for standardized assessments.

There is no denying that recent mass purchases from school districts have been in response to needing more equipment for tests that have moved from paper to web browser. What is in question is why schools are choosing Chromebooks over Macs and iPads. Cook sells educational leaders and teachers short when he implies that testing is all that went into the decision making and all that is being done with the products once they reach schools.

Now, don’t write me off as a hater. Heck, one of the proudest recognitions I have received is that of being named an Apple Distinguished Educator. I am a huge Apple advocate and I truly believe that Cupertino builds the most durable and best designed products in the tech world. For a long long time Apple won the classroom because its stuff “just worked” and it still does. The six-year-old  Macbooks I teach with just hum along. The three-year-old cart of HPs…don’t.  The iPad has opened worlds previously un-explorable to people with disabilities. Apple has done great things in the classroom and I still believe schools need a number of Macs or iPads around for tasks Chrome devices can’t. I am just not convinced anymore that Apple products are the only solution.

Here Mr. Cook are 10 reasons why educators are choosing Chrome devices over Apple products…and they don’t have anything to do with testing.

  1. The Reality of Classroom Technology Integration – “We create products that are whole solutions for people — that allow kids to learn how to create and engage on a different level,” Cook stated in the and he’s correct. iMovie, Keynote, Pages, Final Cut Pro, Motion, and other high level apps are the staples when it comes to kids creating high level content. The only problem for Apple is that the vast majority of students and teachers don’t learn and teach constantly at this level. As great as all of these Apple tools are, right or wrong, they have taken a support role to the tools students and teachers use most.The SAMR framework discusses how teachers use tech at varied levels between basic “substitution” and creating previously inconceivable activities in a level defined as “redefinition”. The Apple stuff excels in the hands of teachers who have mastered ways of getting to redefinition but the vast majority of educators are somewhere in the middle and most of the learning tasks they ask students to do with technology doesn’t require the high end apps.
  2. Price – Chrome devices continue to drop in price to the point where schools can buy five Chromebooks with touchscreens for the price of one Macbook. It’s hard to justify the extra cost if the job can be done with a solid device at a fraction of the money. I just bought a fully functioning Chrome computer in the $85 Chromebit. $85! Yes it requires me to connect it to an HDMI display and I have to supply the keyboard and mouse but that price point alone makes it wildly affordable for a number of functions around a school.
  3. They Just Work – It is still the number one reason I always choose Apple stuff over Windows stuff and I was very suspect of the Chrome products when they first hit the market. Aside from getting used to the layout of where everything is on these devices my experience has been that the simplicity of the Chrome “just works” as well. With less operating system there are less hassles.
  4. Ease of Management – Managing a cart of iPads is incredibly time consuming and not something most classroom teachers are entrusted to do. Apple has put out a series of management solutions but none have been the silver bullet that actually make life easier for teachers. With Chrome there is virtually no management because when a kid logs in with their Google Apps for Education account, all of their stuff is available.
  5. Google Apps – No, the free suite won’t let you make your documents as cute as Word or Pages will, but with a little skill you and your kids can get darn close. Cute isn’t deal closer on GAFE though. Storage is unlimited for schools and with a little foresight educators can help kids set up portfolios that will follow them all of the way through high school. No one will ever lose their work due to a dead laptop battery because Google saves every few seconds. Plus, it’s just automatically already set up with every Google account. Yes, Apple offers a version of its iWork suite online for free and it can do a lot but space is limited and the sharing options aren’t close to what GAFE does. What is really cool though is that if you want to use the online versions of iLife you can do it on a Chromebook.
  6. Collaboration – The whole game changed way back in the day when Google bought Writely from an upstart called Upstartle. Simply being able to edit something simultaneously ten years ago was groundbreaking. Google has used the last decade to further enhance the collaborative capabilities. Apple is bringing that to iLife but are essentially playing catch up. The collaboration built into a Google Apps/Chrome environment helps teachers better communicate with students and provide useful feedback. The same is true with students communicating and collaborating better with each other.
  7. Google Classroom – From its introduction teachers have been flocking to the free learning management system. As it evolves and becomes more stable it is becoming the go-to, even by die hard Edmodo and Schoology users. What is the big deal? See all six of the previous reasons. Seriously, you can apply all of them. As a classroom teacher, paper was my Achilles heel. In Classroom it’s all digital and the interface shows who has completed work and who hasn’t. Once it’s turned in, it’s locked until the teacher grades and returns it. Apple offers iTunes U which is a beautiful way to present content and develop courses that don’t rely on Internet connectivity but they only run on an Apple device. Classroom works everywhere.
  8. Access Everywhere – Speaking working everywhere, students and teachers can access the work they started on the Chrome device at school anywhere they can find a web browser with an Internet connection. It is something kids have come to take completely for granted. Ubiquitous access is their normal. A perfect example was when we were making book report trailers on iMovie and my students all wanted to know how they could find their work when they got home so they could continue working. They were put off when I told them it was only available on the one device they’d been using.
  9. Open To Innovation – Google Apps has evolved at light speed because of the way individuals can create add-ons. Doctopus and Goobric are examples of innovation created by a user that have made the product better fit teacher needs. This isn’t just in Docs either. There are a ton of new Chrome apps being developed that bring a lot of the creativity and depth of exploration to the Chrome browser.  Apple obviously innovates all of the time too but doesn’t adapt as fast as Google because the innovation all takes place within Apple.
  10. Big Yet Nimble – Lebron James and Cam Newton are special athletes because they are big yet have uncharacteristic speed. Google Chrome and the devices that run it are a lot like that. Google is massive with unlimited resources to support its products yet has retained a simplicity that makes stuff work at the highest level of efficiency. There is no reason to expect that won’t continue to be the case.

Ultimately schools have to find the platforms and devices that work best for their needs. I always have a Mac nearby because I use so many levels of its functionality. My students don’t always need the firepower and Google is picking up a lot of believers in educators who see all of the benefits Chrome devices can deliver at a fraction of the cost.

I understand and appreciate Tim Cook’s passion for giving educators and learners amazing stuff but if Chrome devices are just “test machines”, he needs to Think Different. 

Teaching Math with Google Drawings – Eric Curts

Northwest Ohio Google Certified Innovator for Education Eric Curts delivers a great webinar on using Google Drawings for teaching math.

Eric takes viewers through the ins and outs of Drawings but excels when he starts to unpack Common Core standards and show practical activities for elementary teachers. The geometry examples are good but the fraction activity is really innovative.

Check out the recording of the webinar as well as some great tip sheets for using Google Drawings for any purpose at Teaching Math with Google Drawings 

Rubik’s Cube: A question, waiting to be answered – Google

Rubik’s cube is more than a puzzle- it’s a question waiting to be answered. And when the right person finds the right question, it can set them on a journey to change the world. We salute Ernő Rubik and everyone helping young minds find the questions that challenge, excite, and let them see the world in a new way. See artists and designers remixing the Rubik’s Cube at http://chrome.com/cubelab ~Google

55 Tips from Google for Teaching and Learning

55 Google TipsAs the United States trickles back to school, Google is offering up some great tips for both educators and students.

All kinds of things from staying better organized with calendars to understanding how work is stored are covered in these quick hitting tutorials.

One of my biggest personal initiatives is to dig deeper into working with Google Classroom. A handful of the tips will help with that from both the teacher side of it and from the learner’s perspective.

55 Google Tips for Teaching and Learning.

Trekker from Google Street View Takes You to #PureMichigan

Take a deeper look at some of Michigan’s most breathtaking spots.

Trekker is new in Street View and takes you to places the Street View cars just can’t maneuver. Michigan.org has compiled links to all of the spots in Michigan like this trek across the Grand Hotel’s famous porch.

This video is a great look at what goes into capturing all of the amazing images provided by Google Trekker and a link to what’s available around Michigan.

Explore Amazing Michigan Locations With Google Trekker’s Stunning Street View – YouTube.