Chromebook Apps to Inspire Creativity

With the recent announcement of the new generation Chromebooks with stylus support, world-facing camera, and Android apps, we thought we’d compile a list of tools that helps inspire collaboration and creativity in the classroom so you can make the most of these new devices.


Toontastic 3D

Launched early this year, Toontastic 3D is a very powerful at the same time fun tool that enables students to transform their imaginations into an animated movie! The app has a very intuitive UI and a video-game like environment.

For digital storytelling, users pick from three Story Arcs (Short Story, Classic, & Science Report). The app gives prompts on how to construct a story and has a media library full of characters and settings that will surely excite a child’s inner creator. It also lets you create your own 3D drawings, record your own voice, add yourself with photos, customize the colors of the built-in characters, and choose from dozens of songs to come up with your movie soundtrack. Get the app here >>
Soundtrap for Education

Soundtrap offers a lot of options to help you create music online. You can either connect your own instrument, record sounds directly through your device’s microphone, or use the software instruments and loops built within the software! Here’s a really great article on how one teacher is revolutionizing music education in his school using this tool. If you can’t wait to get started, you can sign up for Soundtrap here >>.


Adobe Photoshop Mix

Photoshop Mix brings some of the powerful photo editing features to your Chromebook or Android device. With the app, you can easily perform tasks such as:
  • Cut out and remove sections of your images or merge multiple photos. 
  • Seamlessly combine photos together to create fun or surreal images. 
  • Adjust colors and contrast or apply preset FX Looks (filters) to your pictures. Enhance the entire image, or just a portion with the touch of your finger. 
  • Non-destructive editing means your original pics stay pristine and untouched. 
  • Quickly and easily share your creations on social media. 
Install Photoshop Mix from this link >>.

BONUS Tip: Quick Draw

If you are looking for a simple and engaging way to introduce concepts like neural networks and artificial intelligence in your class or you just want a quick ice breaker, consider this AI browser experiment from Google. Quick Draw is a game built with machine learning. You draw and it tries to guess what you are drawing. It’s really fun!

Who are AppsEvents and what makes us Unique?

AppsEvents has one clear goal: To produce amazing Google PD for Educators, to give them the tools and the inspiration to take their work to the next level....and to do it time and time again on every training engagement. We know we are only as good our last training event.

AppsEvents is a unique organization with a tight focus on the intersection of these areas:
  1. Google for Education: We work exclusively on training Google for Education tools and their leading edge applications in schools and in the classroom.
  2. Working with schools and Educators: We don’t train businesses. Our focus is 100% educators working at schools.
  3. Only PD: We’re not a consulting focused organization and we don’t resell products and services. We believe the best investment schools can make is quality PD to give them the tools to take things forward themselves.
  4. Educator trainers: We work exclusively with trainers that are actively engaged within the education community, from Principals to IT heads, Tech Coaches to Teachers. All of our leadership team are currently involved in education; Either in teaching at schools or as GEG leaders and co-leaders and training directly for Google.

Our leadership team is distributed worldwide which gives us a unique international focus to bring the best elements of teaching we can find; not just from the US and from the UK but from multiple top-ranked education systems such as Finland and Singapore and from the best IB Schools worldwide. We have local teams located in Asia, US, UK, Europe and the Middle East.

All our summits have a strong mix of trainers; primarily local/regional Google experts with international trainers to give fresh perspectives. We don’t work with every trainer and our extended team we believe are the best Google Educators out there.

Curriculum development is a central part of AppsEvents and our global team collaborates to produce the most up to date Google for Education releases. For example our core ‘Google Educator Level 1 Certification Bootcamp’ currently has over 500 hours of development time on it, and still we revise it after every single event. We plan our curriculum centrally so you get a unified experience taking our training anywhere in the world.

We work on a 360 degree approach to empower schools, training all job roles: Educators, Leadership, Support and Tech staff and we work to make sure the effect of our PD is lasting in the school.

A unique thing about all our summits is the extreme focus on networking and building the Google Education Community. We always have a fun networking party for all attendees with free drinks after the close of day 1 to help people build lasting connections. We are proud to have given many educators their first opportunity to present at a summits, and several of these we have helped develop to give their first keynote. We are always expanding our team with amazing educators who are passionate about Google tools.

We are Google community-centric and work closely together with many of the top Google for Education partners worldwide.

AppsEvents is a focussed team of experts producing boutique high level events every time we set foot in the classroom. We look forward to working with you. For more information about hosting an event at your school please click here

Digital Citizenship in Schools


Digital citizenship is becoming more and more integrated into school curriculums. As educators are becoming more familiar with technology and social media and how it impacts learners, we are seeing some really great programs being developed by ISTE, Google, Common Sense Media, ASCD and many more!


If citizenship was the rationale for the founding of schools, digital citizenship can be seen as the evolution of this, and can broadly be defined by appropriate and responsible use of technology. ISTE and Common Sense Media have broken up digital citizenship into strands and topics:

ISTE
Common Sense Media
Digital access
Internet Safety
Digital etiquette
Privacy & Security
Digital law
Relationships & Communication
Digital communication
Cyberbullying & Digital Drama
Digital literacy
Digital Footprint & Reputation
Digital commerce
Self-Image & Identity
Digital rights and responsibilities
Information Literacy
Digital safety and security
Creative Credit & Copyright
Digital health and wellness


Recent news events have further emphasized the need for digital literacy, identifying ‘fake news’ is an essential skill in an ever more connected world.

So where are schools at?

Nearly all schools are now implementing some form of DC curriculum. Some schools have it embedded into curriculum whilst other schools are just beginning to explore the opportunities. With massive growth in 1:1 devices in schools (Chromebooks, iPads, laptops, smartphones) there is a need for a continuous discussion around digital citizenship.

A growing number of schools are hosting programs designed for students, educators and parents. Through parent sessions the message of digital citizenship is reinforced and further shared with learners. Some schools are working with governments organisations, industry and NGOs to create innovative programs to promote DC - some even have students work on creating e-commerce startups as a culminating project!

Where to start?


A great way for a school to begin is by having a Digital Citizenship Week. A number of lessons during this week are themed around DC, and excellent resource to share with educators is Common Sense Media’s curriculum. With lessons designed as pdf’s, for Nearpod and iBooks, all grades are covered K-12. Teachers can use the prepared lessons or customize them to localize them for different countries/cultures.

Given the breadth of DC content, it’s really rewarding to explore from a professional growth perspective. And therein lies the relevance to Google’s very own certifications - Google Certified Educator Levels 1&2. Throughout the review material there are references to security and privacy. Level 1 features the following topics:
  • How to protect yourself with good, strong passwords 
  • How to recognize hoaxes 
  • What makes up your digital footprint 
  • How to manage your online identity 
  • The importance of privacy settings 
  • How to build resilience to be able to handle challenges 

Gaining recognition

To gain recognition for digital citizenship efforts within schools, Common Sense Media offers its own Digital Citizenship Certified Educator and Digital Citizenship Certified School. Following a successful implementation of digital citizenship curriculum educators are able to apply to this program and receive recognition in terms of digital badges and posters that can be displayed.

A world of resources

The following is a short list of relevant resources (and there are loads more great resources out there - please share more in the comments):

Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum for K-12: Common Sense’s collection of resources including ready-made lesson plans - great place to start

ISTE - Essential Elements of Digital Citizenship - ISTE’s elements are driven from the ISTE standards requirements for digital citizenship, focussing on the safe, legal and ethical use of technology.

Digizen - a website that can be shared with educators and learners alike, lots of games, videos and resources covering social media through to cyberbullying.

Growing Up Digital - report from Children's Commissioner for England published Jan 2017, further highlighting the rationale for digital citizenship education in schools

Screenagers - movie diving into the impacts of a digital age on children

New Generation Chromebooks, New Possibilities in Education

This week at Bett, one of the world’s leading education technology conferences, Google demoed two new Chromebook models with next generation features designed to address the needs of schools using G Suite for Education which now have more than 70 million active users!

The Acer Chromebook Spin 11 and the Asus Chromebook C213 offer users the versatility of having a desktop and an Android tablet with these new unique features:

  • Stylus Capability: Both devices come with an intelligent, low-cost pen resembling a #2 pencil for easier note-taking and drawing.
  • World-Facing Camera: A special camera placed on the keyboard side so when the Chromebook is flipped, it holds just like a tablet and students can now take photos from all directions.
  • USB-C charging: All 2017 Chromebook models going forward will have standard super-fast USB-C charging.
  • Android apps: In the coming weeks, administrators will be able to create a library of approved Android apps and install them on select managed Chromebook devices. Here’s the current list of Chromebook models that can support Android apps.


With Android apps now available on Chromebooks plus the introduction of stylus pens on newer models, this opens up new possibilities on how students and educators use their devices.

Searchable Handwritten Notes

New generation Chromebooks uses an input prediction model built upon Google’s machine learning technology, which makes writing on these devices extremely responsive. Combine it with apps with Optical Character Recognition capabilities such as Google Keep, going through your notes is as easy as doing a Google search.

Classroom web version or Android app in one device!

Google Classroom works on all Chromebook devices so students and educators can collaborate and stay organized. This setup works so well when dealing with documents and multimedia content.

With the help of a stylus-enabled device and the Classroom Android app, students can solve math equations by hand or sketch diagrams and other visuals for a project directly in the Classroom app.

Adobe Creative Cloud apps


To provide further creative options for students and get the most of the stylus and world-facing camera, creative Android apps from Adobe optimized for Chromebooks will be available for free download.

As Chromebooks continue to become the device of choice for education, expect to have an even wider variety of applications and Chrome OS devices in the future including detachables and tablets.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 11 and the Asus Chromebook C213 are scheduled to be released late spring. You can check out new Chromebooks at http://google.com/edu/chromebook.

Considering switching to a Chromebook? Here’s what these experts have to say...


For those who are planning to get a Chromebook this year, major media outlets Computerworld and Notebooks.com both recently published their review on the Acer Chromebook R13. We are sharing them below to help you decide on which device to get.

Computerworld’s article, Review: Acer Chromebook R13 - a Chromebook with class, is mostly positive, focusing on the design, support for Android apps, and overall usability. The review starts by laying out how the R13 is a “slightly larger, slightly improved version of the R11.”

The brand new R13 “has a much more solid feel than most Chromebooks,” and it’s good to hear that they “got the impression that this one will last for the long haul.” Computerworld also commented on the keyboard, which they were impressed with, though it was mentioned that the touchpad isn’t as large as those found on some high-end laptops.
They also picked up on the excellent new development that the R13 is “one of the few Chromebooks currently capable of running Android apps.” As with all of Acer’s Chromebooks, the battery is excellent, with the R13’s good for up to 12 hours. As Computerworld mentioned, “it certainly lasted over a day's worth of use with power to spare.”

If you’re attending BETT 2017, definitely get along to the Acer stand to check out the new Chromebook R13. It’s flippable, has a touchscreen, runs Android apps and boasts a decent 4GB of RAM to keep on top of all those tabs you have open! You can check out the full review from Computerworld here, or if you’d like a second opinion, check out this review from Notebook.com who found the R13 to be the ‘Best Overall Chromebook.’

If we forget to look out of the window

by +John Mikton

A window out
Every year has its moments, and 2016 was no exception. Various significant shifts occurred, including changes in the political landscape in the United States, United Kingdom, and Turkey. And the horrors of war, civil strife, terrorism and an underlying global tension have been constantly fed into our digital lives from the comfort of our screens.

As we consume the aggregated algorithmic social network feeds, each customized to ensure we get what we want to digest, we are choreographed into a more divisive world.

Information is power. This year, the pollsters, news agencies, and pundits got caught out with two big votes, and so many predictions seemed off.

Our landscape of information has entered a level of Orwellian curation, and what is news, fact, or reality seems dictated by emotion and perspectives constructed from our own curated news feeds. They are rarely factual. "Post Truth" - Oxford English Dictionary Names 'Post-Truth' Word of the Year by Jon Blistein is the word that defines these moments and a shift to a new narrative.

For many of us, this Orwellian curation has us struggling to distinguish fact from fiction. The level of sophistication of not only the algorithms but how these are manipulated to shift thinking is the new power. In schools, we are being told by various studies that our students capacity for media and information literacy is weak. (Students Have 'Dismaying' Inability To Tell Fake News From Real, Study Finds by Camila Domonoske ). When you consider we as adults struggle with this landscape, it is no surprise that our students struggle too.

In a world of algorithms where the sophisticated digital curation of social media, news, blogs, and video feeds can be manipulated to match an individual’s perspective, the challenges we face as educators are immense. This manipulation, shared in this sobering article " Google, democracy and the truth about internet search by Carole Cadwalladr", highlights the complexity of being truly media literate. The prevalence of third party curation in social media feeds during elections highlighted in this article "Macedonia’s fake news industry sets sights on Europe by: Andrew Byrne" emphasis the challenges we all face in understanding what is "real" news.

To be complacent is short-sighted in a school setting. There is a tendency with school professional development to not explicitly address the digital reality that engulfs our lives as an essential part of our professional learning. Information and Media literacy are what frame our own democratic values: choice, perspective, empathy, resilience, and critical thinking. If we as educators are going to assign students critical thinking tasks and ask them to engage with media and information while juggling screen time in a complex digital landscape, we cannot be passive bystanders.

As school leaders, we need to re-frame our engagement with the role of digital life in professional development. Together, we need to understand the complexity and impact of algorithmic information flows on our devices.

We also need dedicated spaces for this professional learning. We must learn how to mentor information flows, authenticate media, source perspectives, and understand the pedagogic impact of a curated news. We must approach this with patience and empathy, and allow everyone to build an understanding of the digital flows we live by, tapping into the talent of our librarians and digital coaches as guides. We must take advantage of the frameworks available to us (e.g: #1 or #2) and use them as a point of reference for a pedagogic consensus on how to mentor our school community.

The paradigm shift asks us to look at Digital Intelligence as a core intelligence. As defined by http://www.projectdq.org: "- the sum of social, emotional, and cognitive abilities essential to digital life." and shared out in the World Economic Forum article: "8 digital life skills all children need – and a plan for teaching them".

Digital Intelligence needs to be woven into the curriculum. We do this on a daily basis with all other aspects of the curriculum. Let us do it with Digital Intelligence. Re-structure the focus and content to explicitly encompass screen-time management, privacy management, cyber security management, digital footprints, and digital identity; use these to make authentic connections based on our experiences. Then, reflect on our digital habits, likes, tensions, questions and understandings to create activities to share. In this process, we should hope to find comfort in being honest with our own vulnerabilities. We can then use this life-learning to support our students' understanding of digital intelligence.

Being explicit about implementing Digital Intelligence in faculty professional learning ensures this is an essential part of our educators professional growth. Working together, as adults learners, we need to harness the complexity of the choreographed digital world. By ensuring this is in our professional learning landscape, we are then empowered to share our digital intelligence to students. It is the only way to counter an Orwellian curation of information in a "post truth" world.



Beyond Digital and this blog post by John Mikton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at beyonddigital.org.

Lunch and Learn with Dean Stokes at a FREE Live Webinar

Are you new to using Google Classroom or do you have colleagues who've never seen it before? If so, be sure to check out a FREE series of webinars that our very own Dean Stokes created with Texthelp. The fourth and final webinar takes place on Wednesday 7th December at 12:30pm GMT.

GET THE LINK TO WATCH HERE!

The links for the whole series are below so that you can start watching right away. The webinars run at a comfortable pace - concise with just the right amount of information you'll need.

Webinar 1 (13 mins) - Getting Started with G Suite for Education and Google Classroom
Webinar 2 (15 mins) - Completing and Collecting Work with Google Classroom
Webinar 3 (20 mins) - Assessing Work with Google Classroom
Webinar 4 (1 hour) - Lunch and Learn LIVE (Taking Things Further with Google Classroom)

By watching the series, you'll learn how to complete the entire lesson workflow using Google Classroom from creating a class to assessing work. You'll also find out how to use Read & Write for Google Chrome for supporting literacy and comprehension and Fluency Tutor for Google to assist with assessing reading - both free for teachers from Texthelp.

In the final LIVE session, you'll build on what was learned in the first three videos by discovering some great new tips and tricks. The session will end with a live Q&A for you to ask questions about using G Suite for Education and Classroom at your school.

Sign up for the live webinar with Dean Stokes!

We're excited to see you there!