Why attend a Google in Education Summit with AppsEvents in 2014?

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Ninja #ChromeTips for a Better Browsing Experience

Last week, I wrote about 10 time-saving Chrome extensions to help teachers cut back a little on their time. For this week's article, I thought of making a follow up post this time around a compilation of little known Chrome tips to help you get the most from this browser.

Before I give the tips...

I like Chrome and as I discover more about Google technologies (Apps, Docs, Drive, YouTube, Maps, etc), it slowly becomes an integral part of what I do here at AppsEvents. I'd like to think that Chrome is the heart of the Google Apps ecosystem, at least that is how I see it from an end-user perspective.

Since Chrome is a Google product, Apps users would expect it to work better performance wise. But if you take time to get to know it more, its features, and personalization options, you can do even greater things with all these solutions that Google offers.

This blog is barely a month old. We are still taking baby steps to make it into a "go to" resource for schools, educators, as well as students and what's a better way than starting with the basics, the heart?


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Below is a compilation of lesser known Chrome tips and tricks plus practical examples on how you can use them in your daily work at school or in the office too!

Working with Tabs

Tabs are great, especially when you are doing research. It allows you to access multiple web pages without having to open another browser. Here's how you can make tabs even better.

  • When you have a lot of websites opened, sometimes finding that tab where your Google Document for your research paper is found can be quite tedious. Use the Pin tab option to lock certain tabs on the side of your screen and prevent them from getting lost. Simply right click on the tab and select Pin tab. Doing so will shrink the tab into favicon size, leaving you more room for the other tabs, which is very helpful when multi-tasking. 

chrome-tips-1.png

  • Pinned tabs will be automatically be loaded the next time you launch Chrome so this is also a great feature when you want to open certain websites by default. You can also set your browser startup preferences to open multiple pages.

  • If you have too many tabs opened and Chrome starts to slow down, hit Shift + Esc to launch Chrome Task Manager (similar to Windows Task Manager). This will allow you to see which tabs or extensions are consuming too much resources. You can also kill some tabs and extensions.

  • Ctrl + 9 takes you to the last tab you opened in your current window. Ctrl + Shift + T lets you reopen your last closed tab. Chrome remembers up to 10 recently closed tabs so fire ways if you need to. You can also right click any tab and select Reopen closed tab.

  • You can drag a tab away to make it in a separate window. Middle click a tab to force close it. Click and drag tabs to easily rearrange them.

Bookmarking and Launching Apps/Pages

  • Do you want to save all your opened tabs for later? Quickly bookmark all of them with shortcut Ctrl + Shift + D and when you are ready to go, just right click on the corresponding bookmark folder and select Open all bookmarks to reopen them all at the same time.


Screenshot via Chrome Google+ page



  • Do you need more space on your screen? You can press Ctrl + Shift + B to toggle the bookmark bar.

  • You can have a fancy favicon only bookmark by removing the site’s name on the bookmark settings as you add a page to your bookmarks bar. This is a nice way to display your most visited sites.



Screenshot via Mashable.com


  • You can pin any Chrome apps to your Windows taskbar or Desktop. Simply right click on any app from Apps launcher or Apps tab, then select Create shortcuts. Not only will this make it convenient to access apps in one click, but also opens the app in a self-contained window with no navigation tabs giving you the feel of a native desktop application.

  • The above tip also works for websites. Click the Chrome settings button, go to Tools, and choose Create application shortcuts.

  • Click hold the back arrow on any tab to quickly see your browsing history.


These are just some of the tricks you can use to make working with Chrome even more productive. Don’t see your favorite Chrome tips on this list? Make sure to share them in the comments section below.

Google Chrome is more than just an internet browser. If you want to learn more on the basics of Google Chrome and its applications in education, check out this course from +Nathan Kellogg

http://goo.gl/IKA5jL

Do you want to know more Google Apps and Chrome tips and tricks that you can use in your classroom? Join a Google in Education Summit near you and learn valuable lessons from Google certified teachers, Google certified trainers, and other education technology experts. Visit www.appsevents.com today!

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Using Hangouts On Air in You Tube for Instant Broadcast

Often folks think that HOA are used only G+ but really you can create, broadcast and edit all within your YouTube account!  Just go to 'upload' and you'll find the link to create a HOA.  Instructions are included on how to verify your YouTube account (must be done in order to broadcast HOA.  I'll model a HOA in this video as well.  It is really easy and with a little practice you can post many tutorials and tips for your students to access throughout your course.  This is an excellent tool for blended learning, flipped classrooms and virtual teachers!  Have fun creating your own Hangout on Air!  :)


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10 Time Saving Chrome Extensions for Teachers

At AppsEvents, our browser of choice will always be Chrome not just because we advocate the use of Google Apps and other Google products for education, but largely due to the fact that Chrome offers a wide selection of extensions that you can use so your browser will perform the way you want it to. This, in effect, helps you work smarter and much more productive. On top of that, if you sign in to Chrome, all your preferences will be saved in the cloud allowing you to bring up your bookmarks, history, settings, and extensions on any device.

For today's blog post, we will feature 10 awesome Chrome extensions to help educators cut back on their time.




1. Save to Google Drive

If you are already using Google Drive, this is a powerful extension to help you save time by allowing you to download content from the web to a specific folder in your Google Drive directly via Chrome. For those who don't want to install the Google Drive software on their PC or laptop, this extension is a good alternative to eliminate manual downloading/uploading of documents or images.

This extension adds a browser action to save the current page with preferences you can configure and a right-click context menu to save hyperlinks and media.


2. Clearly

With just a single click or a keyboard action, Clearly makes reading updates from your favorite EdTech blogs and other websites clutter free. If you are easily distracted by sidebar ads or you just want to stay focused on what you are reading, this Chrome extension will be your best friend. And if you are an Evernote kind of teacher, you can easily save the "cleaned" article to any of your Evernote notebook and share them to your students.

3. StayFocusd

If you often find yourself endlessly checking updates on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other time-consuming websites that prevents you from getting any work done, this Chrome extension is a must install! StayFocusd is a productivity tool that helps you stay focused (as the name implies) by completely blocking websites such as online gaming and social media sites or by limiting the time you spend on certain websites.

4. Sexy Undo Close Tab

How many times did you find yourself accidentally closing a tab? It is very frustrating, especially when you are doing important research.

While the name of this extension might sound funny, it does the job in helping you reopen an accidentally closed tab without having to browse through the black hole that is your browser history and that's sexy!

5. Tab Scissors

This extension lets you split a Chrome window into two at the selected tab. If you have at least two tabs open, Tab Scissors will divide the window into two smaller, side-by-side windows. You can have an article open on the left and Google Docs on the right for a seamless research experience. Works great for multitasking.

6. Tab Glue

If there is an extension that splits a browser window, there should be a way to put them back together. Tab Glue is the perfect partner for Tab Scissors so you can easily put those tabs back. And if you have too many windows open, you can quickly organize them into a single window with just one click.

7. Checker Plus for Google Calendar™

One of our favorite products from the Google Apps EDU suite is the Calendar and if you use it all the time, you will love this Chrome extension. You can check or edit your events, set an appointment, and get desktop notifications without having to leave your current tab or launching Google Calendar.

8. Checker Plus for Gmail™

From the same developer of Checker Plus for Google Calendar™, this is another great extension that lets you check your emails in one click without leaving your current tab or going to GMail. You can get desktop notifications, read, listen, archive or delete emails from a pop-up window.

9. Google Dictionary (by Google)

When you install and enable this extension, you can easily view the definition of a word through a small pop-up bubble via a mouse double click. There is also a history feature of the words you have looked up for later use. This is a great tool for both students and teachers who are non-native English speakers.

10. Auto Copy

This extension eliminates the need for Ctrl + C command by automatically sending the selected text to your clipboard. Some people may need time to get used to using this, but it can definitely save you a few seconds of your time, especially when you need to copy-and-paste a lot. Also, your carpals would thank you for using this extension. The drawback is, this only works when copying content from websites.

Google Chrome is more than just an internet browser. If you want to learn more on the basics of Google Chrome and its applications in education, check out this course from +Nathan Kellogg http://goo.gl/IKA5jL

There goes our list. There are a lot more time-saving Chrome extensions available in the Chrome Web Store and we are pretty sure you also have your own list of extension “must haves” so make sure to share your favorites in the comments section below.

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Take Your Students on a Cultural Art Tour Around The World with Google Art Project

The Importance and Challenges of Art Appreciation


I like to consider myself a forever student, and if there is a subject (or subjects) that I love the most it would be Arts and Culture.

While some people might think that your knowledge of famous Renaissance artists or impressionist paintings don't offer practical application in real life, unless of course if you want to take your chance at trivia game shows and become a millionaire, when you learn to appreciate art and take a closer look you learn many other things a typical textbook can't offer.

Art can reveal beauty, joy, and pain in a way that you can actually feel what the creator felt. Isn't it amazing how one painting carefully preserved can tell so much about human history, behavior, and culture? It makes you ponder on how time has changed the world at the same time it reminds you that there are some things that remain the same throughout the years.

A trip to the museum is always a visually stimulating experience. However, when it's between science museums and art galleries, the latter offers less excitement especially to children. Not everyone is fortunate to have access to great galleries in their area or have the opportunity to travel to see these spots. When you do get a chance to visit any of these top museums, a one day visit is often not enough, it's too crowded, or you get tired of craning your neck.

Ultra High Definition Art Pieces at Your Fingertips


Google Art Project is a side project come proper product from Amit Sood, who is now the director of the Google Cultural Institute, that utilizes existing Google street view technology to help museums make their collections more accessible to the public in extraordinary detail you can even see individual brush strokes and cracks.


The bedroom, Vincent van Gogh (Van Gogh Museum)
Many museum directors have been open to the idea of setting up virtual galleries, but Google Art Project takes it to a higher level. Aside from giving web surfers the ability to see up close thousands of art pieces from top museums around the world, you can literally go on a virtual tour inside the building to see how paintings are hung and organized.

Imagine saying this in class one day, "Children, we are going on a cultural tour around the world so you can see ancient warriors, explore breathtaking architecture, and interesting old things dug from the earth." I bet you can see a lot of excited faces.

A Whole New Way of Looking at Art


The Google Art Project web portal is heavy on images with very few texts. But then again, you don't learn to appreciate art by reading. You do it by taking a closer look. Google Art Project was one of the educational resources discussed in one of the sessions in AppsEvents Google in Education East Africa summit and I can't express my delight upon learning about this tool. The experience is really different when you zoom in an art piece. There are surprise discoveries every now and then that you don't easily see on an actual art piece.

As of this writing, I found a three-headed snake on a pocket watch where one was wearing a crown while the other a fancy hat and I learned that in Van Goh's "The Starry Night", you can see a lot of the canvas --- the whole canvas area is not completely covered with paint like most oil paintings which I believe adds to the rough appeal of the entire painting.

Have you checked Google Art Project already? We are curious on how you are going to use this wonderful tool to help students learn more about art, culture and history. Don't forget to share your comments below!

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The three phases of Google Apps adoption in schools

It’s interesting having being involved in Google Apps projects at schools since the launch of Google Apps for Education in 2006 to look at the evolving trends as to why schools have adopted Google Apps and Google tools. I had a really interesting chat last week with Jan Zawadski from Hapara in Palo Alto where Jan outlined some broad trends he sees with Google Apps adoption and it got me thinking about how the broad shifts in why schools make the move to Google Apps.

So the three broad trends outlined are 1. Cost, 2. Collaboration and 3. Chromebooks/common core:

Phase 1 - Cost

Initially many schools adopted Google Apps for gmail, and the move seemed largely to be driven by cost factors, mainly the reduced cost of switching a school email servers from Microsoft Exchange Server and a general trend of starting to move school systems to the cloud. Google Docs adoption was much less mainstream and the core functionality still evolving, so wasn't as big a factor and most schools still were committed to Microsoft office with occasional Google Docs use.

Phase 2 - Collaboration

During this phase (I'm going to say from around 2009 onwards) Google Docs/Drive started to come into its own and the collaboration side of things really started to take off in an education context. Teachers started using Google Apps extensively in the classroom; for example creating online tests using Google forms, creating class sites and ePortfolios in Google Sites, getting students to submit coursework as Google Docs, and using comments to mark up the work etc. The Google Apps Marketplace was launched in 2010 and this increased the collaboration piece further with many external systems (for example LMS/VLE, SIS, ePortfolio systems) all extending the core functionality of Google Apps.

This started to drive a very different method of adoption at schools. Whereas initially the school IT Director or school management would apply for approval from Google for Google Apps for Education, now many individual teachers started applying for Google Apps for Education on their school's behalf. Teachers were primarily using Drive and Sites but not Gmail and Calendar so very different from initial adoption where Gmail/Calendar was the driving force. Google Apps use started to spread by word of mouth through the school to other tech savvy teachers and often lead to IT Directors and school management coming onboard and leading to a later switch of the email servers over to Google Apps.

Phase 3 - Chromebooks and the common core

Chromebooks were released in 2011 and soon it was clear the vast majority of adoption would be in K-12. Schools introducing one-to-one programs started looking seriously at Chromebooks primarily for reasons of (a) Low cost per device and (b) Ease of administering multiple devices. Once schools looked at Chromebooks a move to Google Apps was evaluated at the same time and this lead to a huge surge in adoption.

Chromebooks growth coincided with a push to adopt Common Core standards (in the US) and Michael Graham (who I had the pleasure of meeting when he spoke at our Arkansas summit) wrote the influential book Google Apps mets common core. Both Chromebooks and Google Apps help with compliance with the standards and the biggest factors I have heard recently hear from Schools moving to Google Apps in the US are Chromebooks and common core.

Of course Common core is US specific but I would point to Chromebooks as the main driving force behind the growth in Google Apps adoption at schools worldwide currently.

Whats next

Of course these are broad trends based purely on anecdotal evidence, and it has to be said that the biggest general factor driving adoption since 2006 is word of mouth, through educators recommending Google Apps to other educators. The Google Education community (of which I'm proud to be a part) is one of the largest and most engaged built around any technology in EdTech and the network of Google Education Trainers has been a huge factor in getting schools to make the move to Google Apps.

The growth in Google Apps for Education is simply mind boggling, at something around 60 per cent a year and eventually the growth in Europe and the US will start to plateau. I see the big next phase of growth coming in the developing world, specifically in Africa where the interest is huge. We have had the pleasure of running two events there this year. In Sengal with Rick Park and Tanzania with Santha Kumar. Both events were at International schools (always early adopters of Google Apps) but we are starting to see the spread outwards to local schools as internet connections and web connected devices start to become more ubiquitous. Google Apps is perfectly suited for these schools who are coming from a situation of having no existing IT infrastructure to jump straight to a leading edge tech environment.

Mobile is starting to feature more prominently in the Google EDU ecosystem too with the Android play store for education so its interesting to see if this will be a large factor driving adoption going forward.

I’m very interested to hear people's feedback in the comments and on G+ as to how they see things, and to hear about the specific factors that drove Google Apps adoption at their schools.
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Learn and network with other leading educators at a Google in Education Summit or Certification Bootcamp in 2014. More info at www.appsevents.com

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AppsEvents to host the first Google Apps Administrator Certification Courses

We are delighted to announce that AppsEvents will host the first worldwide certification courses to be a Google Apps Administrator. Google Apps admins are some of the key members of the Google Apps Community and it is great to see a certification focussed just for them. AppsEvents team members were involved with Google during the planning and beta testing of this qualification and are delighted it has been released.

The course is suitable for all people who administer Google Apps, whether at a company, Educational institution or non profit. The great thing about Google Apps is all 'versions' are the same.

The great thing about our certification course is that you can attend the one day course, take the exam and if successful you will be a Google Apps Certified Trainer which means you are entitled to use the badge on your website, business card etc. This is great not only to demonstrate your knowledge but also for your career prospects..

In terms of prerequisites. We recommend that to attend our course you have some prior experience of the Google Apps Control panel, and simple tasks such as adding and removing users. If this is not the case don’t worry we will provide you with administrator access to our test domain and also a list of pre-course tasks to complete.

We are planning on holding certification events worldwide and also we will be holding the course as an optional pre summit course for some summits. We are still confirming which summits depending on interest but for sure we will be holding this at some of our Asian summits.

For more information on the course or to request a course to be held at your school or company please email us at www.appsevents.com
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Changes to the Google Education Certification Programs in 2014

We have had several questions regarding the updated Google Education Certifications so I thought I would write a blog post to look at the new certifications, and also the changes in more detail.

Firstly all information about the certification programs is available at the new Google Education page by clicking on the ‘Certification’ link. The new website is clearly laid out and explains things really well.

So to start with there are now three Google Education qualifications. We give an overview of each below and explain the differences from the previous qualifications. They are:

  • Google Educator 
  • Google Education Trainer 
  • Google Certified teacher 
Google Educator Intro and changes

The first step for everyone is to become a Google Educator and you gain this qualification by passing 5 exams. This qualification was previously called the 'Google Apps Qualified Individual'. The updated qualification broadens the scope to include all Google Education Tools not just the core Google Apps suite as was the case previously.

The exams have changed slightly. Instead of the 5 original exams (Mail, Drive, Calendar, Sites, Admin) It's required to pass 4 compulsory exams (Mail, Drive, Calendar, Sites) then choose just ONE elective exam from the list (Chrome, Chromebooks, tablets, Implementing Google Apps).

I think this change is a great idea as many teachers never work in Google Apps Administration so now they do not necessarily need to take this exam. Please note that the exams have not been changed yet so its still possible to register and purchase the old exams but I am sure this will be updated soon.
Core Google Suite

So you must pass 4 exams on the core Google suite:




Electives

Then you must pass 1 exam from a list of 4. These exams are on some interesting ‘non-core’ topics and you can choose one depending on your area of interest. If you are fairly new to Google Apps and Google in Education the ‘Chrome Browser’ exam will be a good place to start as it’s amazing to find the amazing possibilities with Chrome that most people don’t know about.

The other exams will appeal depending on your area of interests. If your school is using or considering Chromebooks or Android devices then these exams will be useful. The ‘Implementing Google Apps’ exam will be a great learning experience for school IT staff looking to implement Google Apps at their school.


Study preparation

The course material has been completely revamped from the previous site and includes many embedded YouTube videos and the time needed to complete each section is clearly stated. In some cases, for example with advanced gmail the training link goes back to the old training material.

To take the exams and become a Google Educator just go to https://google.starttest.com/ You will be presented with the screen below and you can purchase each exam for $15 each. There is no discounted bundle being offered currently as was the case before.


When you pass the 5 exams you will automatically be given a link to your ‘Google Educator’ certificate which you can print off. Currently there is no online badge for becoming a Google Educator.

Conclusion

It is anticipated that many educators, probably the majority, will stop after becoming a Google Educator. For those who want to continue though read on....
Google Education Trainer Intro and changes

The Google Education Trainer was previously named the Google Apps EDU Certified Trainer which is a huge improvement. Google is really emphasising now that this qualification is focussed on individuals that have:

  • A strong history of Google training in schools 
  • Engaging public speaking skills 
  • An ability to distill content into creative, informative learning materials 
  • Enthusiasm and passion for the role of technology in education 

Essentially it is becoming clearly focussed on people who want to train educators in other schools and at summits etc. For educators who are looking to use Google tools in their classroom the ‘Google Educator’ would be ideal. So if you want to demonstrate your knowledge of Google tools in Education become a ‘Google Educator’. If you want to take this to the next level and conduct training on Google tools externally then continue on with the ‘Google Education Trainer’ program.
Application process

One change from before is that previously there was an application form that could be completed at any time, whereas now applications will be reviewed quarterly and the application form is not open all this time.


We anticipate the application process will be broadly the same and consisting of;

  • A case study where you conduct and document a training event 
  • Recording two videos; one where you dem some aspect of Google Apps and one where you turn the camera on yourself and talk about your experience with Google Tools and as an innovative educator 
  • Google Certified Teacher

Finally just to quickly mention the ‘Google Certified Teacher’ certification, which is separate from the two qualifications listed above. This is easy to explain as there is no change from before :) To become a Google Certified Teacher you need to be accepted to attend a Google Teacher Academy (GTA), which is a two day events held a few times year each with around 50 attendees each. Gaining acceptance to a GTA is highly competitive so if you are considering this it is important to put a lot of effort into your video application. I would recommend to spend some time looking on YouTube at similar successful applications.

Conclusion

If you are interested to attend a bootcamp to help you prepare for both the Google Educator and Google Education Trainer qualifications check out the certification boot camps offered by AppsEvents. If you would like to host an event at your school please complete the Google Form on the site.
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