#GSuiteHack : Interactive Google Drawing

This week's featured #GSuiteHack is from AppsEvents presenter Adam Llevo a.k.a.@MrAdamPE on Twitter.

One of the ways you can use Google Drawings in your lessons is through making a drag-and-drop labeling activity! You could create the template, share the template with your students, and they then share back the completed homework when they have finished for you to check. Below are some examples:

Want to be featured on the next AppsEvents newsletter? Email your awesome #GSuiteHack to Jane (jane@appsevents.com) or become a guest blogger!

AppsEvents is a Google For Education Professional Development Partner which works with a global group of passionate educators to organise worldwide summits and bootcamps featuring Google for Education.

By delivering these high energy events, where G Suite and Chromebook experts run multiple sessions across one or two days, AppsEvents provides outstanding professional development for cloud focussed educators.

Join a #GooglePD near you! Visit appsevents.comhttps://appsevents.com/ today.
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#GIESummit is now #GooglePD

When AppsEvents began in 2011 'Google for Education' was 'Google in Education' and 'G Suite' was 'Google Apps' ....a lot has changed! AppsEvents has also changed: Initially we focussed only on Google Summits, but now we offer a range of customized 'Professional Development' (PD) with one constant mission: We focus 100% on Google and 100% on schools.

With this in mind we started our quest for a new Hashtag. We came up with #GooglePDwhile in Hong Kong last month for our annual summit. AppsEvents team members Dan Taylor and Dean Stokes were on a long taxi ride and brainstorming every possible hashtag, which eventually led to #GooglePD. It's simple, reflects our mission and is a good transition to our next phase as we grow AppsEvents for the future.

Join the conversation on Twitter!
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Design Thinking in Schools | Part Three - G Suite for Edu

By +Ben Rouse

Gmail was created by a Google engineer in their 20% time, back in 2004. Googlers get time to pursue projects outside of their main role and this engineer wanted to tackle spam, a significant problem for email users in the beginning of this millennium. The project was to create an email that would block most spam, the technology was utilised to solve a problem. It so happens this internal project became a tools with over 1 billion users. Wonder if they got a bonus?

All good technology integrations in schools don’t begin by talking about the tools. The same is true in this blog series, only once we have given time to empathise with the situation, define it and seek to develop ideas around this can the tools come into their own.

Embedding G Suite for Education in learning involves looking for barriers to modern learning taking place in schools and seeking to move beyond them. This was the case for me. I offered tool specific training in my school but the turnout was low, despite being able to travel across Europe to deliver sessions that were packed. However, when we started focussing on problems, such as the office staff not being able to edit a spreadsheet when someone else had it open, or that they were spending hours typing information from paper reply slips into a spreadsheet, this was when the tools came into their own. Since then the office team are Google form gurus and have saved themselves hours.

Two primary colleagues shared the planning load for their classes in the same year group but I discovered they were planning furiously over the weekend and only discovering what each other had done on Monday morning. Then they had to scramble to adjust their powerpoints to match. For them, the move to Google Slides through drive was easy as they could collaborate on planning and Monday mornings were much more manageable, giving them more time to welcome the children and ease into a successful day, knowing their planning was ready to go.

In preparation for an event in Scotland I was studying documents related to closing attainment gaps between students from different economic backgrounds, something that is a key focus in Scotland and many other countries. This document lists things schools can do, gathered from evidence based research. The five guiding principles and six key strategies aligned with two of my passions, design thinking and technology for learning. The guiding principles are empathy and context driven. Closing the attainment gap does not have a silver bullet but is uniquely entwined with the situation, community and context of schools.

The key strategies include, high quality teachers and teaching… this is vital for any technology integration! Another key principle is relates to a network of support and collaboration. If you are looking to collaborate then G Suite offers the best current set of tools for that.

What are the problems facing teachers and learners currently?
  • Lack of time 
  • School budgets are being cut 
  • Preparing learners for the modern workforce 
  • Being GDPR compliant 
And the list goes on…

I feel pretty confident that through a design thinking culture and approach schools can address these challenges effectively and having G Suite tools at hand will give schools the modern tools needed to innovate, adapt and solve the problems they choose to tackle.

This is the reason we are looking to compliment our Google professional development offering with design thinking principles that will help schools embed the tools in learning by finding problems worth solving. Schools can then take this approach and apply it to the rest of their challenges, whether that be learning spaces, project-based learning curricula or recruitment and retention.

Google Ventures, part of Google which invests in new start-up companies developed a design sprint they used to help new and growing companies make progress on new products or growth strategies quickly without spending too much. Based around design thinking the design sprint commits 5 days to understanding problems, generating ideas and prototyping and testing those ideas out on real users before the week ends. If you would like to find out more about this then James Knapp's book "Sprint" takes you through the whole process with lots of great examples along the way. We know that schools are less likely to be able to commit five days to a design sprint, though some definitely do with great results! Through G Suite tools like docs and hangouts we can now work closely with schools as they develop learning through G Suite.

In the next blog post we will look at the prototyping process that ensures time is not wasted developing ideas that won't have impact and making sure the ideas that prevail have merit and scalability. Prototyping can involve paper, glue and lego or it can utilise tools to create simple versions of websites and curriculum models. G Suite tools lend themselves to prototyping ideas because they were created by a company that innovates and uses design thinking in much of what they do.

About the author : Ben Rouse | AppsEvents, UK Director

After implementing G Suite at my secondary comprehensive school in UK I was accepted onto the Google Teacher Academy in London in 2013. Since then I have been involved in technology for learning training and implementations in schools in UK and Europe as a Google for Education Innovator and Trainer.

I taught Mathematics for 13 years and had middle and senior leadership roles in schools before becoming an educational technology integration specialist for a Mutli-Academy Trust in UK.

I now work with AppsEvents to help organisations implement G Suite and Technology for Learning effectively.

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#GSuiteHack : Create Better Slides with Explore

Need help in polishing the design of your presentation? Use the Explore feature in Slides.

Explore generates attractive layout suggestions for you based on the content of your presentation. It's like having your own designer!

You can also use Explore to search information from the web or content from Google Drive.To start using Explore, locate the Explore tool icon in the bottom right corner when using Slides for the web. Learn more about the Explore tool here.

Want to be featured on the next AppsEvents newsletter? Email your awesome #GSuiteHack to Jane (jane@appsevents.com) or become a guest blogger!
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#GSuiteHack : View all Slides in One Click!

In Google Sheets, you can now view all your slides at once as thumbnails! Simply click Viewfrom the Slides menu and then select Grid view.

Want to be featured on the next AppsEvents newsletter? Email your awesome #GSuiteHack to Jane (jane@appsevents.com) or become a guest blogger!
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Design Thinking in Schools | Part Two - Ideation

How might we increase exam results for learners?
Why do exam results matter?
Because employers use exam results to pick who they interview
Why do employers use exam results?
Erm… because that is the information they have about students who apply
Why do they only have exam results
They also have a CV but that doesn’t differentiate the students enough
Why does a CV not differentiate a student enough
Because schools are measured on exam results and this is the focus…

How might we use the exam content to engage the learners in a wider variety of skills?

In Part 1 of Design Thinking and Learning in Schools we looked at the design process in schools and how design thinking schools can change the way they understand the problems they need to solve and innovate solutions to these problems.

Two of the tools design thinking schools might use are How might we (HMW) statements and the 5 Why’s activity to drill down into a problem to find the real problem worth solving. If you haven’t had a chance to try this out yet please give it a go with your team or students. Curriculum design is a good place to start if you are a classroom teacher.

Having diverged to gather information in the empathy phase and then converged to a problem worth solving, the ideation phase diverges back out.

The reason design thinking is a culture is because people cannot be wedded to their own ideas if this process is going to be effective and worthwhile. There are some activities that help to detach people from owning their ideas. One you can try is getting a group of 4 to 6 to generate 100 ideas in 10 minutes around a problem. Put on some up-beat music and make sure the first 2 minutes is carried out individually. Forcing people to generate a volume of ideas squeezes out the creativity and drives people to have “daft”, “crazy” or “silly” ideas. Within these ideas are the potential gems as you use the last part of the 10 minutes to piggyback on parts of ideas. Ownership of the ideas will be lost and everyone starts to get the freedom to suggest anything and everything. It needs to be facilitated in the right way to make sure every idea gets written down and there are some tricks to prompt ideas if the pace slows before the 10 minutes is up.

How often are ideas in schools generated by an individual or small group in isolation? How often are the ideas developed to a point that the feedback opportunity comes at a time when it seems irrelevant, awkward or negative to offer criticism?

A school developing its use of digital technology for learning needs to understand its context and the problems they want to overcome. The empathy phase gives insights into the barriers to digital technology being used effectively by teachers and students. A design thinking school can gather ideas from throughout the organisation. Teachers, cleaners, teaching assistants, parents, carers, and not least students can bring their creativity to produce innovative ideas the school can get excited about.

If you have tried the activity from Part 1 of this blog series it is time to try 100 ideas in 10 minutes, make sure everyone is standing up for it (that actually gets more ideas!).

Once you have your ideas flowing freely there are some great activities to help sift through and find the gems.

At every stage of the design thinking process you need to be willing to expose the process beyond the immediate team that might be working on it. Ideas that hit the mark for your group might have limitations that happen to be in your blind spot. Sharing the ideas quickly and killing off the wrong ones early prevents ideas having lots of resources poured into them, to the point they become harder to kill off.

As teachers, #edtech consultants and G Suite Trainers we sometimes fall into the trap of feeling obliged to be able to serve up a menu of never-fail ways to use technology for learning. However, context is so important in schools that we have quickly learnt that the technology used effectively in one school cannot always be translated to another school. Primarily, because the usefulness of the technology is driven by the teachers who have found a learning opportunity they want to exploit. At AppsEvents we successfully run one and two day events to expose teachers to the tools available through G Suite and spark their imagination into how those tools can be put to great use in their own classroom or across their school. With design thinking we are looking to support school’s adoption of digital technology over a longer period and tap into the inherent creativity and innovation of the adults working with children everyday.

G Suite has the tools to facilitate the creative and impactful ideas that can come from a design thinking school. This is why we are utilising the approach to provide a chance for schools to embed G Suite for Education without focussing on the tools. Instead by focussing on learning, problems school want to overcome and the pain points of the people in the school we have found that the tools become embedded quicker and more effectively.

In the next part we will share an example of G Suite tools addressing problems that came from a design thinking approach to improving communication in a growing group of schools.

About the author : Ben Rouse | AppsEvents, UK Director

After implementing G Suite at my secondary comprehensive school in UK I was accepted onto the Google Teacher Academy in London in 2013. Since then I have been involved in technology for learning training and implementations in schools in UK and Europe as a Google for Education Innovator and Trainer.

I taught Mathematics for 13 years and had middle and senior leadership roles in schools before becoming an educational technology integration specialist for a Mutli-Academy Trust in UK.

I now work as with AppsEvents to help organisations implement G Suite and Technology for Learning effectively.
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Free CPD at the RM Seminars – Autumn 2017 – Book your free place now!

Please join us 2nd – 29th November at 11 locations across the UK.

The RM Seminars are back for autumn 2017. We are really excited to bring you a range of CPD accredited sessions with topics providing inspiration for using technology in your school, ensuring your students safety online, plus tons of technical advice. Full details regarding topics and the agenda for the day can be found at www.rm.com/seminars.

We’ve got a great line up of speakers including Google Certified Educators, Online Safety experts and our very own RM experts. Places are FREE but limited, so what are you waiting for?! Book your place today at www.rm.com/seminars!

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The Best Chromebooks of 2017 reviewed and compared

At first glance, Chromebooks are a breed of laptops designed to be easy and safe to use, compact and affordable. However, Chromebooks are not the ideal pick for everyone. There are quite a few things Chromebooks cannot handle but as long as you understand their limits, there’s a fair chance you’ll get along well with a Chromebook.

For those looking to get a Chrome OS device, here's a great article from ultrabookreview.com with a handy comparison table on the best Chromebooks of the moment including several models from our Global Summit Partner Acer.
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Design Thinking in Education | Part One - Empathy

By +Ben Rouse

Have a walk around school and take a moment to ask why?

Why do we teach these subjects?
Why are the timings of lessons structured in this way?
Why are classrooms set out like that?
Why do the children behave so well for that teacher?
Why did we purchase those books?
Why doesn’t the librarian sit in lessons?
Why aren’t those children excited?
Why does that teacher look tired?
Why is that class having so much fun?
Why do we have a teacher desk?
Why is no one in the staff room?
Why are all the IT support male?
Why do we want to use digital technology for learning?

How much of the school environment is designed to support learning? Does it work? Who does it work for?

The golden circle taken from Simon Sinek's book "Start with Why". Check out what he has to say here https://www.ted.com/speakers/simon_sinek

Let me give you an example:

A school delivers assemblies in a hall, designed in early 20th century, via a projector hanging from the ceiling that displays on screen that rolls down from the ceiling above the stage. There are some sockets on the side of the stage that half the people who present know how to use with their laptop in order to connect and show their presentation to the assembled children or carers.

Because of the position of the sockets the presenter spends their time turning to click an arrow key to move the slides forward, turning away from the children to move on to the next slide. Most of the presentations are delivered by the senior leadership team at the school. The children attend around two assemblies per week.

What bothers the presenters?

“Having to turn around and take your eye off the children and interrupt your flow can lead to distraction and muttering.”

“Having to call IT support to connect my laptop every assembly.”

“Having to turn my neck constantly to see the slide I am on.”

Based on this a solution was found! Now, an electronic lectern (at considerable expense) sits facing the children with wires going along the floor under rubber cable trunking to a PC in a cabinet on casters, which doesn’t move because it needs to be connected to the sound system.

Each presenter can see their slides in front of them as they address the children, the screen shows the current slide and the lectern shows the next slide too and speaker’s notes. No more cricked necks! However, most presenters don’t know how to get their presentation displayed in this way so now an IT technician is booked for every assembly to be on hand to support. Which, for evening events involves paying overtime.

If design thinking was applied to this situation then a few things can be approached differently. Design thinking is based on empathy for the user (though this term feels inappropriate for education). Therefore a design thinking school would ask the children about assemblies. They would have gathered every bit of information about assemblies and may have found that most were boring and repetitive. They may have found that they often run over into lesson time. This feedback from both teachers and children I would imagine. A good design thinking culture in the school would have led to an open and frank session of asking why…

Why are some assemblies boring?
Because the person delivering them doesn’t find out until a week before.

Why doesn’t the person find out until a week before?
We allocate them at the beginning of the year but most people don’t remember.

Why don’t they remember?
They are on a paper calendar but they are often changed.

Why do they get changed?
We become aware of events throughout the year which interrupt the schedule

Why does the schedule not take account of these events when it is written?

This activity is a design thinking staple. The 5 Why’s is an effective way of finding the problem you should be solving instead of the superficial problem you might first see. How often are problems identified and ‘solved’ within a single meeting?

Therefore the design thinking school will spend time and effort solving this problem:
How might we ensure that assemblies are relevant and useful when scheduled each year/term?
Instead of this one:
How might we stop getting a sore neck when presenting assemblies in the hall?
How might we (HMW) statements are a key component of design thinking. If you are a leader (hint: you all are), in your next meeting ask several people to deliver a lightning talk about their area of responsibility in the school. While they do make sure everyone else has post-its™ and Sharpies™ ready to write as many HMW statements as they can. The group can theme the HMW statements together. You will be excited and surprised at what you find.

Use this template to help you form useful HMW statements:

How might we action what for whom in order to change something.

Armed with the themes and the HMW statements the person who spoke can get out into the school and find out more about that particular issue. The immersion and empathy begins in earnest, think of Undercover Boss but not quite so covert. Design thinking offers democratised decision making in schools, where key components of learning and the learning environment can be designed for the right people.

So now you have a great HMW statement to work around and have spent time shadowing students, cleaners, staff and interviewing them too, you are building up a messy project nest of paper, pictures, post-its and comments in a communal area of the school. Not in the principal’s office where people might not go but next to the coffee machine or in the staff room. Better still in the canteen or reception, wherever you can expose your data collection to as many relevant people as possible.

If you feel your empathy stage has generated enough ethnographic data you can begin looking for connections. The themes that arise will be the focus of your idea generation in the next phase.

Empathy Maps are used while shadowing a colleague or child through a school day. Once complete, stick them up somewhere public so everyone can engage and learn offering post-its for comments.

Design thinking has opened my eyes to asking why and spending more time getting to the right problems before ideas are generated. It is something you cannot turn off once you start. If you would like to get started we are offering design thinking workshops around developing technology for learning so drop us a line to discuss how it can work for you.

To see how design thinking is being used in education check out The Teacher’s Guild. In the next part we move from empathy to ideation, creating a culture where ideas can flow freely once you have discovered the real barriers to your problem through empathy.

About the author : Ben Rouse | AppsEvents, UK Director

After implementing G Suite at my secondary comprehensive school in UK I was accepted onto the Google Teacher Academy in London in 2013. Since then I have been involved in technology for learning training and implementations in schools in UK and Europe as a Google for Education Innovator and Trainer.

I taught Mathematics for 13 years and had middle and senior leadership roles in schools before becoming an educational technology integration specialist for a Mutli-Academy Trust in UK.

I now work with AppsEvents to help organisations implement G Suite and Technology for Learning effectively.
Read more ...

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