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Tag Archives: Google Docs

Connecting around the world (within Timezones)

One of the projects on the back of my mind for our school is to buddy different classes or grades with “sister school” throughout the world.  Where this most often becomes is through technology, authentic needs and projects, and through meeting synchronously at the same time.  To alleviate this last worry, I was examining the idea to limit the schools we would connect with to those within our own timezone (for now).

Time Zones

Time Zones

This would mean that we could still get a cross-cultural feel for how things are in different parts of the world, but never have mix-ups or hiccups because of timing.  I can envision it now:

“Ok, great.  We’ll Skype with your class at 2pm then.”

“Wait, 2pm your time or mine?”

“Oh, ours.”

“Oh, we will already be gone home.”

This preplanning could fix all of this hassle down the road.  Because I am in Istanbul, this gives me a wide gamut of places and schools to consider, for example, Finland, Kiev, Bucharest, Cairo, Lubumbashi, Pretoria, Cape Town, and the list goes on.

Asynchronous conversations would end this worry and could be done through ideas like: Edmodo, Wikis, Blogging, Google Docs, Twitter, Twijector, and more.  However, there is definitely something about connecting in real-time.   I am excited about the idea and will comment further about the progress and the new problems we may face.

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Doing a Masters or Doctorate? Tools you need

Are you planning to take more schooling, like a Master’s degree or a PhD, or are you already enrolled?  If either of these is the case, I highly recommend you invest in ALL of these tools and I will explain why.

  1. Dropbox or Google Drive Both are FREE! – First thing you do not want to do is lose any or all of your documents, readings, discussion posts and replies, or assignments.  In order to do this, you should create an online area where your files can be stored.  This means that you create an account, download a small program and move your files to this folder.  Many people are worried that this means the files will look different or they won’t be able to reach them if the internet is down – Wrong!  The files look and act exactly the same.  They are housed on your computer and BACKED UP on the internet in “the cloud”.  This means that if your computer or flash drive breaks down, which they often do, you do not need to worry because you can download the program on another computer and login.  All your files will download to that device, open, and react exactly like you are used to them doing.  Just remember to write your login and password where you will remember it.  
  2. Perrla for APA or MLA ($34.95 USD) – You may not realize that Microsoft Word for Mac does not
    Perrla

    Perrla

    create the latest formatting for APA 6 or MLA 7.  Professors are probably going to be sticklers about this.  Perrla sets the proper margins, headers, title pages, spacing, and so much more.  They have just added formatting for tables and figures.  When you read the APA (and I am sure the MLA, but I haven’t read it) manual you find these details are very tedious and time-consuming to apply.  Perrla guides you through 200+ citation types and explains every detail along the way.  

  3. SPSS (Approx. $90 USD) – You’re going to need to do some data crunching and analysis, even if you think, “No, I will just do a qualitative dissertation or thesis.”  Nonetheless, you will probably end up doing some predictive analytics after you gather all of your interview and case study material.  SPSS is one of the most widely used statistics softwares.  It is relatively cheap, is relatively simple to use (when you know what you are doing – Watch some Youtube videos about the specific types of analysis you plan to do and type “SPSS” in the search), and it is versatile.  
  4. Atlas.ti (Approx $99 USD – with Student ID) – If you are going to delve into qualitative research, this is the cheaper way to go and still has almost all the functionality of Nvivo.  It allows you to analyze and find patterns in documents, recordings, PDFs, quotes, and memos.  From there you can code, organize, develop nodes, and visually represent your data in many unassuming forms.  
  5. Evernote FREE! – Get started with this early! Use it to embed and tag articles, websites, clippings and even import text through Livescribe pen scanning ($69.95+).  Search through every item you have collected to realize information you have accumulated for your comprehensive exams and your dissertations.  It is an excellent and necessary way to stay organized.
  6. Free Natural Reader (PC) or Speech (MAC) Both are FREE! – When you are ready to turn in an assignment or submit a discussion post, you need to review it.  The best way to do this is to hear it out loud.  On a PC, there is no software built-in so the Natural Reader is an awesome download you need to get.  Macs have an advantage in this area because they have this built-in.  Go to the APPLE (in the top left corner), go to SYSTEM PREFERENCES, a dialogue box will appear, go to SPEECH, check “Speak selected text when the key is pressed”, SET KEY (I would choose OPTION + S) – Highlight some text and try out either of these options to hear it read back to you.  You will notice mistakes so much easier.
  7. Harzing’s Publish or Perish FREE! – If you need to find the seminal articles written around a 
    Harzing's Publish or Perish

    Harzing’s Publish or Perish

    subject, this is the software for you.  Search for any subject and voilà, you have found the most cited, the highest ranked, the number of citations of the article per year, and more.  Download this into Windows or a parallel system that enables Windows on a Mac, like Parallels ($79.99 USD).  

  8. Windows and Microsoft Word for Windows – The reason I recommend using the Windows environment for post-graduate work is because many of the products listed above work naturally in this operating system.  I also enjoy that Microsoft Word on PC allows for click editing of words to bold, italicize, underline and change other attributes without moving your cursor all the way to the menu bar across the top.  Plus, if you opt not to buy Perrla, which I highly recommend that you do, Word on a PC has more up-to-date APA and MLA citations.

Bookmark these sites:

  1. Crossref – If you are using APA 6, you need to find DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers).  This website allows you to reverse look up journal articles and sites to find if there is one available.
  2. Thesaurus.com – You are going to need to use ‘the other word’ often.  When writing a paper, Microsoft Word has a bult in thesaurus, but Thesaurus.com offers, furnishes, grants, and presents more and better options.
  3. Smartthinking – I hope your school offers this services free of charge.  They have online tutoring, essay submission and editing, APA editing, math help and so much more.  It is awesome but I just examined the pricing – not so cheap.  It depends upon what you need, so have a look.  Well worth it for major essay editing help.
  4. Turnitin – Again, I hope that your University uses this service.  To make sure that you are not plagiarizing, this site locates all the information that turns up from other sources.  Remember, as a rule, your essays should not have more than 20% of other people’s work.  After submitting an assignment, Turnitin highlights areas and determines where it has come from.  Your profs may use it.  You should too!

If you have other software, hardware, websites, or tricks that you use, please tell me in the comments.  Finally, remember to thank me in your Dedication. Good luck with everything.

 
 

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Creating a Wiki?

Some advice that I would give to someone creating a wiki specifically for a class working synchronously:

  1. Students must write their information in Word first – for better grammar, but especially for back-up.
  2. Create separate designated pages for each student to work on – possibly name the pages with their name embedded to be changed out later – as the wiki creator, you may be the only one to have the page creation rights.
  3. If you know multiple people will be working on the same pages at the same times, allocate time buffer zones that people may post – for example, if 4 people work on the same page, one may post between 4-6pm, another between 7-9pm, another between 10-12pm, and another between 6-8am.

There are always Revision histories, but having 15-30 students post on the same page at the same time DOES NOT WORK. Separate the tasks and times as best as you can.

I would actually recommend Google Docs or Microsoft One-note if you are networked and have that option.  It depends on your final goal of the project.

 
 

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Technology Integration Specialist – job descriptions

International Conference for the Integration o...

As a technology integration specialist (TIS) my job description is all over the place.  I was in a meeting today where the principal of the school, who has been doing interviews with teachers to find their needs, has come to the conclusion that teachers have very specific needs, and so do their classes.  I agree and am glad he gathered this evidence to support what I was thinking.

What does this mean then for a TIS?

The first thing that it seems to mean is communication is needed on the part of the TIS.  As a TIS, we need to explain:  What is it that we are doing?  Where are we?  How can we be contacted or booked?  What types of things can we bring to the class?  What types of systems are we putting in to place? and the list goes on…

What kinds of strategies can we put into place?

  • Walking from classroom to classroom – trying to drop in to the classrooms that have the computers out with their kids.  And dropping in to the classrooms where SMARTboards are being used…or dropping in to classrooms where no tech is being offered, to get a sense of the units.
  • Being available at certain times in specific locations – this could rotate through the week.  For example, Week 1: Mon – Fri 12:30 – 1:00 in an available room, like a Science room or computer lab, Week 2: Mon – Fri 9:00 – 9:30 in an available room, and so on.
  • Offering as much PD as possible – lunches, after school.
  • Being at everyone’s beck and call – Offering phone numbers to teachers who can call when it is necessary to come down to trouble shoot a problem.
  • Offering kids available times to meet – lunches or after school should suffice.
  • Designing new policies – For example, Facebook and online social policies.
  • Setting up infrastructures.  For example, Google Docs and Dropbox for communication and collaboration, Netvibes for organizing life, booking systems, saving and cloud systems, infrastructures for instruction online and more.
  • Tweeting great sites and strategies.
  • Blogging about what we are doing.
  • Creating websites or resources for teachers who need it.
  • Researching and learning about all the latest trends or immediate tech that is necessary.
  • Being friendly and approachable by everyone.

But is this enough?

As a TIS, this probably means that many hats are to be worn.  For example, TISers might be on committees about websites, or technology in general.  They might be trying to do overarching projects, like developing larger PD or workshops, or building community relations with other schools and their tech and media departments.  They might be inundated with emails every day, but it is their job to set an example, to reply to each and every question, query, statement, request, reply, and quandary.

They should realize they are lucky. This is because they have the opportunity to continually better themselves while they are helping others.  In walking into every classroom, they get to see what other teachers and classes are doing and glean or appropriate (read: steal) ideas from their coworkers and friends.  Because of this, they are continually learning and growing and able to offer more to their fellow workers and student body.

As a TIS, its great to be loved and needed.  It is just too bad there aren’t more ways we can split our time or add more hours to the day.  I am sure as an educator or a human I am not the only one who feels this, but it would be great.  Maybe this is one more system we need to design. 🙂

 
 

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Using Google Docs for students with colored criterion

I have found a fantastic way to use Google Docs with students. Google Docs allows us to share documents like Word through the cloud. We can edit at the same time allowing the sharing of information back & forth.

What this enables me to do is create color coded criterion.

The students take this criterion and color code their answers to show they have covered all parts. It allows very quick examination from a student and a teacher to see where something may have been missed.

Feedback from the students also has demonstrated they like this way of doing things. I have encouraged them to take this idea beyond Google Docs to better examine chunky sets of instructions.

 
 

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