27 February 2012

Day Seventeen: Google Apps

We know we know there was no post on Friday, but it gave you a chance to really take a good look at some of the previous tools; and think about how you would use them in your classroom. A weekend blog post comment emphasized "balance" and "incorporation" and I echo her sentiments. While we have introduced you to many tools, by no means is it expected for you to try them all. We know that there will be something here for everyone, and just trying and incorporating one can make a remarkable difference.

Today we will take a look at google docs and google apps. We are a google apps for education district and have added additional “apps” (applications) to our google domain. This just means you can access these apps from within your google dashboard.

What is google docs? It is google’s suite of office tools. Microsoft has word, powerpoint and excel; google has a document creator, presentations and spreadsheets, in addition they also have forms that allows you to create surveys (and view them in a spreadsheet). Here is a short overview of google docs.

Here is a way to use google docs for classroom peer editing and review.

Most of us have experience with powerpoint either creating them or viewing slideshows that others have created. Let’s look at google’s version called presentations and see how it stacks up to powerpoint.

Powerpoint Presentations
Large Selection of themes/backgrounds Limited selection
Ability to narrate Not yet
Can add video Can also add video
Variety of slide transitions/animations Limited
No realtime collaboration possible Real time collaboration
$$$$ Free!
Windows based Any platform (Windows/Mac/Linux)
Does not work well w/other versions Not an issue; plus you can download AS a powerpoint, pdf or image

Paid upgrades Weekly automatically added updates/upgrades   
*Basically powerpoint is still the reigning champion in terms of features, but presentations are adding more and more everyday. One important difference is powerpoint is a standalone software and presentations is a web application.

Here is a really cool video
showing the power of presentations....and no one expects you to create this (although I secretly want to try)

Now we are going to look at some web apps that are included in our google domain; that you and your students have access to. The first one is slide rocket. Slide rocket is a presentation maker that, honestly, combines the best features of powerpoint and presentations (and even has some flash based tricks you find in Prezi). You can work collaboratively, it has a ton of features presentations lack, you can narrate, add video/audio, the graphics really pop and are perfect for student assignments as well as teaching.  Here is a brief overview of sliderocket and you can reach it by going to your google docs toolbar and clicking “more”; it is listed.

Visit sliderocket and view their many examples to see if this is a tool you will want to introduce into your classroom!  

Next we will look at an app called Lucid Charts. Here in Middletown many of the elementary and middle schools use the mind mapping software Inspiration. Again this is stand alone software so if a student is using it at school they can not continue working at home. With Lucid Charts (you find it the same way you do for slide rocket) you can create charts/diagrams, drawings, even floorplans and room layouts in school and continue working on it at home collaboratively with classmates; or in our case colleagues. Even administrators can use it to create organizational charts, it has something for everyone.

You can even create a “lyrical flowchart” disclaimer: we take no responsibility if this song is stuck in your head all day and you find yourself singing it to your classes! 

Next time you need a chart or diagram of any kind give Lucid Chart a try!

The last app we will look at is the Aviary suite of creativity tools. They are also found in google docs, under “more” (toolbar).  While Aviary offers a tool to markup documents, extensively edit videos, create vectors, create photo effects and one click editing; we will concentrate on its audio editing tool. With this tool you can create a podcast, edit previously recorded audio, make looping beats and even remix a song. Teachers can record lessons for absent students, skill review, or messages for the class or parents. You can create podcasts and store them on your blog or website, or have students create newscasts, or audio recordings that make your curriculum come alive. Warning, there is a learning curve, (not expert level but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it) so you and your students should view the tutorial and begin creating! I would think English classes could create book reviews, dramatic readings or alternate endings. Maybe Science classes could explain the steps in an experiment (to embed in their slide rocket presentation) or have a student created monthly science podcast that covers science in the news and how it relates to what they are learning. Math teachers could have podcasts explaining complex math concepts (again pairing it with a slide rocket or lucid chart) or posting a math problem on their website or blog and challenging students to create an audio explanation and post it. 

I hope today's post peaked your interest in trying the district's google apps, whether it be docs or one of the added web applications!


  1. I have just been introduced to these Google Web applications and I can't wait to use them in the classroom! Aviary has so many excellent presentation tools to use. The students in 7th grade will be using Aviary to create T-shirts on Child Labor. I have just scratched the surface with Slide Rocket, but can't wait to explore it more and see what it has to offer!

  2. I am slowly incorporating Google apps into the science classroom. THANKS REGINA for all the help!!! Google Docs has been working wonders for group activities. I especially like the app on the IPOD.

  3. I have not had the opportunity yet to integrate Google apps into my classes, but I'm certainly planning on using it in the next month for a group presentation project. Thanks for bringing SlideRocket to our attention, I may use this instead of Google Presentation for their presentations!

  4. Despite the fact that we have already had many training sessions offered on Google Docs applications, today's post definitely peaked my interest. I think it is really great that the collection of Google aps keeps growing in both number and number of features available in each ap. I like the fact that most projects are accessible from anywhere so that students can work on them at home, at the public library or wherever they happen to be spending a week-end or a vacation.
    Among the aps introduced today, I can't wait to try out he features in Lucid Chart and Aviary.

  5. This represents an entire suite of web tools. There certainly is a lot to utilize. I still think we should get together and make a nice chart listing desired applications and possible web tools to meet those application. Meantime, I like the way we are all sharing and helping one another to learn; and then apply what we learn. The actual method is almost secondary in importance because we all know technology is growing and changing in leaps and bounds. More and more apps will become available practically by the minute! The important thing is the open exchange of information and support and the willingness to try new approaches to education.

  6. I consider myself GoogleDoc savvy but I never really got into some of the other Apps, I need to spend some time with Lucid- I'm still using MSPaint in a pinch at school for my basic diagrams, this would be so much better.

  7. I have found GoogleDocs to be the most useful collaboration tool. Being able to work together on a document in real time has been great. No more multiple copies and figuring out which is the most up to date. It's been great.

  8. Google docs saves you tons of time. When I have an extra group meeting my students take their own attendance by checking off their name on a Google doc. We are having a meeting with refreshments soon and the kids are going to put up a Google doc so everyone can sign-up for different items to bring.
    One of my kids created a document to see how "Green" the class is. He had the whole class enter their individual data and then asked them all to make a chart so the results were easy to read.
    I put my seating charts on Google docs and the students fill them in. This works great when they work in several different groups in a class.
    I have to say that it is harder to create some documents from scratch online. I like to get a jump on creating the document before I upload it. The students need to know what format they want to download documents in as well.
    If you are new at using Google docs, make sure you are careful when you choose the sharing options. you must click on "anyone with the link can edit" if you want people to be able to alter the document. It is a good idea to tell students that they must respect other student's work and agree to the terms of editing. It is nice that students have a sidebar that allows them to communicate with each other while they are working.

  9. I have been following the Web Challenge faithfully and I have to thank you all for your time and the wonderful resources you have made available. It was all exciting and well planned. I will admit that I am presently using many, not all, of these apps in my class and what I really looked forward to was the comments. I was very interested in hearing how many teachers and exactly how they were incorporating the ideas into their classrooms. Even if the challenge seemed overwhelming to the newbie’s it was talked about and exciting.
    The only con I would offer is all of this great technology came all at once and so fast. But to think that this resource will be available on the web site is the biggest relief. Allowing all the time they need to go back, review and practice all the apps that slipped through the cracks.
    Thank you all
    I have some new favorites now !

    1. ME...you should post your "Pink Day" Animoto back on Day 8!!

    2. I also agree that there were a lot of tools, probably too many to integrate them all. But we don't plan on taking them down and Regina and I will continue to make posts about blogs and websites we find that can help you along the way. Our real goal was for you to find at least one tool to enhance your teaching. If you find one that works for you now, maybe you will find another for next year, too.

  10. Thank you for the information, the article is very well-written.

  11. Thanks a lot for sharing this amazing knowledge with us. This site is fantastic. I always find great knowledge from it.


  12. There is a software tool that goes beyond mind maps and concept maps. The “Idea Shuffler” is a unique diagramming tool that lets you represent both hierarchical and non-hierarchical structures. It automatically organizes your ideas (concepts) with a proprietary shuffle algorithm so you don’t have to worry about the location of concepts. It provides layers of interconnected diagrams that accommodate large models and separate documents for every diagram and concept. The “Idea Shuffler” is the only software out there that gives you all of these features.
    Check out the “Idea Shuffler” YouTube video at http://youtu.be/8P7_gQGpfqA.
    Go to http://www.ideashuffler.com for additional information, videos and downloads of the software.