Well, technology changes rapidly and earlier in the month I did A Week With Google Sites, and now Google has announced a new Google that is currently in beta. The good news is the new Sites is SOOOO much better and student friendly. So I’ll try this again – and the older Google Sites information should be valid for a little while still.
June 30th – A Week Revisited with the NEW Google Sites
Ah technology, just when you think you’ve figured it out, an update happens and the learning curve begins again. Fortunately with the new Google Sites, it is easy to pick up, integrates with other Google Products even easier and looks a lot better.
Back on February 13th I briefly spoke about Google Classroom which is another LMS system for your classroom. I’ll end of doing “A Week With” series closer to the start of school (mainly waiting for any updates that might happen over the summer), but one helpful feature I wanted to showcase now was recently introduced… Quizzes!
June 29th – Google Classroom Quizzes
Google Classroom has been very responsive to the suggestions people have been making. As I stated in my previous post on Classroom, it is a relatively new product that requires a lot of feedback from the end users to tweek and perfect.
As the new features roll out without installations (the great thing about the Internet) one item that popped up was the ability to make Quizzes on the Google Classroom “Stream”.
Like Google Forms you can select a “Short Answer” or “Multiple Choice” for the responses and it collects it in a nice spreadsheet or graphically representation for the teacher to see. I wanted to mention this feature so before people run off for summer vacation OR you are thinking about your classroom, you know this is an available option.
Edomodo is another LMS (Learning Management System) but is free for teachers to sign up and invite their students to the platform in classes.
June 28th – Edomodo
Edomodo takes on a Facebook-like look to engage students. You setup a classroom, invite students and post work or start conversations. This is very similar to Google Classroom, just a different look and students don’t need to have a Google domain account to join the class.
Disclaimer: I often refer back to Google Classroom – but I’m not saying its the best. It’s the most convenient. With the past two schools I’ve worked in being GAFE focused and Google Apps for Education – everything just works together to Google products. I constantly push other products to make sure people have a range of what works for them, not a certain product. Remember: the key to anything in education is understanding the concept of what your trying to accomplish – then you can find your own path that works for you to get to the goal.
The look is clean, and the Facebook-ness is easy for students to understand where to look for everything. The Apps available are pretty robust and the “Planner” app is a smart design.
It’s another login to remember. The ease of the autofill of a personal device takes away that, but then it limits the range of what people can do where ever they are. I feel like passwords have become the new bane of the connected teachers existence. Like anything else in the classroom, either students are going to be prepared and remember their passwords, or just going to struggle with organization in general. The one login (ie Google Classroom for Drive, Docs, Classroom, Email) helps in keeping students engaged, rather than sending password recovery emails to themselves constantly.
As we’ve finished looking at a few of the free blog options – let shift our focus to educational focused ways to connect with your classroom. First we’ll start with Schoology.
June 27th – Schoology
Schoology is a pay for service which your school would need to sign up for. With that being said, it’s one of the better, if not best, LMS (Learning Management Systems) available. The look is clean and it’s made for teachers by teachers so the mindset is very connected to what a student needs.
I’ve used this product at past schools, we don’t have an account to check the most updated features, but it’s certainly worth checking out the demo and having a conversation with your Technology Department/Director of Technology to see if it’s a good fit for you.
Schoology has a YouTube Channel with plenty of demo videos and helping guides. As well as the inspiring video below.
Tumblr is another CMS blogging site, but is also known for “microblogging” or short little post that take no time at all to read.
June 26th – Tumblr
What makes Tumblr different is the “microblogging” aspect and how it’s meant for quick little hits of information. The site also directs you to things you are interested in (you select those at the beginning) and you see those things as our main screen.
As you start you’ll notice very quickly that all the other “blogging” websites we’ve looked at are text based with the ability to add videos and images. Tumblr ask first and then the “Text” field, if chosen, is very small – forcing you to rethink your post.
Tumblr setup with your interest
Tumblr Dashboard with my interest selected (The broken link is an Instagram post which is blocked at my place of work)
Small Text field
Tumblr shows the flexibility of the Internet to its fullest extend. Quick little bites can reach more people and help your overall branding. In a classroom setting this forces you to be clear and concise with your thoughts – which is not always a bad thing.
Sometimes you have more to say. I’ve never gotten into Tumblr because I’m long winded (not entirely joking) but I feel that my audience is looking for something more. If I was focused on by GIF’s for helpful shortcuts – Tumblr would be perfect. So think about your audience and what they are looking for too. Tumblr’s format also makes it more accessible to young people which are generally looking for entertainment rather than knowledge.
After spending “A Week With” WordPress, I’ll introduce you to a few more CMS (Content Management System) websites. Up first, Blogger.
June 25th – Blogger
Blogger was an independent company until Google purchased in 2003. Blogger was one of the first services that you could “blog” on and that is why most of the domain URL’s are “blogspot”.
Blogger is very simple to setup. Once logged into you Google account, visit blogger.com and it will ask permission to use services. Then you are tossed into the Dashboard where you can add a new post.
This looks like any word processor you’ve ever used. That’s a huge bonus for those people who are nervous about making the jump. Everything is pretty simple and straight forward, inserting images, making anything bold, italic or underlined, etc… Having and working off of that base knowledge is a great help to those trying for the first time. Blogger also has an easy toggle between the “Compose” and “HTML” views which help for those interested on what goes on behind the scenes. The stats page is very helpful as well – seeing the location of those viewing your blog and the frequency which they view.
The websites are a template which all kinda look the same. You could spend a lot of time with work arounds and figuring out your own code, or just jump to a Wix, Weebly or Squarespace for a more professional look.
My final post, but certainly not everything you can do with WordPress.com, is about WordPress.org for those of you who want a little more control.
June 24th – A Week With WordPress
The final day with WordPress focuses on expanding the WordPress universe to WordPress.org which gives users/bloggers more control over the look of their blog. Wordpress.org is a service which you need to find your own host, download and install the software and then read up on the documentation to maximize your WordPress.org blog.
What is great about the WordPress.org platform is that a lot of major companies use it. You might have noticed when you are logged into your WordPress account and surfing the web, some major websites have the WordPress banner across the top of the page. These companies are using a very similar CMS (Content Management System) as you – and that’s pretty cool. The WordPress.org website has a lot of helpful documentation and their are plenty of other resources – and like everything else on this blog, it’s worth a try!