Noel Erskine, Technology Coordinator Norris Schools

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Self grading tests with Google Forms, one more reason to use Google Docs!

Monday, March 28, 2011

I tweeted months ago, (October 2010 to be exact) "I am convinced that Google Apps will make the biggest splash in technology change in Education that we have seen since the Internet."  And this is one more reason I stand by that.  Scripts for Google Docs. Scripts can add a lot of custom functionality to Google Docs.

Take a look at Flubaroo  Watch the 3 minute video, and see how this free add-in script will turn your Google Form into a self-grading quiz that will even email students the results as well as breakdown class results and question scores for the teacher.

This is a great script that will be handy for teachers, as well as a good demo of the possibilities and power in Google Doc scripts.

Take a look at this tutorial using Google Apps Script. It will amaze you at what can be done:

Very few of us want to be "Coders", but learning a few basics will unleash a lot of power at our fingertips with Google Apps Script.

A few great tools for recording classroom activities.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

After following the Twitter feed from the Omaha Ed camp, I ran across a lot of great web 2.0 tools, and several that are great for recording audio and video. Some of the resources listed here were from that event.

Audioboo has a lot of potential for incorporating audio and pictures from phones or the web, directly to social media. (I like the idea of this app, but from looking at the reviews on the Android market, it looks like the phone app has a ways to go.) Imagine students walking around with their phones taking pictures and recording comments about those pictures into a classroom Twitter feed.  Maybe they are looking at geological formations or identifying different plant types in the landscape for a biology class. The possibilities are limitless. A similar product, ipadio may be worth a look. It offeres similar functionality at the same price.... FREE!

There are numerous video streaming services, and many offer applications to stream events right from your smart phone. , and are just a few services.

In my recent Twitter posting I mentioned Mailvu that offers an easy way to send video emails. It has many features including limiting number of views, or deleting video after X number of days. Just like many of the tools mentioned above, this tool offers many features for the teacher with a lot of creative classroom projects and ideas.

Android on the Nook Our final project worked great! A tablet and eBook reader all for less than $270!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The New Android HoneyComb 3.0 on the Nook!! Final thoughts and directions.
I posted a few days ago, about loading the Android HoneyComb 3.0 on a micro SD card, and then booting to that card to have an Android Tablet and a Nook for the price of one!  We have this up and going... and it it awesome for the money.   Where else can your get a Color eBook reader (The nook) and a brand new wireless Android 3.0 (honeycomb) tablet all for the total price of $270.  (Nook= $250 and micros SD card = $20.)

You can find out more on the web, but here is a quick run down of the steps:
1) Purchase a Nook Color and an 8 Gig class 6 (or higher) micro SD card.
2) You will then go through a process for installing an Android Image on a micro SD card, then install the Android market on that card, and then you can boot to that card to have an Android tablet. If you want to go back to the Nook, you just remove the card, and boot the device to your Nook. Clean, simple and cheap!
3) Navigate to this page, and follow the instructions.
Some notes on this:
--I used WinImage instead of the one listed in the article. Download WinImage from here (last version is fine, winima85.exe) and install it. You can do without registration, the trial version will work well for 30 days.
--When articles mention ADB, it is a part of the Android SDK which you need to download and install.  It has a few requirements of it's own,
--Read this article on how to install ADB and the Android SDK.  (For some reason I could not get the path statement part to work, and I know it looks right... but just would not work.  Not a biggie, just make sure you navigate to the correct folder in the command prompt when you run the commands, and it works.)

--When you install ADB, the key is getting it to recognize the Nook through USB.  This is critical, because you need that in order for the market place to get installed.  (You can just install the image on your micro usb card and boot the Nook to it, and you would have a tablet, but no market app to install other apps.)
--Make sure you do the updated method described in the this article, for installing the market place.
--When you Download HoneyGApps v2  and extract the contents, make sure you put those files in the ADB folder on your computer.  Then open a command prompt in that folder and type HoneyGAppInstall to run the script to install the market place, along with a few Google Apps bundled in that script.

Once you get Android and the market installed, you should be ready to go. (There are some places that talk about over-clocking Android on the Nook, but it looks a little to complicated for me.)  You may want to grab another image of the pristine card with Android 3.0 and the market installed before you start to customize your Android system.  This step will allow you to create another card easily if you want to start over from scratch.

A new feature in Google Doc's worth looking at-- Discussions.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Well, as I always tell everyone.... the only constant in technology is change.  The problem is that change is coming at an ever increasing rate!

Thought I would let everyone know about another new feature that was just added to Google Docs: Discussions.  This adds another feature similar to notes, but with a twist.  Could be great for students with group projects, English teachers, etc...

You may notice that the above link is to the Google Doc's blog, where you can follow their new features when they are released.... or find out about past features.  (I found out about this new feature by following them on Twitter.)  Did you know they will OCR a document from a PDF or picture and dump it right into a Google Doc??? (I just read about that in the blog!)

Have a great day! ..... it looks nice outside.... but in Nebraska the weather may change even faster than technology.  I guess with the weather if you do not keep up... you get wet or cold, with technology if you do not keep up.... you become a dinosaur, so keep plugging away.  We know what happened to the dinosaurs.  Oh wait... I guess we don't for sure. 

Make your own Android Tablet.for less than $250!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Buy a color Barnes and Nobel Nook for $250 and a Class 6 Micro SD card, and you can have a dual boot Nook eBook reader  and Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) tablet.  We are in the process of doing this, and it works great!  With the card in, the Nook boots to Android 3.0 and you have a great functional tablet, complete with WiFi. Pop the card out, and your Nook boots as normal and you have a great Nook eBook reader.

Follow these directions: Here

This is very easy to do, and works well.  The toughest part is getting the market app installed. We are still working on that, even though the directions tell you how... we are still having a few issues getting it to work.  We have been amazed at how responsive the Android tablet is running from the micro SD card.

This is probably the cheapest way to get not only an Android 3.0 tablet, but also a great eBook reader at the same time!

eBooks anyone? Free resources, format suggestions and more.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Yes, eBooks will be the future, but right now the industry is still young and publishers have not embraced the digital world fast enough for most of us.  There are a lot of formats, and Wikipedia has a great article "Comparison of e-book formats"  It makes it tough as a director of school technology to decide what format to recommend, because you do not want to bet on the wrong format, and have a lot of eBooks that are not really supported. (Think Beta vs. VHS or HD DVD vs. Blu Ray.)  And, as my resent tweet suggests, publishers want to protect their gold mines and not embrace the digital world. Tweet: "Publishers may limit number of times a library can checkout an eBook. This is Pathetic "

The disappointing part for school libraries and school districts is that most of the companies that offer eBooks, such as Kindles or Nooks, lack the management capabilities that a school district needs. How would you like to checkout a Kindle to a student, and have that Kindle tied to a school credit card where they can buy any book they want! There are many other management issues similar to the problems associated with iPads or other tablet devices in school districts. The sad part is, this hinders adoption and timelines for implementing those new technologies and resources. Maybe there is some hope... I have not used Calibre, but it looks like it has a lot of potential for libraries to manage eBooks and the price is right (Free).

There are several resources for free eBooks. Do not forget to look for free books in what ever device you are using.  I know the Kindle (as well as others) has a nice selection of free books, you just need to search for them. This article "How to Find Free ebooks for Nook" has a nice resource listing for finding free eBooks for all devices and formats. Free eBooks by Project Gutenberg, is often mentioned as a starting point for free eBooks in education.  And to find some more great eBook resources.... follow my advice to teachers and students... just Google it.

And another exciting blog post will be coming soon....  Install Android 3 (Honeycomb) on your removable SD card on your Nook, so you can turn a Nook into a Android tablet.  All for $250!

Need to find a time for your meeting- Doodle is the simple answer. Give it a try!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 Offers a great simple service for scheduling a meeting. Instead of emailing around to find times or solicit advice, this online tool allows you easily poll your group to find the best time.  Simple to use, and it will import your contacts as well as allow you to view your calendar right from the web app.  In less than 5 minutes I was able to setup and account, import my calendar and contacts and poll a group for meeting times.  Sweet!