Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Let it (OK)Go - Inspire your students

You may already be a fan of OKGo - if not, perhaps you may recall them from their iconic treadmill video from 2009. I have been a long term diehard fan of this band for many reasons .. hometown love as they're #ChiTown locals, their heartwarming start as 5th graders in camp, and most powerfully, the impact they've had on my students. In past years OKGo has become one of the most inspiring catalysts for my kids' learning. Let me tell you why.

First off, the adorable story behind how this band started... As 11 year olds, lead singer Damien Kulash and bassist Tim Norwind met at Interlochen Arts Camp. They met, fell in bro-love and kept in touch after camp, sharing mixtapes and ideas. The name of the band came from their camp art teacher, who would say to them "OK... Go!" How lovely and telling that these two children found each other in an environment where they could truly be themselves and have the space to play. As inspiring is that they chose the name of their band based on those simple two words... OK Go. Go Play. Go Explore. Go Get Messy.

Quick Meta-tangent: How often to do we as teachers simply say to our students... "OK... go!" And when we do finally release them to an activity, how free are they really to truly "Go"? What parameters have we set that may limit their "Go"? Have we set up an environment where they feel it's really "OK"? 

Ah, now we're back from that metabreak, let's get into how OKGo is inspiring my students in the here and now. Back in 2009 I remember seeing that treadmill video and thinking "wow... that's pretty cool". Then, in 2012, I saw this video from a seven year old named Audri, inspired by OKGo's This Too Shall Pass video. The incredible lesson of resilience, learning from failure and engineering inspired me to have my own students create Rube Goldberg machines.

I started by showing my students the same OKGo video that whet Audri's interest in this concept, then showed them Audri's own creation. By the end of both videos, they were positively chomping at the bit to begin constructing their own masterpieces. It was a delicious mess, with students bringing in more and more "junk" to school daily to build, refine and rebuild bigger and bigger machines. Students who were normally stymied by failure were cheering one another on each time their contraptions failed, saying to one another "remember Audri did it!" or "do it like they did in OKGo!".

From there we watched OKGo's video, Needing/Getting a glorious celebration of "found sounds" to create music. Driving a car through a musical obstacle course in the middle of the desert, the band members create the percussion to back their vocals. My students immediately set to work finding rhythms in their own school day, taking notes about sounds --- coming to me after school to share ideas for moving carts down the hall to provide bass or girls playing double dutch to add the beat.

Most recently, we explored the newest release I Won't Let You Down. This video's explosion of patterns, rates and shapes inspired my students to dig into the math of music, explore marching band patterns and wonder how to build teamwork in their classmates to accomplish something similar. As we studied the video to decide on a project, one of my students commented, "I really wonder how they all got along so well. Sometimes we can't even line up for lunch - how can we get everyone in our class to team up to do this?" We spent a good 15-20 minutes seeing if we could cooperate enough to time a jumping photo - first in the hall then moving to the classroom as we realized we needed to sit down and literally think before we jumped. So while I set out hoping they'd explore the rates, timing and math of the patterns in the video, it looks like my students are digging more deeply in to the social teamwork it would take to coordinate such a collaborative effort.

After we're done seeing where "I Won't Let You Down" takes our learning, I plan to show them The Writing's on the Wall, a wonderland of optical illusions. Awesome to teach about light, reflection, refraction.

OKGo's innovative music, and music videos have not only engaged my students in my own learning goals but also pushed them to wonder and explore ideas neither they nor I had considered before. OKGo - you may entertain millions of people with your snappy beats but you're making a real difference in the lives of your students by daring to be different and thinking outside of the box. Thank you innovating... and to your Interlochen Art Teacher -- thank you for saying "OK... Go". 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My TEDxTalk: Sorry Sir Robinson... I think I killed creativity

On September 20, 2014, I was fortunate to give a TEDxTalk. The title was "Power to the Pupil" but in retrospect, I wish I'd named it "Sorry Sir Robinson... I think I killed creativity." 

This talk is about what to do once you become inspired to embrace student agency, creativity and exploration in the classroom... but you realize that your students have already become rubric zombies. It's about wondering - what do I do now? Am I too late? 

It's about how to help your students rediscover wonder, rediscover playtime. It's not just about the need for classrooms to become more student centered or joyful... but about how to take that first step to implement these ideas. It's eighteen minutes, and I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Creating Google Form Session Sign Up Limits with FormRanger

Lately I've had many instances where we've created sign ups for PD sessions, observation visits or student programming and wanted facilitate this process via a Google Form. However, in all of these examples, we also have wanted to limit the number of people able to register for each option.

Although Andrew Stillman's Google Form AddOn FormLimiter seems like a natural choice, it limits the entire form based on the total number of submissions, regardless of the options selected. We wanted the actual sessions to be limited or closed once they hit their individual maximum, while still allowing registrants to select options that had yet to meet their max.

There may be a more elegant solution out there, but I thought I'd share our workaround. Using another one of Andrew Stillman's Google Form AddOns, FormRanger, and some CountIf and If formulae, I was able to change sessions options to "FULL" in the Google Form once they hit a certain cap.

Note that this doesn't prevent the registrant from still registering for that session, but it does prevent the registrant from knowing what the session was before. When they access the form to fill out, they just see "This session is full, please choose another." If they still select it, that will be session they have chosen in the spreadsheet responses. Should you choose to be kind, you could set up a FormMule email to shoot out an error message prompting them to re-register for another session. In the many instances we've done this, I've never had someone do this.

Below is a screencast walkthrough of how to do this, complete with an explanation of the formulae you need to accomplish it!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pennies to Riches: A little change in the classroom goes a long way

I'm fortunate that as part of my job I am able to travel to various countries, learning and sharing about educational innovations. Over time I've amassed a piggy bank of change and small bills in various currencies. While I used to do my best to end each trip on a perfect zero balance of foreign money, recently I had another idea.

On my last trip to New Zealand, I took my younger sister along for the ride. She marveled at the images on the coins, inspired by Maori carvings. She loved how the bills had clear windows in the paper and were much more colorful than our less flashy green and gray American cash. I realized that I had forgotten to stop and wonder at the history, significance and culture that came into currency making and choices for the size, shape and symbols on money.

So, I decided to take a cue from my sister and bring the change into school for my students to explore. I gave each kid one piece and asked them to tell me everything they could about it. I laid out a few American bills and coins for reference and let them have at it. I didn't give any guidance, tell them where the money was from, nor did I answer any questions. I just repeating, "Tell me everything you can about this money."

They had a ball. While it started off with some pretty funny Google searches ("coin with funny monster face on it"), soon the kids were on a roll, finding fact after fact. From finding out the composition of the paper or the type of metal the coins were forged from... to the name of the currency or the lives of the people whose faces appeared --- the students hungrily analyzed and researched these foreign objects.

The more they discovered, the more questions they had. Some students simply couldn't stop touching the paper, feeling the coins and saying "This came from so far away...." Some wanted to know what they could buy at the local store if they were to exchange it for US currency. Still others wanted to know what they could do to get their faces emblazoned on a coin.

This resulted in the students wondering about our own US currency. They asked "Why we don't have dollar coins?" When they learned we do, they launched into a debate as to why we don't use those instead of paper bills. They had more broad questions such as "Why is paper money always rectangular?"

From pennies I actively tried to avoid, had come this wealth of curiosity and wonder. The questions were limitless as was the learning and ideas for how to improve our current system... all thanks to a little change.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hoo-ray: Goobric comes to Google Classroom!

Thanks Andrew Stillman and team for combining Doctopus, Goobric and Classroom into an easy-to-use solution for classroom teachers around the world! Here is a tutorial for how to get set up with this new integration.

For more information: https://plus.google.com/+AndrewStillman/posts/VtzTvLzMWbW

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

OMG Personalize Your Google Forms!

If you haven't seen this Google Drive blog post, you must... 

Now Google Forms is allowing you to PERSONALIZE YO FORMS! That's right, you can pick the font, background image, banner image, colors... everything!


Click on the GIF for a link to the Google Drive blog post!

Monday, August 25, 2014

1M Views: THANK YOU!

Hello friends,

On March 30, 2011 I embarked on this journey to start chronicling my trials, challenges and successes leveraging technology in the classroom. I remember sitting on my bed, laptop glowing, wondering what to name this blog. The Prince song 1999 was stuck in my head so I figured, yeah... why not? As I wrote that first post, I had no idea if I had anything to say or contribute to the conversation, if anyone would read this blog or if I would have time to post.

Now... 158 posts, 600 comments and 3 1/2 years later, I am so glad I took the advice of my good friend Carrie Kamm and started Teaching Like It's 2999. It has been one of the most powerful reflective practices of my career and has led to much constructive feedback, new collaborators and friends and mostly has allowed me to share my students' work and voices. I encourage everyone to start your own blog... even if you think you have nothing to say, or you'll never post... you just never know....

Today this blog hit 1,000,000 views. As a thank you to you -- my readers and friends, I am giving away ten Google Play App Cards with a free copy of the Android versions of Explain Everything, Book Creator and Star Chart Infinite -- three amazing apps that I love using with students.

The first ten readers to fill out this form will get an app card in the mail! Please note, you must have an ANDROID tablet... these apps won't work on an iPad or a phone.

Thanks again for your readership and support. I look forward to more exploring and sharing in the future!

With big smiles and much gratitude,
Jennie :)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Making a Homemade Stylus: A Great Electricity Activity!

As more of our students are using touchscreen devices, teachers are realizing there is an added cost in peripherals... i.e., apps, headphones and styluses. These costs can quickly add up, so finding simple low-cost solutions is quite helpful. Below is a quick way to create your own stylus with 3 household items in just a few seconds! Plus - BONUS - it makes an awesome science activity... scroll down for more.

- Q-Tip
- Small cup of water
- Tin Foil

  1. Cut a strip of tin foil so it will wrap around all of your Q-Tip except the tip of the cotton. 
  2. Get your Q-Tip and wrap a large strip of tin foil around it so only the very tip of the cotton pokes out. The tin foil should be touching the cotton tip.
  3. Wet the cotton tip (damp, not completely soaked) and use!
Optional: If you want a longer stylus handle, you can push it through the empty shell of a ballpoint pen! Just wrap the tinfoil around the outside of the pen, and again - make sure the foil touches the tip of the cotton.

Note: You do have to hold the stylus by the tinfoil. You also will want to keep a wet sponge in the middle of your student tables so they can re-dampen their cotton -- think like an old-school inkwell! (Ironic, no?)

Why does this work? 
Most modern smartphones and tablets have something called capacitive touch screens. This means that they work because of a distortion in the screen's electrostatic field... basically it has to do with electrical current! While pure water is an insulator water with even the small amounts of salt can be conductors. Since humans are a bit salty ;), we make decent conductors.

This is also why we have to take off our gloves when using our phones. Since the glove material is non-conductive, it won't "complete the circuit" and activate the screen sensors to operate the touch screen. The wet Q-Tip connected to the tinfoil (a conductor) makes this stylus work. This is why the tinfoil has to touch the cotton part and why you have to hold the tinfoil and not just the bare plastic or paper handle.

Science Activity!
I plan to use this activity when exploring electricity and insulators/conductors with my innovation team students this year! I will give them several different materials and let them experiment with building their own conductor-friendly styluses... perhaps they'll iterate on this idea and come up with something better. I hope to share the results here. If you do the same, please also post your results!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Apply for the Digital Innovation in Learning Awards!

EdSurge and Digital Promise have partnered to create the "Digital Innovation in Learning Awards" (DILAs if you prefer a fun acronym). This program will honor powerful examples of innovative teachers, administrators, and ed-tech organizations. 

There will be five awards each in three categories: teachers, administrators, and organizations (both for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations). The "Creative Director" award for teachers, for instance, spotlights teachers who are inspiring their students to create high-quality multimedia projects. The Administrator "Open Door Policy" Award will elevate administrators leading the way in collaboration, communication, and sharing their schools' practices with others. And for organizations, the "Mindful Data" Award will celebrate a company or nonprofit that has exemplary data management policies.

All finalists will be invited to the Digital Innovation in Learning Awards Gala in November, co-hosted by EdSurge and Digital Promise and held in Silicon Valley. Travel and accommodation costs will be covered for winners.   

You can either nominate yourself or nominate a person or group who inspires you. I'm honored to say that I'll be a board member and judge for these awards. I look forward to seeing many amazing videos and applications soon :)!

Below is a list of the different awards you can nominate someone or apply for yourself (no nomination needed). Applications and nominations are now open and available at awards.edsurge.com. The deadline for completed applications is 11:59 PM on October 1. Find out more details about the DILAs here.


The First Annual Digital Innovation in Learning Awards

This award recognizes a teacher who...
“Busting Boundaries” Award
Inspires students to work in-person or virtually with peers in different geographic or cultural communities
“Community Counts” Award
Engages the whole community, including students, parents and local stakeholders, to make learning relevant
“Creative Director” Award
Leads students in producing creative, high-quality, relevant, substantive multimedia projects
“Sharing is Caring” Award
Shares resources freely with peers and professional communities, actively contributes to a community of practice and continuously evolves their personal learning network
“Teacher Trailblazer” Award
Implements a unique, innovative idea involving action and student agency that leverages the power of education technology

This award recognizes a school/district administrator who...
“Administrator Trailblazer” Award
Implements an innovative, unique school model that develops student grit, creativity and agency, or otherwise fosters authentic learning in an unconventional way
“Open Door Policy” Award
Shares what’s working and what’s not with other schools, visits schools and welcomes visitors, facilitates open collaboration between charters and district schools and publishes resources for free public use
“Power to the People” Award
Empowers teachers, students and other administrators to take on leadership roles and participate actively in change management
“Walk the Walk” Award
“Leads by example” by demonstrating their own meaningful use of technology
“We Are Family” Award
Engages parents and caregivers by offering them educational opportunities at school or by providing resources that enable learning outside of school

This award recognizes an edtech organization that...
“Better Together” Award
Includes various stakeholders, including students, teachers, parents, and community members, in product/initiative mission and implementation
“Crystal Clear” Award
Discloses privacy policies with clear, detailed descriptions of how user data is used and who owns it
“Listen & Learn” Award
Responds quickly to reported problems, employs a successful feedback mechanism for users and incorporates pilots and user feedback in product or initiative development
“Mindful Data” Award
Manages, translates and delivers data to users in a manner that is understandable and actionable
“Research @ Work” Award
Thoughtfully uses academic research to shape development of a product or initiative  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

PD is Not a 4-Letter Word and Teacher IEPs

A few weeks ago I gave an Ignite talk at ISTE. Afterward, folks wanted to know where they could review some of the ideas I had mentioned. So... I went through my slides and tried to type out basically what I said for you below! Here it is (approximately), with the slides. (Side Note: I hope to turn this into a longer presentation someday! Because... I love PD!)

Additionally, one of the ideas I mention in the talk above is Teacher IEPs, aka Individual EXPLORATION Plans. This has been getting quite a few follow up questions so I've written this quick post about the concept, and how to make it your own!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Some Upcoming Webinars!

Hello friends! This summer, I am collaborating with McGraw-Hill to put in a few free webinars to help you get powered up on EdTech! See below for the listing - hope to see some of you there :)!


Top Tips for Getting to Know your Digital Device This Summer
Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Join Google Certified Teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator, Jennie Magiera, as she provides some of her favorite tips and strategies to help you get better acquainted with your mobile device (tablet, smart phone) over the summer.

You’ll learn:
- Simple things you can do every day to increase comfort with tablets and digital devices
- Where to go for advice and support from the ever-growing ed tech educators’ community- Creative digital project ideas you can try yourself over the summer and share with students in the fall!

So You’ve Got New Classroom Tech - Now What?
Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer’s almost over and it’s time to start planning your ed tech strategy for the fall. Join Jennie Magiera to learn how to strategically integrate new technologies into your classroom environment and adjust your teaching habits to provide maximum benefits for you and your students.  

You’ll learn:
-          How to create and stick to a plan for incorporating new ed tech into regular classroom activities.
-          How to set effective policies and guidelines to manage student access and use of new classroom technologies.
-          Ideas for creative projects and activities to introduce students to new digital learning tools.

5 Engaging Digital Icebreakers for Back To School!
Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Get the 2014/2015 school year off to a strong start with fun digital activity & project ideas to engage students their first day back and beyond!

You’ll learn:
-          5 easy, fun digital activities to engage students returning from summer break
-          Where to find more quick & easy activity ideas to try in your classroom
-          Tips for keeping all students involved and included

Inspiring Digital Project Based Learning (PBL) for K-12 Math & Science
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Digital Projects can extend the student learning experience outside the walls of your classroom and even across oceans. Join Google certified teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator Jennie Magiera to get inspiring Project Based Learning (PBL) ideas using the latest educational technologies.

You’ll learn:
-          Inspiring digital project ideas to extend K-12 math and science learning
-          How to incorporate elements of digital PBL as a part of regular classroom routines
-          Where to find other educators and classrooms to connect with for shared and collaborative digital Project Based Learning initiatives!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

5 Best Edu Android Apps!

Do you have Android tablets and are looking for a few apps to jump-start your experience? After several months of Android tablet testing, here are our top 5 apps for classroom use!

Book Creator $2.49.
Amazing book creating app that includes video, audio, image and text. It's been an iPad educator favorite for a long time now and as of April 2014, this app is now available on the Google Play store!

Explain Everything $2.99
Another great multimedia app, this screencasting tool includes slides, images, audio and even live web capture. The best screencasting app out there!

Schoology Free.
If you are looking for a Learning Management System, look no further! Here is a quick post with more info on Schoology.

WeVideo Free.
Need an app for video creation on Android? WeVideo is a terrific solution!

Simple Mind Free.
Mind mapping. Simple yet powerful.

Friday, March 28, 2014

PD in a GIFfy

Earlier on this blog I wrote about GIFs, how you should pronounce them and why I love them. Recently, I saw an awesome new way to use a GIF for a PD or how-to website! On the Google Drive Blog, they are making full use of them to illustrate step-by-step point and click directions for new features. Check out this post and scroll down below the video.

Here's an example showing how I can edit the HTML in this very blog post.

VIDEO on Make A Gif

How did I do this? First, I screencasted my clicks with QuickTime (you can also do this with Jing if you're not a Mac user), then used MakeaGIF to turn the video into a GIF. What I like about this vs. embedding a video is that your audience doesn't have to stop reading the text to watch the video, they can skim the entire content of the post easily! I'm definitely going to start using this strategy on more of my training websites!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

TTT Update: Device-less Digital Learning & Responsive Consequences

Teaching Toward Tomorrow Hey there 2999 readers! Just wanted to share links to two recent posts I wrote for my other blog, Teaching Toward Tomorrow on Education Week Teacher. Hopefully you find them helpful! :)

7 Ideas for Going Digital Without Devices
If you don't have devices it doesn't matter since you can't "go digital", right? Not necessarily! Here are seven ideas for how you can go digital - even without devices. Click here to read more...

Tech Is Not a Treat: Responding to Device Misuse
As more and more of our classrooms go 1:1 with technology, they are being faced with new challenges. One that looms over many teachers' heads is what to do when students misuse the devices? That is, what is the appropriate response when a student is on the wrong app at the wrong time, downloads games to their device when they're supposed to be building a website, writes four-lettered words on a class discussion board, or worse - engages in cyberbullying? Click here to read more...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Google Add-Ons are Right On!

If you've been waiting to upgrade to the new Google Sheets, here's a big reason to take the plunge: Add-ons. These are just what they sound like - add on tools for a Google Sheet or Google Doc. Included in these add-ons are refreshed versions of some scripts we've come to know and love, such as Doctopus, Autocrat and Flubaroo.

However, there are many more amazing automations found in the Add-ons docs gallery and Add-ons sheets gallery. You can either browse these by scrolling through or filter by topic - such as education, productivity, etc.

Here are a few gems I've found already:

Docs Add-ons:
  • Easy Bib: This simply automates and simplifies the creation of bibliographies in MLA, APA or Chicago format.
  • eSign / Panda Sign / hello sign: These three similar add-ons allow you to create digitally signable documents.
  • Track Changes: Is revision history sometimes a bit hard to follow in a collaborative document? I agree! The Track Changes add-on allows you to accept or reject revisions as they come in, just like a certain popular desktop-based word processor.
  • Thesaurus: I am so often opening a new window to find synonyms for words as I write these posts. Having a thesaurus built into the doc will make this so much simpler!
  • gliffy / Mind Meister / WebSequence Diagrams: O.M.G. - love these three add-ons. They take text in your doc and turn it into a visual diagram! Mind Meister is probably the easist to use... give them a whirl!
Sheets Add-ons:
  • Split Names: Ever import a list of student or staff names then have to alphabetize them by last name... but the names are all in one cell so you need to manually separate them? Not anymore - this add-on does it for you. 
  • Twitter Curator: Want to curate your tweets in a spreadsheet? Bam. 
  • DriveEye: Ever want to audit your own Drive to see what docs you've got in there and who they are shared to? I have, and have never been able to do it quickly in the past. This solves that problem!

Once installed, these add-ons will forever appear in the add-ons menu of your Docs or Sheets. No need to reinstall or reauthorize. Moreover, most use a handy side-bar navigation, making the workflow and user interface easy and convenient!

For sheets users, note that besides Doctopus, Autocrat and Flubaroo many other educational Google Scripts have yet to make the move over to the add-ons gallery. Additionally, there are several features that haven't been completed in the new Google Sheets (such as notification rules and protected sheets/ranges). In this case, you'll want to continue using the older version of Sheets. To tell the difference between new sheets and old sheets, look at the bottom right hand corner of your screen for the green check icon (new sheets) or "Try the new Google Sheets" (old sheets). For more information on switching, see this help article. (Note: Docs users don't need to switch versions - only sheets.)

To find out more about add-ons, check out this blog post from the Google Drive blog. Also, if you're a developer or have some savvy coding skills, you can create your own add-ons! Check out this site for more information.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

210 Seconds: Speedy Tablet Deployment

Recently we started piloting some Nexus 7 tablets with our students. While there are many exciting things about these devices, our biggest "holy smokes" moment was how easy it is to provision, or set them up.

All you need to do is set up one master or "admin" tablet by downloading the Edu SetUp app. Then input the WiFi settings and a PIN for the teacher to use on this devices. All in all, this takes under 2 minutes. After that's done, simply turn on the rest of the devices and "bump" them - or place them back to back until you hear a chirping noise. Done! This sets up WiFi, the student and teacher accounts and bypasses all the set up windows. Once your students log on, all of their apps and digital content appear automatically!

It was so simple we wondered if our primary students could do it. It turns out they can.

Below three of our second graders, Brione, Kiana and Harrison provision or "bump" 25 Nexus 7 tablets in 210 seconds. Check it out!

Friday, January 24, 2014

"We Learn Better in this Way" - a White House Film Festival submission

My students love music and they love technology. So when they heard about the White House Film Festival - a chance for them to make a 3 minute video about their love of digital learning - they were dead set on making a music video.

First they decided on a song. They wanted to rap at first but after a few iterations realized it was harder to come up with lyrics for fast songs. So they went back to the drawing board. Instead they picked a catchy "easy to sing" slower song - Royals by Lorde. Then they got to work on rewriting the lyrics. They created a shared Google Doc, started brainstorming topics that should go in their song - devices they use, how they use them, etc. Then they did a side-by-side table to look at the original lyrics and their rewrite.

After a few weeks of writing, practicing and rewriting, they had finally come up with their masterpiece. While I'm a huge fan of their lyrical genius and sweet dance moves, I'm even more impressed with the process they went through, their perseverance and the fact that they were really thoughtful about how to portray their use of technology to learn. Even more - that they used the skills they were singing about in the creation of the video itself!

So, without further ado, here is "We Learn Better in this Way" by Jaylen, Jean Paul, Grevelle and Latrell (5th Grade, NTA). Enjoy! :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Latest EdTech Crush: Synergyse

I know it's a little early for Valentine's Day, but I'm in love. All of my paper hearts and candygrams will be headed to Synergyse this year (not to be confused with Synergy, the holographic computer from JEM and the Holograms).

So, what is Synergyse? According to their website:
"Synergyse is on a mission to teach the world how to use Google Apps™. To accomplish this mission, our team of former Google engineers built the worlds first fully interactive, measurable and scalable training system for Google Apps™."

But that really doesn't fully explain it. Basically it's an invisible helper elf who lives in your Google Apps and comes when you summon him via a magic "training" button. So, if you're in the middle of writing an email and forget how to attach a file, you can simply click the training button and an overlay appears showing you where to click and even includes audio narration explaining what you need to do. The training isn't just a video, it's a step-by-step interactive guide that gives you hands-on experience within your live account. Amazing. (See the video below for a demo.)

Synergyse has training for Gmail, Calendar, Drive and is expanding to other Google Apps. I know I geek out on a lot of techie sites, apps and devices, but this one is truly blowing my mind right now. The program even allows you to track analytics for who has gone through which lessons--- and it lets you add your own lessons should you so choose!

This has so much potential for impacting the use and adoption of Google Apps in our schools. Long, boring workshops or even short engaging ones still aren't as helpful as someone sitting down with you, one on one, in front of your computer, walking you through a process step-by-step. What's more is that since all of these lessons live in their corresponding Google App, it's on-demand learning. What you need, when you need it. Holy smokes, Batman - this is definitely worth checking out.

For a video demo see below!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chicago Tonight: Connected Education Impacts Chicago Schools

Last night I had one of the scariest yet exciting experiences yet... live TV. I was honored to be a guest on Chicago Tonight, a local evening news show. I've done televised panels or events in the past but this one was so different! The bright lights, quick pace and trying to answer unexpected questions while teleprompters for someone else scroll before your eyes... it required a serious game face.

All in all, I learned a lot and did my best. I was so humbled to be a part of the program and am so impressed by folks who do this on a daily basis. And, above all, grateful to continue to spread awareness of our schools' work with digital learning!

Connected Education Impacts Chicago Schools