A Google Presentation about Google Apps for Education

15 07 2009

Here is a slide presentation I did to Ruamrudee International School Administrators in March 2009 to familiarize them with Google Apps for Education.  My goal was to encourage them to consider adopting the use of Google Apps themselves, which would then “send a single” to teachers that the school administration supported the use of this free communication and collaboration suite.

An Introduction to Google Apps for Education Presentation

Submit you Class Google Site, Win a T-Shirt

15 07 2009

Hi Teachers. Just wanted to let you know of a contest that Google for Educators is running until June 12th. They’re looking for examples of interesting and useful ways that teachers are using Sites for classroom use. Of course there are lots and lots of ways that Google Sites can be used in education, and many RIS and RIST teachers are already showing some great and effective ideas.

Click here to see all of the sites that our teachers have created so far this year. Below are a just a few that I think are worth checking out. Note: Some of them may not be viewable to you. It all depends on how the owner of the site has “shared” accessibility to the site.

Take a look at the announcement from Google below, and please do send them your site! Who knows, you may win a t-shirt… And don’t we all need another t-shirt?

Google Apps for Educators is “Calling All Teachers”

Ever wonder, “Do other schools use Google Apps for Education? Or is it just OUR weird tech coordinator who is so gung-ho about this Google Apps stuff?” Well, here’s an “authentic” list of schools that are using it. When I say authentic, I mean this is not a list of schools that Google says are using their product (I’ve tried that already), this is a list that I have compiled from communicating with K-20 teachers and coordinators all over the world (mostly through Twitter) who are using GApps day-to-day.

Other Schools Using Google Apps for Education List

Special Edition Tip: Ruamrudee’s List

15 07 2009

Originally posted May 22, 2009 1:44 PM by Steven Hall

With the end of the school year fast approaching, many teachers are anxious to rid themselves of possessions or find employment for helpful nannies or maids, etc.  If you’ve got stuff to sell, or you’re looking for specific items or services, why not consider posting or searching items on  Ruamrudee’s List?

Think of this site as an online garage sale, similar to Craigslist, but just for RIS/T folks. Incoming teachers from all over the world have been visiting the site lately, but a few have mentioned that there hasn’t been much activity from this end. New teachers are out there waiting to buy your stuff; rent your nice apartments, hire your great maids… but they will never find out about your treasures if you merely tack up a print-out of your items on the staff room bulletin board….  So consider posting your stuff for the world to see!

To do it, just click the links above,  log in to your Google Apps for RIS/T account & start posting! Or,  you can click the actual site url here:

If you really want to get fancy, you can create a site specifically for your own stuff, like the two example below. (When I did this last year before I left my old school, I sold EVERYTHING within 48 hours of emailing out the link!) Happy selling, happy shopping, and as always,  let me know if you’d like assistance or more information.

A Modern Educational Tool for Modern Languages

15 07 2009

Originally posted May 11, 2009 2:09 PM by Steven Hall

A few weeks ago I was asked by the Modern Languages department to come up with some options for creating a departmental website to benefit instruction. I met with the department head and then later with ML teachers to sketch out an idea of what they were looking for. I then went to work on what I understood was needed, presenting my creation to them at their next departmental meeting. And… they hated it. Well, hate might be too strong a word, but they saw major problems with my original designs.

I’d assumed that the department would want separate sites for each language (French, Mandarin, JapaneseSpanish) as well as for each section (Middle SchoolHigh School), as most subjects,  I assumed,  would want. But what they were asking for was a  “web-architecture” that mixed the grade levels within each individual language.

Additionally, they needed not only a “public” site — for students, parents and the general public to access — but also a “private” area, part of the site restricted to language teachers only. Here they could communicate with their colleagues to post notes, access meeting agendas/minutes, and collaborate.

So I had to go back to the drawing board (literally — web sites are often best planned by sketching-out the individual pages with pencil and paper). What I came up with this time might get closer to satisfying their requirements. But I’m sure there will be more tweaks needed — and that’s part of the challenge as we try to adapt helpful digital tools to our analog thought-processes.

Please take a look around the site, and if you think your department might benefit from something similar, let me know. Notice that currently only the “Spanish” portion of the site has been created, and that’s not the only rough edge.  The site is very much a work-in-progress, and really, that’s how it always should be.

Another Great Thing About Ning

15 07 2009

Originally posted Apr 24, 2009 10:32 AM by Steven Hall

During the ETC conference in Borneo last week, tech presenter and fellow Bangkokian Jeff Utecht mentioned something  that I did not know to mention in my last Tech Tip: If you create a Ning for educational purposes, you can request that all advertising be removed from the site. This is common practice with many web-based services, but I had not thought about it regarding Ning.

In order to remove the ads, first create a Ning (for your class, department or club, etc.). Then follow the steps below, which I’ve borrowed from educator Steve Hargodon’s blog:

  1. Please sign in to the Ning “Help Centre” first: http://help.ning.com/cgi-bin/ning.cfg/php/enduser/ning_login.php.  This will also allow you to see the status of your “ticket” or request.  You can submit a ticket without signing it (use the “skip” link next to the “sign in” link), but you won’t be able to track the progress of your request.
  2. Click the “Contact Us” link at the top of the page.
  3. The “Ask Our Team a Question” form then appears.
  4. In the first field (“I have a question about”) select “a network that I have created.”
  5. A new field with a pull down menu will appear (“I specifically want to know”) and you should choose “General Question.”
  6. A window will appear where you need to choose a specific topic. Please choose “other” at the end of the list.
  7. You may skip the “I’m Feeling” field if you’d like.
  8. In the “Network URL” field please give the network address of the educational network you are asking Ning to make ad-free.
  9. In the message portion of the ticket, please specifically write that you are requesting an add-free network for education.
  10. Click the send button!
  11. Join the Ning in Education community to get help, hints, and tips for using Ning in educational settings.
  12. Consider thanking Ning by placing a “Ning in Education” badge on your frontpage by following the link on the right side of that network that says “Get a Ning in Education Badge!” You can then add the HTML code into a text box on your network.
  13. If your network isn’t ad-free within three working days, please check the status of your help request at the same web address under “View Tickets.”

I’ve just completed the steps above for a Ning site I created for Ruamrudee teachers, called: ruamrudeeteachers.ning.com/

Main page of the Ruamrudee Teachers Ning

Please sign up and take a look around. Maybe post a thing or two. Tell a neighbor. Let’s see if we can build a community of teachers, and then think about how we might do something similar with our students. For more examples of educational Nings, be sure to check out my previous tech tip about Ning.

The Ning Thing

15 07 2009

Originally posted Apr 3, 2009 9:36 AM by Steven Hall

Most of you are probably familiar with Web 2.0 sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Hi5, etc. These social-networking services are often viewed suspiciously by educators because students seem to spend an awful lot of time logged-in to these sites, and what are they doing on there anyway?… Well in some cases at least, students are using these new communication/collaboration tools for educationally-beneficial purposes.

Whether you like them or are not-so-sure about them, virtual social-networks are here to stay. In fact, they are such a part of the digital-native lifestyle that it might be a good idea to think about how we can best encourage the constructive use of these powerful technologies.

One Social networking service that is very popular with educators these days is called Ning. Unlike some of the other services, Ning allows users to create their own social network, specific to their interests or purpose. Similar to the way Google Sites works, these networks can be either open to the world, or private and shared only between specific users, such as your students. Here is a sampling of some educational Nings from other schools located mostly in our own region:

  • A Ning for educators interested in Web 2.0 and collaborative technologies (www.classroom20.com)
Nings are very easy to set up, and take just a little experimenting with to get the idea. Like most of the tools you’ll find on this blog, Ning is FREE. Think about how you might use a Ning in your teaching, and let me know if you’d like to know more.

Here’s a video that shows a bit more about how to set up your own educational social network on Ning:

How to Create An Educational Ning

Other Schools Using Google Apps for Education

15 07 2009

Originally posted Mar 20, 2009 12:45 PM by Steven Hall

Thought I’d write less today and instead share some quotes and case studies about how Google Apps for Ed is being used by other schools, as well as some major colleges and universities. Note that not all of the schools listed below are located in the United States. Google Apps is now being used in schools in over 100 countries. In fact, two of these schools are located right here in Thailand (Yes, we’re one of them!).

K-12 Schools:

The Watershed School (Boulder, Colorado)“In the course of less than 6 months Google Apps for Education has become the technological center of nearly all operations at The Watershed School. Students are using Apps on a daily basis for their email, 98% of all document creation (by both students and faculty) is in Google Docs, and all school administration occurs via apps. “Cory Pavicich, Director of Educational Technologies

Read the case study

Prem Tinsulanonda International School (Chiang Mai, Thailand)“After considering all the very expensive email service providers out there, Google Apps Education Edition came to the rescue. Not only does Gmail provide us with excellent service, but Google Apps will be an extremely powerful addition to our ICT education program.”Michael Koronkiewicz, IT coordinator and ICT teacher

School Sign in

New York City Intermediate School 339 (New York City, New York)“Everyone saw the benefits of sharing notes, lesson plans, meeting minutes, and updates on kids more easily than ever before. We became unified as a team even before we moved the functionality into our classrooms.”Jason Levy, Principal

Read the case study

Lutheran High School (Los Angeles, California)“Our old systems could not keep up with our increasing need for teamwork in the global educational arena. When we have staff interacting with online students in Tennessee or putting together coursework for the California campus, they need to be able to share calendars, chat online instantly and work seamlessly together on documents regardless of whether they are on the road, visiting schools or recruiting in China…Basically, people are missing out on a great thing if they don’t implement Google Apps.”Gary Nolan, Orange Lutheran Director of Technology

Read the case study

Besant Hill School of Happy Valley (Ojai, California)“Collaborative projects really make for an excellent education experience not only because students bounce ideas off each other and improve each other’s writing skils, but also because the process itself teaches them how to work well with others – a valuable skill for everyone. “Richard Ellwood, Technology Coordinator and Digital Arts Teacher

Read the case study

Columbia Secondary School (New York City, New York)
“Our technology and information systems are a huge selling point for parents who may otherwise have doubts about sending their kids to a brand new school. From summer reading discussion forums to parent and student listserves and online interest groups, the strong, flexible, and user-friendly solution provided by Google Apps provided the glue to hold together our online community.”Andrew Stillman, Assistant Principal and Associate Director of Technology and Information Systems

Read the case study

Cottenham Village College (Cambridge, UK)“Google is providing our staff and students with a very high quality service – and it’s free! The Google e-mail service is so fast, reliable and effective that we were able to move 1200+ users onto the new system within 2 weeks and adoption rates (the school service being the individuals main account) are high. Feedback is universally positive, and the potential to use the system in imaginative and creative ways is clear – and being exploited daily by a wide range of groups and individuals. The next steps are likely to include exploiting mobile phone services and the development of collaborative approaches to learning, not least as a result of the New Secondary Curriculum. We are big fans, and glad to be working with Google. At last, a system that competes (and wins) by comparison to services accessed at home! Google are giving this away for free, allowing us to manage it and run it on our own domain name… simple, fast, effective, reliable and easy to use…. We are thrilled to consider Google as our educational partner.”Peter Marshall, Deputy Head Teacher

Other K-12 schools using GApps for ED include: Shanghai International School, Yokohama International School, American School in Japan, International School of Kuala Lumpur, King George V School of Hong Kong (notice their use of Google Calendar), Busan Foreign School, Carol Morgan School.

Higher Education:

George Washington University“The nature of college computing is rapidly changing. Connectivity is the new essential for students. So much of education now relies on students being able to communicate and collaborate effectively. Google Apps will take them one step closer to living and thriving in a virtual world, not just while they are students here, but after they graduate as well.”Ron Bonig, Executive Director of Technology Operations for Information Systems and Services

Vanderbilt University“Students have expressed great enthusiasm for this email option. The Gmail interface is one with which they are familiar, and they appreciate the increase in storage capacity as well. I’m confident that many will move to Gmail in order to take advantage of the collaboration tools.”Mark Bandas, Associate Provost and Dean of Students

Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi University“With Google, the spam filtering works much better and, with 1,000 times as much storage per account, we don’t have to worry about full inboxes anymore. Setup was simple, and being able to use our school logo conveys the message that this a truly a campus mail system, not just another email account.”Ankush Trakru, Faculty of Management Studies

San Jose City College“We considered many options and choose Google Apps because of the quality of the products, the ease of implementation, and frankly because so many of our students already know and trust Google’s search and communication tools. It’s easier than ever for students and faculty to communicate with each other, and this aspect has a positive impact both in the classroom and around campus.”Michael John Renzi, Director of Finance and Administration

Thunderbird School of Global Management“Google Apps provides larger storage, better internationalization, better spam filtering, and a better web interface than our previous solution. It has improved communications and email user retention.”Johan Reinalda

Open University Malaysia“There is a detectable sense of confidence that at last the email system is world-class! We went out looking for better email services and the fact that Google Apps Education Edition came with email plus all the other goodies is, of course, added bonus.”Professor Dr. Ahmad Hashem, General Manager of Meteor Technology and Consultancy Sdn Bhd

Read the case study

Utah State University“This helped our IT staff understand that their focus should be on strategic enterprise solutions to help us reach our educational objectives, not just overseeing commodities like email. Had we not gone with the Google solution, we’d be looking at proposing a significant increase in student fees. “Eric Hawley, Utah State University Associate Vice President for Technology

Read the case study

Hofstra University“The nature of college computing is rapidly changing. Fixed site computers in labs and classrooms are de rigueur, but connectivity is the new ‘must’ in the lives of students weaned in a virtual world. [...] The response from the university community has been extremely positive because we are now partnering with cutting-edge technologists who understand what we’re trying to do to provide the latest, most innovative technologies available today.”Roy B. Roberti, Director of Information Technology Planning

Read the case study

Linköping University“The Gmail capabilities alone would see the project deemed a success, but with the additional products, including Google Docs and Calendar, we have been able to incorporate it as a critical part of our student IT ecosystem…. In adopting Google’s Apps, we are not only aligning ourselves with a global leader in IT, we are also providing students with what they want.”Joakim Nejdeby, CIO

Read the case study

Arizona State University“Google Apps is helping Arizona State University become a highly flexible university that can provide extraordinary technology experiences for its students. Google’s integration of webmail, instant messaging and calendaring is second to none.”Kari Barlow, Assistant Vice President, University Technology Office

Read the case study

Northwestern University“Our students approached us about a year ago, saying that we needed to improve our email and collaboration services. We actually had our student government tell us, ‘we want you to implement Google Apps.’ “Wendy Woodward, Director of Technology Support Services

Read the case study

University of Southern California“Students are so happy to have these powerful tools. I’m excited for the students because these tools are user friendly, require very little support, are easy enough that they can learn on their own, decide what they want to use and what they don’t want to use..”Suh-Pyng Ku, Vice Provost, Executive Director Continuing Education and Summer Programs

University of North Carolina at Greensboro
“Google Apps has allowed us to get out of providing these commodity type services – such as maintaining an email and calendaring system – and focus on the things that we are uniquely equipped to do, like providing more resources to be able to better support teaching, learning and research.”Todd Sutton, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Application Services

On a final note,  you may have heard that President Obama recently appointed the first-ever Federal Chief Information Officer. Here’s an interesting article I found about him:

The new US CIO is a Google Apps Kinda Guy

Magically Control A Faraway PC

15 07 2009

Originally posted Mar 13, 2009 12:33 PM by Steven Hall

A tech tale to tell today… Not long ago I received an urgent Skype call from my dad in California telling me that their computer was on it’s last legs. He reported that it took forever to boot up, took as long to shut down and was acting generally very sluggish. I noticed our Skype connection wasn’t very good either,  so I shouted “Go to Crossloop.com and download it” before I heard his response of “okay…” dissolve into unintelligible garble. And then the line went dead.

What’s Crossloop and why would I choose these final words to utter? Well, it’s free software that lets you “take control” of another computer, wherever that computer is, as long as it’s connected to the Internet. So I thought I’d try to fix their computer remotely in this way.

Reduced to using Skype Chat at this point (the Internet connection was pretty weak) he eventually informed me that he’d been successful in downloading Crossloop. As the software was already installed on my machine, I was able to lookup their Crossloop user name and request permission to “access” their ailing PC. Immediately they noticed my request “pop-up” on their computer, and with relief gave permission for me to take control of or “share” it.

A few seconds after they clicked “share,” an image of their computer’s desktop popped up on my laptop’s screen in Bangkok, as though I was sitting in front of their PC at home in San Diego. They sat in awe (or so I’d like to think) as I moved their mouse all over their screen, clicking their icons and typing commands. They actually did comment later that the whole process seemed like “magic.” And to be honest, it still seems a bit like magic to me too!

After about 30-minutes of trouble-shooting in this way, I was able to get their machine to behave nicely again. The source of the problem was too many applications automatically opening at start-up, and then not turning off completely while the PC shutdown… but that’s beside the point: Though you may never have the need (nor the want) to use Crossloop in particular, it’s an example of a growing number of free and easy-to-use applications that allow us to communicate, collaborate and solve problems globally. And as an added bonus, these tools can sometimes even make us believe in a little bit of magic.

Currently, Crossloop works only with PCs. Mac and Linux versions are said to be coming soon.

Improve Your Memory

15 07 2009

Originally posted Mar 9, 2009 9:11 AM by Steven Hall

Ever wished your memory was better? Well, here’s a bit of technology that can help. It’ll tell you how much memory you’ve got, how much memory you’ll ever have, and how much extra memory will cost you, should you decide you need it. It’s called the Crucial Memory Scanner , and it’s free.

Uh, we’re talking here about COMPUTER memory you realize, right? A.k.a. RAM (Random Access Memory), this is the stuff that allows your computer to do lots of things (run applications, etc.) at the same time. You can think of it as your computer’s “short-term memory,” where lots of thing going on “right at the moment” are juggled, and action is taken.  Once the decision is made, that stuff is forgotten about.

Computer’s also have “long-term memory” or “storage.” This is the place where computers store data and applications long-term, even when the computer is turned off.  The hard drive is the name of the place where this type of “memory” is stored.

The hard drive is like a huge warehouse (Think COSTCO) full of shelving units stacked with data.  The data is permanently there (unless you purposely delete it) but it takes awhile to get at it…

The short of it is this: When we talk about computer “memory” we are only talking about RAM.

I’ve used this Crucial tool several times over the years, and it really helps figure out how much RAM you’ve got. But what’s even better is that it tells what type of RAM you’ve got, how much more RAM your particular computer can handle, and how costly various RAM upgrade options are going to be.

Once you decide how much RAM you want to add, you can buy the RAM from the website. But you don’t have to. You could just make a trip down to Pantip Plaza with a print-out of the kind of RAM Crucial told you to get and buy it there. Unless you want to feel like a Pachinko ball, just don’t go to Pantip on a Saturday afternoon. Trust me on this…

<—– Click the image

Use HandBrake to Rip DVDs

15 07 2009

Originally posted Feb 27, 2009 10:15 AM by Steven Hall

While showing a DVD in class, or watching one at home, have you ever wondered if it might be possible to put those movies and video segments on the hard drive of your computer? Well, many of you probably haven’t; you’ve got plenty of other important things to ponder! But I bet at least a few you have thought about the advantages of doing this: You teachers are called “geeks.” And to you, I present HandBrake.

This free download allows you to “rip” DVD/CD content and put it on your hard drive. It then allows you to “compress” that video into a variety of formats, such as .mp4, aka MPEG-4. This popular format is the one that iTunes requires to play video on iPods, iPhones, etc.

As a teacher, there may be some real advantages to ripping your DVDs to a hard drive. Say you had an extensive collection of DVDs and you wanted to make it easier to sort through and carry it. You could rip all of your discs to your laptop or external hard drive, and store them there on that one compact device.  If you wanted to go a step further, you could compress each video to .mp4 and then drag it into iTunes. From there, you could sync it with your video iPod. Then bring your iPod to school, plug it into your school computer or projector and show the video to your class. This is just one idea, and I’m sure you can think of many more.

As you might imagine, there are some legal gray-areas here. For example, no one anywhere is in agreement that it’s ok to rip a commercial DVD so that you can watch it on your iPod or computer, or show that content to your students. But most of my sources in the tech world seem to think it’s fine; people should have the right to view the content they paid for through whatever medium they choose. (My sources are not DVD producers, movie-production companies, etc.) In any case… I’m just the messenger.

My next project is to rip a bunch of old home movies that a few years ago I converted from Super-8 film to DVD. I’d like to be able to upload these films to my YouTube channel, and enable the sharing of them with family members scattered around the world. HandBrake is the perfect tool for the job.

HandBrake works on both Mac and PC, and here’s an article from Wired with more info about it.

HandBrake Review