With all the camcorders we are sending out with our UNI students it is going to be important to keep track of who has the equipment and when it comes and goes. I ended up not having time to do this for the first round of TQP field experiences that took place a few weeks ago, but now that everything made it back I decided I better come up with some kind of solution before we add 6 more courses next semester and 12 more faculty next year.
So what I decided to do was to use a QR Code connected to a Google Form, which serves as my chechout/in system for all our equipment. So what essentially happens is a TQP team member will scan the QR Code on the camcorder (see picture) and then will load the website. On the website the form asks for the the student’s name, the type of device they are checking out, the number associated with the device, and then there is a checklist of equipment that is going out with the student.
The workflow is as follows:
- the code is scanned,
- form filled out noting all the equipment that is going out with the student,
- student takes equipment to field experience,
- student brings equipment back to TQP office after field experience,
- code is scanned again,
- equipment is checked to make sure everything is there and if there are any damages, and
- then the form is submitted to finalize the checkin.
I required the form to require a login from users via the UNI Google Apps system and then I collect the username/email of the person filling out the form. This should help prevent anyone from filling out the form but not turning in the equipment. When the form is completed a confirmation email is sent out to the person completing the form which can then be emailed to the student as a form of receipt.
Anyway, that is my QR Code checkout system. You can create a system just like this too. Just create a Google Form with the required information and then create a QR Code for the URL. Print the QR Code on a label (I used the permanent Avery 6570) and affix to your device/item. Then download any QR Code (I am using Qrafter) reader for your device (iOS, Android, Blackberry) and start scanning.
I’m a big Google fan and I have been extremely happy with Google Docs since I first started using them a few years ago. However, the last couple of days have led me to question my faith in Google Docs, but after some minor frustration (not really, I was actually quite p!$$#*) I have come to terms with the limitations of Google Forms. So here’s what happened.
I have been creating a couple forms to use by pre-service teachers in one of their field experiences. Like I have done dozens of times before, I created a new form and began building the different fields, pages, and sections, saving throughout. Then, once I complete the form, I clicked on the link at the bottom of the page that takes you to the live form. Everything looked great and the only change I needed to make was the addition of a theme to pretty things up a bit. I unwittingly then clicked the back button and applied a theme, not noticing that all the content in my form was now gone. EVERYTHING!!! The title of the form, the fields, sections, and pages were all gone. I tried to restore a previous version, but that only made changes to the spreadsheet and not the actual form.
This happened on Friday at the end of the day and I thought, “Oh maybe there is just some kind of bug that isn’t letting me see the form right now. I’ll check back sometime this weekend!” Well, I checked back and my form was still broken, so I proceded to create a new form from scratch. I went through all the steps and created the form, previewed it and then remembered I needed to add that theme. So…I hit the back button and guess what happened? I lost the form again! So you can about imagine my reaction at this point.
I did some troubleshooting and thought about the steps I went through to kill my form and this is what I found: When I created the new form it opened in a new tab within the same browser window; when I clicked on the link at the bottom of the window where I created the form, the live form opened up within the same window, in addition to a new tab; when I hit the back button, I lost the contents of the form. So lesson to my story is as follows: when creating a form, do NOT preview the form until you have closed edit form window the initial time. By previewing the form, you are opening yourself up to the potential to losing the content of the form if you unwittingly click the back button in your browser. I can’t explain why this is the case, but I was burned twice by the steps I just described. So unless you have a considerable amount of time to waste, make sure to close the initial edit form window before viewing the live form.
I was asked today by a colleague on Twitter for some resources for IWBs and as I was thumbing through my blog for different posts that could help him out, I came across this one: http://dmourlam.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/worksheets-in-google-docs-a-dilemma/. This is a post that I brought over last year from my old blogging platform and is one of the first blogs I wrote after going to Google Apps.
Now if you read my blog regularly and know me, I can’t stand having technology just added to current teaching practices. But, alas, I must admit. I’m guilty of it too. In this blog post I explain to teachers in my school how to create worksheeets using Google Docs. Oh the horror! How could I do something like that!!
Well the truth is that we learn everyday and we make mistakes. Failure is part of the learning process and what we do after we fail is what matters. So yes, I made a mistake and just added technology onto what we were already doing. Do I know better now, some two years from when I penned the post? Of course and that’s why I’m going to move promptly to that post and add a comment explaining an alternative to doing worksheets in Google Docs. One that gets at the real power of the technology.
At the start of the school year I decided to begin monitoring my online presence. I felt it was important to know when information about me was posted for public view on the Internet, since I was beginning to expand how much I interacted online. So I created a Google Alert for my name and was pretty unimpressed with what appeared. Most of the updates were tweets and new blog posts, that is until yesterday. Yesterday I saw an update that was inappropriate and beyond my control. I was surprised to see my name plastered on a Web page with inappropriate words, but in the end, I’m glad I was notified about it. Knowing is half the battle and now if anyone ever stumbles across this Web page and approaches me about it, I’m prepared to address the issue with them. Anyone who knows me knows I wouldn’t engage in something so vulgar and inappropriate and will hopefully dismiss it as spam. But this is the nature of the Internet and the world we live in, which is why it’s important to educate everyone, young and old, about how to manage their online presence. What are others saying about me and how will this effect me? Not sure some people think about this when they post to social networks, but as we move to a more connected and social society, this will prove to be a literacy everyone needs to know.
Interested in setting up a Google Alert? Check this site out. Just enter your name (or other search term) and fill out how often you want to be updated, the method for receiving updates, and the type of results you want. Then click “Create Alert.” That’s all there is to it.
Do you monitor your online presence? If so, explain your experiences to keep the conversation going.
It seems like it has been a while since I have posted an update, but with the holiday, I’m not surprised. One thing I found while on vacation was that Google has made 23 more apps available for Google Apps users. This has been a long time coming and I’m excited that schools finally have the opportunity to begin using more of these tools in their classrooms. Here are a couple of the apps that are new that I’m excited about:
Blogger: For those who don’t know, blogger is a Google’s blogging platform and is quite simple for teachers and students to begin blogging and sharing their ideas with the rest of the world. I know many teachers that have been frustrated in the past with the lack of access to this app. However, now teachers can begin having their students complete blogging activities in their courses and help students develop a reflective voice that is necessary for life long learning.
Reader: Central to my PLN is my Google Reader page. I follow a number of blogs from educational techology, to politics, to design, to weird and wacky news. I have found that through the use of Google Reader that I have become more informed with what is happening in my field as well as staying abreast of what’s happening in the rest of the world. Living in a rural state it is easy to become isolated with the lack of different ideas coming at you everyday. Through the use of Google Reader I have been able to have my beliefs challenged, which has made me a better educator and person.
Picasa Web Albums: Picasa has become one of the ways I share pictures with family, friends, and co-workers, not to mention it is the place that I use to upload images to use on Web sites as slideshows. This may be a simple app, but it does open the doors for increased multimedia applications in the classroom, whether it be through an annotated slideshow that tells a story or simply a way to share pictures of a class field trip.
Having access to additional google apps has made teaching more flexible. Teachers now have more resources in their arsenal that are now easier to use since students don’t need to have an additional email account to access certain apps. Not to mention the fact that IT admins now have greater control over these sites, so if a student violates an AUP, they can now restrict access to the apps, as well as follow other compliance policies. This is a very exciting time and I can’t wait to see how teachers in all areas integrate some of these apps into their instruction.
Something that has been coming across my desk lately have been issues related to emails being caught by the Postini Spam filter. I’m taking this opportunity to remind everyone how to check your Spam folder/emails as well as how to mark a sender as a “safe” sender. Here we go:
There are two ways Spam is filtered. One way is through the built-in Spam filter in your email.
- First things first, log into your email
- On the left side of the page you will see a list of all your folders/labels. Click on Spam. If you don’t see Spam, click where it say “1 More” or “3 More,” and then choose Spam
- Now you should see a list of messages that Google has classified as Spam. If you see a message that is not Spam check the box next to the message and click the link towards the top of the page that says Not Junk. This will move it from the Spam folder and put it in the Inbox as well as create a rule that allows messages from this sender to go directly to your Inbox.
Spam is also filtered before it even reaches your Google Spam filter. This service is called Postini.
- Again, log into your email.
- This time, look for a message that says Quarantine Message Summary. This email will list all messages caught by Postini.
- In the email you will notice there is a listing of the sender and the subject. If you find a message that is both from someone you know and has a legitimate subject, the you need to click the “Deliver” link next to the message. This will deliver the message to your Inbox and create a rule that classifies that sender as “Safe.”
- However, check your Google Spam folder as Google might also think the message is Spam. If Google Spam catches the message, follow the steps outlined above.
- The Quarantine Message Summary will be delivered at most, once a day. If you need to access your Postini Spam summary before then, go here: https://login.postini.com/exec/login and log in with your email address and email password. This will show all messages currently be held by Postini.
One thing a few teachers have been trying to do this year is to go paperless in their classes using Google Docs, but they run into a problem. If I want my students to complete a worksheet, how can I share it with them so when one student makes a change, it doesn’t make a change for everyone? This has been quite the dilemma, but there is a solution and it lies in the use of a template.
For those of you who use Google Docs, you may have noticed when you create new documents that there is a From Template option that you can use. If you choose to create a new document from template you are taken to this screen:
From this screen you can look for templates that others have submitted or you can submit your own by clicking on “Submit a Template” from the right side of the screen. Then choose the Google Doc you want to turn into a template and follow the rest of the steps on the screen.
For your students to access the template, all they have to do is click on Create New from their Google Docs home and choose from template. Then they will see the screen above and can click on “Use this Template,” under the template they wish to use. This will create a new, blank document that is not shared with anyone else. Students can then individually complete the worksheet and share the document with you when they are done.
- The document you choose to be a template can be updated by opening the original in your Google Docs Home
- Changes made to the original document used for a template from your Google Docs Home will be made for everyone using the template
- Have your students change the name of the document to be more unique, instead of using “Copy of Worksheet”
- Once students share the worksheet back to you, organize the shared files into a folder for a certain class.
- For example, if your students complete a worksheet for a WWII unit, create a folder called History (name of class), then create a folder within the History folder called WWII Unit (name of unit), then create a folder for each of the individual worksheets the students will be completing such as Timeline, Holocaust, etc.
- Then move the appropriate files to the appropriate folders. Now when you go to check the papers and leave comments, all of the worksheets will be together in one folder and should help save a little time when you assess.
I came across this from Dear Librarian, an edublog. To view this blog in it’s entirety, click here. Interesting…
“A “google jockey” is the person who finds information–usually from the web–to help support a lesson, lecture, or event. Say a fact is needed to help support understanding–the google jockey hops on to the Internet and finds a fact.”
While I have yet to try this, not teaching any classes at the moment, I can see great potential using this in your classes. As we think about how we can create more student centered classrooms having students search the Internet for resources related to the content could be very powerful. They could see there are other resources than the teacher or the textbook, and what’s more likely to happen is that they will find richer ressources they can then share with the rest of the class. This would also be a great way to get them thinking about online research and the reliability of resources, as well as how to cite resources when they share them.
If you have a chance, please check out the post by Dear Librarian.