Tag Archives: google apps


Tips for Using Google Apps for Education to Create Digital Portfolios

Google Apps for Education is a wonderful, collaborative program that allows students to create, collect, and curate artifacts of learning. While there is a wide variety of programs that can be used to create digital portfolios, here are four ways that the GAFE suite of programs can facilitate digital portfolio creation.

What is A Digital Portfolio?

A digital portfolio is a collection of artifacts of learning that demonstrate growth, acquisition of skills or knowledge, and student creativity over time. Too often, the focus lies more on gathering lots of content in a single location and publishing to the web. We want to think about it as more of a 4 step process designed to encourage deeper thinking and reflection.


First, students and teachers need to collect artifacts that demonstrate student learning. One of the potential challenges that teachers face when creating digital portfolios is that not all artifacts of learning experiences are digital. However with today’s technology, this challenge can easily be overcome. Utilizing a scanner or digital camera, teachers and students can transform any physical item into a digital artifact. Not only does this process facilitate the digital portfolio creation, but it is also a wonderful way to lessen the storage burden and create organizational opportunities. Those newly digitized artifacts as well as artifacts that are already digital can easily be collected and organized in a Google Drive folder.


Through the digital portfolio creation process, students and teachers need to make decisions about which artifacts they will include in their portfolios. Questions to ask might include:

  • Does this artifact demonstrate growth?
  • What was the intended learning objective for this project?
  • Is this an example of my best work?
  • Is this an example of work that demonstrates growth?
  • What is the intended purpose of the portfolio?
  • Are we creating showcase or process portfolios?

Going through the curation process will help to ensure that the artifacts gathered are representative of student work that achieves the intended objective of the portfolio.


Beyond just curating content, we want our students to make deeper connections. With digital portfolios, we want students to document not only what they created, but also how and why. In other words, we want our students to discover and record what they learned about their own learning through this process.


The publishing or sharing step of the digital portfolio process can take place after all of the other steps are complete, or it can be an ongoing process. Not everything has to be published to the whole world. One of the first questions a teacher might consider is how public or private the portfolios will be. Most programs and tools that can be used to create digital portfolios have privacy settings built in. In this module, we will be exploring Google tools for the digital creation process.

Let’s Create Portfolios with Google Apps!

Shared Folder

One of the best ways to create an organizational schema for students is to have them save all of the items in their digital portfolio in one Google Drive folder. By doing so, all of the documents and items saved within that folder (even sub-folders) will inherit the same properties as the folder. Therefore, if the folder is set to public or “anyone with the link can view,” all of the items in the folder will share those settings. This step streamlines the process so that each individual artifact doesn’t have to be shared individually.
A shared folder can be published as a basic digital portfolio. While it lacks a polished appearance, it can be a simple way to get started collecting, curating, and publishing artifacts. As an example, if students were creating Martin Luther King Jr. artifacts, the Google Drive Folder might look something like this.

Google Doc with a Table of Contents

Google Apps Google AppsA Google Doc is another way to create a simple digital portfolio. An added benefit to a Google Doc is that there is an opportunity for students to write and reflect on each artifact of learning. The table of contents feature in Google Docs also lends itself well to digital portfolio creation. By using the Styles dropdown menu in Google Docs, teachers and students can create hierarchical headings, which can then be organized into a table of contents. In this animated gif, you can see the process of creating headings within the document and then inserting a table of contents into the top of the document.
The digital portfolio document created in Google Docs could potentially become a somewhat unwieldy multi-page document, but with the table of contents feature at the top, navigation is easily facilitated. Using the same example of a Martin Luther King Jr. project, a digital portfolio created with a Google Doc might look like this.Google Apps

Google Slides

Similar to Google Docs, Google Slides can be an ideal way to put together a digital portfolio. With it’s linear format and individual slides, Google Slides can house links to documents stored in a Google Drive folder and provide room for reflections, images, and even embedded videos. While the automatic table of contents feature that exists in Google Docs is not available in Google Slides, teachers and students can create a table of contents manually. This animated gif demonstrates the process. Continuing with our sample digital portfolio topic of Martin Luther King Jr., a digital portfolio created in Google Slides might look like this.
Google Apps

Google Sites

Arguably the most robust of the GAFE suite of programs, Google Sites is a website development program that easily integrates all of the Google tools. Within Google Sites, teachers and students can embed documents, slideshows, spreadsheets, YouTube videos, images, and much more. They can also create links to other artifacts of learning such as audio recordings, ThingLinks, etc. A sample website made with Google Sites that displays the same sample artifacts from the Martin Luther King Jr. project can be found here.
Google Apps for Education offers a wide variety of tools and programs that help support the digital portfolio creation process. From the very simple such as a Google Drive folder or Google Doc to the more complex Google Slideshow or Google Site, there is a continuum of complexity that can help teachers and students discover the method that is best for them!

Come Learn with Avra this Summer!

Google Apps


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How the Google OnHub router could finally make your school wi-fi usable

While it’s not specifically marketed to schools or education, the new Google OnHub router looks like it might just be the best education technology hardware innovation in a long time. After all, what good is a classroom of Chromebooks or a rollout of Apple iPads if the wi-fi is mediocre? Too often have I seen schools where a BYOD or 1:1 environment is set up only to have reliable wi-fi in only a part of the physical classroom.

So that’s what drew my eye to the all-new solution from the folks at Google. It’s called the Google OnHub router and it’s incredibly easy to use, offers a ton of features useful to classrooms, and is about $200 give or take.

google onhub router

Here are the key things to know:

It’s billed as a router that ‘speaks human’ because it doesn’t make you learn what IPv6 means in order to simply connect your device to the Internet. It uses the Google On mobile app which shows you a ton of information and tells you about alerts in easy-to-understand language.

The handy Google On app manages the router and shows you who is using it for wi-fi. This is great for IT administrators who want to quickly grasp the load, peak times, and other useful data.

The OnHub has a circle of antennae that are designed to offer 360-degree wi-fi range that stretches for a very long distance. That’s because one of the antennae has a single job: to identify which band is clear and to switch your device over to that. So it’s basically an adaptive router – meaning your connection speed will likely get BETTER as you continue to stream that YouTube video. Nice, eh?

It’s about $200. That’s about the same price a typical router would cost if you’re getting a higher-end model that has a similar feature set.

google onhub pricing

Going on Summer break? You can use the app to disconnect the wi-fi remotely or to monitor if anyone is using it. Great for IT admins who are home sick or working remotely.

It uses both Bluetooth and the latest connection options. From Google: “OnHub connects with your laptop or tablet through 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, and includes next-generation technologies like Bluetooth® Smart Ready, Weave, and 802.15.4, so that over time it will support a growing number of “smart devices.”

You can wave your device in front of the router to get priority connectivity. Great for presentations that require a little extra ‘oomph’ in front of the classroom!

The actual physical router is not ugly. It’s not a ‘bear claw’ as described in the below video. It’s designed (literally) to be placed in a prominent place that lets you grant the best possible wi-fi connectivity to all nearby devices.

You could probably run your entire school off a group of these routers. For the price of a single Chromebook, you could have a single OnHub in each classroom, supplying top-notch connectivity that you can actually manage. Would be curious to see if this happens in schools around the globe.

Want To Learn More?

There is a lot more information to check out – so be sure to click here to visit the official OnHub site on google.com.

google onhub logo

A Quick Note on the Google OnHub Router

I haven’t actually used an OnHub yet but will be sure to get one soon. I am just offering this post up as a chance to discover something new. It strikes me as a highly useful tool for schools that are trying to figure out how to integrate education technology. That’s a lot of schools right now. Best of luck!

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How to integrate Google Apps with the SAMR model

Bringing high-quality (and free!) Google Apps into the classroom is a popular trend these days in education technology. Whether you’re using the all-new Google Classroom to simply working on using Google Calendar to track your field trips, there is a lot to think about.
But what happens when you want to take your Google-ization of your classroom to the next level of learning? More than likely, you are familiar with the SAMR model. That is the ‘Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition’ framework that is built to help use technology for improving learning.
google apps samr model

Not familiar with SAMR? No problem. Watch this video.

SAMR stands for “Substitution – Augmentation – Modification – Redefinition”. It is a framework for using technology to transform learning.

  • Substitution: Using new technology for an old task
  • Augmentation: Using additional new technology for an old task
  • Modification: Using new technology to change an old task
  • Redefinition: Using new technology to create new tasks

Got it. Total SAMR master now. So what about integrating Google Apps with the SAMR model?

First off, know that we’re big fans of Google in education and write it about it on a regular basis. Subscribe, follow, like, etc. to stay connected and learn more. I suggest you check out this article as your next step. But wait! Before you go all click-happy, let’s jump into a bit more about how to integrate Google Apps with SAMR. What better way to do that than with this fabulous infographic from Erifili Davis of Google Apps Action.

google apps and samr model

Example of SAMR in action using Google Apps

  • Original task: Write a report about a city using paper/pen/glue/scissors, etc, using books in the library for research.
  • Substitution: Use Google Docs and research on the Internet to create the report.
  • Augmentation: Use Google Docs and research on the Internet to create the report. Share the document with the class teacher.
  • Modification: Use Google Docs and research on the Internet to create the report. Share the document with the class teacher and other students. Students use the comments feature to provide peer feedback.
  • Redefinition: Use Google Hangouts to connect to a virtual tour of the city hosted by a class in the target city with a reciprocal arrangement. Questions and pictures are shared using Google +. Groups of students collaborate to create a reporting using their choice of Google Apps for Education solution, e.g., Doc, Slides, YouTube or Blogger. Report would include multimedia elements. Redefinition can help create more meaningful and student-centred learning experienced.

Sweet! I’m getting there. So what do I do now?

I now think it’s time for viewing this absolutely fantastic video that involves SAMR, LEGO, and education technology. It’ll help you take your first integration steps into the brave new world of SAMR-edtech.

So now you’re an expert, eh? Want a digital badge? This video is for you:

Want a quick video from the Google team? Here you go:

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Google Apps vs Office 365 : The Simplest Answer You Will Eventually Read

I have traveled to many places on the planet Earth. I have been in deserts, jungles, various oceans, in the frigid cold of Eastern Europe, and the unbearable summers of the Arabian Gulf.
I have found that sometimes I encounter a new place that seems like a place I would want to live. Something about it truly stands-out. I am not one to move on quickly. I tend to linger and explore. I want to find the underlying reason for the charm. I want to be as objective as possible. After all, I have learned that if I decide to move and live somewhere, I can move and live anywhere.
Visits always end, and returning back to home is inevitable. It is only after a person returns home, and they are completely unable to ‘be’ where they were, that they understand what not being there means.
This inability to connect truly helps shape the final and most objective opinion we can form, always a little bias, but honest about the reality of where we are and where we could go.
Only in this state of objective absenteeism can a person say, “Yes. I do want to change and do something different in a different place.”  Or, “No. I think what I have is all I need, and change would be less gain and more loss in the long run.”
I am telling you, without any hesitation, that being disconnected and unable to fluidly use Google Apps, the Google Api, and the millions of websites that are Google powered has limited my ability to reach students, families, and staff. It has forced me to create small pieces of infrastructure, at significant cost, just to get beyond word processing and email.
I am in a place where it is impossible to guarantee universal access to anything powered or owned by Google solutions. Most people are not aware that over a million websites use the Google Api, store their videos on Youtube, or use Jquery hosted by Google. Most of the free sites used by people sporting Web 2.0 interfaces for schools use these services.
Google Apps is not about mail and making documents, it is about being part of a massive ecosystem. If all you do is bicker and worry over the best way to make a presentation or send an email, then as a technology leader you are doing a disservice to your community.
Everyday I manage and implement features for my campuses with Office 365 and Sharepoint. My team and have just been recognised by Microsoft as leaders in our region for our implementation. I use everything they have. I design solutions in Sharepoint, move people into OneDrive for Business against their will, and create training materials full of hints and tricks like a boss.
Doubt not! I am an Office 365 ninja.
But if I had a choice, I would simply use Office 365 for office staff only. Anything and anyone connected to teaching and learning would be on Google Apps.  I would run multiple email domains, which I do anyway, and share data via the Active Directory.
I have seen a few very good international schools recently tell all staff, and new hires, “If you want Office make sure you buy your own copy.” I think this is smart, and cost effective. I also think everyone who needs Office can afford the educational price once every five years. I, in fact, have done this in the past. The world did not end. Some people were angry. But when I rolled out four new software packages for math and science with the savings from the Office license, tempers faded.
The simple answer to the debate, Google Apps or Office 365 is:
Teaching and Learning = Google Apps
Office Staff = Office 365
Everyone = Can use solutions developed in both environments.
Until you have known both, and then can only have one, you may not understand.

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5 tips to help school administrators make the most of Google Calendar

One of my favorite Google Apps resources is Google Calendar. If your school has enrolled in Google Apps for Education, it is part of your GAFE suite of tools. With a Google Calendar, you can more effectively organize and plan your administrative tasks. Here are some quick tips to help you to effectively wield your Google Calendar tools.

Use a Shared Calendar

With Shared Calendars, multiple people can view and even edit the same calendar. It’s easy to manage a shared calendar with your Administrative Team, Clubs, Faculty, or even parents using Google Calendar.
create shared google calendarYou can give members the ability to subscribe to the calendar to view updates or even grant them the ability to edit it. To do this, simply open up your Google Calendar and scroll down to “My Calendars,” press the down arrow and select “Create new calendar.” Give the Calendar a Title and include a brief description. Next, check the box “share this calendar with others” and select your sharing settings. Do you want it to be a public calendar that others can only view, share it out publicly only with people in your organization, or do you want to invite specific people who can then add items to the calendar?
Google Calendar Sharing Settings
Google Calendar allows you to be flexible here with multiple levels of access and sharing; for example, you can allow some people to view and others to edit. As the creator of the calendar, you can always change or revoke another person’s access to it. This is a great way to keep a group organized. By keeping a shared calendar with faculty, you can schedule tests and major assignments to make sure students don’t get overwhelmed. If you have resources, like computer labs or iPad carts, you can allow faculty to “reserve resources” on a campus calendar.

Set up Appointment Slots

Google Calendar also allows you to set up appointment slots without sharing your whole calendar with others. This is a great way to hold open office hours or allow people to book time with you; it will also let your faculty, students, other administrators, and parents know your availability without publishing your entire calendar. Note that you can only use this feature with a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) or a Business account; it will not work on a personal account.
When you open your calendar, switch to Week or Day view. Click on your Calendar anywhere and select “Appointment Slots” from the pop up bubble. From the drop down menu, select the Calendar you want to use. I recommend using the calendar you use for professional appointments – rather than a shared calendar – so that you don’t inadvertently schedule a conflicting event. Remember, sharing appointment slots will not reveal your whole Calendar only the time slots you designate available for appointments. Give your Appointment Slots a name, such as “Ms. Carey’s Office Hours,” and set the times for your appointments. When you have finished, copy the appointment page URL and click save. When you share the URL with others, they will be able to schedule appointments with you. If you would like a step-by-step tutorial, check out this great video by The Gooru

Sync your Calendar Across Devices

If you’re like me, you’re always on the run; going to a meeting, a class, or just trying to grab a bite of lunch. My Smartphone is my organizer on the go because it’s readily accessible and I can see my schedule at the touch of a finger. One of the great things about Google Calendar is that it resides in the cloud, so you can sync it wirelessly across devices without thinking about it! If someone emails you a calendar invite and you accept it on your desktop, it will populate your calendar on your laptop, smartphone, and/or tablet. Likewise, if you are stopped in the hallway and someone asks for a meeting, you can schedule it on your Smartphone and it will then appear on your calendar across all of your devices. Here are the instructions for setting up Google Calendar syncing with your with Android & iOS devices. If you need a little extra push to keep you going, you can even have Google Calendar send you a reminder with a text message directly to your cell phone (price subject to your texting plan).

Schedule a GHO Video Call

GHO Link in CalendarsVideo conference calls are becoming more popular as they allow you to engage beyond a disembodied voice. Google Calendar allows you to not only schedule a video conference call, but to include a link within the calendar appointment that users simply click to join. This is much faster than logging into Google Hangouts or Skype and inviting people manually. With a Google Hangout, you can have up to 10 people in the same call; so you can easily navigate remote meetings, interviews with multiple participants, and more.

Add Attachments to Calendar Events

Often, our calendar events include meetings to review different documentation, such as policies and procedures, or to discuss a specific agenda. To keep everything organized, you can attach a document to your event. This is a feature that requires you to enable “Labs” in Google Calendar.
goole labsNOTE: Labs are features that have not yet been broadly rolled out and are still in beta. It is important to know that sometimes Labs features are buggy. If you experience problems, simply disable Labs. To enable the “Event Attachments” Lab click on the the gear in the top right corner, then select Labs, scroll down and enable “Event Attachments.”
Now when you create a new event you will have the option “add attachment” available. When participants log on to the calendar, they will see the attachment and have the ability to download it.
There are a lot of great ways that Calendar can make your administrative duties more organized and streamlined. Explore other tips and tricks as well as more Lab options.

Learn more about Google Apps this Summer!


  • Google & Chromebooks
  • Google & Web Tools in the Student-Centered Classroom
  • The Chromebook Classroom
  • Google Apps & iPads
  • And More!

View the Full Course Catalog at ettsummer.org

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How to find nearby Google For Education experts

There’s a big push right now to get certified and acknowledged as someone who truly understands how to use Google for education. This means you know how to properly Use Google Drive, Google Classroom, and many other Google apps that are offered for schools.
So if you’re looking to get started with figuring out how to use Google apps in the classroom, you might want to reach out to a local expert.
Did you know that you can find training and professional development as well as nearby Google education experts in your town? Pretty exciting stuff from a new site that Google has rolled out.
In this site you can search for organizations and individuals near any location. These listings will all be organized by someone’s first name or last name and it will show you how they could potentially help you better understand how to use Google in the classroom.

See Also: This Is What Happens When Google Reinvents The Classroom

We tried it out a few times and discovered a lot of nearby experts in the Southern California area. While there are currently only about 1000 listings, expect that number to grow substantially as word gets out about this great directory.
In order to show up in this directory you need to be a Google certified education trainer or a professional development partner. You can find more information about that on the website. If you’re looking to become a Google certified teacher, there’s a bit more information on that as well. All of these are definitely worth considering and will hopefully help you on your quest to get a truly connected to classroom.
Want to check out the site? Head over to the Google For Education Directory here.
google for education

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Education Work

6 little-known Google tools you should try today

Not going to mince words here. Google is taking over just about every facet of your personal and professional life. Their ecosystem is a highly advanced slippery slope where you use one of their products and quickly find yourself ensnared. You use their search, then check your Gmail, then whip up a quick document on Google Drive, and pretty soon you find yourself integrating their technology into your office. That’s because they offer FREE enterprise solutions. It’s intense. However, it’s become quite clear that Google is good at more than just making major apps for large numbers of people. They actually crank out niche software that’s little-known and not used as often as, say, Google Drive.

See Also: How to get started with the new Google Slides

In an effort to shed some light on these apps (all free, per usual), the Daily Genius team gathered up our digital flashlights and pointed them all around Google’s elaborate ecosystem. Below are just some of the many offerings you should try out today.

Want even more Google tools and tips? Join Daily Genius on Google+!

These little-known Google tools are incredibly powerful and each one would probably be enough for a single startup to build. But this is Google. So it’s all free and all works (mostly) with your other Google apps. Enjoy!

Get The Real Story With Google Public Data Explorer

When you see a report on the news that offers statistics about something, are you a bit skeptical? Do you wonder if those numbers are actually correct or if they’ve been manipulated to serve someone’s particular purpose? For example, how many statistical factoids do you believe during an election season? What about on infographics? If you want to find out if some data is accurate and if other data is complete nonsense, head over to the Google Public Data Explorer. It’s a fascinatingly powerful tool that gets little (to no) press on the web. This tool lets you dive into large amounts of information on just about any topic you wish. Great for research or for simply trying to uncover the truth about anything you wish! google data explorer guide.jpg

Get Your Business Online (GYBO)

This site is a simple step-by-step resource for anyone looking to get their business or organization appearing in Google’s search results. In case the name of the website didn’t make that clear. The funny part about why this is such a little-known site is because it actually doesn’t even look like it’s a site run by Google. It looks more like an average company page where their main goal is to get you to appear in search results. There are boatloads of SEO companies out there and Google’s apparently trying to beat them to the punch. This one’s definitely worth a look if you want to get your business, event, or organization appearing in more than just search results. There are step-by-step guides to getting you to appear in Google Maps, Google+, and more. get your business online screen

 View All Google Fonts At Once

The Google folks have created an innovative way to display custom fonts on websites and other online documents. It’s a service called Google Fonts and you can do quite a lot with a handy site that’s free to use. Want to spice up your Google Drive document or perhaps try out a new font on your website? Head over to Google Fonts and see how every word you’re going to type looks in every font. Very cool. google fonts demo

Google Keep: A Powerful Digital Notepad

Want to jot down an interesting thought you had while on the go? Never wanted to set up an Evernote account or just looking for something a little more powerful than the built-in notepad app on your phone? Try out Google Keep. You can make a bunch of various lists and share them with others. It’s a great way to stay organized. google keep

Explore The Universe With Google Sky

You know those Google Street View cars that are constantly circling your block? Well, Google has basically taken that technology and pushed into into space. With Google Sky, you can explore the universe using microwave, infrared, and historical images. It’s like Google Maps for space. This is a great tool for any science teacher or student to try out. Just try finding the Big Dipper and see what happens next! google sky image

Great For Entrepreneurs: Think With Google

There’s a handy tool that Google provides for anyone interested in growing their business no matter how large or small it may be. The Think With Google site brings a regular dose of informative insight about trends that Google is seeing. They have a useful newsletter there you should sign up for. It can be tailored to cover your interests, too. Should be a great way to come up with some interesting new blog posts, marketing campaigns, or other outreach your business, organization, or non-profit could benefit from. think with google

Share Your Favorite Google Tools!

If we left off your favorite little-known Google tool, then add it by mentioning @DailyGenius on Twitter or head over to the Daily Genius Facebook page and add your favorite tool there. Looking forward to hearing what you love to use!

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