There has been plenty of hype about the Google Cloud Connect plugin which allows you to bridge Microsoft Office with the Google Apps Cloud. Being an avid user of Google Apps, I was excited about providing my avid Office users a seamless pathway onto the Google platform. The installation was simple (unlike what MSFT claims: Microsoft pooh-poohs Google Cloud Connect) and the user interface is intuitive enough for most folks to navigate. It adds a toolbar to your Office suite labeled Google Cloud Connect.
When testing the software, it worked exactly as advertised when syncing to Google Docs. I created a test document on Microsoft Word and it easily synced with my Google Docs (once logged in). It also provided a Google Doc active link inside Microsoft Word and offers revision history on the document. Great!
Unfortunately that is where the excitement ends, as the collaboration feature is not what Google lead me to believe. From what I understood, I thought we would be able to actively edit a document in real time in Microsoft Word using Google Docs. That feature is non-existent and in fact when the document is stored in your Google Docs, it is saved as a Microsoft Word file. Google does not convert the document into a collaborative document and is stored as read-only. The shared document must be converted by the user to a Google Doc before anyone else can edit the document collaboratively. But once you convert the document, that leaves behind your Microsoft Word capabilities. And that is the biggest hurdle and limitation of Google Cloud Connect. Until that is fixed, it will be difficult to completely role this out as a truly cross-platform solution. One step at a time I suppose…
You can download Google Cloud Connect on the Google Docs Blog. It works with Microsoft 2003, 2007, and 2010. It is also important to note that it doesn’t work with Office for Mac 2011.
Below is a list of several reports and articles for the edtech community that I highly recommend reading. Most link to pdf documents.
- Horizon Report 2011
- The Rise of K12 Blended Learning
- AUP in a Web 2.0 and Mobile Era
- Children and Electronic Media
- Media in the Lives of 8 to 18 Year Olds
- Managing Learning: Next Generation Learning Systems
- The MILE Guide
- Understanding Projects in PBL: A Student’s Perspective
- PBS Technology Integration
- Learning in the 21st Century: Taking it Mobile
- National Education Technology Plan
REGISTRATION REQUIRED…the dreaded process to access a website you will only use once and subsequently forget to delete. Imagine 10 years of web use, you probably have amassed 100 times the account registrations and have no clue what email, username, password you registered the account with. Moreover, you probably don’t have the motivation and time to really search or email the website to delete your account. Or if you are me, you couldn’t even recall half of them. Should we not worry, or are you like me and hoping for the dream software to erase your digital footprint. And I am not even talking about your Facebook pictures you have always wanted to delete.
The Digital Footprint Eraser
This is an open invitation to the alpha computer programming geniuses to come up with a solution to my following dilemma. Can someone create a software program to find every account I have created on the Internet? I can only imagine how many accounts I have created since 1996. From silly accounts on useless websites, to financial sensitive accounts such as my IRA. For user friendly purposes, can you make the program provide a simple GUI where we can check and uncheck which accounts to delete. I would be willing to pay good money for such a program. I am officially calling this the next big industry…the digital footprint eraser revolution. Who is with me?
Last night, I attended #cloudcamp and joined 150+ IT professionals sharing, presenting, and at times passionately debating the definition of cloud. It was quite the event, and it provided technical insight on a term that is so loosely thrown around not only in IT , but also in education circles.
When speaking with teachers, admins and edtech folks, the term cloud is often associated to web-based software services hosted outside their infrastructure. Popular educator tools such as Google Apps, Zoho, and DropBox are frequently termed “cloud” computing. While Microsoft Live commercials call it the cloud, IT die hards will gladly contest that is not quite “cloud.” Part of the debate last night was the SaaS (Software as a Service) is not what the term “cloud” is all about. This is when the technical jargon between IaaS, PaaS, and other “aaS” (yes really!) are really where cloud begins. This is when platforms such as Microsoft Azure are really “cloud” solutions. In fact, cloud is considered to have only started in 2006 where Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) was offically offered. According to the #cloudcamp folks, cloud computing is simply defined as OSSM (awesome!), which stands for On Demand, Shared, Scaled, and Measurement. CIO.com also recently posted an article debating the same issue: What is Cloud Computing?
While this technical vernacular may mean nothing to my education community, I find the definition differences to be quite striking. The term cloud will continue to be a buzz word used by different communities to mean all sorts of technologies. The debate continues…but one thing I do agree upon from last night, “don’t buy the cloud, buy the solution.”
For those uber edtech and teacher geeks, here is a detailed explanation of IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS.
An important roll of an educational technologist is to convey the mission of technology integration to a wide variety of stakeholders. When asked by people not associated in education or technology, I often keep my message to three bullet points in how technology impacts our students and teachers in the classroom. While there are other important points to convey such as operational efficiencies and skills building, I often focus on the following broader three points: Content Delivery, Content Creation, and Data Capturing. From those categories, I then bring up 21st century skills and other benefits of technology integration.
Delivering Content – Technology has changed the way students/teachers engage with educational content that traditional textbooks could never do.
With the advancement of interactive technologies, educational content is being delivered to students in engaging new ways. Software companies are creating content to differentiate, personalize, visualize, and interact with topics never seen before. Content is now being delivered through video streaming, open content, webinars, interactive whiteboards, flash, games, images, social media, and crowd-sourced wikis.
Creating Content – Technology gives our student/teachers opportunities to be content creators, rather than passive learners.
The rise of web 2.0 technologies enabled our students and teachers to become active participants in content creation. Students and teachers are self-publishing podcasts, videos, wikis, newspapers, blogs, slideshows, presentations, and ebooks. Creating content on the web has definitely changed the way students are learning in the 21st century.
Data Capturing – Technology gives students/teachers efficient data capturing/analyzing tools to help inform/drive instruction and learning.
While web 2.0 content creation tools are the “cool” technology, the foundation of quality education starts with good data to inform instruction. There are a host of technologies available to capture data such as polls, surveys, gradebooks, rubrics, informal/formal assessments, online quizzes/tests/benchmarks and student response systems.
Before schools and districts go on a mass purchasing spree of iPads and iPods, there are a few infrastructure considerations before sending the purchase order. While I am a strong advocate of using the tablet in the classroom, there should be some strategic deployment plans before putting it in the hands of students. Rather than sounding as the expert, I have decided to format the considerations through questions I would ask before purchasing. This list by no means fits everyone’s model, but will hopefully serve as a guideline to planning out iPad/iPod/tablet/mobile device deployments. Thanks! I would be more than happy to add your feedback, questions, comments to this evolving blog post.
- Do you have enough wireless bandwidth to sustain dense populations of mobile devices? Check this post on Beef Up Your Wireless Infrastructure
- Do you have a Mobile Device Management system in place to effectively manage and support the devices?
- Do you have a big enough Internet pipe to sustain the network traffic?
- Will you create a separate wireless network for mobile devices with different policies? Mobile VLAN?
- Do you have OSX devices to create apps content to push to the iPods and iPads?
- Do you have authentication policies to access the wireless network?
- How do you plan to filter browsing (ex. Mobicip) on these devices?
- Will you allow teachers or students to install apps on the devices? Or will it be centrally managed?
- Will you allow teachers or students to configure settings on the devices? Or will it also be centrally managed?
- Do you have the personnel to be part of the Apple Store Volume Purchasing Program? I believe you need a Program Manager and Program Facilitator(s) to be able to access ASVPP. Apps can be up to 50% off on volume purchasing.
- Will your IT staff be trained on how to support mobile devices?
- Will you allow students to take the devices home? What AUP will you have on mobile devices?
- Will you allow personal mobile devices on campus?
- Does Flash incapability hinder any present network considerations?
- What is the refresh cycle on the devices?
- What mobile cart solution will you have? Where will it be stored? Check out system?
- Do you go 1:1 or shared mobile cart?
- How do we assess Total Cost of Ownership?
- For further infrastructure considerations, read the Apple iOS Enterprise Deployment Guide and iPad Support Enterprise
- How do the iPods and iPads align with your curriculum?
- Who will be responsible for delivering professional development? How do we hold teacher’s accountable to using the devices?
- Does your existing edtech programs and tools work on iOS?
- Are there planning/collaboration times to share best-practices in using mobile devices?
- How will you assess the effectiveness of using the mobile devices?
- Are there data and assessment tools built into the iOS to gather quality data of student achievement?
- Is there a curriculum vision for the iPods and iPads? Does it align with the school’s mission?
- How will parents/community be involved if students are bringing the devices home?
- Are the educational apps available enough to support your curriculum?
- Are there enough content creation tools to replace the traditional computer desktop/laptop?
- How do you assess the educational value of purchasing iPods/iPads? versus Total Cost of Ownership?
One of the rising concerns in IT departments is how to effectively deploy and manage mobile devices on their network. With tablets, iPods, and other mobile devices becoming prevalent in K12 schools, IT departments are scrambling in how to manage the devices effectively while providing flexibility for instructional leaders to update content. While there are many procedural implementations that need to be structured, there also needs to be quality tools for technology administrators to manage the devices. With the proper MDM solution, administrators would be able to push out new apps, set policies, and even lock down mobile devices when a student takes it home for homework. The following companies support iOS and Android platforms: Zenprise, Tangoe, Air Watch, Mobile Iron, Boxtone and Sybase. These MDM solutions supports only iOS: Absolute Software and JAMF Software. It is just one more system to integrate into your next generation K12 infrastructure.