In this E-Learning Conversation, we talk about new Google Apps features and creating great learning environment for your students.
Below you will find the recording of the video and the show notes.
If you would like to receive an email invite to our next E-Learning conversation click HERE.
The next conversation will be with Lenva Shearing of Hapara talking about Managing workflow with Teacher Dashboard. You can register for that E-Learning Conversation HERE
E-Learning Conversation Recording:
2:30 Gafe Summit Review
5:50 Are merge cells coming to Google Docs
7:30 How to get Google’s attention for feature suggestions
8:30 Google Sites are getting an update
11:00 Google releases a far fetched patent
11:45 Google Plus might be wrapped up into the core suite of apps
13:50 – A link to our previous video on how to restore an account
14:05 Tablet Tuesdays at Google
16:20 The new Docs and Sheets Apps released for Android and iOS
18:45 Voice to text in the new apps
22:00 Changes coming to the way drive will be organised
22:50 Google changes it privacy laws again
27:00 Randomising answers in Google Forms
29:00 Google now is in chrome
31:15 Google Street: go back in time
34:05 A compilation of Google maps
35:35 Check out this video of a Maths teacher talking about the flipped classroom
39:00 A discussion about change and will become harder for the late adopters to adopt technology as the rate of change increases
47:47 Our next Guest is Lenva from Hapara
53:00 How Blake is thinking about deploying the next batch of Chromebooks
LINKS FROM THE SHOW:
New Apps for android and iOS – see the announcement HERE
Link to our previous video on how to use the Google Admin Panel
The latest announcement about student privacy from Google
Video with Blake and one of the teachers from his school talking about Khan Academy in the maths classroom
Streetview compilation in Google maps
In memory collection – a look at the japanese tsunami – amazing to see the change!
A video about going back in time from Google
Blake: Good afternoon and welcome.
Here we are, another E-learning conversation this afternoon. Today we’re going to be mixing it up a little bit. We’re not interviewing anyone today. We’re going to talk about some of the new things that are coming through Google Apps, really just dive into those and see what’s useful from the teacher’s perspective and from the admin perspective. That’s all, really, what we’re about, where technology and pedagogy collide. After that we’re going to have a little chat about creating great learning environments. That’s going to be an interesting one, Mike’s been pondering on that as he ponders on many things. Of course, I’m joined by Mike Reading. He’s a Google-certified teacher, and I believe we’ve got quite a few people who are interested today, Mike.
Mike: Yeah, that’s always good. People are always interested in what’s new and what’s changing. I guess that’s one of the great things about doing all this, that things change so much, but it can also be one of the frustrations for teachers because they’ve just got to try and keep up on it.
Mike: I always love looking at where people come from. I love the whole global idea of being able to connect globally with teachers. There are teachers from Tanzania watching today, so welcome to all those guys from Tanzania, and just a little hint, we’re more than happy to come and run some training sessions there, so if you want to try and organize something, we’re open.
Blake: I’ll go down to Tanzania, if you will, Mike, I’ll go.
Mike: Yeah, I’ll be there. Check out some of the game parks while we’re there, that would be cool. Excellent, well, let’s just jump right into some of the things that have been changing and I’m always interested to hear your side of things as well. Obviously you’ve come back pretty refreshed? How was your trip to Bali the last couple of weeks?
Blake: It was good, actually. We were over there for nine days, which was nice. I missed the Sydney Summit, but you’ll need to fill me in on what happened there, actually. But, yeah, it was great. I had a little trip away with my wife, first year anniversary, so that was lovely. Got a photo here as well, it’s all happening. Yeah, we really enjoyed it and looking forward to going back. It’s going to be a bit of a shock coming back, and all these changes that happened in the weeks while I was away, so really we can just dive back into it. Also we’ll hear about the Google Summit and who you met up there and what’s happening on the Google Teacher scene and what schools are doing and where they’re at.
Mike: Yeah, for sure. The Google Summit was a good one. It was at PLC in Sydney. I think it was about 250-ish teachers at that, so a real depth of experience. It’s always great to catch up with some of the trainers and some of the teachers. I really like listening to the teachers that are in the classroom and just knocking stuff out and working, and then coming back and sharing what they’re learning, so I caught up on a couple of good sessions. There was one guy doing a session on Minecraft and how they use that with Google, which was really interesting.
Blake: Did you go to that one?
Mike: I was in and out of it, but he had a full room and lots of teachers just trying to find different ways to engage students, different ways to teach, so it was really interesting to see the depth and breadth of what’s happening in schools at the moment. It’s quite exciting, actually.
Blake: Yeah, the Minecraft one’s really interesting because of the dynamic of gaming. They say you get feedback every two seconds or something like that, which I think really makes a big impact in the classroom. Especially these days, when kids are so used to that, with the Xbox gaming and all of that. If you can incorporate that into a learning environment, that’s just a home run, isn’t it?
Mike: Yeah, it is. I know my son would play it all day long. I don’t personally get it. I’d get bored with it really quickly.
Blake: It’s just interesting, because it’s actually really hardcore math and physics stuff that they do, where they have to design digital manned gates and all sorts of things inside this virtual world. They do it and don’t realize they’re doing it, it’s year 11 physics work and they just are doing it in a game in year 9 or something. It’s pretty amazing stuff. One of the teachers at McKinnon here is using it and the kids are just loving it. They’re working on it all hours and weekends, you name it. So it gets them engaged, I’ll give them that.
Mike: Yeah, for sure. Now, we should also mention there’s a Q-and-A app that’s running alongside this, so as you’re watching, if you’ve got any questions, by all means throw them into the questions section and we’ll certainly do our best to get to them as we go on today. So it was a good time. We also had a day at Google afterwards, Google’s Certified Teacher reboot, so that was fun. Apparently they’re not doing them so much, but once again, good just to get to people in the room. It was great. We got to talk to a lot of the different engineers at Google and just hear about what’s coming down the pipeline; some of the changes that are coming.
Blake: Who runs those?
Mike: I don’t know. I’m not sure who organized it, but we had Adam, who’s in charge of Chromebooks. He came in and did on a session on what’s happening around Chrome and Chromebooks. Suan organized the day, but they had…
Blake: Run by Google, though, right?
Mike: Yeah, definitely run by Google. They had different people in. They had a lady – I can’t remember her name, but she was talking about coding for kids. That was quite interesting, some of the things they’re getting involved in at the organizational level.
Blake: And this is where you get all your insider information, isn’t it?
Mike: Yeah, a little bit.
Blake: We might kick off with this. What have you got for us?
Mike: Yeah, so, I’ve been hearing some rumors, and I don’t know. I’m a bit torn about this one. It’ll be interesting to see. Some people are saying that merge cells in tables are coming to Google Docs. Now, I’m pretty sure the Google Certified Teacher day, which we’re not allowed to say too much on, they’ve got us under NDAs and so on, but I’m pretty sure they – They always say it’s on our list of things that we’re looking at, but never really give a commitment to, so I’d be really interested to see if that’s coming.
I ran a day on Monday for some Catholic schools and first question: when are we going to be out of merged tables in the Doc? So it’d be pretty cool if that comes out. It would certainly put a lot of frustration to bed, that’s for sure.
Blake: Yeah, it’s probably the top thing I get here, feet on the ground. The top thing I hear from teachers is “When are we going to be able to merge these cells?” Because you can merge them in slides, but you can’t merge them in documents. It’s frustrating, but I’m sure they know about it. Every time you speak to a Google engineer, they know about it, so I’m sure it’s coming. Positive.
Mike: I’d hope so. They’re obviously going to take Microsoft on, so I guess it would be something you’d be looking at. It’d be hard to be an engineer, actually, with so many people telling you so many different things. I guess the feature list would be as long as your arm.
Blake: Oh, it would be. You’ve got to prioritize it, but one thing that Adam from Google, who was head of Chromebooks for Asia – He was saying that they really do check the support line, so if you log it on your domain support, if you go and log a job, they are checking that and they’ll put it into a system, prioritize those jobs, so put the pressure on them and get out there.
Mike: Yeah, we’ve been saying that to a few schools. You know, in Outlook, if you had a group running, you can expand that group when you send an email through Outlook, but you can’t expand the email list inside Gmail and just remove one person from inside the group of that particular email. So we’ve been saying the schools want that feature just to keep logging their support tickets and eventually they’ll rack up enough numbers and hopefully we’ll get some traction on that as well.
Blake: They do look and they do listen. Things do get changed that are put into support. They may not say it at the time, but that stuff definitely goes into some system somewhere and gets added up and quantified.
Mike: Yeah, good tip. That’s cool. The other thing I’ve been talking a lot about and tried to emphasize is that Google Sites are getting a lot of attention behind the scenes right now, so there’s going to be some good updates coming with Google Sites. I think it’s cross that doesn’t change too much, because we know that when you’ve got a whole infrastructure set up around sites and e-portfolios, that if things change too much, that can become a real problem. Hopefully they keep the same functionality, but just get a bit of love and care.
Blake: Yeah, I think the look of it is a big one. They look quite dated now on Google Sites. I think if they can do something with that and make it more mobile friendly and have the pages lay out a bit more smoothly, I think that would be a big bust for starting as well as the speed of it. It’s not super-fast. I think it could be a lot faster, trying to get in and edit pages and pressing “Save” and “Preview” and all that takes quite a bit of time. I guess that one is going to be good for everyone.
Mike: I think Sites are still one of those real untapped potentials inside schools. Some schools are getting on and doing great stuff. I saw Arthur Phillip at the end of the last time — Arthur Phillip High in Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia – and they are doing some fantastic stuff with Google Sites. They look good, they’re very functional, very well thought through. There’s some people who have still never created a site, and whole schools that have never really considered it.
Blake: Yeah, it’s really the easiest way to pull everything together; pull your resources and your curriculum together; have a central place for your kids to jump in on a subject or whatever it is. We use them extensively to the point where our whole Intranet is built on page-level permissions. If a kid logs in he’ll see pages and start menus and different pages again, so it’s extremely powerful, and really the sky’s the limit with them. You’ve just got to get in there and spend a bit of time and get out.
Mike: Yeah. We were just talking about this with Robie from Townsville before this hangout, on one of his sites, and he’s got buttons that appear and disappear based on page-level permissions and navigation. It’s just so good, the stuff you can get today.
Blake: It’s really good. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do. Google always has this ability to surprise you with the things that they’ll launch, so it will be interesting to see what the new features are and the new functions.
Mike: Yeah. Did you see – they launched it on the day we were there – they just released a patent. You know they were saying they were going to bring out the new contact lens for the eye, and it would read you – What they originally said was that they wanted it to be able to monitor your blood glucose levels for diabetics and so on. Now they’ve just released a patent where they’ve got a camera inside that thing. So, imagine Google Glass, and wearable technology – they’ve found a way to put a camera inside a contact lens. Just think about the ramifications of that for a second.
Blake: Yeah, that’s a little bit scary, actually. That’ll show them everything.
Mike: That’s right. Pretty interesting, anyway. So, one of the other things I’m talking a lot about too, and Suan certainly mentioned that when we had him on the conversation; he was talking about how they’re looking at wrapping up Google Plus into the course service of Google, which would obviously make that available to students under 13, so that would be a really good one as well.
Blake: So I’m interested to know how they could do that. For a social network, they’d obviously have to make it internal or something, have it internal to the school.
Mike: It’s my understanding of the policies that you’re not allowed to store personal data of anyone who’s under 13, but schools are exempt from that, because obviously we’ve got to keep their data in line. So, because schools have this exemption, it’s not the fact that it’s social media; it’s that it’s personal information. Somehow Google has an agreement with schools under a Google Education account that if it’s part of the core suite, then they become exempt from that. That’s my understanding of it.
Blake: That’s interesting. So they’re basically just catching up with what the legislature is, because I think that agreement that they have for Google Plus is just for everything; for business, for schools, for anyone. I guess that makes sense, if they can make it a case for schools, because it’s going to help us out immensely, having year sevens on, and certainly for junior schools as well, and primary schools. It’s a big problem for us. We’ve got all these teachers ready to use it, and they can’t use it until year eight or year nine, depending on how old the kids are.
Mike: There’s plenty of primary schools that I wish they could have as well, and just to stop all that frustration of students’ accounts being blocked.
Blake: And locked out, totally locked out. That’s just a nightmare.
Mike: Yeah. It’s not that hard to solve, but once again, it’s just a time issue.
Blake: Yeah, we covered that, how to lock and unlock and turn all that stuff on and off, in a previous Hangout going through the admin console, so if you’re interested in that, check that out.
Mike: Yeah, I’ll put a link in the show notes, so back to that, that will be fun. The last one that they really talked about was, inside Google, they have what they call “Tablet Tuesdays,” where everyone at the company, from the designers and developers right through, are meant to use tablets for the whole day on Tuesday. The reason they’re doing that is they want to make sure that everybody feels the pain and the disparity between computers and tablets. So there’s a real focus on tablet technology. They keep saying to us that where they want to get to is that it doesn’t matter if you open up a computer or if you open up a chromebook, or on a tablet or mobile device, everything should look and feel and work the same. So, that’ll be interesting, and it’s good that they’re forcing staff to use that as well, it will put a bit of extra pressure on them.
Blake: It’s really good. If you’ve got developers getting frustrated, they’ll fix the problems. That’s good news for everyone. Tablet Tuesdays sounds a bit wrong, I thought they would want to take a pill on Tuesday or something.
Mike: I guess, for them, it’s all about trying to still be productive on a tablet device.
Blake: I think there’s always inherent trade-offs with tablets. We looked at this with the iPads when we weighed up iPads and Netbooks and laptops and that sort of stuff. I think that the real thing with iPads is they’re excellent for consuming stuff. They’re really good at getting information, reading stuff, and getting on videos. You can take them across the room easily and hand them down in working groups. But the thing that probably counts when you want to be productive, when you want to sit down and bang out an essay, you want to do the things that we are all doing in schools, which is trying to create things; produce things; be productive. I think that’s where the trade-offs are and I think they’re always going to be there, but it’s interesting, if those tools can be moved onto a different platform, what that will do for the platform. Maybe tablets will have more of a keyboard dock scenario with them all the time, or something like that will become more commonplace. It’s interesting.
Mike: Yeah, for sure. I guess with that, comes the release of the new apps today, and Gerald in the questions section is just saying he’s loving the new docs and sheet apps. There is a question around that. Apparently tables are still not supported; I’ve seen that on Google Plus a bit today. Different people that I’d expect would be reasonably in the know are saying that it’s coming, so hopefully tables on a tablet device would come. I guess if you look at it in terms of Tablet Tuesday, I’m sure Google would use tables.
Blake: Why wouldn’t they.
Mike: So they’ll be trying to figure that one out.
Blake: That’s definitely a good thing to be coming out of it. Just out of interest there, the question also from Gerard said “Will the docs support viewing and editing in tables?” It currently supports viewing, I think, if you’re not editing. You can view, I think you can still view. It’s got to happen, and like I said, they’re all about mobile first now. They keep saying that new features have to be mobile first, and if they’re not going to go mobile initially, they will be soon. That’s really good. But the docs have stuff that looks good. They’ve split the apps up. From what I can see it’s the same as the Drive app, they’re just taking the documents part out and the sheets part out, and they say that Slides is coming soon, the presentations part. We’ll see that soon, which will be good. It just makes it a bit more accessible and I think you can do more directly with Office 365 as well. They have their apps on the iPad and their apps on Windows tablets and stuff. This way, you’ve got, “Okay, I just want to make a document, I’ll just print from the Docs app.” I think that makes a lot of sense.
Mike: Yeah. If you’re a teacher or a student, it probably doesn’t make that much of a difference, do you reckon?
Blake: Probably if you already know how to use it, it doesn’t; but I think if you’re a new student to Google Apps, or a new teacher, and you think “Okay, how do I get docs on my tablet?” you can jump online and search Google Documents and find the app for it. I think that’s very different from what you do now. You have to find it in Drive and figure out, “What am I doing? Uploading, creating a form, what am I doing on here?” I think there’s some inherent benefits there just in discovery and simplicity. Also just more of what we’re used to. We’re used to finding Word on our machine, or Excel, we’re going into an Office Suite and then opening up an Excel doc. So it makes a lot of sense.
Mike: Yeah, for sure. I had a quick play with it today and used the Voice part, because there’s some teachers that like that for accessibility and so on and Voice integrates really well, Voice text.
Blake: In Docs, is that?
Mike: Yeah, in Docs. We also had a play with it in Sheets, just doing some simple calculations, so it even uses the voice. You say “One plus two” and it puts it in there, all the symbols come out right, so it seemed to work pretty well.
Blake: What about fractions? Did you try fractions or anything crazy like that?
Mike: No, I didn’t get that technical. I just had a real quick play.
Blake: That would be interesting to see, because inputting equations is the big bugbear of most teachers. Equation outages and stuff. If you can just say it, you can just say “One plus X over Y” or whatever it might be, that would be a huge thing.
Mike: I’m going to try it right now.
Blake: We’ll have a live demo.
Mike: In a moment.
Blake: No pressure.
Mike: All right.
Blake: That will be interesting. It’s good to see all these big announcements coming through, and the stuff even since we’ve been away. Since school holidays, we’ve come back, and there’s all this new stuff that’s been pushed through. I think they’ve got an option in Google Forms now where you can randomize the answers. So if you want five answers, I think Mike’s going to run through that,
Mike: So what equation do you want me to put in?
Blake: I don’t know. Just put in “1x over 100.”
Mike: I don’t know if that’s going to work. We’ll try it. “1x over 100.” It just comes up as one times a hundred. Let’s try one more time. “Three-quarters.” It’s just giving me text now.
Blake: Yeah. That’s a shame, that would have been good.
Mike: Yeah. “One plus three.” Yeah, it definitely does the simple stuff like “one plus three” but not the other stuff.
Blake: It’s a good place to start.
Mike: So, the guys are saying that Google has a lot of stuff coming. A lot of big announcements, a lot of exciting stuff. They wouldn’t tell us what it was, so it must be really locked down.
Blake: Yeah, we’ve been hearing this for a while, that something big is coming, isn’t it? There’s some big updates in the pot.
Mike: I don’t know what it is, but keen to see. Sometimes you just want to make sure you don’t overhype stuff, so hopefully it lives up.
Blake: Drive has become one of those things. Drive has become so central to the way schools operate, and it’s interesting to see what they’ll do there. They never sit still. They’re not just sitting around following the leader, they are the leader. They’ve got to make up new things and get new things happening all the time, so it’s interesting.
Mike: If they’re putting a camera in a contact lens, I think their thinking is pretty much in the right place.
Mike: They do talk a little bit about Drive. Drive’s going to be around social, so rather than looking at a linear change, you’ll be able to search for what changes people have done and things like that. That should be interesting; changes to Drive and how that works.
Blake: In the revision history side of things, or how is that going to work?
Mike: Yeah. I think, like you were saying, that little information button that’s up there now, that shows you when people have opened the document, and it’s a little bit more around the person. They’re saying that Drive can be organized around people, not just the product, so that will be interesting. You’ll be able to see everything you’ve shared with a person instead of just having a list of docs, so if I wanted to see everything I’ve shared with you, I could just look up your name and all those docs would be there, organized that way.
Blake: Okay, so it’s more around the person than around the structured documents and so on.
Mike: Which kind of makes sense, if you look at linking in Google Plus.
Blake: Being all about collaborations, that’s a step in the right direction.
Mike: Yeah, for sure. So what’s happening around privacy? There’s been lots happening and lots of discussions around privacy. Have you had a chance to look into that?
Blake: Yeah, there’s been heaps going on. What was it, two or three weeks ago? It just blew up into a media storm. I think they had an interview that week with someone and Suan was saying he was having to putting out all sorts of fires. A lot of it was hype, I think. A lot of it was hyped up by the media, and people say “Students’ privacy, what does that mean? What part of their privacy, and how is that being used?” Really, what the crux of the problem was that Google was, as they do with all Gmail accounts, scanning your email in terms of the keywords. Some algorithm scans your email for keywords and provides that. That really was the big issue.
They were saying, “Hang on, we’re at a school. We’re not giving you the rights to do that to our students.” That’s a fair enough concern. A lot of schools said something has to be done about it, and Google said, “Okay, well, you can turn off ads in your domain, and you won’t get ads, but your mail is still being scanned.” A lot of it is hype for people thinking that they’re looking into your email box and looking at each email that Mike sends to whoever, but the reality is that’s not what we’re doing. Not only do they not have access to do that, it’s just programatic code that sits there and compares things to their adwords.
That sort of comes back to the cost of freedom, and what is the true cost of being free. Well, the true cost, I think in this case, is that they do some sort of scanning and data collection. The most recent part of this has been Google coming out and saying “Well, we’re permanently removing the ads function for .edu domains, so any education domain is not going to have the option to turn ads on.”
They’re also removing all the ad scanning outside of the inbox. They’re taking all the ad scanning away for Google Apps in education domains, which means Google can’t collect or use any student data in Google Apps for education for advertising purposes. I think they’ve made it pretty clear, they’re saying, “You know what, no one is turning this stuff on anyway. We’re not really using it for anything. We’re just going to get rid of it, cut it out.” I think that’s a good move by them, in terms of the PR thing, because they were sort of having to fight this big stigma of privacy. It’s a big, scary word. On the flip side of that, how private are the things that are on our servers here?
The argument I always make is that here at McKinnon Secondary College we have all this stuff on our servers, and there’s five technicians here who are hopefully switched on guys. A lot of us went to good schools are very well-educated, but at the end of the day, we’re not going to be able to compete with the likes of 400 full-time engineers to keep data safe. We might have a firewall, or we might have some systems in place, but how often do we check those? How often do we run analysis on those? Not very often, whereas you’ve got 400 of the world’s best minds working on this stuff up at Google. I think in terms of privacy and safety and data, that’s as good as it gets from where we sit.
Mike: Yeah, that’s probably pretty true. I remember a couple of years ago, the New South Wales Department of Education were talking about security. You need to have your emails on their servers in their buildings, and there was a discussion around “Can you trust Google?” Twice that year they got hacked. Emails were being sent from the Director General and so on.
Blake: Yeah, and that’s it. Google has the best guys and the foremost experts in security working to protect our information all the time, whereas I’ve just got four guys in an office who are overworked and underpaid trying to do what we can.
Mike: That’s funny. That’s cool. I’ll do a quick screen share; I just want to show people this randomizing answers in a form. You all right with that?
Blake: Yeah, this is good. This is a really good little feature. They just snuck this in here. I didn’t even hear anything about it. It wasn’t on their little alerts thing that will tell you if there’s new features and stuff. It wasn’t on that, either.
Mike: No, it wasn’t. So, can you see my screen now?
Mike: All right. So if you just go in and create a form, obviously works if you’re going to have multiple choice kind of forms.
Mike: It’s under this advanced settings now. So, if you had a question in here — and you’re able to use the data validation, that’s still there – but if you just click on the advanced settings and you click on “Shuffle option order,” it will shuffle the order of your answers. So one of the questions we asked the Google engineers was “If we can do that for answers, surely you can start to do that for questions?” I’m pretty sure that’s pretty close to being released. They didn’t say too much about it, but I think how hard can it be to go from there to there.
Blake: Yeah, that’s pretty good. I like that for randomizing it. Even if you give a kid the same test in three weeks, you could give them the same test and sort of cut out that sheer memorization factor.
Mike: Yeah. Someone commented on my blog today saying they use this with their students, because they teach a particular set of students in the morning, and then they have to reteach in the afternoon, and previously the students were taking screen captures and sharing it. Now they can’t.
Blake: It at least puts a barrier up to it, makes it a little bit more difficult, doesn’t it?
Mike: Yeah. I think that’s a really good feature that’s come along.
Blake: Yeah, it is. And is that on check boxes or is it just multiple choice?
Mike: It should. Check boxes still there, and you’ve got your data validation.
Mike: Yeah, that’s very good.
Blake: I like it. Very good. Nice little demo there.
Mike: That’s what we do best.
Blake: On-the-fly demos. Yeah, that’s great. I also noticed while I was away that Google now has come to Chrome. Have you seen that?
Mike: Yeah, I saw it –
Blake: I’ll screen share my screen, actually. You’ve got it up there, I think.
Mike: There you go. Blake: I’ll screen share mine, and up here we’ve got this – You’re on a Mac and I’m on a PC, I think it’s in the system tray, you get this Chrome notification. I don’t know if you can see that. Mike: It’s just kind of through here, yeah. Blake: Up at the top. Yeah. We can get Google now, things like the weather and directions to wherever through Google maps, and do all sort of crazy stuff, so it’s pretty intense. That mobile-first stuff is now filtering back into the desktop and back into our stuff. At our office we use this for that as they build that at Google now, especially the Voice stuff. It has the Voice stuff built in. Talking to the machine, getting it to do searches for you, plugging in a reminder about homework and things like that. It’s pretty good.
Mike: Yeah, it’s going to be interesting where things get to, isn’t it?
Blake: It’s just rapidly evolving, and I just worry that with a lot of products that rapidly evolve, they get so complex. I think Google has done a good job at keeping things simple, and I just hope that continues to start that on-ramp of technology to start using something. You don’t want it to become too difficult to get going.
Mike: I also find a lot of teachers who still need the basics. So here’s a Doc, here’s how you share, here’s how you collaborate.
Blake: It’s a whole new way of thinking.
Mike: Yeah, for sure.
Blake: You don’t want to add too many layers on top of that, that’s for sure.
Mike: Yeah, that’s right. Very true. Okay, I’ll share my screen again. Have you seen this? This, I thought, would be fantastic for geography students. With Google, we know that we have got street view with Google, and one of the things that we can do with Google, obviously, is walk down streets and drive down streets and look at houses and so on, but they’ve started to document the changes over time.
So here’s one that they’ve put together that says “Memories for the Future” and it’s in Japan after the earthquake and the tsunami that hit. So you can click on the “Before” button and it will show you what it looked like before, and you can go down the street and see the houses and so on, and that’s all there. Then what you can do is click on the “After” button, and it will show you what it looked like after the tsunami came through. There’s the change. That’s just amazing, isn’t it?
Blake: That’s a little bit crazy.
Mike: Yeah. Talking about society and culture, talking about change over time – if you wanted to look at the impacts of earthquakes and tsunamis you can do that. They’ve got one section I saw one when I was looking, and I can’t find it now, but it’s got the boat that’s sitting miles away from the ocean, and all that sort of stuff.
Blake: That’s crazy.
Blake: That’s really good. I like the thought of this happening now for the next ten years or something. In a few years’ time, we’re going to have some five or ten years of data you can go look at. Glaciers receding, or rivers drying up or things like that over time. We’re going to have such a breadth of data, you know what I mean?
Mike: Yeah. This is available for all of Google Maps now, so anyone who goes to any Google Map and looks up a place, at the top now, you can see where it says “New” and it says “Street view,” and if you click on that, that shows you all the different versions that they’ve got. So here’s one of the tower being built. I can show you a preview made just here in the window, and if you want to see what it looks like on fullscreen, you just click inside the window and that changes it. So, I had a look at my house just the other day, and they’ve given me two since 2008.
So some places have more than others, but once again, a change over time. It will be great for, like you say, ten years’ time, go down the street and see what things were like, see how things have changed. You can go back through your old neighborhood with your grandkids or something.
Blake: Yeah, think about that. That’s really strange. You’ll be able to buy a house and look at what the neighborhood was like ten years ago.
Mike: Yeah, we can see all the changes we’ve done and renovations we’ve done to our house. Yeah, so that’s available to everyone on Google Maps now, so just that whole change over time is just a great little feature. While we’re on that, too, Google released this compilation of maps. I’ll put the link in the show notes after all this, but these are all different places where you can go. So you can look at the map and go and see different places. There’s photo spheres that have been set up. You basically just hover over it, and it’ll take you to a place, and if you like it, just click on it, and it’ll take you straight there. So, just a nice little addition to the Google cultural institute, looking inside museums and so on.
Blake: That’s cool.
Mike: Yeah, so lots of stuff happening around maps, which wouldn’t seem that exciting, but just to think about the ways you would apply that in practice, I think that’s great.
Blake: Absolutely. There are plenty of ways you can think about it. It’s not just for geography people. There’s history, a lot of historical sites you can walk through. I think they’ve got an Indian site, inside a lot of the old relics and stuff, and – jeez, I’ve got a mental blank. What’s that big aerodrome in Rome called?
Mike: You can do that, you can walk in the Coliseum; you can walk into some of the places in the Philippines, some of the ruins. They’re great.
Blake: Yeah, you can see some stuff that’s really cool. I think we went through some in the last Hangout, but definitely check that out. It’s really good. So, moving on a little bit, trying to segue through to teaching and learning stuff: I’ve just done a video with Adam here from technical college. He’s been using Khan Academy to kind of flip these classrooms into a blended learning approach.
He’s getting a lot of kids to watch videos at home and then ask questions in class and work through activities and things while there’s people around, and do more learning stuff and instructional stuff at home. He had this year ten class, and it was a real good opportunity for him to try this stuff. He’s got some really good insights into what he’s learned from that, and also how Khan Academy works. I looked at Khan Academy a few years ago and it has come on in leaps and bounds now. They’re doing really good stuff with trying to teach the kids in a way that they’ll retain it; not in a way that’s very much regurgitated now.
They’ll complete a unit – one of the examples was to complete a unit, and then they’ll do a test in that unit, but to pass the next unit, which might be in three weeks, they ask you questions from the previous unit. So they make sure you’re retaining that knowledge and that you’re going back and revising throughout the year. I thought there was just really interesting stuff going on there, and they’ve got some good people and minds working on this stuff. You can just learn everything. You just go in and click a few buttons. In a video that I’ll get Mike to share out – you might want to put it in chat now, Mike – but in the video, they talk about how easy it is setting up a class.
The kids can go off and earn badges, and the kids will sit there and say “You know what, I want to do this again and get a hundred percent, because I need the expert badge” or something like that. So there’s motivation, plus trying to retain the knowledge over the years so they can really excel in the exams. So many good things going on in that system while they’re working it. It’d be silly not to have a look at it. It’s very impressive, what they’ve done in the last few years.
Mike: Right. Some of the teachers say “I haven’t got time to prepare all this content and change things around,” and I think they should just go in there and steal other people’s stuff. Just go for it, I reckon. It seems like they’re pretty well-funded right now. I saw, and I can’t remember where it was, but there’s an ad in the States that has him. He would have charged big bucks for that ad.
Blake: They’re well-funded. They’ve got a lot of people backing them. I think they’re closely aligned with Google. He’s been on a few Google interviews and stuff; he’s been on a few of those. He’s just trying to work things in a way that he can do. His goal is to have developers sitting there and to have this crazy testing environment that retests you and shows you all the statistics and tells the teacher what questions they got stuck on, and what areas they can automatically draw conclusions about issues with certain threads of your coursework and stuff.
They can do insane stuff, and for us to do that, why would we reinvent the wheel? We should be getting onboard with products and services that do this, like Google Apps does. It makes things a lot easier. There’s a lot of value in what Khan Academy’s doing. I don’t feel it’s stealing, really, I think it’s taking advantage of the fact that they’re able to do this. They have the money and resources to do it. I don’t think that any teacher could do that on their own, that’s for sure.
Mike: Yeah, and it’s not really stealing, because if you steal, that means you take it and they don’t have it, but it’s open source and free use.
Blake: I think it’s going to create a new standard in education; that close detail of where people are at, monitoring, and all the other sort of things they’re using is really going to change things. If you’re not getting on board with this sort of stuff now, it’s going to be hard to catch up later.
Mike: That’s so true. Excellent. Hey, here’s something I’ve been thinking about a little bit. I tried to have conversations about it. What’s the role of teaching really going to be in the next five years or so? With all this technology; with Khan Academy, with self-grading assessments, with the students being able to find information on YouTube, Google searches – What’s the role of the teacher going to be in five years’ time?
I don’t think that the role of the teacher will necessarily disappear. You hear about some people saying, “Well, the students will just join these MOOCS and they’ll just be all online classes, or they’ll herd a bunch of students into a room and there’ll be live demos online” and all this kind of thing. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case, but I think with this whole wealth of information that’s out there at the moment, one of the roles that a teacher can really transition well towards is not necessarily having to give all the answers all the time.
I can remember ten years ago, when I was teaching, it would be an overhead projector, write down these notes, memorize this stuff. It was all about me providing the information and me providing the content. Now, we can just go in and go, “Okay, with the wealth of information that’s available to us, let’s find five really interesting questions and just have a great discussion around that.” I think technology enables that to happen. What are your thoughts on that? What do you reckon the role of the teacher will be?
Blake: That’s next to impossible, isn’t it?I think the thing about teachers creating those relationships is to be able to build a lasting relation, get people invigorated about the content, about science or whatever it is, and presenting it in a way that’s going to work for kids. You can give kids the best curriculum in the world in a manila folder and send them home with it, but ninety percent of them aren’t going to open it unless they feel like, “This is exciting; this is something I want to do.”
I think that’s where the future will be. It will be trying to really engage kids more, like this Minecraft thing we were talking about. The engagement side of things is a big one, but also creating those relationships. You always remember your best teachers; the ones you had fun with or whatever it might have been. That sort of stuff is going to be the real focus. Trying to get that to happen on a scale will be interesting. I’m not sure, I think the tools and the way we deliver curriculum are all going to kind of fall away. It’s going to become ubiquitous.
Any device will be able to use Google Docs and all that sort of stuff, so it will be more about how the person’s approaching this object, are they appearing enthusiastic, and all that sort of stuff. It really becomes sort of a sales and marketing kind of role. I know that sounds terrible, but trying to sell your subject to the kids and saying “You want to know about this stuff.” How they do that, the tools to do that, that will all be coming soon enough.
I think that teaching is going to change a lot. The role of the student will change a lot. Where they go for answers has already changed. They all go to Google. Ten years ago, they had to look it up in a book or something. It’s a different world. I think Google Search has just changed everything. I couldn’t imagine going to school and just being able to Google anything. It’s not that important that you know all this stuff anymore because you can Google it in two seconds, so I think it’s important to build relationships, and more problem-solving skills, and things around initiative, and things about character. Stuff like that will become more important than regurgitating information, which anyone can look up online.
Mike: I totally think that, and it’s interesting. In the staff development day I ran on Monday, a few of the teachers came up and were genuinely concerned because they weren’t able to keep up. It’s almost like the momentum’s changed. There was a bulk of momentum towards resisting change, and there was a few teachers out there using technology, but they were just the crazy few, the early adopters. I think we’re moving right through now into that. En masse, generally speaking, teachers are picking it up, but you’ve got those late adopters who almost feel like second-rate teachers because they’re not using technology. They just can’t get their head around it. They’ve got their program set, and they’re happy with it. I think there’s some tension now between – How do we really encourage this guys and girls now?
They’re not bad teachers because they’re not using technology, but it’s almost like they’re getting that sense that they’re no longer relevant. There’s some interesting tension around it at the moment.
Blake: There is, and I think the outcast side of it as well – teachers feel outcast. They’ll think, “Well, I teach math, I don’t really need to use this stuff, and because I choose not to, I get vilified,” or the trouble with it is they can’t use it. I think that’s going to change. It’s just a slow burn that’s come through the early adopter phase, now, the big middle.
Eighty percent of the staff body, they’re the ones that are running with it now, and the laggards – often the subject won’t call for it. I think that change needs to happen as well to the curriculum, to the way subjects are delivered and things like that, before people will get on. A lot of people don’t get on with this stuff unless they’re forced to. We want to hope that it’s for the better, as well. It’s difficult to tie any kind of use of technology to better outcomes. It’s very difficult. It’s something we’re trying to do here at McKinnon with Monash University. We’re doing a study around it because it’s really a big question about time and education.
How do we know if any of these technologies make any difference, and trying to measure – we know by instinct that it is, by what you can do with it, and engagement levels, and things like that, but in terms of outcomes, it’s not a lot data out there, and it’s very difficult to measure how well kids are taking things up because of technology or not, because of technology and things like that. It’s an interesting time we’re living in, an interesting time in education.
Mike: You’ve seen my keynote, I’ve shown slides of where results are actually worse when you start using technology, because it’s not just about technology; it’s about using the right technology in the right way. It’s just interesting, pondering and trying to think through, “How do I help these guys the best way I can?” and create synergy across the school, and create change in management. It’s just interesting.
I think the rate of change is certainly picking up. If you go back five years ago and said “What’s the role of a teacher going to be?” you’d probably say, “Well, it’ll be slightly different. There might be some tweaks here and there.” I get the impression, with the momentum that’s around right now, that things will be pretty different in five years.
Blake: They will, and I think the real momentum now – it used to be in the devices. Wesley college were one of the first to go with one-to-one laptops. They got these devices in and that really changed everything, having this device in front of you. Most schools are doing a one-to-one program, or they have a one-to-one program already. It’s becoming less about that. It’s kind of expected, like pen and paper. You turn up to class with your charged laptop, you go to class with pen and paper, that’s expected. Now the questions are more around the software, and that’s where you’re seeing this huge innovation with Google Apps and all these Chrome extensions and all this stuff happening from everyone. From Apple, I think about the course outline thing — the iTunes U. everyone’s trying to get into this space. T
here’s so much innovation, so much competition. Because of the nature of the Internet, it’s always going to be really fierce and it’s great for us, because we can sit back and pick the best stuff.
Mike: Very true, that’s cool. I just looked at the time, we’ve been going for about 50 minutes or so. This has been a great discussion. We always try and keep to about 40 minutes or so, but time often will slip away from us.
Blake: It’ll slip away, yeah.
Mike: That’s cool. It’s been a good discussion. I’ve really just enjoyed hanging out, with you again. I’ve had about three or four weeks off, but that’s cool.
Next time, we’ve got Lenva from Hapara who deals a lot with Teacher Dashboard for the Hapara company. She was one of the first people that I know of that really jumped into Sites and was using it as a deputy principal at a school in New Zealand. She’s often introduced to me as “Mrs. Sites,” so it will be interesting to see what she’s done with e-portfolios and so on. Also really keen to hear about what’s happening around Teacher Dashboard. I know lots of schools use it, so it’ll be great to see, just from a global perspective, what she gets to see. Where can we send these schools from around the world?
Blake: There are a lot of countries doing a lot of things we do around here for our kids, so it definitely has some inherent benefits, that’s for sure.
It’s interesting to see what Hapara have in the pipe as well; what their new stuff’s going to be, and what their direction is as a company, and also what they can do for schools right now, what they can do for them today as well.
Mike: Yeah, we’ll have to push her pretty hard, hey? See what we can get.
Blake: We’ll have to get some things done. What have you got going on the next couple of weeks anyway?
Mike: Next week from Tuesday to Friday I’m in Canberra at the AIS Conference. That’s the Australian Independent Schools Conference, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with some really cool people over there for a bit. On Sunday I fly back up to Townsville, running something for their diocese up there. They’re bringing all their teachers in from around different schools. They call it E-learning Coordinators. They’re trying a really innovative model of trying to get technology embedded into the lowest common denominator of the school. It’s just great to be around those guys. I’m going to help them with their professional development. Really looking forward to that.
So, a couple action-packed weeks coming out, so that should be good.
Also, just in the process of planning my next New Zealand speaking tour, so all the New Zealand teachers watching, if you wanted to get in contact with me about that, at the moment I’m probably looking at being in the North Island on the weeks of – the 16th to the 20th of June, and then in the South Island the week after that.
So, if you’d like to host a cluster meeting and get some teachers together, I want to do two days in Auckland. One day would just be the general Google Apps discovery day, and the second day, I want to dive into what’s changed, and really look at some of the changes around some of the tools and the features that have come out, and give some teachers a heads up and get ahead of the game a little bit. We’ll do that, we’ll probably do two days in the South Islands, so we’ll do an advanced day as well.
So if you’re in New Zealand and you’re interested in hosting one of those days, by all means shoot me an email and I’d be more than happy to have a chat to you about it.
Blake: It sounds like you’ve got a busy couple of weeks coming up.
Mike: Yes, this term I’m in a different country or different state every week. I love getting out and seeing what other schools are doing.
Blake: Yeah, it’s the best. I think it really invigorates you. For anyone out there who’s not gone out and had a look at schools, especially with Google Apps, just go to a school that has Google Apps. In McKinnon here we do a lot of tours around Chromebooks and Google Apps. We’re always happy to have people out because it gives us perspective. We can look at what other people are doing. We build a little bit of a network. We have people to call if we have problems, and things like that. So it’s really just mutually beneficial to get out to as many schools as you can.
Mike: So true. I expect it’s huge. Have you got any coming up?
Blake: Nothing as big as that. I just finished jury duty, actually. I just had a day yesterday. Luckily, I didn’t get picked for a case. That would have been a spanner in the works. I’m hitting the ground running with the research. I’m looking at this study about measuring the impact of technology on teaching and learning. It’s a massive topic, and I really implore anyone who’s watching to reach out. Shoot me an email if you’ve got anything that you can lend perspective on and give me a hand with, because it’s a massive task, and some of the greatest minds haven’t figured it out yet.
I’m keen to investigate as much as we can and really see where can we measure the impact of this technology, and how can we quantify and say that, “Yep, this is making a difference. We’ve made a good decision here, we’ve made a bad decision there.” That’s what I’m all about. If we want to get better, we need to learn, and we need to measure what we’re doing in order to learn. I’m really keen to do that if anyone that’s around wants to shoot me an email, or I think my Google Plus is just at the bottom of the screen here.
Just hitting the ground with that in the next couple of weeks, and speaking to some people from various universities and things, and I’d like to reach out to anyone who wants to be involved or has some ideas, and we’ll have chat for sure. Apart from that, it’s just business as usual. Netbook programs, and new printer rollout, and all this other fun stuff, so it keeps me busy.
Mike: Yeah, that’s cool. When’s your next batch of Chromebooks going to go out?
Blake: So, we’re actually starting a plan for that now; looking at various models and things, and also how we’re going to deliver them. This year we had them all delivered to the school, and we had to do all the scheduling around getting kids into the room to hand them out, log into them, enroll. We found that we maybe don’t need to enroll the Chromebooks.
That could be a big one for us. The other side of that is that next year we want to try to send them to the kids’ houses, so we don’t even touch them. So they arrive, they log in, and they get going, and when they turn up for school, the settings are there, they’re ready to log in and get going. That’s the plan. That would be really good if we can get – we’re going to have close to 800 laptops to roll out, probably, so we can just send them to their houses. When they turn up for school, that’s going to be a good year for me.
Mike: All right. We’re going to have to document that, because there will be so many schools that are interested in that process.
Blake: Yeah, I’m working it will be really hard with our supplies to get that to happen. Where we sit at the moment, all indications look like it’s going to happen, so once we know that, we’re definitely going to forge on ahead with that.
Just a side note to that, I’m working on documenting what we’ve done here with our older laptops. Some of those, we’ve actually put Chrome onto these devices, these old PC devices, so they’re running Chrome off Chromebooks, and it just makes them really fast to boot up, and the batch will last longer, and we’re getting this whole lease on life out of these old machines. They took twenty minutes to log in, now they’re logging in in twenty seconds. We’re just in the process of documenting how we do that. It’s very technical, so if there are any IT managers out there who want to get a bit of extra life out of their devices, I’d definitely suggest having a look. It should be going out in the next couple of weeks.
Mike: Where are you going to post that to?
Blake: Probably on my Google Plus, and we’ll talk about it in the next Hangout when it’s done, hopefully in the next couple of weeks, but that’s putting a bit of pressure on myself.
Mike: You’re a smart cookie. You’ll figure it out.
Blake: It’ll be good. We’ve got them figured out, we’ve just got to document and explain the process we went through. It’s been dynamite for the teachers. They’re loving it. They’ve got these laptop trolleys they can pull out and use them really quickly and easily.
Mike: That’s cool. Just fantastic for budgets, as well, I guess.
Blake: Yeah, repurposing old hardware. You can get another couple of years out of these computers.
Mike: Yeah, that’s cool. That’s excellent. Good to hear. We’ll keep looking at all of this in the next – If you’ve got any more questions, certainly shoot them through in the next E-learning Conversation in a fortnight, so it’ll be on a Thursday, same time, just in a fortnight’s time with Lenva. That’ll be great.
If you’ve sent registration in for this E-Learning Conversation, we’ll just get you to do that because then we can send you an email with all the show notes, the links to the recordings, and just package everything up nice and neat.
So if you haven’t registered and you’re watching this on our Google Plus page, you’ll see that there’s a registration link. Just shoot that through and then you’ll get an email from us that has everything that you need. So we’ll put all the links, all the show notes, and we’ll give you a transcription as well, so you can use that as a resource and share it around. That’ll be great. We appreciate you guys watching and spending your time with us. We know that everyone’s busy, so hopefully it’s been worth the time, and we look forward to seeing you in a fortnight, and we’ll catch you later.
Blake: See you.