Google Teacher Academy London 2014

GTA London October 27th & 28th 2014

I am really chuffed to become a Google Teacher Academy Mentor for GTA London (October) 2014. There is an excellent team of Mentors on board, whom I’m very much looking forward to working with over the next six months and beyond. This GTA, unlike the one I attended a few years ago, will be run by NoTosh under the direction of Ewan McIntosh, the founder of TeachMeets up in Scotland. An astute educationalist, Ewan, and his team, have redesigned the Google Teacher Academy to incorporate their extensive work in adopting design thinking into schools.

gct badgeWhen I became a GCT, it was inspiring and exciting. I joined new communities of teachers from all over the world and learned a lot about making technology work in the classroom. After a while, I became a little jaded at my involvement with the GCT community. My school had other things to focus on and they pay my bills. Google Apps for Education, however, has remained at the forefront of my teaching toolkit. Google are good at making things work. Their core products are reliable and offer features that other web tools do not. At first approach, I was not sure whether or not to accept this invitation.

For me, there is an ethical dimension to being a cog in the wheel – however minor – of Google’s commercial drive that is changing what we understand as privacy and ultimately making a massive global corporation more… massive. So, I thought about it and landed here. Indeed, Google are a massive corporation that line already wealthy people’s pockets with more cash, but they are also slave to the marketplace. This forces them to provide excellent services that are fit for purpose. To schools, these services are free. There is a lot to consider and I am not sure whether or not the answers – the truth – will be attainable in this respect. I will investigate this further. For now, I have faith in the power of the web – you and me – to champion a cause and keep Google on the straight and narrow. Further to this, NoTosh have created Mentor roles to help graduating GCTs to make a difference in their schools by working in small teams of half-a-dozen to effect change within their primary communities. This latter point is why I am on board.

Would you like to apply? It will be fantastic! Here’s the application form. Deadline is soon: 22/09/14. What are you waiting for? If you’d like to discuss anything about it, get in touch right now.


Editing Google Presentations on an iPad mini – Appser

This is a big deal for schools using Google Apps and iPads. I discovered appser on twitter today, an app for editing google docs on an iPad like it was a desktop.

Google Apps (for Education or not) are pretty popular amongst educators working online. And so, for some, are iPads. But the two do not work well together – there are major limitations. I imagine this app is exploiting new features of Google Apps and maybe they will become native soon, but until then, presentations do not play friendly with iOS. So, let’s see if that’s about to change.

These images are my first foray into editing a presentation using appser. The captions detail what is being tested. Only main features are addressed. Appser starts like Google Apps in any browser with the black bar across the top and Drive open displaying your docs. It basically behaves like the desktop version of Googles productivity suite. The images are deliberately small – the captions say what’s going on – nearly everything appears the same as the desktop/browser version.


Editing text boxes: click into the box and then press the keyboard button bottom right to show the keyboard.


Some times an error message appeared. It crashes. Each time you refresh the doc it shows that another user is viewing the document (but that’s only you a minute ago).


Inserting an image behaves the same until you have to access your camera or camera roll. All good.


The camera roll appears like this. Same as the wordpress app on iOS.


Here is the image (screenshot of google earth volcano). All good.


Image can be resized and moved with your finger.


You can rename the file the same as on the desktop version.


When choosing a new theme, the crash happened again.


But the theme did change at second attempt. And, if you touch and hold, like copy and paste on iOS, you get the sub-menu for Google presentations.


Another crash when changing the animation of the image. Did not get this to work.

Overall, this app is doing a good job. The crashes (total of six whilst making this quick pres.) mean it is not good enough to rely on yet but it is free! The crash messages are annoying and have something to do with offline docs needing to be manually reset. I couldn’t find an answer to this.

To scroll you have to use two fingers, which is unique to this app IME, and you have to remember to do it at first. At the time of writing, there are no editing features available for presentations via Google Drive or via the Google Chrome app. So, if you are a GAfE school and have some iPads, maybe you should put this app through it’s paces. I liked it so much, I wrote this.

Update: Appser was removed from the App Store in January 2013. I couldn’t find an explanation as to why. The company applied an upgrade to v2.0 and it was removed as documented here on AppShopper: It displays in iTunes as not available in UK Store but I believe this is showing similarly in all regions.

Found the company post about the removal (

We are removing Appser for Google Docs from the App Store. From now on, you won’t be able to download it anymore.

We know that some of you really loved it. We loved it, too. We needed it. But, there is only that much we can do on top of Google’s app. Appser can never become a top-of-the-line product. And what’s the point of working on it if it can never get there.

Therefore we decided it’s in everyone best interest to cease development and remove the app from the store.

On a lighter note, we just updated Presentation Note and are working on some really cool products that will launch later this year.

Stay tuned!

Alas and alack, it’s not coming back! embedded in Google SIte

ICTinSubjects PortFolio: Embedding a wall into Google Sites embedded in Google Site


I am busy trying to construct a template using Google Sites as PortFolios for pupils to showcase their progress of the ICT learning we will embark upon via other subjects. There will be no physical space to store work and each class will have ICT lessons from either of the two ICT teachers and potentially six other subject specialist teachers throughout each year. There is a lot to discuss about PortFolios, but for now I thought others might like to see this embed in Google Sites at work.

Initially I tried using and embedding a page that PortFolio visitors might use as a feedback wall to leave a comment for the pupil. However, popplet are having trouble creating code compatible to GSites. So, I thought of – ( [the note in the middle of the LinoIt pictured is the popplet exported as a *.jpg file] LinoIt embeds straight into the Google Sites page HTML block. What’s more visitors can add a sticky note to the lino without leaving the Google Site.

Use Lino directly in the Google Sites page embed

I am still thinking through how the Google Sites PortFolio might be used for visitor and collaborator comments, pupil reflections etc. Google forms is a strong contender for the peer review to facilitate the learner amending work in light of evaluative comments made by others (the audience). When a guest comment in made it is published immediately. This might be problematic because inappropriate and spam comments can be made. However, when anyone else posts to the canvas, an email is automatically triggered so the learner is notified and the comment can be deleted.

If you are using Google Sites as a portfolio I would love to hear from you.

A quick demo of how to embed LinoIt into Google Sites is given in the video below.


Google search learning site

Google teach you how to search with Google

Google search learning site

Google have launched a new *learn to search* site.

It includes:

  • Lesson Plans & Activities (differentiated for beginner/intermediate/advanced)
  • Live trainings (collection of videos on a broad range of search disciplines)
  • A link to vote for Google Doodle
  • Links to A Google A Day (which is pretty cool if you’ve not tried it)
Which are you?

differentiation anyone?

Very useful for teachers to learn as well.

Danny's Google+ post where I saw the freebies

FREE Google Play Books! But your Wallet is Required

Danny's Google+ post where I saw the freebies

Popped over to Google+ for a quick hello to that stream. Saw this cool little share from Danny Silva who works for CUE and was one of the lead learners at GTAUK10 where I earned my Google stripes.

I wondered what CK-12 was so clicked through – looked legit (which it is). So, I re-shared his post. I tweeted it. All good…

And then I actually clicked all the way through to get a copy of one of the free titles. They were free because CK-12 is a non-profit shared under creative commons licence.

Intro to the basic algebra book

But to get here, I had to make sure my Google Wallet is active. It didn’t cost me anything but my bank details had to be up-to-date. Am I being cynical or is this Google Play FREE book share a teaser to get your Google Wallet in good order? Or to get users into Google Play?

After the wallet: on Android or Web?

BTW: the book is 610 pages long (who studies basic algebra for 610p?) and one of many free titles in Maths and Science. If you want to browse them please don’t let me stand in your way – after all they cost you nowt! Links to iPad and Kindle versions here. Possibly no wallet required…