Thursday, May 28, 2015

Takeout, Anyone?

Google Takeout
Google Takeout
Sorry - no, I'm not asking you over for pizza and wings. It's Google Takeout!

Google Takeout

June is right around the corner and it's the time of year when staff and students start wondering what to do with all of the stuff  in their organizational Google account.

Enter Google Takeout! You have the option to download the data associated with an organizational Google Account so that it can be transferred to a personal Google account, other service, or simply to keep a copy for your records.

Visit to create your archive. NOTE: you will be prompted to enter your Google user ID and password in order to create your archive. If you have questions you can check out the FAQ by selecting the "Learn more" link on that page.

About Transfer of Ownership for Google Docs

If you created and own documents that are shared to other users in the organization you can transfer ownership of items you no longer need to another user in the same organization.  (What this means is you can't transfer ownership of docs from your school Google Drive to your personal Google Drive.) Find out more about transfer of ownership here:

Calendars are Tricky!

If you are leaving your organization and own important shared calendars please read this to make sure that shared calendar data does not get lost:

Google Sites

If you created and own a Google Site under the Manchester School District Domain add your personal Google account as a Site Owner. Now log in to your Site via your personal Google ID and click the gear in to top right corner and then select "Manage Site". Under the General settings select "Copy this Site." NOTE: if any links point to items that were stored in your MSD Google Drive, you will need to add those items to your personal Google Drive and relink them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What would you do with an empty box?

I'm passionate about recycling to the point of tearing off the paper tag from my tea bag so it can be recycled. When we deploy hundreds of Chromebooks I work hard to find homes for hundreds of empty boxes. The first person I try to get ahold of is the art teacher. Art teachers understand how to take junk and turn it into something beautiful.

If I can't find an art teacher I look for kindergarteners.  Just give a kid a box and they'll know how to turn it into something magical. Who wouldn't want such a cute little box with a cute little handle?

But what if I'm in a middle or high school? No problem, I find a language arts or English teacher and show them my haiku box (see below) made from the trays inside the many rescued boxes. How about one of those projects where you have to decide what 10 things you'll need to survive on a deserted island? Start thinking and you'll come up with lots of things to do with an empty box...and the stuff inside it.

What would you do with an empty box?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Can you use a document camera with a Chromebook? You bet!

Ipevo Point 2 View doc cam & Chromebook
If you've ever wondered whether or not you can use a document camera with a Chromebook, the answer is a wholehearted YES.

This picture shows the Ipevo Point 2 View USB document camera connected to my Chromebook. The Ipevo is a cost effective little device that can be purchased for around $70. There are also a number of  optional accessories like a magnifying lens, a microscope adapter or a height extension stand. Check it out here:

You can also use any other document camera that can be connected to your Chromebook via USB.

I like to use an app called Webcam Toy to display the image on my Chromebook. (You can also use the native Camera app on your Chromebook by changing the camera settings to display through an external camera instead of the internal camera. The camera settings are a bit tricky to find: look under Settings > Show advanced settings > Privacy - Content settings > Media - Camera.) Whichever camera you decide to use, snap away and capture images.

You can even do a screencast - that's right, capture video. Screencastify  is a video screen capture tool for Chrome. Record your entire desktop or just a tab in your browser. You can save to disk or upload to Google Drive or YouTube.

Need to conduct a demonstration or show small things to a big audience? Connect your Chromebook to a projector or fire up the Google Cast extension and display your content on your Chromecast device from your browser.

Tiny bits of goo - the skinny on URL shorteners

Some URLs are long and ugly. Have a look at the link for this Google Form:

Problem solved with a handy tool: the URL shortener. URL shorteners take a long URL and make it into a shorter URL alias that directs to the desired web page. It makes your URL easier to say or write on the board, like - or

Here are three commonly used URL shorteners and they all work the same way. Copy your long URL, navigate to one of the links below and paste your long URL into the URL shortener. Optionally, Tiny URL and Bitly allow you to create a custom alias.
Tiny URL: TinyURL is the granddaddy of URL shorteners. What I like about TinyURL is that no login is required and you have the option of creating a custom alias (if it hasn't already been used by someone else). If you can't create a custom alias you will get a shortened URL with random numbers and letters. What I don't like about Tiny URL is that no login is required so I have no way to track my shortened URLs.


Bitly: Bitly is another no login required URL shortener that will give you an alias that contains random letters and numbers.  If you want to create a custom alias, however, you will need to create an account. But - becasue you are logged in you can keep track of all of your shortened URLs.  Because I am always logged in to my Google account my "go to" URL shortener is is easy to use and I can view a list of the URLs I've shortened. Here's one shortened URL:

What I don't like about is that I can't create a custom alias. Best of both worlds for me? If TinyURL married and had a URL shortening child that allowed me to create custom aliases AND see a list all of my shortened URLs.

Top ten, five or three...

If you google best URL shortener  the above three are in just about every list. No matter which one you choose, URL shorteners are a handy tool for whenever you need a link that's easy to say or write in the board!