How about a little of both?

I still see the debating on social media, in news articles, blog posts, and the like. Some healthy debate is good. It creates learning, it broadens horizons, it gives us those, “Oh I hadn’t thought of that” moments. I’m talking about comparing one device or platform against another and trying to figure out which one is better for kids. It feels like we still want there to be “the one” that is all encompassing and all powerful that we put into our students’ hands. Hint: there isn’t one. 

picture of rock em sock em robots toy

It’s like how people are surprised sometimes to hear that I own Apple products. “Kyle! I thought you were a Google guy!”. Well, yes, that’s true I am but did you know that the very first computer I taught myself was an Apple Performa 550? Or did you know that I stood in line at 4am to get the iPhone 3GS? I love my MacBook, iPhone, and iPad but I also love me some Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Calendar just like I love some Clips, iMovie, and Keynote. I have different preferences for different things that I need to do on any given day. I also use PCs and Chromebooks too (cut to dramatic visual). Honestly, I don’t want to be an expert on any given one. I like to know enough just to be dangerous and then I learn more as I need to. 🙂

My point here is that yes, we need to be doing our homework when trying to decide the kinds of devices and platforms we want for students to create and learn with, but maybe it’s time we stop trying to be so locked into just one? Let’s just focus on what our students need and not make it a this vs. that thing anymore. I’m not saying throw proper planning, professional development, and financial responsibility aside, but let’s be more open to what’s possible. As technology departments and as school districts, maybe we need to be thinking bigger about what role we want technology to play in our students’ learning opportunities. We must remember that while learning is no longer tied down to happening just during school hours or just from our formal teachers, learning also isn’t tied to just one platform.

Get Your Google “To Go” with Google Takeout

Another school year has ended (for some) or is getting close to ending. At the end of every school year, there is always a finality for certain students and staff. Seniors are graduating, teachers are retiring or changing to another district, or just leaving the profession for various reasons. Either way, if you’re district uses G Suite for Education, people are going to have files in Google Drive, emails in Gmail, blogs using Blogger, etc. that they want to make sure and take with them. Nobody wants to lose important stuff!

Google Takeout is a handy way to save any or all parts of your Google account to take to a new school Google account or move to a personal Google account. For this post, I’m going to walk through the steps with Google Drive as the example.

When you arrive at the Google Takeout homepage, you will see listed all of the Google products you can download your data from. In the screenshot below, I’ve only selected Google Drive.

screenshot of Google Takeout home page

If you click the small options arrow next to the green check mark, you’ll get some more options specific to downloading your Google Drive files such as whether you want your entire Google Drive or just a particular folder in your Google Drive and some options for how you want each file type to be converted. The next screen grab shows this with the default options:

In certain situations, I have suggested to teachers that everything they want to be sure and keep (sometimes they’re only concerned about keeping very specific files) should be moved to a new folder (maybe call it Takeout) and then only select that particular folder once they begin the Takeout process.

The last step will give you some options for the type of archive file and its size. I would recommend leaving this set to a zip file with a maximum size of 2 gigabytes. Note: If your Google Drive files are over the max file size, they will automatically be separated out into multiple zip files so don’t fret if this happens. You can then choose how you want to receive your archive. I left mine set to “send download link via email”.

So, what happens once you receive the email that your archive is ready? You’ll click the link in your email and it will take you straight away to downloading your archive:

Hit the download button and you’re off and running saving your archive to your computer. Remember that once your files hit that maximum size they will automatically be chunked out into separate zip files. Once you have them saved to your computer you can do a couple different things:

  1. Leave the zip files as is and keep them saved to a computer, flash drive, or store them in Google Drive in another Google account.
  2. Unzip (extract) the files to be able to open them and edit them. Once the files are unzipped they can then easily be uploaded into Drive in another Google account (school or personal).

Either way, you’ve now successfully saved an archive of your Drive or any other G Suite apps! Enjoy your Takeout and have a great summer!

Giving Students The World

Over the last few weeks in my district we have had The Google Expeditions Pioneer Program visit one of our middle schools and one of our elementary schools. I appreciate having one of our teachers and one of our library media specialists and their administrators invest the time to bring this experience to students. It’s still a really new program that Google is taking to various locations around the country to test it, as well as raise awareness about it. If you’re wondering, when they visit your school they bring everything necessary to give your students the Google Expeditions experience: about 30-60 Google Cardboard viewers, Android phones (and chargers), Nexus 9 tablets, and they even bring their wireless network. The entire experience is guided by the teacher using the Nexus 9 tablet. The teacher takes students on a virtual field trip with about 140 locations worldwide to choose from. The teachers push the expedition to the Cardboard viewers and guide students to various points at each location. The teacher can even see where students are looking from the tablet app. It’s definitely something you have to experience first hand to fully understand how it works.

During the day yesterday I noticed that my friend Devin from Council Bluffs was also watching students have the exact same experience at the exact same time. We both were tweeting/instagramming (is this a word now?) pictures throughout the day. Devin wrote a reflection post called Oooh and Ahhh Moments.  Devin and I were on the same wavelength with our respective posts I think.

Watching students have a learning experience like this should be cause for reflection. Their excitement and engagement for learning in this particular instance was infectious to be around. We can all remember (hopefully) a learning or teaching experience like this. Yet, we still are so ingrained with learning being all too static of an experience. Am I saying that we all run out and buy this set up (you can’t yet by the way) and make everything into a Google Expedition? Of course not. My point is, that with all the access and devices we’re providing students, are we truly stopping and reflecting deeply about teaching and learning? All the access and all the devices in the world aren’t going to change a thing. It will be our leaders and teachers that make the time for thoughtful reflection and conversation about what’s best for kids that will. Then it’ll be those same leaders and teachers that are willing to make big changes necessary to truly move us forward.  Learning is not confined to a physical space or a given time frame any longer. The world is out there, and our students can be taken to it in an instant.

Here’s a short recap of some of our 2nd thru 6th graders’ day with Google Expeditions. Enjoy.