Wednesday, September 27, 2017

GSuite Training: Task Cards

Every year, I lead a Technology for ELLs Focus Group for teachers in my district- Classroom and ESOL teachers are welcome to attend. Between class sessions, teachers read Learning First, Technology Second by Liz Kolb. During sessions, we get hands on practice with different tech tools and discuss how they can be used in instruction to support language growth of ELLs.

As part of the focus group, teachers take the Level 1 and Level 2 Google Educator Exams. One big challenge when leading any sort of technology training is always the fact that there tends to be a wide range of tech-know-how in any group. If you do step-by-step, the more advanced users are bored, and if you skip the step-by-step, the less techy teachers struggle.

This time around, I decided to use task cards to let the teachers explore different parts of the GSuite for Education at their own pace. Each task card has 1-3 related tasks, along with a link/QR code leading teachers to directions or a GIF demonstrating the task. I plan to pair up the more proficient users with the less proficient users, and let them work through the tasks.

This will give the less techy teachers support, while building the capacity of the more techy teachers to share their knowledge.

So far, I've created task cards for Gmail, Google Classroom, and Google Forms. Below you can find the task cards for Gmail. If you use these for a training, please leave my name and contact info intact, and comment below to let me know how it goes!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Parents and Google Classroom

One of the most common questions I see, from both teachers and parents is, "How can the parent join their child's Google Classroom?"

Roles in Google Classroom
Google Classroom is not designed for parents to join the class. There are only two roles in classroom- "teacher" and "student". The teachers can see all student work and information, students can see other students' names and any comments they make in the classroom. From a privacy standpoint, inviting parents to either of these roles would violate the privacy of other students.

Why doesn't the class code work for parents?
By default, Google Classroom settings in the admin panel only allow users with an account on the school domain to join classrooms on the school domain. While some Google Admin have chosen to allow out-of-domain users, most have not for reasons related to student privacy and security of student information.

Even if your admin has allowed out-of-domain users, I still don't recommend allowing parents to join your classroom because of Federal educational privacy laws.

How can I keep parents up-to-date with what's happening in Google Classroom? 
The best way to do this is to invite parents to receive Guardian Summaries. This article describes how to turn on guardian summaries for your classroom and invite guardians. Guardians who accept the invitation can choose to receive summaries about their child's classes either weekly or daily- their choice. Guardian summaries include the following information:

  • Missing work—Work that’s late at the time the email was sent
  • Upcoming work—Work that’s due today and tomorrow (for daily emails) or work that’s due in the upcoming week (for weekly emails)
  • Class activity—Announcements, assignments, and questions recently posted by teachers
See a sample guardian summary. Please note that once a teacher has invited a guardian for a particular student, that guardian address will become "linked" to the child, and the parent will receive summaries for all classes that have the option enabled. If the child is enrolled in multiple classrooms, the parent email only has to be entered and invited once. 

I don't see the option to turn on Guardian Summaries for my classroom. What do I do? 
You will need to contact your organization's Google Administrator to see if the option is enabled for your organization. If it is enabled for your organization (other teachers at your school see the option in their Classroom) and you don't see it in your Classroom, ask your Google Administrator to ensure that you are a "verified" (not "pending" member of the Classroom Teachers Google Group on your domain. 

  • If you do not want your classroom included in the summaries, simply leave the toggle next to "include this class in summaries" off. 
  • Deleting the guardian address in your classroom's "students" tab will delete the guardian address for all classes the student is enrolled in. 
  • You are able to invite more than one guardian per child.
  • Make sure that when parents accept the invitation, they are not signed into any other Google accounts on their computer or device. Having other Google Accounts signed in can cause issues with accepting the invitation with the proper email address.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Google Classroom: "Class Code Invalid" or "You cannot invite student from this domain"

So, you've got your awesome Google Classroom all set up and ready to go. It's time to invite students or have them join using the class code. There's just one problem. When you start to invite students, you get a message "Cannot invite student from this domain". When students try to use the class code they get an error: "invalid code". What is going on?!?

The first questions I always ask when I hear this are: 
  • What kind of account did you use to create the classroom? Was it GSuite for Education? Personal Google Account? 
  • What kind of account are students using to join the classroom? GSuite for Education account issued by your school? Personal Google Account? 
Classrooms Created with GSuite for Education Account
By default, every GSuite for Education domain has classroom set so that only accounts on the school domain can join classrooms on the school domain. Every school or district that uses GSuite for Education has a Google Administrator who provisions accounts, chooses settings for GSuite services, etc. In most cases, GSuite Admin choose to not change this setting. 

However, the admin can choose to allow out-of domain users from other GSuite domains, or from any domain to join classrooms on the school domain as well, as well as allow the users on the school domain to join classes on other domains. If the user is from another GSuite domain, their Google Admin will need to enable users on their domain to join classes on other domains as well. 

So, if the person joining your classroom is from another GSuite domain or has a personal Google account and you are getting this message, you will need to contact your domain's Google Admin to determine whether they will allow out-of-domain users. Please see this reference for assistance contacting your Google Admin. 

Classrooms Created with Personal Accounts
All personal Google accounts can join Classrooms created with personal accounts. However, if students with GSuite accounts try to join a Classroom created with a personal account, they will receive the error message. At this time, GSuite for Education accounts cannot join Classrooms created with a personal account. 

Keep in mind, that if you are creating a classroom with a personal Google account, you cannot use this classroom with students in a school setting. For one, it is against Google Classroom TOU. 

For another, Google Classroom within the GSuite environment meets the requirements set forth by federal privacy laws like COPPA and FERPA. Google Classroom when used with personal Google Accounts is not compliant with these laws, and therefore cannot be used with children in schools.

I hope this helps to clear up any confusion if you've been having trouble adding students to your classroom!

Monday, September 11, 2017

What's the deal with Google Drive and Google File Stream?

So, you've probably heard rumors going around that Google Drive is being replaced with something called Google Stream.

If you get nothing else from this post, know this: THIS CHANGE ONLY APPLIES TO THE DESKTOP CLIENT FOR PC AND MAC.  The online version of Google Drive, as well as iOS and Android Apps will continue to function as before. So, unless you're a user of the desktop client, nothing will change for you. Now, breathe a big sigh of relief, and go on with your life!

If you are a user of the desktop client, read on:

What do I need to know?
Google Drive File Stream has been in beta since March and has been in testing by early adopters. It launched to all GSuite Domains on Sept. 6, but won't be generally available  to all end users until Sept. 26.

If you have the old desktop client...
Support for the old desktop client will end on December 11, 2017 and functionality will be shut down completely on March 18, 2018. It's best to make the switch to the new File Stream client before December 11.

If you have an questions, please feel free to post in the comments below.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Preparing for the Google Innovator Academy! #SWE17

Ten days ago, I received one of the most exciting emails of my life!

This is the second time I've applied to the Google Education Innovator Program- my first application for #LON17 was unsuccessful. So, I was THRILLED and SPEECHLESS when I read the subject line. I couldn't wait to dive in and learn as much as possible about what's in store for me in October at #SWE17. Ironically enough, I was in the process of making Swedish meatballs for dinner when the email came.

Above all, I'm humbled and honored to join this elite community of educators! If you're interested in seeing my application, check out my vision video and my vision deck.

The Innovator Program already had several avenues of communication set up for our group- a Google Hangout, a Google Group, and a Google Classroom. Most of us jumped right in on the Hangout and haven't stopped talking since- we're talking travel plans, rooming together for the academy, what we need to bring and more! The Innovator Program also put together a Hangout On Air so we could introduce ourselves in real time. I can't wait to meet the rest of the #SWE17 Cohort in person!

Then, a few nights ago, we each got a mysterious email containing a game piece.

Game on, indeed! When you have 36 people on six different continents, each with a different piece of the puzzle, it really takes some collaboration. Very quickly, collaborative documents were put together and shared. One, a Google Doc with a table where everyone could list their name and insert an image of their card. Another was a Google Slides document with an interactive chess board. Each of us attacked this great puzzle in our own way, but working in a collaborative document we were able to see what everyone was doing. We were able to ask questions and discuss our lines of thought.

It took us about 24 hours, and we were able to complete the puzzle, even without having all the pieces. What we ended up with was a URL and a password that led to......

ANOTHER CLUE. That one didn't take us nearly as long to figure out, and in short order, we gained entry to our pre-Academy assignment, which involves these fun Breakout Boxes from BreakoutEdu. I haven't gotten mine yet, but another person in the cohort shared a picture of his:

I can't wait to get mine so I can start working on my assignment for the academy! I also can't wait to start seeing how I can use the Breakout Box for some fun Professional Development activities!

I also really love how Google is already engaging us in the 4 Cs- communicate, collaborate, think critically, and create- before we even step foot in the Stockholm office. It's already building a sense of community and "team" and even familiarity among those of us in our Cohort, so we can hopefully dive right in to the really important work of learning when we arrive.

Anyway, if you're interested in learning more about the Google Education Innovator Program and following my adventure, keep an eye here for more posts!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

How do I get Google Classroom for my school?

One of the most common questions I get from teachers is how to get Google Classroom for their school. Today, let's dive into that topic.

In order to get Google Classroom for your school, your school (or district) will need to sign up for GSuite for Education. Even though Google Classroom is now available to personal accounts, Classrooms created with personal accounts cannot be used in K-12 schools for several reasons:

  • It is not compliant with federal law for use in schools- namely COPPA and FERPA
  • Students under 13 are not eligible for personal Google accounts, which must be used to join Classrooms created with personal accounts
  • It is against the Classroom TOU for personal accounts to use Google Classroom with children

GSuite for Education is free to qualifying institutions. Individual teachers do not qualify for GSuite for Education- it must be a whole school, district, or educational institution. Depending on where you live, eligibility requirements vary. For schools in the US, you have to provide documentation of the following:

  • Formal accreditation 
  • Tax exempt status
  • K-12 school or university

Depending on local laws or district policies, your IT department may not let just one school sign up for GSuite for Education- it may have to be a district-wide migration, which can be harder to swing. To support your case, you can use the Google for Education Directory to find a local Google Trainer to come talk to your district administration and IT about the benefits of being a GSuite for Education school or district.

The school or district will need to have (or purchase) a domain on which to host GSuite. Many schools do this through their existing domain host. Your organization will also need to choose a Google Administrator. Your Google Administrator is the one who will administer GSuite according to district policies, provision accounts for users, and more.

Google Classroom is part of GSuite for Education, among many other tools that will then be available to users in your school or district!

If you're trying to go Google, I wish you luck! It makes my professional life so much easier. Please feel free to comment with any questions you have!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Quiz Access with Google Forms: Using a Quiz Code

So, I decided to kick this blog off right with one of my favorite tech tips.

I'm lucky to be part of the GSuite Experts Team who respond to support requests on the Google for Education Help Forum- I love helping out teachers when they're stuck. Many teachers have asked for a way to keep absent students from accessing quizzes in Google Forms until they're back at school. Others want to post the quiz, but not have students access it until they're ready to take it. 

In these instances, I always recommend teachers use the "data validation" feature in Google Forms to create a sort of "password" for your quiz. The video below outlines the process for you:

If you try this out in your classroom, I'd love to hear how it goes in the comments!


Welcome to my new blog, Tech it to the Next Level!

For years, I've had a teaching blog called The ESOL Odyssey. As I've continued my career as an educator of English learners, I've also developed a passion for educational technology. I've been blogging about EdTech for ELLs on The ESOL Odyssey, but wanted to return my focus on that blog back to ESOL methodology. So, I decided to start a blog that is solely dedicated to my EdTech adventures, and will be posting tips, tricks, and ideas here.

I've recently been accepted to the #SWE17 cohort of the Google Innovator program, so I'll also be writing about my adventures as a Google Innovator!

Thanks for joining me here! I look forward to sharing my favorite tips, tricks, and edtech tools with you!