Friday, 8 November 2013

Who are the people in my Google groups?

Whos else is in my group?

I love that all the class groups, subjects, studenst and teachers are pre-populated and auto-fill in email and Google Apps. 

But what happens when a student says "I didn't get the email sir". How can we check if the student is in the group we think they are in?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Creating a Photo Gallery on my class site

I want to create a photo gallery on my class site...
Here is a short video - less than 3 minutes.
You could have used an Announcements page. ... It would let you place multiple galleries underneath each other and then using the "Recent Posts" feature in Google Sites, 

you can insert a summary page that looks like this.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Surface RT... Love at first sight....or NOT

Love at first sight....but not at first site

My first thoughts when I started using a Surface RT was WOW... Loved the stand, loved the high quality feel and loved the education price (under $300) . Could this be a real alternative to Chromebooks as we search for ways to deliver 1:1 post Federal funding for devices?

How could we lose?
  1. We have apps available offline - Word, Excel. Powerpoint no less...
  2. A browser to get to our Google suite
  3. A touch screen. Using my finger, I was able to do this..... Man, the younger kids are going to love this.
I went to Google Apps and signed in.
  1. Google+ works like a charm until you try and do hangouts... It can't install the plugin.
  2. Gmail is unusable. I was getting sick of the message " is not responding due to a long running script". It kept crashing Gmail and restarting the browser.
  3. I love the research function in Google writer. Especially the bit where you can search for an item, drag images from the research pane directly into your doc, and the citation appears automatically. The only problem is it doesn't work on a Surface RT. To be fair, the feature doesn't work on IE full stop regardless of the device. And this is the biggest issue.... The RT only uses IE and you can't install an alternative.
I wanted this to work....I even gave it 3 weeks just in case there was an update just around the corner that would change everything. But there hasn't been....

VERDICT: If Google Apps is a significant part of your elearning strategy, a Surface RT is useless.

(P.S - It is a beautiful machine.... Does anyone know how I can sneak Chrome onto it?)

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Messages from keep going to spam...


  1. Open Gmail. 
  2. Go to settings, then Filters.
  3. Create a filter as follows
  • Select an existing email from your inbox, then go to “More” and “Filter messages like this”.

  • When this screen opens, change the search text to : * then click on “Create filter with this search”

  • When the form below opens, tick “Never send to spam” and the box that says “Also apply filter to matching conversations” then "Create Filter".

You have done it....No more Google messages going to spam.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Issues enrolling Chromebook (XE303C12) to a Google Domain via the Google management console.

Sorry!... The issue was not the XE303C12. It was me trying to use prior knowledge. Many thanks to +Andrew Robinson (Canberra/Goulburn diocese) for his help. All our Chromebooks were trialed prior to enrollment so unless they were brought back to factory default, they wouldn't enroll. I thought you could Powerwash (under advanced settings) to bring a Chromebook back to original state.  

It turns out you cant. Each Samsung Chromebook needs to be flushed according to their specific instructions.


What this means for us is that these devices can be rolled out by the teacher and a class straight out of the box... See this discussion.

I have left the original blog entry below in case others are wondering why their machines are not enrolling.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Using Blogger in the Classroom

Blogger is turned on for all staff and students as part of the Google Apps suite of tools. Our teachers are starting to use Blogger more and recognising its potential as a student reflection log, portfolio or even assessment submission tool.

Whilst by default, Blogger is an open forum, it can be locked down if you are wanting to limit visibility. Here's how.

1. Make sure you are logged in to your school google account (ideally in Chrome).
2. Open a new Tab and type in That opens Blogger in management mode.

3. Since you can have more than 1 Blog, go to the Blog you wish to 'lock down'. In "Settings" choose, "Basic", then you can explicitly specify the authors and the readers.

You can share it to a group BUT if the group has not been set up to accept emails from members outside the group, they will never get the notification.

This means you cannot share these to your student groups. They are all closed groups.

4. If you add your class by individual email address, each individual gets a message like this:
The only way a person can join this Blog is  to find your invitation and follow the prompts.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Staff and student OUs and Google+

Google+ & Hangouts are now enabled on all school domains for STAFF only.

It lets you...
...collaborate with up-to 10 people on a video chat. You instigate it. You arrange it. You do the invitations.
...record the conversation as a live stream on You Tube and allow others to participate in real time or after the event.
...set-up on-line, real-time, live lessons. You can share documents or interact on a virtual whiteboard with your live participants.
...divide up up your "friends" into different groups and share to a specific group.
...tag your responses with anything you like. If others start to use the same tags, you can find each other's contributions easily by searching via the tag.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Configuring Chromebooks Behind your School Proxy

Chromebooks turn deployment  into a teacher exercise and not another job for the Technical team....

You can deploy Chromebooks to students straight out of the box without any handling of the devices by your technical team. But the tech team needs to do some critical set-up of DNS/DHCP and provide a wireless provisioning network. Here are some insights from my team...

2. Our general set-up doco.
3. Minimal PD and On-site setup (Added to this Blog 20/5/2013)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Desktop Google drive VS Google Drive in the browser

I just want to extend a brilliant blog entry I just read from +Heather Dowd on her blog titled

Moving from Microsoft Office to Google Drive

There can be value in helping users understand that there is Google Drive on the Browser and Google Drive on the Desktop

Desktop Google Drive
  • Do not get students to set-up Desktop Google drive on a shared device BUT it's a must for all teachers and any student in a 1:1 or BYOD scenario. To set it up, open Google Drive in your browser and click on "Download drive for PC". Install it. Then find it (in Start, Programs, Google, Google Drive). Make sure you have "sync files" turned on. 
(Note: Once installed on your PC/Laptop, it appears in your Taskbar next to your Wireless indicator and date/time. Right  click and choose preferences to configure)
  • If you want people to co-author a Microsoft document and you want to leave it as a Microsoft document, you have to be using Desktop Google Drive. But when you share a file to others, they wont see it  in Desktop Google drive unless they find it in their Browser Google Drive and drag the file into "My Drive".

  • Edits are saved back to Drive without conversion or any formatting loss. (It's like working from a USB).
  • This works like a Word document shared across a network drive. The last edit will over-ride previous edits and the document is locked to only one editor. So if you want multiple editors working simultaneously, you can't use a Word document. You should set your file up as a Google doc from the getgo or as Heather indicates, convert it and deal with any formatting loss.
Next step....

Get rid of the Server/client scenario in schools and move all shares to Google Drive....

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Loop-back when you use SAML to log into CHROME

Having looping issues with SAML and Google?

Our users like signing in to Chrome because it allows them to share bookmarks and extensions on multiple devices. But sometimes, when they try  and sign-in, SAML sends them into an infinite loop.

The reason is that Chrome is trying to open a Pop-up to ask permission to do this and by default, pop-ups are blocked.

Un-block pop-ups and you fix the problem.

It's under settings, privacy, content settings.

SORRY.... False alarm. That doesn't work. Still need a fix for this problem..

Good question!
When you log into the Chrome browser, you allow your machine to be "managed" by the Chrome management console. In a school setting, it means you inherit  a whole heap of APPs pre-installed by your admin. This is great if the school is purchasing apps in bulk for student use. They can be pushed to all users via the ADMIN dashboard. Users need to be logged in to Chrome to get the apps.... The other big advantage is that  if the user logs on to a different machine and then logs into Chrome, (eg their home machine), they get exactly the same apps and shortcuts....

So what is the downside?....
To get the benefits, you have to agree to:

If you are a Chromebook school, all student devices are managed via the Admin console. In fact the admin push down proxy settings, wireless keys, apps, and a whole heap of other stuff. A non-chromebook using the Chrome browser doesn't get the same degree of management when the user is logged in to Chrome....

Sharing your units

IBLers... Look what changed on Google whilst we were not looking....

Yesterday we discussed the advantages of Desktop Google Drive. See here for a discussion on that.
One downside was that we were all getting used to working on Desktop Google Drive, but when we wanted to share a file, we were going back to Drive in the browser . But NO MORE...

You can do your sharing from Desktop Google Drive.

Gmail opens and auto-populates TO, Subject and Body

This BLOG is a little TECKY but I think some of you will  find ways to use it for other things like Bully Boxes, Assignment Submission etc etc...

When students and staff are using Gmail as their default browser, you can create URLs that open directly in email and have a pre-define subject and even headings for the body. So user clicks  a link on a menu. It opens up in Gmail  and auto-populates a number of the email fields like To, Subject, etc

Click here  to see an example.

How do we use it?
We have this as a link on  all our school intranets to simplify the process of submitting helpdesk requests...

So what is hidden under  the link?

Have a try changing the body message, changing the to address and changing the subject.... Its not as hard as it first looks.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Assignment Submission at the start of an assignment.... A new way of thinking.

Hey, don't wait till the assignment is due. Get students to submit the assignment on day 1 via an embedded Google form. Make sure the form includes the following:

  1. Student details (auto collect if you share the same domain as your students)
  2. Assignment name
  3. Due date
  4. Assignment URL. Clearly this only works if the assignment is being presented as a Google doc or other web based resource.
  5. Make sure the assignment is permissioned to you ( the teacher ) as editor and you may or may not want the class viewing anyone elses.
As you can see from the image, insert the form on the left of your site page and the underlying data sheet beside the form. That means as students submit, you get to see their names and you get to test that you have access to their file.

Great questions... So here are the reasons why you might want to change to this method.
  1. You can see the assignment as it unfolds.
  2. You know exactly where the file is. You just come back to this page and click the link on the right. You don't care how the student saved it to their Google drive or where they saved it.You have the link and it never changes even if the student moves it to a different folder.
  3. You know from the onset that you have permission to read and edit (rather than chasing students around after submission) and if  you don't have access, you get the student to change permissions throughout the course of the assignment.
  4. You can leave comments at any time OR co-author the document.
  5. You have access to the full revision history. 
  6. And when it comes to the due date, the student makes you the owner and themselves a viewer.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Beware this TWITTER scam!!

I have received a few of these. You get a message via Twitter (on email) saying "have you seen this funny pic of you?". When you click the link, you are taken to this page. But you can see from the URL that it isn't really twitter you are logging in to.... I guess they must harvest your twitter account credentials..... BEWARE

The need to master Desktop Google drive

Desktop Google Drive

Situation: We want teachers using a Google doc for planning so they can embed it on our community site and others can open it and see the work in progress or collaborate during the planning process. This was working well for standard unit plans. We created this template and teachers have been using it. But now that people are adding  “guide to making judgement” (GTMJ) documents as part of their units, we have found it impossible to recreate these as Google Docs. Well it turns out you don’t have to. Desktop Google drive allows people to work and save in Word and share this with peers as viewers or editors.

Note: Only follow the steps below on your own PC/Laptop NOT on a shared device.

Step 1: Open your Google drive in the browser and click “Download drive for PC”. Then follow the prompts to install this on your device.

Step 2: Once it is installed (and assuming you are using a Windows device) go to “start”, “documents”. You will now see all your Google docs and folders appearing on your desktop like a P: G: C: or H: drive.

The beauty of this is that when you find and open a Word doc from your PC Google drive, it just opens in Word (not in the Google viewer). If you are an editor of a file, any changes you make and save just go back to the original document. It also means when you create a Word doc, you can “save as” from Word direct to your Google drive. But to share it, you may need to open it in the browser and use the “sharing” icon. See below.

Here is the GTMJ document in word. When you click on the link, it opens in the browser in Google Viewer, but to edit it, I have to download . Then I would have to edit and re-upload. But if you open it by tracking it down in Google Desktop Drive, it just opens in Word. All TSV staff can edit and all CENet staff can view. You are all seeing my live version of this file. Any change I make, You will see.

Practice: Create a Word file, a Powerpoint file and an Excel file. Save them direct to Google drive from Word, Powerpoint and Excel respectively.

Adding a link to my GTMJ on my unit plan.
This document is now in your Google Drive. It now has a URL. Copy the URL by finding the document in your browser version of Google Drive. Tick it, then go to "sharing", then copy the link.

Now open your Unit Plan and paste the link at the bottom. This way your Unit Plan and your Matrix are together.

Saturday, 23 March 2013


I have been looking for a web 2.0 tool that allows me to create collaboratively on a large whiteboard. Conceptboard fits the bill. I created the image below on ConceptBoard whilst collaborating with Bernie. Then I captured it on Clipular and insrted it into this blog as a URL.

Conceptboard and Clipular
All of this was done on my Chromebook. The thought of moving to a Web only mode isn't looking too bad... All of our staff and students with Chromebooks have Conceptboard installed as an app in their App collection. Anyone can find and installl it via the Chromestore or Google drive.

Mine appears in Drive as an option when I go to create a new file.
But it gets better. When I went to check my email, I get this record of the collaboration between Bernie and I.
Screen dump - Coversation

Monday, 11 March 2013

IT Reps discover the Web 2.0 course

The first of the ICT Rep meetings for the year gave participants a chance to start the Sydney Diocese web 2 course. Townsville is seeing this as the next step. Teachers and students have their Google accounts and have been using Gmail since the rollover in 2012. It's now time to explore the other tools: docs, sites, drive, draw and the endless list of apps available from the Chrome store.

This group will play a lead role in the PD of teachers. Many could see themselves running Staff meeting input sessions or special twilighgt sessions to get their staff enrolled and engaged.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

I_library Presentation

I-Library will be delivered as a diocesan resourse ie all schools will have their database hosted in Sydney. You will have a school view and when items are catalogued, you will be able to make them available at a school, region or diocesan level.

At the moment, you have to call Kim if you don't have an account or if you have lost your password. But the long term goal is all users will have an account generated automatically the same way we generate your Google or School account automatically and it will be the same username and password.

IBL Crew

IBL 2013 has begun and today was day 2 of a 3 day immersion. I have worked with Jenny and Steph to create the online community space and have provided the "How To" guides to assist with the ICTs. The group already have their Blogs (Click to open)

and have connected at least one blog post as evidence of achieving a particular AITSL standard.

This afternoon, they will be involved in activities to learn how to create and share a Google site with their class. Stay tuned!!!!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Module 10 - Final Reflection

When Web2 first emerged, the big talk was a future where we would no longer have dependency on the desktop. Technologies like AJAX were promising a future where you could do photo editing, wordprocessing, video-editing and presentations all in the cloud. Could the day come when we no longer need Microsoft Word, Powerpoint etc?. Will we ever find the same functions in the cloud in a package that is powerful enough that people walk away from their deskop equivalent?

Well I have been "cloud only" for the last 5 months. In fact I have done this entire course on a $250 Chromebook using the Google Apps suite and a collection of free apps that are accessable via my Google account. I have had to be "cloud only" because I have been trialling a $250 Chromebook that has no deskop applications. (It does but lets keep this post simple). All the productivity is via the web. In fact these last two modules have been completed whilst being a passenger in a car driving from Townsville to Brisbane. I tethered my Chromebook to my iPhone for an internet connection. (Thanks to Bernie and Yasmin for doing their share of the driving...).

This is great news for classrooms. It means we can place a very cheap device in the hands of students and because they all have a Google Apps account, they have access to a massive suite of productivity tools.

With 300 Chromebooks going to 11 of our schools, I thought I would make this project (The Web 2 course) a discovery of how Chromebooks can be best used in classrooms. My aim during the 10 modules was to discover alternative apps so that teachers could take what they learn and use the same applications for their students.  I wanted to avoid the situation where teachers were bcoming familiar with apps that were not available to students under 13 or required students self-registering via the web. Instead, I looked for alternatives where there were no age restrictions in the acceptable use policy and access was via one's existing Google Apps account.

This blog documents that journey. It needs to be seen in conjunction with two other resources:

  1. The Townsville version of the Web 2 course.
    This simply advises our teachers of options for each module that they can use with students under 13 and without the need for students to share  their ersonal details online. 
  2. The Chromebook User guide. This was designed for the teachers in Townsville diocese using Chromebooks with their students in 2013... 

How it pans out is yet to be seen. What was heartening was the discovery that Chromebooks were the best selling devices on Amazon during December 2012. They outsold Apple and Windws 8 tablets. See here for more.

Good luck to you all. I hope you enjoy the course as much as I have and I hope you meet the challenge of using these tools in your classrooms to transform the way students learn.


Module 9 - Social Networking

Social Networking is a great area of interest for students but you are reminded that the diocese has a policy that prevents the use of Facebook and other ‘open’ systems between teacher and student. Please see this page for our position and you may wish to review our policy on ‘open’ vs ‘closed’ systems. 

We want teachers to do the Web2 course with the intention of using the skills with their classes. To that end, teachers are encouraged to expore the following as part of this module:

  1. Scootle
  2. Favosaurus
  3. Clipular
This is how the Australian Government has chosen to catalogue and distribute resources for the Australian Curriculum. Up till now, Townsville teachers have used school based subscriptions to Scootle managed by school librarians. Teachers could self register via a school specific URL.

Now we are asking users to acess Scootle via Catholic Network Australia (CNA). To do this you have to go to the CNA portal, then "Education Services", then "CNA Teacher Resources". That takes you to the screen below and you have to click on Scootle.

Here are links to how to guides/videos that may help you set up Google sites that distribute Scootle resources for your class.

Which of these social & professional networking tools could enhance learning, both in my classroom and beyond it, and how?

This booklet explores a range of strategies teachers can use in social, collaborative and co-operative learning settings to enhance student learning. It has been written specifically for the Townsville schools exploring the use of Chromebooks but the activities apply equally to staff and students with other devices.