Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to get a web presence

There are many ways to establish a web presence for the teacher. There are so many choices, maybe too many choices. Consider your needs.

What is it that you want to do? I suspect that we want to get our lesson plans online, make them hypertext to the resources you either create or find on the web. Now that we have so many offerings, I'd like to suggest a smooth and relatively easy method.

Google offers many useful tools. I have teachers start with a gmail account. Once that is created, we go to the "Web" link on the upper left toolbar and then to "Settings" on the right top tab. We then select "Google Account settings" to reveal "My products," which is empty. To add tools, we go to the word "more" in the lower left corner of the page to discover the plethora of Google tools. The five tools that we will use immediately are Calendar, Docs, Blogger, Groups, and Picassa.

I start with calendar. The teacher sets the dates for projects, tests, quizzes, and other matters. This starts the overview for the class and begins the communication with the class. It helps us get the big picture and helps as an outline for the lesson building we will do in Blogger and Docs. Of course the details of the Calendar can be altered. The Google calendar is very sophisticated and can be an active tool in any teacher's classroom. The calendar can become a very interactive tool. Sharing the calendar with the class is very simple. Simply click on the red arrow next to your login name in the "My Calendars" section on the left margin and select "Share this calendar." Making it public might be easier than selecting specific people with whom to share the calendar since this is a class calendar and should not contain private events. The help button in the upper right corner aids the user in the features as well as in highlighting the newest to come from the Labs. Labs is a feature in the setting tab that provides the ongoing development of this tool. Quickly we learn that all of Google's tools are always under construction, evolving, and changing. I also learned that tools I have used in the past that are no longer available to new accounts continue to work for me. This is huge. It means that all the effort I put into something won't disappear.

The next tool I introduce is Docs. Docs is a great place for the teachers to store their word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings. Google incorporates cloud computing. That means the teachers can edit their documents in Docs. The teachers may use a word processing program at school that they doesn't have at home. Not to worry, they can edit at home in Google Docs. Lessons that the teachers already have can be uploaded immediately and then used later. Some can be shared now or reserved for later. These documents can always be edited in Docs. The documents can be shared with specific individuals for review before using and then distributed to the class by making them a link that is used in the Blogger. This will be discussed in greater detail in the Blogger section. When the scholar opens a document link it is in a word processing program and can be edited by the scholar and then printed, emailed to the teacher, or uploaded to the scholar's Doc and shared with the teacher. Another great new tool in Docs is the drawing tool for math teachers. This feature allows for creating great math figures and using math language in documents.

Blogger is the main tool we use to deliver our lesson to the class. When you create your Blog, be sure you have your cell phone handy so you can receive either a text message, which I suggest, or a phone call to get a verification code to activate your Blogger account. The Blogger has many tools in it and ways we can make it a main page for our class. I have links to my scholars' page on it. I have links to resources. I have my daily messages on it. It is where some teachers can start their class. The page can contain hyperlinks to those documents in Docs. There can be hyperlinks to other webpages that will be resources to complete an assignment. Even though there is a comment feature, I prefer to use the Google tool, Groups, for the class to have discussions and for the teacher to distribute messages in a listserv fashion.

The Groups tool is a fabulous tool for the teacher to communicate with the class at any time via email. When the teacher or any member of the class needs to communicate with the class the Groups tool is fabulous. To begin with Groups is a good way to have a class discussion. The scholars respond to a question. As the scholars respond all of the responses are gathered in one spot and then each scholar can respond to another scholar. This is a particular useful for absent scholars. Perhaps a scholar has discovered a bad link or a good link or something s/he wants to share with the class while doing homework. S/he can use Groups. Groups makes the class 24/7 and interactive.

Picassa is the last tool I introduce and perhaps the most fun. Pictures are saved here. Picture the teacher may use in the Blog are saved here. Pictures of the class can be uploaded and used. Videos can be saved here.

I consider these five Google tools essential in the teacher's toolbox for classroom use. It is where I start with the teachers I train. They learn them quickly because they are intuitive and easy to use. Soon teachers get their scholars using them and eventually the teachers can link to their scholars' work that is online. We soon discover this is the best way to document and collect the data we need about our scholars for our Administration, the parents, and for those evaluating our performance as teachers.

There are many other fabulous tools at Google for the teachers to explore and to incorporate into their classes. The key is to get started with a web presence and as I've heard, the rest is history. Have fun.


Emjay said...

Hey Tedn!

I have a question for you.(If you please) Do you know if Google Docs has the ability to accept/post a document that has been posted to email as an attachment? It is a frustration for me in working with a group that I cannot post from an attachment. Cut 'n paste is the only way to make it work (unless I save it as a word doc but then Ilose my formatting in a template on Docs.)

Marcia C.

Ted Nellen said...

Hey Marcia,

Yes. I use the gmail acount attached to the docs account. If the email is not attached then I forward that email to the gmail account. When I open that email, I have three choices at the bottom of the email regarding how to open it. One of them is in Google Docs. Docs open the message. Then use File and select download as and choose the desired format: html, rtf, pdf, text, word.

Does this help? I don't follow the idea as you say, "I cannot post from an attachment." That is an upload feature (found in File in Docs), if I understand your comment.


Emjay said...

Well there's my problem: I was hoping my regular email addy would be acceptable to Google Docs but, duh, I should have figured that my gmail was Google's own and therefore would accept attachments into the Docs.

Thank you!

Marcia C>