Embedding in the Ultranet – Google docs

Google Docs are terrific for sharing and collaborating; the functionality of documents, presentations and spreadsheets is nearly as good as their Office equivalents and of course you can upload your existing Word, PowerPoint and Excel files and have them converted to Google docs.  I’ve not encountered any difficulty in uploading documents or images to Google docs from within the school network.

My favourite Google doc is the Google form, something that Excel has no equivalent for.  Google Forms allow you to gather informationww from people and have it automatically collated and collected in a spreadsheet.  They have all kinds of uses including surveys for research, collection of information and registration forms for event organisation.  I regularly use a Google form for our staff to register for workshops to attend during our Workshop Week each term.  As the registrations come in I can quickly get a visual idea of which workshops are filling up, then when registrations close I export the results to Excel for manipulation into confirmation emails and presenter rolls.

Google presentations are a useful way of putting a Powerpoint on a website (like authorSTREAM) but unlike authorSTREAM they can continue to be edited once embedded.  This opens up enormous possibilities for collaboration, probably no better demonstrated than by Tom Barrett’s Interesting ways series.  Here’s the one on (appropriately!) Google Forms:

With lots of fabulous ways to use Google forms with students I was very disappointed earlier this year when I found that a form would not embed in an Ultranet collaborative space.  Google presentations will not embed in a collaborative space either but you can configure an iFrame application and that works very well.  Of course, now I know not to expect “iframe”-type embed code to work, but I had completely forgotten that during my release 2 training last year I had embedded a Google Form into a Learning Task.  I’ve tested it again and it definitely works which is great to know because Google forms have lots of applications within Learning Tasks.

Inexplicably a Google Presentation will not embed in a Learning Task (I had high hopes there!).  I haven’t yet tested anything else in Learning Tasks – watch this space!

P.S. Another great use for your Google Docs account is for uploading/storing your images – very quick and simple to do.  Once in Google Docs each image has its own URL which means you can use this to insert it into any suitable Ultranet application without having to upload it to your content.



SLAV Perspectives on Learning V2

Wow, what a great day.  I’m just back from the SLAV conference and I’m feeling newly inspired to blog so I thought the least I should do is write something quickly about why today was so much fun, so inspiring, so invigorating!

1.  Connections

I always love SLAV conferences because I get to catch up with people I have worked with in the past or had other professional dealings with and today was no exception (hi again to Raggsy, Marg, Robyn, Judith, Reina, Anne, Rick and Geoff).  Today was even better because I got to meet, face to face, with some of my Twitter network – hello Tania, John, Jenny and Adrian.

Today I took along the netbook I’ve been given to use and was very excited to find a wifi connection available.  I’ve been checking Twitter in the past when others have been at conferences and have been interested to see their take on what’s happening.  Today I could be one of them.  What a hoot!

2.  Inspiration

Network Literacy:  The ability to create, grow and navigate personal learning networks in safe, ethical and effective ways

Will Richardson is an inspiring speaker. His keynote on Network Literacy was fascinating.  He maintains that publishing is the easy part, it’s what occurs afterwards that matters – the connections, the conversations.  That it is important to find a diverse network; that learning within a network is an ongoing process, not an event.

I love the notion of being “Googled well” – not how well you can conduct a search, but what a searcher finds if they Google your name.  What is worse: finding dodgy pictures of you or finding nothing?  Everyone, especially our young people, needs to understand how important it is that a google search of you locates a digital presence you can be proud of (and you’re not afraid of your nanna or a prospective employer seeing).

I love how he makes his ideas so exciting yet so do-able.  I love how it is firmly grounded in the learning, in the pedagogy, not the tools (although he’s got some great tips on using the tools).  His session on blogs and blogging this afternoon is what sent me here, the moment I got home.  He articulated what I realised I had been thinking – that you need to read blogs before writing one, that you need to write for yourself before blogging with students.  It gives me renewed confidence in the value of the Web 2.0 online course I’ve been developing for our teachers, and has confirmed my recommendation for participants to set up a blog for the purpose of learning and reflection.

Adrian Camm & Leonie Dyason’s session on creating a Virtual Learning Community was equally inspiring.  Adrian’s use of a ning to engage, not only his own physics students, but students from around the state is a terrific idea and it is fabulous how he has got the textbook writers to come on board.  He has helped me crystalise a couple of ideas that I have for the Professional Learning Leaders program I am involved in.  Our project is likely to be based around study skills for our VCE students, a ning might be the answer.

3.  Confirmation

I’m not sure if confirmation is the right word here, or whether it should be affirmation.

Anyway, I just want to touch on why the fact that today left me inspired is such a good feeling.  There seemed to be a number of people in the audience who are scared or can’t see how to find the time to learn new things…I’m so glad I’m not one of them.  I am very happy that most tools and sites mentioned I have heard of, if not actually used.  I am very happy to be inspired to continue exploring and sharing what I find.  I’m happy that the online connected world has allowed me to be better at my job, to find new ways of doing things, to be part of a network.  It feels great to understand that all this is not “more work”, it simply is my work (and quite a bit of my leisure too, but that’s another story).

Another confirmation/affirmation: today a former colleague (who I worked with when I was a first year out) asked me if I’d be interested in travelling to Gippsland to present to their SLAV group.  They want to learn more about Web 2.0 tools and some of the practical applications I’ve found.  Of course I said yes, now to figure out the logistics!


#4 RSS Feeds and Feedreaders

I had a vague idea about RSS and feedreaders before this week’s activity so it was good to finally get round to finding out for sure.  I went with Googlereader because for some reason I couldn’t access Bloglines even though someone else at my school could do so.

It was all pretty straight forward.  I was surprised, and somewhat relieved, not to have to create a gmail account to set it up – how many email accounts can one girl have! 

I’ve subscribed to 6 school and library related blogs including: Lucacept; The Hub; Learning Gems; Hey Jude; Bluyonder by Greg Whitby, the keynote speaker at last Friday’s innovation showcase, and weblogg-ed by the guru himself, Will Richardson.

I can already see the value of the feedreader for myself.  Previously I had subscribed the The Hub by email and 9 times out of 10 I didn’t bother following the link to read the new post because at the time I was just trying to get through the emails.  Now I can go to Google reader at when I know I’ve got time to do some reading and it makes it very quick and easy to see what I’ve got to choose from.

I’m not sure yet about further applications…?