Google Educast #141: Google Takeout- The Best Graduation Present

Google-Educast-Logo-LargeThis Week on the Google Educast:

You can’t change text on an image. Or can you? We are still not sure but you can go back in time with Google Street View! Google updates privacy policy and makes it easy to navigate as well as hints at using stars across the web not just your inbox. Now you can get notifications when maps are updated as well as when a form is submitted. How to deal with the data from your leaving students – Google Takeout! Looking for the best Chromebook for students? We got you covered and Kelly shares how to get to primary sources from an original event.

Hosts: Juan De LucaSean Williams, Kelly Kermode, Kevin Brookhouser, and Fred Delventhal 

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Google Educast #140: How Does Heartbleed Affect Google Users?

Google-Educast-Logo-LargeThis Week on the Google Educast:

Heartbleed has been in the news, even though Google patched early it is a good reminder to change your password and turn on two step authentication. Did you get #Glass on +Tuesday? Sean and Kevin share their experience with Glass. Add auto upload images right inside your Gmail – yes! Kelly joined the crew and shared some great tips on creating quick graphics using shortcuts as well as using Google tools to create a checkout system for school equipment. Lots of great apps for Chrome and Android as well!


Hosts: Juan De LucaSean Williams, Kim Zimmer, Kevin Brookhouser

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Google Educast #139: Apply Now For U.S. Google Teacher Academies!

Google-Educast-Logo-LargeThis Week on the Google Educast:

Have you heard about the new Chromebook on the block? Dell enters the Chromebook game with a pretty rugged Chromebook packed with features and a longer battery life. Now is the time to start working on your application for the Google Teacher Academy. #AndroidEdu keeps getting better, since now you can remove apps and reassign them to a different student! If you haven’t heard about Heartbleed yet- listen up and get some great tips from Fred. Get the latest Chrome extensions and build your own Chrome Webstore for your Apps Domain.


Hosts: Fred Delventhal , Juan De LucaSean Williams

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Google Educast #138: The Marginalizer

Google-Educast-Logo-LargeThis Week on the Google Educast:

Kim leads Sean, Fred, Chris and Kevin through Google’s April Fools tricks. Gmail tops their Shelfie’s announcement with shareable Gmail themes. Fred leads a discussion on docs security and promoting the value of two-step-authentication. Google and Donors Choose have joined up to help fund teacher programs. Kevin introduces The Marginalizer Android App, now available in the play store. We look into how green Google’s cloud is thanks to a Greenpeace report, discuss the safety of your Google Drive and some new apps to check out.


Hosts: Fred Delventhal, Kevin Brookhouser,  Kim Zimmer, and Sean Williams, Chris Betcher

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Introducing: The Google Docs Marginalizer

Google Docs has been constantly improving. Most recently they created an Add-ons feature that allows you to install great little apps that improve Google Docs functionality. But what about margins? This has long been a problem with Google Docs, as many an English teacher can attest to. Finally, Google Edu guru, Kevin Brookhouser, has taken the matter into his own hands, and introduces the Google Docs Marginalizer. Share with your fellow teachers- and be part of the solution! In this video, Kevin shares how you can integrate this new tool with Google Docs. Enjoy!


Get Marginalized Right Now!—->    Tweet this out




Google Educast #137: Making Sense of Data: The Datagasm

Google-Educast-Logo-LargeThis Week on the Google Educast:

Looking for 15 of the best Add On’s for education, look no farther. You can also customize the app launcher as well as adding to your Play Music library through the browser , thank you Juan! In case you missed it Google released its transparency report  +today along with a nifty video. In other breaking news you can edit images in Slides! Got a ChromeBook? Get the ZipExtractor extension. Chris has a datagasm in the new Google M.O.O.C. – Making Sense of Data.


Hosts: Fred Delventhal, Kevin Brookhouser,  Juan De Luca, and Chris Betcher

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Google Educast #136: High Resolution Mustachioed Robot

Google-Educast-Logo-LargeThis Week on the Google Educast:

On this week’s show Kim, Fred, Juan and Chris discuss the wonderful world of add-ons, now available in Google Docs! Hear about 11 upcoming Google Teacher Academies around the world and application tips. Explore with Oppia, don’t forget your Chromebook goodies and connect with others on Google Plus by joining some of the great communities that are forming, including the new GEG groups…and maybe a mustachioed robot snuck into the conversation.


Hosts: Fred Delventhal, Kim Zimmer, Juan De Luca, and Chris Betcher

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Google Educast #135: Catching Up With Google Edu At #SXSWedu

Google-Educast-Logo-LargeThis Week on the Google Educast:

This week the Google Educast crew (well, most of them) took on SXSWedu! We sat down at the Google Lounge, and chatted with Jaime Casap, Lisa Jiang, and Devin Sandoz about the current awesomeness from Google Edu.


Hosts: Corin Richards, Kim Zimmer, and Sean Williams

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Google Educast #134: Is Chromeaggedon Coming?

Google-Educast-Logo-LargeThis Week on the Google Educast:

More fiber? Several cities say yes please to Google Fiber. The official end of life policy for Chrome OS devices was recently published, does that mean Chromeaggedon is coming? The new Google Maps is out for everyone, what do you think? There is a site for check out for adding Hangout apps and an old tool comes comes back – newspaper archive. Is that a scanner in your pocket? Why yes, I am using the Drive app! Fred brings back an old friend, Google Voice while Kevin shares the most recent update to MIT’s Android App Inventor 2.


Hosts: Fred Delventhal,  Kevin Brookhouser, Sean Williams

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Google Educast #133: Chocolate Covered Ants

Google-Educast-Logo-LargeThis Week on the Google Educast:

Juan, Chris and Fred talk about two Google competitions for students; Doodle4Google and the Google Science Fair. VMware is teaming with Google to bring Windows applications to Chromebooks. Chris shares a great update to the new Google Sheets. The first screencasting app for Chromebooks has crossed the finish line, but is it the winner educators need? Juan shares a very nice drawing app for Chrome. All this and more in this week’s Educast.

Hosts: Fred Delventhal,  Chris Betcher, Juan De Luca

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5 Reasons iWork for iCloud is no Google Drive iKiller, Yet

On Tuesday Apple had a little product announcement that made the bloggospheresplode with excitement. The most interesting part for me as fully committed Google Drive fan-middle-aged-man is the iWork for iCloud beta announcement. Like Google Drive, the iWork suite is now free, and like Google Drive, it offers real-time collaboration. Sorry Microsoft SkyDrive 365 Office Sharepoint. If you don’t give your software away now, you’re in even bigger trouble.

Last night on The Google Educast, Sean, Fred, and I put iWork collaboration to the test, and it actually kind of works. Here Sean is trying to get a rise out of me.


Here are five reasons I think iWork for iCloud is not a Google Drive iKiller.

1. No collaborator cursor. I can’t tell who is typing what. Without the cursor, words appear out of nowhere and I can’t tell where my colleagues are working. Confusing.

2. No authentication. All of these docs are shared essential as “anyone with the link can edit.” For secure documents, this is a major problem. All my collaborators have to do is post the link on Facebook and ANYONE can edit the document. This means they could destroy it with no accountability.

3. No visible way to search for documents. I have a list of my documents, but no clear way to organize or sort them. I can’t even find a way to organize these documents with folders in the iCloud interface.

4. Crashy crashy. In the 20 minutes I had to spend with iWork for iCloud, I had my document crash twice. No changes were lost, but still.

5. No Android support. Are we surprised? No. But sad iCloud is sad on my otherwise happy Android.

Screenshot_2013-10-25-11-54-15                                      IMAG0556

iWork for iCloud is not going to wean me off Google Drive by a long shot. It’s still very much in beta mode. I am rooting for this service, though. The better Apple gets at cloud computing the better Google will get at it.

Have you tried iWork for iCloud? What do you think?

20 Percent Time: A Small Audience is the New Big Audience

Inevitably, I have students who show up to my class on the first day of school telling me what they want to do for The Twenty Percent Project.

“I want to write a novel. I’ve always wanted to write a novel. I’ve tried several times to write a novel, but now I have the chance to do it for a class and I think I can do it. Can I write a novel?”

“Yes, a novel is a great Twenty Percent Project. Start thinking about who your audience is, so you can interview them before you begin writing.”

“I always wanted to build a website.”

“Good. What kind of website.”

“A website for teenagers.”

“Better. You know that audience better than I do, so you would be well suited for that. Is this a website for all teenagers?”

“A website for teenagers who want to raise chickens.”


“Yes. Run with it.” 

What’s so great about a website for teenagers who want to raise chickens is that it has a niche audience. Before the internet, media producers had to reach the broadest audience possible in order to make up production and distribution costs. 

I’ve seen reruns of Macgyver. Clearly those producers were reaching for the lowest common denominator.

Now with a $250 Chromebook and a connection to the internet, users can create books, websites, infographics, podcasts, and videocasts, and they can afford to appeal to a narrow audience with unusual interests.

Each Thursday evening, a group of friends and I get on our computers and meet for a Hangout On Air using Google+ (actually it’s Friday morning for Chris who lives in Australia). We broadcast a video conference where we talk about what’s new with Google in education. Google [Google Educast] to find it. Anyone in the world can watch us live or download the broadcast to their devices to listen on their commute.

Most people don’t.

Most people aren’t interested at all in what’s happening with Google in Education. Most teachers aren’t interested in Google in Education. Most Google fanboys aren’t interested in Google in Education. But there is a small sliver of people around the world who are interested in both- enough to want to watch or listen to us talk for an hour about their narrow interest. Few have served that small audience before.

book_the-long-tail12Are we making money? No. But remember, money is not the motivating factor in these kinds of projects. We’re motivated by our autonomy. Our producer, Dan, gives us feedback and some direction, but for the most part, we decide how to run the show. We’re motivated by mastery. Each show seems to get better and better. Please don’t listen to my shows from 2012. Not only am I probably recommending Google Reader, which is now gone, but I am also probably stumbling over my shownotes. I still stumble, but not quite as much. We’re motivated by purpose–our audience. Each week a few hundred people hear our show, and we get questions and comments from them, which keep us going every week.

For more on this topic, read Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail.

Your students’ audience is probably going to be very small for a very long time. You need to tell them that up front, and help them celebrate every audience member. The goal is not to reach a large audience. 

Go small, or go home.

How I Ate My Dog Food at TEDx Monterey


One of the several unpopular assignments I force upon my students is the Sophomore Speech. I am capitalizing Sophomore Speech because it has become a thing at our school … a proper thing. Every single one of my 10th grade students is required to write a personal essay and convert it into a speech to be delivered in front of the entire school during our assembly period we call Break.

The word speech has fallen out of fashion these days. It’s much cooler to give a talk than a speech, but talk doesn’t alliterate with sophomore. I guess I could have called them 10th Grade Talks, but as I said, the Sophomore Speech is a thing, so I’m going with it.

Of course, I don’t win many votes for Most Popular Teacher of the Year when I announce this assignment to my students. Most members of our species tend to avoid public speaking whenever possible, and you won’t be surprised to hear that some students consider this the waterboard of English assignments.

“Mr. Brookhouser, I really need to get out of this. I am about to throw up thinking about it.” I reassure students that we work up to the speech with baby steps, and I remind them that Mrs. Rees, the incredible 9th grade English teacher at York, has done an amazing job getting them ready. While I have seen tears shed as a result of this assignment, I’ve yet to see any vomit. I’m ready, though. Our bleach supply is ample.

I tell my students that I want them to be very powerful people. I don’t mean that they should all aspire to be CEOs or senators. I’m talking about influence, not status. I’m sure there are many people doing great things and making the world a better place without ever having to speak to groups of people. I’ve just never heard of them. Few people in power get out of public speaking. After my class is over, my students will have the choice to avoid ever having to speak in front of a large group again. I just don’t want them to reject that opportunity without knowing that they’re actually capable of doing it. When they embrace the opportunity, they embrace power.

It would also be great if they used that power for good and not evil.

Last time I was invited to the Googleplex, an engineer introduced me to the notion of “eating your own dog food.” Maybe the phrase came from Alpo advertisers who claimed that their product was so good that they enjoyed it themselves. Regardless, tech companies started using the phrase to suggest that either the software they were developing was good enough for them to use themselves or it was not, and if not, they shouldn’t make it at all.

When I give trainings, many people ask me about the security of data in Google Drive or Gmail. I tell them what Googlers tell me. Google employees are super concerned about their internal communications getting compromised. They use Google Drive. They use Gmail. They believe in their product. They eat their own dog food.

Teachers produce products too. We create lesson plans, assessments, and grades and comments at the end of the year, but the most important products we make are experiences that lead to growth.

Hearing about dog food at Google led me to ask how much of my dog food experiences I’m consuming. If speaking in front of large groups of people is such a worthwhile experience, why don’t I do it more frequently. It’s true that I do speak in front of my students daily, and I also give tech trainings to teachers throughout the year, but I wouldn’t call them speeches.

So last winter, I came across a post on the TEDx Monterey site accepting TED Talk proposals (note the alliteration in TED Talk). So I applied to talk about the 20% Project in my class.

A few weeks later I heard back from the organizers who wanted to learn more about the project, so we had a video conference over a Hangout. Bob and Eva, I learned quickly after meeting them, are ultra organized, super smart, and wildly creative. They asked me to explain what the 20% Project is and why I do it.

I was ready for this question. I went with great depth into the studies about creativity and motivation and Google and Daniel Pink and The Candle Problem and carrots and sticks and autonomy and mastery and purpose and science! After about 10 minutes of this, Eva cut me off. “Kevin, we all know about this stuff. We want to know why you decided to take on this project and how it looks in your classroom.”

“Oh. Right.” I was not ready for this question.

She wanted me to tell a story, not lecture on pedagogy. Eva asked me to do exactly what I ask my students when writing their personal speeches. Dog food.

I guess I explained my story well enough for Eva and Bob to give me a chance at writing a proper piece that people would actually want to hear because they let me move on to the next step.

So I wrote and rewrote. I devoured honest feedback from friends and colleagues. Through the process, I kept going into theory, and Eva kept reminding me to go back to story.

Then I practiced. In front of the mirror, in front of my dogs, in front of the homeless men on the streets of Santa Cruz.

With my microphone scotch taped to my ear and cheek, I was two eternal minutes away from taking the stage. My wife sat in the audience with students, parents of students, fellow teachers, and I was pretty sure I would stand up there and forget how to get my mouth and tongue to make so many different sounds. I wondered how much I would owe TEDx if vomit ruined the mic.

I paced the “green room” while Ailis Dooner, the 10th grader who has pretty much single-handedly discovered that algae can cure cancer, eyed me. She was scheduled to follow me and asked me how I was doing. “I’m a little nervous, but I think I’ll be ok,” I lied. She knew it. Then Ailis looked me in the eye, and with the fierce commitment of a prized gladiator owner, she said, “Adrenaline focuses the mind.”

I didn’t forget everything. My mouth worked. I showed my slides. People clapped.

I’m pretty sure I now have a little better understanding of what it’s like to be one of my students. I’m reminded about how scary this assignment can be, but I still don’t fully understand it. I’m a grown-up who has lots of experience talking in front of large groups of people, I don’t consider myself someone who is particularly afraid of the job, and I’ve never been told that some grade depended on my willingness to go through with it. But I feel more empathy for them, and I hope that will allow me to support them more next year.

It may not be the exact same vintage my students eat, but I ate my dog food this past weekend, and I’m proud to announce, it stayed down.

Rejuvenate Aging Computers with Ubermix

I’m in my third year teaching English in a classroom with a cart of ten netbooks running Windows XP. I am so grateful to have them, and my students use them at least every other day. However, as an aging operating system, XP runs slowly and is much more complex than we need. The start time is long and we have varied success connecting to the wireless network. On the recommendation of Colin Matheson, an IT specialist at Carmel Unified School District, I installed Ubermix.

Ubermix is an all-free, specially built, Linux-based operating system designed from the ground up with the needs of education in mind. 

I downloaded the image file onto a separate machine and formated the image onto a USB stick following these instructions. The process wasn’t as easy as I expected. I noticed that the install would hang after it said it would take about five minutes to install. So, I did what any sane person would do in this situation. I asked a teenager. In this case, Nils, who is launching his own web design business as a part of my class’s 20% project. He recommended that I give it more time to install. My problem is that when installing something at a root level like an operating system, you’re given no feedback that anything is happening. After an hour of nothing, I noticed the red light on the usb stick flashing. Something was happening! Nils was right. After about eight hours, the OS started to boot. I felt like a 15-year-old in line for The Hunger Games.

Start time This thing goes from shut down to browsing the web in 65 seconds. That’s slower than a MacBook Air with a solid state drive, but it’s much faster than my windows machine. Once booted, it immediately connects to a wifi access point and is ready to surf.

User Interface I love the simplicity of the UI. With its large icons, it is designed to look more like a mobile operating system than a desktop operating system. There is no “start menu” like Windows, or “dock” like OSX. Rather the left column are app categories including internet, games, education, accessories, and system. Click on the category and your given the apps that could be Android or iOS app icons.


Software Ubermix comes bundled with a bunch of freely available software including the entire Open Office suite, Skype, Scratch, Gimp for photo editing, and other math and science apps I haven’t had time to explore. I’m most interested in this as a web machine, and for running apps like Moodle, quizlet, Poll Everywhere and Google Drive, this thing is perfect. Both Chrome and Firefox can handle any website you throw at it.


Quick Restore One of the must-have features of Ubermix is the easy system recovery feature. Students tend to mess with settings, change background images, and download garbage that slows everything down. By pressing esc on the boot, you are given the option to restore the operating system to its original state.


One Hitch So far I cannot get the thing to wake up once it is in sleep mode. I’ve tried a couple bug fixes recommended on the web, but still no luck. If anyone out there knows a fix, please send it along. As it is now, I just have to restart the system after the lid closes.


1:1 / BYOD Solution? Anyone looking to adopt a 1:1 program or Bring Your Own Device program at a school will want to consider this as an option. The world has tolled the death of the netbook to the tablet and ultrabook.

Not so fast. Compared to the iPad, a netbook running Ubermix could be half the price with a keyboard and a fully functional web browser that could easily handle editing complex web apps like Moodle or Google Docs. What do you think?

Google Drive to Microsoft Office Workflow


drive vs office.031

Last week I gave a talk to a great group of department managers at the University of California Santa Cruz. They’re going Google with Apps for EDU, so they asked me to give them an overview. I fielded several questions about formatting, as is often the case.

“How can I format two words in one cell differently in Google Sheets?”

“You can’t.”

“How can I format my text document so it will fit on my letterhead?”

“You don’t even want to try.”

While Drive is adding more and more formatting options all the time, it simply doesn’t have all of the formatting capabilities of Office documents. And while Office is adding collaborative features, they’re definitely not there.

Fellow Google Educaster, Chris Betcher, created a comprehensive blog post comparing the two suites in their current forms. This blog is always worth reading and sharing.

Back to my formatting question. My initial response to these questions is, “who needs these features anymore?” I’ve pledged to go paperless this year in my classroom (I do use paper rescued from the recycling bins), so I’m out of touch with all the printers in the world, but printing and formatting IS very important to many users. So I created this simple workflow for those whom collaboration and formatting is important. Start with Google Drive, once you all agree the content is ready for publication, convert to a Microsoft Office document (File > Download as), print, and deliver.

What’s your start to finish document workflow?

10 Sentences Google Apps Teachers Never Hear


I recently posted this on my Google+ profile, and it has generated a lot of activity. More than anything else I’ve done. Last week I had a student tell me that he forgot his assignment at home. I asked him, “did you create it using your Google Drive account?” He had, so we just grabbed one of the school’s computers, brought it up, and he shared it with me. At that moment I realized that I don’t ever need to hear a student say, “I left my work at home.” Google Drive completely eliminates that problem I used to deal with repeatedly ten years ago. So I began to think about other problem sentences I used to hear from my students. OK, the stapler sentence isn’t a problem sentence, but I did want to give a shout out to how well Google Drive helps me go paperless.

Google Drive tip: Have your students “turn in” their work before they even start it. The first steps in every assignment are as follows.

  1. Create a document.
  2. Rename the document ex: “Lastname_Antigone_Essay”
  3. Share the document with me, and let me edit it.

I then move all of the documents into a folder. Then on the day the assignment is due, my students ask, “how do I turn my essay in,” I respond, you turned it in two weeks ago.

Google Educast #65: K to the B

This week on the Google Educast: This week Chris and the crew look at more Chrome experiments, improvements to docs, and the mysterious beast called “Drive”. Lots of Chrome tips and tricks and some fresh ideas for teaching vocabulary.

Here’s our Show Notes! 

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