Friday, June 23, 2017

Curious about Chromebooks?

Many school administrators and IT managers come to us with the question of why a lot of schools go Chromebooks and what's in it for them.

We made this short presentation with our intern, Mabel, and here she shows us the apps that are used by some students and why Chromebooks are a great choice.


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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Google Classroom is now available for consumer Gmail accounts

From the time Google Classroom launched, it's given teachers all over the world a tool to collaborate easily with their students in and out of the classroom. The only limitation was that it's only available to G Suite for Education users. Gmail users who wanted to conduct a small class in their community or attend one session in another school were not given access.

Yesterday, Google announced that it's opening Google Classroom to those who are using consumer Gmail accounts. This is a great opportunity for learners and teachers to join and conduct classes even without a G Suite for Education account. It's a big thing for us in Professional Development to open these doors to different learners and not have to create an account for them in our school domain.

What does it mean for G Suite for Education users?

G Suite for Education (GSFE) users continue to enjoy the benefits of Google Classroom within their domain. GSFE admins will find that there is now an additional option in their admin console to allow external users to join their classes, as well as allow their own users to join classes in other schools using G Suite for Education.

To access this setting, login to admin.google.com with your school's admin account. Go to Apps > G Suite > Classroom, then scroll to Class Settings to access these new options.





This opens a whole new set of opportunities for those who are offering courses online or in small events or seminars. Google's technology helps millions of people learn, and opening Google Classroom to consumer Gmail users only displays this commitment further.


For those who have not yet tried Google Classroom, just go to http://classroom.google.com. There are plenty of videos and tutorials to help you get started, but if you want the official support page just click on this link. You can also watch The G Suite Show on YouTube which features tips and tricks on how to use G Suite.

If you're a school who just wants to use Google Classroom within your domain, and are not yet on G Suite for Education, contact us to help you sign up.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Manzano is the Director of Bluekore Inc., a Google Cloud Partner and Google for Education Partner. She is a Google for Education Certified Innovator and Trainer. Her mission is to promote innovation and web-based learning for schools, extend educators' learning networks and help educators with their drive for a more student-focused curriculum. Visit bluekoreinc.com for more information.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Explore in Docs, Sheets, and Slides - an efficiency aid

Explore in Docs, Sheets, and Slides - an efficiency aid

One of the things that I loved discussing in my Google training sessions was the Research Tool in Docs and Slides. It was an easy way to browse Google and look for material without leaving the document or presentation that you're working on. When Google replaced the tool with the Explore button, it was with mixed feelings that I started to use it.

One of the things that I initially missed was the ability to cite sources, which Google updated and made available two months after launching Explore in Docs, Sheets and Slides. After using and testing it for a month now, I've found that it's cut down the time that it used to take me in making my presentations and papers.

Google has poured a lot of smarts into this tool, for example giving chart suggestions on spreadsheet data, or finding the best modern layout for your slide content.


I used to begin with choosing a Layout when creating slides. With Explore though, all I have to do is add the content (even randomly) onto the slide, and it will give me suggestions on the different layouts that will fit our content - not the other way around.

Research is also made easy. Instead of switching to different tabs trying to reference content, Explore makes it easy to search the web, without leaving the document. Citation can be done in MLA, APA of Chicago formats. When searching for images, one only has to highlight a word or phrase in the document and start exploring the web for related content.

I also don't have to break my head trying to figure out the best chart to use for my spreadsheet data. By clicking on Explore, it will give me suggestions and insight that I can easily insert onto the sheet with one click.

Explore increases efficiency and is made for those who want to focus more on content, and let Google do the heavy lifting when it comes to visual presentation. It looks more and more like a tool for the truly lazy, but then again, who doesn't like to save time?

To know more about how to use Explore, visit the support channel here: Docs, Sheets, Slides.


Image Source: Google Docs  Blog - https://goo.gl/Cazvks

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Chromebooks for Philippine Schools


The rise of the Chromebook as the number one educational device for schools in the U.S. gives way to the question of whether the same is applicable to schools in the Philippines. The limited budget of most schools and the lack of internet access are the usual challenges that Philippine schools face, although the trend now is for IT teams to start upgrading their infrastructure to accommodate online learning platforms.

Let's take a look at the primary features of the Chromebook and check out its fit in the current state of schools in the Philippines.

Affordable - Perhaps the best selling point of the Chromebook is its low Total Cost of Ownership. There are many brands to choose from, and the more popular ones start at Php 13,500 SRP. These are the non-touch Acer models that are great to deploy from 4th Grade to Higher Ed. There are also Intel-designed, rugged models, like the Edxis Education Chromebook which cost lower, and have unique features such as drop and spill resistance. Even the touch Chromebooks, that are flippable and run Android Apps as well, are affordable at less than Php20K each.

Shareable - Chromebooks are built from the ground up to be shared with multiple students. Students can pick up any device and sign in for a personalized learning experience with their own classwork, apps, books and videos. With its tight integration with G Suite for Education, Google's free productivity suite for schools, a student only needs a Google account in order to access their own files, regardless of the device. This means that Chromebooks are best deployed in schools already running G Suite for Education.

Simple - Many people who buy Chromebooks for their personal use and as a secondary laptop all remark on one thing: simplicity. It runs ChromeOS, which is free, and updates automatically. The interface of the Chromebook is not difficult to use and understand, whether its for a child who uses the computer for the first time, or an elderly person who still has some fear of new tech. The setup and deployment is also simple and painless, with 93% less time to deploy. We tried deploying 100 Chromebooks, and it took us 1.5 hours, with three people, including unboxing and reboxing.

Fast - The Chromebook boots up fast, and stays fast. I have one that is now 3 years old and still boots as fast as when I first bought it. Also, the updates come in small packets, so you won't notice it until you see the UP arrow in your menu that says it's time for your device to restart for the update. A few seconds later, and you're back working on that term paper, or that article about Chromebooks and how they can benefit Philippine schools.

Battery Life - Nothing beats the battery life on these devices. The standard battery life of a Chromebook is 8-9 hours. My 13-inch Acer Chromebook runs for 12 hours. This means a whole lot when the Chromebooks are used in the classroom. It means not having to find power outlets or tripping on wires. It also allows students on a 1:1 environment to bring a fully-charged Chromebook to school and leave the charger at home.

Centralized management - Google has a device management console for system administrators which gives admins the ability to push policies onto the Chromebooks easily. Note that although this web-based console is part of G Suite, it's not free. The cost is USD30 per device (perpetual), which is approximately Php1,500 per device. The console is recommended though, because it gives an admin the ability to manage the fleet remotely, whether it's 10 devices or 10,000.

Apps - The Chrome Web Store has thousands of apps and extensions that will help you get stuff done on the web. There are many app alternatives to popular client apps like Photoshop and Office, and some of these apps run offline, so if the internet is dicey, you can still get work done. The majority of the apps run online though, so it's still recommended to connect to the net when using one.

To sum it up, the Chromebook is a great device that needs to be given a chance. I still see some schools going for expensive traditional devices, and that's alright. I believe that a good mix of technologies is necessary in a tech-driven classroom environment. However, it is also true that the web offers a lot of possibilities in self-driven learning, and students rely on it more and more for their schoolwork.

It is just a matter of time before more schools become connected. The Chromebook is an investment in technology built for the future, and will not break the bank, and so Philippine schools that are already using Google tools like G Suite will do well to add it to their device evaluation.  

Visit bluekoreinc.com for more information.