Tag: Google

Better answers

Yesterday, I had mused a bit about search engines.  I got some interesting questions – Dogpile?  Why certainly!  Why just “Go” when you can “Go Fetch”?

Many people just stick with the default search engine that comes with their browser and that’s OK.  Search engines generally all do a wonderful job of bringing back good results from your search query.  This can be frustrating, at times, if you don’t know how best to ask for that search.  Enter a single word like “house” and you’ll get all kinds of diverse results that may not even close to what you’re looking for.

I just did it on Google and got some interesting results.  First, it knew I was searching from Canada and so I got the Canadian Election Doodle.  My results included the television show by that name followed by real estate agents in this area.  It’s Google’s way of trying to guess what I was looking for, given my search parameters.  Bing landed on a beautiful graphic and its results actually gave pictures of houses before getting into television shows.  There were links to the election and tonight’s baseball game so it definitely had a Canadian feel.  Yahoo! had the same landing page as any other days and it featured some election stories.  When I did my search there, I got results about the television show.  I don’t recall ever actually watching it.  Are these search engines telling me something?

The actual answer is that my search was so vague, I didn’t really have a chance of easily getting what I might be searching for.  I’m a sucker for reading stories to help the cause like this one “11 Google Tricks That Will Change The Way You Search“.  If only I could remember them all.  Plus the tricks and tips from all of the other related articles.  In the Bing world, there’s actually a website called Bing tips and tricks.  Am I going to have to memorize those as well?

Apparently, searching for “house” on the landing page just doesn’t cut it.

Quite frankly, I don’t have the mind capacity (or the will) to memorize all of these tips and tricks. 

Fortunately, most search engines have me covered there.  There’s a relatively well hidden better solution.  It’s called “Advanced Search” and you do have to go looking for it.  And I’ll tell you, the search <grin> is worth it.

In Google, go here instead.  https://www.google.ca/advanced_search?hl=en-CA&fg=1

Or Yahoo! Advanced http://search.yahoo.com/search/options?fr=fp-top&p=

Bing used to have an advanced search feature but I can’t find it.  You can still learn the tips and tricks to get better results.  http://bingtricks.com/bing-advanced-search

Duckduckgo uses advanced search terms https://duck.co/help/results/syntax and bangs https://duckduckgo.com/bang.

I’m such a fan of the advanced search feature.  For too long, I saw students fumble with the basic search interface in search of results and then compromised on what they could find instead of finding exactly what they’re looking for.  There really is a difference.

When at the school district, I had located all of the advanced search links and pulled them together into a page that we called the Student Reference Portal.  This was set as the starting page for all students so that they could immediately launch into a search environment that gave them a better chance of finding what they were looking for.  Of course, it still requires the proper use of data to be submitted to the search engine but that just goes to that element of digital literacy.  That’s always worth teaching.

If you’re looking for that “one click” experience to get you to the advanced search, you can do it right now.  Find that advanced search feature for whatever search engine that you elect to use and bookmark it.  It will remain there quick and easy for future use.

Now, when you need to be productive in your searching, instead of crossing your fingers and typing www….. (which is a skill in itself), just click on the bookmark and away you go.  I like to have a couple bookmarked because, as we all know, the exact result you’re looking for may be easier found in one search engine than another.


Thinking about technology investments

From the New York Post this morning, check out this story “A Lot Changes in Tech Over Four Years and 1,000 Blog Posts“.

It got me thinking about things.

According to the dashboard for this blog, I’ve made 4,255 posts.  The very first one goes back to January 8, 2008 and was titled “Blogging on First Class“.  It was an encouragement for people to look at FirstClass’ new blogging platform.

The post was actually the second written for this blog – the first one was “I hope this works” and was written just to test WordPress to see if it would do the trick.  While I really hoped that people would use FirstClass for blogging, I needed to test out WordPress.  It turned out to be a better blogging platform.  More importantly, the writing of my first few posts was quite funny.  It was almost infantile which I guess describes my blogging efforts back then.

Anyway, a lot has changed over the course of four years as noted in Bilton’s blog post.  He notes that the iPad wasn’t around then.  Yet, it’s so popular and universally present these days.

It really is the change over the course of four years that is of concern to me.  Four years ago, I bought a computer and, with fingers crossed, assured my wife that this is the last computer I’ll ever need.  It had an i7 processor with 8 cores, 4MB of RAM and a fairly substantial hard drive.  Admittedly, it can run just about anything that I want.  It was, as promised, a laptop that’s a desktop replacement and that’s basically where it’s used today.  Dual booting, I can run Windows 7 and Ubuntu and if you’ve been reading, it’s typically running Ubuntu.

Indeed a lot has changed in four years.  I think of the power and the storage on the machine and it’s a sad commentary that they really aren’t as important to my regular use these days as it was four years ago.

Four years ago, I needed a computer and software to do the word processing and spreadsheet documents (among other things) that I had on a regular basis.  Quite frankly, I can’t remember the last time I opened LibreOffice to do any such work.  In fact, as I type this blog entry, I’ve got a notification that there’s an upgrade to the LibreOffice program.  Four years ago, I would rush to get the upgrade.  Now, I use my Google Apps on the web to handle these things.  Google takes care of the upgrades for me.

Post Christmas, every store that I ever bought anything online is pummeling my mailbox with notifications of great bargains and deals.  I look and don’t feel the need to even wish and dream.  After all, I spend my days in a browser.  As I write this, I’m in one tab with a bunch of others open.

I’d be hard pressed to come up with any plausible reason to go computer shopping tomorrow.

In fact, the more I try to think this through, do I really need something as powerful (expensive) for the future?

How about schools?

I know many school districts are experimenting with Chromebooks and some with Surfaces.  From where I’m sitting, and for my particular use, it seems like a very smart (and affordable) solution.


Screen Capture on Chromebook

I was inspired to do some investigation based on a story I read yesterday about screen capture software.  The original article was called “Collection Of Free Screen Capture Tools And Techniques“.  After my post, @pbeens noted that his favourite app, Greenshot, wasn’t listed.  I hadn’t heard of it so decided to check it out.  Interesting.

I know, myself, I use a variety of tools depending upon the computer I’m using.  It’s a funny thing, you get used to a particular utility and it just becomes part of your routine.  Without screen captures, this blogger would be in trouble.  I’m not an artist so making something online and then capturing it is a pretty common activity around here.  Consider the image I included yesterday, created by CloudArt, as exhibit A!

If it wasn’t for Jing, I don’t know how I would have done!

So, as you poke around, there are all kinds of ways to do the deed in Windows, Macintosh, and Linux but then I started to wonder about those who use Chromebooks.

After all, you’re using a different sort of tool.

I’ve read of people installing Ubuntu  on a Chromebook but that’s for the uber geeky.  There are many districts that are experimenting or planning on an implementation of Chromebooks.  What will they do?

After all, there’s no better way to demonstrate understanding of something than to take an image and use it or take an image, write on it, and then share.  Since the last tool I had used was Jing, I wonder if there was a Chromebook version.  Nope.  Just Macintosh and Windows.

Maybe this will be a checkmark for the nay sayers.

I actually had forgotten about it and moved on to doing something else.  As it would happen, I ended up in the Google Chrome store looking for an extension and thought I would poke around.

Then I found it.

Techsmith has released a solution!  It’s called Snagit for Google Chrome.  They understand where the target audience is too.  The Techsmith page is specifically targeted for Chromebooks and Education.  But that didn’t stop me from downloading and testing it in my Google Chrome browser.

You need to download both the Chrome Application and the Chrome Extension, and when you’re done, a new button becomes immediately available for you.

If you’re a Jing user, clicking the button launches a familiar environment.

Define the area that’s going to be part of your work with the extension and then the application kick in.

Your captured area pops into the Snagit editor and you’re ready to start documenting.

As you can see, you’ve got your arrows, your text, your circles and boxes and the option to change colour as you do your work.

Where did it go?

Don’t forget, you’re using a Chromebook!  It should come as no surprise that Techsmith has a folder for you in your Google Drive.

All of your screen captures end up there.  Once there, it’s just like any other document for editing, inclusion in other projects, Dropboxing, etc.

If you’re using Chromebooks, you’ve got to check this out.  It may be the answer to a question that’s been puzzling you!  You’ll also be an early adopter … according to the stats from the Google Chrome Webstore, there were less than 10,000 users as I write this.



This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It was yet another spectacular week of reading this week in Ontario Edublogs.  Here’s but a bit of what I enjoyed.


Do My Thoughts On Awards Change When I Win One?

I have to be careful that this blog doesn’t become the Aviva Dunsiger fan club site but a recent post from her is certainly worthy of sharing to anyone who drops by here.  Aviva has been recognized with a Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.  It’s an incredible honour and I’m so happy for her.  And yet, there’s the shadow of current comments in vogue speaking against the concept of awards  As I noted when I commented on her post, I hope that doesn’t spoil the moment.  In the meantime, I’m pleased to note that I knew her when she was @grade1.  Congratulations, Aviva.

She summarizes her philosophy in blue!

 I do what I do because I love kids! I do what I do because I believe in the power of education. I do what I do because I want to see ALL kids succeed, and I know that they can. I do what I do because nothing makes me happier than teaching, and I’m thrilled that I get to do what I love every single day. 

The complete listing of all the Prime Minister’s Award winners is located here.


So What Do We Do With the Information?

Sometimes, we just take our knowledge for granted and move on.  It’s only when we step back and look at how students witness information for the first time do we get things put in perspective.

Recently Brian Smith did this activity with students.  Using Padlet, students posted their understanding of domain names.  It was interesting to scroll through the board and see their interpretation.

The next step was to evaluate some resources for trustfulness.  He collected the information via Google Form.  There was a whole lot of technology infused into this activity.


Bullying, Violence, Pictures Books – Oh My!

There’s so much in the news about bullying and cyberbullying these days.  Debbie Axiak takes a moment to reflect on recent events that she experienced and makes a promise to look more critically at resources.  It’s good advice for all!


School Based EdCamp for Professional Learning

David Fife muses over a different model for professional learning within his school.  He’s thinking about an EdCamp model rather than the practices of the past.  We’ve all experienced the “sit ‘n git” model and we know how effective that can be.  EdCamp involves an active model of learning by following your needs.  Traditionally, it involves a group of people who make a conscious decision to be at a particular place and time for the learning.  It will be interesting to see if this model works onsite at a school.  He promises a followup post to share the results.


#RCAC13 Final Program

If you’re able to make it to London on December 5, you’ll absolutely get a great day of Professional Learning at the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s Annual Symposium.  It’s just one day in length but you’ll get a chance to hear two inspirational keynote speakers – Travis Allen and Gary Stager – as well as attend sessions from educational leaders from the Western Ontario region.

Oh, and you’ll have a wonderful Christmas dinner.

Full disclosure – I’ve been asked to co-chair the conference again with Doug Sadler.  It’s been a local event that I’ve been so passionate about since my first year as a consultant with the Essex County Board of Education.  I always used to bring my superintendent and key principals to hear what’s happening in other school districts just up the 401.  Every other school district would do the same thing and we would serve to push each other to greater and greater things.  It’s a full days of ideas and inspiration.

As Rodd Lucier notes:


Once again, I thought this was a nice collection of thoughts and publishing from colleagues throughout the province.  Follow the links to the original posts and share your thoughts.

My collection of Ontario Edubloggers can be accessed here.  If you’re an Ontario Edublogger and not listed, just complete the form and you soon will be!



This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Here’s some of the great things that caught my attention this week from the fingertips of Ontaro Edubloggers.

Using Google Apps to Make Interactive Stories

Sylvia Duckworth produced a very helpful instructional blog showing yet another use for Google Forms.  This time, she gives a step by step set of instructions for creating an interactive Adventure.

And, it comes as no surprise that her demonstrations include one adventure in English and another one in French!

This was but the beginning – she continues to show how to create interactive stories in Presentations, Google Docs, and YouTube.  If you’re looking for a little something different, there’s a great deal here.


The Appearance of Credibility and Other Useless Pursuits

There was a gentleman in my first school who had this assessment myth attributed to him.  Come report card time, he would call each student to stand in front of his desk, look the student up and down, and then generate a mark for the student.

Of course, that’s the stuff of staff room lore and had no basis in truth.  But, it was a good story!  Assessment and Evaluation have been hot professional development topics that have been “done” recently.

In this post, Tim King spins his own thoughts about assessment.


#ecoo13 review

You can’t beat a good blog post.  But, what is a blog anyway?

Does it have to be something that’s done in WordPress or Blogger?

Or is it the content and the message that’s important?  Of course, it is.

Lisa Noble, instead of using a traditional blogging platform, used a presentation format to share her thoughts and takeaways from the recent Educational Computing Organization of Ontario conference.


The 3-D MakerBot Arrives at F.E. Madill

Very cool things are happening in Heather Durnin’s class.  She blogs about the 3-D MakerBot’s arrival and ultimate setup at the school.  If you read the blog and see how the setup was done, you’ll be confident that the “kids are alright”.  This will be a very nice addition to her classroom.  I’m jealous.

I cracked a big grin when she asked if these two printers could co-exist!


#RCAC13 Final Program

If you’re able to make it to London on December 5, you’ll absolutely get a great day of Professional Learning at the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s Annual Symposium.  It’s just one day in length but you’ll get a chance to hear two inspirational keynote speakers – Travis Allen and Gary Stager – as well as attend sessions from educational leaders from the Western Ontario region.

Oh, and you’ll have a wonderful Christmas dinner.

Full disclosure – I’ve been asked to co-chair the conference again with Doug Sadler.  It’s been a local event that I’ve been so passionate about since my first year as a consultant with the Essex County Board of Education.  I always used to bring my superintendent and key principals to hear what’s happening in other school districts just up the 401.  Every other school district would do the same thing and we would serve to push each other to greater and greater things.  It’s a full days of ideas and inspiration.

As Rodd Lucier notes:


Please take a few moments to read this posts and check out all of those in the Ontario Educational Blogging community.  My collection can be found in the LiveBinder located here.


Building a Tour

One of my reads this morning landed me, with interest, at a new Google experiment.  In this case, it’s called Tour Builder.  It was released for Remembrance Day and there are some nice tours already in place to explore.

I thought that I would explore it a bit and see what I could do.

You may recall a blog post here from a few years ago “My Childhood Community“.  In the post, I took you for a tour of where I grew up highlighting some of the things that I remembered from my youth.  It was a fairly long post and there were a number of screen captures from Google Streetview to show what I was remembering as I took you around town.

I thought, after playing around with Tour Builder, that this would be an interesting way to display the tour.

Off I went.  The results appear below – I had moderate success.  Not complete success, I will admit.  There was at least one location that was misnamed and some of the original locations didn’t quite display properly.  I tried editing and re-editing but wasn’t able to claim 100% success.  However, the site is still an “experiment” so it’s bound to get better.  I think it’s a significant enough resource that you need to tuck it away, play with it, and watch it as it matures.

Creation of the tour is something that’s very Google in look and touch.  In many ways, you’ll feel like you’re editing a Google Presention.

The organization on the left feels like a slide deck.  Only this time, instead of adding a slide, you’re adding a location.  Once the location is added (search or just find it), you can edit the content.

To “enhance the story”, I went back to the original post and used the imagery that I had previously captured and to “tell the story”, it was just a matter of going back to the original blog post for content.  This seemed to work very well, except that Clinton Public School was actually identified as Holmesville Public School.  A quick edit gets past that!

The right pane lets you navigate within Google Earth to a particular location.  Now, Clinton is not in the high resolution area of Google Earth so I tried to use Streetview to zoom in at the various locations at street level.  I had some good results and some not so good.  You’ll see if you actually play the tour.

I was surprised that I couldn’t embed the tour at this point.  However, I can point you to the tour.  It’s located here.

The potential for the Tour Builder is huge!  There are all kinds of ideas for use in the classroom from community to history tours.  Of course, you’ll want to assign research activities to do along with the tour.  Keep an eye on this one; it has huge potential.



Powerful Addresses at #ECOO13

Now that we’re into October, it’s just a few short weeks until #ECOO13 where ECOO and OASBO ICT will BringITTogether in Niagara Falls.  I’ve shared a number of posts about the conference already – “Who Do You Want to Meet at #ECOO13?“, “An #ECOO13 Walkthrough“, and more here.  Can you tell that I’m interested in seeing this event come together?

A good friend of mine told me once that the reason why you get involved with these things is something he called “enlightened self-interest”.  My not-so-subtle interests are to learn and to do my best to help connect Ontario Educators.  I’m hoping that the entire program helps to make all of this happen.

There are over 200 awesome sessions led by Ontario educators offered over the three days.  When you put together a conference like this, you hope that you have enough to appeal to everyone.  I know that the committee is particularly proud and impressed with the collection of proposals that were submitted for all K-12.

For our French language folks, there’s a big collection of offerings specifically chosen for you.

For everyone, there will be five keynote addresses spread out over the event.

D.J. Cunningham – The Google SPOT keynote will showcase the power that Google Apps for Education has to support your teaching, through the innovative use of collaboration, cloud computing and apps.

Robert Baker – Robert Baker has been instrumental in developing technology programs both locally and internationally with a focus on the use of tablet PCs. At Cincinnati Country Day School, Rob is dedicated to creating the most powerful teaching and learning environment anywhere. CCDS is a Microsoft World Tour School, which is a group of the top 30 Schools in the World in terms of technology integration. Rob is an educator first, and this allows him to look at everything through the eyes of pedagogy, not technology.

Amber MacArthur – Amber Mac is an entrepreneur, television host, professional speaker, and bestselling author. She co-hosts a TV show on CTV/BNN called AppCentral, which airs nationally in Canada, Australia, and South Korea. Amber is a regular contributor on CTV News Channel and has appeared on various other networks, such as CNN. She writes weekly for Fast Company, where she discusses social business, digital productivity, and how to work smarter.  Amber has also hosted a number of online video shows for Fast Company, which her digital marketing company produces.

Jaime Casap – Jaime Casap is the Global Education Evangelist at Google, Inc. Jaime evangelizes the power and potential of the web, technology, and Google tools in education. He helps educational organizations across the world find ways to utilize these tools in support of new learning models. His team is responsible for bringing Google tools to millions of administrators, teachers, and students across the globe. Jaime was named one of Tech & Learning’s Top 10 Most Influential in Education, and is a SXSWedu (South by Southwest) Distinguished Speaker.

Kevin Honeycutt – Kevin Honeycutt is a technology integrationist and a staff developer from Central Kansas. He spent 13 years teaching K-12 art and 17 summers leading creative adventure camps for kids of all ages. Kevin now travels the country and the world sharing ideas with educators. His website kevinhoneycutt.org is a valued treasure house of resources for educators.

Please note that each of the keynote speakers will follow their address with breakout sessions to further develop the message they’ve delivered in their keynote.  (Except for Kevin Honeycutt – as the closing keynote speaker, his “follow up” sessions will actually precede his keynote!)

The official website for the conference is located at: http://bringittogether.ca/

The complete conference program is posted to Lanyrd at: http://lanyrd.com/2013/ecoo13/