July 17, 2013

Google Drive & iWorks Products

I'm happy to report that Google Drive is playing well with the iPad now.  I'm not sure when this took effect, but one feature I've discovered is that certain applications now allow products to be opened "...in another app."

For example, we can now upload a Pages document (in Pages format as well as PDF and MS Word) to Google Drive.  This is good news for shared environments that require students come back to their work using Pages, Keynote or Numbers (AKA "iWorks").   When students are using iPads that will also be used by students next period (middle school or HS environments), the student has to save his/her work to ensure they can come back to it later and that other students don't tamper with their work.

Here's how to do this:

1.  Open GOOGLE DRIVE app and log in (see images for details on how, if you are unfamiliar).

Enter your district email address and sign in WITHOUT the password.  This will redirect the login to the district site.

Log in normally.

2.  Now open your iWorks (Pages, Keynote or Numbers) and work on your document.  When finished, choose the TOOLS options (it looks like a wrench).   Choose SHARE & PRINT and then OPEN IN ANOTHER APP.

3.  Choose your format, depending on what you are doing with the document.

4.  Wait while your document is formatted.

5.  Now choose Google Drive.


6.  You can make sure the document uploaded correctly by choosing UPLOADS on the left hand side of the screen.

ALWAYS REMEMBER:  Delete your work from the iPad and log out of GOOGLE DRIVE.  This is so that the next person doesn't tamper with the student's previous work or their personal Google account. 

You can now start work where you left off when you open your Google Drive and click on your document.  If it isn't in the UPLOADS tab, it will be in the RECENTS tab.  The screen below will be next.

Now, you can open your document in the appropriate app.

July 02, 2013

Educreations Log In with Student Gmail Account

When Educreations sent out an email listing its new update to version 1.4, I was close to deleting it.  I had already heard about the new tool on Twitter and didn't think I needed to read it.  However, I noticed something else that may be of great value to MMSD iPad teachers wishing to avoid creating yet another student account:  Students can now log in with their school Gmail accounts.  

Why is this important? 

Being able to log in will allow students to keep their recordings online, and then the recordings can be accessed from any computer or mobile device.  Using the generic "not-logged-in" version of the application limits the recording to stay on the iPad, but it can't be saved elsewhere unless the creator has an account.  Logging in with the student's Gmail account is a way to bypass this and save the student's recordings off of the iPad.

On the iPad

If the account is not logged in, a student can log in by creating a recording and pressing "SAVE".  Following the prompts through the save process will be a log in screen with an option to log in with Google.

Tapping on this button will give you a Google log in screen.

However, the way MMSD students and staff log in is different.  We can force the log in screen to go to the MMSD domain by typing in the district email address and pressing SIGN IN, without the password.  The next screen will look like this:

Once you're logged in, you can now save your Educreations in this account and access it anywhere, iPad or PC, as long as you continue to log in with this account.

On The PC

If you are not using Educreations on an iPad, you can still go to the site to create new recordings or see the recordings you made elsewhere.  Go to http://www.educreations.com and choose to log in with Google.  The process will be the same as the iPad.  

July 01, 2013

Secure Passwords for the Forgetful

Passwords are easily forgotten, and this is proportional to the number of accounts you hold.  Kids forget things. Adults forget things.  Despite this, teachers find themselves in a difficult position of having to create an account to use a new application, and new accounts require a secure password.  We need secure passwords.  The most recent attack on Evernote was a good wake-up call as to why.

There is a convention commonly used that simplifies the process of creating and remembering a secure password:  Use three or four easy-to-remember words.  You can give students a prompt such as, "Favorite Animal, Favorite Color, and Favorite Food."  (Mine would be "ElephantGreenPotatoes", which is funny enough to remember.)  It's more secure than you need, easy to remember and easy to read to someone.  Spanish works, too:  "ElefanteVerdePapas".  It used to be said that super-secure passwords require numbers and some symbol characters, but in truth, these are easier to hack and harder to remember.

See this cartoon if you are still not convinced:

In the instance you have the equivalent to "writer's block" when creating new user names for your student accounts, a simple way to start is to use [FirstNameLastName] so that you are not always guessing who is interacting with you, especially when you're dealing with an online presence of  20 or more students.  This also decreases the likelihood that the username has been taken by someone else.  Example:  joleenwelborn would be my user name.  In the event that the name is taken, I add the year to the end of the name (joleenwelborn2013).  This is pretty easy to remember, too.