Sunday, August 31, 2014

How to "Reset" Your Google Calendar

Recently, a few colleagues ran into a snag with their google calendar. Their "primary" calendar was being used as to post homework assignments to students. What ended up happening was that this primary calendar, the first calendar they made, was also being accessed by other faculty in the domain to schedule appointments and events. Which became an issue since many confidential meetings are scheduled through the use of calendar. If a teacher responded to an invite, then this meeting would show on the student homework calendar! Which raises a HUGE red flag. So the issue was something along the lines of...How do I change my primary calendar instead of changing the viewing options for each event? 
 The simple answer can't change your primary calendar. (well not easily)
So then, where is the reset button on my google calendar? and How do I reset it, but save all my data at the same time?

If you fall into the category of needing to "reset" your calendar for any reason, here are a few steps to restore everything back to default, and at the same time have the option to restore your data.
  • The short and simple explanation is to export your old and import it into a new. Should be as simple as clicking like 14 times...(key word is  "should be")

Here is is a more detailed explanation:

1) log into your calendar
2) on the left where it lists all your the little down arrow

 3) Select "settings"

4) You will be sent to another page that looks something like this...
 5) Scroll down, and at the bottom of the "My Calendars" section you'll see an Import and Export option

​​6) Check the boxes next to all the calendars you care about and want to backup. This is important. If you don't save them, when you reset your calendar they will all disappear. When you are sure you have all that you want/need click the export calendars option. 

7) You will get a .zip  of you calendar data.

8) Then delete everything off your personal calendar. There are two options. 1) manually delete each event or delete your entire calendar and start from scratch. Ideally you exported all your data and have a nice archive of data as a backup, so it should be safe to reset back to the default calendar. In other words, start over as it was the first day you logged into google calendar.
9) To delete your calendar the easy way, under settings again...
click the primary calendar (should be the first on the list), scroll down and hit Delete. You will be prompted with a few warnings, and safety checks to make sure that is really what you want to do. You made a backup of everything so it should be save. This will reset you back to the google default calendar. You'll lose all labs, secondary calendars...etc. For example, my primary calendar is called "Michael Norkun" If I delete that one, it will delete all other calendars in the "my calendar" list, as well as all the calendar labs  I have enabled.

10) Now that you have a clean slate, keep your primary calendar for personal use only. Then make a calendar for every other thing you want. From there you can import the  backup you made. If your backup consisted of multiple calendars, within the .zip file you will see a series of different calendars. Select the import option in Google Calendar, and find the backup you want to restore and simply select what new calendar you want the data to go too.

This is just a quick and easy way to reset your entire calendar and start from scratch. Before you delete any calendars, make sure you have them backed up. That is my only word of caution. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Classroom for Google Tips

As the school year rapidly approaches, I have created classrooms within Classroom for Google. My goal is to be 100% paperless this year. As I tweak the classrooms here are a few short tips for features to use, as this new tool increases in popularity.

Use the About Page. 

  At first glance of Classroom for Google, you'll notice it has a very sleek, clean, and simple interface. Which is exactly what teachers and students want. The about page is a great place to store all those things like a course syllabus/description, copies of school documents, field trip forms, classroom homework/announcement calendars, helpful links, links to the eBooks your classes will use, and links to your classroom lesson podcast.

Change the Theme

  There are limited theme options at the moment, but based off the new menu that appears when you click on the option, it looks as though more options will soon be added. However, I would suggest changing the theme to allow for easier course identification from your home screen, and provide a nice visual for you students. Make it welcoming.

Virtual Discussions

   Use the announcement page to hold virtual discussions. Add a prompt and let students respond to each other and interact as a homework assignment.

Increase Collaboration and Creativity

  When creating an assignment for students, think outside of the box. Instead of simply sharing the directions typed in a Google doc, share a document, presentation, or spreadsheet where students are assigned to edit and collaborate on specific pieces of the same document to arrive at one larger final product.

Classroom for Google offers some unique ways to expand the classroom beyond the four walls, and create a much more tight-knit group of individuals all working together to help each other learn.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Google Calendar in Classroom For Google

Classroom for Google is a fantastic tool. If you have Google Apps For Education and haven't tried the tool yet, head on over and make a classroom. It is very clean and user friendly. I had a few colleagues ask me today, How can I get my homework calendar onto my Classroom For Google page? Here is a simple way to include a homework calendar/agenda/or any other variation of Google Calendar to your classroom page.

1) Make sure you have a classroom set up.
2) In your classroom click on the "About" section.
3) If you haven't done so yet, add in some information about the course, then at the bottom there is a space for resources.
4) Head to your Google Calendar for your Homework/agenda/etc... and grab the public link.
5) Paste the link in the materials sections and students will now have streamline access to their work.

How do you get the public link from your Google calendar?

1) Go to Google Calendar
2) Find the appropriate Calendar in your list on the left hand side of the screen.
3) Go into the "Calendar Settings"
4) Find the section called "Calendar Address"
5) Copy the address and paste it into your materials list in Google classroom.

Here is a short video tutorial.

Lego EV3 in Linux!

Being a science teacher I'm always looking for cool new toys and ways to incorporate STEM and get my students to learn, without realizing they are learning. I had some back to school meetings today, and discovered that the EV3 Lego Mindstorm Kits I requested had arrived. I was about as happy as a kid on their birthday. I ripped open those packages so fast and started playing...then I ran into my first issue. My science lab is Linux based...all my machines are Linux. How the heck am I going to get these things connected?

Being the tech dork I am, I found a clunky workaround, a slick but complicated workaround, and one other possibility that will probably work- it hasn't been tested yet.

The Clunky Workaround

I installed the newest version of virtualbox with the newest extension pack, and guest additions. Installed Windows 7. (I activated the aero view of course. I mean if I have to use windows, I can at least make it look a bit nicer, it's not as pretty as Linux, but it will suffice). I added my host Linux user to the vboxuser group, installed libusb-0.1 and libusb-dev, plugged in the EV3 brick via USB, and voila, the windows guest virtualbox grabbed the device. I downloaded and installed the EV3 software and I was in business.  It's clunky, because that means I need to have that available for my students on all 24 Linux mint 17 XFCE machines in my science lab :(
Again which means, I need install virtualbox on all those machines, and clone the virtual OS 24 times.

The Slick Workaround.

What's wrong with teaching kids how to write Java? I installed the Lejos NXJ EV3 software on my Linux machine and made a bootable USB (not an SD) as the directions suggest. Only because I didn't' have an SD card around. I followed the tutorial and I was able to program my EV3 brick via Java. That should be a great addition for my students when they are ready to try some coding. It's a slick workaround, because I you end up flashing the EV3 brick with java, but you wipe the Linux OS that is there. (There has got to be a way to get a Linux machine to talk to the Linux OS on the brick).

Finally the not yet tested work around.

It appears as though the USB and SD ports on the brick will mount and access files. All I need is to get the Lego software running in Linux, either through WINE (which I've found out that it probably won't work) Or, create an XP virtual machine with the software. That's right, XP. Why XP? Because I don't' need to use up or buy site licenses to get the machine to run and allow students to access the software. I can clone the virtual system without any worries. Once I download the XP iso, install it on a virtual machine, grab the Lego software, have students program and save it to a USB and plug it into the brick to run. This seems the easiest, but hasn't been tested yet. Again, since XP isn't supported anymore, I can run it without the hassle of a license, since there aren't any more security updates, I can ignore the license reminders.

Sorry for the length of this post, but there might be other Science  teachers out there with robotics kits and Linux labs running into similar frustrations. So I thought, I'd share my success story thus far.

Coming soon...more on Classroom for Google, and integrating Google Calendar.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Google Calendar

Have you ever needed to share your calendar with more than a few people, but felt like it would take way to long to type in every individuals name? Have you noticed, you can't share directly with a contact group? Here is a quick work around.

1)    Open your Google Calendar.

2)     Locate the calendar name you want to share on the left hand side of your list.

3)    Click "Calendar Settings"

4)     On this page find the item called "Private Address"

6)     Grab the format you prefer.

7)     Head over to Gmail, and mail it off to your contact group.

Note: Using this link will only allow the people you share it with to see the event details in a news feed reader, they will not be able to edit, or create events. They will not see it in their calendar lists. This method only lets you get the calendar out to people privately so they can view it from a news reader. 

Science Help

This may not apply to everyone, however it is a great use of technology to help explain some potentially confusing science or math concepts.

20 Gifs That Teach You Science Concepts Better Than Your Teacher Probably Can

I like the animation of PI, as well as the video showing tension of falling objects. (P.S. That is a cool trick to freak out your students, try it sometime.) 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Google Earth, Moon and Mars all Online!

Google Maps has been a "go-to" tool for me for some time. However, it just got even better. You can now see the Moon as well as Mars from Google Maps. This opens so many more educational possibilities with the tool, and the tool runs pretty quick. 

Here's how to see the Moon and Mars. 

  1. Go to Google Maps. 
  2. Change the base view to Earth. 
  3. Then zoom out as far as possible. 
  4. If you expand the options at the bottom, new options for The Moon, and Mars will be available. 
  5. Have Fun!

Friday, August 8, 2014

New School Year, New Technology

After a nice long summer break working at an alternative education school, with zero technology, I'm nice and refreshed, ready for the school year to start. Better yet, there are many new tools or updates to old tools to try with students. At the top of my list sits Classroom for Google. Having early access to the tool, allowed me to play with some features, and begin to set up some classes for this coming school year. The tool has a very simplistic interface, much like a Google + community, and offers flexibility with adding documents/files from Google Drive.

Some fantastic features of this tool are; once you make a classroom, the tool auto-creates a folder in your Google drive called Classroom, with a secondary folder nestled inside with that class name associated. This makes it very easy to store documents and files for that one class.
When you make an assignment, a new folder with the name of the assignment is created and nestled in the class folder. (confused yet? Look at the pictures below.)
When a student submits an assignment on their end, they do not have to change any sharing settings in the document, all they need to do is find the right file in their drive, and submit it. The file will magically move to your assignment folder.

I can almost see the piles of student papers on my desk, disappearing, and I can see the clutter of my drive becoming organized.

That is only skimming the surface of the tool. I will add more tips and features as I dust off my technology and start playing again. For now, enjoy the screen shots, from my new Google Open Gallery Page all about Classroom for Google.

Click the "i" icon at the bottom right for an image description.