Monday, April 12, 2010

 

Changes to GoogleDocs


 
Announced today: This video says it well. Also, the TechCrunch post today: Google Docs Gets More Realtime; Adds Google Drawings To The Mix. You know, I saw the Drawing icon when I signed in to Google Docs this morning. Now I see what it means. It just keeps getting better and better! Thanks, Google! My next collaborative ePortfolio planning workshops are going to be a lot more fun! And the output will be a lot more visual!
Official GoogleDocs Blog Post

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

 

Blogger discontinuing FTP support

Today, Blogger announced that they will no longer support FTP publishing in Blogger after March 26, 2010. I have been publishing this blog to my own web server since May 2004, using FTP almost from the beginning because, at the time, I didn't want ads on my blog (no longer an issue). Now, I need to make a decision... do I host this blog as a blogspot.com address (not accessible on a lot of school networks), or do I host it on a custom domain (I have a couple of them that I am not using), or do I transfer the whole thing over to WordPress.com (not possible in the current FTP format)? So, I have a few weeks to make a decision... but I will be doing a lot of traveling between now and the end of March (New York, India, New Zealand, Sedona). I will post my decision soon, and will do the appropriate re-directing on my web server. Still, it is irritating, at a time when I am going to be very busy!

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

 

My Google Storage Activated

I woke up this morning to this message on my Google Docs page:

So, I found the three files that I have been using in my study of online storage systems, and uploaded them to my Google Docs account.  There were two PDF files (Google Docs has been able to store PDFs for the last year) and one 10MB MP3 file of my presentation at a conference. I proceeded to experiment based on instructions in a website that I recently found: How to Embed MP3 Audio Files In Web Pages With Google or Yahoo! Flash Player. I used the code for the Google Reader player, and I embedded it on a demo Google Site I was using for a class. It took a couple of tries, because I don't think Google is supporting the embedding of MP3 files, but I made it work by tweeking the download URL on the Google Docs download page for that document (removed the download suffix on the URL).

Euripides said... An update- I was told after uploading one of my podcasts that "sorry, we do not currently support MP3 files"
Obviously! The process I went through worked, but it was not for the faint of heart (or those who don't understand URL codes). I hope that there will be a gadget soon, that will make this process seamless, just like embedding YouTube videos. Using divshare.com to embed audio with a player is much easier!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

 

Google Online Storage...Finally!

Today, the Official Google Docs Blog announced "the ability to upload, store and organize any type of file in Google Docs." Finally! (at least some time over the next couple of weeks)
...you can upload to Google Docs any file up to 250 MB. You'll have 1 GB of free storage for files you don't convert into one of the Google Docs formats (i.e. Google documents, spreadsheets, and presentations), and if you need more space, you can buy additional storage for $0.25 per GB per year...
According to the response to questions in the Comments in this blog entry, the additional storage is shared between Picasa Web Albums, Gmail and Google Docs. The cost is described on this page. Picasa (images) provides 1 GB free storage, GMail provides 7+ GB free, and now GoogleDocs provides 1 GB free. You can't share free storage between applications, but if you upgrade even the smallest amount (20 GB for $5 per year), you can use that extra storage in any of those tools.

The Google Enterprise Blog Entry indicates that this capability is available to GoogleApps users (also for GMail accounts). For now, the Documents List API will only be available to GoogleApps Premiere domains (what about Education Edition?).

Assuming this functionality is available to Education accounts, for ePortfolios, we finally have our digital archive that will hold any type of file. GoogleDocs Folders can also be shared. I can hardly wait to see how it works. Will the files have an Embed code? Are they individually linkable? I am specifically looking for the ability to embed audio files, much as we can do with YouTube videos. Will it be easy enough for a primary student to use??? Some of the comments in the blog are asking for a DropBox-type of interface (synchronize contents of folders). I agree!

UPDATE: In response to public requests, Google increased the maximum file size to 1 GB while also adding a Thumbnail view to your GoogleDocs Home page (Documents List). 

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

 

T.H.E. Article on E-Portfolios

This article, published by T.H.E. Journal provides a shallow overview of e-portfolios in K-12 schools, mostly providing an incomplete look at the types of tools available. The author also made the following statement:
Google is probably the leading provider of mashup services and software for the creation of e-portfolios. The search giant isn't yet offering an e-portfolio product, per se, but in 2007 it began publishing a step-by-step process for combining its Google Apps software into e-portfolio mashups. On its "Google Apps E-Portfolios Mashup" web page, the company has published a series of documents describing how to mash up such applications as Google Docs, Gmail, Google Notebook, Blogger, and the iGoogle portal to, essentially, create an e-portfolio.
Google is also providing guidance specifically aimed at K-12 education. The company has published descriptions of three levels of K-12 e-portfolios: e-portfolio as storage; e-portfolio as workspace; and e-portfolio as showcase.
Lowendahl [Garner Group] is pleased to see Google getting into the e-portfolio business. He says interest from companies of such stature is necessary to secure the application's future.
I agree, it would be nice if Google was getting into the e-portfolio business, but they aren't. What the author is referencing is MY website. Here is the comment that I added to the article:
 This article provides interesting information about e-portfolios, although some of it is inaccurate and incomplete. It is true that most of the research and implementation of electronic portfolios has been in higher education. My reading of the Gartner Hype Cycle for Education, 2009, noted that ePortfolios were listed in the stage of "Sliding Into the Trough" (...of Disillusionment). To move to the next stage of the cycle (Climbing the Slope... of Enlightenment) we will need to have more research on the most appropriate strategies and "best practices" to support student learning, especially at the K-12 level.
Your reference to Google's support of ePortfolios was actually posted on MY website (http://electronicportfolios.org/google/ ). I wrote the K-12 support materials for both GoogleApps (and WordPress), linked from my web page (http://electronicportfolios.org/ and published using Google Sites). I developed the three-level model, based on my collaboration with both Washington State University and several school districts in California and Texas:
1. portfolio as storage (collection of artifacts)
2. portfolio as workspace (collection plus reflection/metacognition)
3. portfolio as showcase (selection, summative reflection and presentation)
It is also important to recognize that reflection is the "heart and soul" of a portfolio... not the technology or collection of artifacts. The real value of an e-portfolio is in the reflection and learning that is documented therein, not just the collection of work.
My note to the author: To whom at Google do I send the bill for all my development work over the last two years? ;-)

UPDATE: After having a nice conversation with the author, the online article was corrected to read:
Google is probably the leading provider of mashup services and software for the creation of e-portfolios. The search giant isn't yet offering an e-portfolio product, per se, but in 2007 educator Helen Barrett, who has been researching strategies and technologies for e-portfolios since 1991, began publishing a step-by-step process for combining Google Apps software into e-portfolio mashups. On her "Google Apps E-Portfolios Mashup" web page, she describes how to join such applications as Google Docs, Gmail, Google Notebook, Blogger, and the iGoogle portal to create an e-portfolio.
Barrett also provides guidance specifically aimed at K-12 education. She has published descriptions of three levels of K-12 e-portfolios: e-portfolio as storage; e-portfolio as workspace; and e-portfolio as showcase.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

 

Google storage changes

Yesterday I received a notice from Google that my online storage of GMail and Picasa photos was being changed from $20 to $5 per year, or my storage allocation was increased to 80 GB for the same $20. Needless to say, I reduced my service until I find out what might be on the horizon in terms of Google storage. Might I soon be able to store more than just email and photos? Does this mean that Google's long-rumored web drive is about to appear? 80 GB would be well worth $20/year, and there were additional levels for additional fees, up to 16 terabytes (for over $4,000/year). The possibilities are exciting for my work in lifelong portfolios. Hmmmm....
Sent from my iPhone
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

 

Teaching a course with open tools

This week, I am beginning to team-teach a graduate course for Seattle Pacific University entitled, "Issues and Advances in Educational Technology" using a Google Site for the course content and a private Google Group for the class discussions.  David Wicks (my co-developer) and I thought it would be important for students to not only study these advances at a theoretical level, but also to experience these emerging technologies on a practical level. We also thought we should use tools that are free for teachers to implement in their classrooms. We are also using web-based readings rather than a textbook for the course content.

We recognize that there is a steeper learning curve with this approach, especially with most other SPU courses being implemented within Blackboard... but few schools use Blackboard. We are simply replacing desktop computer-based tools (bookmarks, word processing, web page authoring) with Internet-based tools (delicious.com, GoogleDocs, Google Sites). We are encouraging our graduate students to think about the application of these tools to their own situations in their classrooms.

We also wanted to model the collaboration that is possible using Google Sites: we kept most of our comments on the pages where we discussed the content and development process of the course as it was being constructed. We also set up a Notes on Development page, using the Announcements page type in Google Sites, as a journal or page (with entries organized in reverse-chronological order) where we documented our development process... much like a blog without RSS feeds.

Speaking of RSS feeds... when you are a member of a Google Site, you can go to More Actions and Subscribe to Page Changes (for the page you are on) or Subscribe to Site Changes (for the entire site). Any time a change is made to the page or site, you will receive an email showing the changes. For collaborative projects, this feature is essential! But it can add significantly to your email volume. So, we provided advice to our students on how to manage email from this class. We will be asking the students for feedback on the process and using these open tools, and I will blog about the process periodically over the semester.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

 

Group Brainstorming with GoogleDocs

I have been doing a brainstorming activity for a while with groups, but yesterday, it was especially productive. I was doing a workshop on e-portfolios at a community college. We spent the morning exploring issues of e-portfolio development in a large group, lecture-style. After lunch, we moved to a computer lab, where I led them through several exercises to help them put together a plan for implementation. I did an almost identical set of exercises in my workshop in New Hampshire in August, but it took a lot longer because then we were using pen and paper.

On Friday, I had the participants organize in groups (sitting together around a person who had a Google account). Each team gave themselves a name. Then I had each team set up a GoogleDoc to store their brainstorming ideas, sharing these documents with me and the person in the organization who was responsible for the meeting, who needed a record of all of their work… I just needed to share their results on the projector so all could see. It is so much more efficient than paper and pencil or flipcharts and markers. I know this is not an original idea… it just worked so well for me, especially when they shortened my afternoon workshop by one hour (so that participants could avoid Friday afternoon traffic in Boston… I soon found out what they meant as I made my way toward the airport!)

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Monday, September 14, 2009

 

Introducing DataLiberation.org: Liberate your data!

Today, the leader of Google's Data Liberation Front announced his team's efforts to "allow users to transfer their personal data in and out of Google's services by building simple import and export functions." As explained in the blog entry,
... a liberated product is one which has built-in features that make it easy (and free) to remove your data from the product in the event that you'd like to take it elsewhere....

We've already liberated over half of all Google products, from our popular blogging platform Blogger, to our email service Gmail, and Google developer tools including App Engine. In the upcoming months, we also plan to liberate Google Sites and Google Docs (batch-export).
This feature has huge implications for using Google tools for ePortfolio development.  Just as they announced last month that you could transfer a Google Site from a GoogleApps for Education domain to another Google account you own, this looks like a systemic approach to data portability, to transfer data out of Google, should you so choose.  This is an open standards approach which will be interesting to watch. The only thing is... where else would I put that data? Are other cloud computing companies going to follow suit?

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