Thursday, January 30, 2014

Featured Chrome App: WeVideo

WeVideo: Video Creation for the Cloud Generation

Whether you're looking to make a detail oriented video where your students are flexing their creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration muscles or you just want to quickly put something together as your lesson activator, WeVideo can be your "go-to" video creating app in your 21st century classroom.

With an easy-to-use storyboard editing interface, WeVideo makes creating your own videos a pain-free process. Or you can step your game up and use the advanced editor mode for all of your students who like to go above and beyond the call of duty.

One of the most convenient features of WeVideo is the publication of your videos.
Once you've synced your google account with WeVideo, you can upload your video to your Google Drive.

If you haven't already, give WeVideo a shot the next time you or your students want to create a video.

- Clint R

Featured Chrome App: Animoto


One of my favorite apps is Animoto.  Animoto is a cloud-based application that lets you create videos/slideshows from pictures, video clips and music.  The free version of Animoto allows users to create videos up to 30 seconds in length.

One of the best features of the site is that it allows educators to sign up with their school email address and receive a promo code which allows 50 students to upgrade their account.  To apply for the upgrade for your students, click here.  With the upgraded account, users will now be able to add up to 300 pictures or make videos 10 minutes in length.

Once the videos/slideshows are created, they are published to your account.  From the Animoto website you are able to share out your final product in several ways.  You also have the option to download the videos locally to your computer.
For a creative, professional looking video/slideshow, be sure to check out Animoto.  
Tyler C.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Chrome Store Apps we're rolling with

So there are a ton of great apps, extensions and webclips available for Chromebooks, and the number is growing all the time!  Our team in Moore County has finished putting together a list of Chrome Store apps that we want to make available for teachers and students and we thought others might benefit from seeing where we're starting.

We categorized them in two ways, depending on how we wanted to make them available.  Our general Chrome management has given us the easy opportunity to allow:

Teachers:  Able to access the full web store and download/install any app or extension of their choosing
Students:  Able to access our district-controlled "Moore @ School" Web Store, from which they can install any app or extension that is provided in the store.

We created this page on our digital learning site to manage this moving forward.  From here, teachers can submit a form for any app/extension they would like to have added to be available for student download.

On the bottom of the page are all the pre-loaded apps we are pushing out as well as all of the apps we're currently making available for student download via the "Moore @School" Web Store.  Here is a direct link to that list as a G Doc, if you would like to see where we are starting from.

This list will undoubtedly change as we roll Chromebooks out.  Check back often!
-Steve J

Monday, January 6, 2014

Top Ten Offline Chrome Apps for Students

One of the biggest criticisms of the Google Chromebook is that it is useless without a wifi connection.  This, however, is a myth!  There are lots of great and powerful tools that students can access without a wifi connection and the Chrome Web Store is adding more offline apps each and every week.

My Top Ten Favorites (as of now!)
(to explore more on your own, simply visit the offline section of the Chrome Web Store and browse)

Google Drive- A definite must-have.  Enabling offline access to Google Drive allows students to view all of their Google Drive documents with or without a wifi connection.  Also, students can create documents, presentations, drawings, and spreadsheets offline.  The creation process is exactly the same- when the Chromebook next logs in and has wifi access, these documents automatically sync to the student's Google Drive account.  Click here to see how to set up offline mode for Google Drive.

Lucidchart  -  This is a mind-mapping app that allows students to create and edit their maps while offline.  This app also allows students to export their files to their Google Drive account.

Pixlr Touch Up - This is a version of Pixlr that allows simple photo editing and saving while offline.

Gliffy - Another easy mind-mapping app that works well offline.

Google Keep - a quick note-taking app that syncs with Google Drive.

Timer Tab - Includes a timer countdown, a stopwatch, and alarm clock

Pocket - Allows students to save online articles for offline viewing.  This is a great way to have students without home wifi access to still be able to do research at home.  Unfortunately, there is no way yet to store videos for offline viewing, but the word is this will be coming soon!

Sketchpad - Allows students to create posters/drawings.  Students can insert pictures, shapes, text, drawings, and stamps.  Files can then be easily saved to the Downloads folder (jpg, pdf, png, zip) and uploaded back to Google Drive once they are connected to wifi again.

Until AM - Fun little offline app where students can take two pieces of audio and splice them together, add distortions, and remix songs. Only limitation is that there is no way to export or record the new mix (if online, this can be recorded through a Web Store app called "Voice Recorder" which records from the Chromebook's microphone and saves the output as an mp3 file).

Planetarium - This is a nice app to use if students want to explore the stars offline.  It helps that this is an offline app in that it can be used anywhere outside to view and match stars and constellations to the nighttime sky.

There you have it!  My top ten as of today (in no particular order).  I reserve the right to change my mind, as we're seeing more and more great offline apps come available to the Chromebook (Wevideo Next is one to keep an eye on.....).

-Steve J

Friday, January 3, 2014

Why we chose Chromebooks

In order to get an idea of which device would be best for teaching and learning in Moore County Schools, we conducted a test / pilot of 5 different types of devices- a 15" HP laptop, an 11" Macbook Air, and 3 different types of Google Chromebooks (Lenovo X131e, Samsung 3 series and Samsung S550).  For the first 2.5 months of the 2013-2014 school year, 12 teachers and over 850 students participated in this pilot, using their devices daily to collaborate, create, and publish digital work.  

Students and teachers were asked to provide feedback on:
  1. What qualities in a laptop were most important to them
  2. How well each laptop was able to handle collaboration, creation, and publication
  3. How easy or difficult the devices were to use and manage in the classroom.
Below are the results of this research

1.  What qualities in a laptop were most important to students?

Question:  When selecting a technology device for school, what is most important to you?
Important Pilot  
In 3 of the top 4 categories, Google Chromebooks were clearly superior (Long Battery Life, Starts up Quickly, Easy to use Google Drive).  In the 4th, "Allows me to Express my Creativity", our pilot showed us that each device performed this task equally well.

2. How well each laptop handled collaboration, creation, and publication

The culmination of our pilot was a common project created by students that showcased their abilities to collaborate, create, and publish utilizing the devices they had been given.  Each group of teachers worked collaboratively to design and implement this common project.  
Topics for Common Projects:

English I (High School):  Comparing and Contrasting how different authors utilized literary devices to enhance their writing

Biology (High School):    Studying Transgenic organisims, DNA Fingerprinting, and associated ethics issues

7th/8th Grade ELA:      Self-selected informational writing
On November 21st, 2013, selected students showcased their final publications to our MCS senior leadership team, School Board, parents, community members, and the media.

Selected Student Work Samples for each device / project

English I
 Connor and JackPinecrest HS  Google Chromebook Project Link
 SaraUnion Pines HS HP Laptop Project Link

 Chris North Moore HS Google Chromebook Project Link
 Katarina Union Pines HS HP Laptop Project Link

7th/8th Grade ELA
 Ryan New Century MS Macbook Air Project Link
 Victoria Elise MS Google Chromebook Project Link
 Karlye Westmoore MS Google Chromebook Project Link

After carefully reviewing this student work, our digital leadership team agreed that each project was high quality and that there were no measurable differences in quality based on device used.

3.  How easy or difficult the devices were to use and manage in the classroom.

Through student and teacher interviews, it was determined that:
  • Google Chromebooks had very little learning curve and were easy to manage
  • Macbook Airs had the largest learning curve but were also easy to manage
  • HP Laptops had the smallest learning curve but had management issues (battery life, weight)
We were able to determine that possible negatives to overcome were the screen size of selected devices (11") and the lack of a full-size keyboard.  In order to be corrective with this feedback we are planning on ordering a Chromebook with a 14" screen size and full-size keyboard.

When all data was considered and our leadership team felt good that each of the devices would work well with our students, fiscal responsibility entered the conversation.  The Chromebook cost significantly less than the other devices considered.   This made the logical conclusion that we could accomplish all of our goals with Google Chromebooks as our student's main device for both school and home.

Cross-Posted to Moore @School website

Chromebooks in Education Blog


The purpose of this blog will be to assist teachers with incorporating Google Chromebooks into their classrooms.  Everything posted to this blog will work on a Google Chromebook and can be used right away.

Things we plan to include:

  • Reviews of Chromebook models
  • Ways to use Google Apps in the classroom
  • Reviews and ways to utilize Chrome Apps in the classroom (online and offline apps)
  • Products that students are creating on their Chromebooks
  • Innovative ways for teachers and students to push the envelope in a 1:1 environment
  • Google Apps Admin tips

In short, we want to support teachers and students so they can use their Chromebooks to collaborate, create, and publish!