Google's Accessibility Menu Isn't as Accessible as It Could Be

When Google announced the Accessibility menu in G Suite I was excited for the various possibilities of this tool. My focus was on the screen reader. We all learn best in various ways. Accessibility tools shouldn't be considered just for those with special needs they can benefit all of us. Screen reader allows document text to be read back to the user. It also verbalizes the menus and actions the user is taking on the screen.

While I conducted a training the Accessibility menu was asked about. I hadn't previously had the time to explore it. The menu had just appeared on the school's domain teacher thought it could help a lot of students with various tasks. I was on my Macbook Pro and turned on the accessibility screen reader, "Speak" ...nothing. Teachers were on various PC's and turned on their Speak from the Accessibility menu. Again, nothing. I had to move on with the training but aimed to circle back and explore it in my own time.

What I've found is th…

Don't Talk At Me, Talk With Me

I had an opportunity to attend the Google Cloud OnBoard ML yesterday in NYC. My expectations were an introduction to the Google Cloud, some Machine Learning, and a bit of a sales pitch. I expected to walk away with some minor new skill in doing a linear regression on Google's Platform. What I walked away with was a clear experience of what education should not be. Even as a theatrical experience it should not be what Google gave us. Large companies would benefit from engaging with life long educators on how to model and connect with other during their events.

On arrival I set myself up at a hightop to do some work. It wasn't long before a Googler was engaging some attendees behind me. Of the three being chatted up there was a vast range of skills sets with their experience in cloud technologies and machine learning. One had no experience, another had played with cloud products and another had run some machine learning with scikit-learn. This was a good snapshot of what I saw …

Authentic Technology Learning Experiences

Education is full of flashy tech tools to help students grasp concepts. Many are very effective at the goal. Some are just fun to play with. But which tools offer experiences students will encounter in the real world? How is learning with technology relevant and authentic to their lives?
When choosing educational technology we rely on the SAMR , TPACK, and Bloom’s Taxonomy models to guide us. The goal when implementing technology into education is to support student learning. While these models influence the learning experience it’s also important to keep it grounded in reality. Tasks can be modified for real world scenarios. We’ve all heard or said the phrase “where am I ever going to need this?” The internal response is “the state test that measures how well you are doing at ‘school’”. Realistically where do we use calculus in our daily lives?
Technology just to teach a concept is less effective than using it for authentic learning opportunities. When the experience is realistic an…

Vlogging to Support the Writing Process

Learning how to write a well crafted paper can be a frustrating process for many students. It can be just as frustrating for teachers teaching students how to write an essay. Vlogging can help students to structure thoughts and provide a framework to build off. I've created some slides to support the process with iMovie.
I was recently asked to provide a short workshop for an Apple related “unconference” event. It allowed me the opportunity to put down ideas I had regarding digital media and teaching writing. I chose to explore the use of vlogging when teaching writing. I chose to use Casey Neistat as my example. You may know him from “Bike Lanes” Being in NYC I needed a vlogger students could connect with while also getting something academic out of the content. Casey had vlogged on a recent event “Living in NYC during a Crisis”. Looking at the Vlog I could identify the main parts and connect the pieces quite clearly to an essay format. It also didn’…

Why are we still fighting the tech implementation battle?

I’ve recently seen a few posts on social media indicating technology takes away from education. I’ve witnessed certification opportunities from large companies being redesigned to reach educators. This year one large company, only now, has released a tablet version of their product. *coughgooglecough* 
Why are we still fighting this battle of implementation of technology in education rather than embracing it? Tech in education is not an argument. Certification is a must and shouldn’t have to be sold. Simple handheld devices must be the norm for our entry point students.
I can access college level coursework on my phone at anytime. I’m able to explore Mars in Virtual Reality from 360 images recently sent back to earth. I can reach hundreds of colleagues to collaborate on ideas. Why would I hold my students back from having access to resources and skills they will need for their own success when they graduate? 
If this is the world now what will it look like to our kindergarteners?  To giv…

Collect Quick Formative Feedback

We often send our students to complete independent writing work. We circulate the room and the students that are vocal get the attention. But what about those students that don't raise their hand to ask for help? How can we provide an easier way for them to reach out to us? Well, here's a way to create a custom menu for a document and collect some formative feedback.

Spreadsheet collecting data, Document which can be copied with the code.

Our starting function is the onOpen function. This is a reserved word which the doc looks for in the script. As the document is opened this script is run. In this case we engage the DocumentApp library of code. The getUi begins the user interface. We createMenu and name it something. I've named it with a emoji of a hand to support the idea that we don't always need menus with words. This menu will show up as a new main menu like File or Edit. We then add a menu item with addItem. The first item is a sad face. the sad face is co…

Auto Add User to Sheets

Ever needed to grab the name of the user that edited a line of a Sheet? Sure you can comb through the version history but isn't it better to just see the the information right on the sheet? Google Scripts provides a way to capture the user that edited. Let's take it one step further and make a bathroom log. Students logged in to their Google Account on the same domain as you will be able to click an icon and create a record that they are going to the restroom. No one will be able to mark the sheet while they are out. Sample

So the code we need to know to identify the user currently editing the sheet would be Session.getActiveUser().getEmail()
To break this down, the Session refers to the period a user is logged in. A session can be time limited or limited to the particular device being used. We use the Session to access the method of
The active user is the user logged in. From here the only selection is

Stringing these together and we  can identify w…