Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Conditional Formatting in Google Sheets

Recently, a colleague asked if it was possible to format a Google Sheet to have alternating row colors. The short answer is yes, it is possible - and easily done, too. In a short video sure to appeal to my nerdier colleagues, I describe the quick, easy process. Watch it, and practice it, and you too will be making more colorful spreadsheets!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Out sick, but still working

We are in the time of year when the veritable petri dish a school environment can become revs to full blast. Yesterday afternoon, I learned that a colleague would be out of school today during the critical juncture when students in two of his classes would be delivering their final project oral presentations. You can imagine the disruption his absence would cause for students and for the teacher himself. Obviously, the teacher was extremely concerned about the impact his absence would have on student final project presentations.

We were able to solve the problem by using Google Hangouts. A Chromebook running Google Hangouts was positioned so that it showed the student presenter to the absentee teacher. And, the Chromebook was also positioned so that the student could see and hear the teacher. The tech worked flawlessly, and the teacher was able to evaluate all oral presentations in real time. In case the Internet broke or other connection issues arose, another colleague setup a camcorder on a tripod to record all the students' presentations.  In the event that Google Hangouts crashed or the connection between school and the teacher's home broke down, the video file(s) from the camcorder could be uploaded to Google Drive and shared with the teacher. The camcorder was really just a backup, and we were happy not to have had to rely on it. The prime tool used was a Google Hangout, and it was an excellent solution.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Principal's Video Demo

A few years ago, creating a short video, even a sixty second PSA, took a lot of time and work. Cameras used tape, and digitizing the content meant capturing through a slow, linear playback process, often with clunky equipment and add-ons that either didn't work or were missing drivers. Rendering took hours on slow processors. And, varied video formats confused most software. Today, teachers have new Macbook Airs. The Macbook Airs are a veritable content creation powerhouse. They have powerful media editing tools like iMovie, Quicktime, and Garage Band built in, and can use older stalwarts like Audacity. Web based tools like wevideo and twisted wave further augment the content creation toolset. And, capturing and working with video has never been easier. Phones, iPads, and screencasting tools have made even the best digital camcorders seem clunky.

This Tuesday, I'll be running a workshop for administrators on creating short, PSA type videos on their Macbooks. We'll be using iMovie in conjunction with screencasting tools as a starting point. Here's a sample video that I'll be using as part of the demo.

Why video? You can get a lot more millennial traction out of a one or two minute video than you might out of a five paragraph blog post. When Youtube ascends to the second largest search engine on the planet, it supports the notion that we have become a 'video' generation. Quick hitting, powerful video can help you get your message out to a wider audience, and do so more effectively than you might have imagined.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Remove Popups, Redirects, Spam, and Junk on Chromebooks

Chromebooks are pretty darn robust. For the vast majority of users, they just work, and never hiccup. Still, on rare occasions you might find your Chromebook being affected by unwanted popups, adds or other strange behaviors. If your Chromebook is not behaving like brand new, you can fix it in a matter of seconds. Here's how:
  • Click the button in the lower right hand corner of your screen
  • Click Settings
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page, then click Show Advanced Settings
  • Scroll to the bottom of the Advanced Settings page and click the Reset Settings button
Resetting Chrome will erase all cookies, saved passwords, and other detritus, and extensions will be disabled. You might be required to restart the Chromebook. At any rate, your Chrome browser should be restored to brand new condition.

The video below shows the steps to perform the reset, though I don't actually click the reset button...