Going Google with my iPad at #ISTE13

As I sit through a long flight delay at the San Antonio Airport contemplating all that I have learned at the ISTE conference, I am already in the middle of 2 other blog posts but need more time to process, I am really appreciating the amazing features for the iPad that Google offers.

Firstly, I did not need to check my flight status to know it was delayed. I just opened Google Now an AMAZING iPad app that is more than just search. Google knew about my flight, my confirmations were sent to my Gmail, and automatically posted the most current flight status. It also posted directions with current traffic data to the hotel that I was staying at, the weather for both San Antonio and Newark, my destination, sights to see in San Antonio, and even my local time in NJ. This was all done automatically based on what Google already knows about me. A bit creepy but a tradeoff we make with Google, giving up some of our privacy in exchange for them giving us so many useful services. You can see a screenshot of my Google Now below. Besides its auto features, Google Now can be customized to meet your needs. I use Google Now every morning to check the weather, traffic to my school, local sports scores etc. Give it a try and you might soon find it to be indispensable on your mobile device.
My Google Now from San Antonio Airport
My Google Now from San Antonio Airport

I am using Blogger to compose this post, another Google product. The blogger iPad app is pretty basic and can get frustrating for most users since it is limiting in terms of adding links, photos, or rich media. However, there is a nice paid app called Blogsy. It is a $5 app but well worth the cost. With Blogsy you can add anything to your post. There are icons on the right side to drag rich content into your blog posting like pictures from your camera roll, Flickr, Picasa, Instagram, or Facebook and video from YouTube or Vimeo directly into your post anywhere you want and resize them using a slider, add captions, a link, or image Title. You can easily add a link anywhere in your blog and even set the link to open in a different window. You can schedule blog posts as well to publish for a future date. For advanced users, you can easily edit HTML to embed any rich web based app into your posting. I am actually currently writing this blog post using Blogsy.

However, you don't need to get Blogsy for all your students to start them blogging on their iPads or any other mobile device. Tammy Worcester showed me an even simpler classroom blogging method that works on any device, email. You might already know that in the Blogger settings, you can set up an email address to email a blog post to your blog. The email heading becomes the title and the body of the email including text and pictures appears in your blog. You can also set this email up to send a draft blog post which still requires your approval in order to publicly post. This provides all of the tools for a very simple, completely controlled, classroom blog. The teacher sets up the blog and remains the only user with login rights, only sharing the blog's email address with her students. Students post through email and postings only appear online after teacher approval. Here is an example of a blog Tammy created through emails from her presentation participants: http://happyiste13.blogspot.com/. She just asked the teachers to email a picture to her blog email of something that made them happy at ISTE. I can imagine using this in class for a classroom blog of almost any type. What a simple system!

Another iPad app that just keeps getting better is the Google Drive app. You can now view and resolve comments in docs using Google Drive on the iPad. This makes the iPad indispensible for peer to peer or teacher-student editing. Students can post their papers to Google Drive and share them with the teacher or their student peer rather than printing them. Then the teacher or student, instead of just assigning a grade and/or scribbling barely legible comments on the paper which students rarely read, can type comments directly on the paper which appear on the side of the doc. The student is then required to resolve each comment before submitting again. This process can be repeated as many times as necessary. The student ultimately only submits or prints out the edited final paper for submission. This writing/revision cycle is much more educationally sound with students learning how to write instead of just receiving a grade which they often treat as a label that defines them rather than a means to improve. There are some limitations to Google Drive for iPad though. Google Drive still only supports editing docs and spreadsheets. Presentations or Drawings can be viewed but not edited. However, with Google's constant updates as it continues to improve, I suspect editing presentations and other advanced features will be added soon.

One final app that is transformative on the iPad is Google Chrome. Besides being a nice, fast, web browser, you can sign into your iPad Chrome browser just like you sign into your regular Google Chrome desktop. Then all of your desktop bookmarks will appear. You can also view all webpages opened on any other device you are logged into. This can be an ideal way for a teacher who are always moving between the classroom and faculty room computers to their iPads and home computers to sync all of their bookmarks everywhere all the time by just logging into Chrome on all your devices, iPad, iPhone, PC, or Mac and bookmarking the way you normally do. You will NEVER lose any bookmarks, ever again. I am sure some of you teachers can relate to how this can transform your teaching.

My flight should be boarding soon so I am signing off of this blog. Please add any other Google iPad apps or tricks in the comments to this blog and stay tuned for more postings as I begin to process and reflect on ISTE 2013.