Keep it Together: with Google Keep

Meet Google Keep, in my opinion, Google’s most underrated collaborative task management tool which embeds various forms of media including audio, photos, annotations, among others. Think collaborative Post-it notes with embeddable media. What really sets Keep apart is the syncing capabilities between other Google products, the mobile app, and of course the ability to search within Keep. 



If you have students working in collaborative teams Keep could be used to assign tasks with a checklist and due dates including integrated links to resources. All this in one place, in real time, and shared with all members of the group. Imagine this, in one place, amongst all your teams/groups. 

Try getting started by: 

  1. Creating a weekly to do list: 
  2. Adding notes from a conference, book, or YouTube Video you’re watching
  3. Expand on those notes by opening Keep in Google Docs
  4. Share a shopping list
  5. Add a photo to share with annotations 
  6. Record a voice recording. Keep will translate to text. 
  7. Translate Handwriting to text (Android Only) 
  8. Set a reminder based on a time and date
  9. Set a reminder based on a location 

For example: 
1. Create a list and click on the reminder icon at the bottom left of the list. 

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2. Select “Pick Place” 

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3. Add a location. Whenever you or collaborators on this list come within close proximity to the location, they will receive a notification which will remind them what is on the note/list. 

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4. When you’re finished, you should see the location at the bottom of the note/list. 

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If you would like to learn more about how to leverage Google Keep as a task management and idea capturing tool, check out my "Keep it Together: with Google Keep" workshop

10 tips to Conquer an Edu Conference

1. Follow topics not friends: If you are attending with a colleague from the same department or even school as you, divide and conquer. While learning is social and attending sessions with your BFF can make for a good experience, it might not be the most meaningful or efficient one from a learning perspective. If you have a common goal, think of attending as an opportunity to gather resources, after which you can compile later.

2. Follow the Event Hashtag: Often the best things you walk away with are the little tricks, tips, videos, quotes, ect which spark further exploration and insights. These can also be found on the digital platform of many conferences, Twitter. It’s amazing what 140 characters can provide. While you may only be able to attend 7 of the possible 100+ sessions offered any given conference, you can still learn from many of them. Take the time during down time or after the event to peruse the conference hashtag for hidden gems shared by attendees from other sessions. These can easily be compiled by liking or retweeting them on twitter, or by creating a Storify feed. This is also the first place most conferences post updates, so if you want to avoid showing up to an empty room, follow the hashtag.

3. Have a plan of attack: There is nothing worse than arriving to a conference and deciding on the spot where to go, arriving at your session to a full house, having to find another, only to find that one is full as well. Preview the schedule prior to arrival, arrive early, and have a second or even third option for each timeslot. I promise it is time well spent and will help alleviate anxiety on the day of the event, as well as help you focus on learning.



4. Vote with your feet: This is a common approach to Unconferences but needs to be adopted by all Edu Conference. If at anytime you are not actively learning during a session, get up and leave; vote with your feet. During Unconferences this is not offensive as all participant and presenters understand we all have different areas of interest, needs, and are all there to learn. Move to where the learning is happening, FOR YOU.



5. Build the fire: Often we attend conferences to light a fire, pack our schedules while there trying to fit in as much as possible, then return back to our lives as educators where we rarely have the time to feed that fire. Great inspiration, insights, and learning that took place have to wait for the next break to be developed. By this time, the landscape may have changed and you have forgotten application opportunities. Take a break during the conference to develop what you have learned. This is not skipping class or wasting your school's money; it is making the most of the moment. Don’t let great insights slip away. It’s better to come away with 1-2 great ideas or concepts that can change tomorrow, than an overload of information that has to wait. Launch early at the event.

6. Seek your Discomfort zone: Try attending a session or two that are out of your area of expertise. A couple of years ago I attended an IT strand at the massive EduTech Conference, and during sessions I felt as though they were speaking a different language. Throughout the event I was googling, asking simple questions, and felt lost the whole way through, but I learned. I threw myself in the deep end and may not have learned to swim in the IT world, but I at least I learned to tread.


7. Make a friend: We are social creatures, but often as educators we don’t get to make connections with others outside of our departments or divisions. Networking is common in business, and often critical to continued success and employment, but in education we retreat to our classrooms of isolation. Make a friend and open the door to collaboration. In 2016 it is possible to connect, as our friend Jeff Utecht promotes “across space and time”, so make a friend and start connecting.

8. Attend in Analog: There is nothing less engaging an audience behind laptop screens. Often, in the same day, I will run sessions that are techy with most people behind screens, then transition to facilitating a Design Thinking workshop where no laptops are present and attendees are up moving and thinking on their feet. Which sessions do you think people learn more from? Most conferences provide presenter’s resources on their website, or presenters share afterwards, so you don’t have to scramble to record or find everything being discussed. Attend with a simple notepad and pen and truly be present during the sessions. Even techy sessions are going to go at breakneck speed and you are going to feel that you are drinking from a firehose, so listen attentively, and jot down insights to follow up on later on your laptop.

9. Hack Monday: In each session, approach with the mindset of “Hacking Monday”. Ask yourself how can I apply this to something that can make meaningful gains in learning on Monday. Launch early, start small, and iterate throughout. Too often we wait to make a change until the conditions are perfect, or until we have more time, and that time never comes.


10. Bring a Water Bottle: Bottled water is wasteful and conferences tend to facilitate this consumption all too easily. Staying hydrated is also essential to being attentive and staving off fatigue so make sure you are ready to maximize your Edu conference experience in optimal condition all while making a minimal impact on the environment

Google Apps for Education Summit Bakersfield 2015 Take Aways

Google Apps for Education Summit Bakersfield Takeaways

I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to present at various Edtechteam Global Summits featuring Google Apps for Education and am continually impressed with the willingness of teachers to commit their weekends to learning for their students. They arrive with smiles on their faces and model what engaged learners look like. The most rewarding thing for me, though, is the opportunity to learn as well, and this reinforces my belief that learning is social. In efforts to remain social and collaborative, I am going to share my biggest takeaways from these events.

1.  This was shared at the demo slam via +Jamie Greason and instantly caught my attention. Mix Max “makes email awesome.Track, automate, and enhance your emails with the essential productivity suite for Gmail and Google Inbox.”

- Track emails accurately

- Set up meetings in an instant

- Save time with email templates

- Schedule emails to be sent later


2. Trying is Winning: I finally had the chance to experience Breakout Edu, facilitated by +Mark Hammonds, which is the brainchild of +James Sanders and applies the concept of Escape rooms to education. This was the only session which was run during every session slot at the GAFE Summit Bakersfield, and every session it was full. As you can see on the @BreakoutEDU twitter feed, everyone has a blast. The collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking needed to complete the challenge is exactly what our students need to prepare them for the real world. Immediately I ordered two BreakoutEdu kits to start exploring the concept with our teachers and to start developing beta kits.

3.Community is King: Whenever a group assembles, a community is formed and in the world today these are created and dissolved almost at the same rate. What is remarkable, though, is that like-minded people can connect and learn from each other immediately. Furthermore, through social media, we can continue the conversation beyond the time we're together. Although I am aware of this, and this is not a new concept, it is quite easily lost when you are presenting and participating at a Tech Conference with educators who are interested in the next big tool which will redefine their practice.