Since switching over our domain to Google Apps Education Edition in March of this year, the transition has been very smooth. Gmail and Chat provide seamless day to day communication and while the only PD has focused on Gmail, Docs is taking off on its own accord as staff see the benefits and ease at which they can share documents for a more collaborative approach to school admin and planning. For example, the notion of one staff member being solely in charge of the duty roster is gone as the ownership of this is shared and staff can edit and negotiate independently. Can’t wait to see how the next step of rolling out school wide use of Calendars is received.
However another bonus of the App package is having our very own Google Video site. At this stage the Education Edition allows for us to have 10GB of storage for videos. While that does not sound like heaps, the average size of our students’ podcasts or short movies is between 2-3MB once exported, so that’s about 3300 videos we can store, for free. Not only free, but in a completely secure, safe and add free environment.
For our portfolios we have been using Teacher Tube to host and store our video content which has been proving reasonably successful. I have blogged about this before here. But TeacherTube has just completely revamped their site and now includes storage for photos, audio and documents. While this is a good improvement, the site revamp changed all the embed codes for the video content in my students’ portfolios. Grrrrrrrr. Should I just accept this as the changing nature of Web 2.0 environments? Grrrrrr. Regardless, after this happened, TeacherTube ceased to be my preferred option. The good news is that Google rolled out their Video hosting service to their Apps Education Edition.
So what are the other features, pretty much the usual video storage stuff…
- You can upload all native Apple video formats such as .mov and .m4v
- You can embed into your blog or wiki
- You can restrict which users within your domain can upload video content. Google specify that it should only be staff
- Your domain admins can edit/delete any uploaded video
- Videos can be shared with individuals, with groups, anyone within or out of your domain with just viewing rights or collaborative privileges, just like a Google doc.
So does it work well? Sure does. Here’s an example thanks to my new entrant students from 9 years ago!
With the first term of teaching all wrapped up it is time to reflect on how the eportfolios have performed to date. After making the decision to move from our self-hosted install of WordPress MU to Edublogs, the technical side of the move has been reasonably seamless. There has been some new learning for both the students and teachers but these will become more automated and natural the more the actions are performed. Some how to tutorial links are provided below as well.
Flickr has been extensively used to host any images that are embedded in the eportfolios. The great thing about this is that you can embed images that you have set as viewable only by you in Flickr. This allows you to keep images private if necessary. Uploading to Flickr is incredibly easy especially if you have iLife ’09 which comes complete with iPhoto Flickr integration where you can upload and set permissions all with the click of the mouse. Also we can bulk upload scanned artwork, draft learning, planning etc. direct from our photocopier to Flickr making it easy to get learning online.
If you are interested a worksheet/tutorial is here for you to see the process.
We have used TeacherTube for a couple of years now to embed video content into our school blog and now we are using it for eportfolios as well. This is generally going well but is not the best solution to use. Firstly, making videos private in TeacherTube makes them unable to be embedded so video content is public. Any video not suitable for public viewing is naturally not shared in this way. TeacherTube has so far proven to be safe with no undesireable content seen, unlike YouTube which has caused us a few problems in the past. TeacherTube is also a bit if a pain for a Mac user as most of the video content produced and shared through iLife is either in a .m4v or .m4a format which is not accepted. This can create an extra step in getting content online by having to convert it to a .mov, .mp4, .avi etc. There are other sites out there that will accpet the default Mac formats but these may compromise the relative safety of the TeacherTube environment. Hopefully the soon to be released new revamped TeacherTube site will change this…
Worksheet/tutorial is here.
SlideShare is proving to be easy for the students to use to get their iWork Keynotes online. While we could produce these using Google Docs or SlideRocket and embed them, Keynote is such a great program that the students are so familiar with that it just makes sense to maintain using it. Sure you loose any fancy animations when uploading to SlideShare but as I keep asking my students, do whizzing words and spinning pictures actually add to your learning and sharing of information? Apart from the same privacy issues as mentioned above for TeacherTube, SlideShare is working perfectly for embedding content.
Worksheet/tutorial is here.
Finally, students have also been sharing their draft and reworked versions of their writing through their eportfolios by pasting in their Google Docs documents. While pasting in their writing in this way is not perfect, it is working well enough and there were just not enough hours in the day to take the students through the process of cross posting their docs to their blog. Maybe next term.
So that is the technical side of the progress to date. The next post will discuss parent engagement in the commenting/feedback/feedforward process.