About Preferences

February 16, 2018

no-printerThis week in my no printing saga I’d like to talk briefly about printing preferences.  In the Heath brothers book “Switch” they emphasized shaping a path and building habits.  With this quick tip you can almost effortlessly be printing less.  If you use Chrome as your browser (and why wouldn’t you?) you can setup your print preference to save as a pdf rather than send it to a printer.  Here’s what the preference screen looks like:

save as pdf screenshot

By saving this as a preference, anytime that I’m in Chrome and especially using Google docs, all I have to do is hit Command P on my keyboard and then hit return and voila!  I’ve saved my doc as a pdf on my desktop.   This makes it an easy path-just a few keystrokes, and forms a habit to save rather than print.  And I think it goes without saying that it’s easier to search for a particular pdf file than a drawer full of paper or, even worse, a pile of paper.  Happy saving everyone!

Paper Savers Week 6-No Tech

February 9, 2018

printer-37270_640Through this year of avoiding printing and perhaps paper altogether I will highlight my high tech, low tech and no tech solutions.  This week is a no tech solution. I’ll talk about utilizing whiteboards. I know it sounds “old school” and could be seen as a copout to using technology, but I want to model all kinds of options for others to consider.

As the Culture Champion on my floor at work I’m responsible for, among other things, celebrating birthdays, keeping the refrigerator cleaned weekly and advertising culture events in the building.  I used to print out fliers, announcements, and signup sheets. My boss, Amanda, gave me the idea to deploy whiteboards that could be erased.  I picked up some inexpensive ones from Target.  The toughest part was figuring out how to mount them.  On the backs I used duct tape and string.  For the bulletin board I used push-pins with hooks that I also found at Target.  On the fridge I used one of those removable 3M hooks since the curve of the door wasn’t working for magnets.  Finally, I found a large whiteboard that had already been mounted in one of our stairwells.  Surprisingly, no one had been using it for announcements.  As soon as mine was written, another department took over the rest of the space.  Rather than  be annoyed, I was joyful that someone else saw the opportunity to save paper!  Here are some photos of the whiteboards in use.  NOTE:  The blurring of last names, via photoshop, is intentional.

 

Taking Off with RocketBook

February 2, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 11.17.39 AMI’ve really revved up my year without paper/printing with the purchase of a Rocketbook.  It is rapidly allowing me to leave paper behind. This quick promo video gives you the idea behind the innovation:

I’ve been using it for a month now and have found no downsides.  It has been scanning and erasing flawlessly and everyone seems interested in it when I use it in front of them. The book costs between 20 and 30 dollars, but the app is free.  I’ve set it up to send material to my work email, personal email, work Google folder and my team’s Slack channel.  By purchasing the larger format book, I can also scan paper documents in an instant.  I’ve scanned documents, notes and even objects!  This is a major game-changer for anyone wanted to save paper like me and my team.  We’re thinking about giving them out as gifts to teachers and leaders!  Here’s the process:

I set up my scan destinations.

destination assignment

I decide what I want to scan.

Handwritten erasable notes, scribed with a “Frixion” pen:

notes taken

A three-dimensional object:

3d object to scan

or even a document (not obscuring the destination choices at the bottom:

document to scan

I open the free app on my smartphone and take a photo.  It automatically goes to all the locations I’ve selected with checkmarks:

destinations selected

Voila!  It’s arrived at its destinations!

So,  what do you think?  Any questions?  Are you using a Rocketbook?

Schoology Tool Tip

January 26, 2018

contactI wanted to take a quick diversion from my Year Without Paper theme to share a valuable tool tip in Schoology.  Ironically, the tool is called ToolTip.  Perhaps its generic name is why I forgot about it 😦

When composing a page in Schoology you can add clarifications or definitions to words by using this useful tool.  Here is what it looks like in action:

tooltip in word sonnet

Here are the steps to use it for yourself:

  1. Create a page in your Schoology course, make sure you are in editing mode.
  2. After entering text, find the word you want to define or clarify.
  3. Select the word by clicking and dragging over it.
  4. Click on “Insert Media”.                                                                                                                      tooltip pulldown
  5. At the bottom of this list, click on “ToolTip”  (it may look grayed out, but it is active).
  6. In the pop up window type the text you want to appear as a definition/clarification.       tooltip checkbox
  7. Click on the checkbox.  You’re done!

Happy Schoologizing everyone!

The Year of No Paper Starts

January 19, 2018

printer-37270_640I announced to my team about my plan to go for a year without using paper.  More specifically, not printing anything.  But wherever I can go without paper at all or use only hard recycled paper, I will do so.  My team members have surprised me with their enthusiasm and support.  On my birthday they wrapped a gift for me in recycled post-it notes.

gift pakcage wrapped in used paper

They also surprised me with this sign:

Dee w no paper sign

 

My next steps in the year of no paper include:

  • Blogging here with my progress, tips and observations.
  • Leveraging the No Paper Tribe that I’m forming at DPS and using the books Tribes and Switch for strategies.
  • Using high tech, low tech, and no tech solutions.

See you next time on this paperless wordpress!

Moving Away from Paper-Early Moves

December 15, 2017

367488-fujitsu-scansnap-ix500I started down the path away from using paper earlier this year when I took two file drawers-one at home and one at work-scanned all the important documents and filed them away on hard drives and Google drives.  Part of my motivation was to free up some space and the other was to make content searching more efficient.

A larger motivator happened in the middle of the year when I learned that the copiers/printers on my floor alone at work print 500,000 copies a month.  This made me think that my school district must be spending millions of dollars each year on printing.  So, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could save money by printing less?

I read two books recently (Tribes by Seth Godin and Switch by the Heath Brothers) that are sparking my thinking on how to lead/create change in my organization.  The change I want to happen is to reduce the use of paper.  I will be posting here on my blog my strategies and progress toward this goal, and I will make the goal specific and attainable.

I’m looking at leveraging Google docs for handouts, interactive notes and personalization.  At my face-to-face workshops I’ve been using a Google doc with a basic outline for attendees to take notes as a group.  The doc also has resource links at the end which serve as handouts and future references.

This week I had a handout with fill-in boxes to give to my team.  Rather than print  out 12 copies I used the copy feature on Google docs.  I highly recommend this practice to everyone.  Here are the simple steps:

  1.  Create your Google Doc
  2.  Setup up sharing so anyone with the link can edit
  3.  Copy the link
  4.  The end of the link will look like this: J_M/edit?usp=sharing    CHANGE IT  to look   like this: J_M/copy
  5.  Share the new link with /copy at the end.  Users will be forced to make their own copy of the document!

I hope you get a chance to try out this copying method.  I look forward to your comments and suggestions as I set about to make institutional change around printing and the power of leveraging electronic documents.

Online Course Design

December 1, 2017

Theo_van_Doesburg_Composition_VII_(the_three_graces)As the resident online learning expert of my team I’ve been asked to create an intake form/document with essential questions to ask clients when they approach us to design an online course.  Looking through my books and internet resources I did not find any comprehensive form or guide to fit our needs. So I went about creating one on my own and then receiving additional input from two of my teammates.  The resulting document is here for you to use and adapt for your own needs.

You’ll notice that the information we seek is both nominative and design related.  We separated them in to categories so that clients could see the overall logic of our questions.  There are also practical questions relating to ownership, timeline(s) and roles/responsibilities.

One important thing we learned in the process of working with a recent client is to give them this document to peruse ahead of time, otherwise it is overwhelming to answer all of them in an intake interview.  We also let the client know that we didn’t need answers to everything right away since it is a process and development of a course takes time.

I’m sure this document will change with practice over time and if you’re involved with online course design I welcome your comments on it.

Google App Rescue

November 7, 2017

google app GMy coworkers came to me with a problem: We needed to host four webinars for school principals but had limited space in each.  Could I find a way (with minimal work and communication to leaders) to limit registration?  Google apps came to my rescue, or rather I went to Google apps for my rescue-I was in the driver seat after all.

The first thing I did was create a Google doc explaining the process to sign up and showing the dates and times for the webinars to choose from:

initial google doc without links

Then I created a separate Google form for each date and time.  I used the copy feature to save time in producing four of them.  On the Google doc I linked to the corresponding form:

google doc links for dates

Back on the Google forms I installed the add-on “Form Limiter”.  On the Form Limiter I set the number of attendees I would allow in each webinar.  When the form/registration was full the person would receive a message referring them back to the Google doc to choose another date and time.  I was also notified when the limit was reached and I went back to the Google doc and eliminated that choice for future responders.

form limiter pop up settings

Voila!  It worked pretty well.  I just hope the add-on is there the next time I need it.  I’ve seen add-ons come and go on Google apps.

Would this solution work for you?  Are there other ways to solve this problem in the future?  Let me know via comments.  I’d love to hear from you.

Open to New Webinar Tools

September 14, 2017

ZoomLogoSmallIn my career I’ve tried to keep myself tool agnostic-not sticking to a single tool in my software box.  When it comes to webinars it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Adobe Connect for all its professional features.  But this year I’ve been using two other webinar platforms for certain situation- Zoom and Big Blue Button.  I’ll share my experiences with them here.

Big Blue Button is the webinar tool that comes with our current LMS-Schoology.  I like the fact that it’s available to everyone who logs in and they can run as many webinars as they like.  I think it’s particularly useful for teachers to use as office hours or help sessions for their students.  It has a fairly intuitive interface.  The main drawbacks that I see are 1. In our version, recordings only last for 7 days and 2. The screenshare function has too many hurdles for most users to overcome (clunky plugins).

I’ve used Zoom webinars in several different settings.  For a large scale meeting with almost 200 principals we bought a large webinar subscription.  For smaller meetings, 8-20 people, I’ve used their (mostly) free meeting version.  It has an intuitive interface and pretty good audio and video quality.  In particular I like the phone call in numbers that attendees can use for audio only.  I also really like how attendees can adjust the windows/frames to personalize their experience.  The main drawbacks is that it doesn’t let me load and share files ahead of time like the way I setup a lobby room in Adobe Connect.  I hope to figure out a workaround in Zoom for this function.

So, with these additional tools now at my disposal I meet with people planning webinars and discuss their specific needs/objectives.  After that needs assessment I will choose/recommend the webinar tool that best fits the wishes of the users and try not to play favorites.

Top Five Takeaways from Schoology Next 2017 Conference

August 17, 2017

Schoology Next BadgeAs most of you know, after I attend a conference I share my top takeaways.  I was very fortunate to attend the Schoology Next Conference in Chicago this summer.  Here are my top five discoveries:

1. Great tips on Gamification in PD

Jared Lopatin led a session with more tips than I could imagine.  Having us join the gaming in his course we first were divided into teams by responding to an Egg Sort Quiz in Schoology.  Based on our question response, we were placed on a team with a unique name.  Design tips from Jared include:

  • Using teams helps keep a social element that tempers individual competition
  • Use the word “challenge” instead of “assignment”
  • Go big with points, think 100’s for any activity, more points means more excitement
  • Create a video intro to each challenge
  • Use individual and team leaderboards
  • Don’t display who is on which team so that participant and to instruct with each other to find out
  • Award bonus points for activities like the discussion boards.
  • The weekly discussion boards became extremely active due to fun questions/challenges.

Given Jared’s advice, I may gamify one of my future courses.

2. How to prevent students from eluding the post first before reading other posts restriction.

A good control feature to elicit original posts on a discussion board is to set them so that students must post first before seeing the posts of fellow classmates.  I learned that students were eluding this by posting anything(even a single word), reading others, and then deleting their initial post.  To prevent students from doing this, set the discussion board so that students can’t edit/delete their posts, and let them know about this additional accountability setting, so that they’re not surprised by any consequences.

3. Using Schoology during F2F workshops

Throughout the conference we referenced a Schoology course that contained folders for every session.  This was a great way to find/share/save resources and save a lot of paper too! Folders contained slide presentations (Google Slides), links, videos and handouts.  In addition to just storage/reference, presenters also used the poll features to do live polling of the audience, and discussion boards for ideation, sharing, and questions that could be answered afterward in followups after the conference.  I’m still participating in some of the discussion boards weeks after the end of the conference!  I highly recommend everyone create a Schoology course for every face-to-face workshop you facilitate.  AT DPS we’re doing this for an upcoming professional development day where I’m giving a workshop.  I have a folder ready for all my material and activities.

4. Adult Learning Theory Applied in PD

Gina Harman and Rachel Gorton gave great examples of how they design blended courses.  They focus on the Why-telling what the benefits will be for teachers and their students.  They model adult learning principles by letting teacher choose their own path, including cohort collaboration and sustaining their course over nine months.  They’re fond of using simulations that put the learners at risk in situations.  Then they learn through feedback (automated in the simulation) and in the end receive digital badges and certificates to reward their achievement.  You should know that I’m a fan of digital badges/microcredentials.

5. Back Channel app  backchannelchat.com 

I’m a strong believer in the power of backchannel chats, and was so happy to find this app.  You can find it by going to your home page in Schoology and looking on the left for App Center.  Click on this and scroll down, find Backchannel app and add it to your courses. It will say “starting at $15” but educators can get a FREE account.  This app solves the problem of how and where to host real time chat and get backchannel discussions going.  What I really like about this app is not only does it fully integrate with Schoology, but it also has K-12 friendly features of teacher moderations, profanity filter, upvoting, teacher pinning, search and teacher locks.