Author Archives: TechnoLaurie

TechnoLaurie

About TechnoLaurie

Laurie Gerard, Research and Development - Laurie Gerard is responsible for the research and development center at John Knox Christian School (JKCS). Many years ago, TechnoKids Inc. formed a partnership with the school community to have teachers test our instructional materials. This relationship ensures that the projects are developmentally appropriate, meaningful to students, integrate into the curriculum, and have clear instructions. Laurie works with the staff and students at JKCS to help them operate their technology program. Her duties include curriculum support, computer lab maintenance, and upkeep of the network and server. As a key member of the Information Technology Committee at the school she provides advice regarding the technology program. Her devotion to the school community and their technology program makes her an invaluable member to our team. Laurie's contribution to the blog includes entries about the challenges of integrating technology in a school environment. The technical issues she overcomes related to hardware, software, and networking will be passed on to you in the form of practical strategies. In addition, she writes about the real-world problems faced by a school as they struggle to offer a quality technology program with a limited budget.

TechnoKids and Google Classroom

What Is Google Classroom?

TechnoKids and Google Classroom work very well together! Google Classroom is a free web service developed for schools by Google. It was designed to simplify the creation, distribution, and grading of assignments without the need for paper. Now, paired with TechnoKids Technology Projects, you’re good to go!

TechnoKids and Google Classroom

We recently set up our own Google Classroom to try it out. We quickly discovered how easily TechnoKids and Google Classroom work together. Attaching a TechnoKids PDF workbook file to a new Class assignment was very easy.  We found that along with a few instructions, students were able to answer questions electronically in the document and open a template file in a Google App like Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Drawings. It was not difficult to attach newly created documents or additional files.

Google Classroom icon

Submitting completed assignments is also quick and easy. The teacher can review the completed work, assign a grade, and offer any comments directly to the student.

Getting Started

To use TechnoKids with Google Classroom, you will need to add a Chrome extension to your browser. This allows users to annotate the TechnoKids PDF worksheet files directly in the browser, save the changes, and submit them for grading. We suggest using either Kami or XODO extensions.

What You Need to Know

The first thing you need to do is create a Class in Google Classroom. Add your students simply by sharing a class code with the class or invite students by email. We found the former was the quickest where the student joined the class by simply typing in the code. The latter requires the student to open the email invite and click the Join link.

Next, you’ll need to upload the TechnoKids project resources to your Class Drive folder. This puts all the resources you’ll need to create assignments in one convenient spot.

Now you’re ready to create an assignment and issue it to your class. Open the first TechnoKids project assignment and read the instructions. Determine if the student needs to add answers to this document, do they need an added template file to complete the activity, or are they merely going to follow the directions to create a new document in Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, or Drawings? Next, create a new assignment in your Class, attach the worksheet and any other necessary files. Set the user permission to give the student access to read or write to the file(s). Give the assignment a grade value and a due date, then place it into the TechnoKids project category.

The student opens the assignment in their Class to follow the instructions and complete the activity. The convenient Turn in option will alert the teacher when the assignment is ready for grading.

All in all, we found that our resource materials work very well with Google Classroom.

Support

If you think you still need some help getting started with TechnoKids and Google Classroom, we have put together some supportive Q&A’s here.

Watch Our Google Classroom playlist!

YouTube logo

Batch Conversion to Change the File Type of Photos

Do you need to resize a batch of photos? Do you want to quickly convert multiple pictures to a new file type? You can!

You can resize a batch of photos using Photo Gallery if you have Windows 7 or Windows 8. However, at this time you can only convert the file type to JPG. Which is annoying! I posted to the Microsoft forum and received a response to use IrfanView.

Great advice! IrfanView is easy to use and can do everything I want. Follow the instructions below to batch convert your picture files. To learn more about this program view IrfanView Frequently Asked Questions.

How to Batch Convert Photos using IrfanView

  1. Download and install IrfanView.
  2. Copy the photos you want to convert into a folder.
  3. From the program window click File and select Batch Conversion/Rename.
  4. Select the files you want to convert:
    1. From the Look in: section, click the arrow and locate the folder with the photos.
    2. Double click the folder to view all the files.
    3. Click Add all to select all the files OR select a photo and click Add.
      select photos to batch convert

      Locate the folder with the photos you want to convert.

  5. In the Batch conversion settings area, choose the Output format from the drop down menu. In this case I wanted to convert my JPG files to BMP.
  6. select file type

    Which file type do you want to convert the photos?
    Set the Output format.

  7. If you also want to reduce the file size:
    1. In the Batch conversion settings area, tick the Use advanced options checkbox and then click Advanced.
    2. In the RESIZE section, set the options.
    3. Click OK.
    4. resize a batch of photos

      Select the options for editing the batch of photos such as crop, size, color, rotation, and more!

  8. In the Output directory for result files section, click Browse to choose a location for the converted photos.
    Click OK.
  9. select a folder

    Browse to select a folder to place your newly converted images. NOTE: It is a good idea to have already created the folder you want to use.


    Note: I made this the same folder as my original photos. Since I was changing the format my originals would stay intact. If I was going to just make changes to the originals (leaving them as JPG) I would likely create a subfolder to put them in. After all I would not want to lose my originals

  10. Click Start Batch
  11. When done, click Exit batch.
    batch conversion of photos

  12. Close the program and go to the folder where you converted the photos. That’s it – your done!

You will have to check with your system administrator if you do not have permission to download and install programs on your own. But for a freebie I thought this software worked quite well. It was simple and easy to use and accomplished the task I needed.

Now, I have an excellent option to use while I wait for Microsoft to add batch conversion (to something other than JPG) to Photo Gallery on its next update.

If you want to know more about converting photos refer to my blog article Resizing Images Without Losing Quality.

Setting Group Policies to Work with SkyDrive

Are your students unable to print or download files from SkyDrive at your school? Ask your system administrator to adjust your group policy settings by adding several URLs as a trusted source.

Please note, these instructions are written for Server 2003 (Yes, I know that’s OLD). If you have a newer server the instructions might be somewhat different, however the URLs will be the same.

NOTE: THIS SHOULD BE DONE BY YOUR SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR.

You can open your Active Directory Users and Computers’ control panel by navigating to it on your Start menu by going to Program Files > Administrative Tools > Active Directory Users and Computers.

That will open a console that looks something like this:

active-directory

If you want the policy to apply to your entire domain, right click at the top of the console. The domain is specified by an icon of three computers. If you want to apply the policy to another group or organizational unit right click on that instead.

Choose Properties from the context menu and then you will see the screen below:

properties

Click on the Group Policy tab and then click the Open button. This is called the Group Policy Management tool. The organizational unit you previously selected will already be highlighted.

Right click on it and choose Create and Link a GPO Here

group management policy

That will take you to the place where you can name the policy. Name it something that will make it easily identifiable. Then click OK.

trusted sites

You have just created your policy. Now you need to define the settings that you want to trickle down to your clients. Locate your policy in the right pane and right click on it. Choose Edit to get started.

edit

Now you need to drill down to the settings that you want to set. In the left pane, click the + sign to expand each group as follows: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Internet Explorer > Internet Control Panel > Security Page and then double click Site to Zone Assignment List in the right pane as you can see below.

zone assignment

After you double click on Site to Zone Assignment List you will see a window to enable the settings and configure it. Click enabled. Then click Show. On the Show Contents screen, click Add. By clicking add, you add URLs and specify what zone you want them to be placed in. You can also add wildcards to factor in variations of the URL.

Add the following URLs (one at a time) to allow your students to be able to view their SkyDrive documents as a PDF file, print the PDF, and download the Word file to their computer.

https://*.livefilestore.com/storageservice/passport/auth.aspx/* (this address uses wildcards * to include multiple portions of the url) (NOTE: This URL allows a file to be downloaded)

https://d.docs.live.net (NOTE: This URL allows a file to be downloaded)

https://word-view.officeapps.live.com/wv/WordViewer/request.pdf (NOTE: This URL permits printing)

add item

The number 2 denotes the number of the zone. In this case it is the trusted zone. Microsoft breaks down the settings as follows:

  1. Intranet zone – sites on your local network.
  2. Trusted Sites zone – sites that have been added to your trusted sites.
  3. Internet zone – sites that are on the Internet.
  4. Restricted Sites zone – sites that have been specifically added to your restricted sites.

After clicking OK you can wait for the 15 minute default refresh of Group Policy or you can run gpupdate.exe from the Run command on any workstation to see if it worked. Optionally you can also restart the workstations to force the update.

Your students will receive a series of prompts when they log into Skydrive and open a file. They must click Yes to be able to print and download.

OneDrive in the Classroom

OneDrive – Easily share or upload your files to this free online storage

OneDrive in Education

Share files with your students using OneDrive.

What is OneDrive?

Windows Live OneDrive is part of Microsoft’s Windows Live range of online services. OneDrive is a file storage and sharing service that allows users to upload files to the computing cloud, then access them from a web browser. With a Microsoft account you get 7 GB of storage space for FREE! (Extra storage available for purchase).

With OneDrive you get the following:

Installing an optional desktop app lets you synchronize that storage with the hard drive on your PC where you can manage files using Windows Explorer. Optionally, you can open your OneDrive account with web access and upload the desired file(s). This may be the best option for use with students on a managed network.

Backup, Sync, and Remote Access

The most common use for OneDrive is personal file backup. Keeping your important files in a folder that is continually synchronized with an online storage service gives you a backup security blanket. If your local drive crashes, you can recover those files quickly and easily.

Another benefit is that OneDrive allows you to access files easily from multiple devices. If you have a desktop PC and a notebook, for example, you can start working on a file in your office; any changes you make are synchronized to the online copy. Then head home, grab your notebook and pick up where you left off—as long as you have access to an Internet connection. Since OneDrive allows access from mobile devices, you can even accomplish the same task with a tablet or a mobile phone.

Document Creation and Editing

OneDrive offers the ability to create and edit a variety of document types (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote) directly in a web browser using Web Apps. Online viewing and editing means you don’t need to worry about whether you’ll have the right app installed—if you can open your online file storage location in a browser, you can get your work done.

This feature lets you easily share a file with another person (or a group of people). So if you’re passing around a presentation or a spreadsheet, each member of the team can make changes and add comments.

File Sharing

The ability to set up sharing for specific folders and control access to those folders on a per-user basis makes it easy to share files online with co-workers and your students and/or their parents.

Are you planning an event in your classroom? Maybe it is almost graduation time and you need to confer with a few other teachers in your school. Using OneDrive, you can create a Word document, PowerPoint presentation or even an Excel spreadsheet and share it amongst others. Giving them the option to edit the file will allow them to add comments or even add to the document. You don’t need to worry that all people in the group have the same version of PowerPoint or Word, by using the Web Apps, it is all the same. Even if the browser is different the apps are the same.

At the end of the school year our Grade 7 students put together a presentation for the graduating Grade 8 class following the step-by-step instructions in TechnoTribute. Sometimes the number of Grade 7 students is less than the number of Grade 8’s and students need to collaborate to make sure there is a presentation for every grad. By creating a presentation and sharing it in OneDrive, the document can easily be edited by more than one user. Each student can add their slide and save the changes. The presentation can then be opened in the desktop application once back at school where it can be finished by putting on the final touches.

This is a great way for students to work together when they can’t physically be in the same place. With hockey practice and piano lessons all taking place after school and on weekends, sometimes it is difficult to get groups together to work on a project. This would alleviate that and allow students to do their part when it is convenient.

This is also a great way to provide homework sheets to students that may be absent for extended periods. As long as they have an email address and access to the internet they can view the files and keep up to date.

Photo Uploads and Galleries

Sharing photos in OneDrive is as simple as creating a folder and adding the content. Sharing them out is also quick and easy. Just select the folder that contains the pictures and click Share; add the emails of the desired recipients and you’re good to go.

This would be a great way to share the latest photos of the class field trip or recent school event with parents. (Be sure you have permission from parents to share photos of their children within the school community).