Google Sites getting a makeover at last!

Google Sites must be the forgotten child of Google Apps. While almost all of Google's services have been given a lovely makeover with nice new functionality, Google Sites has been left in its functional but reasonably outdated state for quite some time. Things like adding galleries or decent blogs or anything remotely modern looking have been missing for quite some time. However, good news is on the way with an all new Google Sites. Some Google Teachers have been lucky enough to have a sneak preview and it looks like the new Google Sites is going to be finally get the makeover it needed. I have only seen a video that was posted by a teacher on YouTube, which I'm pasting here below. The video shows that the new Google Sites looks very similar to the new Google Forms, which is good news. It seems...

Virtual Reality and Primary Education

It's probably every teacher's worst nightmare: the children are plugged into virtual reality headgear and someone else is giving them their lessons while the teacher is redundantly hanging about or simply a bystander while the lesson is going on. Although the scenario is as unlikely as any virtual primary school teacher has so far proven to be, we have seen the benefits of utilising virtual learning environments such as YouTube, Minecraft, the Flipped Classrom and so on to compliment what is already happening in schools. Therefore, is there any argument for using Virtual Reality in some lessons? Right now, there are a few options for Virtual Reality: Google Cardboard is the main one as it is incredibly cheap and Google have already started making education content through Google Expeditions. Samsung have their VR headset too, which works with...

Two Line Tuesday

Michael Noonan wants to give all children an iPad each as part of his election manifesto. Noonan is  clearly either trying not to get re-elected or he's trying to annoy Microsoft, Google and all the other companies who make tablets.

Spending Summer with a Chromebook

Technology moves quickly. It only seems like yesterday, everyone wanted an Interactive Whiteboard. Next there were slates, wireless mice, visualisers, netbooks and, most recently, tablets. The iPad, Android tablets and Microsoft Surface haven't had the same impact as Interactive Whiteboards but they seem to be more and more common in primary schools. However, just as we were settling down to these new device, along came the Chromebook from Google. Right now, there are no national schools in Ireland using them but they are huge in America, with most schools moving towards them over tablets. I really wanted to try one out for myself and thankfully, Paul McEvoy from Baker Security & Networks, who are the recommended resellers of Google Chromebooks, was kind enough to lend me one for the summer holidays to see what I thought. The Google...

No longer simply “certified”, now an “innovator”

Google have decided to change their Google Certified Teachers into Certified Innovators. I'm always suspicious at someone who has a title with the word "evangelist" or "innovator" in it but it looks like I am an owner of one of these titles. I don't feel so bad as I don't get paid for the title but I won't be introducing myself as a "certified innovator." Anyway, in Ireland, I think most people who think you would need to be "certified" (in its other meaning) to describe yourself as innovative.

Where Am I?

Today was the first ever national principals' Teachmeet in Ireland, which was hosted brilliantly by principal, Kathleen Byrne. I'll be writing more about the event, which was attended by over 100 delegates in a later blog post. I gave a very short 3 minute presentation called: "Where Am I?" and I promised to share a bit more on The idea behind the title "Where Am I?" was based on one of the many questions I have to ask myself when I start work each day. On a normal day, I am needed to do morning supervision in school but often I might have an early meeting with a teacher or parent or I may even have to be somewhere else in the country. My talk was about how technology helps me to plan what I am doing in work, when I'm doing it and where I should be! I use quite a lot of tools to do this but wanted to focus on just...

3 Ways to host online enrollments for your school

I think my school was the first to offer online enrollment forms in Ireland back in 2008 and we're now into our 7th year of offering this service. Around half of all our enrollments into our school come through our online form and the feedback we have received from parents is excellent. We use Gravity Forms for our enrollment form but there are some other options out there that are just as good and potentially even better. Gravity Forms is a plugin for Wordpress, which my school's web site is run on. It is a subscription-based service but is incredibly powerful and allows us to create flexible and complex forms. Thankfully, we don't need any of the complicated stuff and its main advantage for me is that it ties into our web site beautifully. Many schools that have started up online enrollment forms use Google Forms, which is a really...

CESI Conference Sneak Preview

With only 6 weeks to go until the annual CESI Conference, (hashtag is #cesicon), CESI have released a "taster" of the programme for February 28th. The big pull for the conference is the quality of keynote speaker that CESI manage to get! This year is no different with John Davitt and Tim Rylands & Sarah Nield. [caption id="attachment_11221" align="alignright" width="323"] CESI 2015[/caption] As always, there's a vast array of workshops and talks including Beebots, BYOD, cybersafety, digital school newspapers, Fís film, flipped classroom, Google Classroom, Kano, Khan Academy, Makey Makey, MATHletes, MOOCs, Programming and robotics. The full programme on the Conference Website will be published soon. You can register for the conference by clicking here. Rozz and I have not missed a CESI conference in over 10 years...

Why your IWB might be dim

I recently received a question via the contact form on the web site looking for advice about Interactive Whiteboards. The question went something along the lines of: in my classroom I have a IWB and projector. When I switch it on, the picture is so faint that the children cannot really see what is on display. Any advice, tips or suggestions would be very welcome about how to improve our situation please? Here are some ideas as to why a projected image might be faint. One possibility is that the projector bulb might be on its way out so it might simply need a new bulb. However, before doing that, it may be that the lamp settings are set too low. The ideal Lumens (measurement of light) for a projector bulb is 2000 Lumens for an Irish classroom as we tend to have more natural light than our UK friends. However, there was a craze a number of...

Tablet Review October 2014

Almost everyone is interested in buying sets of tablets for their schools these days. 2014 has been the year where they are starting the gain a lot of attention with primary schools. Like the world of Interactive Whiteboards a few years ago, there are a lot of choices out there so I've decided to take a look at what's on offer out there at the moment and give a review. If you think I should be reviewing a tablet not listed below, let me know and it will be added in the next review if I can get my hands on it. The following tablets are listed in order of my personal preference and prices are approximate. 1. Microsoft Surface Pro 3 - €819 The latest tablet from Microsoft is a powerhouse of a machine that runs Microsoft Windows 8.1, similar to what most modern laptops run. This means you can install all your favourite programs that are on your...