Thursday, 22 August 2013

Media and the College Media Drive

Media, media everywhere, but where exactly?

The old Media Drive (used to be in the doverstudentfs drive) has been rendered obsolete by a nice new shiny, and most importantly HUGE Media Drive.

Google Drive should still be your first stop for everything, but especially for longer/larger videos, and collections of photos, the Media Drive (while on campus) is a lot faster to access than Google Drive.

This drive is available to all students as well, so ideal if you need to make video resources available for them.

You get to it the same way you do any of the shared drives [Finder > Go > Connect to Server], only the address is smb:// 

AVA will be using this drive to leave media for you this year (such as pupil photos, arts festival videos etc) rather than the old shared drives. You will also no doubt find other material or relevance as the year goes on.

This is not permanent storage, as it will be wiped at the end of each academic year, so for video you want to keep permanently, make sure you back it up to an external drive over the holidays, you can always put it straight back on when you get back.

For more on video and what to use for what and and why, and when, go to this link:

For more on managing images and conserving drive space by being smarter in how you size images, click here:

You can always find the address to this server, and other college Media resources from the Portal.

UWCSEA Media Centre AKA Asset-bank

You will also find a link here to a great collection of UWCSEA images—a college archive that has been carefully curated by the Communications team over the years, all are searchable and can be filtered by campus/college/school etc. 

Comms also have a small collection of images that are particularly handy for Presentations  which I've placed on a Google Drive here, for ease of access. These can also be found on the asset bank.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Take a minute (or few) to pick up an ICT skill or 3

"We know what we know, we know that there are things we do not know, and we know that there are things we don't know we don't know" 
Donald Rumsfeld (4 Sept 2002) (Woodward, 2004: 171) The initial insight is reportedly Arabic.

You don't know what you don't know - obvious but especially important in ICT, where knowing a certain skill can be the difference between wrestling with a computer for hours, or doing it in minutes with the right tool in the right way.

"He that knows not,
    and knows not that he knows not
        is a fool.
            Shun him
He that knows not,
    and knows  that he knows not
        is a pupil.
            Teach him.
He that knows,
    and knows not that he knows
        is asleep
            Wake him.
He that knows,
    and knows that he knows
        is a teacher.
            Follow him."
(Arabic proverb)

NEIGHBOUR R (1992) The Inner Apprentice London; Kluwer Academic Publishers. p.xvii

But, the common cry is 'I DON'T HAVE TIME' sure - but and it's a big but - you do make time for things that matter, right? 

Well, ICT skills matter, and using this awesome resources, you don't need much time either:

Read more on 'Knowing and not knowing' 
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Back it up.

I often get asked what the best solution is for backing up your data - a question that is best asked BEFORE you lose all of your precious digital memories, but sadly is often asked afterwards.

These days it's not uncommon for a typical family with a couple of kids in Junior School or higher to easily have in excess of 20-30 hours of video footage (still waiting to be edited) and several 1000 images. By the time your kids are ready to graduate it's a safe bet that you can double that - and at that size, chances are it won't all fit on your computer/s hard drive/s - which means you need a way to back up those files AND get them off your computer hard drive.

But first things first.

For storage of images and video you need to use a local computer hard drive, most likely the hard drive of your Mac. And to back this up you should use an external hard drive with Dropbox or Google Drive for everyday files, and Time Machine for everything else.

The problem comes when your local Mac Hard Drive is FULL, and you need to move that media off your Mac, just dumping onto an external drive is not good enough, as if that drive fails, (quite likely in my experience) you lose everything.

You can buy ANY Hard drive, they can all be reformatted on a Mac, using the Disk Utility Application, which will erase the drive and make it Mac (Mac OS Journaled), if you want to use it with Time Machine, or FAT 32 if you don't want to use it with Time Machine, and want to be able to read and write to the drive from a Mac or PC.

If you plug a brand new drive into a Mac, you should get a prompt from Time Machine asking you to format the drive automatically, all you have to say is YES!

If you do use a separate hard drive, make sure that you always have the data in TWO locations, otherwise it's not backed up, just moved. So if your Mac is FULL and you need to make space, this is not a good solution.

The solution for moving data off your HDD completely is to use a 'Hard Drive Enclosure' With a couple of Hard Drives plugged in.This is a 'RAID' set up: a Redundant Array of Independent Disks (redundant meaning, you can afford to have one fail without it being a problem) a big black box ($200) with space for 4 drives to slot in, each drive can hold about 1 TB or more depending on what you buy...

Back in 2013 I bought the Probox 4 Bay for $195, at Sim Lim Square (Best Bargain and I bought two 1.5TB internal drives to slot into it ($100 each), so I still have two spare lots for later expansion...

I make one drive copy the other, so I don't have to keep it on my Mac - remember if the data is not in two places it's not backed up!

Mine looks like this:

And like this when it's open, you can see where the internal drives can be slotted in, just like Lego.
They come in all sorts of shaped and sizes, but they all work the same way, data on one of the drives is copied onto another drive in the same enclosure, so now it IS backed up, and you can free up that space on your Mac.

The process of copying that data from one drive to another can be done automatically, some of the more expensive solutions come with built in software that does this automatically, or you can just do it yourself, by copying data from one to the other manually, a bit tedious, but it gets the job done.

Drobo is a well known brand, well known by geeks anyway.

If you're happy to spend a little more money (this media is priceless after all) Consider a hybrid solution like Amazon S3, mostly because the NAS has integration built in and can use an existing normal amazon store account to manage the storage as well. I'm sure there are others, ideally you want a local, cable connected (reliable) RAID backup, combined with a cloud back up, this might be integrated into the RAID box, or you might set this up separately, see below:

A cheap/easy option is to use Google Photos, unlimited backup is free, but resizes the media, or pay a reasonable amount to store all your media online, without resizing...

If you install the desktop and iOS apps, it will automatically upload ALL your media to your Google account.


If you're confused about sizes of hard-drives, see my other post here. But a guide would be that each internal drive needs to be at least 1 Terabyte, so if you buy 2 you effectively have one, as the second drive is just mirroring the first one.

Finally maybe there is stuff you can just remove?

For starters simply emptying the trash can make a big difference!

For example delete unused user accounts, sometimes there are several.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Private Google Calendars

If you are using Google calendars, you should also know that you need to use more than one calendar, as you don't really want your appointment for leg waxing, ear syringing, colonic irrigation, nose/ear hair removal, (yes, I could go on) viewable by anyone you share your calendar with.

And the one of the most awesome features of Google calendars is precisely that you CAN share them.

So how do you resolve this dilemma?

Make a separate 'sub' or 'secondary' calendar and put all your private business in there instead. Now you can share your main calendar with school, and your sub calendars or your little secret.


But, I hear you cry, I want to be able to view my private calendar(s) on my iPhone, iPad - well that's OK, there is a magic link to fix that here:

If you don't use an iDevice, try this link instead.

Just click that, and tick the calendars you want to appear on your iDevice, click SAVE (bottom right corner - easy to miss) and let the computer magic happen.

That's it.

Secondary calendars do have a whole load of other usages other than keeping your beauty treatments to yourself, some uses could be:

  • Admin calendar for keeping track of key meeting times on the school
  • Class calendar that could be shared with students/parents - this could also be embedded in a Google Site
  • Keeping track of an area of responsibility without it cluttering up your main calendar.

Finally - remember it is easy to turn calendars on and off to better manage your calendar view. One click to turn it, off, and one to turn it back on again.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Google Sites and Privacy

Google Sites are awesome, until you want to share them with people outside the college domain, ie parents or other schools, or even just for the purposes of sharing awesome sauce with people outside UWCSEA. If you attempt this you will quickly discover that anyone attempting to view a Google Site (or any page within the site) are effectively excluded.

Many people assume that as they are websites, they must automatically be 'public' but this is not the case.

The reason why people outside of UWCSEA can't see your site is because the share level (permissions) of your site is set to only people within the college domain, ie people with a address, which is the default setting for all college google sites.

This means people, eg parents, can only view the site, via their child's log in - this is how I believe most teachers manage this.

To make the site viewable by people from outside the college domain (eg parents) you will need to change the site's share level (permissions). Only the owner of the Google Site can make these changes, - (by the way you can have more than one owner, although there is not much more they can do, except change site permissions).

So click on the 'Share' button in the top right corner, then you can change it to 'anyone with the link' or Public.

The problem then is that none of your students will be able to EDIT the site, only VIEW, to get around that you need to add them individually to your site permissions, where it says 'Add people:' these people you have specifically added will be able to EDIT the site. 

You should be able to easily add your class using this list, eg: "Grade 15 Class SMc Dover" <>,

It is worth noting that the view status will not allow ANY editing, it really is an 'all or nothing' scenario for now - not even posting comments is allowed unless you can edit the site. If you attempt to add people from outside of the domain, they will need their own private Google Account to be able to accept your invitation and edit. 

Finally ... now your whole site is viewable by anyone with the link - if there is a section of the site you do NOT want to be viewable there is a feature (page level permissions) that allows you to control specific pages, but only at a level that is more restrictive than the entire site, like making some sections private, but that does get a little convoluted and complicated, you have been warned!

Monday, 12 August 2013

iOS Device practice, protocols and pointers...

iOS Device practice and protocols

iPads, iPod touches, iPhones, collectively known as iDevices or iOS devices. We are all going to be using these more and more, so it makes sense to start the year off with a good idea about what you should and should not do with them... 

Just because you can does not mean you have to -

Not everything that students create on the iOS devices needs to be saved/exported/captured, often it is enough for it to be what it is and maybe shared with a peer, much liked working on a mini whiteboard. We have awesome learning moments/conversations/experiences with students that are rarely captured, this doesn’t make them less important, it just is what it is. That said ...

If you use the Reflection App on your Mac you can easily share student outcomes directly from any iOS device to the IWB. That is often all you need to do. 

You can also borrow an iOS VGA cable from the DWL to physically connect an iOS device to the IWB via the control box. 
As far as possible allocate devices to students so you can find lost work or know who to blame if there are problems.

While they can be used for reward/free play - (much like a pencil or paper) this is not their primary purpose, as far as possible you should have a specific app(s) and activity in mind.

Just like the Mac, use SPOTLIGHT to locate apps quickly and easily. (swipe from the left of the home screen). 

Use the folders when you want students to explore a range of apps within a specific focus, eg spelling, maths drills, etc.

A longer term activity can be saved, to be continued at a later time, but only do this if you know the student will be able to use the exact same device later.

IF you need to capture/export media from a device here are some guidelines:

Most apps will export directly to the photo app, including video outcomes. Media which is smaller in size, ie less than 1 MB like text and images can be easily emailed to any email address (usually the student or teacher) from the device. Once an email address has been used once, the device will 'remember' the email address for ease of use in the future. It will also 'remember' mistakes, so for this reason it is a good idea to supervise students the first time they email from the device.

For larger Media, ie, larger than 1 MB, like video outcomes, it is better to use an iOS Device cable to transfer the media to a computer, up to 25 of these can be borrowed from the DWL.

Some (not many) apps use a slightly more convoluted method to export media, which is why it always important that you trial an app before using it with an entire class...

If you use the Reflection App on your Mac you can also capture this content (screen capture) using the reflection app on the mac, which will save it as a video file. This can also be another useful way to get content off an iOS device.

Once the media has been exported please encourage students to erase the contents from the iPad, especially deleting recorded images and video from the photo app.  

Confused about sizes? See this post.

Some top tips:

Tapping and double tapping are common techniques on an iOS device, but also remember the tap and hold technique, which usually behaves in a very similar way to the right click on a mouse.

Double clicking the home button (or swiping 4 fingers up) will bring up the multitasking menu allowing you to easily switch between apps that are running. For example between Safari and a pages document. 

4 fingers swipes to the left and right allows you to quickly switch between apps.

From the multitasking menu you can quit apps that are running. IMPORTANT: You do NOT need to close apps that are running in the background, this is a common myth. But this is a useful way to quit apps that may have hung/frozen. But is probably easier to just shut the device down and start it up again.

You do not need to shutdown an iOS device very often, just pressing the power button (top right corner) to send it to sleep is enough.

Please be vigilant and discourage students from changing the settings, a common one is to invert the screen making it pretty much useless for anyone else to use. This is another good reason for assigning specific iOS devices to specific students.

Always always always remind students to LOG OUT of any app they have logged in to, eg Popplet, Google, etc. otherwise the next student who uses the iPad will be able to access their account directly. Remember these devices were not designed with multiple users in mind - we are repurposing them.

You to do not need to leave an iOS device charging, this will only shorten battery life, it is better to only plug them in for one overnight charge when they are below 50 % in battery life.  Please avoid leaving them charging over weekends and holidays. 

Screen shots are a great way to quickly capture a moment. Just hold the power and home buttons at the same time. The photo will be added to the camera roll.  

iOS device Email accounts

I have created email accounts for each grade, this is if you or a specialist would rather not use your own email account to receive media from students. These are already saved onto every iOS device so just typing in for example 'g1' in the to field of an email will automatically fill in the grade 1 account email address. Then you or a TA/helper can login to that account at a computer (password: idevice) to access and download the media. Specialists find these accounts particularly useful.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Email Bcc or Blind carbon copy...

If you are a Bcc superstar feel free to ignore this, you are clearly already more geeky than you possibly thought.

If in the other hand you think it might be some sort of strange skin condition, or a British TV channel, please read on.

Bcc is essential for all avid emailers out there, which of course includes you.

First let's clarify:

Cc means (depending on who you speak to) Carbon/Courtesy/Circulate Copy, and as you probably know means everyone gets to see your email, even if you haven't sent it to them. This should be avoided if at all possible, as it inevitably leads to the terminal condition known as 'Reply All' something best avoided, that is what made me bald.

Bcc stands for 'Blind Carbon Copy' same as above, but the clever (or sneaky) thing is no one can see  all the other email addresses you circulated the email to, this protects the privacy of the people being circulated to, and also avoids the dreaded 'Reply All' scourge.

So when contacting your parents using those wonderful parent contact lists you made a few weeks ago, try to Bcc, not Cc them. 

In Google Mail you can find the 'Add Bcc' option just below the 'To:' field, as follows:

I've attached a couple of images to show you where to find the Bcc option in Googe, all email applications have this option if you have a little poke around... 

In Apple Mail it is a little shy and has to be coaxed out of its little nook/cranny/shmengoloid, whatever takes your fancy... Just click on that little envelopy thing next below Subject and tick/check 'Bcc Address Field'.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Add (embed) a Hit Counter to your GSite/Blog

Hit counters are pretty pointless on websites, but on a class/student site they can be a great motivator for the students to see how many people are visiting their page.

Embedding is a really great way to insert media from all over the web into your page, any website that offers a 'get embed code' option (which is most), copy the code, paste into the page.

So let's embed a hit counter.


• Go to a hitcounter site, 

Preferably one that doesn't require registration, and that won't pester you with advertising. Like
• Copy the html
• Edit your page
• Choose the <HTML> button
• Paste in code and save.

Why use ONE screen, when you can use TWO?

Most of us use a second screen for presentations and display purposes, but often with mirroring switched on - which can be helpful, especially in a teaching situation. mirroring means you have the exact same content on your screen as you do on the second screen.


If you are presenting, it makes more sense to use the 2nd screen for your audience , and your laptop screen for yourself, your desktop clutter, and your awful desktop wallpaper.

Once Mirroring is switched off applications like Keynote (and even PowerPoint) will automatically 'know' this and and present this way automatically. You might have to adjust some preference settings if it doesn't do this automatically.

Much better.

But what if you're using Google Presentations because you want to collaborate on a presentation because you have several contributors? Well for starters, BRAVO for using ICT the way it SHOULD be used, now everyone can work on the same presentation, and you can avoid all the headaches with people trying to merge PowerPoint and Keynote presentations, different slides/sizes/versions/templates ... Using an online presentation tool is a much better way to manage this (Prezi, and SlideRocket are great as well).

... and when you're all finished, download the Google Presentation as a PPT file, open it in Keynote, make a few tweaks to font size, polish up rough edges etc. And run it as a Keynote.

But you can run a Google Presentation on a 2nd screen, like Keynote, here's how:

First make sure you are utilising the 2nd screen you have to have a 2nd screen plugged in for this to work. When you've done that, you're ready to proceed...

Now make sure that Mirroring is OFF: System Preferences > Displays > Arrangement (tab) > Mirror displays should be unticked...

Drag the 2nd display where you feel it makes most sense to the left, above or to the right of your Mac screen (that's the one with the white bar at the top) - in this example it's to the left.

Now to control anything on the 2nd screen just move it to where you positioned it, in my case I just drag it off the left of my Mac screen and it appears on the 2nd screen, usually via a projector.

Now You're ready to go. Open the presentation in your browser as normal, and view > start presentation.

Now grab it by the menu bar at the top and drag it over to the 2nd screen... Don't use full screen, instead use the green maximise button - and maybe drag the edges to fit... 

Almost there... on the 2nd (presentation) screen, click on the gear wheel and choose 'Open speaker notes'

Now grab that window and bring it over to your Mac screen ... 

Done, now you can use the speaker notes to control your presentation, and view notes on your Mac screen, while the presentation displays on the presentation screen.

Get your digital life in sync.

So you're using GMail, and Google Calendar, and now you want to get all that awesome data in sync with your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch? Look no further...

Just follow these screen shots to get everything working. 

First find the Settings icon, then Mail, Contacts, Calendars:

 Add Account:

When you see this screen, choose Gmail:

Then enter your College GApps account details, make sure you include the gapps part of your email address (so it knows it is a GMail account). You can write anything you like for 'Description'.

After a bit of computer magic, you should see the following screen, switch everything on...

Now, when/if you open Mail you have your College Email, and your College Calendar (just your own calendar, not any others you might have added) is displayed in iCal.

If you have several Google calendars you would like to sync to your iDevice, you can do this by going, login to your account, and select the calendars you want to syncronise.  

What's that I hear you yell? What about Notes? GREAT question. Well that's a great perk if you use Apple Mail on your Mac, any notes you create in your GApps account will automatically display in Mail, and vice versa, making it a very effective note taking on the fly tool. In Mail you can see any Notes (one for each GMail account if you have more than one)

That's it, you are connected.

What's that? You want to sync Your Google Calendar with iCal? Well OK then...

In iCal > Preferences > Accounts:

Then click on the little + sign, (bottom left corner) and you'll see this:

Where it says 'Account type:', choose Google, then fill in the rest of your account details, make sure you include the gapps part of your email address.

In iCal you will be able to view your Calendar(s). To edit, create College Calendar events make sure you have clicked on that calendar on the left side:

Search (Your Google Drive) Smarter

Sort your Life Out - 3 Ways to Search Smarter

It's all well and good being a Google Ninja, but what good is that if after having been shared on your 6,457th doc, you can't find the specific one you want? 

First let's recap the basics:

Files vs Folders

True of any digital environment, less is More when it comes to folders. Create LESS folders, with MORE files in them, treat them more like storage bins than sleeves.

Stop treating folders like document sleeves...

Treat folders like storage crates - Less with More inside

File names are much more important than folders. Use file names that use useful keywords - so instead of calling that document 'Planning' how about ... 'Planning Zen Buddhism and Karaoke G5' now, when you do a search you have a far greater likelihood of actually finding what you want. Maybe use some 'conventions' like always including a 'G5' etc. (Info like the date [apart from maybe the year] is superflous and makes your files names ridiculously looooooooong - it's redundant as that is already stored by the computer - just sort your files by date.)

Sort out your Sorting

Much like in the Mac FInder, Google has some clever ways to make searching easier. 

Assuming you are in 'My Drive' (not 'Shared with me') you have a few ways to sort your results: TITLE, OWNER and LAST MODIFIED – I would suggest 'last modified' is the most useful. When you are in 'Shared with me', you'll find these options are cut down to ONLY Title, and Share Date - don't ask me why!

Star documents that you use frequently - this is a one click way of ensuring you find those straight away. Just click Starred - and BOOM there they are. Easy. Of course it doesn't help if you star a bazillion docs, so remember to UNstar some from time to time.

Last but definitely not least - Filter

So when you have a bunch of files on display in your Google Drive, make sure you take advantage of the buttons which let you 'filter' the results - much as you would when doing a Google Search - 

Then pick whatever option will make it easiest to drastically reduce the amount of files you are viewing - like 'Text Document' 'Not Owned By Me' – you can choose more than one.

For a more thorough break down and even more awesome advice for becoming a Google Drive Search Ninja click here.

So... now that you know how to search your Google Drive, make sure you can do the same on your Mac... 

You can also view the contents of your Google Drive as thumbnails—especially useful for folders of images: