Saturday, February 17, 2007

Publishing with Google Tools Module Guide

Publishing with Google Tools Module

In this module you are going to use some of the Google blogging tools to find useful blogs to read, subscribe to their feeds, and even publish your own blog and website.

Google Tools Explored in this module:

  • Blogger
  • Google Blog Search
  • Google Reader
  • Google Alert
  • Google Page Creator

Learning Objectives:

  • Find useful blogs that have postings that would want to read on a regular basis.
  • Setup a blog of your own that you can use to publish your own thoughts, opinions or commentaries on an area of your interest.
  • Setup two tools that will act as agents for you to alert you to new postings on selective blogs or just generally on the Internet, as well as make it easy for you to read the postings.
  • Create an HTML based website using Google Page Creator

Resources Required:

  • A Google or Gmail account login.


  1. This module guide is a posting in one of my blogs in Blogger, one of the most popular blogging tools around. Google acquired Blogger awhile back and recently it just came out of Beta release. Explore the features of this blog. Can you find the archive of past postings, organized both by date and topic?
  2. This blog is one that I started a few months ago to post my views and reviews about Ed Tech. Post a comment at the bottom of this post and let us know who useful you may find this particular blog useful, or suggestions on how I could improve it.
  3. Think of a topic within Ed Tech that you would find useful and enter a keyword or two into the Search Blog tool at the top and left of the page and see if I have posted something about that. Did I?
  4. There are thousands of blogs out on the net and many on Blogger along. Click on the
    Next Blog>> link at the top and centre and take a look at another blog. Would you find this one useful? You may need to click on the Next Blog>> again.
    Google Blog Search
  5. Now lets search all of the blogs out there for some useful posts. Go to the Google Blog Search and enter in a key word or two describing a topic you are interested in
    reading about. Find at least two blogs that you will want to subscribe to later in this module and bookmark their URLs.
    Google Alerts
  6. New blogs are created every minute and there may be one that is useful to you that gets created tomorrow. Well, you could always do another Blog Search to find it but better yet, use the Google Alert tool to let Google let you know. Go to Google Alerts and enter in a keyword or two you would like to be alerted about, and your email address. You may want to change the other options or just leave them as their defaults. If you are already signed in with your Google account you won't need to enter your email address. You can have as many alerts as you wish.
    Google Reader
  7. Hopefully you now have 2 or 3 blogs identified that you would like to read on a regular basis. We are now going to set up Google Reader to help you monitor and read the postings on these sites. If you would like a list of blogs that I subscribe to see below. Go to Google Reader and sign in with your Google login. As you create your Reader for the first time, you may choice to add some of the feeds offered but it is up to you.
  8. Most blogs have an RSS feed when will allow Google Reader to automatically check for new postings and present them to you to read. It is easy to add these to your Subscription list in Reader because you just need to click on Add Subscription and paste in the URL from the blog site and let Google Reader set up the feed connection. Add 2 or 3 blog sites subscriptions to your list. Feel free to add any of the ones I have listed below.
  9. If you get a lot of blogs subscriptions, you can go to the Manage Subscriptions tool where you can set up various folders, tags and other tools for organizing your subscriptions. Now take some time to actually read some of the postings. As you do, notice how Reader keeps track of what you have read. It will do this even if you access Reader from multiple computers because the information is stored on the server and not your computer. You can use the tags feature and some of the advanced publishing features to share selected postings with your class.
  10. Would you now like to create your own blog? Go to the Blogger start page and sign in with your Google account. Review the information about blogs presented here.
  11. If you are ready to create your blog click on the big orange arrow that say Create your blow now and follow the directions of this wizard. Feel free to just create test blog, it is free. Or if you have figured out a purpose for you blog, create one and start publish your postings.
    Google Page Creator
  12. Blogs are different than Websites and you may want to build a website using
    the Google Page Creator tool. Click
    here to access my website built in Google Page Creator.
    What is nice about
    this tool, is that it is free, no HTML knowledge required and you get 100MB
    of space.
  13. Click here to start your own website using
    this tool. To get started, simply click on Create a New Page button and follow
    the directions on the new page. Explore the tools. Look for buttons to change
    the look and layout of the page. And experiment with the editing tools. When
    you are finished you can Publish your page by click on the publish button and
    you will see the URL for your site at the bottom. It should be something like
  14. Try adding a gadget or more pages and then inserting links to them on your
    home page. Could it be any easier to publish a website?
  15. Go back to the Teaching with Google Group and look for the discussion thread
    about Publishing with Google Tools. Review the postings there and post your
    own message describing how useful you found the Google tools you explored in this module. Please include links to your Blog and Page Creator website so we can view them.
  16. Go to the bottom of this page and click on the Reward link for a reward video clip on Google Video for completing this learning activity.

Additional Resources:

Some blogs I subscribe to about Educational Technologies:

Click here to access the next module in this workshop, Google Does Office and More.


Saturday, February 10, 2007 Free Online Photo Editing

There are many photo editing tools out there and typically you will get one free with your camera or scanner. And you would like a great one for installing on your computer try Google's Picasa. But, let's say you are at the office, at you school and you need to edit a photo right now and you don't have Picasa, or another photo editor installed. And you don't have admin rights to install Picasa, well then go to PicNik at The is a free online web-based photo editing tool. You can even use it without an account but sign up for one, it is free. And PicNik is VERY easy to use. You can use it and direct your students to it. If you have a Flickr account it can connect directly to it.

I found that I could easily do the following useful things:
  • Remove red-eye from a photo
  • Take a photo using my Web Cam
  • Crop that photo
  • Resize the photo
  • Adjust the brightness
  • Save it to me computer or email it to a friend
  • And a lot more features
One thing I would find very useful is that often students will send me or post a photo to our course site but they have not resized it down to fit within a screen. This is normally due to the new digital cameras using resolutions optimized for printing but not screen viewing and they don't know how to resize it down, or crop it. And often when I ask them if they have a photo editor on their computer, they have no idea. So I am going to send them to the PikNik site.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Picasa and a Digital Camera OCC2007

At the Online Connectivism Conference that I have been kind of monitoring this week, I did catch the presentation by Diana Oblinger. In her address, she talked about many things but one thing hit me that I want to comment on here. She stated that the younger generation is very much more visual orientated that we are, their instructors. She said that we, the older generation, are not very good at using visuals to teach, but we need to learn how to use visuals more.

This is consistent with some of the work we have been done to encourage instructors to improve their classroom presentations. Typically we use PowerPoint but the slides have more text on them instead of visuals. But, good visuals are hard to come by and you don't have permission to use most of the really good ones. So what is the solution?

How about this, buy yourself a digital camera. You can pick up one for less than $100 right now. Here is one on the FutureShop website that would work great. Click here to see it. These cameras are 5 Megapixels, which is all you need. It is small enough to fit in your pocket and you can use it to create your own visuals for your teaching, whether you are in class or online. Carry it around and take lots of pictures of things that will have you illustrate your presentations. Take pictures and short video clips of examples of the concepts you are teaching. These cameras will let you take hundreds of photos on inexpensive memory cards. Pro photographers take over 100 photos in order to get a really valuable one.

You can then use Picasa, a free photo organizer and touch-up tool. It will help you transfer your photos from the camera to your computer where you can sift out the best ones. It is a free download from Google and it is better than the software that comes with the camera.

Click here to download Picasa.

I have also just discover a new free online tool for editing and organizing your photos. It is call Picnik and you can access it at

You can also download Wink, a free tool for making narrated slide shows in flash movies that you can post on the Web.

These are the new tools of the teaching craft. Just like you need to buy yourself a computer, a headset with microphone and now a digital camera. Don't balk at not getting your school to pay for it, you need these tools and you need to master them, or get left behind.