Module 2

Collaboration Tools


Phone calls. Back and forth emailing of documents. Face to face meetings. Collaboration was once difficult across distances, and arranging for time zones differences was frustrating.

Now, we can collaborate in the cloud, meeting online through Skype, Google Hangouts, Voxer, Google Drive, and many more.

For this Module, I worked with Voxer and Google Drive to collaborate and communicate with my middle school language arts team.


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Voxer is a free app for desktops and tables of all platforms that is like a walkie-talkie. I love that it allows for audio, GIFS, photos, links, and text. It’s such a joy to hear the voices of people I have never met face-to-face. I have a pro account because I like to customize my name and have more admin control. Even though I love it, I prefer Twitter and iMessage– I prefer to read text because it’s quicker, and because I live in a rural area with sporadic coverage so listening and responding during my drives in the car does not work; I must be inside with coverage.

One thing that helped is to speed up the speaking. Once you begin listening to the recording, a menu allows you to choose the speed:


Also, in settings, I choose to “Tap to Talk” so I don’t accidentally start recording myself while I’m rambling in conversation that has nothing to do with our chat:


I look forward to July’s conversations with fellow middle school language arts educators.


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Google Drive is the best — it’s secure and totally controlled by the user. It can hold ANY type of file, even if you can’t open it in Drive. That means I can upload my Apple Keynote and share it with other Mac users; even though we can’t open it in Drive, it’s stored and shared their easily. Photos, drawings, movies, etc. all can be stored in the Drive.

Google Drive works well with all MS Office products, if those are your preferred software. However, I’ve found I now use all the Google Apps products instead, and have not used MS Office for years [my Apple products also open all the Word and Excel files].

In addition, my school is a Google Apps for Education [GAFE] school.  The students love it — they can create websites, blogs, docs, slides, spreadsheets, drawings, etc. and share and easily collaborate on projects. Tons of extensions and apps add to the robust platform. One addition is Kaizena, which allows you to give audio feedback to your students’ work! I have not used it, but it’s been recommended many times.

Especially important is the ability to choose exactly with whom to share:

  • private [default]
  • with specific people
  • anyone with a link
  • public [can be found searching]

And how to share:

  • to view
  • to comment
  • to edit
  • editors can or cannot add people
  • viewers can or cannot download

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So, this Module 1 document is shared to “any one with a link can comment.”

So, collaborators, please do!

Note: After July, 2016, I will change “can comment” to “can view” only.


Module 1


Module 1 Readings

1. What holds me back?

  1. No one to discuss ideas:  I’m pretty much the lone techie at my school; as much as I try to share, no one is interested.  I used to share my blog with colleagues, but they wouldn’t read them. It’s lonely. I think I’d be better with some feedback.
  2. Mandates: I feel obligated to get the standards taught and hold back projects to teach specific standards, although my experience is that in projects, students learn what they need and in directives, students still learn what they need but it might not be what I’m teaching and is less than they could be doing.

2. Why bother?

A. Video production tools did save me time and gave my students a resource to review when they needed it.  For example, students couldn’t post videos themselves, and they needed to be changed from .mov to .mp4 so I created videos for the project for how to save their video, open and change format, and upload to my video folder in my Google Drive.  Slick.

B. My students have learned two important skills as 21st century and independent learners: 1) key word searches in the research tool of Google Docs to find information for their chosen part of the project, and 2) the same tool cites the source AND find creative commons licensed images for students to use.

3 Two Tools

A. QR codes: I could use these in the hall to share student links for families and visitors; I could link to models of writing students could choose according to their needs.

B. Magisto: I wonder if students could use this for their projects as a trailer or conclusion.

4 Two Tips

A. Get Clear on the Reason: this is a mind shift — this is important for novices to wrap their objectives with the expectation that the tool helps the learning be more relevant and authentic. Take the writing process: students don’t want to re-write something any more when there are tools for cutting and pasting and spelling. More than that: it’s a visual world, and Google Docs helps students search for and insert appropriately licensed images they can quickly choose to enhance their words.

B. Do Test Runs: Do tests and in the school — sometimes what is visible at home for that great lesson is NOT visible at school do to IT management of filters. Often it can be unblocked, but know that before starting your lesson.

5 One Thing

Tech Gmail Account: That would have been a good idea; I’ll suggest that from now on.  However, my problem is that when I started with tech, the recommendation was to have separate accounts, and I had school, community, business, personal, volunteer activities so now I have a ton of email accounts. Little did we know that our lives would be more public and connected.

6 Tools

Content Curation: So many projects and so many resources. How do I curate them to share, rediscover, and contain? What purposes do I have? What tools would be best? I have many projects that could be gathered for different reasons, and resources I want to remember. With so much in the cloud, we don’t have scrapbooks and boxes [well, I do have boxes] filled with memories anymore. Where should we put them?

Book Publishing: That’s a good one. I love the format of the Tech Guide, the clickable pdf is awesome. How did you create that?  Adobe Acrobat? I have some ideas I’d like to publish. Jennifer answered that question: She created the pdf for Jump Start in PowerPoint, but changed the page orientation; she exported as a pdf.  I can do that in Google Slides and Keynote too.  Ideas are now forming…