Block HTML 5 video autoplay (Chrome)

Disable videoMonday 2nd January 2017

Popular news sites are slowly moving from using embedded Flash videos to HTML5 videos, which is a good thing – except all my work setting up browsers to prevent the autoplay of Flash videos is slowly unravelling.

But all is not lost…..

Install the Chrome extension below to prevent embedded HTML5 videos from autoplaying. The videos still load, and are available to play if you click the Play button, but they won’t play automatically.

Install the Disable HTML5 Autoplay extension (Chrome) >>>

wazmacBlock HTML 5 video autoplay (Chrome)

Biggest Supermoon of the Century

SupermoonFriday 4th November 2016

As night sets in on November 14, wander outside and gawk at the sky.

If the weather is clear, the moon will be at its biggest and brightest in nearly 70 years, and it won’t put on a similar display until late 2034, astronomers say.

A so-called “supermoon” occurs when the moon is not only full, but is orbiting close to Earth. This month’s full moon will be the closest to Earth since January 26, 1948.

wazmacBiggest Supermoon of the Century

At last – easy Columns in Google Docs

Google Docs with ColumnsFriday 28th November 2016

While Google Docs provides a great online editing environment, one of those application hangovers from days gone by was the need to use a workaround (adding a table) to create columns in a document.

No more!

Google have now added a Columns option to the Docs Format menu….

Columns in Docs

Click on More options to alter the spacing or add lines between columns…

Column options

It’s been a long time coming, but now just a few clicks are required to format your column layout.

Column text

Thank you Google!

wazmacAt last – easy Columns in Google Docs

Organising Shared Documents in Google Drive

Shared with meThursday 20th October 2016

When other people share Google documents with you directly, those documents are available in Google Drive > Shared with me.

By default, these shared documents are organised by date. Documents from multiple people (and even from people in multiple organisations) are all displayed in the one Shared with me folder list.

This arrangement may be OK for a small number of shared documents, but the organisation of your Shared with me folder becomes unwieldy once you have a large number of documents shared with you.

You can easily re-organise these shared documents into other folders within your Google Drive, without upsetting the sharing arrangements.

wazmacOrganising Shared Documents in Google Drive

Getting started with BYOT in your school

BYOTThe first item on the checklist of many schools planning for the introduction of BYOT is ‘what type of devices do students need’?

In fact, experience in schools where BYOT has been a success suggests that this consideration should be towards the latter end of your BYOT planning checklist.

So, where should we start with BYOT planning? >>>

wazmacGetting started with BYOT in your school

School Planning: Learner-centric bandwidth requirements

Learner-centric bandwidth planningFriday 2nd September 2016

Schools and educational organisations often calculate how much bandwidth to provide based on budget allocations.

A recent aarnet paper considers bandwidth requirements based on the needs of individual learners. For example, aarnet’s research finds that an individual student or teacher requires between 0.2 and 0.5 Mbps to use Google Apps. For a school of 100 concurrent users that is 20 – 50 Mbps. Just for Google Apps.

The aarnet paper estimates that the median aggregated bandwidth requirements (online apps, YouTube, ClickView, etc) for a school of 1000 students would be 395 Mbps.

How does this compare to your school’s total bandwidth provision?

wazmacSchool Planning: Learner-centric bandwidth requirements

The last VCR

VCR TechnologyThe last company still manufacturing VCR technology, the Funai Corporation of Japan, has announced that it will stop making VCRs at the end of this month, mainly because of “difficulty acquiring parts.”

The announcement represents the end of a technology that was introduced in the 1950s.

It took several decades for VCRs to make their way into consumers’ homes, but in its heyday it was ubiquitous and dominant.

According to the Funai announcement, 750,000 units were sold worldwide in 2015, down from millions decades earlier.

wazmacThe last VCR

New Quiz feature in Google Forms

Google has added some new tools to their Forms app – most notably the option to create self-grading quizzes.

When setting up a multiple-choice quiz we can choose to notify students of their scores immediately, or email the results when everyone has completed he quiz.

More info in this video from Shawn Beard….

wazmacNew Quiz feature in Google Forms

Adobe Flash is not worth the trouble anymore

Remove FlashMonday 20th June 2016

Flash – it’s the web security disaster that just keeps on giving.

Flash has been particularly popular for use on animated web sites used by K-12 schools.

Adobe this week issued a patch for its Flash Player browser plug-in containing 36 – yes, 36 – security updates.

One of these was for a critical zero-day vulnerability, which allowed hackers to crash a victim’s computer or take full control of it.

Web browsers Safari, Chrome and Firefox are now disabling Flash by default.

It really is time to re-think the need for your classes to use online resources that depend on Flash.

wazmacAdobe Flash is not worth the trouble anymore

The new Google Sites

Friday 17th June 2016

While the various Google Apps and Google Drive have been continually updated and refined over the past few years, Google Sites has languished with a clunky old menu-driven interface.

All that is about to change.

Drag ‘n’ drop page layout, responsive site design for viewing on multiple devices, etc, is coming to Sites.

Here is the Google preview…. (currently only available for the ‘early adopter’ program)…

wazmacThe new Google Sites

This week in 2/3L

2/3L NewsParents, caregivers and the school community can share in Class2/3L’s learning activities through their class news page.

A class web site is the first step in providing an online learning environment for your class – and a great way to start on that journey is with a class news page.

The 2/3L class web site is created using Weebly.

wazmacThis week in 2/3L

Google Drive v Dropbox v OneDrive

Drive v OneDrive v DropboxMonday 16th May, 2016

Access to decent online file storage is practically a necessity these days, whether it’s for work or home, and everyone seems to have an opinion on which option is best.

Here is a review of three of the most popular file syncing services out there – have a read of yet another opinion on which is most suitable for your needs… and yes – it is still ‘horses for courses’!

wazmacGoogle Drive v Dropbox v OneDrive

Google Slides gets Q&A feature

Google SlidesFriday 6th May, 2016

Google has announced a significant update to its web-based Google Slides with the introduction of a new Q&A feature that will allow the audience to ask questions from any online device during the presentation.

The update also includes more presentation options for iOS, including the ability to present directly to a Hangout call.

Google Slides also now includes a laser pointer tool for those of you who like presenting from your computer.

The link below includes a step-by-step guide to conducting a live Q&A session in your next presentation

wazmacGoogle Slides gets Q&A feature

Chromebooks A-Z

chrombook-cropped-rightChromebooks A-Z is a one day hands-on workshop that equips teachers, school leaders and IT staff to become familiar with Chromebooks and their use in K-12 schools.

Participants will be involved in activities to explore the features of Chromebooks and how they support the use of Google Apps for Education in the classroom.

The local (Illawarra) workshop will be held at Port Kembla on Thursday 16th June, 2016.

wazmacChromebooks A-Z

Is your school ready for an ICT Makeover?

PlanningTuesday 15th March 2016

Of the many components in a school’s learning environment, the most constantly-changing physical component is undoubtably ICT.

The speed of this change has been accelerating as the broader community rapidly adopts and ‘normalises’ the use of online and mobile technologies in their day-to-day lives.

In comparison with this community background, many schools’ ICT offerings are now looking a little tired and outdated. Lots of ‘same-old’ ICT has been happening in many schools for the last 10 years – research, copy, paste, summarise, print, hand-in!

So, where do we start when planning to haul a school into the modern ICT era? How do we give our school an ICT makeover so that the curriculum transparently embraces new and emerging technologies? 

Read more >>>

wazmacIs your school ready for an ICT Makeover?

Managing iPads – Configurator 2 Workshops

iPadsWednesday 24th February

Think3 is presenting updated workshops on the use of Configurator 2 to manage iPads in schools.

This workshops, for both existing Configurator users and those new to managing iPads, will cover:

  • Methods for setup and management of shared or individual iPads
  • Apple Volume Purchase Program (VPP) for purchasing apps
  • Creating and installing Profiles to manage settings
  • Using Apple Configurator 2 to prepare and install profiles and apps over USB
  • Mobile Device Management (MDM) to manage iPads over WiFi
  • Apple Caching Server for faster install of iOS and apps
  • How to upgrade from Configurator 1.7

Workshops are currently scheduled for North Ryde, Mittagong and Port Kembla. (Local Port Kembla workshop is on Tuesday 8th March)

wazmacManaging iPads – Configurator 2 Workshops

Latest updates for Google Forms

Google FormsLast week Google announced a list of new features available in the recently updated Google Forms.

The latest update includes:

  • new templates that are pre-populated with suggested questions based on your planned use;
  • the ability to see who has completed your form and who hasn’t;
  • a new Forms Add-on shop;
  • new notification features.
wazmacLatest updates for Google Forms

See five planets aligned

Wednesday 10th February 2016

After a frustrating few weeks of constant cloud, the current clear skies provide an ideal opportunity to check out the alignment of the five visible planets in the early morning sky.

Until the 20th February, all five visible planets will sit in a line from the horizon, for the first time since 2005.

Dr Alan Duffy, research fellow at Swinburne University in Melbourne, said that this reasonably rare alignment is “essentially a quirk” of the universe. All the planets sit on a flat plane but have different yearly cycles – so for all five visible planets to happen to line up is “something well worth seeing,” he said.

Check out the sky from 5:00 am until about 5:20 am (AEDT)

Venus and Jupiter are easiest to see and Mars will have it’s distinctive red glow.

Mercury is close to the horizon, there is only a narrow time window after it has appeared before the sun comes up. You will need a clear view of the eastern horizon, uninhibited by trees, etc.

5 Planets align

 

wazmacSee five planets aligned

Safer Internet Day (& 2Gb Free for Drive!)

Google Security CheckWednesday 10th February 2016

Google is encouraging you to check your account security today, topping up your free Drive account with an extra 2 Gb of space in return for you taking less than 2 minutes to check your account security.

Complete the short checking process, and you will have an additional 2 Gb added to your Drive account. (And your account security will be verified too!)

The checkup begins with an option to add a phone number (used to check any suspicious activity), then you confirm your connected devices, followed by a confirmation of the apps, websites, and devices that are associated with your account.

You can choose to remove any items from this list that you no longer use or shouldn’t be included. 

wazmacSafer Internet Day (& 2Gb Free for Drive!)

Making an effective presentation

PresentationsTuesday 19th January 2016

With Australian schools commencing the new school year next week, many Principals and teachers will find themselves making presentations to other staff members at their Term 1 staff development day.

Don’t become a death-by-Powerpoint presenter!

If you are asked to share some information with an audience, it is usually because you have a worthwhile idea or message to share. You expect that people will leave your presentation with some new ideas to explore, or maybe an understanding of a new procedure or protocol.

wazmacMaking an effective presentation

iOS in Education is about to get a whole lot better.

Shared iPadiPads have always been an attractive option as 1:1 devices in classrooms, but there have been significant drawbacks for use as shared devices.

Not for much longer.

The next iOS update (v9.3 – coming soon) will provide an enhanced sharing environment, allowing students to access their accounts on any device.

Apple have also announced new management tools for teachers and school ICT administrators.

wazmaciOS in Education is about to get a whole lot better.

Compare Cloud Storage Options – 2016

The online file storage landscape has evolved over the past couple of years.

While most providers offer a free storage option, their paid plans have gradually increased in storage capacity while reducing in cost.

Here is an an update of what is currently available with the popular options…

Cloud compare - 2016

From an historical perspective, here is a similar comparison from 2013….

Cloud Compare 2013

wazmacCompare Cloud Storage Options – 2016

The problem with driverless cars

Driverless CarMonday 4th January 2016

The self-driving car, that cutting-edge creation that’s supposed to lead to a world without accidents, is achieving the exact opposite right now: The vehicles have racked up a crash rate double that of those with human drivers.

The glitch? They obey the law all the time, without exception. This may sound like the right way to program a robot to drive a car, but good luck trying to merge onto a chaotic, jam-packed highway with traffic flying along well above the speed limit.

As the accidents have piled up – all minor scrape-ups for now – the arguments among programmers at places like Google and Carnegie Mellon University are heating up: should they teach the cars how to commit infractions from time to time to stay out of trouble?

wazmacThe problem with driverless cars

Miniature Earth

Saturday 19th December 2015

As we relax with our families and friends over the Christmas and holiday period, safely cocooned in our little part of the world, the Miniature Earth video below helps to keep it all in perspective…

wazmacMiniature Earth

dinotot Search

dinotot searchThursday 3rd December 2015

DinoTot is a free search service for children, powered by Google safe search.

DinoTot search results are kids-oriented. Sites that present information in an easy, simple way are placed on the top of the search results. Sites that are made specifically for kids get a special ranking boost.

Search results appear in large Arial font and come with big thumbnails to help children read, differentiate between the results and choose the most appropriate sites.

wazmacdinotot Search

Getting started with Google Classroom

Google ClassroomTuesday 1st December 2015

Learn how to use Google Classroom to provide an online classroom environment that you can ‘blend’ with regular class activities.

Classroom is available free for schools using Google Apps for Education, and is integrated with your Google Drive.

Students and staff can access Google Classroom from any computer or iPad (or other tablet) at school or at home, fitting neatly with the needs of schools that have moved to a BYOT model.

wazmacGetting started with Google Classroom

What makes an ‘outstanding’ school?

Professor LynchWednesday 25th November 2015

A five-year pilot study by a team of Southern Cross University researchers has identified four elements critical to creating an ‘outstanding’ school.

The results of the study have been published in a book titled ‘Creating the Outstanding School’, authored by Professor David Lynch, Jake Madden and Tina Doe.

Professor Lynch said governments across the globe were calling on schools to improve the teaching and learning performance of their schools.

“Socio-economic success in a technologically based global world is requiring all citizens to have high standards of education,” Professor Lynch said.

“The challenge for school principals, who are charged with implementing such school reform agendas, is making pragmatic sense of the enormous volumes of largely disparate education research being conducted around the world.”

The pilot study, conducted under the leadership of Professor Lynch, was undertaken at a Coffs Harbour primary school. The first challenge for the research team was to define what was meant by ‘outstanding’ school.

Professor Lynch discussed the study – how to define an outstanding school, and how to create an outstanding school – in this interview on the ABC:

wazmacWhat makes an ‘outstanding’ school?