Friday, March 15, 2013

Android Photography Apps for Beginners

By no stretch of the imagination, am I a professional photographer. I like taking pictures of my work with schools, teachers and students and I love taking pictures of school signs.
I also believe in the need to document, in pictures, the fantastic things that are happening in our schools every day. Photos capture moments that will never, ever happen again. So in working with my Sony Xperia tablet, I have found some great Photography apps that are perfect for beginners, like me.
First of all, the camera on the Xperia itself is pretty sweet (it includes stopmotion capabilities and of course it’s a great camera...this is Sony we’re talking about here). Check out my fellow Education Ambassador, Andy Losik's Xperia camera how-to guide. 
Instagram - Very popular right now to quickly and easily share photos and add a simple filter. Then, share your photos with friends and family across social networks, or just share it within Instagram itself. A 5th grade teacher in Pleasanton, CA, Lisa Highfill uses Instagram with her students to share their learning. Follow her class on Twitter at @highfillcrew to see all of her students' photos.
Skitch - I love Skitch! I use this application more than any other on my tablet, phone and laptop. Quickly take or choose a photo and annotate the photo. I used this to help assist our parents remember the appropriate way to drive through our parking lot, and where students were allowed to be dropped off.

Pixlr Express - Choose or take a photo and edit it for light adjustments, various pre-built effects or add a border for an extra-added touch.

Camera ZOOM FX - Camera ZOOM FX has more options that Pixlr, but is just as easyto use. You can even pick an effect randomizer to see what your picture could look like if you wanted to be creative. Be warned, though...its ease of use, combined with all the fun effects could keep you occupied for quite some time.
Animoto - Take a series of photos (and videos, if you want) and Animoto will do the rest to create a quick video. I’ve used this multiple times to highlight an Open House, Electives Fair or Back to School Night. Put this video on your school website, too!

  • This post was cross-posted from the resource-building that I do with Sony, Inc., located at - please visit there for more information and great suggestions from other ambassadors across the United States.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Google Apps for Admins: Google Calendar

One of the most powerful tools for administrators is the almighty calendar. I have yet to find a calendar that is as robust and useful for school administrators as Google Calendar, and here’s why:
  1. Google Calendar allows you to embed multiple calendars into a web page and change the way they look and the colors that are used.
  2. You can easily attach documents, or invites to Google+ Hangouts (a Google+ Hangout is like Skype, but better) to calendar events.
  3. You can receive updates via e-mail, screen popup,or text message.
  4. You can add a location to the calendar event, which can have a Google Map attached to it.
  5. You can use the "Find a time" feature to coordinate meetings with other colleagues who are using Google Calendar.
One of the best parts about using the Sony Xperia tablet with Google Calendar is that you can easily add a widget to your homescreen and never have to open the application to see, at a glance, what is upcoming on your calendar. WIN!

For more information about how (and why) to use Google Calendar, check out these links:

  • This post was cross-posted from the resource-building that I do with Sony, Inc., located at - please visit there for more information and great suggestions from other ambassadors across the United States.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Google Apps for Admins: Drive & Docs

When rolling out the Google Apps for Education Suite to educators, Google Drive is easily in the first three application shared. And why not? It’s different yet familiar, it’s collaborative and you can do some neat tricks with it. Like a puppy. But with less mess.
Google Drive is great to show teachers and they will come up with some great plans to use with their students instantly. Check out Sony Education Ambassador, Kyle Pace’s blog series for Google for Teachers for more information. But Administrators have tasks that are specific to you, and here are some quick ways to use Google Docs and Drive in those Administrative tasks.
  1. Google Presentations for Community Reports Use Google Presentations when creating presentations that need multiple stakeholders’ input. My suggestion is to create a presentation with a common template, title each slide ahead of time and when you share it with others, indicate to them which slides are theirs to edit. You don’t have to single-handedly create every parent or community presentation, and the finished product looks seamless and collaborative.
  2. Google Spreadsheets for Conference Scheduling I’ve used Google Spreadsheets to assist in the scheduling of Conferences at the Middle School (grades 6-8) level. Import a Grade Report Excel file (or .csv) into Google Spreadsheets. Remove any extraneous information and leave only the student name and their grade(s) that need improving (don’t forget to include which classes may need remediation, as well!) Share the spreadsheet with the appropriate teachers or advisors. 
  3. Researching with Google Docs In creating reports and research for BoardReports or other needs, using Google Docs and use the “Tools”, “Research” feature to instantly research directly from the same tab or window in which you are creating your content! No more do you have to switch between tabs or windows between your content and your research. The “Research” function also allows for instant MLA, APA or Chicago footnoting, and searching filtered by licensing rights.
  4. Surveys, Surveys, Surveys! As both a high school and a middle school site administrator, I was seemingly creating surveys all the time. With Google Forms, your surveys are instantly timestamped and the form input goes immediately into a spreadsheet, which you can then sort, add formulas and use gadgets galore to tailor your results to make them most comprehensible to any audience.
If you're not quite ready to create your own, and want to be inspired by teampltes already in use, check out this list of templates I've created for an administrator's life, or you can check out Todd Roth's templates, also a practicing administrator.

  • This post was cross-posted from the resource-building that I do with Sony, Inc., located at - please visit there for more information and great suggestions from other ambassadors across the United States.