The Dark Side of GDocs? – Transferring Ownership

We’ve starting implementing Google Docs pretty heavily at our school. It’s the perfect solution to share and collaborate on documents with colleagues. There are many important curriculum documents that are created by individual teachers. With GDocs it is a simple process to work on these documents and develop this curriculum collaboratively.

As with many international schools, however, we have a pretty decent turnover rate of teachers at our school. Our average length of stay for teachers hovers right around 4 years.

And this is the dark side of going Google: What happens when a teacher leaves the school and we delete their Google Apps account? All of that data is also deleted. All of those shared documents and all of that institutional knowledge is gone unless you take precautions and prepare those teachers in advance.

So, what are the solutions?

Actually, for the leaving teacher it is pretty easy. Although you cannot transfer ownership of documents outside of your school domain, it is a pretty simple matter to use Google Takeout (thanks to the Data Liberation Front) to download all of the items in your Google Drive (or selected folders).

But what about those documents that need to stay within the institution? There might be a better way, but here’s what I’ve come up with:

Transfering ownership of Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations, and Forms: These native formats can easily have their ownership transferred to a departmental or institutional account. For example, if I have Math curriculum documents, I can put all of these in a single folder, select all and transfer ownership to math@mydomain.com. (If this is a new account, you may need to share it with this account first, and then transfer ownership.) Because you are transferring ownership and not creating a new document, the URL should remain the same and any existing links to that document should still work. Also, the existing sharing settings should remain the same. You can also use this method to transfer ownership of any of your documents to anybody else in your school like a co-teacher or your department head.

Transferring ownership of non-native GDoc formats such as PDFs, JPGs, and MS Word files: The method above does not work with other files that you have uploaded to Google Drive, unfortunately. However, once you have gone through the process above and have also removed any personal or non-essential files from Google Drive, the Google Apps administrator has the ability to “bulk transfer” ownership of all files from one user to another. This transfer could be to an archive account (archive@mydomain.com?). If teachers find they need a file and the owner is listed as “archive” they can then either request a transfer of ownership (if it is a native GDoc that was accidentally overlooked) or could make a copy of the file. After a set period of time (6 months? 1 year?) I would delete all archived worked permanently.

Transfer Docs

Thoughts? How do you handle this at your school?

It’s Official – I’m a Google Advanced Power Searcher

I’ve even got the certificate to prove it!

Clint Hamada - Advanced Power Searching Certificate

As with any course, I don’t know how much of it I will retain unless I use my Google-Fu on a regular basis. But it is cool to know some new tricks. Two of my favorite finds are the inurl: operator and the “specify a number range” operator.  And if/when I forget them, I know I have the skillz to just google them!

Two Days in Yokohama

I’m currently sitting in one of my old haunts – Starbucks in Kichijoji, one of the places where my now-wife and I use to hang out when we first met!

I’ve just spent the past two days at Yokohama International School working with and getting to know a good number of their teachers as they prepare for their Connected Learning Community this coming August.

We spent a lot of time discussing blogs, Google Apps, portfolios, assessment and good teaching practice. I even managed to get involved in a few MYP discussions!

I’ll have a lot more to say on the experience over the next week or so but my fingers are currently getting numb as I sit out on the patio enjoying the blue sky (and cold wind!). Thanks again to Kim Cofino for the chance to work and learn with a great bunch of teachers. And welcome to some new teachers in my PLN, including Brian Farrell, librarian; Adam Clark, counselor; Adam Seldis, Econ and Humanities teacher.

Implementation of Electronic Portfolios – A Survey

At UNIS Hanoi we have recently formed a task force to look at the best options for implementing electronic portfolios across the school. We currently use portfolios in our PYP and MYP years. We are looking for solutions – both in terms of pedagogy and platform – that will help us implement electronic portfolios across the school (even in the Diploma Program, which currently does not keep portfolios). If your school is currently using electronic portfolios, I would love to have your input. I have put together a Google Form (link below) to help collect information about how schools are currently using electronic portfolios. All responses are public and can be found at the second link below. Thanks in advance for your help!

Survey – Implementation of Electronic Portfolios

Results – Spreadsheet

Image: Anoto Digital Pen by Anoto Group licensed under CC BY NC ND

Wolfram Alpha: Concept is King!

Friedman hints at it. Pink implies it (or he might flat out say it; I haven’t finished reading the book!). And now Wolfram|Alpha confirms it: Content is Dead, Concept is King!

There is no point in teaching my students how to become a CPA. There will always be somebody cheaper (and probably better at it) to do that work somewhere else in the world (Friedman). It will be your ability to think creatively that will allow you to flourish in this situation (Pink).

With the launch of W|A, my students now have a resource that will graph lines and find intercepts for them (among other things). My focus is no longer on the computational content; it now has to be on the creative concept. What does the graph mean?  Why is it relevant? It’s no longer enough to ask the students graph something just because: we now need a reason to want to interpret that graph. It needs context and connections, not abstraction and solitude.

I can understand Maria’s point when she says:

It does have the potential to seriously wreak havoc on the way we teach math today if students can simply copy all their work from an A.I. website.  Whether you think that it’s time that somebody forced a change, or whether you think it’s just hype and not really a threat, I think we should all be aware that after today, it exists.

But I think MsMichetti has right idea:

All those graphs, tables, new vocabulary, and more are useless without using Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) to sort them out and make sense of them. Why aren’t we teaching more visual literacy and data interpretation — in every subject area?

Let’s be clear: I am not advocating that students no longer need to learn how to graph functions or do symbolic algebraic manipulation. Of course these types of skills are important, but they should no longer be the main focus of our curriculum. If technology is like air (invisible, abundant and noticeable only when missing a la Chris Lehmann), then why wouldn’t I assume that at some point in the very near future – if not already – all of my students will have ubiquitous access to W|A and its inevitable improvements? What happens when W|A comes out with the killer mobile app that puts this knowledge in everybody’s hands at any time? Why would I fight/resist this change?

The jury is still out on the idea that Google has made us stupid. I’m adding more fuel to the similar W|A debate. But this much is clear: we can never put these genies back in their bottles. For better or for worse, we’re going to have to un-learn our old-school emphases on computation and recall and re-learnhow to harness their powers to focus on interpretation, analysis and synthesis of information.

Long live the King!

image: if i were king by Jason Nicholls
image: Genie’s Lamp by Davic

Mr. Hamada – Master of the Obvious

You mean I can tag individual posts in my Google Reader? Why did it take me so long to see this?  So, as I’m reading dy/dan or The Number Warrior or Math Stories and am inspired by their ideas, I can 

From My Google Readerimmediately tag them with the appropriate class name so that I can find it again when I need it? 

Did anybody else know about this?  Master of the Obvious, indeed…