Tag Archives: collaboration

Serendipity Strikes Again

Sometimes you get lucky and happen to be in the right place at the right time. For me the place was Twitter and the time was this morning right about 8am Pacific time. It was there I saw this message…

I clicked on the link and there I was, watching the Discovery Pre-Conference Event live from the FETC Conference in Florida. Problem was it didn’t look like anything was happening. People were just sitting at tables talking and working on their laptops. Maybe they were taking a break and the real session would be starting in a few more minutes.

I decided to check out the chat and see who I might be able to “talk” with while I waited for something to happen. I saw my friend Jen Wagner (JenW in the chat) and tapped out a quick “Hey Jen!”. Funny thing is, where Jen would normally respond quickly with a greeting and a “smiles”, I got nothing. Strange. I read backward through the chat and noticed JenW, nsharoff, derrallg, pgeorge, dduray, and a few others were all busy chatting about gathering pictures, adding slides to a presentation, and posting links on Twitter. In a few moments it was clear what was going on. I had just dropped in right in the middle of a…

Virtual Project

All those people at the tables in Florida were not just having conversations. They were working on a project for the DEN Pre Conference. And so were we. Before I knew it I was part of Virtual Table #7. Our project was about the weather. An appropriate topic considering the blizzard that was crippling most of the country right now. Jen had created a Twitter form asking for your location, the temperature, and whether or not schools were closed in your area because of the weather.

At the same time, the group was collecting pictures uploaded to Flickr from around the country and bringing those images and weather information into a Google Presentation.

I quickly got to my Google Docs, opened the presentation, and observed a presentation forming right before my eyes. I SO wanted to be a part of this. Grabbing a camera from our library media center I quickly ran out front and snapped a picture of the front of my building being sure to frame the shot so it showed off the warm California sunshine. A quick Google search gave me the current local temperature and daily forecast. I added an new slide to the presentation and alerted the chat room that I was claiming slide #13 for myself.

Over the next 30 minutes we worked to build resource pages, links to Discovery content, weather maps, links to the survey results and more. Nancy Sharoff even linked to a Youtube video of snow falling right outside her house. She had just shot and uploaded it a few minutes earlier. I put my own creative touch on the title slide.

By 9:15 am we were just about done and pretty proud of what we had accomplished. About 2 hours later the projects were shared. Even though I had 4th graders in the computer lab with me, I watched live as groups presented their projects. Then Porter Palmer, who was running the live feed for us in the room in Orlando, shared the project that Virtual Table #7 had created. What a thrill to see our work displayed on the screen in Florida and to hear the Oooohs and Aaahhhs from the pre-conference attendees. I think my self-esteem just went up a few notches.

Thanks to all who participated in the virtual project and to Porter Palmer and the rest of the DEN Team at FETC for making something like this possible. It was a blast.

CLICK HERE to see our presentation.

Collaborative Maps Update

In my last post I mentioned that, ” I’d still like to see a SHARE button on Google Maps.” Today I noticed that when I go to My Maps, I see a “collaborate” link at the top.

Clicking on it will let you invite others to collaborate with you on your map.

I’m not sure how long that feature has been there. (It was probably already there when I wrote my last post.) For now I’ll just fool myself into thinking that Google liked my idea and decided to add this feature because of me. 🙂

It’s worth noting that collaborating on a custom Google Map still requires users to register for a Google Account, something that requires an e-mail. If you’d like your students to be able to work together on a map without having to register for a Google Account, Linda Dierks suggests ScribbleMaps.

As an alternate way to have students collaborate on maps, I’ve been using Scribble Maps (http://scribblemaps.com). It gives many of the same features Google Maps can without having to set up forms. You can save the map you create to a unique URL and password (still no ID needed) and share it with others. They can save changes as long as they have the correct URL and password.

Thanks for the idea Linda.

Collaborative Maps

Ever sit around playing with a particular web tool and say, “This is great, but there’s got to be a way to…(insert your idea here).” This particular question has been rolling around in my head regarding Google Maps. I LOVE Google Maps, but have been frustrated that I haven’t found an easy way to create maps collaboratively. I know I can share Google Docs and have multiple people working on the same document, presentation, or spreadsheet, so why can’t I do the same with maps? I was ready to write a blog post today pleading with Google to add a SHARE button to Google Maps when I was reminded of a tool that Andy Losik shared with me last spring.

There IS a way for my students contribute placemarks to a Google Map. A way that doesn’t require them to use my login, or even have a Google account. Here’s what you do:

  1. Create a Google Form – Students will use this form to enter their placemark information. This will put their information into a Google Spreadsheet. No login required. They just need a link to the form.
  2. Use Map A List (www.mapalist.com) to auto-generate a Google Map that’s linked to your spreadsheet.

To set up your Google Form, you need to know that Map A List determines location using the following fields:

  • Address 1
  • Address 2
  • City
  • State
  • Zip
  • Country
  • Latitude*
  • Longitude*

*Latitude & Longitude information supersedes address information.

You’ll then want to add three additional fields for the placemark information.

  • Title – What appears for the title of the placemark.
  • Additional Info – What appears as the text in the popup window. This field will also accept HTML code. So any code you can copy & paste into Google Maps will work here too.
  • Placemark Symbol Identifier (optional) – This could be a multiple choice item in that your students use to select what type of placemark they want.

Here’s a sample Google Form I created. Feel free to add your data to it.

Once your form is done and you’ve started collecting information, go to Map A List and sign-up for an account. After that, you’ll need to give Map A List authorization to access your Google Spreadsheet. Once that is done you can start creating your map. It’s a simple step by step process.

Select the spreadsheet that contains your map data.

Match the fields in your spreadsheet to the ones that Map A List uses to create your placemarks.

Once that is done, Map A List will check to see how many locations it can find based on the information in your spreadsheet. It does a surprisingly good job of determining locations even with incomplete information.

If you added a field that determines what type of placemark to use, the advanced feature on the next step is where you enter that information.

The last step is where you save your map and set a few final options. If you want to be able to send a link to your map to others or embed it on your web page or blog, you’ll need to make it public.

Here’s a link to the Google Map I created with my form. If you added data to the form, it may take a while to appear on the map. I set mine to update automatically, but noticed that sometimes I need to go in to Map A List and tell it to update the map manually if I want to see new data added the spreadsheet.

Classroom Applications
Students can participate in this type of collaborative map by…

  • Mapping Birthplaces. It could be their own, or someone else’s. Our 5th grade is working on immigrant reports right now. This would be a fun way to share their information.
  • Historical Places. Students could work together on a class project locating and posting information about historical places around their state or country.
  • What’s The Weather Today? Classes from several different schools could pick a day and share the weather. They could even embed a picture of what it looks like outside.
  • Breakfast Around the World. The form could be shared with as many people as possible to find out what people around the world eat for breakfast. Hmmmm. This idea sounds familiar.
  • I’m sure you can think of other ideas…

This is great, but there’s got to be a way to…
Add lines? Highlight regions? Draw shapes? I haven’t figured these out yet. If you have any ideas please share them.

By the way Google, this does not let you off the hook. I’d still like to see a SHARE button on Google Maps.

It’s All About the Network

Have you seen those Verizon commercials that have hundreds of support people standing behind their wireless phone user? The idea is to let you know that you’re not alone, that you’ve got people behind you to keep you connected. Their slogan – It’s all about the network. That’s how I felt about MY network this week.

On Tuesday morning I worked with one of our third grade classes. They had just read the book “George Washington’s Breakfast” by Jean Fritz. Our idea was to create a little form, asking the world what they ate for breakfast. I opened up a new form in Google Docs and had the kids help write the survey description and questions. Then I posted a link to the form on Twitter and Plurk asking you to show them the power of our network.

The results were practically instantaneous. Within 15 minutes we had a dozen responses. By that evening there were over a hundred. When I checked the next morning there were almost 400! Most were from the US, but we also had responses from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Scotland, Italy, China, Singapore, Korea, and Brazil!

I thought it would be fun to add the responses to a Google Map, so I started copying and pasting what people ate into placemarks. I had to stop after the first 200. I just couldn’t keep up with the responses.

View Breakfast Around the World in a larger map

We’re still working on what we’re going to do with all the data, but if you’d like to share our project with your students, here is a link to our spreadsheet. (As I write this, we’re up to 469 responses.)

I’d like to thank all those who contributed to the survey and passed it on to others. The kids had a blast watching the results come in. We were all amazed by the huge response. Our network ROCKS!