Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Midwest Google Summit 2012 Takeaways

I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the 2nd annual Midwest Google Summit this past Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in Wisconsin Dells and would like to share some of the takeaways and resources from the conference.

Check out the Resources page here where all presenters linked up their presentations online.  You'll definately find some good Google resources!  All my sessions are on this page of my 'workshops' site.  I presented on using Google Drive, Hangouts, and Chrome.  You can also see messages posted to Twitter with the #mwgs tag and find what people were conversing about.  What follows are 10 quick tips, snippets or things I take with me back to the real world.

1. Voxer - this is NOTHING Google related, but Andy Crozier introduced me to this app (iPhone/Android) that is a 'walkie-talkie' app similar to how the old Nextel phones used to work. Helped me keep in quick contact with sending short audio bursts to others walkie-talkie style.  Quicker than texting.  Can also text and send pictures through the app as well.  Super efficient.

2.  "Popout" of a YouTube video - Mark Garrison showed this in his YouTube session and I loved it.  Right-click (or Control-Click if using Mac) on any YouTube video and one of the menu choices that comes up is 'pop-out.'  This forces the video pop out to it's own window, but more importantly, you can COPY that URL and put it on your site.  When users click the link from your site, the video will open in it's own tab at almost full screen.  Can also change the end of the text in the URL to 'small,' 'medium,' 'large,' 'hd720' or 'hd1080' which will affect the quality or crystal-ness of the video as it plays.  Awesome little nugget.

3.  TabCloud extension for Chrome - I picked up a few new extensions or apps at MWGS, but Stacy Behmer introduced this one to me that's great for educators or presenters.  After installing, you go through and open the tabs you want open for teaching a class or presenting.  With all the tabs open (videos, notes, sites you plan to go to during the lesson), you click on TabCloud and 'save' that instance of Chrome with all those tabs open.  You do this before your class as you're getting all set up and you can name the 'tabcloud.'  Then, when you're getting ready to teach/present later, you go to TabCloud and click that tabcloud and wa-la --- all the tabs open and you're all ready for class or your presentation.  Genius.  Go watch the video to learn more.  .... See what I did there with the link the video all 'popout' style? :)

4. WatchDoc extension for Chrome - Another extension that Stacy Behmer shared with me was WatchDoc.  Allows you to see docs from Google Drive that were edited recently.  Great if you're a teacher that has files shared with students so you can see who touched what recently. Can open the doc right from this list as well.  TIP: 'desktop notifications' are turned on by default which allows a little popup window to appear everytime a doc is updated. This can get annoying so right-click on the extension and go to OPTIONS and uncheck 'desktop notifications.'

5. Symphonical - I presented on Google Hangouts and had 3 colleagues 'hangout' in to talk with the audience.  Friend Jennie Magiera shared an app you can use to manage projects while IN a Hangout called Symphonical.  Allows you to easily assign tasks, set deadlines and project manage.  All work is saved in your Symphonical account, which you can sign in to using your Google credentials.  Neat web tool and Hangout app!

6.  Hangouts Toolbox - While in the same Hangout, friend David Freeburg shared another Hangout app to definitely add called "Hangouts Toolbox."  This gives you more controls over audio settings for each user, more on camera fun tools like faces and just a lot of great features!

7. Google Groups - I've been very familiar with Google Groups (different from Contacts) and I'm a part of many but I've been starting to look at using these with students or thinking about them more on a mass scale. Hank Thiele shared (slides) logistics for setting these up and great tips when thinking about using Google Groups with your domain.  Lots of great ideas here.  

8.  Coulees.  Learned what they are. Enlightened. (Googling the definition doesn't do it justice.)

9.  Sean Beaverson's Demo Slam - I was thoroughly impressed with our Demo Slam competition at the end of the summit where we have 3 minutes to show one 'cool' thing.  Sean started a Google Doc at his computer and then opened that same doc from the Google Drive app on his phone and showed that he could edit the doc from his mobile device just like at the computer.  But that wasn't it...with the voice dictation capabilities built into the smartphone, he was able to dictate RIGHT into the document from his mobile device.  Pretty cool use of the technology, kids.  

10.  Connections.  This is cheap way to end the blog post, but I'm doing it anyway.  Loved all the connections that were made.  Enjoyed hearing and seeing what others are doing in their districts or how they are using these tools to connect online.  Whenever I introduce Google Apps to people for the first time, I try to show the importance of how all these tools are connected.  Loved seeing the 'people' side of that this weekend.  Great time.  Great people.  Great fun.  

Thanks for reading.

P.S. A last second #11 just for Andy (and Hank):