Welcome to the Apps User Group website.  Our purpose is to connect and assist schools in the use of Google Apps for Education.  The site contains resources for implementing and using Google Apps, news from the Google blogs, links to schools that use Google Apps, a discussion forum, and more.  All uses are encouraged to share resources, ideas, questions, and comments.

Below are the latest news posts for the site.  If you have news to share, please submit your article using this form.

Chromebook Institute Great Lakes

posted Aug 25, 2014, 12:57 PM by Eric Curts   [ updated Aug 25, 2014, 12:58 PM ]

Looking to dive deeper into Google Apps?

The Chromebook Institute will take place on October 25-26, 2014 hosted by North Canton City Schools at Hoover High School in North Canton, Ohio. This two day immersive conference experience focuses on learning and implementing Chromebooks, Google Apps for Education, Google Play for Edu tablets, and the entire Google ecosystem into your school environment. With many educators and school districts on this very journey, this professional learning event intends to serve as a catalyst for making that journey deeper, more effective, and sustainable. 

The Chromebook Institute provides an opportunity for educators to learn about:
  • The power of Chromebooks and Google Play for Edu tablets for learning and teaching
  • How to infuse Google devices into the learning environment
  • How to create an environment for differentiated, anytime / anywhere learning
  • Growing with all aspects of the Google ecosystem
  • Best practices for implementing technology from the curriculum and technology perspectives
  • Google Apps for Education tools for learning and engagement
  • and much more…
The program features both exposure sessions and hands-on workshops by practitioners, for practitioners that yields 97% attendee satisfaction!  Sessions are built around these central Google ecosystem themes:
  • Google Devices/Hardware (Chromebooks, Tablets, Chromecasts, Glass, etc)
  • Google Apps for Education
  • Google Enhancements (Scripts, Add-on, Apps, Third Party Tools, Partners, and Extensions)
  • Googley Stuff (learning spaces, design thinking, 10x Ideas, 20%, etc)
  • Chrome Management, Google Play for Edu, and IT Components
Join us for the Chromebook Institute Great Lakes on October 25-26, 2014 at Hoover High School in Canton, Ohio. Your expedition into the Google Ecosystem awaits! 

You can learn more about the event including the opening keynote, 10x Thinking in Education Talk Keynotes, Spotlights and breakout presentations at this location.  Please consider registering you or your group today!  

If you have any questions about the conference, please contact cbiteam@chromebookinstitute.com.

Dragon Quest! A Google Slides Interactive Story

posted May 6, 2014, 5:19 PM by Eric Curts   [ updated May 17, 2014, 9:29 AM ]

Growing up in the 80’s meant reading loads of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. They were fun, and a little scary, and you died pretty much every time, but they got lots of kids into books. Recently I decided to bring this idea off the page and into the 21st century by using Google Slides to create an online, interactive story.

Often we think of Google Slides in terms of linear presentations, with one slide after another in order. However, Google Slides allows you to add hyperlinks to your presentation which can link to other slides within the presentation when clicked. This allows you to create a nonlinear slideshow, where the user can branch off to multiple different slides from any one slide.

Linking to other slides can be used to create quizzes where each answer choice leads to a different slide to let you know if you got the correct answer. It can also be used to build an interactive “Choose Your Own Adventure” story where each slide offers choices that lead to different parts of the story.

And so was born “Dragon Quest”!

Well to be fair, the story was actually written many years ago by my students. Back when I was a middle school teacher one of our projects was to have students work in teams to create their own “Choose Your Own Adventure” story. The students wrote all the text and drew all the pictures. “Dragon Quest” was one of those stories, which I have transformed into an interactive Google Slides presentation.

This can be a great project for your students. Google Slides makes it easy for them to add text, insert images, link the “pages” together, and share their story online for everyone to access.

For helpful directions on how to make an interactive slideshow, you may use my help guide “Creating Interactive Google Presentations” and see other related resources here on the Apps User Group site at: http://www.appsusergroup.org/presentations/interactive-pres

If you are brave though, and ready to face the dragon, it’s time for your adventure to begin. To access “Dragon Quest” click the link below:
Good luck! You’re going to need it.

Improving Student Writing with Google Docs

posted Apr 28, 2014, 7:08 AM by Eric Curts   [ updated May 17, 2014, 9:38 AM ]

Google Docs is much more than just an online word processor. It is a tool for improving student writing.

Google Docs has many built-in features, as well as third party tools to help students with their writing. These include peer review, tracking revisions, having students' writing read aloud to them, giving feedback through text and voice comments, the integrated research tools and citation tools, bibliography add-on, publishing student work, and more. 

For full details see the new help guide and slideshow linked below:
Please response in the comment box below to share your own tips for using Google Docs to help students become better writers.


posted Mar 8, 2014, 3:09 PM by Eric Curts   [ updated May 17, 2014, 10:24 AM ]

Normally when we think of spreadsheets, what comes to mind is numbers, statistics, and charts. But how about playing a game?

Since I am a Google Geek, I decided to create a playable version of the beloved Battleship game inside of Google Sheets. And with that, Battlesheets was born!

Here's how it works:
  • Basically it is an online game where each player uses a different tab in a shared spreadsheet, types in letters in one grid to place their ships, and then takes turns typing in X's in another grid to drop their bombs.
  • Pre-made formulas and conditional formatting then show you if you have hit your opponent and if they have hit you.
  • The game continues until one player has sunk all of their opponent's ships.
  • Replay is as easy as deleting the contents of your grids and starting over.
  • Detailed directions are included on the first tab of the spreadsheet labeled "Instructions".

Battlesheets is available as a read only spreadsheet template, which means you will need to make your own copy of the spreadsheet, and then share it with your opponent to play. To access the Battlesheets template click the link below:

To learn more about the Google Sheets features used to make the game, check out the Google help pages on topics such as conditional formatting, the spreadsheet function list, and specifically the IF function.

If you have any suggestions or feedback please let me know so I can continue to improve the game. Plus a big thanks to Doug Terhune for testing the game with me and offering great ideas for improvement.

So find a friend, drop your bombs, and let the Internet hear you cry "You sunk my Battlesheet!"

Lucidpress puts desktop publishing in your browser

posted Feb 23, 2014, 3:48 PM by Eric Curts   [ updated May 17, 2014, 12:15 PM ]

Desktop publishing has long been the unicorn of web-based applications. We have web-based versions of word processors (Google Docs), presentation tools (Google Slides), image editing application (such as Pixlr Editor), and even video editing programs (such as WeVideo). But when it came to desktop publishing, if you wanted to create a nice tri-fold brochure your only real options were traditional programs such as Microsoft Publisher or Adobe InDesign. Web-based desktop publishing was just a fantasy. That is, until now.

Lucidpress is a powerful web-based desktop publishing solution from the folks who created Lucidchart, the awesome online diagramming tool. Much like Lucidchart, Lucidpress comes with many templates and tools, integration with Google Dirve, and the ability to share and collaborate with other users. Best of all, it is free to use for educators and students.

You can add Lucidpress to your Chrome browser or Chromebook through the Chrome Web Store or to your entire Google Apps domain through the Google Apps Marketplace. Or you can simply go to the Lucidpress website. For more details read the press release below from Lucidpress.

Lucidpress brings desktop publishing to your browser

Lucidpress is a desktop publishing program that runs in your browser. Offering enterprise-quality technology without the high price tag, Lucidpress is free for educators and students. It’s the ideal tool for education because of its flexibility, easy-to-learn interface, and possibilities for collaboration. Beginners and advanced designers alike can make flyers, posters, and digital yearbooks. You can access your documents from a variety of devices: desktop computers, tablets, and even iPhones. Easily collaborate with students through comments and chat right from the editor—there’s no need to email copies back and forth, because multiple users can make changes simultaneously. 

Lucidpress also integrates seamlessly with Google Apps. This program is highly rated in the Google Apps Marketplace. Lucid products have been deployed by several top-tier educational institutions, including Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford University.

Lucidpress is intuitive—educators and students can start creating documents their first time in the editor. The application even has several pre-loaded templates which will jump-start your print and digital projects. Making a poster for a bake sale, a department brochure, or a cutting-edge digital yearbook has never been simpler, nor yielded such high-quality results.

Imagine that you are the editor of an on-campus magazine. Rather than sending endless article drafts and page layout mockups back and forth, you can let writers, editors, photographers, and designers all access the same document. This is a great opportunity for students to not only learn cloud-based desktop publishing skills, but understand how to work as a team and incorporate feedback from educators and peers. 

This video will give you a taste of how students and teachers can collaborate on documents:

Whether you're assigning homework or completing a classroom project, we have a variety of resources that can help. Check out our guides on how to make a brochure, how to make a flyer, and how to make a poster. If you'd rather start from a customizable template, you can also choose from the following categories:
  • Print
    • Invitations
    • Newsletters
    • Newspaper Supplements
    • Magazines
    • Reports
  • Digital
    • Flyers
    • Newsletters
    • Magazines
    • Photo Books
    • Presentations
    • Yearbooks
In the editor, you have access to all the tools you would expect from desktop publishing software. Once you’ve selected a template, you have a high degree of control over your layout, text content, and images. Here are some highlights of what you can do (and if you get confused, consult our detailed tutorials): 
  • Image importing and editing: Upload images directly from your computer or your Google Drive, Facebook, Flickr, or Dropbox accounts. This means much easier teamwork between photographers and writers on newsletters, yearbooks, and flyers.
  • Text import and editing: Drag and drop text from Google Drive and edit it in Lucidpress. Changes you make automatically back up to the cloud. No more lost files!
  • Sharing options: Control who can edit, comment, and view your document. Invite collaborators, push documents to social networks, and print—all from within the editor!

Sign up for a free account today. Lucidpress is currently in beta and free for all. We're pleased to continue our track record of free educational access by offering Lucidpress to all students and teachers.

Jeopardy Game Template for Google Slides

posted Feb 14, 2014, 8:15 PM by Eric Curts   [ updated May 17, 2014, 12:13 PM ]

Many years ago the height of technology integration was creating an interactive Jeopardy game in PowerPoint. So, I decided to go a little retro and recreate the Jeopardy game in Google Slides.

The key to making a Jeopardy game is to use the Link tool in Google Slides. Normally a slideshow is designed to be viewed sequentially, one slide followed by the next in order. However, Google Slides allows you to put links in slides that can link to any other slide in the presentation, regardless of order. By using links to other slides, a presentation can be created that is non-linear, in which the user can choose which slides to view.

Detailed directions on how to create interactive presentation with Google Slides can be found in my help guide linked below.
So, using this technique I created two Jeopardy Game Templates. One has five categories and the other has six categories. In each template all the items are already hyperlinked, so all you have to do is make a copy of the slideshow and then add your questions, answers, and topic descriptions.

You can open the Jeopardy Game Templates with the links below.
As an example of a completed Jeopardy game created from these templates, below is a link to a Math Terms game.
If you create your own Jeopardy games with these templates, feel free to share them with me at ericcurts@gmail.com and I will be glad to add them to my list of examples.

And finally, the obligatory disclaimer:

"These slideshow templates are for educational use only and are not affiliated with Jeopardy! or Sony Pictures Digital Inc. Jeopardy! is a registered trademark of Jeopardy Productions, Inc. ©2005 Jeopardy Productions, Inc. All rights reserved."

Using Google Spreadsheets for SLO's

posted Oct 23, 2013, 9:59 AM by Eric Curts   [ updated May 17, 2014, 12:16 PM ]

Ohio teachers are required to create Student Learning Objectives (SLO's). There are several documents to be completed for the process, and the need to share the documents with others in the school for approval.

There are many tools that can be used for the SLO process. However, because of the need to collect data, share the information, and collaborate with others, using a Google Spreadsheet would be an excellent option.

To assist with this option, I have create a Google Spreadsheet template that can be used for the various parts of the SLO process. This is the first draft of the template, so I welcome any feedback and suggestions for how to improve the template.

The link to the shared SLO Template is: http://tiny.cc/slo-template

Please send and feedback or suggestions to me at: ericcurts@gmail.com or eric.curts@email.sparcc.org

What's a Chrome Extension?

posted Mar 26, 2013, 7:17 PM by Eric Curts   [ updated Mar 26, 2013, 7:17 PM ]

With the recent launch of our new Web App Reviews site at www.WebAppReviews.org we are doing some cross-posting of material from that site.

Below is one of our introductory videos that explains what Chrome web extensions are, and how to find, install, manage, and use them.

Be sure to check out the full Web App Reviews site at www.WebAppReviews.org where you will find reviews for the best Chrome web apps and extensions for education.

What's a Web App?

posted Mar 25, 2013, 6:21 PM by Eric Curts   [ updated Mar 26, 2013, 7:18 PM ]

With the recent launch of our new Web App Reviews site at www.WebAppReviews.org we are doing some cross-posting of material from that site.

Below is one of our introductory videos that explains what Chrome web apps are, how to find them, how to install them, how to use them, and more.

Be sure to check out the full Web App Reviews site at www.WebAppReviews.org where you will find reviews for the best Chrome web apps and extensions for education.

Introducing "Web App Reviews"

posted Mar 24, 2013, 4:08 PM by Eric Curts   [ updated Mar 24, 2013, 4:09 PM ]

Today’s schools are moving more and more towards cloud-based services. Instead of installing software on specific computers, schools are increasingly using web-based programs that run entirely in the browser, often called "Web Apps".

These allow access from any computer whether its in or out of school, school-owned or personal, Windows,  Mac, or Chrome OS. Web apps open the door for collaboration between users, automatic updates, BYOD, online learning, improved engagement, and extend learning well beyond the four walls of the classroom. Best of all for schools, web apps are often no cost or low cost.

In this brave new world of web based applications, how does a school find high quality, teacher-tested, educationally sound resources for the classroom?

Enter Web App Reviews: www.WebAppReviews.org

Web App Reviews is a site dedicated to reviewing the best Chrome Web Apps and Extensions for education.  Each review includes a written blog post and a short video covering what the web app or extension does, as well as practical integration ideas.

Please visit the site at www.WebAppReviews.org, and share this information with fellow educators students, and administrators. Feel free to submit your own suggestions for web apps and extensions you would like to see covered. If you are new to the idea of web apps, be sure to visit our "Getting Started" guide with helpful videos about finding, installing, using, and managing web apps and extensions: www.webappreviews.org/p/getting-started.html

Web App Reviews is run by educators Eric Curts and Sean Beavers.  Both are Google Apps Certified Trainers and Google Certified Teachers who are passionate about transforming teaching and learning through technology. We welcome your feedback, comments, and suggestions.

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