Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Most Underrated Google App

This is the 13th (lucky #13) post in a series in which 5th grade musicians are collaborating and researching using Edmodo and creating Sites in Google Apps for Education.

Ahh, Google Apps!  How do we love thee?  We love your Docs.  We love your Forms. We love your Presentations, your Sites, your Mail, and Calendar.

But what about the Video app?  Is it the ugly stepsister of the other apps?  Is it the Rodney Dangerfield of Google Apps for Education, begging for respect?

I have come to really like the Video app (I am talking specifically about the Video app within your Google Apps domain).  If I am uploading a screencast that will be shared with students, I absolutely put it in our domain's Video app.  Putting a screencast in Videos allows you to share with anyone (or everyone) in your GAFE domain at any time just like you would share a Doc or a Site.

 Here are some of the great benefits of the Google Video app:
• If you are already in Google Apps for Education, then uploading to Videos is easier than logging into another service such as SchoolTube or TeacherTube (both of which I use).  The uploading to GAFE Videos is simple and straightforward.
• If you collaborate with other teachers, you can easily share Videos with each other.
• You don't have any of YouTube's problems with inappropriate comments, related videos, and advertisements.  With the Video app, none of these problems come up.  Comments are allowed in the Videos app, but they cannot be anonymous.
• You can embed the video on other websites.
• You have the same tight security you enjoy with other Google Apps
Best thing - you can share it to everyone in your domain, groups of people, or even just individuals.
Google's own comparison chart from their online training modules
Only recently have I realized how great the Video app is.  It allows you to be in more than one place at a time.  At this point in the project, I have students all over the spectrum of completion.  I need to provide extension for the leaders and provide more support for those struggling.  So what do you do?  For your those who are ahead, you pick another web 2.0 activity (such as Voki) and record a screencast about how to create it and put it on your Site.  For those who are struggling or were absent, you have screencasts they can review.

Videos allows you to create "Just in case" content for students and deliver it "Just in time".  Talk about personalized learning and differentiation!  By not sharing the video with everyone at once, it does not distract the other students who really need to stay focused on writing biographies.  I am recording several screencasts of extension activities and keeping them in my Video tab.  When a student is ready for a new activity, I just go to my Video tab and share it to them.  Instantly, the Video is in the student's account so they can view it and start creating.  And this does not take the teacher out of the equation at all - in fact, as a teacher, you have to be even more aware of where your students are at so you match content to their abilities and deliver the content "just in time".

(Embedding content like a Voki in a Google Site is an advanced skill for young students because you have to create the Voki in one sitting (so you do not have to create an account), get the embed code, and insert the code as HTML in your Site.  To make it easier, my screencast told the students to create a new page for just the Voki.  That way, when the student pushes the HTML button in Sites, there won't be any confusion about where to paste the code.  Your student leaders can handle this.  One of my 5th graders did it entirely at home, and he had never even heard of Voki previously.  All because I shared a 4 minute video to him.)

Some things to know about Videos:
• Google intends that Videos is only meant for teachers and faculty.  At least at this time, it is not meant to be a place where students can upload their own videos.
• Your GAFE administrator has to whitelist each user individually for uploading.  I am not a GAFE administrator, nor am I a GCT, but I do not believe Videos can be opened to an entire domain or organizational unit en masse.  Each user who wishes to have uploading privileges must request permission.  On the other hand, no whitelisting is needed to receive the videos - meaning a teacher can share to students in their domain.
• There are size limits for file uploads.  Currently, it is 300 mb per upload.  I also believe there is an overall domain limit for uploaded videos, meaning it would not be an appropriate repository for videos that do not need to be specifically shared within your domain.
• Do not use the Google Video app to embed videos on Sites that are intended for the general public.  The video will not show up on the page unless the viewer is logged into his/her GAFE account and the video has been shared to him/her.  For this reason, if I record a video of a student performance, I would upload to SchoolTube or another similar service.

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