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Jan Zawadzki
Hapara - edu tools for Google Apps
Hapara - edu tools for Google Apps


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NASA's Curiosity team was terrified of a premature celebration - bit of insight into their internal comms.  Fascinating stuff.
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Linguistic nihilism in Internet startups.  Best laugh of the week.

"But, oh, my God, the terrible things these people do to words. It’s like watching some sadist work over a baby lamb with a rusty crowbar and a broken gin bottle. (...) It gets worse when they start talking about the ideas behind the insipid names."
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Kids dread classical music.  That was the consensus among the 8 year olds at last night's San Francisco Symphony's open air concert.

The pit was admittedly miles away, the tiny displays did nothing to add to their interest, and the blending of classical music with football commentary in the SFS's "Beethoven Sportscast"... well, it did not help.

Take a look at the faces of the kids in the videos below.  They are in awe, and entranced.  *This* is how kids react to music outside of a concert hall.

Want to see more kids in the concert and opera halls?  Get the music out.

Flash mob in the Copenhagen Metro. Copenhagen Phil playing Peer Gynt.

Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, Hallelujah Chorus - Must See!

carmen à grenoble flashmob au restaurant le 5, habanera

Som Sabadell flashmob

Opera Company of Philadelphia "Toreador" Random Act of Culture - Jan 8, 2011
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Wow. Pushing Blogger presentation. Cool stuff.
+David Kutcher makes beautiful websites on top of Blogger. Here's his latest creation for The Spence in Atlanta.
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Google Drive is not usable in most organizations, sign of things to come?

Google Drive has been in development for years, and the team behind it consists of Google veterans - this was not some quick acquisition. Yet, Google Drive is a huge step back in functionality.

Most users discover very quickly that sharing documents individually is a path to madness. Organizations quickly converge on a folder structure that is instead shared, ensuring that documents are visible to the right people with no fuss. Companies have been doing this for decades.

Google Drive makes it very painful to work with shared folders. For one, the Shared With Me link on the left navigation panel no longer lists folders. To get at the folders that have been shared with them, users have to sort the "Shared With Me" page by document title (?!)

There is no way to "pin" frequently used shared folders to the left navigation panel to make them more readily accessible. So users have to go through this process every time, and that's assuming they've figured out how to find their shared folders in the first place. It's a massive pain, and if we're hearing complaints, surely Google is too.

Given how long Google Drive has been in development, and the caliber of people working on it, this must have been a conscious decision.

The bottom line for Google, I fear, is that the vast majority of Docs users just don't care about sharing folders, and will never do so. Many have likely never even shared a document. That's because they are consumers, not organizational users.

And here lies the crux of the problem: in optimizing Google Drive for the bulk of the user community, Google made it a far less usable solution for Google Apps users in corporate/edu settings. And since Google will not split out Docs into two different services (Personal Docs and Company Docs?), this bias will get worse, and will eventually affect other services.

I hope they realize this was not the right choice.
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Google is the new Apple.
Apple is the new Microsoft.
Microsoft is the new IBM.
IBM is the new Xerox.

(from a slashdot post)
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Ugh. Some #GDrive design decisions just don't make sense.

While GDrive mostly works for me, it horribly breaks the collection sharing functionality. In Google Docs, collections shared with you appeared in the left-hand panel, below "My Collections".

In GDrive, they disappear - to access them, one must open Shared with me view and then SORT THE FILES BY TITLE. Which causes the folders to appear at the top of the view.

This becomes a significant problem if, like most power-users, you discovered that folder sharing is the single most effective way to simplify your life in Google Docs.

Adding the folder to your GDrive will make it more readily accessible, but will also result in the whole file structure being copied to your local disk. This is definitely NOT ok if the data is confidential, or if there is a lot of it. Which, if you're doing most of your organizational sharing via folders, is probably true for many folders.

Ugh. Thanks for making the sync work better, but why break the functionality needed by your power users???
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We're working on making InstaGrok easy to set up for teachers through our Teacher Dashboard. Interested in testing this? Ping us!
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Blackboard buying into Moodle is just moving deck chairs on the Titanic. The "traditional" LMS's days are numbered. A number of factors play a role - here are the key ones:

- emergence of KM platforms like Google Apps (or Facebook, or Live@Edu, etc.) These are not going away, and immense amount of money is going into extending their features, usability, and reach.

- learning as a life-long process: for all the arguments around content portability, traditional LMS's can't really make student content portable. Enter Docs.

- blended learning, inverted classroom, etc.: all of these are more collaborative in nature than traditional approaches. More collaboration requires better tools for collaboration. And open-ended tools like Google Apps are a natural home for student-generated content (Docs, Sites, Blogger, Picasa) or collaboration (Gmail, Chat, G+).

- traditional vendors are hobbled with legacy LMS systems: witness OpenCourse from Pearson. This should have been a killer product. Kudos to BB for willingness to cannibalize their own market, although we've yet to see their motives really.

- disappearance of walled gardens: traditional LMS's are often presented as "safe" online environments (as opposed to "scary" Google). The reality and common sense are already starting to prevail.

- consistent student/ back-office environment: Google Apps allows everyone in the school to use the same environment. This significantly reduces complexity, professional development and other costs.

- 1:1 environments: this isn't about having the computer replace the exercise book. It's about moving the exercise book into the cloud, allowing the computer to become just a pencil. This is precisely what Google is pushing with Chromebooks.

- it's really really hard to beat a free, zero infrastructure product. And easy to use. Did you need a consultant to start using Gmail after all...?

- tools like our Teacher Dashboard will proliferate. It's early days, but we're working our butts off to make Google Apps more relevant to schools and teachers; increasingly, this will mean eating into traditional LMS feature sets.

- anecdotal evidence: I have never come across a school that rolled out Google Apps, and then decided to switch away. I've now seen many shuttering Moodle and other LMS environments in favour of Google Apps. I fully acknowledge that we're biased, but note that I went out of my way to find schools leaving Google Apps to learn about what didn't work for them. (If you know of any please let me know!!)

BB/Moodle/etc. will no doubt add features, but this is not a fight they can win on features - consumers and enterprises (and schools) have repeatedly rejected more feature-complete products for easier-to-use or cheaper alternatives.

BB's acquisitions suggest that they view Moodle and open source as a threat; I think a far more profound shift is under way.
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