Unit 1: Your toolkit

The concept

We all need a set of core tools to help us accomplish everyday tasks – online and in the real world. Some tools have many uses, like a Swiss Army knife. In the online world, with so much information flowing around us, we need tools that help filter information that we choose to see, and also cut out some of those irritating admin tasks, like constantly logging in to different sites.

In this unit we’ll look firstly at a multifunction tool and then a couple of ways to use it. You’ll set up a Google account – but there are others you can use too, like Yahoo or MSN, and new services come along all the time. It’s up to you which one you prefer outside or after this course: the important thing is to assess, choose and use tools that help you streamline your online life, rather than make it more complicated. We’ll talk about how to assess tools and services in a few weeks’ time.

The task

Google isn’t just a search engine. It provides a huge range of services to help you manage your web experience. We’ll look at a few of these during the course, so to start we’d like you to open a free Google account.

This not only gives you access to Google services like Gmail and calendar, you can also use it to manage and collaborate on documents, set up a library in Google Books, and much more. But your Google account can also be used to sign into a number of other online services that we’ll use throughout the course – so it cuts down on the number of pesky passwords.

Many of you may already have a Google account, particularly if you have a Gmail address. Even if you do, you might find it easier to create a new Google account that you use purely for the PLN course or for professional purposes. However, if you’re comfortable using your current Google account for the duration of the program then you can skip the first step and head straight to step 2.

Step 1: Sign up for an account

Visit the new accounts page to register for an account. Choose a strong password that is memorable to you but difficult for others to guess. You might also like to read the terms of service & privacy policy related to Google accounts which have recently been updated. One of the most recent updates is to their terms is the inclusion of “Shared Endorsements”; these are ads created by Google using your name and/or face and based on your social networking activities (like +1s). It’s a simple click to opt out of Shared Endorsements.

Your account offers you a wide range of services that you can explore when you feel ready. But for now, we’re just going to do something simple and fun.

Step 2: Use your account to add yourself to a shared map

Once you’ve logged in to your new or existing Google account, we’d like you to add yourself to a map of PLN course participants.

Pinpoint your position on the map and include a sentence about yourself or your work. This is a map that can be viewed by anyone, so make sure you only provide information you are comfortable sharing. You might just include your first name and a general location such as your town, suburb or school location on this map.

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To add yourself to the map follow these steps or watch the brief video below which will guide you through the process.

  • Visit the Google Map of PLN course participants
  • Make sure you are logged into your Google account (your name will appear in the top right corner of the screen).
  • Type your location (school or suburb/town) into the Search bar
  • Choose a green marker that best describes your location and click on Add to map
  • Click on the pencil icon in the bottom right hand corner to edit your entry
  • Enter your name and a brief description of yourself. You can also add an image or video by clicking on the camera icon in the bottom right hand corner. When you’re done, click on Save.

You should now appear on the map. Remember to keep visiting it to see who else has added themselves throughout the program.

Video: How to add yourself to the Google map

You can probably also think of ways you could use Google maps like this in your work – creating maps that chart student communities, or historic events, or famous places.

Proceed to next task – Use your Google account to follow the news.

Or return to the Unit 1 overview.