Thursday, March 31, 2011

Evernote Google Chrome Extension Gets New Features

Evernote, one of my favorite apps ever, keeps on getting better. The other day, they updated the web portal app and now today they updated the Google Chrome extension.

Updates to Google Chrome Extension:

  • New Right Click Options - clip all of the available page content, clip selection that you highlighted, click on an image to clip it into Evernote, and even create a new note with right click. This will pop up a new window with the new web note editor. 
  • Increased speed. Clipping will happen in the background so you don't have to wait around to navigate away from the page. 
  • Snippets - you can view all of your notes, including notes that you've clipped from the current site you are on. 
These improvements make Evernote, and the Chrome extension, even more powerful and useful.

Differences between Twitter, Facebook, email, and RSS feeds

There are a variety of tools that I use to stay informed and connected online. They each have their own benefits and shortcomings and I have different reasons for using each one.


Twitter - Twitter is an excellent resource for educators. I connect with other educators from around the world and share resources and discuss educational topics. I also get breaking news, updates from companies I like, and more. I don't use it as a purely social entity though. It is more for my professional use. The one problem with Twitter is that you can easily miss things as your feed moves along. You can search for users and topics, but it is very easy to miss things. It's strength is instant communication and connecting with people around the world. (however, the 140 character limit can make it challenging sometimes).

Facebook - I use Facebook to connect with friends and keep up with social events. I do follow a couple of business and education pages, but my main use is for keeping with with my friends. There are plenty of educational uses for it, but I haven't gone to far with that yet.

Email -  email is a great method of communicating with people. You can write any length, attach files, and the responses don't disappear in a feed of messages like on Twitter. I have an email account for business use (like banks, etc), my school email account, and a gmail account for Google accounts and communicating. I do not believe that email is dead, or even dying, like many people have suggested.

RSS Feeds - I've read different articles about how RSS feeds are dying too. I don't believe that. I use RSS feeds to subscribe to web sites to get notified when there is a new article. The feed doesn't disappear into a long line of messages like on Twitter. It will be there until I read it or delete it. I can also favorite an article to read later, or even share them with others. It is an extremely useful tool.

Each of these tools is useful in different ways and has different reasons I use them. I don't think that any one could replace the other because they are so different.

How do you use each one?

Free online scientific calculators

Calculators are a necessary tool in science and math classes. But, they don't have to cost the students anything.

First, there are a ton of free calculator apps available for every smartphone (iOS, webOS, Android, BB, Windows) so any student with a smartphone or PDA can get one on there.

Second, there are some free downloadable calculators, such as Microsoft Math and most computers have a built in calculator.

But, free, online calculators are also a great resource for educators and students. There are calculator extensions for Chrome and Firefox that students can use on their computer or through their Google account.

Here are some free online calculators that I like:

Web 2.0 - free online scientific calculator. Available on mobile browser. Can be embedded in your own website or blog too.'s online calculators - basic, scientific, square root, and more.

eCalc online calculator and math help - has an online calculator along with math help. There are also downloadable calculators, an iPhone app, iGoogle gadget, and embeddable widget for your site. There is also an unit conversion calculator.

Scientific Calculator - online scientific calculator that takes up whole web page. Makes it easier to read and use.

Save money and use free calculators instead of buying them!

Most Popular Posts on Ed Tech Guy

I haven't done a most popular posts, post, in a while. I was looking at the stats and decided to go ahead and list the most popular ones, in terms of page views. Here they are:

Interactive Periodic Table of the Elements - kind of surprised me

Evernote - get organized - free and on all platforms

Evernote - some great ideas for using it in education

Google For Educators 

Tools to go Paperless at School and at Home

Great Web 2.0 Resources for Students

Thanks to all my readers and supporters!

Google Salutes Robert Bunsen - scientist (yup, the Bunsen burner guy)

Today's Google Doodle is in honor of Robert Bunsen. It's a nice picture of chemistry lab equipment, with bubbles and everything.

Robert Bunsen was a scientist who died in 1899. He was known for the discovery of caesium and rubidium.He is best known as the inventor of the Bunsen burner, that cute little burner you used in school. He also discovered carbon-zinc electrochemical cell; methods of gas analysis; development of spectrochemical analysis and he was awarded the Copley medal in 1860.

One of the things I like about the Google Doodles is that they make certain historical people or events more mainstream.

Today's would be a good one to use in science class or history class. Talk about what the discoveries he made mean to us now.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Science Spot - lots of great science resources for teachers and students

The Science Spot is a collection of science resources, links, lesson plans, articles, and more.

The Science Classroom has lesson plans, activities, and more, organized by subject area. They were mainly developed for middle school science, but are easily adaptable to high school.

The Science Club page is for a science club at the host's school. There are a variety of activities, such as an egg drop and geocaching, listed that are great for use in or out of the science classroom.

The Reference Desk is a collection of web links and resources, sorted into categories such as science, educational, and lesson plans.

The Idea Factory is a collection of ideas and activities for the beginning and ending of the school year.

The Kid Zone is a great page for students. It includes links and resources for learning about science and is organized by topic. There are also links for technology, careers, and more. The links are all great resources and I've used many of them with my students.

There are also the following pages: Nature Center, Science Trivia, Puzzle Corner and Tech Corner (tech PD).

This is a great resource for all educators, especially science educators and for students.

Some updates and info on Google Buzz, Talk Guru and Docs

Google has made some updates and announced some information about three of it's products.

Google Buzz
Google Buzz - Google admits that there were some problems with the Launch of Google Buzz in terms of transparency and user control and they have reached an agreement with the US FTC about these issues. They are looking for user comments before they make changes to Buzz though. They are making improvements and improving privacy and security settings.

Google Talk Guru - This is a new Google bot that let's you ask simple questions and you get the answers. You can get information about the weather, sports results, definitions and more via chat. It will work on chat applications that support Google Talk. It's free and easy to use.

Get started! Send a chat invitation to
Google Talk Guru is an experimental service that allows people to get information like sports results, weather forecasts, definitions etc via chat. It works on many popular chat applications that support Google Talk.
To start using Google Talk Guru:
1. Sign into a chat client that supports Google Talk
2. Send a chat invitation to or click the link "Sign in and invite myself to chat with Guru" at the bottom of this page.
3. Find guru in your contact list and send chat queries to guru using the examples below:
Sport scores:score arsenal
Weather:weather Nairobi
Calculate:123 * 45
Currency:120 KES to USD
Definition:define laptop
Translation:translate earth to French
Web result:web Mount Kenya
Help:help translate

Google Docs - Google is testing a pagination feature. Currently, to paginate your Google Doc, you have to use print preview which takes time and takes you away from your document. With pagination, you will be able to just go to "View > Document view > Paginated" and it will show you your document as it would print. You will still be able to go back and use the compact view.
No mention of when it will be available.

You can find out what else is new in Google Docs here.

Evernote Updates Web app - great improvements

Evernote, the "remember everything" app has made updates to their web app.

Evernote allows you to take and share notes, clip web pages or parts of web pages, upload files, upload photos and search text in photos, and much more. I'm a huge fan and user of Evernote.

There are downloads for Windows and Mac, and apps for iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad), Android, webOS, Blackberry and Windows Mobile. You can also access your account and data through the web portal. This week Evernote updated the web portal to more closely match the functions of the desktop versions and the updates make it more efficient and powerful.

I use the desktop version at home because it backs up my data to my hard drive. I can also export all of my data as a backup. I use the web app every where else so that my data isn't actually on a computer.

Below is a screen shot of my account on the new Evernote web interface. It is my lesson schedule page. You can see the different weeks as individual notes on the left, the different notebooks to the far left, and the individual note content on the right. This ability to see the note contents like this is new for the web app. They have also changed the "share" note function to make it easier to use and you can share a note via Facebook, email, or link.

Evernote is an excellent resource for students and teachers and the new updates to the web app make it even better. If you don't use Evernote yet, I highly recommend it as a great organizational tool. Evernote has a great getting started guide to help you out.

It is free after all.

Related Articles

Evernote - get organized - free and on all platforms (includes ideas for teachers)

Evernote - some great ideas for using it in education

Evernote - free online notes and more

Unfettered by stuff - or why I don't lug stuff home every night 

Top 10 Free Web Resources for Educators 

Evernote Trunk - Hardware, apps and notebooks that make Evernote awesome - free tool to take notes and turn them into flashcards

Talk about interesting timing. As I'm reading about on Richard Byrne's blog, I get an email from one of the developers of, Jason Urton. He said he had found my blog because he is interested in technology in education and how technology can help students improve critical thinking. He is a Master's degree candidate in Computer science and developed as a tool to help students. allows students to take notes as normal, while it automatically builds a study guide of related flashcards. Students can then review the flash cards as a study tool. There is a built in algorithm to optimize the review time of the students as they use the flash cards. 

It is free and you can create a new sign in or sign in with your Facebook or Google Accounts. 

There is a video demo on the site to show you how it works and it's actually pretty easy and intuitive to use. 

When you open a new document to take notes, it has instructions on what to do right there.  You create your notes and then save them and click "review" and the flash cards are there for you.  The title of the card will be shown, and you try to remember what goes with it. Then you click "show" and it shows you the rest of the information (like flipping a flash card over) and then you click how well you "got it" on a scale of 1 -4. This is used in the algorithm so it knows if it should re-show certain cards. 

Creation screen.  Notes on left, note cards on right.

Note card view. 

Note: Zendo means "meditation hall" in Japanese. Pretty fitting. 

This is a great tool for students to use for note taking and studying. 

The development team, and Mr. Urton specifically, would like reactions or suggestion to the site from teachers and students. They would then uses that feedback to improve the site. 

You can email Jason Urton at:   jason at  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Engine Education - great resource from Pratt&Whitney on how engines work

Engine Education is a resource from Pratt & Whitney, makers of turbofans, turbojets, turboprops, and rocket engines.

The site has four different animations that explain how the different types of engines work: turbofans, rocket engine, turboprop and land based turbine engine (generates electricity).

The animations are well done and explain the concepts in a way that all students can understand.

This is a great resource for science classes and could also be used in other classes to get students interested about these topics.

Note: I worked for Pratt & Whitney many years ago in my previous life as a Aerospace Engineer.

Learn Genetics - great resource with virtual labs

Learn Genetics is a great resources from the University of Utah.

Learn Genetics has interactive videos and demos that explain different concepts of genetics. The web site is nicely designed and easy to navigate. There are articles about genetics and the technology behind it, virtual labs and much more. The virtual labs include DNA Extraction, PCR, Gel Electrophoresis, and DNA Microarray. Most schools can't afford the equipment and supplies to do these labs for real, so this site is a great alternative and the students still learn about the concepts. 

There is also another site from the university called Teach Genetics which is a beta preview teacher companion site for Learn Genetics. There are some resources now, with more coming in the future.

These are great resources for Biology and Genetics teachers.

My wife, a Biology teacher, found them and told me about them. She found them very useful and easy to use. Her students loved the virtual labs and learned the material while experiencing something new and fun.

Guest Post- 8 Tips for Teachers to Enhance the Use of Technology in Classroom

It’s a reality that all of us have to wake up and face, today and now, not tomorrow or sometime in the future – technology is taking over and dictating the way we work and play. And with kids becoming more adept in the use of technology, it’s the teachers who are left behind because they don’t understand technology and they’re reluctant to learn because they fear they never will. However, technology is a pretty simple creature – once you know the basics and keep practicing (using it regularly), you soon become a pro. So this academic year, here’s how you can make your class more tech-friendly, and introduce a new element of interest for your students:

1. Get to know and understand technology – you don’t have to become an expert on all kinds of technology overnight; all you need to do is find out what you can use in the classroom, and work on mastering its controls and features.

2. Practice before you bring it in – think of it as many dress rehearsals before the opening day of the school play; you need to be right on cue and not mess up if you want a standing ovation instead of boos from the crowd.

3. Know when you can use technology – some lessons are more conducive to using technology than others, and if you’re not sure about which classes to use technology in, talk to those who have done it before and get some ideas from them.

4. Use school resources – most teachers don’t know what the school’s lab has by way of technology. Very often, there are many devices that have been purchased and which lie unused – talk to the person concerned and see how you can put the technology to good use.

5. Prepare for mishaps – technology doesn’t always work perfectly; there may be a malfunctioning device, the power may go out, or you may not have set things up correctly. In such cases, it’s best to have a backup plan for the day’s lesson instead of whiling away the time trying to figure out what went wrong.

6. Tap the Internet – some schools may allow access to the Internet on a censored basis; so use the school’s computer labs to get your students introduced to websites that make learning both fun and informative. They can use these websites at home too, to work on their Math skills, or garner information for an assignment.

7. Introduce them to apps – most students these days carry mobile phones, so if you’re a little tech savvy, you can help them download the ones that are most useful to students. Many apps help them organize their tasks, manage their schedules, and even look up information quickly on the Internet.

8. Gather feedback – there’s no use of technology if it doesn’t make your job simpler or help you get things done more efficiently. If all technology is doing is wasting your time or making you do things twice over, then your classroom is probably not yet ready for the benefits that technology can provide.

By-line: This guest post is contributed by Brianna Davis, who writes on the topic of bachelor of arts online . Brianna welcomes your comments at her email id: briannadavis9-AT-gmail [Dot] com

Synonym Finder - find some new words so you don't keep using the same ones

Have you ever found yourself writing and continually using the same words over and over again, struggling to find a different way to say the same thing? Then Synonym Finder is for you. It is a free, quick and simple service to find synonym's. It also has antonyms and definitions for words, a daily word (great for learning new words) and a list of most viewed words (makes you feel better that you aren't the only one using those words).

It's a great tool for writers, students, and educators.

Splashtop OS - free, fast loading, Chromium based OS


Splashtop OS is a free, Linux based operating system that allows fast startup and access to the internet. I equate it to Chrome OS. It is based on Chromium, the same system Chrome is based on, and actually looks similar too. 

It is pre-installed on many netbooks from Acer, Asus, HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more as a quick start OS that can run as a dual-boot option with Windows. 

The download is only 2MB, but then when you run that file it downloads a 350MB file and then runs the installer. I installed it on my Acer Aspire One Netbook last night. Once it installed, I restarted the computer and after the start screen for the Bios, it gives me the option to start Windows or Splashtop OS. I selected Splashtop OS and it finished the install and started. The first start was a bit slower, but the second startup of Splashtop OS was much, much faster than starting Windows (took about 90 sec to start up completely. Windows takes much longer.)

It looks very similar to Chrome OS. It opens to a browser window. It defaults to Bing search, but you can change that to Google, Yahoo, and a few others. I changed mine to Google.

The start page and browser are just like Chrome. The omnibox is there, as are extensions and the new tab page has a link to Chrome apps and extensions, shows recent and most visited pages, and has a search box. Adobe Flash is pre-nstalled and works well. I was able to access all of the websites that I wanted to last night. I will continue testing and using it and update any issues. 

It doesn't affect any of your Windows settings or files either. Downloaded files while in Splashtop OS 

You can import your existing Windows bookmarks and Wi-Fi settings from Windows into Splashtop OS. There is a status bar that allows you to check the status of network connections, battery and power supply, volume, and the configuration panel. You can also quickly exit Splashtop and boot to Windows at any time.

I love Chrome OS because it is so fast and Splashtop OS offers the same fast start up and operation. This is definitely useful on any computer, especially a notebook or netbook, for fast access to the internet. As more and more people work in the cloud, they only need access to the internet. Splashtop OS allows you to have quick access to the internet without waiting for Windows to boot up. 

This would also be a great option for schools (just like Chrome OS is). Students can quickly start up a computer and get online. They can use all of the great Web 2.0 tools and not affect the computer itself. Their files and work are all in the cloud, all of the apps they need are free, and there is no software or other installs needed. It makes startup and shutdown of the computers faster, leaving more time for students to actually use the computers for learning. It can also be used on older computers as it runs faster than Windows, making the older computers seem newer. 

Check it out.

Amazon Cloud Drive - free online file storage and stream music

Amazon has officially announced their Cloud Drive this week. Amazon Cloud Drive is Amazon's version of online file storage. It comes with 5GB of free storage and you can upgrade to 20GB of storage by purchasing an Amazon MP3 album. There are also other levels of storage that you can pay for (up to 1000GB for $1000/yr).

The service does not mention anything about file syncing, just that you upload your files to their servers and then you can access the files from any computer. You can upload documents, musics, photos and video and download and preview them from any computer.

You can stream your music files from the service and any music you purchase from Amazon are stored on the Cloud Drive for free and don't affect your storage capacity.

It's another option for cloud file storage. I don't think it is as useful as Dropbox, Sugarsync, Zumodrive, and others because it does not sync your files. You have to manually upload them and then if you download and make changes, you'll have to re upload them. You can only download 1 file at a time.

There is no support for Apple devices yet. There is an app for Android though.

Another issue is that many schools block Amazon as a "shopping" site so you won't be able to access your files. However, if you purchase music from Amazon, this is a great idea because you can stream your music from anywhere.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tech & Learning - free magazine and website with great resources for educators

Tech&Learning is a great resource for educators. It is a print/online magazine, along with a great website. They also produce TechForum educational conferences and Virtual TechForum.

The Tech&Learning magazine, available free to qualified educators, is released monthly and contains articles, tips, resources, product reviews, and much more.

The website has a link to the electronic version of the magazine, the Tech&Learning Advisor blogs, links to resources from past TechForums, and more resources. There are articles on best practices, administration, integrating technology, professional development, free resources, tips and tricks, grant help, and so much more.

The Tech&Learning Advisors are educators who write articles for the TL Blog section of the website, contribute articles to the magazine, and also help review products and present at TechForum. Some of the names may be familiar to you as they are also very active online with Twitter and their own blogs and present extensively at conferences and unconferences around the world.

The staff are friendly and helpful, the TechForum conferences are great, fun, and informative, and the site and magazine have incredible information and resources.

Tech&Learning also maintains a presence on Facebook and  Twitter.

Tech&Learning is an excellent resource for all educators. It's free and contains a tremendous amount of information, links, resources, and tips and ideas.

I've written about Tech&Learning before, but never on it's own. I believe that it is a tremendous resource for educators and wanted to make sure more educators could take advantage of it.

Note: I am a TL Advisor and contribute twice monthly to the TL Advisor blogs. I have also have articles of mine published in the print magazine and present at TechForum.

Spicynodes - visualize and organize information and resources


Spicynodes is a visualization service that allows you to create nodes of information, links, text, photos, and other media and then link the nodes together in a way that makes sense. It can be used for mind maps, organizational charts, and even lesson plans. 

There is a free version and I found it easy to use and set up. I liken it to a combination of Prezi and a mindmap. It's not a presentation, but it could be. It's not a mindmap, but it could be. It is a very versatile tool that can be very useful for educators and students. 

Lightworks - professional video editing software available for free

Lightworks is a professional video editing software that has just gone public beta. The software is open source and has won Academy Awards and Emmy's. 

an Academy and Emmy award winning professional-grade editor with over 20 years of history in the film and broadcast industry. Having cut hundreds of films such as Pulp Fiction, The Departed, Centurion and Shutter Island, it includes a full feature set of editorial tools -- from advanced trimming and media management, to stereoscopic support and realtime effects including multiple secondary colour correctors. Lightworks has an advanced effects pipeline, utilizing the power of your GPU. And with support for up to 2K workflows with realtime effects, it is the most advanced editing application available.

Lightworks is full featured, has a support page, and a growing community of users

This is great for teachers for working with video for their classrooms and also great for students who are creating videos as assignments.

Lightworks Is a Speedy, Professional-Level (and Free) Open-Source Video Editor

Discovery Education on Twitter is now @DiscoveryEd - lots of great stuff

Discovery Education used to be @DEN on Twitter (standing for Discovery Educator Network). But, lots of people thought @DEN had something to do with Denver, so they decided to change it. Discovery Education on Twitter is now @DiscoveryEd

If you already follow @DEN, you will be moved over to the new @DiscoveryEd automatically. You should make changes to any bookmarks you have though for future reference. 

Discovery Education has a ton of free resources and posts information and resources beyond their own products and resources. The Discovery Educator Network and the Blogs are also great resources for educators. 

Here are a list of some great Discovery Education Twitter accounts:

@cbrown426 – Cynthia Brown, DEN Account Manager
@halldavidson – Hall Davidson. THE Hall Davidson.
@teach42 – Steve Dembo, Chief Twitter Officer for DE
@teachersurvival – Inspiration and practical advice for new teachers, from the New Teacher Survival Center
@wmihoulides – Whitney Mihoulides, Director of DEN Account Management

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Discovery Education Dawn Junior Wildlife Champions-free lesson plans about oil spills and wildlife

Dawn Junior Wildlife Champions is another great resource for Discovery Education, in partnership with Dawn.

The site has three lessons, recommended for grades 3-5, available for download. The lessons contain investigative research, hands-on experiments, and even at-home activities. There are also teacher resources and tools. The lessons are about the issues relating to oil spills and the environment and wildlife.

These lessons can be adapted for use with other grade levels also.

sendoid - share big files easily

Sendoid is a different type of file sharing service. It is peer-to-peer (P2P) which means you are sharing the file directly to the other person and it's not being stored on a server somewhere. 

To share a file (technically you are sending it) you go to the website and select the file you want to transfer from your computer. The service then provides you with a URL which you then send to the recipient and they can go there to download the file. 

File size limits are based on system resource (your user configuration) and usually run between 600MB and 1GB. That is much more than most services, which usually limit you to files of 25MB or less.  If your file exceeds your limits, you can download and use the Sendoid app, which alleviates all size limitations. 

Sendoid is peer-to-peer direct, so there is no real size limit and no cloud storage. This means it's also very fast. 

Try it out when you need to share a big file.

Related Articles:

minus - file sharing service

minus is a new file sharing service I learned about from Jonathan Wylie's blog. Minus is currently free and supports all file types (pictures, documents, music, videos, etc). You create an account then just drag and drop files from your desktop and folders directly to your browser to share the files. There are also desktop and mobile apps to use and a Chrome extension and web app.  There is a maximum file size of 25MB and you can only put 50 items in a gallery (folder). But, there is no limit to the number of galleries you can create.  There is even a way to share files as a guest without an account which could be useful for students who want to share a file with a teacher. 

UPDATED - you can now share files up to 2GB and you get 10GB of free storage to use.  You can easily share files, explore what other people are sharing. There is web, desktop, and mobile access. It's free, and very useful. 

Related Articles:

Cloud based file storage, sync, backup and sharing

Uploading it -upload, sync, and share files. - file sharing service

AirDropper - request a file from anyone - into your Dropbox

Let's Crate - easy, free file sharing

DropItToMe - receive files into your inbox


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