Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Incident Command - Great idea for educational leaders

Educational leaders, just like educators, can often feel overwhelmed with too many things to do. This can cause problems in the school because important tasks are not being completed. When the leader, for instance a principal, is overwhelmed, or tries to do too many things themselves, or tries to micromanage, the school can suffer. 

I am a paramedic and EMS officer and have over 22 years of EMS experience. One of the things every firefighter, paramedic/EMT, and police officer in the United States has to take is a basic incident command course. The basic course is available on FEMA's Independent Study Program and is a free, online course. Public Safety leaders (officers and the like) then take more intensive training including running drills. 

There is also an Incident Command course for Schools. IS-100.SCa Introduction to the Incident Command System for Schools is an excellent course that all school leaders should take in order to prepare themselves to handle emergencies in the school. 

Incident Command training is also an excellent way to learn more about leading a group and delegating authority. Incident Command includes some great aspects that can be used by any leader in almost any situation. Common terminology, task lists, standard job descriptions and responsibilities, support materials, and much more are all part of incident command and should be used in other areas also. Another concept is span-of-control

Span-of-control is a concept that says that a leader should only oversee 3 to 7 individuals, with 5 being optimal. This prevents the leader from being overwhelmed or being pulled in too many directions. It forces them to delegate authority to others. It is very important to maintain proper leadership, function, communication and efficiency. 

Principals and other school leaders should follow the span-of-control concept and have only 3 to 7 people reporting to them, with 5 as the optimal amount. Assistant principals, counselors, and teachers would be used as the "Section" leaders and then would have other people under them (committees). This would allow meetings to be smaller and more effective and work to flow better. The principal meets with their team, who then go and meet with their teams, and so on. 

With technology, it's easy to try to communicate and work with everyone all the time. But even with technology, people can only manage some much as one person. 

What do you think?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Zamzar - free online file conversion - great resource

Zamzar is a free online file conversion service that is very easy to use. You upload your file to their server, select what file format you want it converted to, enter your email, and done. They will send you an email with the link to the converted file.

This is a very useful site in these days of different operating systems and software versions. Students use different software than school and then the files can't be read on the school computers, etc.

The free version can take a little bit of time to convert, but it's free. There are premium fee versions that allow you to have faster conversions and create accounts to manage your files.

Zamzar can convert literally hundreds of file types, including Microsoft Office, PDF, ODP, and much more. It can even convert Apple Keynote files to MS PowerPoint. The conversions include documents, images, music, video, e-book formats, compressed files (like zip), and even some CAD files.

Here's a listing of all the file types.

This is definitely a tool that everyone needs to have.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Video Tutorials from Stump the Teacher - great resource for getting started with tech

I recently found out about Stump the Teacher, a blog by Josh Stumpenhorst, and the excellent collection of tutorial videos he has on the blog.

The videos are well done and easy to follow and understand. Topics include: Google Docs, Blogger, Greenscreen, Twitter, Evernote, and more.

These are great for people who want to get started with any of these tools, or even learn a few new things.

Definitely a resource to add to your list of great, on-demand, tech professional development sites.

Free Classroom Guides and Downloads for 2011 from Edutopia

Edutopia, the George Lucas Educational Foundation, is an excellent resource for educators. Their site has a huge variety of resources, tips, and research on education and is accessible for free. They are a big proponent of Project Based Learning and also have a lot of resources on best practices in education. 

They have a page with Free Classroom Guides and Downloads for 2011 that contains four excellent guides in PDF format. There are also additional, related resources linked from this page. 

The four guides are: 

Top Ten Tips for Teaching with New Media - tips and tools for making learning more engaging and collaborative.

Summer Rejuvenation Guide - Ten Fun Ways for teachers to spend their summers

Top Ten Tips for Assessing Project-Based Learning -  effective assessments for project based learning

Home-to-School Resource Guide - Get tips, tech tools, and strategies for how to strengthen the bonds between schools, families, and communities. 

Edutopia also has great blogs with some excellent articles written by educators. 

Share this resource with your colleagues.

Related Articles: (containing Edutopia)

Guest Post - On Teaching Children How to Learn

On Teaching Children How to Learn

Guest Post by Jeremy Fordham

There is perhaps no single greater challenge in parenting than teaching your child how to learn, and this is a process that requires nurturing an appreciation for the acquisition of knowledge. It requires pushing a child to enjoy challenging his or herself, to see “boring” subjects from interesting angles, to convince themselves to take an active role in their own education. Professionals have lots of opinions on why children lose interest in education as they grow older, but in the United states almost a quarter of college graduates are going on to pursue advanced degrees in a gamut of PhD programs, indicating that parents are definitely doing something right these days when it comes to instilling a life-long interest in learning. But just what exactly does it take? How can we increase the number of kids maintaining long-term interest in school? Or, at the very least, how can we maintain a long-term interest in learning no matter what a child’s ultimate decisions end up being? The trick is to start setting strong work ethics early on in life.


Preschool doesn’t have to be a $30,000-a-year affair with entrance examinations and headaches in order for your child to get the most out of the experience. A very interesting study recently published in Science does a great job of quantitatively demonstrating the benefits of preschool. As highlighted and dissected by MotherJones, students who attended preschool, according to the study, had stronger high school graduate rates, higher college attendance statistics and had higher overall incomes compared to their non-preschool-attending peers. And while correlation is certainly not causation, myriad professionals have exhaustively addressed the importance of preschool in early childhood development.

There are innumerable reasons why preschool is so important when it comes to teaching children how to learn. According to Berkeley professor David Kirp, preschool comes at a time when children are in a crucial developmental stage
. By placing a child in an environment where they can interact socially, hear words, build relationships with peers and exercise their sponge-like brains, kids hone life-long skills that make it easier to learn and succeed further on down the road. Preparation for the emotional and psychological aspects of education is one of the most important foundations necessary for developing strong study skills and learning habits.
At such an early stage of life, “instilling a strong interest in learning” seems like an elusive and impossible concept. But think about how easy it really is. Imagine if a preschooler is encouraged to figure out basic puzzles, or pushed to interact with the sounds that resonate from a piano when they touch the keys. In the most basic and most fundamental way possible, inspiring this sort of exploration at a young stage exposes children to the process of learning. Yes, it is difficult; yes, it requires motivation. But this is what makes it fun. It is entertaining to use your hands and figure out how a system works, and the more that a young child is exposed to that eureka! feeling, the more likely they are to pursue more of those moments as they grow older.

Furthermore, preschool helps bridge the gap in learning created by unavoidable socioeconomic stratification. According to Mr. Kirp, by age four children from a family dependent on welfare will have heard 30 million fewer words than those who come from middle class homes. This inherently dooms disadvantaged children to fall behind if parents do not act early on. Preschool is one of the greatest ways of ensuring that children are exposed to other minds like their own; of ensuring that they develop the critical keystone of their educational apparatus upon which they build as they grow older and are exposed to more external stimuli. Preschool is widely available and is a great way to start a child off on the right foot.

Parental Involvement

While preschool is a great way to develop the precursors of strong study skills, it should by no means be seen as a substitute for parental involvement in the educational process. The importance of familial connection and the organic benefits provided by parent-child interaction are unparalleled. There are a lot of interesting opinions on what makes a great parent, but the truth is that there is no unanimous answer to this question. Every child is born in unique circumstances that, very often, require variations in how parents need to approach learning. And no, stressing that a child performs at superior standards in school is not what is meant by an “approach to learning.”

Children need to be engaged by their parents in ways that promote critical self-reflection, as well as a reflection of the external world. Reading to a child, discussing current events, formulating opinions with them, inspiring structured (but simple) arguments, going on walks and asking questions about natural things--this is the type of organic interaction that encourages an a life-long interest in general education. Always remember that nobody is perfect--part of learning how to study well and retain information efficiently is learning how to do it incorrectly. Failure is an integral part of the learning process. All of the world’s greatest scientists didn’t formulate their theories overnight, and similarly, your child won’t become a great learner by asking just one question. Allowing children to develop their own unique interests, allowing them to pursue hobbies, ask questions and explore answers (within boundaries, of course), is one of the surest ways to help them figure out the right way to take in information--the right way for them. A strong natural inquiry translates into strong study habits, especially if a child has spent a lot of his or her time practicing in real, applicable ways that appease their own unique curiosity.

Additional Strategies

There are lots of different, existing strategies that a parent can take to help develop good study habits in children, especially when they’re older. Jennifer Viemont, a college success consultant of Deliberate Living, stresses the importance of concepts like time management and seeking outside help, which are somewhat complex ideas that are often best learned through trial and error.
Especially in today’s technology-laden world, time management seems to the bane of many teenagers’ existences. Lots of parents see their children complain that there just aren’t enough hours in the day!, only to see their teenager collapse in front of the TV or jump onto Facebook when they get home from school. In actuality, establishing a homework routine with an eight-year-old is much easier than with a teenager for obvious reasons rooted in psychological malleability. Teaching a child how to keep a calendar, budget time devoted to specific tasks, when to hang in there and when to call it quits are all essential in ensuring both educational success and general achievement as a working citizen. But these habits need to be ingrained early on if they are to effectively take hood. One of the largest blocks of successful studying and learning is emotional stress, and teaching children how to avoid this pitfall will boost their likelihood for success exponentially.

At the end of the day, developing study skills and lifelong learning habits is a complex process that involves delicate coordination of many ideas at many stages in a child’s life. A stepwise, knowledgeable approach to this ideology, however, has inevitable positive influence that, when combined with a little love, is sure to make your child an inquisitive person who not only enjoy new discovery, but who actively seeks it out.

Jeremy Fordham is a writer who assesses and promotes virtual PhD programs. He is an engineer who hopes to inspire dialogue in unique niches by addressing topics at the intersection of many disciplines.

Virtual Fetal Pig Dissection

Virtual Fetal Pig Dissection is a great site from Whitman College that allows teachers and students to experience the learning of doing a fetal pig dissection without the expense (and smell).

The site is designed to supplement an actual dissection lab, but students and teachers can use it alone also.

The site is picture based, with descriptions and annotations on the pictures.

Great for schools who don't have the money to do actual dissections.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Teacher Grade-ins - what a great idea to show the public what we do

I learned about teacher "grade-ins" from the CT Education Association blog (affiliate of NEA). The article talked about how New Jersey teachers came up with this idea and now it has spread to other states including my home state of Connecticut.

A grade-in when a group of teachers gather in a public space, like a park, shopping mall, or store (like a bookstore with a cafe), and grade papers and prepare lesson plans, in the evening or on weekends.

These grade-in's show the public what teachers do when they are not in school. The reaction from teachers and the public has been very positive. Unless you are a teacher, a room mate of a teacher, or have a teacher in your family, you probably think teachers work 7 hrs a day and get all these days off and the summer off. These grade-in's are showing the public how much work teachers do outside of school. I know that I work in the evening, on weekends, and even on "vacations" just like most of my colleagues. Reports from teachers participating have said that the public is responding well, and in some cases surprised, about how much extra work teachers do.

I think that this is a great idea. Besides showing the public what we do, it would also create more of a community with the teachers themselves instead of working at home in isolation. Make it social and productive. Create a wonderful new Professional Learning Community.

What do you think about this idea?


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Academic Earth - find free online courses

Academic Earth is a site similar to Einztein. It is a collection of links to free online courses from a variety of schools and web sites.

You can search for courses by subject, university, or instructor. Subjects include Astronomy, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Education, Engineering, Law, Math, Physics, Psychology and much more. Universities include Berkeley, Columbia, Harvard, MIT, NYU, Princeton, Yale and more.

This is a good resource for finding courses for yourself, brushing up on material, or having students use it as a supplemental classroom resource.

21 Things for Students - tech resources for students with instructions and project ideas

21 Things for Students is a site that was created as part of a grant program in Michigan for creating an educational resource for educational technology for students. As the name suggests there are 21 different resources. Each resource also includes tips and links for using it and project ideas. There is a Teacher Overview page that explains the alignment of the project with NETS and a Teacher Assessment Page that has information about the assessments and rubrics for each project.

The resource categories are: Staying Organized, Web Presence, Digital Citizenship, Be Legal and Fair, Productivity Suite, Project Collaboration, Digital Video, Information Literacy, Personal Networks, Self-Directed Learning, Online Learning, Interactive Tools, e-Commerce, Career Prep, Troubleshooting, Visual Organizers, Powerful Presentations, VAI-Casting, Virtual Programming, Data Quest, and Mobile Computing.

Projects include:  Delicious, Google Docs, tips on web presence and copyright, Google Docs collaboration, Thinkfinity, Google Maps, Quizlet, how to be a better presenter, how to use mobile computing, and much, much more.

Each of the 21 Resources includes an app or website, project instructions, and tips.

There is also a page with Fun and Educational resources and games and a Feedback Page. The Feedback page is so that they can collect feedback on the site and make changes based on suggestions.

This is an excellent resource for students. Please share it with your colleagues and students!

Animated Engines - animated illustrations explain workings of engines

Animated Engines is a site by Matt Keveney that has some great animated illustrations of a variety of engines that shows how they work. In addition to the animation, there are step by step explanations of how the the engine works and even some history of that type of engine. 

Engines include 2 and 4 stroke internal combustion engines, diesel engines, Wankel, Atkinson and Gnome engines, Jet Engines include rockets, turbojet, turbofan and turboprop, and a variety of steam engines. 

The animations are nicely done and do a great job of explaining how the engines work. 

This is a great site for pre-engineering, engineering, and science classes. 

Related Article

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

Smilebox Slideshow - free software to create slideshows of your photos

Smilebox Slideshow is free software that allows you to easily create interesting slide shows from your pictures. It is a free download for PC or Mac.

There are a variety of designs and styles for the slideshows and you can adjust the details and pacing and add music, text and videos.

This is a great resource for teachers and students for projects and presentations. It's very easy to use and there is help available.

Screenr - web based screen recorder


Screenr is a free, web-based screen recorder that let's you easily make a screen cast recording of what you are doing on your computer. This is a great way to create tutorials, lessons, and more. It is completely web based so there is no software to download (it runs using Java).

You can create your own account or sign in with your Twitter, Facebook, Google or Yahoo account.

You simply click the record button, it then loads the recorder. Hit record and it gives you a countdown "3-2-1-Go!" and then starts recording. You can make recordings of up to 5 min long. The recordings can be embedded in blogs and sites too.

This is an easy way to create a screen cast to share with others.

Related Articles:

Screencast-o-Matic - screen recording

Zoho - suite of on-line business, productivity & collaboration apps

I use Google's applications all the time. Just read this blog and you'll see how much I use and love Google's applications. But, they aren't the only player in town. Zoho is another service that provides online business, productivity, and collaboration apps, many of them for free.

Zoho is very focused on businesses and enterprise, but has a huge number of apps for personal and educational use. Zoho does have free versions of it's apps for personal use, and there are discounts for non-profit organizations. Every app has a free personal version.

The apps are separated into categories: Collaboration, Business, and Productivity. The Collaboration apps include Chat, Docs, Meetings, Mail, and more. Business apps include CRM, Invoice, Recruit, and more. Productivity apps include Calendar, Notebook, Writer, Sheet, Show and Planner. Docs is a document storage and sharing service (1GB free), while Writer, Sheet, and Show are word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation apps.

The business apps are great for small businesses needing invoicing, recruiting tools and the like.

The apps are all hosted online and include the ability to collaborate with others on projects. There is a mobile version, a plug-in for Microsoft Office, and versions of Zoho Apps that integrate with Google Apps (which is pretty cool, I must say).

There is plenty of support and help available, along with a user forum and community.

Zoho does offer some apps, especially for business, that Google doesn't and the features are different (and Google has apps Zoho doesn't). Take a look and see if Zoho is something that will work for you or your organization. Zoho and Google can also be used together complementing each other with different apps and features.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Technology I use on a Daily Basis - revisited and updated

In September of 2009 I wrote "What Technology I Use on a Daily Basis". Today I was looking at that post and realized how much things change in almost two years. I decided I would update it with what I am using now and why and how I use these technologies.

I'm going to start with how I start my day and then progress through the day and the tech tools I use.

(Click on the links to read more about each technology and how it can be used in education)

1. Smartphone - I have an HP/Palm Pre+ smartphone that I use. In the morning, I use it to check my calendar for the day, emails that came in since I went to bed, lesson plans for the day, and even check Twitter and Facebook. I can make sure I am organized and ready for the day ahead of me. Throughout the day I can check email, check and edit lesson plans, access student information, and so much more.

2. Google Chrome web browser - when I get to school, I start up my desktop computer and launch Google Chrome. I use Google Chrome as my browser for a variety of reasons. It is fast, secure, stable, and works great with all the Google products that I use. It has add-ons and extensions, as well as some of the best tabbed browsing and it syncs my bookmarks and settings with my Google account and across to my Chrome Browser at my home computer and even my Chrome OS CR-48 laptop.

3. Email - I have three email accounts - my personal account, school account, and Gmail account. I have them open in my browser all day, so that when I have a chance between classes or during lunch, I can easily check my email. I use the school account to communicate and connect with colleagues, parents, and students.

4. Google Calendar - I use Google calendar for all of my appointments and scheduling. It automatically syncs with my Pre+ smartphone so I always have an updated schedule. My wife and I share our Google Calendars with each other so that we always know what's going on. I can color code events and activities and even attach files to calendar events.

5. Student Information System - the next tab in my browser is our student information system. My district uses PowerSchool. I take attendance, check information on students, and use the online GradeBook. For teachers, schools, or districts looking for a great free SIS or grade book, check out LearnBoost for a full SIS or Engrade for a great free online grade book.

6. Evernote - Evernote is my next tab and I use it for everything from Lesson Plans, notes from meetings, ideas, resources, and more. I clip web sites and parts of web sites for review and can even upload files and attach them to notes. I can share notes with others. I can access it from any computer and my smartphone.

7. Blogger - I use Blogger for this blog and for blogs for each of my classes. The class blogs contain links to resources for the students and then I post information, lesson resources, assignments, reminders, and much more to the class blog. Students, and even parents, can subscribe to the blog via email or RSS feed and keep up to date with what's going on.

8. Twitter - I use the Chrome app of Tweedeck to access Twitter. Twitter is an awesome resource for educators. I connect, share, and learn with educators from around the world. Twitter is the main source for my Personal Learning Network and is on-demand professional development, resources, and so much more.

9. iGoogle - I use iGoogle as a one page organizational site. I can check gmail, my Google Reader feeds, bookmarks, weather, calendar, Task List, and so much more, from one page. This makes my life easier and more efficient.

10. Google Docs - I use Google docs more than I use Microsoft Office or OpenOffice and have moved most of my class files there. I have class files, presentations, forms, research material and much more in Google Docs. I can save files from the internet to Google Docs with one click and access and edit all of my files from any web browser, and my CR-48 Chromebook, without needing any other software on a computer. I can even share files with others and work collaboratively on files with other people.

11. Google Sites - I use Google sites to create a free website for my classes. I have one website that I use for all of my clases - www.physicsmedic.org. On the site I have class rules, reference information, links, and files from class (presentations, handouts, etc.). I also have sections for new teachers and about educational technology.

12. Discovery Education - Discovery Education has a huge amount of resources I use, from the DEN Blog Network to Streaming Videos, to STEM Resources to lesson plans.

13. Cloud file sync and storage - I use Dropbox and Sugarsync to backup and sync my files between my school computer and my home computer. I can also access these files from any computer. No more worrying about where my flash drive is or if a hard drive crashes. All my files are safely backed up and in sync. 

14. Other software: our school computers run Windows XP. I also use the following software on my school computer: Stardock Object Dock (a great dock to launch programs from), Picasa (photo organizing and editing), GDoc Backup (backup my Google Docs to the hard drive), PowerCalc (Microsoft Scientific/Graphing Calculator), OpenOffice (office suite) and CutePDF writer. All of this software is free.

I have also switched to using Aviary's clipping extension for Chrome to clip graphics from the internet and edit or modify them.

Hardware: I have a teacher station computer in my classroom, along with 8 student desktop computers. I have a printer for the student computers and a printer for my computer along with a scanner. I also have an LCD projector connected to my computer, and a VCR and DVD player connected to the projector. I also use a Keyspan remote to wirelessly control my computer from anywhere in the room. Auxillary speakers are also a must. I also use a Mimio to turn my whiteboard into an interactive whiteboard and also to capture anything that I write on the board. This way, I can share it on the class site for any students that were absent. 

I can project videos, presentations and demonstrations using the projector. The students use the computers during labs, to do online-virtual labs and simulations, to do research, and to work on projects for class. 

That's the main technology I use on a daily basis. If you are just starting to get into using technology as an educator, don't feel overwhelmed. I didn't start using this all at once. Start with one or two things, get good at using them and integrating them into your classroom, and then go from there.

Open Heart Surgery Simulation - interactive and educational

Program 2 - Heart surgery

Open Heart Surgery Simulation is a fascinating, interactive site from ABC's Australian Science site that makes you the surgeon performing a Coronary Artery Bypass surgery. It is simplified, but still very exciting and educational. At each step, you are provided instructions and then you must carry out the procedure. There are three different levels of difficulty and a section to just learn about the anatomy of the heart.

This is a great tool to use with Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, or medical classes.

I Love PDF - merge or split PDF files

Ilovepdf, merge and split PDF

PDF files are ubiquitous in our electronic world. They are the standard for publishing and sharing documents and are found everywhere.

Sometimes we need to do some things with the PDF files that we have. ILovePDF is a free site that allows you to either merge or split PDF files.

You upload your PDF file to their site and then they merge multiple PDF files into one, or split a PDF file by pages and give you a download link for your new files. You can merge up to 10 PDF files in one and each PDF can be up to 8MB. The download link is available for 15 minutes.

This is a great resource for people who deal with PDF files, but don't need, or can't afford, some of the PDF software that is out there.

Related Articles and PDF Resources

Lots of PDF resources - print, markup, convert and more - huge list of great PDF tools

Knotebooks - create, collaborate, and share multimedia lessons in Physics

Knotbooks is a very cool service that allows users to create, collaborate and share customized, self-guided physics lessons. The goal of the site is to" make all of physics accessible, understandable, interactive, and free".

The site is free to use and you can either create an account or login using a variety of other accounts, such as Facebook, OpenID, Myspace, WordPress, Google, Twitter, and many others.

You can create self-guided multimedia lessons, study guides, and other resources using a huge resource of knowledge and information from their partners. You can also modify existing Knotebooks for your own use and collaborate and get help on any topic in physics from the community and resources. Text, animations, videos, and much more are all a part of Knotebooks.

While it is only for Physics, I see this as a great model to use in all topics.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Top 5 Apps for Administrators to learn and use

Top 5 Apps for Administrators

I am not an administrator (yet) but in my past life I was a project engineer and I really wish I had some of these tools back then (ok, we had email). I do help the administration and work on many projects at school and these 5 apps have helped me. I do use a lot of other apps on a daily basis, but I think that these are the top 5 apps that administrators should learn and use, especially if they are new to Web 2.0 and Social Networking. 

1. Email - may be obvious but there are still administrators out there who don't use email, or don't use it effectively. Email is a great way to communicate with staff, faculty, students, and parents. Forget printing memos (and wasting money and paper) send an email. Set up email groups for different groups of staff members. Easy to use and everyone has email. 

2. Evernote - I'm a huge Evernote fan and user. Administrators can take notes, clip articles from the web for future use and reference, upload files to attach to notes and share notes with their staff. It's a great tool to stay organized. 

3. Twitter - Twitter is an excellent resource for administrators. They can use it to connect with other administrators and educators from around the world and share, learn, collaborate, and teach with them. They can also use it to communicate with their faculty and staff, students, parents. 

4.  Dropbox - Dropbox is a file sync and storage system that allows you to keep files in sync across multiple computers and backed up on their servers. There is a free account available and ways to increase your free storage. You can even select which directories and files to sync on which computers. Administrators could keep their files in sync between home and school, work on their files from any computer, and not have to worry about a computer failure and losing their files. They can also share files with their staff. 

5. Google Applications

  •  Google Calendar - Administrators can stay organized by having appointments, due dates, meetings, school calendar days, and more all in Google Calendar. They can also create a school calendar and share it with students, parents and faculty. Everyone could just look at the calendar and see what is going on. The calendar can even be embedded in a site. 
  • Blogger - Blogger is a great, free, easy tool that you use to create blogs. Administrators could use Blogger to create their own blog for reflections and learning, or set up school blogs with announcements, information, and other resources. Educators and Administrators should blog, as it not only allows you to share your experiences and knowledge with others, but you also learn while blogging. 
  • Google Docs - Google Docs can be used by administrators as an alternative office suite, but also to use as a collaborative way to work with staff and faculty. It can be used to work collaboratively on a document, as a virtual meeting, to create surveys and questionnaires, and so much more. It can save time, money, and paper. 
  • Google Sites - easily create web sites for your school or for different groups within the school for communication and information.

I also think that all administrators should have a smartphone or tablet. This way, they can be mobile and still have access to their data, information, and resources and be able to communicate more effectively and efficiently with staff, students, and parents. 

These apps are all easy to learn and use, free, and very powerful. This is a great place to start for administrators looking to go more digital and interactive.

Administrators - share your favorite apps with us.

Related Articles

My Top 10 Free Web Resources for Teachers

My Top 10 Free Google Resources for Education

Top 10 Resources from Discovery Education - all free

My Top 10 Free Web Resources for Students

What technology I use on a daily basis

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Present me - easy way to record and share presentations

Present.me is a service that allows you to easily record your presentation with video and audio linked to the PowerPoint presentation. You upload your PowerPoint slides, and then present.me converts them to a web based file. Then, you go to the site, click record and present in front of your web cam, clicking your slides just like you normally would. Now you have a single file that has your slides, you, and your voice all linked. You can then share it with others, embed it, or just keep it for yourself.

This is great for recording review sessions or lectures or meetings, etc and then having them available for future review and viewing. It's easy to use and very useful.

Here's an example of how the presentation will look. The slides are on the left and the video on the right. You can skip around to other slides by clicking on the thumbnails at the bottom, or move the slider. It's easy on the eyes to watch also.

There are tutorials and help information on the site, and they even have a Presentation Academy that gives tips on creating and delivering a great presentation. There is also a gallery of present.me featured presentations.

There is a free account that has some limitations: recordings are limited to 15 min, you get 10 recordings per month, there is a 50MB file limit and there are ads. You can upgrade to accounts with more length, number of recordings and file sizes. The Plus account is $29/month and the Max account is $100/month.

I am thinking that with the 15 min limit, I could use it to create study and review guides for my students. Especially since it is so easy to use compared to some other presentation recording systems I've tried. Groups of teachers or schools could probably share an account too.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Glogster - multimedia tool that's great for educators and students

Glogster is a very cool site that allows users to create interactive posters called Glogs. I had learned about this a long time ago, but never had the chance to use it or try it out until this week. The free version is limited (50 students), but is still very useful. You could assign groups to work on a Glog together and extend the amount of students using it. The premium versions are not that expensive, with Premium School costing $2 per student per year for an unlimited number of students.

A Glog is very cool - it's an easy to use interface that uses drag and drop to create an interactive multimedia "poster" containing text, audio, video, images, graphics, links, drawings, data and animations. In other words, it's a very cool interactive multimedia creation that is easy to use.

Here's an example Glog from their site:   (http://leonidas75.edu.glogster.com/science4unit1plantreproduction/)

Teachers can create Glogs about different topics in their classroom as a learning tool and students can use Glogs as a way to present what they have learned.

It's private and safe and teachers manage the accounts.

The site has examples of Glogs and a great help section. Jennifer Dorman also created a great website about Glogster and Glogs.

Try it out this summer!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Diipo - Education 2.0 social network for classes

Diipo is a new free service (in beta) that describes itself as "Education 2.0 Social Network for your Class". Diipo allows the teacher to communicate with their students and vice versa and also allows the teacher to connect to other educators and connect classes to each other. It is easy to use and the user-interface (UI) is similar to Facebook and Twitter.

Some of the features include:

  • collaborative workspaces for students to work with each other and get help from the teacher
  • direct messaging 
  • student blogs and micro-blogging
  • upload and share files
  • student project notebooks
  • class roster
  • an educator community
It only takes a minute to sign up and it is easy to use. There are "@mentions", direct messages, full search, getting started tips and videos, and an Educator lounge. 

Here's a shot of the main screen when you create a new account:

This is a great way for teachers and schools to create their own social network system for students that is access controlled.. It allows communication and collaboration and is easy to use. 

Simplenote - easy to use note taking and list service and app

I just learned about Simplenote from Digitizd by David Pierce. In his article, he talks about why he switched from Evernote to Simplenote and I thought that many people may just need a simple note taking app like this and that I should share it with them. 

I use Evernote for everything from lesson plans to meeting notes to clipping articles from the web to storing attached files to notes to sharing notes with others and much more. Evernote has tons of apps and services that work with it. I need and use all these features, but not everyone needs all of this. 

Simplenote is exactly what it's name says - it's a free, simple note taking app. Notes are just text. However, it does have some great features. You can access it from any computer or web-enabled device. You can easily start and make a note and even share it with others. Your notes are searchable with tags and content search, and there are some extensions and add-ons that you can use with it. 

If you are looking for an easy to use, simple, basic, note taking app, Simplenote may be for you.

Related Articles
Springpad - Free notes and organizer software

Evernote - get organized - free and on all platforms

Evernote Updates Web app - great improvements

Livescribe Echo Smartpen - very cool and very useful


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