Friday, June 29, 2012

Qwiki Creator - easily create engaging multimedia projects

Last year I wrote about Qwiki, which is a site that takes your internet search and creates a multimedia presentation with resources about your search term. Text, images, audio are all part of it. It's a very cool way to quickly create a presentation about a topic.

I just learned from my Edtech colleague David Kapuler on his site, that Qwiki now has Qwiki Creator available. Qwiki Creator lets users work online in their browser to combine text, photos, videos, maps, tweets, and more into an interactive online experience that you can share and embed anywhere and even add your own narration. It also allows you to create narration using text to speech.

Here's a great demo showing how to make a Qwiki, and how easy it is:

This is a really cool service that I can see being used by students for projects and by teachers to create great resources for their students.

Check it out:

PDF Mergy - combine PDF files into one - Chrome web app

PDF files are everywhere. Every operating system and every device I know of can read them. They are a great way to share and publish files since they can be locked, watermarked, and viewed on pretty much any device or OS. Most office suites allow you to save files as PDF formats and there are some other great tools for creating them.

Sometimes you have multiple PDF files that you want to combine into one. I do this often since I save scanned documents as PDF files, as well as much of my own work.

Application PDF Mergy 

PDF Mergy is a Chrome web app that makes it easy to merge PDF Files. Drag and drop or select from your computer, place them in the order you want, and then, viola, one merged PDF file. It is all done on their server, not your computer, so this is a great app for use with Chromebooks and for people looking to do everything in the cloud. QuickPDF does the same thing, but needs to be installed on your computer.


PDF - interesting infographic and lots of resources for using them

PDF Converter - free online PDF conversion

Lots of PDF resources - print, markup, convert and more

PDFBinder - simple tool to merge PDF documents into one

BabyPDF - Edit PDF documents for free

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Google makes some big announcements this week!

Google's I/O conference is this week and they have made some big announcements. Here's a summary and some places you can find more information.

1. Google Docs offline now available - edit and create Google Docs offline and they will be synced with your Docs account once you have an internet connection.

2. Chrome Browser exits beta and is available for all Android 4.0 devices and is available for iOS. Use the worlds most used browser on your Android and Apple devices.

3. Project Glass demo - Project Glass is a new project uses glasses and

4. Google+ Events - events planning and social networking combined

5. Jelly Bean - Android 4.1 - newest version of Android with some cool new features, including a new notification center.

6. Nexus 7 - new Google branded 7" Android Tablet

7. Google Maps ability to save maps for use offline - great when you have no signal, like in a subway.

8. Google Now - voice control and widgets that show you information based on your location

9. 3D buildings in Google Earth - fun and educational

10. Lots of updates to existing Google and Android apps (like Docs, Google+, Hangouts on Air, Chrome, and more)

11.  Pinterest for Android - popular app officially comes to Android

12. Nexus Q - streams audio and video from the cloud to your TV and Stereo, and is controlled by your Android phone or tablet. It's also built in the USA. You can also have your friends stream their content through your Q.

13. Google Drive released for iOS - access all your files on your Apple device.

Pretty exciting stuff, much of which will benefit educators and students with the updates. New devices for use in education, updates to already great apps, and more Google apps available for Apple devices. Very cool.

I'm jealous of those attending. While the tickets were $900, you got to attend a great conference, see a great opening keynote that many said was the best they've ever seen, and you get a swag bag with the Nexus Q, Chromebox, Nexus Phone and Nexus 7 tablet. Pretty cool.

In related news, my CR-48 beta Chromebook got updated to Chrome v 20 today and it's awesome. It was surprising because the CR-48's weren't originally supposed to get the update.


Android Central - great resource for Android and Google

The Official Google Blog 

The Verge - great resources for all things technology


Google for Education Resources

Android for Education Resources

Google Chromebooks and Chrome OS revisited - great for education

Tips for Preparing for a Presentation

Giving a presentation or teaching takes preparation. There are lots of tips and help for both, including the two links below in the "related section".

Lifehacker has a great article "How to Prep for a Presentation" with some great tips like knowing your audience, knowing their needs, knowing the subject, knowing the room (size, resources and technology, etc),  rehearsing, getting rid of the jitters and nervousness and more. 

There are some great tips for conference presenters and teachers there. 


Survival Tips for Educators and Presenters

Backup plans - some tips for teachers

More Great Uses for Binder Clips

Our Favorite Office Objects: The Endlessly Versatile Binder Clip

Last month I wrote an article entitled "Binder Clips - lots of great uses for these little guys" with some ideas and resources for finding new uses for Binder clips. Here are some more.

1. Binding student work (kind of obvious) but use different colored ones to code your classes and assignments

2. Cable organization - clip them to your desk/table and feed the cable through the handle to keep them organized. 

3. Use them to wrap and organize cables and headphones (another great idea from Lifehacker).

4. Hold open curtains, or hold them closed - clip them on the curtains

5. Hang them on a bulletin board or at top of whiteboard to hold papers - great for holding signs, like "Do Now", "Homework" etc. ]

6. clip bags closed to keep food fresh

7. Hanging file folder stopper / organizer

Hanging Folder Stopper

8. Create a notepad using scrap paper - all those scrap / extra copies of memos and papers found in schools can be cut into quarters and then clipped with a binder clip for an easy notepad. 

9. bookmarks - use the small, colored binder clips as color-coded book marks 

10. Save your spot in a filing cabinet - when pulling papers out of a hanging file folder, put a binder clip there so you can easily find your spot to return the papers. 

11. Smartphone stand - prop up your smartphone for easy viewing
Make a Simple Smartphone Dock Out of Two Binder Clips

Do you have any cool ways to use binder clips?

Google Docs now works offline!

Google announced today that Google Docs now works offline, so you can create an edit files without a internet connection. All your work will be saved locally and then updated with Docs when you get a connection again.

This is great news and makes Docs even more useful, allowing use without an internet connection.

Learn more about Google's many apps and resources for Education here.


Google Resources for Education

Why I use Google's apps and products as an Educator

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Microsoft Office 365 for Education now available for Free

Office 365 for education

Microsoft 365 is an online version of Microsoft's well known Office suite. Office 365 for Education is free for schools and is already being used by many public school districts and colleges.

Office 365 is cloud based and includes Microsoft Office Web Apps, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online.

This is Microsoft's answer to Google Apps for Education. It can be a good option for schools that are heavily invested in Microsoft apps as there would be almost no learning curve or training required. It includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Email, Calendars, web sites, and much more, including the ability to collaborate online with others and even run an online course.

You can find more information about features here. (including deployment guides and training)

You can go here to register:


Free Teacher Guides from Microsoft - great resources

Microsoft Surface - Windows 8 Tablet/PC - announced

Why I Use Google's Products as an Educator

Google for Education Resources

Google launches free online classes to help you learn better internet search skills

Google is having a lot of announcements today at the Google I/O conference with lots of updates and new products. (Go to Android Central to get updates on all the news).

But yesterday they announced something that is a great resource for educators and students alike. "Power Searching with Google" is a free, online community based course that helps participants learn how to do better searches and use some of the cool features of Google, such as using the search box as a calculator and finding data right from the search box itself.

The course contains six 50-minute classes, interactive activities to practice your new skills, community integration and connections with Google Groups, Google+, and Hangouts on Air (with search experts) and Googlers will be available to help. You can even get a printable Certificate of Completion upon passing the post course assessment.

Lessons will be released daily starting on July 10th and participants can take them on their own schedule during a 2 week window.

Registration is open from June 26, 2012 to July 16, 2012. We recommend that you register before the first class is released on July 10, 2012!
New classes will become available Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday starting on July 10, 2012 and ending on July 19, 2012.
Course-related activities will end on July 23, 2012.
Teachers can take the course and then share what they learn with their students next school year.

You can also go to the Google Inside Search page for other tips and help with better searching that can be used by students and educators.

Source: Official Google Blog


Lots more great, free resources from Google (especially for education)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Remind101 - safe way for teachers to text message students and stay in touch with parents. Free

Remind101 is a free service that allows teachers to safely send text messages to students and parents.
Teachers never see the students' or parents' phone numbers and the students and parents never see the teachers' phone number, helping to maintain privacy. Students and parents sign up by sending a text message or email instead of visiting a website. Teachers can have up to 10 classes and send messages to a class of students, or parents, or both. You can even schedule messages to occur in the future.

This is another tool that teachers can use to communicate with their students and parents and help remind them of upcoming due dates and events.

You can learn more about it here:




ClassPager - send students quizzes and reminders

Excellent Online Professional Development Resources for Teachers

Professional Development for educators is something that I believe still needs to be improved. Many educators have turned online for some of their professional development. Social media provides a great resource for educators, especially Twitter, to connect, share and learn with other educators. There are new forms of in-person professional development, like Edcamps, that are also a great way for educators to learn new things.

Check out some more great information and resources on educator professional development.

Professional Development for Educators needs to change

11 steps to planning quality Professional Development

The Endangered Languages Project: Supporting language preservation through technology and collaboration

Google has a new project it is a part of: The Endangered Languages Project: Supporting language preservation through technology and collaboration that is pretty cool. The Endangered Languages Project, is a website for people to find and share the most up-to-date and comprehensive information about endangered languages. It is a way to try to preserve over 3000 languages that are on the verge of becoming extinct. Preserving these languages, and the cultures that go with them, is an important project.

The project is working to make recordings of people speaking the languages, as well as documenting as much as possible about the languages. Through the site, people can upload and access research, advice, information, resources, manuscripts, videos, audio and more.

This is a great resource for our world, and also for teachers and students to use to learn about these languages and cultures, as well as contribute to the project.

Here's more about it:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Learnist - create online learning resource pages

Learnist is a new site that is still in beta but looks promising. The site allows you to create "Learn Boards" on any topic you want to and then add "learnings" by linking to websites, online videos, blogs, images, documents, etc. It is similar to Pinterest in some ways. You can also collaborate with others on the same board.

You can search for existing Learn Boards by topic and search term. Here are some from "Education":

And here is an example learn board:

It's easy to use and there is a whole section on how to use it with videos, tips, and more.

This is a great way for teachers to create online learning resources for their students and even for students to use for projects.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Great Resources for Educators/Admin from Upstate Tech Conference

Last week was the Upstate Technology Conference in South Carolina, which included an Administrator's Day of Discovery. Porter Palmer from Discovery Education just posted the link to all of the great resources from the sessions that day:

There are some great resources there for administrators and educators, so take a look and see what's there.

Porter also did a presentation that day on anytime learning. The slides are available here:

Microsoft Surface - Windows 8 Tablet/PC - announced

Microsoft has just announced the Microsoft Surface, which is a Windows 8 tablet, measuring 10.6 in and 1.5 pounds. So, is it just another tablet? Not quite. It has a few very cool features, like running full Windows software, having a touchscreen that includes pen/stylus input (very cool for drawings, annotations, math and science) and a cover that has a built in, super thin, keyboard and touchpad.

Microsoft Surface

It's pretty cool when you think about it, especially if you work somewhere that uses Windows OS and software and if you want pen-based input for drawings, science, math, etc. The keyboard built into the cover is also a nice touch and makes typing much easier on the tablet.

The unknowns: launch date and pricing. Initial reviews from tech sites are pretty positive.

Is this something you'd look at for yourself or your school?

Here's a video about it:

Save any type of Streaming Media with Media Sniffer

Media Sniffer Icon

Media Sniffer is free software that lets you download and save streaming media from the internet. It is available for Windows (you also need WinPcap installed ). Both are free.

It is not super simple and you need a little bit of tech knowledge, but it can be useful for saving streaming media to a computer for later/offline viewing. Just remember to follow any pertinent copyright laws and rights of the media owner.

You can read more about it here:

Virtual Summer Camp for Teachers - on demand learning for educators

The 4th Annual Virtual Summer Camp for Teachers is now available. It is being hosted through

The Virtual Summer Camp for Teachers provides on-demand, anytime learning for educators. The summer camp is organized by topic areas, which include: Common Core Resources, Essential Apps for Educators, Webinar and Online PD opportunities, Virtual Crafts, and even a mess hall with food and recipe ideas.

On July 24th there will be a live component ASCD Webinar. You can register for this free webinar here:

Materials from the previous three Virtual Summer Camps are available also:

Virtual Summer Camp Year 1
Virtual Summer Camp Year 2
Virtual Summer Camp Year 3

So, go camping this summer and learn some new things for next year:



EdCamp CT is Aug 10th. I'm going. Are you? You should be! (and if you can't be there in person, follow along on Twitter)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Embedit - no longer accepting new embeds, send you to Box instead.

Embedit, a service that allowed you to embed files on your site or blog that I wrote about May 30th, is no longer accepting new embed files. They were purchased by Box and their site now recommends you go to Box for your file sharing needs. Existing embeds you have done through the service will work through September 1, 2012. For more information, please see their FAQ.

Box, known for giving away lots of free storage through the purchase of different devices, doesn't have an embed feature that I could find, but does let you share files through links.

You can easily use Google Docs to share and embed documents in blogs and websites also.


Embedit - embed any file in your website or blog - free - organize all of your documents in one place. is a new service that organizes all of your documents from your hard drive and cloud services (including email) into on system. You can search your documents via keyword, date, optical character recognition, tags, and document type. It will keep all of your device and documents in sync also.

It is available for OS X, with Windows 8, iOS, Android apps and Google Docs integration all coming soon.

The free version will sync and collect 2,000 documents. You can upgrade to paid accounts for more space.

This promises to be a great tool for collecting and organizing all of your documents, no matter where you have them. Teachers, students, schools, and business could all find this useful.


Lots of great, free, cloud file sync/backup/storage/share services

Joukuu - manage your cloud based files

#EdStuff - a new twitter hash tag for Education

Twitter is a great resource for education. Educators can learn, share, collaborate, find help and have some great discussions. It is my go-to source when looking for help, advice, tips, tools, and resources for education.

A hash tag is a way of sorting and searching Tweets based on topic. There are tons of great educational hash tags, including #edchat, #edtech, #scichat, and more. Many of these hash tags relate to a scheduled conversation, such as #edchat being every Tuesday at 12 noon and 7pm ET, and are also used as a way to find educational resources.

William Chamberlain, author of "At the Teacher's Desk" blog, has posted that he has created a new educational hash tag, #EdStuff: "I have created the #EdStuff tag for people that want to post ed stuff, but don't want to tag it with the the chat based tags such as #edchat or #fifthchat. Feel free to use it as you will, for it is good for all ed stuff!"

This is another great way to use Twitter to find, share, collaborate, and learn.


Twitter for Education - great resource and some hashtags
Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds, Email, Google+ - why/when I use each one 

Social Media in Education - connect, share, learn, communicate and more

List of some Free Online Scientific/Graphing 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. The paid apps are usually only $0.99 - $1.99 too.

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:

Richard Byrne over at Free Technology for Teachers also recommends EnCalc as a great, free, online scientific calculator. 


A Better Calculator is a new, free, online graphing calculator from Demos (who also offers a service to create online interactive media). There is nothing to download as it runs online. It is easy to use, full color, full functioned. You can share your work online or even share it with others (like your students) or students can share it with their teacher.

Google is now a graphing calculator. Enter the equation in the search bar and you get your graph. You can even do multiple functions, just separate them by a comma. You can also zoom and pan in the graphs. You can also do other calculator functions using the search bar. 


To use Google’s built-in calculator function, simply enter the calculation you’d like done into the search box.

Here's a screen shot of a quick one I did: y = 4x + 5

According to Google, "This feature covers an extensive range of single variable functions including trigonometric, exponential, logarithmic and their compositions, and is available in modern browsers."

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!


Desmos - create media rich educational content online

Get Your PhD in Googling - interactive tool for learning better search tips

Google is a very powerful tool. You can find pretty much anything online these days. The trick is knowing how to find exactly what you are looking for.

Here is an interactive infographic with some great tips for better internet searching (specifically with Google).

UPDATED 11/14/13
It seems the animation is no longer available, so here are some other search resources and a couple of images from it:


Google - free posters with search tips for teachers

Some great resources on Google Chrome for Education

Google Chrome is my browser of choice. It is fast, secure, easy to use, full of features, and works great with all of the Google apps I use. I also use Chrome OS, which is an operating system based on the Chrome Browser. Chrome has great features and extensions that can make your online experience better and more productive.

Here are some great resources I just learned about for using Google Chrome:

10 Google Chrome Tips for Students - tips for using the address bar (onmibox) for different purposes, better search, and using extensions. 

chrome news  100 Tips for Google Chrome   A Free Ebook

100 Tips for Google Chrome - free PDF download -  this free e-book has some great tips for using Chrome, including keyboard shortcuts, using your mouse, use of the omnibox, tabs, bookmarks, drag and drop, and much more. A must have/read for Chrome users. 


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