Web-based tools continue to proliferate, giving teachers more to add to their arsenal, but it can be hard to determine which resources are worth spending time exploring. At the International Society of  Technology in Education (ISTE) conference this year, Adam Bellow, founder ofEduClipper, and Steve Dembo, Online Community Manager for Discovery Education offered a quick run through of some favorite apps. The two educators are early adopters of ed-tech classroom strategies and have a lot of experience with tech integration.

1.  Padlet used to be called Wallwisher, but it got a makeover and a name change recently. It’s essentially a virtual board with sticky notes that can be easily moved, shared and embedded. There are several views, including something that looks more like a scrollable blog and it’s easy to both personalize the experience and organize notes. The privacy and moderation settings make it easy for students to become members of a board where a teacher can post resources and encourage them to do the same. “It’s a great way to quickly share resources with your kids and moderate what they post,” said Bellow.

2.  Ipiccy is like free Photoshop, but less complicated. It has intuitive editing control panels that allow for the simple things like filters, effects, cropping and resizing. It’s also easy to undo anything that didn’t turn out as imagined. But if the project requires a more sophisticated treatment, Ipiccy has layers that like Photoshop allow a user to make very professional final products. Best of all, it’s easy to upload projects to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks that a class might be using to house finished work.

3.  Thinglink allows a user to add content to images. For example, a student could display a map of Washington, D.C. and add a video explaining how a bill becomes a law over the Capitol building. And it’s easy. The user just clicks a spot on the image and adds text, a link to a website, or an embed code for video. It’s a quick and easy way to make a project more dynamic and interactive.

4.  Easel.ly is a fairly easy way to create an infographic, a visual depiction of information. The tool offers set themes that can be dragged onto a blank canvas to give students somewhere to start. A good example is a map of the United States with bubbles highlighting statistics about specific areas. Then icons can be added, sized, and edited to visually represent information. It’s good for those uncertain of their tech skills, but who want to begin integrating some digital tools into the classroom. It won’t do the work for you, and it forces students to represent what they know at the end of a research project, while giving some creative license. “Instead of giving a paper or project, this is a great way for them to break down concepts visually,” Bellow said.

5.  The Noun Project is making clip art icons for every known noun making it a perfect place to look for the images needed for a precise infographic. It can take a lot of time to find a perfect image of a cracked cell phone or a specific kind of dog and the Noun Project makes that a little easier.

6.  Infogr.am is another tool to visually represent information. It has templates that allow you to throw in your facts and build beautiful charts to represent the information.

7.  Poll Everywhere has been around for several years, and a familiar tool with many teachers. It’s built with HTML 5 so it can be used with any device and is responsive to screen size. Teachers can create both multiple-choice questions and open ended questions that student respond to via text. Students get excited that they can use their phones in class and teachers gain valuable feedback about how well students understand a concept.

8.  InfuseLearning is the student response suite challenger to Poll Everywhere. It’s a simple interface that’s free to teachers and it doesn’t require any advanced planning or setup. In real time teachers can send out questions, prompts or quizzes and have students respond in a variety of formats; true/false, multiple choice, open ended, even with a doodle. It also has an audio function that includes language translation, opening up more use possibilities.

9.  BigHugeLabs provides a great way to make posters and trading cards easily. Best of all, using the free education-specific login students won’t see any advertisements. It’s good for younger kids or an older kid who wants to put together a presentation fairly quickly. One great use would be a movie poster featuring themes and characters of a book.

10.  Sign Generator allows usera to create their own clip art by changing the letters in photos of signs. The tool provides over 500 templates or a user can upload a photo of a sign and change the letters around. It’s a fun way to get creative.

11.  Delivr creates QR codes, the codes that a mobile device can easily scan and trigger an image or website. QR codes were a theme at ISTE this year; educators displayed interesting ways they use them including as a way to engage students as they come into class or in a treasure hunt format. The nice thing about Delivr is that it will remember all the QR codes ever created and users can edit and change associated urls if to send users to a different website. That adds some unpredictability and suspense to the day. “It becomes the Easter egg for your classroom that gets kids thinking about what they’re going to be learning in class that day,” said Dembo.

12.  Aurasma is a free app that lets a teacher turn any object into a QR code, rather than just a square bar code, and plays with the idea of augmented reality. Students can hold a mobile device up to an image, such as a bulldog, and be taken to a website, a video or an image about bulldogs. “It’s a blend of virtual reality and reality,” Bellow said.

13.  WeVideo is a simple web-based video editing tool that turns video projects from a huge time sink to an easy and fun experience. “This is one of these things that every teacher should have at their disposal,” said Dembo. The tool allows users to upload content, save it in the cloud, and can link to other storage space like Google Drive. It can be powerful for making student-centered projects because it allows students to mute parts of the base video, record themselves and add that narration to the video. The video can be published using different file sizes, the smallest of which is free. The tool also offers a number of themes, effects and transitions to spiff up any video.

 

How to Videos

04/24/2013

 
Here is a link to dozens of short How-to videos for doing everything on your computer from creating secure passwords to video chatting: teachparentstech.org/watch
Here is a link to a sight that will assist you in updating your browser or installing a different browser.  whatbrowser.org The best browsers today are Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera.
 
 
The Chrome Web Browser is ever changing so these instructions are valid for version 21 and above at this time 2-5-2013.  My previous postings and Google Doc on the subject are now out of date.

Some Background:
Many web apps that we use are launched from a parent web page using a technology called a popup page. Unfortunately some Ad's are delivered in this same way.  However, there are generally only one or two of these depending on the site you are visiting and most web developers no longer rely on this method of pushing Ad's because web browsers block them through the use of the popup blockers by default.  It is safe to turn off this technology because the use of the popup blocker usually masks additional issues your computer may have such as malware.  If you turn off the popup blocker and you are inundated with Ad's then you have malware that needs to be removed.

To turn off the popup blocker on the Chrome browser do the following:

While in Chrome click on the Settings icon in the upper right corner (three dashed lines) and select "Settings" in the menu.  At the bottom of the page click the link for "Show Advanced Settings". In the Privacy section Click the "Content Settings..." button.  Scroll down to Popups and select "Allow all sites to show popups".  You can also be more selective and just allow certain websites to popup a page by clicking the Manage Exceptions button and in the Hostname Pattern field enter the website address pattern such as infinitecampus.org.

 
 
Adding a printer on your Mac is quick and easy once you know how.
Follow these simple directions to add a new printer.

Your account on your Mac is an admin account so whenever you are prompted to authenticate just use your account and password that you use to log onto your Mac every day.

Begin by clicking on the Apple Menu in the upper left corner and choose System Preferences.
On the System Preferences window choose Print & Scan in the Hardware section.


On the Print & Scan window you will need to first remove any unnecessary printers from the list.
If you just want to add a new printer then ignore the part about deleting printers, however you need to see how to authenticate below.


Click the padlock in the lower left corner to authenticate.  Use your Mac account.



Select a printer in the list you wish to remove and click the - minus sign in the lower left corner of the list window.  Repeat this process until all unnecessary printers have been removed.
Once you have finished removing all the printers you no longer require you may now add printers you  may need.

Here is a Google Doc with a printer list for you to select from.  This list is in your Google Docs as a shared file called Easy Printer List.  Go to your Google Docs and select Shared with me in the left hand Google Drive menu and look for the file or click the link above.

To add new printers follow these steps:

First choose the printer you want from the Easy Printer List, note or copy the IP address of the printer from the list.  Also note what printer driver is being recommended.

Click the + Plus sign in the lower left of the printer list window.

On the Add window click on the IP globe icon and fill in the form based on the information from the Easy Printer List.  Note that the Protocol: and Use: fields are pull down menus.  Make sure you change the Protocol to HP jetdirect - Socket.  
Click the Add button when you have filled in the form.  Repeat the process to add additional printers.


Troubleshooting

#1 In rare cases the HP Jetdirect - Socket option does not work the best and your print jobs may not come out of some printers.  In this case, delete the printer and then re-add the printer this time choose and try the Line Printer Daemon LPD option in the Protocol pull down list.

#2 If one of your printers spewed out garbage print jobs, immediately pull the paper tray out of the printer, cancel your print job and then reset the printer.  Next, delete that printer from your list.  Re-add the printer and make sure you are using the recommended printer driver in the Use: filed.
 
 
Chequamegon School District's BYOD policy makes it easy to shop for your student this year for Christmas.  Under BYOD or Bring Your Own Device to school, what ever choice you make for a device for your student it will be allowed in school.  Here are some handy tips and choice recommendations for this years holiday shopping for a digital device for your student.

Tablets are all the rage this year with prices lower than ever.  The iPad is the top selling tablet with the new 9.7" retina display 4th generation iPad starting at $499 for the 16G WiFi only model.  For some this is a hefty price to pay so best to get the generation 2 iPad at $399.  It has all the same basic features as the generation 4 iPad but without the retina display and a little slower processor. Then there is the iPad mini with a 7.9" display, smaller than the larger unit but basically the same as the generation 2 iPad in specs with a price starting at $329.  While the Apple iOS has not changed much in the past couple of years, expect your new iPad to be compatible with the next release of iOS 7  predicted to be a major shift in its graphical user interface design to keep pace with features found on Android devices.

If you are looking to get a great tablet but do not want to pay the premium price of an iPad then check out the Google Nexus 7 at play.google.com.  The Nexus 7 has tremendous reviews and is only $199 in price for the $16G WiFi model.  Your student can use the Nexus 7 to do research with Google's new voice search connected to knowledge based search engines as well as voice dictate a document directly into a Google doc even while off line.  Google is making tremendous strides in voice technology and the Nexus 7 is the only purely Google Android OS other than the Nexus 10.   Speaking of the Nexus 10, here is another purely Android OS device with all the latest features Google Android has to offer.  The Nexus 10 is a larger tablet like the iPad with on-screen keyboard that uses swipe technology which is a rapid input typing method unique to Android devices.  The Nexus 10 could be used in place of a laptop with its integration with Google Apps and voice dictation capabilities.

If you are looking for a laptop for your student, there are many to choose from but at this time I DO NOT recommend anything using Windows 8.  Windows 8 needs another year to be refined and for more software programs and apps to be developed.  Since tablets are out selling laptops by more that 2 million units per month, there are a plethora of Windows 7 laptops to choose from that are going to be dumped on the market in time for Christmas to make way for new Windows 8 touch laptops.  These Windows 7 laptops will be cheep.  Again I do not recommend the Windows 8 devices at this time.  
For a premium laptop the Apple Macbook Air is the best choice.  Ultra thin and light, 100% solid-state (no moving parts), runs all day on a battery charge and with the newest Mac OS it is super easy and slick to use.  The next Mac OSX update is expected to have Siri and an improved voice dictation built in.  Typical starting price for the Air Book is $1,199. 
 
At the complete opposite end of the spectrum, if you are looking for a cheap alternative laptop or a second computer for around the house you cannot beat the Google Chromebook.  Starting at $199 on the Google play store it is hard to beat the price.  The Chromebook is a cloud-based laptop that all the students are using at school.  Works with their Google accounts and stores all their data in the cloud.   I recommend the Samsung model on the Google Play store for $249.  The Samsung model Chromebook is 100% solid state (no moving parts, just like the Mac Book Air), boots up in 10 seconds and runs all day on a battery charge.  This is a great device for doing research on the web and for document production.  I use a Chromebook every single day for reading, document creation, updating my websites and more.  Did I mention it plays videos and music as well?

If you are considering a smart phone for your student I recommend the iPhone or the Nexus 4.  You can find the iPhone at Apple.com and the Nexus 4 at play.google.com.  Both are terrific phones and your choice is dependent on just a few simple things:  if you already have an investment in iTunes music or videos or Apps then you choose the iPhone, if you are new to smart phones and want to try something very different then choose the Nexus 4.  You will not go wrong with either choice and both will work just fine at school.

What ever you choose your student can be using a device of his or her choice at school and at home with their own personalized device.  Your student will be happier using their own device and could ultimately be more productive,
 
 
When you first get your new Macbook Air, Java is not configured.  You need  Java in order to use your grade book.  To setup Java initially open Firefox and enter http://java.com/en/download/testjava.jsp in to the address field.
When Firefox opens and goes to the Java website there will be an indication on the screen that an older version of Java has been detected.  There is a link on the page under the red FREE JAVA DOWNLOAD button that says "Skip installation of the current version and test the currently installed version of Java".  Click this link and on the blank window click on the "Missing Plugin" link.  This will install Java 6 for you.  
When the install is complete quit Firefox -> Firefox / Quit Firefox.  Then relaunch Firefox and enter http://java.com/en/download/testjava.jsp and click the link "test the currently installed version of Java".  If Java still does not work then follow these directions below:

Click on the Mac Desktop and then in the menu above click on GO and select Utilities in the menu.  find the Terminal utility.  In the black window copy and paste the following lines of text one at a time.  When you paste the first line you will be prompted for a password, enter your Macbook Air log on account password and press enter.  Re-paste the first line of text.

Then cut and paste all the remaining lines of text into the terminal window.

sudo mkdir -p /Library/Internet\ Plug-Ins/disabled

sudo mv /Library/Internet\ Plug-Ins/JavaAppletPlugin.plugin /Library/Internet\ Plug-Ins/disabled

sudo ln -sf /System/Library/Java/Support/Deploy.bundle/Contents/Resources/JavaPlugin2_NPAPI.plugin /Library/Internet\ Plug-Ins/JavaAppletPlugin.plugin

sudo ln -sf /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Commands/javaws /usr/bin/javaws

When you have entered each line of text above, close the terminal window.  Then in Firefox enter http://java.com/en/download/testjava.jsp.  You should be able now to activate Java by clicking "Always run on this site" at the top of the screen and see Java run.


 
 
Apple will no longer be supplying the version of Java on your Mac.  The last version supplied by Apple is Java 6 update 37.  There could be additional updates of version 6 for now.  The newest Java version is 7 update 9 at the time of this writing and is only supplied by Oracle at the Java web site.  If you in-inadvertently install Java 7 during a software update process you will no longer be able to use the Chrome web browser for your grade book and any other functions that require Java. This is because the Chrome browser on the Mac is a 32bit browser and Java 7 only works on 64bit browsers.  If you upgrade your Java to version 7 then you will have to use Firefox or Safari for all of your Java-based activities.  I have written to Google to see if there is a 64bit version of the Chrome web browser on the horizon.

If you accidently upgrade your version of Java to 7 and would like to undo it there are instructions here.  They may seem intimidating but actually it is easy with cut and paste.
 
 
Once in a while your MacBook (Air) or (Pro) may not be working correctly.  Most computer issues are cleared up when you do a simple reset.  Some indications that your Mac needs to be reset are listed below:

Fans
The computer's fans run at high speed although the computer is not experiencing heavy usage and is properly ventilated.

Lights
The keyboard backlight appears to behave incorrectly (on Mac computers that have this feature).
The Status Indicator Light (SIL) appears to behave incorrectly (on Mac computers that have an SIL).
Battery indicator lights, if present, appear to behave incorrectly (on portables that use non-removable batteries).
The display backlight doesn't respond correctly to ambient light changes on Mac computers that have this feature.

Power
The computer doesn't respond to the power button when pressed.
A portable Mac doesn't appear to respond properly when you close or open the lid.
The computer sleeps or shuts down unexpectedly.
The battery does not appear to be charging properly.
The MagSafe power adaptor LED doesn't appear to indicate the correct activity.

System Performance
The computer is running unusually slowly although it is not experiencing abnormally high CPU utilization.
Application icons may "bounce" in the Dock for an extended amount of time when launched.
Applications may not function correctly or may stop responding after being opened.


Please follow the instructions below to reset your Mac.

MacBook Air
Note
Portable computers that have a battery you should not remove on your own include MacBook Pro (Early 2009) and later, all models of MacBook Air, and MacBook (Late 2009).
  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Plug in the MagSafe power adapter to a power source, connecting it to the Mac if its not already connected.
  3. On the built-in keyboard, press the (left side) Shift-Control-Option keys and the power button at the same time.
  4. Release all the keys and the power button at the same time.
  5. Press the power button to turn on the computer.  
    Note
    : The LED on the MagSafe power adapter may change states or temporarily turn off when you reset the SMC.

MacBook and MacBook Pro
Resetting the SMC on Mac portables with a battery you can remove
Note: Learn about removing the battery on MacBook and MacBook Pro.
  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Disconnect the MagSafe power adapter from the computer, if it's connected.
  3. Remove the battery.
  4. Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds.
  5. Release the power button.
  6. Reconnect the battery and MagSafe power adapter.
  7. Press the power button to turn on the computer.

Source: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3964?viewlocale=en_US
 
 
From the Google Drive and Docs team blog: http://googledocs.blogspot.com/2012/05/find-facts-and-do-research-inside.htmlToday we’re introducing the research pane—a new feature that brings the web’s wealth of information to you as you’re writing documents.

The research pane taps into Google Search directly from Google documents, so whether you want to add a cool destination to your itinerary for an upcoming trip to India or you're looking for the perfect presidential quote for a political science paper, you don’t even have to open a new tab.

You can access the research pane from the Tools menu by right clicking on a selected word that you want to learn more about, or by pressing Ctrl+Alt+R on Windows or Cmd+Alt+R on Mac. From the research pane, you can search for whatever info you need to help you write your document. With just a couple clicks you can look up maps, quotes, images, and much more.

If you find something you like, you can add it by clicking the insert button or, for images, by dragging them directly into your document. If appropriate we’ll automatically add a footnote citation so there’s a record of where you found the info.

Hopefully bringing knowledge from the web to Google documents will make your writing process just a little bit more efficient.

Posted by Sarveshwar Duddu, Software Engineer
 
 
If you find that you are unable to do a web search from the URL field or web address bar while using Google Chrome  your issue may be caused by an app or extension you have installed on your Chrome browser.  You may be able to resolve your search failure issues by turning off some third party extensions.

To turn off extensions and test your system do this: With the Chrome browser open, click on the wrench icon in the upper right corner.  In the menu select tools.  On the tools menu select extensions.  Start by disabling all the extensions.  Test another search on the address bar.  If the search works then the issue is one of your extensions.  You may re-enable your extensions one at a time and test search capabilities after each extension you re-enable.