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Enable Dropbox Integration into your Chromebook File Manager

Tuesday, March 31, 2015



If you use a Chromebook, you are also using Google Apps and Google Drive as your file storage. But many people, myself included, also use Dropbox for file storage and backup. Dropbox, like Drive, allows you to sync and backup your files on any device and then access them online or via moible apps or the Windows/Mac clients. On a Chromebook, you used to have to go to the web interface, but now, thanks to a developer, you can access your Dropbox files right in your Chromebook File Manager Interface for easy access to all of your files.

Application

Go to the app's page in the store here: File System for Dropbox. You install it like any other Chrome app or extension, but this one only works on devices running Chrome OS. Install it, click on the icon, mount your Dropbox. It will take you through authorizing it with your Dropbox account and then you are ready to go. Click on any file just as you would in any other way. 

CK-12 announces mobile apps with adaptive learning

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CK-12, a great resource for free e-textbook and curricular resources, has just announced new student mobile apps that provide you with the ability to learn math and science, anywhere, anytime. 

The apps, available for iOS and Android, are easy to use and contain over 100,000 adaptive practice questions that adjust in difficulty based on your results. In addition, if you struggle with a concept, it will recommend resources, like articles and videos, to help you. The resources are excellent. The dashboard shows you your progress.

This is a great way for students to study math and science concepts, whether for their own enrichment, extra help, or for studying. 

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Related:

CK-12 has over 100,000 teacher created digital textbooks available for free


Paperwork - Evernote Alternative you can Host Yourself

Monday, March 30, 2015

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Evernote is my go-to app for note taking, organizing files and clipping things off of the web. It is my main organizational tool. It works for me. I also using Google Keep for a lot of notes.

Not everyone likes it or wants to have another company have a hold of all of their data. That's where Paperwork comes in. It isn't as full featured as Evernote, but you can host it yourself and it does have some great features. You use notes, notebooks, tags and can upload multimedia files. There are not any mobile apps, yet, but you can access it on any web enabled device

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Schools could use this to host their own note taking system, or as a tool for students to learn and manage themselves.

There is more info about it here on GitHub.



Related:

Evernote for Education Resources

Tips to Using Google Keep in Education
Lots of Great NoteTaking Apps and Resources





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The Chromebook Help App - built in support on your Chromebook


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Chromebooks are very easy to use, but there is a learning curve for some people as it does do things differently. The nice part is that they have their own built-in help app. This is useful for anyone from the tech newbie to teachers and students first learning to adapt to a Chromebook.



The "Get Help" app is right in the App Launcher and will open up the Chromebook Help app. It has user manual, tutorial, and tech support resources in it that you can browse or search through. There is also a "The "New to Chromebooks" section right at the top that provides some step by step directions for things that work a little different on a Chromebook, along with more in-depth topics.


There is also a "Fix a problem" section which offers troubleshooting support. In addition, there is a link to Chromebook Central, which is a Google-run help forum for Chromebooks. 

The app replacement section is great for finding web apps to replace what you did with a downloaded Windows or Mac app.

This is a great resource for schools that are starting up with Chromebooks and to share with new students and staff who have never used Chromebooks before. And, if you end up recommending a Chromebook to friends or family, make sure they know about this to help limit their support calls to you. 




Related:

Pixar makes its 3D rendering tool, RenderMan, free for anyone





Pixar, the company behind Toy Story, Cars and other incredible animated movies, has announced that it's in-house 3D rendering software, RenderMan, is now free for non-commercial use.

RenderMan creates the rendering with lighting effects. It does not create the original 3D model. You would need to first create the 3D model first. Maya is a great 3D modeling program that has a free version for students and teachers.



This is a great tool to help students learn graphic design and create some great projects.



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Making Sure your Meetings are Productive and Effective


Meetings are something that all managers and leaders need to be able to plan, organize, run and follow up on. When I was a project engineer, I had to run lots of meetings and had training in effective meetings at a couple different companies. I've attended good meetings, and really bad meetings. In education, many meetings seem to be a complete waste of time, or the entire faculty is at a meeting that only affects a small number. Meetings are expensive - you have to take into consideration the time and salaries during the meeting and the fact that people aren't doing other work. Make your meetings effective - have a clear objective and keep them short and to the point.

These key points are great for anyone running a meeting.

Keys to Effective Meetings

1. Define purposes of meeting - why are you meeting? What is the objective of the meeting? Also, does this meeting have to be face-to-face, or can it be virtual, via email, Google Docs, etc. Do we need to meet as a group or could certain people deal with issues?

2. Develop agenda - what are the key points that need to be addressed. Who needs to be at the meeting? What tasks need to be assigned during the meeting? What is the time frame for the meeting?

Use this checklist when preparing for your meetings:

This Checklist Makes Sure Your Next Meeting is Productive One
Source: A Checklist for Planning Your Next Big Meeting | HBR 

3. Distribute agenda prior to meeting - this gives attendees a chance to prepare any materials or information prior to the meeting and to be prepared. This also keeps meetings moving faster. The agenda can be emailed, shared as a Google Doc, or posted online.

4. Arrive and start on time - the person running the meeting should be there early and ready to go. Have extra copies of agenda available. Start on time and stick to the schedule.

5. One speaker at a time - follow rules. One person talks at a time, no side conversations.

6. Review agenda and set priorities - what is the top priority to be addressed at the meeting? What needs to be accomplished?

7. Stick to agenda - items not on the agenda should be held to the end or put off to a later meeting.

8. Assign task responsibilities - make sure people know what they are responsible for and where to go for support. Give them resources and help to accomplish their tasks.

9. Establish target dates - when do things need to be done by? When is the next meeting? When will follow ups be done?

10. Summarize agreements - summarize what was accomplished, decided, and agreed upon.

11. Close at or before agreed time - do not run over unless absolutely necessary. Things can be discussed online or at a later meeting.

12. Keep a written record of meeting - assign a secretary and keep notes of the meeting including attendees, agenda, what was discussed, tasks assignments, and follow up information.

13. Edit and distribute minutes promptly - minutes should be distributed within 24-48 hours of a meeting.

14. Encourage completion of tasks - remind persons of task assignments and due dates and offer them help and support.

15. Put unfinished business on agenda for next meeting. - Unfinished business should be addressed at the beginning of next meeting. 

Meetings should not be something people dread attending. They should be where things get discussed, accomplished, and decided. Follow these key points and your meetings will be more effective. 

Infographic about World Backup Day (3/31) with some great resources



Tomorrow, 3/31, is World Backup Day. Keeping your files and data safe is very important. Here is an infographic with more information and some great resources.

Cloudwards.net – World Backup Day 2015 Courtesy of: Cloudwards.net



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