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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.


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

Cover art
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. 

CK-12 - screenshot
CK-12 - screenshot thumbnail
CK-12 - screenshotCK-12 - screenshot


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

Paperwork - Evernote Alternative you can Host Yourself

Monday, March 30, 2015


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


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.


Evernote for Education Resources

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


The Chromebook Help App - built in support on your Chromebook

Image result for help

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. 


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.


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


Tomorrow, 3/31, is World Backup Day - make sure your data is backed up and safe

CopyBackupFiles Want to backup files? Here are 8 free web applications that can help you

Today is World Backup Day!

Everyone needs to have their files backed up. It is very easy to have your flash drive, hard drive, or computer crash, get damaged, or have your flash drive or laptop get lost or stolen. And it always happens at the worst possible time.

There are many different ways to backup your files. You can use an external hard drive, backup to a flash drive, or backup your files to the cloud. I use a mixture of both.

1. External Hard Drive - an external hard drive is a great way to back up your files locally. This proves very useful if your computer goes down and you have no internet. Many of them come with software build in to set up automatic backups and Windows and Mac have automatic backup apps. You can even make an image of your hard drive so that you don't have to reinstall software if you need to start from scratch.

2. Flash Drive - a flash drive can also be used for backup, but they are more expensive than hard drives for similar storage capacities. I do use a flash drive as a backup at school of my main files.

3. Cloud based backup - this is my favorite way to backup my files because it is automatic, free, and I can sync my files to multiple computers which means I have access to them locally. They also allow me to access my files from any computer, or even smartphone, via the web (and smartphone apps).There are many different ones available. They all have some sort of free plan and many allow you to get extra free memory through referrals. Here are a few of my favorites:

Access everywhere

Google Drive - you can upload any type of file  and you get anywhere from 25 to 100 GB of storage free. 100GB of free storage comes with Chromebooks and other products. You can purchase additional storage at extremely good rates too. There are mobile apps and desktop apps that allow automatic backup and syncing of your files. You can have files uploaded and converted to Google Docs/Sheets/Slides, or kept in their native format. This is my primary backup system with all of my files backed up to my GDrive account. Your files are available on any web-enabled device. I have Google Drive app on my laptop and smartphone and it backs up and syncs all of my files. I also have all of my smartphone files backed up automatically with Google+ and Dropbox.

Dropbox is a service that allows you to sync your files on your computer with their system as a backup. This also allows you to access the files anywhere. You can also sync the files across multiple computers. This means that you have automatic backup of your files and 24/7 access to your files. I have it set up to sync a folder on my home computer, wife's computer and school computer so I don't have to worry about having multiple versions or forgetting a flash drive.

There are also Dropbox apps for your mobile device. You can also access the mobile site from any web-enabled phone. Imagine being able to access all of your files on your smartphone! It includes auto-backup of your photos which is a great feature. 

You can also share files with others.

Dropbox is a great service for teachers and students. Access to all of your files anywhere, backup of your files, and the ability to share files.

SugarSync - Sugarsync is another powerful sync and backup service. You can have it back up your files on their server, and sync the files among multiple computers. You can also access these files through any web browser, and there are apps for smart phones. You can even access them with a mobile web browser if you don't have an app. There are no more free accounts, unfortunately.

I'm a huge believer in being prepared and having backups of my data. The services I use have great data centers and backup, but sometimes their servers go down, and sometimes I may not be able to get internet access. In addition to having all of my files backed up with Google Drive and Dropbox, I also export my cloud files. 

Evernote - I have Evernote's desktop application at home and at work so all of my notes are backed up on my home computer and my work desktop and laptop. I also export the data once a week to an html file for backup. I do most of my work through Evernote, so this is very important to keep backed up. I also have important files in Evernote, and important records and photos. My most important files are here and in GDrive. In addition, I have my Evernote data backed up with Revert.io.

Google Products - I also export my Blogger blogs, Calendar, email, tasks, and bookmarks once a week as a back up. For each of them, go to settings and look for the export command. Here's more information on how to export data from Google's services.
(I use Google Chrome so my bookmarks are synced between my two computers.)

All of the backup files are in a directory that is automatically backed up to my Google Drive account and then kept in sync on both my school and home computers. Sugarsync does this automatically, so it is no effort for me. I also have really, really important data (financial, digitized paper records, etc) on a flash drive in my fireproof safe. Just in case.

My Android smart phone automatically syncs with my Google Calendar, Google Contacts and other Google services and I have my Evernote notebooks synced to it as well. I can also access all of my files on the cloud services through my smartphone.

This may all sound like overkill to some people, but I feel more comfortable knowing that my data is safe, backed up, and easily accessible. 

Using Google Drive as a Course Organizer

Friday, March 27, 2015

I am creating a curriculum for an Aircraft Design course for the high school level. Since it will be shared with many other people, I decided to do the organization in Google Drive, instead of Evernote like I usually do my course organization. I have not created official "lesson plans" yet, this is just the curricular materials and order of instruction.

I started by creating a top level folder for the course and then sub folders for each unit. Inside each folder are the materials - lecture slides, links, assignments and other resources and files.

The really cool thing I did was to create a single Google Doc that has the entire course outline on it and each section/item is a link to a folder/document/file in Google Drive. All the teacher has to do is bookmark that one Doc and everything links from there. To create the links, just go to the item (folder, doc/sheet/slides, or file) in Drive, right click on it and click "get link". Since there is a heirarchy in Drive, you only have to share the top level folder to someone else and they get access to everything in that folder and subfolder.

Here are some screenshots of the Drive layout and the main file. Try it out yourself.

Course Outline File:
(the links to files and folders will not work as they are private, but this is just for example use)


Google for Education Resources

Examples of using Evernote as: teacher, student, admin
Evernote for Education Resources


paper.li - easily create online "newspaper" - great for schools and projects


Paper.li is a free site that allows you to create an online "newspaper". You can set it to automatically collect, organize and publish content from the web, or manually create you paper. You choose online content around a specific theme, then place it into the online “newspaper,” displaying individual items as stories. The newspaper then gets its own unique link which can be shared with others.

The site can collect information from over 140 million websites. This blog has shown up on some people's Paper's too.

Easy to use:

  1. Select your sources by source or topic
  2. Customize the sources and layout
  3. Publish and share

Paper.li could be used for classroom/school/district newsletters, classroom projects and much more.

Here's a video about it:


How to Spot Bad Science infographic- all students need to know this

Science, in this day and age of the internet and "experts" on everything, is sometimes not all that accurate. People can take scientific data and use it in different ways and in bad ways. Sometimes the data itself is bad, sometimes its the way an argument is being presented, or the analysis of the evidence and data is flawed.

Students need to be able to look at science information and resources, think critically about them, be skeptical of it, and understand if it is good or bad science.

Andy Brunning of Chemistry site Compound Interest has put together this guide on warning signs for bad science.

spotting bad science


Google Accessibility Features and Resources

Last month, I posted an article about some of Google Chrome's accessibility features and resources. It was mainly about Chrome OS and the Chrome Browser.

Google has a great site with resources about all of the accessibility features in all of their products.
The Google Products Accessibility site has a list of 18 Google Products with details and links about it's accessibility features.

This is a great resource for teachers and students who need features to help them use these tools.


Texthelp Announces Teach for Google - free PD to help educators use Google Edu

Texthelp, a language and literacy support software company, has just announced Teach for Google, a new, online, professional development resource for educators. It is designed to help educators use Google Apps for Education to increase student achievement.

Teach for Google has short courses containging how-to videos, tips and tricks, checklists, templates and more to help teachers not only learn about Google Apps, but how to use them effectively in the classroom.

The free version has 2 courses available as well as lots of how-to's for individual Google Apps.

The Related Videos Section has how-to videos about Drive, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms and Drawings.

You can also pay to access more courses.

Texthelp is the company behind Read&Write for Google, a very popular app used in Education.


Google for Education Resources

Google App and Chromebooks Resources - learn how to better use them

Resources to get Started With Google Apps and Chromebooks


Free webinar on Google Tips, March 31st - featuring Richard Byrne

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Next Tuesday, March 31st Simple K12 is hosting an afternoon of free webinars about Google tools for teachers. The webinars will start at 1pm Eastern Time and run until 5pm Eastern Time.

My colleague, Richard Byrne, is conducting two of the sessions and always does a great job.

These webinars by Simple 12 are always excellent and a great way to learn some new things.
Click here to register.


SimpleK12 - great resource for all educators


Google Keep note taking app gets labels for easier organizing and recurring reminders

Google Keep

Google Keep, Google's easy to use note taking app, is a great resource for students and teachers. It just received a new feature that helps with organizing your notes, labels, and recurring reminders.

This makes organizing your notes/tasks/reminders easier. You can add as many labels as you like to a note to track it by tasks, project, category, etc. Along with color coding, you can really organize your notes better.

You can also now set recurring reminders. Reminders can be set by location (great for reminding you to do something when you get to a certain place, if you don't know what time you will get there) and by day/time. You can also set recurring reminders as daily, weekly, monthly or yearly or even create your own interval.

Keep also has the ability to share notes, create tasks lists, and even audio notes.

I use Evernote for most things, but also use Keep for quick notes on the go and for shopping lists, along with voice notes, and then I can share the notes to other apps, or just access them as needed. It's quicker than Evernote, but has less features. It is useful for students and teachers.


Quotes About Sweet Love Thank You And Beauty With Their Importance in Life

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sweet love quotes - Love is something which cannot be define in words. Music is like a chocolate. It is the feeling of strong emotional bond between two people. The feeling of love can be express in no better way except Sweet love quotes. The feeling of love can itself is the best, nice and the most beautiful in this whole world.. It must be stated that almost all sweet love quotes sounds great when a person is in a relationship and want to make their relationship for long and strong. Sweet love quotes are the expression of heart and it is really wonderful to be expressed for any event.

Quotes About Sweet Love
Quotes About Sweet Love

Beauty quotes - We must enjoy the every movement of life. Every happy movement are the beauty of life. If you are happy than your life becomes more and more beautiful. If my own life also when i am happy I see the happiness in others and notice every movement of life. The beauty quotes make you feel about every movement you spend happily with your friends, relative, and life partner and also with your parents and siblings. In life just always keep in mind that there are two bulls in our mind one is positive and negative. The one you feed the most will be the winner so just keep of remembering this beauty quote and make your life happy. Live in present this will increase the beauty of your life.

Thank you quotes - always say thanks to those who help you and always with you in any situation. Just make them realize that how much special he/she is in your existing life. Thank quotes are the best way to say someone thanks in a very special way. Remember every time to say thank you that is special in your life. As we experience heaven on earth, every time we must remember to say "Thank you" to the creator of this world or earth. Thank you quotes are the quotes to say Thank you for everything and anything. When it comes to wish a very special person in your life and want to say Thank you through greetings and greeting cards there is the only and only one solution to your problem that is Thank you quotes. Thank you word is so perfect for those people who make us happy and they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossoms.

Prepfactory - free online test prep tips and practice

Monday, March 23, 2015

PrepFactory is a site that offers students free SAT + ACT instructional videos and practice questions (kind of like Duolingo meets Khan Academy, specifically for test prep).

Their mission is to "bring quality test prep to kids who can't afford shelling out hundreds / thousands of dollars for the (often mediocre) instruction that the Kaplans and Princeton Reviews of the world provide".

It's easy to use and offers tips for taking the tests as well as practice questions and videos. There are multiple tutorials and questions and students earn badges as they work through the site. 

Beyond test prep, this also helps students develop thinking skills that can help them anywhere.


Standardized tests - why we still need to prepare students for them

10 Important Skills Students need for the Future


Using Vernier Data Tools on a Chromebook

Determining grip strength with the Hand Dynamometer, Go!Link, and Graphical Analysis for Chrome

Chromebooks are very powerful, and very useful, devices. You can even use them with Vernier Data Tools.

Vernier is a huge name in data collection tools for science and math and they have been working to support Chromebooks for some time.  Earlier this year they released their Graphical Analysis tool for Chromebooks (free) and they have continued to make their products work with Chromebooks.

There are two different ways you can use their tools with Chromebooks. One is using a USB connector and the other is wireless. For the USB connection for the sensors, you need the USB connector and the Graphical Analysis Software. For the Wireless connection, you need the Labquest device and the software. Many schools already have the Labquest devices anyway.

  1. Students begin their experiment by connecting sensors to their Chromebook USB port.
  2. Using Graphical Analysis for Chrome, students set experiment parameters and start data collection.
  3. Real-time sensor data is shown as a graph, a meter, or a table for different learning styles.
  4. Students can annotate their graph, perform curve fits, run calculations, and more.
  5. Students can easily create and send a finished lab report to their instructor, save their work to Google Drive™, or export data to Plotly™ for further study.
  1. Students in a lab group set up an experiment with Vernier sensors and LabQuest 2.
  2. Each student launches Graphical Analysis for Chrome on a Chromebook and connect to LabQuest 2.
  3. After starting data collection, experiment data are wirelessly streamed from LabQuest 2 to each Chromebook.
  4. Every lab group member analyzes data on a Chromebook in class or at home.

Vernier devices and sensors are used by high school and college courses around the world and it's nice to see that Chromebooks are supported.


What can you do on a Chromebook? Pretty much everything.

eGFI - Dream Up the Future - STEM Resource for Students and Teachers

Engineering - Go For It! - this site is produced by the ASEE and is completely devoted to promoting engineering. It has resources for educators and students, as well as lessons and career exploration resources.

The site opens with "cards" with different topics on them. Students can click on the cards for more information. They can also shuffle the deck to get new cards shown. There is information about different engineering topics and areas, as well as examples. 

There is also a student blog with engineering career info, news, scholarships, links, videos and much more. 

The "Engineer Your Path" section of the site has information on how to become an engineer, including tips and resources. 

There are also digital magazines and newsletters that the students can access for more information.

There is an excellent teachers section on the site also that has lesson plans, activities and other resources for teachers. Lesson plans and activities are sorted by topic and grade level and are easily searchable. There is also a monthly newsletter that you can sign up for to receive updated resources and information.

eGFI is an excellent resource for teachers and students to find resources on Engineering. 




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