Saturday, November 17, 2012

Livescribe Sky WiFi Smartpen - very handy in my new job


Two weeks ago I started a new job. I'm the Chief Information Officer for my district. In this capacity, I oversee the IT department and coordinate technology issues with all other departments, as well as advise on educational technology issues, products, and pedagogy.

This job entails a lot of meetings, issues, and challenges. One way I have been able to keep up with things is through my Livescribe Sky WiFi Smartpen. With this smartpen, I'm able to take notes in meetings on paper, which is very efficient, especially with my note taking style, which incorporates sketches, symbols, arrows, and more that don't translate well with a keyboard. The smartpen saves all of my notes and syncs them to Evernote over WiFi. This means that all of my notes are stored in Evernote so that I can access them anywhere. They are even searchable. I can also record audio in important or fast moving meetings to make sure I don't miss anything.

I have used it extensively and it has made me more efficient and organized. I am able to take notes quickly, and then have them saved and accessible from anywhere.




Related:

Livescribe Sky WiFi Smartpen - save notes and audio via WiFi to Evernote
Evernote for Education Resources






Wednesday, November 14, 2012

InstallFree Nexus & Rndr shutting down - any know of alternatives?


Nexus Logo

InstallFree Nexus and Rndr were two free applications that I found very useful. Unfortunately, they are shutting down on November 15th (tomorrow). 

InstallFree Nexus allowed you to use Microsoft Office or LibreOffice on an iPad, Android Tablet or Chromebook and access your files from a variety of cloud services to edit. 

Rndr enabled any browser to render plugins like Java that may not be compatible with the device. This is very useful for Google Chromebooks, since many educational sites use Java. 

I have not found an alternative for them yet. I'm really hoping for one for Rndr, as it made Java sites accessible on Chromebooks. 




Below is the notice from InstallFree:

November 9th, 2012

To our dedicated customers,
Seven months ago, we launched our InstallFree Nexus and Rndr platforms -- the first services of their kind that enabled users to work with full-featured Windows applications, and access their cloud-stored files, from any device with a web browser.
Unfortunately, we have not been successful in turning these services into a sustainable business for our company and must therefore reconsider our strategy. While this process is going on, we must make the painful decision to shut down these services.
The InstallFree Nexus and Rndr services will shut down on Thursday, November 15th, 2012.
I would like to thank the tens-of-thousands of customers currently using our Nexus and Rndr services. If you are currently subscribed to one of our InstallFree Nexus Premium plans, your subscription fees will be refunded.
We have also prepared a FAQ that you should review at www.installfree.com/faq. 
For any questions, please contact us at contact@installfree.com.


Online Tech Tips - free online tech help and tips



Online Tech Tips is a great resource for anyone who uses computers. The site has great information on tricks, tips, updates, and fixes for your computer.

There are tips for Windows, Mac, smartphones, and much more.

The site is well designed and easy to use and the tips are written in a way that most computer users can understand. It has a huge variety of information and resources that are very useful.

The site offers RSS feeds and email subscriptions so that you can keep up with any new tips.

Some recent articles that are very useful include: OTT Explains – Is It Better to Log Into Websites using Facebook, Google or Twitter Accounts? and OTT Guide to Understanding Google Chrome Advanced Features.

This site is great for anyone who uses technology.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Prezi Interactive Presentation Tool gets a new interface



Prezi, the zooming presentation editor, has a new version of it's interface. Prezi is a nice alternative to things like PowerPoint for making presentations. Instead of slides, you create presentations using any thing as the basis, from a word to an image. You can change how the presentation moves from part to part and integrate video directly into the presentation.

The new interface is cleaner and standardized and looks more similar to other apps. It is easy to use and easy to find commands and features. The new design also allows for continued expansion and addition of features.

show mode, path mode-1

Path mode


The web version of Prezi is free and you can download your presentation to your computer for offline access. The pro account adds more features and a desktop app.


Related:

PreziU - educational community for Prezi in education


Google Lesson Plan Search - easily find great lessons



Google, one of my favorite resources (in addition to Evernote) has lots of great things for education, including free apps and services. They also have a great library of lesson plans for educators. There are thousands of lesson plans available and all are searchable and sortable. Sorting can be done by type of Google product used, subject, or age group. The search and sorting is almost immediate and there are some great resources here.

The Lesson Plan Search is a great way to find free lesson plans and ideas to use in your classroom.







Saturday, November 3, 2012

A new chapter in my career - I'm now CIO for the district


Teacher >> Chief Information Officer

Monday, November 5th, is my first day in a new chapter in my education career. I am the new Chief Information Officer for the district and I will be overseeing the Educational Technology, Information Technology, and work closely with Data/Assessment/Accountability departments. 

I have already been working on some initiatives and there are some really great things in the works, including upgrades to much of the technology in the district. I have also been getting up to speed on some of the challenges and successes we have and will need to address. 

I spent 10 years as an engineer before becoming a Physics teacher and Educational Technology Specialist. I then spent 10 years in the classroom as a teacher and as an educational technology specialist and professional development facilitator. Now, I get to use my experience from all of these areas in one job. I'm looking forward to the challenges and am excited to get started. 

The staff I will be working with is talented and dedicated and have overcome many issues and challenges in the future and will continue to do so. 

As I transition into this new role, I will not have as much time to devote to this blog, so there will be less postings at first. I will continue to post to this blog though and will be adding some new features to it. 

I also look forward to continuing to collaborate, share and learn from the members of my PLN and will be looking for advice and help in the coming months.