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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

5 Things to Check When a Website Doesn't Work the Way You Expect

A few minutes ago I received the following email from a reader:

Subject line: Poetica doesn't work and they don't respond to emails about problems!

Message: Annoying, especially since I gave them some kind of access to my google stuff in order to use their non-working program. I didn't even get an acknowledgement email about my email to them. Frankly, I think this site sucks.

Now I'm not sure if this person wanted me to help her or if she just wanted to take out her frustration on me. Either way, here are some things that I suggest trying when a website doesn't work the way that you expect it to.

1. Are you using a modern browser? In a lot instances of a site not working properly in a school, the cause can be traced to using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. If you're using an older version of Internet Explorer (IE 11 is the current stable version) not only will some sites not work correctly, you are also opening yourself up to more potential security threats. Find out which browser and version you're using by visiting WhatBrowser.org

2. Do you have cookies enabled? Many websites require cookies in order to offer you the best possible experience. Explania and Common Craft offer good explanations of how cookies work.


3. Do you have a pop-up blocker turned on? It is not uncommon for a website to use a pop-up window for account log-ins. If the pop-up is blocked, you won't be able to log-in.

4. Are you using the site on a tablet/ iPad/ Chromebook? While it would be great if every site was optimized for tablets, that is not the case.

5. Have you checked your spam folder? If you sent a help request to the help desk/ site administrators, they may have replied and had their messages flagged by your spam filter. I've experienced this more than once when using a school district email address.

And just to bring a little humor to this, in the words of The IT Crowd, "have you tried turning it off and on again?"


Disclosure: For years I have had an in-kind business relationship with Common Craft.

Organize Your Favorite Finds With Feedly and Evernote

Yesterday I posted a video demonstration of how to create a Feedly account, find blogs, and organize them into categories. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how I use Feedly to read my favorite blogs, share my favorite posts, and bookmark my favorite posts. There are other ways to read and bookmark posts, but this is the method that works for me. Give it a try and you just might find that it will help you keep track of your favorite blog posts too.

Knowmia Was Acquired by TechSmith - What That Means for You

Over the last couple of years I have featured Knowmia in nearly a dozen blog posts. Knowmia is a website and an iPad app for creating, sharing, and viewing video lessons. Today, I received a notification from Knowmia that they have been acquired by TechSmith. According to the email that I received from Knowmia, you will continue to have free access to your online content and to Knowmia's free iPad and web-based tools. From here forward TechSmith will assume responsibility for the future of Knowmia and will handle support inquiries.

Applications for Education
Knowmia's Assignment Wizard and iPad app provide an excellent way to create and distribute flipped lessons. The free iPad app allows you to make your own instructional videos to use in the Assignment Wizard. If you don't have time to create your own videos to use in your lessons the Assignment Wizard will let you import videos from YouTube.

And if you're not using the flipped model, Knowmia can be a good place to find educational videos that your students can use to review or get "on demand" help when they cannot connect with you.