Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Fun Video for Introducing Google Docs

Last week at ISTE 2010 I participated in a "Birds of a Feather" session for Google Certified Teachers and other interested in sharing ways that we use Google in our classrooms. During the session Google Certified Teacher Chris Atkinson shared a fun video that he uses to illustrate the benefits of cloud computing, particularly the use of Google Docs. Chris shared this clip from the CBS sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, and explained that he tells people that they can avoid the problem of forgetting a flash drive by using Google Docs. Enjoy the video.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google for Teachers - Free Ebook
Google for Teachers II - Free Ebook
Seven Videos All Educators Should Watch

Math Challenge Posters

NRich is a provider of mathematics curricula and lesson plans covering everything from basic addition through advanced algebra and geometry. What drew me to their site was their collection of free mathematics posters. There is a poster for each month dating back to February 2005. The posters display a mathematics "trick" or challenge question. Teachers can download and print any of the posters in the collection. Each poster in the collection is linked to a problem page that contains notes for teachers using the posters.
Below is an image of the July 2010 poster.

Applications for Education
The posters from NRICH's collection could make a nice addition to a mathematics teacher's classroom. Use the posters that have challenge questions as a "bonus" assignment or simply display them to keep kids thinking about mathematics when their attention wavers from the lesson you're trying to deliver.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Math Class Needs a Makeover
Interactivate - Interactive Math Assessments
200+ Free Mathematics Books

Free Online Conversion of Many Media Formats

I've written about a number of individual file conversion tools in the past. Most recently I covered video file conversions and PDF to Word conversions. Recently, I discovered a great site that handles video, audio, text, and image conversions all in one place. Online-ConVert handles all of those media formats plus ebook and hash conversion in one central location.

Need to convert a document to HTML from PDF? Online-ConVert does that. Want to convert a video to a new format or download a video from the web? Online-Convert does that too. Do you need to convert an audio file to MP3 or WAV? No problem, Online-Convert has you covered.

One of the features of Online-ConVert that I really liked is found in the video conversion tool. Not only can you change the format of the video, but Online-Convert also allows you to specify the display dimensions of the video you're converting.

Applications for Education
Online-ConVert could be a great resource for teachers who work in schools that use multiple operating systems and need to make media available to all of their students and colleagues regardless of which computer(s) they use. Online-ConVert could also be useful when a student comes to you with a flashdrive containing a document that you cannot open. Finally, Online-ConVert could be used to download videos from the web for classroom use.

Ad-Aware Free Adds Antivirus Scan Scheduling

I don't often write about hardware-related topics but this is one that I have to pass along because it does address an issue that all computer owners face, virus protection. The popular free anti-virus, anti-malware program Ad-Aware from Lavasoft has recently added a scan scheduler. So now rather than having to manually activate a scan of your system you can schedule scans to happen at your specified interval. If you want to download Ad-Aware for your PC you can do so here.

H/T to CNet for the news.

Applications for Education
In the fall and again in the winter after Christmas and Hanuka break I'll have a handful of students come in with new laptops. The first thing I do after admiring their shiny new machines is recommend that they have some type of anti-malware program installed. Ad-Aware is the one that I and our tech department usually recommends.

What You Wanted to Know About Student Blogging

Last week Sue Waters and I hosted an ISTE Unplugged Q & A session about blogging. (You should be able to access the recording here). We did not have enough time to answer all of the questions that were submitted online. Therefore, Sue has written a lengthy blog post answering a lot of the questions we did not get to in the live session. Sue has also planned a follow-up post answering the remainder of the questions. Please read Sue's post to learn the answers to questions like, How do you have students blog for homework if they do not have access to the internet or a computer (in a poor, rural area)?