Tuesday, November 24, 2015

7 Holiday Flying Tips & Tricks

Thanksgiving in the U.S. is just a couple of days away. This marks the unofficial start of the holiday travel season in the U.S. I've been fortunate to speak at enough conferences and schools over the last few years that I've averaged more than 100,000 air miles every year. In other words, I've picked up a few tips to make flying a little less stressful. At this time last year a friend and former colleague asked me to share my top tips for reducing airline travel stress. Here are my top seven tips.

1. Check-in online as soon as possible. Most airlines let you check-in for a flight 24 hours in advance. If you don't have a pre-assigned seat and you want a chance at getting the best seat possible for your fare class (there are different fare classes beyond just coach or first), check-in early. Be aware that some airlines charge a fee if you don't check-in online.

2. Get there early! This is obvious, but it cannot be stressed enough.  Other than the holidays, summer is the busiest leisure travel time which means there are lots of people in the security lines who are unfamiliar with the process. Unless you have TSA Pre-Check or elite status on an airline, be prepared for long security lines. My friend Jess reported that the security line at Bradley International (Hartford, Connecticut) took more than an hour last weekend.

3. Plan for delays and cancellations. Even if it is bright and sunny at your home and at your destination, there can be delays to your flights. Before you get to the airport look at alternate flights to your destination that are available on your airline. You can do this by doing a dummy booking on the airline's website (stop before the field asking for your credit card). Write down those flight numbers and keep them handy in case of significant delay or cancellation. This will save the airline agent time and relieve a bit of your stress if you know what your options are.
Remember this when delays and cancellations occur; the airlines don't like delays any more than you do. The gate agents, flight attendants, and phone agents are probably more stressed out by the delay than you are. Getting huffy with them and saying things like "I'll never fly this airline again" won't help you or anyone else. (Insider info: Most flight attendants don't get paid for time on the ground when the aircraft door is open).

4. Know your airline's reservations desk phone number. When your flight gets delayed or cancelled you will have to wait in line to see an airline agent. Get on the phone with the airline's reservation desk while you're waiting in line. Often you will get through on the phone before you get to the front of an airport line. Give the phone agent the alternate flight numbers that you found before you left your house.

5. Bring a small power strip and make friends. There are never enough outlets to go around in an airport terminal. Bring a small power strip (I found one at Walmart that has four outlets with a one foot cord) and then you only need to find one outlet to charge your phone and those of your friends, family, or strangers.

6. Join the airline's frequent flyer program. Even if you only fly once a year, join the frequent flyer program. You can use the miles for things other than flights. For example, I only fly on United and Delta when US/ American doesn't fly to where I'm going. I collect miles from those trips and have used them for magazine subscriptions, gift cards, and even "bought" a coffee maker through frequent flyer miles.

7. Pack snacks. If you're traveling with small children, you probably have this covered. For the rest of us, it's a good reminder. I always pack a Clif Bar or two in my laptop bag. It's amazing what a couple of hundred calories can do for your mood during a flight delay.

Bonus tip for the nervous flyers: I was once a very nervous flyer too. That changed once I realized that the pilots want to land safely just as much as I do. Pilots won't fly unless they feel safe. Those sounds you hear the plane making, they're normal.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Drag and Drop Files from Your Desktop to Google Drive

Dragging and dropping files within Google Drive has been an available for feature for quite a while. I frequently use that feature to organize files in my folders. Now you can drag and drop files from your desktop directly into your Google Drive.

As long as you are using the latest version of Chrome or Firefox, you can drag files from your desktop to your Google Drive account. This removes the need for the manual upload step.

Applications for Education
This update to Google Drive could be handy when students are creating files outside of Google Drive that they want to store and share through Google Drive. For example, if students have made videos using iMovie on their MacBooks they can share those videos by dragging the from their desktops to their Google Drive accounts.

Last-minute Availability in Getting Going With GAFE

Tomorrow evening at 7pm Eastern Time we will have the first meeting of my popular online course Getting Going With GAFE (Google Apps for Education). Registration is still open and a handful of seats are available.

Getting Going With GAFE is a Practical Ed Tech five week webinar series designed for teachers and administrators who are new to using Google Apps for Education. In Getting Going With  GAFE you will learn everything you need to know to integrate Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Calendar, and Google Sites into your practice.

Getting Going With GAFE costs $147. Three graduate credits are available for the course through my partnership Midwest Teachers Institute and Calumet College of St. Joseph. Graduate credits require an additional fee and completion of weekly assignments.

Course dates:
November 24, December 1, 8, 15, and 22nd. All classes meet online at 7pm Eastern Time. All classes are recorded.

Click here to register for the webinar series.

Print Posters With Almost Any Printer

Last night I published a post that featured a poster of explanations of common logical fallacies. This morning I received an email from a reader who wanted to know if there was a way for her to print the poster. My suggestion was to try using the Block Posters website.

Block Posters is a web-based tool to which you can upload a high quality graphic then divide it into letter-sized chunks for printing. Print out each section and put them together on a poster board to make your own poster.

Applications for Education
If you find a great infographic or poster that you want to display in your classroom, Block Posters could be a great tool for you to use. Want to create a giant jigsaw puzzle? Block Posters could be useful for that. Or if you have students create their own infographics that they want to display, you can print them out with Block Posters.

Explore Online Content with InstaGrok

This is a guest post from Jennifer Carey (@TeacherJenCarey) of EdTechTeacher, an advertiser on this site.

One of the most challenging things to tackle in education today is the glut of information that is available to students right in their pocket! With a few swipes, students can come up with thousands of resources; however, evaluating all of those sources serves as a challenge for students. Enter, instaGrok. InstaGrok is a search engine that brings together information in the form of an interactive mind-map, including text, videos, and more. It is available for free online, iOS App, and Android App.

After entering a query, instaGrok creates an interactive mind-map on the topic including multiple sources. Each node builds off of the subsequent one, giving students a visual idea of how concepts and ideas connect. When students select a source from instaGrok, it guides them through a process to help them vet their source by asking a series of questions about the author, publisher, website, and more. When they are finished building their Grok, students can share via email, link, Social Media, and even embed it onto a webpage. Check out this Grok I built on Project Based Learning:

Project Based lLearning | Learn about project based learning on instaGrok, the research engine

Students can also keep a journal in their Grok and test themselves with quizzes designed by the Grok engine. InstaGrok is a great way for students to begin exploring online content and learning how to vet various sources.

Looking to learn more about research or Project Based Learning? EdTechTeacher will be hosting their first Innovation Summit in San Diego, February 1-3, 2016.