Set up your back-to-school Windows computer in minutes using Ninite

I’ve been using Ninite for years. It’s basically a one-stop “app store” for Windows PCs which offers dozens of commonly-used free programs like Chrome, Firefox, iTunes, VLC media player, Dropbox, and so on. The trick is that Ninite makes the installation process absurdly streamlined and simple.

First, on their website, you click the checkboxes next to the programs you want:

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Then, you download one small installer file, run it, and enjoy a cup of coffee while every program is automatically downloaded and installed:

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Ninite automatically declines all spammy installer options (like changing your homepage or installing browser toolbars), so you’re left with 100% clean installations of all your favorite programs.

It feels like there should be some kind of catch, but in my years of using this service, I haven’t run into any. Ninite’s business model is to win over individual users with an awesome free service so that their institutions might spring for the enterprise-grade version of the service. (It’s a common business model, of course– Dropbox and Google certainly do the same thing.)

Ninite simply does its job, and it does that job well. Go check it out!

September 17, 2013Permalink 4 Comments

Twitter for Teachers: Quick and Easy PLN

This guest post by Derrick Waddell was previously published in his blog, Teach the Cloud.

Aspiring and current educators frequently ask me how I keep up with the latest in ed tech. I always reply with the same three things: 1) read and write blogs, 2) join and participate in Twitter, and 3) listen to podcasts.

In part one of this three-part series, I told you about my favorite education and technology podcasts. In my second post, I introduced you to some of my favorite ed tech blogs. Now, I want to share my thoughts on Twitter.

Twitter, as you probably know, is a microblogging site that allows you to post updates of 140 characters or fewer. Think Facebook status updates without all of clutter of a Facebook page. Sure, you’ll find no shortage of people who post what they had for lunch or quote song lyrics. Twitter is crowded with idle celebrity gossip and political diatribes. Still, you choose who to follow and who follows you, so it’s easy to avoid the negatives and focus on the positives. Here are my three favorite uses for Twitter.

Learning

Twitter is a great place to learn. Since joining Twitter, I’ve found countless sites to improve my classroom instruction. I’ve seen hundreds of resources and blogs that have taught me more than any professional development workshop that I’ve attended over the years. My suggestion is to find a few educators to follow, look at their followers, find some you like, follow them, and repeat until your feed is full of outstanding educational resources. Another good option is to search for hashtags that may give you a list of potential resources to follow. Here is a list of hashtags that may help.

Sharing

I am a teacher. I love to share my knowledge with others. While my blog gives me an outlet for more in-depth discussions, Twitter is a way to quickly and easily share with other educators, whether it’s my opinion on a topic, a link to a blog post, a new web tool, or a retweet.

Connecting

Imagine you’re at a conference. You meet a few people in each session you attend and maybe a few over lunch. You exchange ideas and business cards and learn what you can from each other in the space of a few hours. Now imagine that the conference never ends and those few people are thousands. It becomes a continual networking session where you can meet other like-minded professionals and make lasting professional relationships.

Twitter is an amazing tool, but just as a hammer only works when you swing it, Twitter only works when you use it. Jump in and participate. Search hashtags, find people to follow, ask questions, answer questions, learn, and share. If you do, Twitter will become an invaluable tool.

Here are a few resources that will help you get started on your Twitter journey:

An Educator’s Guide to Twitter – Live Binder by Steven Anderson

Twitter 101: Clarifying the Rules for Newbies – Post by Corvida Raven

Seven Posts from Free Technology for Teachers

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Twitter for Teachers: Quick and Easy PLN by Derrick Waddell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


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10 QR code ideas

This guest post by Michael Zimmer was previously published in his blog, The Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness.

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A QR Code or Quick Response Code is a method of easily sharing various information with people through the use of a QR Code Reader.  Using a Tablet or Phone camera, users scan a QR code and it will send users to a URL address that it is linked too.  There are several options for creating codes and reading codes.  I currently use the Kaywa Reader which has a QR Code Generator and a Reader App for both Apple devices and Android devices.  Below is an infographic that provides the history and statistics for QR Codes (Click to Enlarge)

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Now that you have a Generator, Reader, and some background knowledge at your disposal, how can you use this service in your classroom?  When you create a QR Code you will need to copy and paste it to whatever you will be sharing with your students.  Below are some ideas.

1.) Create a “QR Code Corner” in your classroom and use this area to have QR Codes that lead to weekly or daily assignments that you post on the web or it could link to interesting facts, videos, stories, etc that you think students would be interested in.

2.) Place a QR Code on assignments that will lead students to websites that will provide further assistance or more information about a homework assignment that students will be working on.

3.) Place a QR Code on notes home to parents that will link to a webpage or classroom newsletter that will have more information for the parents.

4.) You can use a service like Tag My Doc that creates an add on for Microsoft products to automatically add a QR Code to your documents and make sharing those documents with students even easier.

5.) On an assignment, provide QR Codes that link to resources for students to confirm their answers.  Provide an amount of time for students to work on the assignment and then an amount of time to discover the answers.

6.) Print out QR codes for content related to information in a textbook, magazine, or book the students are reading.  Pass out the QR code and as students read the text, the QR code will take them to a supplemental video, article, picture that can be discussed.

7.) Gallery Walk is a teaching strategy that teachers can use to teach a desired content.  Use the strategy with QR codes for students to access the questions related to the activity.

8.) When students are working on a project, require students to use QR Codes as a way to supplement the information in their presentation and then share the QR Codes with the classroom.  If students are using a web-based program to complete the project, create a “Project QR Code Handout” that has QR Codes for the students projects that can be handed out to the students.

9.) Create a QR Code Dictionary for critical vocabulary that students are doing in the classroom.  The QR Code will take students to the definition, examples, images, synonyms, etc.

10.) Place QR Codes all around a physical model (especially for science teachers) and each QR Code will take students to an explanation of the area.

For more information and ways to use QR Codes, check out the QR Codes in Education LiveBinder

Here is the QR Code for this Blog Post.
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10 QR Code Ideas by Michael Zimmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


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Turn Your Phone into a Presentation Remote

This guest post by Michael Zimmer was previously published in his blog, The Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness.

If you are a user of Chrome or Safari as your web browser and use presentation software such as SlideShare, Google Docs Presentation, or PowerPoint, then you have the ability, through a Chrome Web store App and a Phone App to turn your phone into a presentation remote.  You can see the presentation below and visit Presentation Remote for more information.

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In order for the service to work you would need to download the free app deMobo for either Android devices or iPhone Devices.  What is cool is that this same app will work with Pandora Radio and with YouTube where you can turn your phone into a remote control for YouTube.  In another way through this app your phone can serve as a monitor extension as well and the ability to drag and drop from your phone to your computer, just as if you had a secondary monitor.

I am not quite an avid user of Google Chrome over Firefox, not really sure why, but it appears that the apps available for Chrome might make it worth a switch.  This is just one example.

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Turn Your Phone into a Presentation Remote by Michael Zimmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


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