Digital smartpen assistive technology in the classroom

013113_0348_Digitalsmar1.png “I know my weakness at school: a laptop. I get distracted by videogames.”

At least, that’s what the guy at Future Shop told me when I was looking into getting an echo smart pen.

And I believe him. I see it all the time with students in my classroom who use assistive technology. The computer can be a great learning tool and cloud-based services like Google Docs can really help students stay organized.

On the other hand, internet access can really be a distraction. Think about how often employees can be distracted by social media sites at work. Then multiply that by hundred to account for the teenage brain.

Livescribe sells digital smart pens that can record what the teacher says as the student take notes. Over the past few years, a few different parents and teachers have spoken to me about it, so I thought I would check it out. Continue reading “Digital smartpen assistive technology in the classroom”

Upgrade to Windows 8 Pro by Jan 31, 2013 and save $30

011713_0331_UpgradetoWi1.pngI recently upgraded my old Windows XP machines to Windows 8 Pro. I was talking about this with a few teachers in the staff room, and they didn’t know that, right now, Microsoft has a special upgrade price.

Why did I upgrade? I really like the idea of Windows 8 storage spaces which lets you pool multiple hard drives into a single space. A hard drive on my home server recently crashed over the winter holidays, and now that Microsoft no longer supports Windows home server, it makes sense to try to switch to Windows 8 while I can. (I’m sure I’ve got a copy of Windows XP lying around somewhere that I can use to upgrade to Windows 8.)

Also, I’m really interested to see where Windows goes in the tablet market. I love my iPad, but the fact that you can’t have multiple user accounts is a serious drag in a school environment. (How many teachers bring their own personal iPad to school, but are reluctant to let a student use it because they don’t want kids to be able to access personal information?)

Four years ago, I bought an MDG flip tablet netbook for the classroom. I wonder if I can get Windows 8 Pro working with the touchscreen on the old device. Maybe that will be my March break project…

Do you use Windows 8 Pro?

Backing up Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 User Profile

011413_0209_BackingupDr2.pngThere is nothing scarier than opening up Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 to get an error message saying there’s something wrong with your user profile. (Well, I suppose your computer not booting up is pretty scary too. Or, when your hard drive crashes and you lose all of your family photos, that sucks.)

If you’ve been using Dragon Naturally Speaking for a while to dictate your computer, then chances are you’ve spent thousands of hours logging in corrections and helping the voice-recognition software to recognize your voice little better. You probably don’t want to lose that hard work. Thank goodness for backups.

My Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 user profile broke today.

  • Something got corrupted somewhere, but fortunately, I was able to restore from within Dragon.
  • This month, I upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 8, but I don’t think that caused any problems.
  • I recently wrote this post, and this post just fine with Windows 8 (64 bit). The new enhanced Bluetooth headset still seems to be slow, but the Plantronics Calisto BT 300 II wasn’t working well under Windows 7 either.

Continue reading “Backing up Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 User Profile”

Can your students guess your password?

Could your students guess your computer password? Top 10,000 passwords in a WordleTeachers live in a digital world. We use computers and email systems to store and communicate student information to parents, teachers, and other colleagues: marks, assessment information, tests, special education data, etc.

Could one of your students guess your password?

Obviously, this isn’t a problem if you teach grade 1, but if you teach in middle school or high school, you have a lot more tech savvy students with a lot more time on their hands.

Is your password, “password”, “123456”, or “12345678”?

  • Apparently, almost one out of 10 people use one of those three passwords.
  • It stands to reason that one out of 10 teachers uses one of those passwords as well.

Continue reading “Can your students guess your password?”

CrashPlan for teachers

010413_0259_CrashPlanfo1.pngSomeone once told me, there are three things that are inevitable in life: death, taxes, and hard drive failure. If you’re like most of us, backing up your hard drive is a chore that you never quite get around to. Until disaster strikes.

We live in a digital world. Our kids have been photographed since birth. How do you take care of your digital life?

Recently, my hard drive crashed and we’ve lost an entire year of family photos. Yes, I’m a computer geek kind of teacher, and yes, I did have a backup plan. Apparently, it wasn’t good enough.

  • I have a Windows home server backing up our personal computers every night.
  • Important files were in a dropbox folder, so a copy of these files live in the cloud
  • Unfortunately, our family photos were stored on the home server itself, and I never got around to paying for an extra hard drive to backup the contents of the home server.
  • So, when the hard drive on the server broke, we lost all of our family photos and backups for our home computers.

Continue reading “CrashPlan for teachers”