Posts

Quizzes and Google Forms--It Just Keeps Getting Better

If you haven't heard the news yet, Google announced that they are adding quiz functionality to Google Forms! This is big news, and something my teachers have been wanting for a long time.

It works really well, but of course some functionality is limited--such as the ability to auto-grade short answers. This is definitely a step in the right direction, and is going to be HUGE for my teachers using Google Classroom and Forms for formative assessments.

Learn more from Google's official blog here.

How I Work - Dropbox

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Last time I posted, I talked a bit about how I use an iOS app called Mailbox. Today, I'm going to discuss a few ways I use Dropbox.
Dropbox
Dropbox is so universally used that I hesitated writing a post for it. However, it is so ingrained into what I do at work that I would be remiss if I didn't include it. Dropbox is a very popular file syncing app that, once installed, creates a folder that it then syncs to the web and any other computer you have Dropbox installed and linked to your account. It also does file backups, after a fashion, keeping files a few revisions back.

One of the best things I like about Dropbox is it frees me from the worry of having all my data on one computer--as a tech, I am well aware of the ramifications of a hard drive failing, and this helps me sleep at night, knowing all my data is safe and sound in the cloud and synced to all my devices.

From a security standpoint, there has been a few issues with Dropbox accounts being hacked in the past, so definite…

How I Work - Mailbox

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Last time I posted, I got a bit nerdy and talked about a network monitoring tool for Windows called FREEPing. This week, I'm switching back to an iOS app called Mailbox.
Mailbox
I highly anticipated Mailbox for iOS when it first was announced. It was clean, it was pretty, and it looked like it was going to change how I dealt with email. When I actually got my hands on it, I can't say it completely fulfilled all my hopes and dreams, but it is definitely helpful. Since I first started using Mailbox, a few other apps have come out with somewhat similar features, so Mailbox is no longer exclusively awesome. Sorry Mailbox.

That said, I use it as my default email app on my iPhone. I don't do a lot of email creation on my iPhone unless absolutely necessary, so I mainly use it to quickly go through email on-the-go, to sort and queue up emails for later. The two features of Mailbox that I was incredibly excited about when it was first launched, and that I still use, are:

Swipe to archi…

How I Work - FREEPing

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Last time I posted, I talked about an app for my iPhone that I use, called Hours. This week I'd like to highlight an app that has been with me since I started supporting a network.
FREEPing
FREEPing is a (you guessed it) free utility provided by Tools4Ever, the company that makes a user account automation tool called UMRA. As you may have guessed, FREEPing is a utility that pings IP addresses. It's really not much more exciting than that, which is precisely why I like it so much. If you're in a larger environment with lots of resources, you probably have network monitoring all setup. For those of us with limited resources, FREEPing is a great alternative, or even a great complement to your current monitoring system.

It's really easy to setup:

Add IPs you want to monitor
Give them nice readable names
Profit

Every time you launch the program after adding the IPs you want to ping, it will automatically start pinging each IP in order. It's a great way to check on how your net…

How I Work - Hours

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In the last post I wrote, I talked about how I had difficulty organizing and staying focused as a tech. Today, I'm going to talk about an app that I found for my iPhone that helps me keep track of what I do during the day.
Hours
I discovered the Hours app for iPhone a few months ago when I wasgetting our Chromebooks ready for the new class of students coming in. I was really curious at how much time I was spending on getting these ready, so I launched the app and got to work. Basically, in Hours you can create several projects and start and stop them throughout your day.



As you can see in my screenshot above, I have several different projects, including student support, teacher support, network maintenance, and so on. As you switch or start tasks, you simply tap on the timer next to each task. There's even a widget for the notification center on the iPhone to make it even more accessible. It's fascinating to look back at the day and see what I actually spent time on during th…

How I Work - Evernote and Wunderlist

I have a difficult time organizing, as a technician. Being the only tech for my school that is responsible for the network, our 1:1 Chromebooks and pretty much everything else that has an 'on' switch I have a lot going on. Organization can be difficult, but I'm finding a few things that help a lot. I'll highlight two of them here that I am currently using.
Evernote
Evernote is a pretty popular note-taking tool, so I don't think it needs much introduction. I use it as a running documentation tool, more for keeping track of network management-y type stuff. For example, if I use a Powershell command for creating a student account, I'll put that command into Evernote with a descriptive title so I can find it easily later, so I don't have to go Googling around to find something I had already figured out three months ago.

I also use it during staff meetings to keep track of things that are going on, so when this time rolls around next year I can refer back to what w…

Course Correction

Considering I wrote my 'I'm Back!' post back in October, and it's now April, I would assume it's safe to say I was a bit optimistic about tackling blogging again. Honestly, I'm a bit jaded by blogging--I mean, anyone can put anything they want on the Internet...and who reads it? It has to have some sort of value, some sort of worth to either the reader or the writer, or both.

I've been encouraged to become more a part of the community of Edtech people, but I don't feel like I have a ton to offer as a non-teacher. I want to help, but how do I do it? This is the question that I've been trying to tackle for the past few months. I think, though, that in doing so I've arrived at a possible answer: self-reflection.

That feels a bit cheesy, but I think that it may be the key to what I've been trying to figure out. Why not make it my journey, my story? I'm a tech, and I'm pretty good at it (I think), so why not share stories of what I do and h…