Tag Archives: Online

Connecting around the world (within Timezones)

One of the projects on the back of my mind for our school is to buddy different classes or grades with “sister school” throughout the world.  Where this most often becomes is through technology, authentic needs and projects, and through meeting synchronously at the same time.  To alleviate this last worry, I was examining the idea to limit the schools we would connect with to those within our own timezone (for now).

Time Zones

Time Zones

This would mean that we could still get a cross-cultural feel for how things are in different parts of the world, but never have mix-ups or hiccups because of timing.  I can envision it now:

“Ok, great.  We’ll Skype with your class at 2pm then.”

“Wait, 2pm your time or mine?”

“Oh, ours.”

“Oh, we will already be gone home.”

This preplanning could fix all of this hassle down the road.  Because I am in Istanbul, this gives me a wide gamut of places and schools to consider, for example, Finland, Kiev, Bucharest, Cairo, Lubumbashi, Pretoria, Cape Town, and the list goes on.

Asynchronous conversations would end this worry and could be done through ideas like: Edmodo, Wikis, Blogging, Google Docs, Twitter, Twijector, and more.  However, there is definitely something about connecting in real-time.   I am excited about the idea and will comment further about the progress and the new problems we may face.


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Doing a Masters or Doctorate? Tools you need

Are you planning to take more schooling, like a Master’s degree or a PhD, or are you already enrolled?  If either of these is the case, I highly recommend you invest in ALL of these tools and I will explain why.

  1. Dropbox or Google Drive Both are FREE! – First thing you do not want to do is lose any or all of your documents, readings, discussion posts and replies, or assignments.  In order to do this, you should create an online area where your files can be stored.  This means that you create an account, download a small program and move your files to this folder.  Many people are worried that this means the files will look different or they won’t be able to reach them if the internet is down – Wrong!  The files look and act exactly the same.  They are housed on your computer and BACKED UP on the internet in “the cloud”.  This means that if your computer or flash drive breaks down, which they often do, you do not need to worry because you can download the program on another computer and login.  All your files will download to that device, open, and react exactly like you are used to them doing.  Just remember to write your login and password where you will remember it.  
  2. Mendeley FREE for 2GB of cloud space! (Costs after that, but you won’t likely use it all) – Time to organize your documents and retrieve or search through them easily.
    -Did I mention it was DRAG and DROP?
    -Did I mention it auto-generates your citations and bibliographies with a plug-in in Word?

    WATCH VIDEOS or Get guide here:

    [Read my more detailed directions about Mendeley at the bottom of this article]

  3. Perrla for APA or MLA ($34.95 USD) – 


    Perrla will generate citations in APA and MLA, but use it to set the proper margins, headers, title pages, spacing, and so much more.  They auto set tables and figures in APA proper formatting.  When you read the APA (and I am sure the MLA, but I haven’t read it) manual you find these details are very tedious and time-consuming to apply.  Perrla guides you through 200+ citation types and explains every detail along the way – if you want to know more about what is happening with your Mendeley citations or how to do those weird, super esoteric ones.  

  4. SPSS (Approx. $90 USD) – You’re going to need to do some data crunching and analysis, even if you think, “No, I will just do a qualitative dissertation or thesis.”  Nonetheless, you will probably end up doing some predictive analytics after you gather all of your interview and case study material.  SPSS is one of the most widely used statistics softwares.  It is relatively cheap, is relatively simple to use (when you know what you are doing – Watch some Youtube videos about the specific types of analysis you plan to do and type “SPSS” in the search), and it is versatile.  
  5. Atlas.ti (Approx $99 USD – with Student ID) – If you are going to delve into qualitative research, this is the cheaper way to go and still has almost all the functionality of Nvivo.  It allows you to analyze and find patterns in documents, recordings, PDFs, quotes, and memos.  From there you can code, organize, develop nodes, and visually represent your data in many unassuming forms.  
  6. Evernote FREE! – Get started with this early! Use it to embed and tag articles, websites, clippings and even import text through Livescribe pen scanning ($69.95+).  Search through every item you have collected to realize information you have accumulated for your comprehensive exams and your dissertations.  It is an excellent and necessary way to stay organized.
  7. Free Natural Reader (PC) or Speech (MAC) Both are FREE! – When you are ready to turn in an assignment or submit a discussion post, you need to review it.  The best way to do this is to hear it out loud.  On a PC, there is no software built-in so the Natural Reader is an awesome download you need to get.  Macs have an advantage in this area because they have this built-in.  Go to the APPLE (in the top left corner), go to SYSTEM PREFERENCES, a dialogue box will appear, go to SPEECH, check “Speak selected text when the key is pressed”, SET KEY (I would choose OPTION + S) – Highlight some text and try out either of these options to hear it read back to you.  You will notice mistakes so much easier.
  8. Harzing’s Publish or Perish FREE! – If you need to find the seminal articles written around a 
    Harzing's Publish or Perish

    Harzing’s Publish or Perish

    subject, this is the software for you.  Search for any subject and voilà, you have found the most cited, the highest ranked, the number of citations of the article per year, and more.  Download this into Windows or a parallel system that enables Windows on a Mac, like Parallels ($79.99 USD).  

  9. Windows and Microsoft Word for Windows – The reason I recommend using the Windows environment for post-graduate work is because many of the products listed above work naturally in this operating system.  I also enjoy that Microsoft Word on PC allows for click editing of words to bold, italicize, underline and change other attributes without moving your cursor all the way to the menu bar across the top.  Plus, if you opt not to buy Perrla, which I highly recommend that you do, Word on a PC has more up-to-date APA and MLA citations.

Bookmark these sites:

  1. Crossref – If you are using APA 6, you need to find DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers).  This website allows you to reverse look up journal articles and sites to find if there is one available.
  2. – You are going to need to use ‘the other word’ often.  When writing a paper, Microsoft Word has a bult in thesaurus, but offers, furnishes, grants, and presents more and better options.
  3. Smartthinking – I hope your school offers this services free of charge.  They have online tutoring, essay submission and editing, APA editing, math help and so much more.  It is awesome but I just examined the pricing – not so cheap.  It depends upon what you need, so have a look.  Well worth it for major essay editing help.
  4. Turnitin – Again, I hope that your University uses this service.  To make sure that you are not plagiarizing, this site locates all the information that turns up from other sources.  Remember, as a rule, your essays should not have more than 20% of other people’s work.  After submitting an assignment, Turnitin highlights areas and determines where it has come from.  Your profs may use it.  You should too!

If you have other software, hardware, websites, or tricks that you use, please tell me in the comments.  Finally, remember to thank me in your Dedication. Good luck with everything.

Mendeley details:

  1. Create an account
  2. Download the desktop version – install
    • Drag and Drop your downloaded PDF articles into the Mendeley interface
    • IMPORTANT – Double check newly imported article’s details are correct – 80% – 90% reliable – be especially careful that the DOI didn’t get truncated because of a forward slash: /
      • (This will add completely different details for articles with the other DOI number)
      • If you lose the article because of incorrect DOI auto-fill – search “Recently Added”
    • Ensure correct “Type” is chosen (e.g. Journal Article, Thesis, Book)
      • For chapters of a book, select “Book Section”
    • IMPORTANT – “Sync” often (2 GB of free space in cloud – paid for extra space: ability to install Mendeley on multiple computers and keep up-to-date)
    • Create Folders with terms that are useful (e.g. Dissertations, Recommendations, Case studies) – drag and drop articles into folder
    • Add notes where applicable to articles
    • TIME SAVER – Have notes tab open and click through “My library” articles to quickly see notes you have written
    • RECOMMENDATION – Use Stars to delineate articles that are 3 years or newer for easy reference
      • In “My Library” “All Documents”, click “Year” header to sort column
      • Star all documents that are within the 3 year date range – deselect others
    • RECOMMENDATION – Use Green / Grey dots to delineate which articles have been cited in dissertation or paper
    • TIME SAVER – With article open and selected, click “Contents” to jump to areas in articles
    • Search to get an overview of where this query can be found in every article
      • Double click an article to open it in a new tab
  3. Download the Mendeley plug-in for Microsoft Word – install
    • Find Mendeley auto-references under “References” tab
      • Click to insert –> Type name of first author of document
      • If needed, type into reference in paper to edit –> Select “Keep Manual Edit”
    • Insert Bibliography into paper (Note – this auto-updates upon insertion of new reference)
  4. Yay!!

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Creating a Wiki?

Some advice that I would give to someone creating a wiki specifically for a class working synchronously:

  1. Students must write their information in Word first – for better grammar, but especially for back-up.
  2. Create separate designated pages for each student to work on – possibly name the pages with their name embedded to be changed out later – as the wiki creator, you may be the only one to have the page creation rights.
  3. If you know multiple people will be working on the same pages at the same times, allocate time buffer zones that people may post – for example, if 4 people work on the same page, one may post between 4-6pm, another between 7-9pm, another between 10-12pm, and another between 6-8am.

There are always Revision histories, but having 15-30 students post on the same page at the same time DOES NOT WORK. Separate the tasks and times as best as you can.

I would actually recommend Google Docs or Microsoft One-note if you are networked and have that option.  It depends on your final goal of the project.


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Are proxies at home a good idea?

“Should I?  Shouldn’t I”

These are the thoughts I have behind the idea of putting a proxy (physical equipment or a software program used to allow or block certain websites) into my home.  On the one hand it seems like a great idea because the proxy is a safeguard for little ones which helps prevent them from stumbling upon unwanted adult websites.  However, there are drawbacks.  First, as adults, we are taking away the ability to our kids to make the right choice for themselves.  Second, we may be kidding ourselves into thinking that we have battened down the hatches and secured the fort.

Older kids, and sometimes younger ones are figuring ways around proxies faster than we can implement them.  Proxies including, the free OpenDNS, or inexpensive NetNanny, etc can soon be circumvented by the sly child.

My advice is to:

  • Talk with your son or daughter about the kinds of dangers and annoyances are on the internet.  Sometimes pornography is the least of your worries.  Cyber-bullying is becoming more of a concern with students online.  Good ole Facebook is one of the prime playgrounds where this happening, but it could also be taking place in many of the other social networking sites, like Hi5, MySpace, Second Life or even Club Penguin, which is designed for younger ones.
  • Move the computer into family space like the kitchen or family room.  Back in the days of one computer per household this was a more easy task to perform, but with the advent of one (sometimes more) laptops per member of the home, this can be a arduous task.  As a parent, insist that your son or daughter work on their homework or play their games in the public space.
  • Be aware. Recognize that “Alt Tabbing” (Switching between programs with shortcut keys) is not a secret feature only your son or daughters knows.  Be sly.  Look at running programs in the task-bar. Look to see they aren’t running things in hidden mode.  There are plenty of ways to play games inside of otherwise workhorse programs like Microsoft Word or Excel.
  • Join your son or daughter in their world, the cyber-world.  Have them show you what they are doing and how they do it.  Take a genuine interest in their MMORPGS, their social networking, their blogs, their shopping sites, their games, and anything else they will show you.  They have so many things tricks up their sleeves, why not learn it from the horses mouth?  Not only will you be more wise to them, but in allowing them to teach you, you may grow your relationship into another dimension.
  • Words of warning: Sure there are ways to key-log, track and block everything they do, but think to yourself:
  • Are you really helping them?
  • Are you invading privacy unnecessarily?
  • Would you read through their journal, if they kept one?
  • Would you want someone else doing this to you?
  • Embrace | Educate | Explore together

Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Technology


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Do you use Facebook, Gmail AND Hotmail?

I bet you do.  I bet you also use them similarly to how I use them.  These days I use Facebook for daily communication, Gmail for important stuff and Hotmail or Yahoo for junk mail.  Why is that?

Facebook has come out on top as the daily most used website.  It’s due to feeds from friends, ease of use, and non-clunkiness.  This is the place to be if you enjoy knowing what many of your friends are doing, most of the time.  Because of this, you probably will write quick emails to them to comment about their activities.

Hotmail and Yahoo, however, may have been one of the first email clients you started using.  You were probably not thinking too much about the silliness of your “handle” when you created the account.   Therefore, you don’t share this information with people you want to think of you professionally.  The account is still active and since you need a certain area to send email confirmations to this is your likely choice.  Also, you remember the email password.

And then comes Gmail.  It hasn’t been around as long as the former two and if you were born around the time I was (1976) or even sooner you started to think about how people are viewing you online.  You needed to apply to a college, or job, or start a company and to do so you didn’t want somebody emailing you at or  It just didn’t cut it.  You probably went out and tried to get a variation of your name – figure that, and now you have the third or fourth email account that you consider professional.

It could be the Outlook/Yahoo/Facebook combo, or the Webmail/Hotmail/LinkedIn combo, but when all is said and done, I bet you have something along these lines.

Whatever happened to the days before email?  “Page me.” “Call me on my home (rotary) phone” I hardly remember them.  Do you?


Posted by on May 8, 2011 in Technology


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How did you hear that Osama was killed?

I bet that you heard that Osama Bin Laden was killed from a different source that how you heard that Princess Diana or JFK was killed?

The reason I bet this is because you heard the other two were killed on the TV, whereas the latest story you read through the news on the web, through Twitter or because of a post on Facebook.

Gosh, how things are changing.

In the future, be it five years, ten, twenty or more, how will we be viewing, reading, hearing and sensing the news?  Media will continue to be more self-directed.

We have seen the advent of Sony, Samsung and Apple internet-TV, NetVibes, and iGoogle.  RSS feeders have been around for a while, and then of course there is Tweetdeck to help manage Twitter Tweets.  We are no long er passive readers and watchers.  We want what we want, when we want it, how we want it and how much we want of it.

We don’t like to stop for commercials, so they better be built right in somewhere and if we really like something you can bet we are going to share, tweet, like, or stumble it.  Our groups of friends and contacts are going to get to hear, watch and read what we did.

But it is going to get better with time.  Media itself, along with the ads that we see are learning from us and then cater to us.  Trends are amalgamating about things that we are doing.  What then, are you doing to help with trending for yourself?  How are you making your life easier?  Are you still watching the TV or reading an actual newspaper for your information?

Think about it now.  Act on it soon.

Read more about trends here.


Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Technology


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How and why do some things become viral?

I don’t know if these are the most inane, insane, funny, repetitive or just plain weird things that I have seen today, but they are viral:


How and why do some things become viral, whereas other, possibly much better videos don’t see the light of day?  In order to do a small amount of research myself I played these videos for three classes of mine. As soon as I put them on, big…and I’m talking BIG… smiles came to most kids faces.  Giggles and laughs broke out and after I had stopped playing the videos and discussions were had, I heard and saw some of my students looking the videos up themselves to play them over and over again.

I often play videos for my students. In fact, most of the videos, which you can witness for yourself in the “Videos” section of this site, have been shown and discussed at one time or another with students. However, the two that are embedded in this post seem to be the ones that elicit the largest “play again” response.

I asked my students why. Some of their answers were:

  • They are funny
  • They are cute
  • The first one reminds them of videos games
  • They are repetitive
  • They are fun to annoy other people with
  • They catch into your brain immediately
  • They are spoofs

I agreed with all of these answers.  I thought about what age demographic these videos seem to be appealing to and assume that most people who are watching these are kids and teens.  Let’s look at each video individually to see what commonalities they have.

The first video has a retro-feel that many adults might remember from their video game experiences [think: Pong, Atari, Coleco-Vision, Sega, Nintendo, Commodore 64 & Amiga]  It might be exliciting memories with the play of a very repetitive song and some bright, pixelated graphics.  It is repetitive, has good sound quality, is simple, but well-made and is repetitive.

The second video is also well-made.  It is possibly a spoof – something that is intended to make fun of the original.  It also seems like something we all could have done had we set our minds to it.  It has mediocre to good looking people in the video.  It mimics the style of music and videos of the same genre and the theme is something most people love – Friday!

Comparing the two, we see that both are well-made, repetitive, and give us something to talk about on a general level.  They are both simple in form.  They feel like something we could have done or made ourselves, but they are original.  Both bring smiles to our faces because they are entertaining, light-hearted and have a tacit “like” factor.  But how did they become viral?

Malcolm Gladwell examines the “critical mass of an idea” in his book The Tipping Point. Overall it’s an interesting explanation of how information moves through crowds and things go viral. There is much emphasis on influencers or super influencers in getting something to go viral; someone with a lot of reach or readers already can promote an idea and really enhance its chances of getting spread further. Bingo! The idea goes viral. No rocket science here –  you are basically starting out very near critical mass already.

Does this mean that we need to be connected to a super influencer who can promote our product or idea?  Maybe.  But sometimes they can’t get it going either.  If the idea is not good, then they may have problems as well.  If they send out bad information about an idea or product then they lose credit and people will listen to them less.  Patrick, of Very Involved writes:

You should not be writing an article [or making something] to just be helpful to the end user. It’s much more than that. You want your article or product to be one that your customers need to invest others attention in.
Your readers should feel like they have something to gain from passing along your article to their friends. They are your co-authors, reaping the benefits of your words, by being able to say, “I found that”.

Reexamining my two examples you might want to say, “I found that”.  If at least for entertainment’s sake.  However, as an educator, I want to be someone who is passing on valuable information.  In order to do so I would read more about that idea of virility here:

Good luck.  Think about what you’re making or continuing to make viral.  Think about what others have made viral.  Let’s get viral!


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