Wednesday, July 31, 2013

.@ScanSnap to get ready for the #EduTour

When someone tells me that some is the best ever at doing something, I always take it with a grain of salt. I have had so many slices of the best pizza from all over the country it would truly amaze you. However, Fujitsu claimed to have really fast scanning with the ScanSnap desktop scanner and I was blown away.

I needed to scan tons of paperwork to make the #EduTour happen. I needed to send things that have been signed and contracts with other people all had to be sent out across the country. The ScanSnap scanner was more than up to the task. I didn't lose any quality in the scans either. I thought there had to be some loss in resolution, but I couldn't see it.

The ScanSnap sits nicely on my desk and I slide it out when I need to get some heavy duty scanning done. I have placed 10 pieces of paper to scan and it did it and saved it as a PDF on my desktop in under 60 seconds. That is amazing.

ScanSnap also gives you the option to attach to an email and even save directly to Evernote. So, many of these contracts and other forms I needed to scan, I was able to scan them and email them to the people that needed them AND save a copy in my Evernote notebooks. ScanSnap allowed me to be very organized for this trip and that is important. I want to be as paperless as possible and ScanSnap helped in that regard.

If you are looking for great quality and fast scanning in an effort to clean up the clutter from your desk, you have to check out the ScanSnap from Fujitsu.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why @IdeaPaint is Awesome! #EduTour

This is a post I write some time back about the awesomeness of IdeaPaint and I want to share it again for the #EduTour. I would have loved if we could have covered the car in IdeaPaint or something so people could leave comments. If you are not familiar with IdeaPaint, here is my post on why I would rather have IdeaPaint than an IWB.

I did get the IdeaPaint and used it on my desks and my kids loved it. It was a real game changer for collaboration and note-taking for many of my students. It was a great investment and I'm glad we were able to give a painting kit to one lucky winner on the #EduTour.

Why I would take IdeaPaint over an IWB.

As an Evernote Education Ambassador, I sometimes get to see products up close and personal. When I was at the Evernote offices in California, I was able to see first-hand how Ideapaint is used. What I saw blew my mind and made me want to cover my classroom with it.

For those that do not know what Ideapaint is, here is a video that explains it in more detail. 

Turning surfaces into whiteboards is such an awesome idea. It is so much better than the IWB in my classroom and here are my reasons why. 

1. Currently, my IWB sits in the front of the room and requires all students to face that way for instruction. It makes me have to stay in the front of the room to use the board. I'm not a fan of that. I like to walk around and interact with my students and the class environment. I feel it gives me a better sense of what is going on in the class. With Ideapaint, any wall can be the focal point of the class. Heck, a student's desk could be the focal point of the discussion as I walked around and wrote notes for the kids. Ideapaint allows the discussion to be anywhere in the classroom. That freedom is so important to a teacher like myself that wants to move around and engage students all over the room. 

2. I'm stuck having my IWB connected to my computer. If my computer is on the fritz, which happens time to time, my IWB is just there. That's it. It sits there in front of my chalkboard and I look out at my kids feeling a bit helpless. With Ideapaint, I could use any surface at any time regardless of my computer. As a tech guy, I love the analog feeling of the walls and sharing ideas on them. It is a great option for teachers that have to deal with network issues in their classroom. 

3. Collaboration is not easy with a IWB in the classroom. Unless the district pays a ton of money to get the IWB that allows multiple users at the same time, it's general function is one person at a time at the front of the room. That is not how I roll in my classroom. My room is designed for collaboration. My lessons are created around teamwork. An IWB is not conducive to this type of environment. Ideapaint would allow my students to collaborate in groups on the walls or their desks. They could all work together seamlessly. This approach could really change the dynamic in my classroom. I want kids to work together easily and Ideapaint would allow them to do so. 

4. Sharing is nice with most IWB software. I can write notes on the provided software and save it as a PDF and then post it on my website or on a shared Evernote notebook. It's doable, but takes a few steps. In an Ideapaint classroom, not only could I post notes on any surface, but my students could write their own notes on walls for other students. Imagine a class dedicated for writing notes for specific chapters or themes in a story all over the classroom. Once the groups are done with their part of the notes, they could go around and take notes on the notes created by students. Over the course of a school day, all of my walls and desks would be covered with student created notes. My students now become the creators of content in a way that a IWB could never provide. By using Evernote, students could just snap photos of the notes and save them into their notebooks. 

5. Every year I come to school and the software needs a new upgrade to work on the IWB. The problem we often face is the update does to work very well on our older computers. What's the point of having the IWB if I can't use all of the features? No updates needed with Ideapaint. As long as I have a clean wall, my students can write , share and collaborate freely in my classroom. 

6. The price of projector bulbs is ridiculous. Seriously, they should not be that expensive. When they do go out, the IWB is useless. You can't do anything without the projector. Not a problem with Ideapaint. I can just go to any wall I want and start writing. Not bulbs required. Heck, if it is a nice day out, I'll turn out the lights and write on the walls using old fashioned sun light. 

7. IWB do not provide much creative space for students. It's a board controlled by the teacher's computer that students are generally kept away from. Kids sit and stare as the teachers used the IWB and take notes. Students should have the space to write down their ideas to share with the class. It should also serve as a creative space for kids to express themselves through poetry, drawings or music lyrics. I'm not talking about Art classes or English classes only, but all classrooms should have this space for kids to express themselves. The more space students have to be creative, the more likely they will feel comfortable enough to relax and learn. 

8. The last one is price. The amount of money it takes to buy, install, provide PD and IT support an IWB is crazy. Ideapaint can cover a classroom at a fraction of the cost. Also, no training is needed to show a teacher how to write on a wall. We have all been doing it since we were kids. Take out a dry erase marker and start sharing!

These are just some of the reasons why I would love to have Ideapaint in my classroom. I hope to paint the back wall of the stage in my room with Ideapaint to create a more collaborative environment for my students. I think the creative space would have a positive impact on all of my students.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mobile Scanning Needs Met By @Doxie #EduTour

There are many people that are going to look at this post and say, "Why not just take a picture?" Yes, taking a picture might be faster, but it would not always be better. There are things that I want to look good and that is where the Doxie Scanner comes in to play.

I figured there might be things that I want to save and share with everyone and the camera on my iPhone 4 might not be good enough to capture the way I want. The Doxie Scanner I am using for the trip is the Doxie Go. Doxie has a few options worth checking out. I like the Doxie Go because it has the SD card slot that allows me to do the scanning I need and then upload them to the my iPad using the iPad/SD card connector. If I want, I can also just scan the items directly into Evernote when the scanner is connected to my laptop.

The Doxie Scanners are all very easy to carry around and keep in your backpack or luggage without any problem. As someone who travels often, it is nice to have a portable scanner that fits nicely in my luggage and can be used without a laptop. I never know when I will have to scan something and send it somewhere and the Doxie Go is great for my mobile scanning needs.

I have used Doxie in my classroom with the iPads and it has worked nicely for my students. They were able to scan written work and upload it to their Evernote accounts. They did this while the rest of class worked on projects, so it was a nice way to keep their e-portfolios up to date. Doxie is the perfect tool in my classroom when I need 30 people to scan from their desks.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The #EduTour Begins! #EdChat

Hello everyone! I'm excite to start the EduTour tomorrow. My @TheNerdyTeacher account and The Nerdy Teacher site will be relatively quite over the next two weeks. All of my social media efforts will be focused on all things EduTour related. Below you will find all of the different accounts you can follow to enjoy the ride along with us. We will be live tweeting, doing on the road podcasts, tweet ups and other great things along the way.

The main reason I'm doing this tour is to meet people outside of my educational and personal world. I want to hear what the "average" American thinks of the education they received and the education students are receiving today. I will be playing the role of a journalist and I'm excited to hear the stories and share them with all of you. 

Please do me a solid and follow the accounts, interact with us while we head west and we promise to provide hours of entertainment. 

Social Media sites for the #EduTour:

Twitter: @TheEduTour
YouTube: The EduTour
Facebook: The EduTour
Instagram: The EduTour
FourSquare: The EduTour
Flickr: The Edu Tour
Nick's Evernote Food Journal
Tim's Evernote Food Journal

Friday, July 19, 2013

.@SimpleK12 for your PD needs! #EduTour

Hello everyone! I wanted to give another shout out to another sponsor of the trip here. SimpleK12 and the Blue Bunnies donated memberships to five lucky people here on the #EduTour and we have been excited to give them away.

I've done PD with SimpleK12 and they are some of the nicest people in the edtech world. The sessions are always jammed packed with people and they are never disappointing. With great names like +Steven Anderson and +Kyle Pace doing sessions for them, you know it is going to be top quality PD from the comfort of your home.

I will be doing a session on using Evernote in the classroom on September 21st that will show people the different ways Evernote can help you as a teacher.

If you are looking for ways to grow as a professional and want access to thousands of great resources, then look no farther than SimpleK12.

Follow the bunnies!

.@Evernote and @LivescribeK12 on the #EduTour

This is the first of a few posts I will be writing about using various tools to support the EduTour.

I wanted to briefly talk about the awesomeness that is Livescribe and Evernote. I have been using the Livescribe Sky Pen for a while and I have always loved it. It can record the notes and audio and directly save it to a specific Evernote notebook. This isn't new. However, using it on this trip makes the most sense. This is something that I would recommend to all journalists and journalism classes. I will be passing this to my journalism teachers this Fall.

One of the things I am doing on this trip is interviewing people about education. I want to know what they think about the current state of education and what they thought about their education growing up. Traditionally, I would just listen and take notes on my iPad or in a notebook. My main problem is that my handwriting is not very clean and I have a hard time listening and writing down information at the same time. Note-taking has always been a nightmare for me. Livescribe and Evernote solve that problem.

I now get to keep the audio of the conversation and I do not have to worry about the handwriting or getting every word down for the interview. What I have actually done is write the questions done in advance and just create dots for each person I'm interviewing. When I go to the next questions, I create a new dot. I have all of the information right there in the book for review after the trip or while Tim is driving. By listening to the interview, I can make any other notes I want for the things that really stand out to me.

The back up to Evernote is also great. If something should happen to the notebook on the trip, everything I have is saved in Evernote. I will not lose a single interview or note. That is what is so great about the cloud based storage of Evernote and Livescribe. I really think more teachers should look into taking their class notes using Livescribe so students can do the same thing. The notes will always be there not matter what happens and that is huge for students who tend to lose things. These two guys just made the #EduTour so much easier.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What I've Been Up To... #EdChat

I was pretty spent after ISTE this year. I decided to take a break from all things Social Media and just be. I had to work on a Keynote with +Timothy Gwynn for the Greater Clark Connected Conference with +Brett Clark and do some work for The EduTour, but that was here and there between lots of relaxing.

Some said I was cheating because I was posting a ton on Instagram. That might be true, but I was just posting pictures of me hanging out with my crazy son. Wouldn't you post a picture of this guy?

I also content that I wasn't cheating. I was taking a break from being a connected educator. I was overwhelmed with the amount of work I had to do, so I took a step back and focused on what was important. To me, that was my family. I got to do so many fun and silly things with this crazy guy, it put me back in a good place. 

If I would have been "plugged in" to my feed and obsessing over my blog, I would have missed the little stinker doing "Gangnam Style". These are things I would hate to miss and am happy that I have video evidence of this to share with his friends and future girlfriends. 

There have been many posts written out there about the value of taking a break from tech and "unplugging", so I'm not going to bore you with another lecture about that. I do want to say thank you for those of you that let me rest in peace the past three weeks to get my head right. Many of you have been where I was and it was awesome to have your support. 

Lastly, I want to share some of the things I've been up to the past three weeks:

This was a sign that everything in the world is going to be just fine. This gift from the gods is something that many of us have dreamed, but never thought would actually happen. Well, it is going to happen and I am excited to read the first digital issue. I wonder if these will be stories set during high school but between episodes. Also, will Zack and Kelly be together? Will their band "The Zack Attack" still pay "Friends Forever"? OMG, will there be Tori issues and an issue that explains the absence of Kelly and Jessie? So many questions and I can't wait to dive in!

Speaking of Comics...

I know that I am The Nerdy Teacher, but I do not talk about the comics I love that often. Most of the time, those conversations are saved for +Dan Callahan. I have to say that I have just been in love with updated version of Wonder Woman. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang have just done an amazing job of creating an awesome story and the artwork is simply beautiful. I've been reading since issue one and I suggest you give it a try if you are into comic books. She is a different Wonder Woman than you might remember and that is a good thing. 

I'm also reading The Walking Dead. It is consistently great and frustrating. It's great because the art and story telling is wonderful and frustrating because I only get to read a small part of the story once a month. If you have not started this comic, please pick up a collection and get to work. It's better than the show and the show is unbelievably awesome. 

My Pond Rocks

For those who do not know, I built a pond in my backyard a few years ago. I woke up one morning in August and decided to build one. I had no idea how to do it, so I dug a giant hole and went to Home Depot. Three years later, I have a second level, waterfall and plants, fish and snails! It is one of the most relaxing places in the world to me. I get to tend the fish, fix my plants and just listen to the sound of the water. We all need a happy place and this is one of mine. There is also an added bonus of awesome because I know I built it all by myself. 

I saw this today and thought it would be fun to share here. 

Jon Green is amazing and I seem to love everything he does on the Internet. Here is his Commencement Speech at Butler.

I've only read one book of his, Looking for Alaska, and recommend it to anyone who likes a very good read.

Captain Planet

Lastly, I have to share this with all of you because it blew my mind.

Yes, Meg Ryan was the voice of Dr. Blight on Captain Planet and the Planeteers. That really happened. 

Well, I'm off to do some work, play with my kid and relax by my pond. See you around.