7 Steps to Secure your Device

portable devices

Secure your Device posterMany of us use our devices as an extension of our brains. We keep personal information such as our banking details, passwords, addresses, social media accounts, contacts, etc. on our devices. This could be catastrophic in the wrong hands. In the best case, we would simply lose all of our data, but they would be backed up elsewhere. In the worse case, an unscrupulous individual could steal private information from our device or use this information to defraud us or our friends and family. Whether you have an iOS, Android, or other device, it is important to secure it.

Follow these 7 tips to secure your device:

  1. Set up a passcode of 6 or more digits on your device.
  2. Use Touch ID or an unlock pattern for added security of your device.
  3. Sign into iCloud/Google sync so that your device is backed up.
  4. Turn on Find My iPhone (iOS) or Find My Device (Android). On iOS, make sure that you also turn on Send Last Location.
  5. Enable two-factor authentication for all accounts that you use on your device. This makes the next two steps very important if you lose your phone or if it’s stolen. This setting will prevent unauthorized access of your accounts, but may also keep you if you don’t have any other devices that are logged into the accounts.
  6. Add multiples verified emails or phone numbers. Use the alternate phone number of a partner or trusted friend, so that you can get the verification code from them if you need to access your accounts on a new device.
  7. Memorize your Gmail/iCloud password. This may encourage you to create a password that is easy to remember. Remember that even if the password is easy for you to remember, it should be hard for other people to guess. Make sure that your password has a combination of types of characters, and is at least 8 characters. The longer and more random the password, the harder it is for criminals to crack it.

For additional tips, and instructions to help you access the various settings on iOS or Android, see this PC World article.

Making Conferences Work for You

Conferences have proven to be an enduring approach to professional learning. Given the one time approach to professional learning, it is important that each participant plan for success when attending a conference. It can be easy to become distracted or overwhelmed at a big conference. Before going to a conference, stop and set an intention for your experience.

Conferences are a great opportunity for informal learning. Take the chance to speak to people between and during sessions to expand your knowledge of what’s happening in education beyond your experience.

Conferences, especially large ones, provide exposure to new technology. Before going to a conference, make a list of the tools/resources that you are dissatisfied with or problems that you have not found a solution for. Visit vendors and demos to find out resources that may meet your needs. Also take the opportunity for hands-on experience with tools that you are curious about or have never encountered before to build your knowledge base. If you’re going to ISTE 2017, check out this guide.

Attend sessions that are connected to your professional development plan. Look at the agenda to decide what value the conference offers you, and whether to attend. It’s okay to sit out a session; this could be a valuable opportunity to process a previous session and make a plan for integrating your new learning into your context. Spend some time looking at the schedule and select sessions that tie into your goals and plans, and that will help you achieve them. Have a focus.

Meet people from your virtual learning network. I’m a big fan of virtual connections but have to remember the importance of connections in the physical work. It adds a new dimension to the connections that you’ve built online when you can meet people in the physical world.

Present something that you’re excited or passionate about. Presenting lets you add the social element to learning which provides motivation and engagement. It also lets you cater to different personality types and learning preferences.

Take time to debrief. Share resources with those who may be interested, write some blog posts to expand and share your thinking, follow up with admin to clarify some goals, and implement some processes related to your own professional growth.

If you have a growth mindset, you can create your own learning experiences in a conference, or reframe the experiences provided to meet your goals and the needs of your role.

What strategies do you apply to grow from participation in conferences? I’d love to know what excites you about them.

 

This post is reformatted and expanded from the original.

Featured Image Source: Pixabay, CC0

15 Resources for Free Summer PD for Teachers

By the time summer comes around, most teachers are ready for the break. It’s important to take time to rest and rejuvenate, whether that means spending time alone or with friends and family. For many teachers, summer is also a time for professional learning, and personal growth. I’ve spent time each summer engaged in learning, whether by attending conferences, taking online courses, completing work for a graduate degree, exploring and playing with my many bookmarks and saved links, participating in educational twitter chats, etc. Some summers, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on courses. This summer, I’m staying in Prague and minimizing my expenses. I’d like to share with you some of the free resources that I am exploring for professional/personal development this summer.

  1. Explore the available resources on the ISTE Conference page, by session. The conference takes place June 25 – 28.
  2. Participate in ISTE Unplugged Live (I’m presenting on using Google Tools for Organization)
  3. Follow the #ISTE17 and #NotatISTE hashtags for free resources motivated by the ISTE conference. Also join the NotatISTE Google + community
  4. Participate in a MOOC from the Friday Institute
  5. Take a course on Coursera
    1. Get Organized: How to be a Together Teacher
  6. Learn Computer Science Fundamentals from Code.org
  7. Complete a Google certification or Digital Citizenship and Safety course
  8. Complete a Computational Thinking course
  9. Become an Apple Teacher
  10. Join and participate in the Facebook community for Apple Teachers
  11. Participate in the Microsoft Innovative Educator Program
  12. Take an Intel Teach Elements Course
  13. Take a self paced course from the Library of Congress
  14. Take the Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning Course created by Exploratorium
  15. Attend Edmodocon to learn how Edmodo can be used in your classroom

Are you taking any other free courses this summer? Please share in the comments.

 

Feature image source: World Education Letters Learning, CC0

App Spotlight: Padlet

padlet logo

Overview

Padlet is a digital canvas where you can create, create, and collaborate. It’s one of the most popular tools with my colleagues, and I’ve used it for years, since its previous incarnation as Wallwisher. It’s a freemium product, with a version for schools called Padlet Backpack.

Using Padlet

To use Padlet, it’s best to create an account. You can sign up with a username/password combo, or by connecting your Facebook or Google account. This gives you a personal profile, which includes a public feed of your padlets, as well as any biographical information that you’ve added to your account. If you don’t create an account, make sure you save the links for any padlets that you create, and to finish editing their settings within 24 hours.

When you create a new template, you can select one of five formats, or convert between formats:

  • Wall which uses a “brick-like layout”, when order doesn’t matter
  • Canvas which lets you arrange content and create connectors within them, for trees, mind-maps, flowcharts, brainstorming, etc.
  • Steam for a vertical organization of content, to make lists, reports, blog posts, etc.
  • Grid for rows of content, useful for storyboards, noticeboards, etc.
  • Shelf for columns of content, each independently scrollable, e.g. compass point activity, introductory padlet.

You can create a padlet from scratch, using a template, or by modifying an existing padlet which allows copy, and you can decided whether or not others can remake your work as a template. There are a variety of wallpapers to choose from. Themes are also available in the premium version. For each padlet, you can set a custom link address.

template choices

Template choices

 

There are options for visibility: Public, Secret, Password-Protected, Private or Organization Wide (premium feature). You also decide permissions for users: read-only, write, moderate, admin. Posts can show up instantly, or you can turn on moderation. You can manage posts by other users, and edit, transfer, copy, or delete them. Also, at any point, anyone can export a Padlet as a pdf, csv, image or Excel file. They can also share it on social media, or embed it elsewhere on the web.

post to padletPadlet lets you add posts to the board, using links, photos, video, documents, music, voice recordings, and other file types. You may also be able to comment on other posts, depending on the settings of the padlet.

Padlet has integrated search, which lets you find your own padlets, or to search for padlets on specific topics.

Padlet Backpack

I haven’t used the premium product, but according to the Padlet website, it offers the following features:

  • user management and access control
  • more privacy
  • extra security
  • branding
  • school-wide activity monitoring
  • bigger file uploads
  • controlled environment
  • support

Great Features

  • Support for multiple languages
  • Easy to collaborate in the space
  • No signup required to post
  • Upload files from your computer, or embed from the web
  • Attached links and files have previews right in Padlet
  • Links are automatically recognized and hyperlinked
  • Real time updates of the padlet, or focus mode which lets you decide when to refresh the content
  • Copy posts within one padlet or from one padlet to another
  • Automatically create a QR code for your padlet

Tips

  • Use an organizational tool like a Venn Diagram or T Chart as a background to help you organize posts
  • Install Extensions for Chrome, Firefox, or Safari to quickly add web content to your padlets, or install the Chrome App for easy access
  • If students are posting without an account, have them put their name in the title of the post

10 Ideas to use Padlet in the Classroom

  1. Make a list of resources for your students, color coded by topic, or reading level.
  2. Have students create a wall as a presentation on a topic
  3. Create a padlet for collaborative brainstorming
  4. Collaboratively create a question and answer board with students
  5. Create a video playlist for a course
  6. Create a booksmarks board for a class
  7. Have students post reviews of books that they are reading
  8. Post a daily message/question to students that they can respond to
  9. Create a weekly “newsletter” for parents, curated by students
  10. Have students create showcases/portfolios of their work

Devices Supported

Padlet works on iOS, Android, Kindle, and on the web.

Padlet with Kids

Padlet allows use by children under 13, provided that schools take the steps needed to comply with their local laws. In the US, this means respecting COPPA and FERPA, and either consenting on behalf of parents, or getting parental consent before sharing any personal information about children.

Resources

Searching Effectively with Google Search

Searching

We don’t need to memorize facts as we can search and find them online. We need to know how to access information that we want or need, how to evaluate the information that we find, use it as desired, and communicate it in ways that are useful and/or appropriate. This post is about step 1: finding information.

Creating a Google Search Query

I teach students about identifying keywords, because I think it’s useful for searching in directories and databases. Search engines tend to be a bit smarter, and are good at answering factual questions. So while it’s still important for children to be able to identify the keyword related to their question, it’s just as useful for them to phrase questions in such a way that the search algorithm returns useful results.

When starting a Google search, it’s as good a beginning as any to simply type in your question. Based on the results, you can refine your search using search operators.

Making Sense of Results

search results screen

1. Search Query
2. Featured Snippet
3. Search results
4. Knowledge Graph

You may notice featured snippets on some of your results pages. A featured snipped is a potential answer to your question, along with source information. There has been problems with the accuracy of featured snippets so it’s important to be a critical researcher, and not just trust the result in the box. Notice the feedback link at the bottom of the answer box; users can let Google know about their experience with the featured snippets.

Another element of Google Search results is the Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph a sidebar at the right side of the page which presents “information about objects in the real world” (Google). The Knowledge Graph is great for jump starting research, for learning more about a topic, and for finding new wonders/curiosities that you may not have known to ask.

Examples of Searches

Here are some of the searches that you can do with answers in an answer box. I’ve put the ones that I use the most frequently first. Try out the queries that interest you:

  • picture of public domain whale or picture of whale CC0 (or other animal)
  • thank you in finnish (try other words in other languages) or type translate to get a translation widget
  • weather in prague (or other location)
  • time in Ottawa (can also phrase as a question)
  • timer, 2 minutes timer or stopwatch
  • calories in an egg (replace for other food)
  • 3 euros in czk or 1 ft in cm (replace the number and the units; can also phrase as a question)
  • calculator (or enter in a calculation)
  • define data visualization
  • population of prague (or other public data)
  • BA853 (or other flight number)
  • PRG to YOW (or other airport codes)
  • prague to vienna
  • sunrise prague or sunset prague (or other location or zip code)
  • sweet potato nutrition or sweet potato facts (or other food)
  • where was einstein born (or other quick facts)
  • easter (or other public holiday)
  • how to bake beets
  • flip a coin
  • roll a die
  • attractions prague (or other location)
  • goog (or other stock symbol)
  • asthma (or other medical condition, works better at http://google.com rather than http://google.cz – try both)
  • fox origin (or other word)
  • my events or my reservations or my flights
  • show me my photos in march 2016 (if you use Google photos)
  • area of a circle (or other shape)
  • volume of a cube (or other solid)
  • y=x^2 (or other formula)
  • what does a cat say (works for 10 animals; no fox :()
  • metronome

And now for the fun queries:

  • askew
  • do a barrel roll
  • zerg rush
  • google in 1998
  • atari breakout (image search)

Note that I usually type my search query to be as short as possible.

search queries

Sources: