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OneNote Classroom Notebook Creator and the Flipped Classroom Environment May 14, 2015

Posted by regan222 in Education, Software, Technology.
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onenoteiconAs you may know, I am a huge proponent of the OneNote®Classroom Notebook system created by Microsoft®.  I realize that it was not originally intended for education and that it is primarily a business application, however, it works really well for information presentation as well as storage and evaluation.  Serendipitously it is ALSO a great business application that students will be familiar with when they enter the workforce in a corporate environment.

To teachers who have SharePoint® available it could not be easier to install and use the product.  Classroom creator is available as a free download in the SharePoint App store.  Someone with admin. permission can install it and then it is available for all to use.  It took me, with no previous experience, about 10 minutes to get it up and running on our domain.  Once the app is installed it is incredibly easy to follow the instructions to create notebooks, add students and teachers, and publish your class notebooks to the system.

Students find the application to be intuitive and easy to work with.  They really enjoy the collaboration area that allows their contributions to appear in real time.  I generally open that section of the Notebook on the class smart board during topic discussions.  All entries are labeled with the student’s name so inappropriate comments are never a problem.  Once discussion is complete, I direct the students to the Content Library to begin the day’s assignment.  I can either create a worksheet or lab page individually for each student or I can simply create a page in the Content Library and have the students copy and paste the questions into their personal homework sections.  The sections are completely private and available only to myself and the each student.  They do the work, I grade the work and enter a grade on the homework page that they create.  Once the grade is entered, any further entries onto that page are labeled and time-stamped to prevent students from changing grades or answers.

It is very easy to create content for lessons in OneNote.  Images can be copied and pasted easily into pages.  Video can be embedded or even recorded directly into the page.  Audio can be synchronized to follow along with text and images and other embedded objects can be made searchable with OCR.  There is a very friendly community of users accessible online to provide help, and, as a member of the Office Suite from Microsoft, the control ribbons will be very familiar to most people.  Objects like Flash or other presentation content can be linked and will open in their native players at a click.

There are some features that I wish were available, perhaps in a special educational version of OneNote.  I would like to see OneNote support OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) to allow ActiveX controls or other native support for different formats.  I would like to see VBA support so that Macro creation could be made simple.  I would really like to see a way to lock pages within the student’s notebooks to prevent unauthorized or accidental editing.  These are the only real complaints that I have with an otherwise excellent application.  Microsoft really found a winner here.

Search Engine Tips and Tricks March 20, 2015

Posted by regan222 in Computers, Education, Internet, Search Engines, Technology.
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Here is a short lesson I presented to my class on Search Engine Techniques.  Most of this information was gathered up on About.com and from other sources.

Three Tips for Getting More Precise Hits (Boolean Search Criteria)

  1. Use AND. Sometimes you may need to use more than one keyword when searching, without making a phrase. (Ex. Batman AND Robin)
  2. Use OR. Let’s say you perform a search using two keywords. (Ex. Superman OR Kryptonite)
  3. Use NOT. Sometimes by typing one keyword, you’ll get many results that have nothing to do with your topic. (Ex. Star Wars NOT Jar Jar)

These are the three best ways to get the results you want but very few people use them.  Everyone has experienced Search Engine Frustration.  You type in key words and then get hundreds of returns that have nothing to do with what you are trying to find.  The following is a short lesson how to optimize your searching and get the results you really want.  Here are 10 ways to find what you are looking for.

  1.  Use quotations marks when you are looking for specific quotes or phrases.
  2. Search within a specific web site using Google Site Search
  3. Use the INURL Syntax to search within URLs and addresses.
  4. Use basic math to search on the web.
  5. Use the Google Cheat Sheet.
  6. Search within specific domain prefixes
  7. Use Google to search for the weather.
  8. Use specific search engines for different purposes.
  9. Use Online Dictionaries.
  10. The final entry is using Tool bars.  These can be useful if you find yourself searching for the same types of things over and over.  The problem with search bars is that they take up space on your browser page and they are often tied to trojans or other malware.  I don’t recommend search bars but they can be useful if you understand the risks.

Using the links above, answer the following questions in the Homework section of your notebook.  Create a page and title it Ten Tips to Better Searching.  Paste the questions in and answer them in your own words.

  1.  What can you use to make sure that the search engine returns only pages with your search terms in exact order?
  2. What would you use if you wanted to search within our hs.whitesboroisd.org site for all things related to football? (hint: site:URL “keyphrase”)
  3.  How would you enter a search for all the web addresses that contained the word “bearcat”? (hint: inUrl: “keyword”)
  4. How can you search for references to Captain America and omit references to his shield?
  5. Use Google as a calculator to add 12456 + 8894837.
  6. What search term would you enter to search all the .gov sites for references to law enforcement? (hint site: .prefix “search terms”)
  7. What is the forcast for 3/22/2015 according to weather underground?
  8. List three book search engines.
  9. What is the format for getting a definition for a word on Google or Bing?  What is it on Yahoo?