Uh oh – BroPro

Guess what I discovered this week with the Chromebooks in my classroom?? Well, if you see the picture above this post, you probably can guess – BroPro. This is a VPN Chrome Extension. It basically lets people (students mostly) get around the school’s web filters to visit sites that they shouldn’t such as games, social media sites and so on. You might be thinking Well I will just report this to the IT department and they will block it. That is a good idea, and exactly what we did at our school, but then something weird happened.

You see once it was blocked, it did not delete the extension from accounts. the BroPro extension was still there but it couldn’t do what it was supposed to do and so accessing any website became impossible. It kept returning an error about the proxy setting. Now here is the real weirdness. This extension, though only installed on one user profile, affected the entire system. So no matter who logged in, BroPro kept them from accessing any websites.

As a teacher, we can’t manage our students accounts (believe me – this is a good thing), so here is how we got around it. On the login screen for Chromebooks anyone can delete a user account from that particular Chromebook.

When you delete a user from a Chromebook it will also delete all their user data from that computer. This means that the BroPro extension will also go bye-bye and thus return the Chromebook to working order. Check out the link below to learn how to delete a user from a Chromebook.

https://sites.google.com/a/share.epsb.ca/shareepsbca-help/_/rsrc/1383947996269/Home/chromebooks-chrome-os/changestochromebookloginscreen-november2013/Chromebooks.jpg?height=255&width=400

Now when you determine who has installed the extension, have them remove it from their account!

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Episode 137

137

Tony and Patrick are back at it. In this episode we talk about teacher evaluations via a video recording. The impending announcement of Windows Cloud and Intel’s Compute Card. Could this be the future of computing in schools?

  1. Teacher evaluations via video?
    1. Is this a good idea?
    2. Logistical problems
    3. Platform for sharing
    4. Security
  2. Windows Cloud
    1. A real competitor for Chrome?
    2. RT revival
    3. https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/01/locked-down-windows-rt-could-be-coming-back-as-windows-cloud/
    4. Will only run Windows Universal Apps
    5. Windows Docs – https://docs.com/en-us
  3. Intel’s Compute Card
    1. A modular computer
    2. Designed for IoT but could this be a great solution for schools?
    3. https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/01/intels-compute-card-is-a-pc-that-can-fit-in-your-wallet/

As always subscribe to us on iTunes or follow us on Podomatic.

You can also download the show HERE!

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Making an area calculator in Google sheets

Google sheets is pretty powerful – heck most spreadsheets program are pretty powerful. This guide will show you how to create your very own spreadsheet that will automatically calculate area. Area is not terribly difficult for students but it is always nice to have a little something in your pocket to check your work.

I’m going to do this for with my grade 6 math class this week and thought I’d share it out! Feel free to change or get in touch with me about any questions!

  • Rectangles/squares
  • Parallelograms
  • Triangles
  • Trapezoids

Step 1 – Create a new spreadsheet

Before you can start working on a spreadsheet – we need to create it. This is very easy

  1. Go to http://drive.google.com
  2. If it asks you to log in – go ahead and do that
  3. Click on the New button
  4. A drop down menu will appear. From here select Google Sheets

NOTE: IF YOU DON’T HAVE A GOOGLE ACCOUNT, YOU CAN DO THIS ON EXCEL, LIBRE OFFICE, OPEN OFFICE, NUMBERS OR ANY SPREADSHEET PROGRAM

Step 2 – Set up the spreadsheet

Here is our brand new spreadsheet and we are going to set it up.

  1. Name the file
  2. Copy the information you see on my spreadsheet onto your spreadsheet – make it look exactly the same!

We can format it later to make it look better.

Step 3 – Area of rectangles and squares –  length x width

Let’s add the formula for the rectangles and squares.

When writing formulas in a spreadsheet program (any spreadsheet program), you will need to start with the equal sign (=).

Now we are ready to start adding in some formulas. This is where the magic happens. We will start in cell B4.

Copy the following in B4

=B2*B3

When you do this and hit enter you should the formula replaced by the number 12.

What is happening is the spreadsheet is taken the number in cell B2 and the number in cell B3 and multiplying them together.

When you hit enter you should get an answer of 12!

Step 4 – Area of parallelogram – base x height

This formula is going to be very similar to the rectangle/square formula.

This time we will be typing our formula into cell D4.

=D2*D3

When you hit enter you should get an answer of 42

Again, what is happening is the spreadsheet is taking whatever number is in D2 and D3 and multiplying them together.

When you hit enter you should get an answer of 42!

Step 5 – Area of a triangle – 1/2 x base x height

Now that we have the rectangle, square and parallelogram taken care of, let’s try the triangle.

Since we are doing more than just multiplying two numbers our formula will look a bit different. We will be typing this formula into cell F4.

=.5*F2*F3

When you hit enter you should see the answer of 20!

Step 6 – Area of trapezoid – 1/2 x (base 1 + base 2) x height

Now we are to our final and most complicated formula.

We will be typing this formula into cell H5.

=.5*(H2+H3)*H4

Everything must be copied perfectly! If not it will give you an error. If you do this correctly you should get an answer of 15!

Formatting (if you want)

Now that it is built you can type any dimensions of those shapes and it will automatically and correctly calculate the area of those shapes. Below is an area calculator that I’ve been working on.

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Episode 136 – Welcome 2017

itbabble2017

Tony and Patrick are back – at long last. Check out the talking points below and be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes or follow us on Podomatic.

1) Welcome back and happy new year – what were you up to?
2) New Year’s Resolutions?
• Tony’s 70/30 & 80/20 Curriculum concept • Taking some IT classes
3) Predictions for 2017
• Schools scaling back on Apple • Chromebooks & Surface Pro 4 will continue to grow • Crackdown on BYOD devices
4) Please help Omar! Contact us and we will help you get in touch with him

You can download the episode HERE!

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Apple in the Classroom, What’s Next on the Chopping Block?

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By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

I just read the article, Apple planning to make original TV shows and movies as hardware sales soften. I decided to try and remember what I used to be able to buy for the school/classroom from Apple. Here is my list:

  1. Laptops designed for children
    ibook_flavors
  2. Powerful and Extensible Workstations
    apple-876298_640
  3. Servers with easy to use Management Tools, Media Streaming, and Podcasting
  4. Easy to obtain full sized keyboards
    kanex-multi-sync-keyboard-layout-100056591-orig

 

 

 

 

 

 

My concern is real. I am an Apple and Lenovo owner. My Lenovo experience has only improved in the last 6-7 years, while my Apple experience has gotten worse. Am I the only one who agrees that iPhones and watches do not equal creation and learning?

I am hoping for a turn around. Sales of hardware are down. Schools tend to buy in massive quantities. #SalesTiptoApple

Schools also like to by integrated packages of computers, devices, accessories, support, and software. #SalesTiptoApple

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Posted in Educational Technology, Instructional Technology, iPad, iPhone, iPhone Apps, Opinion, Tony DePrato, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

I bought a Surface Book

sb

Not too long ago I wrote that I was in the market for a new computer. I was looking at five different computers but it boiled down to the 13″ Apple MacBook Pro with Touchbar (yeah-I like to adopt early) or a Microsoft Surface Book. By the title you clearly know what I chose but I thought I would go through my thinking and my thoughts after a few weeks of every day use, so read on!

What I wanted

I was looking for a computer that could be actively involved in my teaching, so the ability to draw and write equations on the screen was important to me. Also this is will be very helpful when making tutorial videos for my students or colleagues (or Omar – you know he loves them). I also wanted a computer a little bit quicker than my MacBook Air but all of my choices met that criteria. The Air has been great-the best computer I’ve ever owned – period, but it is starting to show its age being nearly four years old. Finally, I wanted a computer that I felt would still be good to use 4-5 years from now and again and again, I felt that all five of my choices probably would meet that criteria.

Why the Surface Book?

The touchscreen and the built in stylus made the Surface Book a natural choice. Have you ever written on a smart board? It sucks. Your back is usually to the students, if the pen isn’t callibrated correctly you can get some weird results and if you don’t have a short throw projector – then you are blinded by the projector shining write in your eyes or your shadow may block what you’re writing. It’s a bad experience.

However, connecting my Surface Book (SB) to the proejctor allows me to write and accurately, keep my eyes on the kids and not be blinded or have to get Writing with the pen is quite accurate. It certainly isn’t as a good as pen/pencil and paper, but it is really good. I have dabbled with the Apple pencil while that is a truly great stylus, the iPad isn’t a full laptop and cannot be used for what I need it to do.

Also, detaching the screen and using it as a tablet is something I use everyday. I was surprised about how often I did this. While it’s on my desk, I use a wireless mouse and keyboard and flip my screen around to maximize the space on the front of my desk. Again, something I didn’t plan for but has been a pleasant surprise.

Why not Mac?

This is a good question. The new MacBooks are great computers – they are. They are fast, light, have a great screen and have good battery life (I am convinced they will fix that problem  that some people have).

The first is the price. $1500 for a computer with only 2 USB-C ports? I don’t have anything on USB-C yet. I carry my computer to and from work and would hate to be have realized I forgot my dongle(s) and couldn’t connect my computer to a project. With my SB – that is not a case. I do need a dongle to connect it to my projector, but this is the only place I need it, so the dongle stays here locked up every day.

Next, there is no SD card slot. You may be aware, we have a podcast here on IT Babble – you should listen to it 🙂 I record thepodcast on a Zoom H6 and then take the SD card out of that device and plug it into my computer and transfer the files then and edit, publish and upload.

With the new MacBook I would have to buy a dongle. I would even need a dongle or new cable to connect the Zoom H6 to my new computer! It just didn’t fit into my life. I do prefer the Mac operating system and I like their computers, but this was not the best option for me right now.

Plus – I really like technology and wanted to learn (not just experience) Windows 10. I

It’s not perfect

There are things about the SB that aren’t perfect, so please don’t get in your head that it’s all rainbows and sunflowers. I do not find Windows to be as stable or as easy to navigate through and the amount of updates I had to go through the first couple of days was bonkers (like 2 hours worth).

There are other oddities that show up, sometimes the keyboard stopped working, but after closing some programs it came back. The pen is very good, but not great. There is a little bit of lag but for some fine detailed writing it’s not great and if you have bad handwriting (like I do) I find I have to take it slower.

Some of the programs I used on my Mac, I can’t find something as good for Windows. Screen capture programs and image editors are a good example. There are more options for Mac and the options for Windows are usually more expensive and in some cases not as good.

Wrapping it up

I am excited about this computer. Not only did I get a good deal with the computer, but I also was able to pick up their wireless keyboard and mouse and the Surface Dock (brick more like it) for an extra $50, which lets me easily connect to the projector and charge my SB at school. I love the versatility and I don’t mind students coming up and using it to demonstrate how to do some math for their classmates. I find myself detaching the screen more often and I can say, for me, it’s not a gimmick or novelty. It enhances my work and it is easy and fast to detach the screen and keep working.

Also I can effortlessly annotate PDF’s which is great for me.

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Episode 135 – Schools without work

134_final

Patrick and Tony are back in another great episode (truly-this one is pretty darn good). We talk about a world without work and what that does to education and integration specialists and Tony’s take on how to make them more accountable and therefore more effective. OK, check out the talking points below.

1) A World Without Work – by Derek Thompson at the Atlantic

  • Is this possible?
  • Is technology to blame?
  • What would this do to education if there is no work?
  • Is this a good/bad thing?

2) Tony’s article Tech Integration: Are you mapping it? On TIE Online

  • Is it disastrous if a school doesn’t map?
  • What do you say to schools where the tech integrationist also teaches classes?
  • Should there be more documentation (student artifacts, reflections of teachers, etc.)

As always subscribe ot us on iTunes and Podomatic.

You can download this episode by clicking HERE!

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Predictions and FabLabs with Neil Gershenfeld

Anyone interested in STEM/STEAM spaces and equipment should watch this video. It is older, but worth a revisit. He says we need 20 years to make this feasible and affordable. I think we might be moving a bit faster. He compares the evolution of Fablabs (and personal fabrication) to the original development of UNIX which was done on a PDP-7.

I think the most interesting aspect is we can “go back in time” with his prediction, look at the current state of development, and confirm what direction the technology and pricing are heading.



By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

Posted in Educational Technology, Instructional Technology, STEM/STEAM, Video | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Trendy- So Just Pay for It

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By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

 I try not to rant. However, I saw some terms of service a few days ago that made me angry. I was reviewing program that another school is running. Within the bullet points was this one:

4060

 

 

Tuition, for this program, is one price. I cannot elaborate more because I do not have permission to re-advertise this program, and I need to keep it anonymous. The program is not in question, nor the price. The issue is that a school will pay a fee per student and that fee will cover 40 to 60 hours. Let’s look at what that means.

 

40 or 60 Hours
Curriculum Hours Hours Per Week Number of Weeks to Complete
40 2.66 15
45 2.66 16.875
50 2.66 18.75
55 2.66 20.625
60 2.66 22.5

Based on this chart, if a student can participate for 2.66 hours per week (2, 80 Minute Sections) , they will need 15 weeks to complete a 40 hour course. A school year is usually 36 weeks long. Therefore they will need about 50% of the school year to complete the program. If they are in a 60 hour program, they will need 75% of the school year to complete the course.

So what is the school paying for? A 40 hour course or a 60 hours course? The tuition is the same, and there is only a minimum guarantee on the hours. Planning for a 40 hour course and 60 hour course would be very different, and therefore, the price should be different. The outcomes will be different.

Obviously, the company is charging for 60 hours. If they were to only meet 50 of those hours, students would lose almost a month of instruction.

So why would anyone consider this contract without heavily amending the terms and conditions? Because the program is trendy.

The school wants to advertise they are running a trendy program- parents will respond positively. Administrators or teachers with KPIs around innovation will go with a trend because it does not need to be explained. Also, trending programs usually have resources and personnel readily available. These programs are easy to start, and, schools are paying for convenience.

I get the logic for going with a trendy program. I do not get the logic for being ripped-off.

There is always an opportunity cost when money is appropriated. Investing in a program should mean investing in a sustainable program. This program would not pass a basic audit. It is a bad deal, and probably a bad value if the plan can fluctuate in providing an opportunity for 50% or 75% of the year. This is not something students can do independently. They are tethered to the program, and this program does not scale easily.

As it scales it gets increasingly more expensive; the value remains uncertain; and the outcomes are difficult to measure. The worst part is, if someone questions the deal, and it falls apart after the contract expires, the next similar program will probably be denied based-on the previous experience. That again, is opportunity cost.

Just because and expert walks into a school, does not mean common sense should walk out. Good third-party programs are not cheap, but they do not have to be economically unbalanced and unaccountable.

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