Episode 131 – Open for business

FINALLY! We’re back after the loong summer. Tony and I ease into the podcasting season with our first episode for the 2016-2017 school year!

1) Welcome back! – How was the summer?

2) Goals for this year?

3) Tablet hybrids – are they the future?

A)http://www.theverge.com/2016/8/31/12714672/lenovo-yoga-book-announced-specs-price-release-date-ifa-2016 – The Verge by Dan Siefert

4) Electronic assessments

A) Is it authentic enough?

B) Do students get an unfair advantage?

C) Should collecting data be the only reason to do this?

5) Microsoft Classroom A) https://classroom.microsoft.com/

You can download the episode HERE!

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Free Books on Programming from OReilly


By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

This is not a scam. I actually have already grabbed five books for myself. Yes, these are for either adults or older students, but they are free. In fact, if you are signed into your Google Account you can add them directly to your Google Drive.

Click here to grab some free books from OReilly. 


Posted in Educational Technology, Instructional Technology, Tony DePrato, tutorial | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Think before you purchase!

This will be a short post – just a heads up. The post is about how schools spend their money concerning programs. I’m not going to name names here, because I don’t think that one person made a mistake or that a particular program is poor. That’s not the point. This is something that myself and others colleagues have experienced this year.

This is how I think this all came about. Someone (or some people) from my district went to a conference (ISTE or something like that). They went looking for a program that the district can set up but that students can use on their own for practice and, oh yeah – it needs to align with our standards. Think of IXL math but it covers middle through high school (maybe even a little of elementary too) and tracks and gives loads of information on a bunch of customizable reports.

The company pitched it to the district, the district liked what they heard may even have had access to a demo account for a period of time to “try it out.” Then VIOLÀ! The deal was made. Our IT department linked it with active directory, so students could sign in easily and then the actual educational implementation was handed over to a group of people or a more likely a single person. Oh no.

You see this is where things go wrong. This is where no thought of how to implement this system was really attempted. In this particular system we were given (no joke) a fifteen minute demonstration and phrases like “All you have to do is select your students to make a class and [redacted program name] will do the rest.”

We were also given a handout, which showed us the teacher a few things about assigning particular modules, even though we were told we would not have to. Needless to say, eight weeks later and we are still struggling with how to properly leverage this program. Nothing wrong with the program, nothing wrong technically on their or our side. It is just the implementation that fell flat that has made the difference.

Posted in Opinion, Patrick Cauley | Leave a comment

Making a GCF and LCM calculator in Google Sheets

Howdy everyone! It’s been a looooong time but I’m back and ready to post more frequently (at least I hope)🙂

Today is a little tutorial for just about any middle school (probably a fifth grade too) math class. It shows you how to create a “calculator” in Google Sheets (or any spreadsheet program – looking at you Excel) of how to automatically calculate greatest common factor (GCF) and least common multiple (LCM).

It’s pretty straight forward so enjoy!

If you want a PDF of the instructions click HERE!

If you want a clean e-version click HERE!

Finding the greatest common factor and the least common multiple is not particularly hard but it is a necessary skill in math. When dealing with smaller numbers, it can be very easy and even done mentally. However, when dealing with larger numbers it can pose a real problem.

This guide will show you how to make that in Google Sheets. This guide can also be applied to Microsoft Excel, Libre Office Calc and any other decent spreadsheet program.

Step 1 – Create a new spreadsheet

In order to do this, we need to create a new spreadsheet.

Go to drive.google.com and click on the New button.

Then select Google Sheets.

Step 1 - Create a new spreadsheet

This will create a new spreadsheet which looks like this.


Name your Google Sheet

It is always a good idea to name your files, so you can easily find it again.

To do this, click where it says Untitled spreadsheet.

Then type in an appropriate name. I am calling mine GCF – LCM Calculator

Name your Google Sheet

Step 2 – Set up your spreadsheet

Now that the spreadsheet has been created and named, it is time to set it up.

Make your spreadsheet look like mine:

  • Cell A1 = Number #1
  • Call B1 = Number #2
  • Cell C1 = Number #3
  • Cell D1 = GCF
  • Cell E1 = LCM


Step 2 - Set up your spreadsheet

Step 3 – Add some numbers

In this part I just added some numbers.

Use the same numbers I have so you can compare your final results with mine.

To enter the numbers, just click on the cell and type them in.

Step 3 - Add some numbers

Step 4 – Calculating the GCF

We are now going to enter a formula to have the spreadsheet automatically calculate the greatest common factor for us.

Anytime we  enter an equation we MUST start with an equal sign =

We will type this formula is cell D2:

Step 4 - Calculating the GCF

Here is what is happening.

We are telling the spreadsheet to find the GCF that is what this part of the formula does.


The GCD means greatest common divisor which works for us. We need the parenthesis to help the spreadsheet what to look for and the letters and numbers refer to the cells.


So it is looking for the GCD (or GCF) for the numbers in cells A1, B1 and C1.

Our first result should be a 2.


Step 5 – Replicate the formula

All spreadsheets have a nifty trick where you can replicate the formula so you don’t have to type it in again.

Click cell D2 and you should see a little blue box (the one my arrow points to).

Click and drag that down to cell D6.

Step 5 - Replicate the formula

Here is what your spreadsheet should look like now.


Step 6 – Calculate the LCM

Now that we’ve done the GCF, it is time to write the formula in for the LCM.

In cell E2 we will type in the following formula.


Then hit enter.

Step 6 - Calculate the LCM

Replicate the formula

Now go ahead and replicate the formula as we did before.

Check out the GIF below.

Replicate the formula


Now you can change all the numbers and it should calculate the GCF and the LCM instantly for you.

Enjoy 😀

Posted in Google Apps, Instructional Technology, Patrick Cauley | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Live In the Now with OneDrive for Business


By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

A year ago, many people using Office 365 for Education were really angry at OneDrive for Business. When Microsoft made the official switch from the public OneDrive to the Business Version, things were not good.

People forget the development most products follow. They forget the limits of the original Google Apps for Education. They forget the features that Facebook 1.0 did not have. Because people easily forgot, they are prone to become neophobes. Neophobia is the extreme or irrational fear or dislike of anything new or unfamiliar. Irrational being the keyword.

New technology is rarely given a fair chance. This is why many products stay in beta or in small user circles for years. OneDrive for Business did have a rough start, but even in the early stages it was a decent cloud storage client. In Asia, one of the main issues was speed. This has been remedied.

I felt compelled to write this post, because I feel like I have a track record for doing unbiased comparisons on cloud services. Office 365 is gaining ground in some very big areas. The video below, very unprofessional and horribly narrated, clearly illustrates the speed of OneDrive for Business. Please note, I have been using Groups in Office 365 as a video sharing platform, and they are working great. The use OneDrive storage as well. The speed for adding video is excellent, and the MP4s seem to playback quickly in Chrome and IE 11.

Technology changes. Basing decisions off of a single bad experience more than 180 days in the past is a mistake. If something looks promising, keep it on your radar.



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Ecosystems and Widgets









By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

The term ecosystem is normally used in reference to biological communities. When people think about ecosystems they often visualize the different organisms and activities that coexist to maintain a balance of sustainable life.

As human beings, we model from what we know. When creating new things, humans often start with a single widget[1], and then expand until there is a system of widgets all interacting.

Thus, the cycle of widgets evolves. Some last for many years, others have a short-term existence. Popularity often determines the life span of a technology widget.


Schools using technology have an ecosystem of widgets. Very few people in a school seem to have a complete understanding of how all these widgets come together to form the web communication and processing which is essential for the day-to-day success of school life.

Unlike the biological complexity in a square meter of a rice paddy, the edtech ecosystem is a knowable system. It is a system everyone can learn, can discuss, and can protect.

Read More at The International Educator

Posted in Educational Technology, Instructional Technology, TIEONLINE, Tony DePrato | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

My Summer with the Surface Pro 4

By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

I rarely do hardware or software reviews. Patrick Cauley, here at IT Babble, is much better at those. However, I did swap my Apple Macbook Retina for a Surface Pro 4 for the summer. After the use and abuse, I can make a firm recommendation for schools thinking about buying these in bulk: Don’t Do It.

I hate saying that. I actually love/d using this machine. It is flexible, and should be the answer to many issues found in the day-to-day life of teachers and students. The model I had, had 4 GB of memory, and 128 GB solid state drive. I also had the keyboard and pen.

Daily performance was great. I had adequate battery life. The speed was good. The pen was extremely useful for me during a two week course I completed. I added a trial of Acrobat Pro, and the combo was outstanding.

I traveled alot. The Surface is so light, you don’t even realise you have it. The hybrid format is awesome from reading portrait style on the Kindle App. In hotel rooms with “smart TVs”, the surface can wirelessly project itself and stream audio. In a classroom, this feature means no wires for doing presentations. Imagine an iPad that actually does something real without 10 apps working in concert.

The Surface used the thunderbolt display, the same as Apple, so my Apple accessories worked seamlessly.

I have an iPad, and I feel the Surface has the same touch responsiveness as the iPad.

So why cannot I not recommend it? After 8 weeks of daily use, the Surface broke. The screen cracked from the inside out. The damage was very strange, and the final cause was attributed to me laying a book on the back cover of the surface. Just a normal book, not a full sized Oxford dictionary. This was a standard item anyone would have on a desk, and possibly place on top of their laptop when packing-up their bag.

The front glass and frame are fairly durable. I know, I dropped it several times. The back, however, is literally a thin [EDIT]thin flexible material shell[EDIT] with nothing to absorb shock or weight. The pressure from the book, and possibly the two items being picked-up at the same time, cracked the screen.

In a school, laptops and devices need to be able to handle the wear and tear of life for at least three years, and unfortunately, I do not think the Surface Pro 4 can make the cut.

As a personal device, I would recommend it. I am tough on equipment due to my rugged life as a commuter in Shanghai. People with a normal transportation plan, and a life void of pushing and shoving, would probably keep a Surface healthy for many years.

EDIT: I used the word “plastic”, but the material is not plastic. However, it is flexible and lacking a decent buffer between the back and the screen.

Posted in Educational Technology, Helpful Tips, Instructional Technology, Tony DePrato | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Software in a Suitcase vs The Learner Profile










By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

The Problem

Curriculum in a Suitcase, this is a common term and point of discussion in international schools. For anyone not familiar with the reference, it addresses the common practice of teachers arriving at a new school and bringing with them a curriculum they are comfortable delivering.

The current practice around curriculum planning and mapping is to avoid this practice. A school should have a curriculum that students and families can depend on, regardless of the staffing.

In Educational Technology there is similar practice known as Software in a Suitcase.Using the word software is being simplistic. Software, subscriptions, services, and even computer brands and operating systems are included.When teachers move from one school to another, they often try to avoid the new school’s technology plan, and attempt to implement an ad-hoc technology plan they are familiar with.

Technology plans can be flexible, but if a school is a Windows 10 Tablet school, or if they are using PowerSchool, those core structural pieces are not flexible. In fact, they are required from the first day. Usage is not negotiable.

Read More at The International Educator

Posted in Educational Technology, Instructional Technology, Learning 2.011, TIEONLINE, Tony DePrato | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How Dirty is Your Data?


By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

My basic rule for data is, unless there is a life and death scenario unfolding, bad or unclean data is not going to be used. I have yet to encounter a situation where releasing data, which will eventually wreak havoc throughout the school, is an essential and lifesaving endeavor. Delaying systems access due to data issues is difficult. Even the smallest of systems have vocal advocates who will passionately state the damage being done to learning for every day a system is offline.

The best way to exist in a data-driven environment is to be prepared. Being prepared means being aware. Awareness comes from a regular, I would argue monthly, check of all core databases and having policies and procedures for correcting problems.

The real question is this: how does someone not involved in direct data management, check data? And how does someone who is an end user of data set policies to protect the data they need?

Read More…

Posted in Educational Technology, Instructional Technology, TIEONLINE, Tony DePrato | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Problem Solving with Technology: A List of Topics and Standards









By Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

Core Concepts and Definitions

Digital Native is a term that refers to children who have been born after the advent of the modern personal computer and affordable personal laptop. There is a belief that these children have a very high aptitude with technology. This curriculum plan completely disagrees with this belief and reaffirms that all children need a solid foundation in problem solving in, and creating with, technology. The normal life of the average Digital Native is one of a consumer and user of things others have created.

Read More @The International Educator

Posted in Educational Technology, Instructional Technology, Learning 2.011, programming, TIEONLINE | Tagged , , | Leave a comment