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Posts from the ‘Technology’ Category

5 Free Apps to Help Sharpen Your Mind


News flash – your app store isn’t just for games anymore! Start using your Smartphone for something smart. Rather than browsing Facebook, email or the latest political meltdown, try downloading these five free apps that can help you sharpen your mind and expand your knowledge. (All apps are available on iOS and Andriod platforms.)

1.       Lumosity Mobile

Looking to give your brain a workout? Designed by neuroscientists, Lumosity Mobile uses a series of brain training games to improve multiple areas of brain function including memory, attention and speed. The newest version even allows you to share your progress and challenge friends.

2.       Today’s Document

The National Archives’ first mobile application is actually a daily snapshot of important documents housed in the US National Archives. From letters to presidents to famous photos, you never know what you’re going to get. Read about the background of each document to exercise your brain’s ability to retain even the smallest detail.

3.       TED

Let’s face it – successful people have great things to say and with the TED app, you can hear it all. Browse through talks from leaders in almost any industry, from education to music and business. The app can also notify you when new TEDTalks are added – at a rate of more than 1,400 per week! TED lets you learn from and be inspired by the best in your field, whatever field that may be.

4.       Daily Art

The world’s most famous pieces of art all tell a story, and you can learn it through the Daily Art app. Each day you’ll get a snapshot of a piece art and a short description about what makes it relevant. File these tidbits away for the next time you attend a student and alumni mixer and need to impress!

5.       Khan Academy

Need to brush up on your statistics before you start your program? Looking for a refresher on the solar system so you can help your child with their project? Khan Academy has it all. Download videos, track your progress and earn achievements all on the go.

 *Originally published in Higher Degrees Winter 2014.

4 Ways to Collaborate in the Virtual Classroom

Since its beginning, online education has been criticized for its struggle to facilitate quality collaboration in the virtual classroom. In an effort to combat its critics, pioneers in the industry have tried almost anything – from required learning teams, to the adoption of discussion thread posts and conference calls, and even overhauled learning management systems.

As history tells us, holding students accountable for participation in a collaborative environment has proven to be a difficult task in the online classroom, but thanks to a few recent social trends it’s becoming easier with each click of the mouse. Whether you’re an instructor searching for ways to help engage your virtual students or a student trying to make a group project assignment work, consider trying one of these options to create a more pleasant online collaboration experience!

Document Sharing

If you’ve worked in an online group setting, you know that one of the most difficult tasks you face is combining every document submitted in to one “master” document. Good news! You can get rid of that headache by choosing one of these easy document sharing methods.

Google Docs

Google Docs simplifies the task of updating a running master document by allowing your entire group to access and make changes to the same document. Just log in to your Google Drive, open the desired document, make your changes and save for the group to see. If your students or classmates are concerned about access, rest assured – it’s free when you sign up for a Google account!


If you’re looking for something a little more mobile-friendly, try Evernote. You can share documents, download the mobile app for on-the-go viewing, and even make lists of items still needed for project completion. Just share with your group members to ensure you’re all  on the same page. The basic account is free, but you can choose to pay for an upgrade that unleashes a whole list of sharing possibilities!

Face-to-Face Time

Google+ Hangouts

If you’re looking for a little face time with your document sharing, try hosting a Google+ Hangout!  Invite everyone in your group to a video conference call to discuss your changes to documents in Google Docs, talk through questions you have about topics in class, and work together to make your final product the best it can be. The best part is it’s free! If you’re interested, sign up for a Google account (also free) and you’re good to go!


Do you take your studies on the go? iMeet can help you stay connected with your classmates or students wherever you may be. You can connect with up to 15 people at once, share documents, take notes and chat with attendees all from your computer, smartphone or tablet. This one’s not free, but the features are well worth the cost!

5 Apps to Aid Your Job Search


With the job market becoming more competitive, embracing technology to assist in the search for your next career is a necessity. The following apps can help you reduce the inevitable headache that comes along with a job search.

Linkedin – Available on IOS & Android for Free

Linkedin is the professional’s social network. It allows you to create an online resume shared with a network of friends, colleagues, and likeminded individuals within your field. It also works as a job search engine, which gives you the ability to connect with recruiters, companies, and leaders within your industry. Linkedin not only allows you to search for job openings in your area, but also sends emails with new job postings you may be interested in exploring based on the information within your profile.

Indeed, Job Search Engine – Available on IOS & Android for Free

Indeed provides an easy to use two-step search to help you find careers available in your area. Using career specific keywords and in combination with your location, Indeed provides a list of all the careers matching your search criteria. Search results can be filtered to show the newest posts on top, giving you the ability to apply for the newest jobs available.

CareerBuilder – Available on IOS & Android for Free

The CareerBuilder app allows you to search for jobs via a broad quick search and can help you narrow your search with an advanced search option. The advanced search option allows you to select multiple cities, set your salary range, as well as several other helpful options. Much like the LinkedIn job alerts, you can also register to receive email alerts that will provide you with new career postings that fall within your selected criteria.

Pocket Resume Pro – Available on IOS & Android for $2.99

The Pocket Resume Pro app lets you create and send a stylish resume from your phone or tablet. Pocket Resume keeps your resume mobile, allowing you to update on the go and send your professional and creative resume via PDF.

SimplyHired – Available on IOS & Android for Free

The self-proclaimed “world’s largest job search engine,” Simply Hired is available in an easy to use app. With over five million jobs listings from newspapers, bulletin boards, and company postings, your search results could be seemingly endless. SimplyHired allows you to filter results based on your career needs such as contract work, full-time, or part-time. The app also allows you to save your favorite postings and automatically saves your search history to help keep track of successful or not-so-successful searches you’ve performed.

*Originally published in Higher Degrees Fall 2013.

Getting Social: LinkedIn Groups and Subgroups

With almost 260 million members, working professionals can’t really afford not to be on LinkedIn. But, did you know there’s actually more to it than building and housing your online resume?

That’s right, similar to Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is also considered a social network. If you’ve been missing out on the social aspect of LinkedIn, groups are a great way to connect with people that are similar to you in some way (same industry, same company, same city, etc.).

For example, the official group for a university may comprise of students, alumni, faculty members, staff members or even sports fans. That’s a lot of people, and while they are all related to the university in some way, most of them probably have very different interests. For example, the faculty may want to discuss items that the sports fans do not find interesting and vice versa.


LinkedIn subgroups allow group members to form their own subgroup within the group. Going back to our university example, perhaps a subgroup would be created for all the faculty members, one for the students, one for alumni, and so on. At that point, a group of students who only study online might want to form their own subgroup, or the business faculty might create their own subgroup. The possibilities are nearly endless.

If this sounds like something you want to take advantage of, let me warn you, LinkedIn subgroups aren’t the easiest thing to find if you are a first-time user. However, the effort is worth it. So worth it in fact, that we put together some easy steps to help you find your LinkedIn group’s subgroups. Happy hunting!

  1. Go to the main group page.
  2. At the top right of the page, you should see an ‘i’ icon.
  3. Click the ‘i’ icon.
  4. Click the number next to the “Subgroups” category.
  5. Click “+Join” underneath the subgroup you want to join.

Trends in K-12 Education: Gamification of the Classroom

Over the last century, the K-12 classroom has evolved into something almost completely unrecognizable to previous generations. From blackboards to SMART boards, quill pens to laptops and tablets, and most recently paper-and-pencil homework assignments to game-based instruction, the classroom is now a whole new world. Teachers be advised – the days of the traditional lecture in the classroom are gone. In the eyes of the K-12 student, gamification is the new standard of excellence.

Take a look at the examples of gamification success below. You just might find yourself running to Toys “R” Us for the latest gaming craze!

The Classic Board Game

Just because you’re using games in the classroom, doesn’t mean they need to incorporate a new-fangled technology tool. Sometimes the most effective games are the classics – in this case, a board game reminiscent of Risk (without the world domination theme, of course!). Become inspired by this 4th grade classroom’s game “World Peace,” and start brainstorming ideas on how you can reuse everything in your game closet! If you get creative, almost any lesson plan can involve a new twist on a classic board game.


Gaming Systems with an Education Focus

These days, almost every child has some form of gaming system and teachers are learning to take advantage of the new generation’s skillset in the classroom. Whether it’s the brand new model of the XBOX 360, or the original Nintendo, the level of engagement these games provide cannot be ignored. Parents can even jump on the bandwagon by providing educational games for their kids to enjoy at home, such as these Edutainment games by Nintendo.

Check out this teacher’s innovative take on the use of the Nintendo DS gaming system in the classroom.


Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom

Not every game needs to be subject-focused. Complete with a personal avatar for each student, Dojo points for good behavior, and an easy-to-use reporting system for teachers, Class Dojo provides a virtual arena for rewarding behavioral improvement in the classroom.

Take a look at this Class Dojo trailer, or visit for more detailed information on how this can improve behavior in your classroom.

Trends in K-12 Education: Tech Tools to Give Your Lesson Plans a New Look

The most successful teachers have the ability to take information and transform it in to an engaging lesson plan for students of all skill levels. A simple history lesson becomes a trip back in time to the days of George Washington that students not only enjoy, but also remember. Lesson planning is clearly an art form, but the introduction of technology to the classroom has brought its own set of challenges when it comes to utilizing new technology and engaging a generation of students who use it on a daily basis.

With this in mind, we took to the internet to search for useful tools for educators looking to bridge the gap between the tech-savvy teenager and veteran teacher. We found useful sites for lesson plans, creative projects, videos and even note taking.  Use these resources to supplement your lesson plan portfolio, infuse a bit of technology in to your next class, or simply take mental notes. The resources available are almost endless, but here are a few favorites.

Networking for Teachers

If you’re having trouble thinking of a new and creative way to present required material, try using ShareMyLesson to connect with teachers across the country. The site serves as a catalog of lesson plans for nearly every subject and grade level – search to find the one you need, or share your own tried-and-true lessons with others. What’s the best thing about it?  It’s free!

Creative Homework

Looking for new creative outlets for your classroom? Give students the opportunity to catch the acting bug with WeVideo. Students collaborate to bring their assignments to life through the creation and editing of video. Teachers can monitor progress, make notes and assign group work via the video platform. There’s even a way to use those darn cell phones to your advantage – it works via mobile app, too!

Innovative Note Taking

If you’re lucky enough to have computers in the classroom, take advantage of TodaysMeet. Create a room for your lesson, invite your students, and encourage them to interact (appropriately!) while recording their notes for your review later. You’ll uncover questions you didn’t know they had, weaknesses in your lesson plan, and you might even learn a thing or two about your students!

Staying Connected When Working Virtually

When many of us think about working virtually, we think “no make-up, no uncomfortable shoes, no awkward silences in my one-on-one, and no interaction with that one person who always seems to track me down with mind-numbing questions before I’ve even made it to my desk!”

Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right?  Sure, it can be great, but it’s not all pajamas, morning breath and messy hair. Remember, your identity within your team is shaped by emails, conference calls, and instant messages!  If you’re considering a virtual position, or struggling to adjust to life in your home office, get better prepared to prove your worth by browsing the suggestions below.

Commit to Using Multiple Modes of Communication

As a virtual team member, you should be sensitive to how others communicate most effectively.  While you may be comfortable delegating tasks via email with ten documents attached, your team might benefit from a short conference call in order to feel fully informed. To avoid confusion and ineffective meetings, make an effort to become well-versed in your team’s communication style.

Choose a Face-to-Face Communication Tool

There’s nothing quite like a face-to-face meeting, so how can you accomplish that from across the country? Check with your IT team to see if there is a video communication tool most commonly used in your office. If not, do a little research and find out what works best for you. Whether it’s Skype, GoToMeeting, WebEx, or another webcam program, choose a user-friendly tool and commit to using it for as many meetings as possible.

Pick a Point of Contact to be Your Eyes and Ears

Virtual employees are not visible, so making sure your presence is felt is important.  Try picking a teammate you work well with to be your eyes and ears. If you’re accidentally left off a meeting request, they’ll forward it. If you’re not aware of an important call tomorrow, they’ll give you a heads up. Not only will this help with making sure your voice is heard, you’ll feel better knowing you’re on top of everything going on in the office.

Make the Extra Effort to Attend Events and Celebrations

“The hardest thing about being a virtual team member is nurturing and building relationships with other team members,” says NCU’s Senior Marketing Manager, Alexis Castorina, who works virtually from her home in Pittsburgh, PA.

To overcome this hurdle, work with the social committee in your office to get a schedule of events for the year.  Then, take the time to plan ahead.  Scheduling your visits to the office when special events are planned will help you get to know new team members, ensure that everyone remembers your face, and keep you engaged with office culture.



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