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Tech tips

Tech Tip for Teachers: Cover your Webcam

Tech Tips is an occasional post on overcoming Tech Dread. I’ll cover issues that colleagues and friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. 

This week, I’m passing on a tip from my security-conscious daughter:

I used to do this and forgot about it. She came for a visit and slapped a post-it note over my webcam.

And she’s right! Webcams and mics are too easy to hack, been done often. Why risk it? When I want to use the webcam (which isn’t often), I take the post-it off.

I’m not the only one. In questions during a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, former FBI Director Comey revealed that cam-covering is commonplace at the FBI and other government offices:

“If you go into any government office, we all have our little camera things that sit on top of the screen, they all have a little lid that closes down on them. You do that so people who do not have authority don’t look at you. I think that’s a good thing.”

One more person who’s security conscious is that poster-boy for social media: Mark Zuckerberg.  See what the geek experts noticed in a photo he tweeted out:

Plus, it’s old science that an image of your keyboard can be caught in the reflection of your glasses and transmitted to your webcam.

You might wonder why anyone would be interested in what shows up on your webcam. The answer is simple: blackmail.

Another tip: Close your laptop when not in use. Then, the camera and mic can’t be compromised.

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169 Tech Tip #130: 7 Google Tricks Teachers Should Know

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #130: 7 Google Tricks Teachers Should Know

Category: Google Apps

Sub-category: Search/Research, Classroom Management

  1. Revision History—this is a running list of all changes made to a document over time. It tracks collaboration and allows students to roll back a document to a previous version in case something unexpected happened.
  2. Share/Collaborate–multiple students can create and use the same document and automatically save it to their Google Drive. This is great for note-taking, projects, collaborative research, and plan/revise/edit/rewrite requirements.
  3. Research–search topics from within the document by quotations, images, or a variety of other options and insert the result into a document complete with footnoted citations.
  4. Auto-save—documents are automatically saved to the cloud without any action on the part of students.
  5. Download As—download any Google Apps file in another format—Office, Open Office, PDF, or RTF (rich text format).
  6. Embed document in another webtool—any Google Appsdocument can be embedded into a student blog, class website, a wiki, or any number of online locations. Called ‘publishing’, this is simple.
  7. Easily insert comments–to a collaborative document so stakeholders can see ideas from other members using the ‘Comments’ button.

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

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169 Tech Tip #101: The Laptop Internet Button

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #101–the Laptop Internet Button

Category: Hardware

Sub-category: PCs

Q: My internet stopped working on my laptop. Everyone else’s works, but mine won’t connect. What do I do?

A:  Make sure the laptop button that allows connection (on some laptops) to the internet is on. More often than not, that’s the problem for teachers at my school. If it’s not that, it gets much more complicated. I’ll cross my fingers for you.

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169 Tech Tip #46: Easiest Way to Explain Right and Left

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #46: Easiest Way to Explain Right and Left

Category: Hardware

Sub-category: Classroom Management, Teaching

Q: Kindergartners don’t always understand the difference between left/right.

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169 Tech Tip #39: My Computer Won’t Turn Off

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #39: My Computer Won’t Turn Off

Category: Hardware

Sub-category: PC, Problem-solving

Q:  I’m pushing the power button on my laptop (or desktop, but this is more common with laptops), and it won’t turn off. What do I do?

A:  Push the power button and hold it in for a count of ten. It will look something like the inset.

If that doesn’t work (there’s always that one that breaks the rules), hold it for a count of twenty. Still doesn’t work? Pull out the battery.

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169 Tech Tip #26: My Mouse Doesn’t Work

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #26: My Mouse Doesn’t Work

Category: Hardware

Q: My mouse stopped working. Do I need a new one?

A:   Maybe, but try a few things first:

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Categories: Mouse skills, Tech tips | Tags: | 3 Comments

169 Tech Tip #25: My Desktop Keyboard Doesn’t Work

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #25: My Desktop Keyboard Doesn’t Work

Category: Hardware

Q: I need to type a lesson plan, but all I get is a cursor that blinks… and blinks… but goes nowhere. What do I do?

A: The first culprit to investigate is the keyboard. Try these solutions:

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Tech Tips #170: Cover your webcam!

tech tipsThis is part of the 169 tech tips for your class-but this is a bonus, not included in the ebook, just for readers of Ask a Tech Teacher:

Tech Tip #170: Cover your webcam when you aren’t using it!

I used to do this and forgot about it. She came for a visit and slapped a post-it note over my webcam.

And she’s right! Webcams and mics are too easy to hack, been done often. Why risk it? When I want to use the webcam (which isn’t that often), I take the post-it off.

I’m not the only one. In questions during a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, former FBI Director Comey revealed that cam-covering is commonplace at the FBI and other government offices:

“If you go into any government office, we all have our little camera things that sit on top of the screen, they all have a little lid that closes down on them. You do that so people who do not have authority don’t look at you. I think that’s a good thing.”

One more person who’s security conscious is that poster-boy for social media: Mark Zuckerberg. In a photo he tweeted out, he was caught doing just that. See what the geek experts noticed about this photo (one is that Mark covers his webcam as a matter of policy):

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Categories: Tech tips | Tags: | 3 Comments

169 Tech Tip #102: Doc Saved Over? Try This

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #102–Doc Saved Over? Try This

Category: Google Apps

Sub-category: MS Office, Problem-solving

Q: My students often save a blank document over their document. Is there any way to retrieve the file?

A: Absolutely. If you’re on Google Docs, go to Revisions. Select the version of the document you know was correct and restore it.

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169 Tech Tip #78: Save a File so Everyone Can Read it

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #78–Save a File so Everyone Can Read it

Category: Google Apps

Sub-category: MS Office

Q: I need to make my document readable by colleagues that don’t have my software (such as I use MS Word and they don’t). What do I do?

A:  In both Google Apps and MS Office, you can save a document in a variety of formats, including the easy-to-read PDF. If you use Google Docs, you can also 1) share or 2) download in a variety of formations including PDF. This is also true of webtools that offer a wide variety of methods for saving and sharing. Pick the one best suited to the task, purpose, and audience.

In MS Office:

  • click ‘save as’ for your document
  • drop down the ‘save as type’ and select ‘PDF’
  • save

If the problem is that the recipient doesn’t have a current version of MS Word (say, you have 2010 and they have 2003), then save the doc as follows:

  • go to File-save as
  • select file type 97-2003 (see first inset below).

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