Tag: internet

Tech Tip #91: Internet Problem? Switch Browsers

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

I’ve been having more than usual problems with my browser, Firefox. Often, I can fix things by switching to Chrome. Sometimes, it’s the reverse, so I wanted to repost this tip as a reminder at the start of our new school year:

Q: I’m trying to use a website and it keeps telling me Flash isn’t installed. I know it is. I even re-installed it and it wouldn’t work. What do I do?

A: Change browsers. I have this problem more often with Firefox than Explorer in my lab. When students try to use one of the websites on our internet start page and find it won’t run correctly, the first thing I check is which browser they’re in. If it’s Firefox, I switch to IE. That more often than not fixes it.

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tech q & a

Dear Otto: Where Can I Find Kid-safe Images?

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from a reader:

I am a computer lab teacher and teach grades 1-5.  I can really use some advice from others. Do you have a good place for students to go and get images that are appropriate – I teach grades 1-5  and Google even with strict settings as well as MS Office clipart have some inappropriate images  that come up from searches

I wrote a post about this almost a year ago. I appreciate that you’ve reminded me it’s time to revisit. This is harder than it should be. I use Google as a default because it is the safest of all the majors, not to say it’s 100% kid-safe. I spent quite a few hours one weekend checking out all of the kid-friendly child search engines (Sweet Search, KidSafe, QuinturaKids, Kigose, KidsClick, Ask Kids, KidRex, and more), but none did a good job filtering images. Content–yes, but images dried up to worthless for the needs of visual children.

So I went back to Google and tried their Safe Search settings. Normal Google search is set to moderate. For school-age children, they can easily be set to Strict (check out this video on how to do it).

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tech q & a

Dear Otto: How Do You Keep Students From Playing with Settings?

[caption id="attachment_7341" align="alignright" width="176"]tech questions Do you have a tech question?[/caption]

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Jamie:

I love your site I have purchased three of your Technology series. I noticed [in the K-6 textbooks] you talk about using protopage – how do you let your students use it without them doing anything to what is on the page.

A: I love my protopage internet start page. I don’t mind if my students (I teach K-8) edit the page (within reason). I was worried at first so I put blocks there specifically for comments, wall writing, doodling. I tried Wall Wisher, which didn’t work well. I added a hamster and a pet dog that students can play with, feed, virtually cuddle. In some of the widgets (such as the calculator), the skins can be changed. That’s fine. I like that students personalize their stations even though the next class in 45 minutes might make changes. If they take ownership of the computer, they’ll take better care of it and enjoy the class more. I used to let them add wallpapers until the IT department locked us out.

That said, to do any serious formatting requires a log in as Admin (like to add widgets or change the colors). That’s reserved for me. Also, I don’t give students much time to play. We’re busy. They have to come in during recess or lunch to have a block of time. I have more problems with them futzing with the icons on the desktop and turning the screen on its side than fooling around with the start page. Techie kids are a precocious bunch!

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Tech Tip #101: The Internet Button

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents and students about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

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

A: First: Make sure the laptop button that allows connection 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.

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Tech Tip #42: How to (Re)Set Your Homepage

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!Q: My homepage got hijacked! I mean, it no longer opens up to what it used to. How do I fix that?

A: Go to the page you want as your homepage. Here’s what you do next:

  • If you’re in Firefox, go to Tools–Options
  • Click on General
  • Click the button that says, Use Current
  • Say OK

If you use IE: (more…)

ISTE Debrief: Don’t Hide the Internet from Today’s Kids

If you didn’t make it to ISTE 2011, you missed a great time. There was more going on than any sane person could absorb in a month and all 30,000+ of us attendees tried to do it in four days. The seminars cover every topic from tech integration to how to use specific programs to general trends. I tried to attend a few of each to not only learn new material but to make sure what I’m teaching is as relevant this year as when I first taught it to my classes.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Teachers are not lecturers. We are guides, even fellow-learners
  • Students learn by doing more than being taught. Encourage this
  • There are a lot of ‘right’ ways to learn
  • Students are problem-solvers. Let this happen
  • Technology is about offering options in learning styles
  • Technology offers different ways to teach different learners. Use it that way.
  • Work beyond the classroom because class is too short, kids aren’t engaged the entire five hours
  • Paperless classroom is possible. Figure it out.
  • Virtual presentations so kids hear from the experts in real time (more…)
class internet start page

Using an Internet Start Page

This is a great idea for kids. Use one of these free start pages to put everything important there for your child that’s internet-based. Mine includes oft-used websites, blog sites, a To Do list, search tools, email, a calendar of events, pictures of interest, rss feeds of interest, weather, news, a graffiti wall and more. Yours will be different, more geared toward summer activities. Ask your child what s/he’d like there. Maybe sponge activities (internet sites that take just a few minutes to soak up empty time).

I used protopage.com (Protopage is your own personal page, which you can access from any computer or mobile phone), but you can use netvibes. Start pages are an outreach of the ever-more-popular social networking. Most search engines offer them also. They all have a huge library of custom fields to individualize any home page. And, they’re all simple. Don’t be intimidated.

When you get yours set up, on the To Do list, put what the child should do to start each computer time. This gives them a sense of independence, adultness, as they get started while you’re wrapping something else up.

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