Smart Notes with a Smartpen


My Echo Smartpen is a mixture of old school and new school. It is a pen – but it records sound and notes. The notes can be sent to a computer and even saved as a pencast.

Here’s how I have used my pen:

  • Meeting notes
  • Recording math problems and embedding the pencast onto a website
  • As a translation tool (I used in Ethiopia to spell the word and have a local speak it for me.)
  • Personal notes
  • Lecture notes

I use the MyScript app along with the pen. It is able to read my handwriting and turn it into typed text. How cool is that?


Want to purchase a Livescribe Pen? Click here to learn more!


3 Reasons You Should Use Twitter

Twitter Logo

Twitter Logo (Photo credit: Jon Gosier)

There are countless blogs regarding the use of Twitter in education.

I admit, I wasn’t a fan of Twitter until I finally figured out what it could do. There are 3 reasons that I use Twitter:


1. I use Twitter to LEARN new things.


Twitter is my Personal Learning Network (PLN). Here is how I got started LEARNING on Twitter. A few years ago I was a new principal of a struggling school. I was in a new city and didn’t know where to go for the “big” questions. I signed up with Twitter, and started following some well-known, inspirational, and well-established principals all across the nation. I also started following some well-known leaders. Some were spiritual leaders such as Rick Warren, and others were leaders in the field of education. My Twitter stream filled up with hundreds of links to not only their blog posts and comments, but to articles that they had researched and were sharing. I still remember the day I had a question and didn’t want to call my old school, again, for help. So I posed the question on Twitter. I was amazed at how many responded to my question. They sent links, information, and referrals. One very well-known principal took the time to send me a message with detailed information and advice. Wow.


I often use Twitter on my iPad through the Flipboard app. The app turns each tweet into a magazine format. All of the great information shared via Twitter appears in an easy to read format. I can flip quickly through the pages to see if there are any articles I want to read. Here is a picture of how Twitter appears through Flipboard:


View Your Twitter Feed through Flipboard

View Your Twitter Feed through Flipboard


Just this week I attended ISTE 2013 – virtually, that is. I followed the #ISTE13 hashtag stream. I found new articles, apps, ideas, and got caught up on current trends in education. I wasn’t able to fly to Chicago to attend in person, but I came away with a lot of new, useful information!


2. I use Twitter to SHARE new things.


As an educator and technologist, I love to share.  When I come across a new technology idea, article, or trend, I like to share it with others. I figure –if it helps me, it may help someone else! Twitter allows you to share your own ideas, or “RT – Retweet” ideas from others.


3. I use Twitter to communicate.


Twitter is a great communication tool especially if others follow you via their cell phone. Example: As a principal, I asked parents to follow our school Twitter account. I let them know that if they chose the cell phone notification option, they would receive a school tweet immediately. I know many people do not choose this option, but here is why I find it useful: in the case of an emergency, I can tweet out a message and it is received instantly. As a principal, I couldn’t SMS every family from my school and we did not have the funds for an emergency SMS system. But I could send out a tweet and it could be read right away without me having to look up phone numbers or contacts. This was useful on the day of an emergency shut down situation.


Twitter is useful for teachers because they can send out reminder tweets for exams, projects, and deadlines. In my post “Hashtag a Discussion” I discuss how teachers can use twitter for classroom discussions. It’s a must read!

I have even used tweets to discuss a live event – my daughter’s race at nationals – with other athletes that were on the scene. I couldn’t be at the race physically, but I cheered her on virtually!


My simple advice on how to get started:


1. Set up a twitter account


2. Search for leaders in your field of interest and follow them


3. Make consistent dialogue – remember to share


4. If you have a tablet, iPhone, iPad, use the Flipboard app 


The Best Job…Ever

I have the best job…ever.

You see, I have three things I really enjoy:

teaching, technology, and missions.

Teaching. I like all aspects of it – planning, collaborating, teaching, working with students, creativity, and finding new ways to solve problems.  I also enjoy technology. My mom was a math and computer teacher so I know that technology has been a part of my life for a long time.  I love using my iPad and iPhone, connecting with others, while discovering and learning.  Finally, I am passionate about missions. I have traveled to Mexico; provided Katrina relief; worked in the projects of Brooklyn, New York; and served in Mozambique/Africa, Abaya/Ethiopia, and Sao Paulo/Brazil. I enjoy giving hope and help to the needy. Most of all, I love sharing God’s love and light with those in the dark.

Why is my job the best job…ever? I am able to mix all three of my passions in one place, in one position! As Educational Technologist, I am able to work with faculty and staff teaching them new ways to integrate technology into their courses. As an adjunct instructor, I teach aspiring educators how to use technology not only in their future career but also how to reach the world through technology. Since I work at a Christian university, I am able to help others learn to use the tool of  technology for discipleship and kingdom service.

It is remarkable when I consider that technology can help quicken His coming. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come” (Matthew 24:12).  WJU educators – do you realize how awesome this is? Consider the impact you can have this year in your classrooms as you use technology to reach the world. Use it to bring light to others. Need classroom technology biblical integration ideas? Let me know and we can collaborate together!

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Using the Echo Livescribe Smartpen as a translation tool in Ethiopia. Have you tried one of these pens? LOVE mine!

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Most people in the Abaya region of Ethiopia have never seen a picture of themselves.

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I gave my World Vision sponsor child a Shutterfly picture album.

Want to sponsor a child? Click here.


Do you like recipes? I do. I like to follow recipes, and every now and then I enjoy creating a recipe. Although I love food recipes, I also enjoy using IFTTT…If This Then That! It’s a service that let’s you make connections between online services using a recipe of triggers and actions.


It simplifies life for me! By using triggers and actions, things get done without me doing anything. (Yes, that sounds very lazy, doesn’t it?) Here are some examples of “recipes” I use:


My first recipe has to do with this blog! When I post to this blog, THEN it will automatically post the blog to my LinkedIn account.


If I get a new follower on Twitter, a tweet is automatically sent to thank them for following.


If I take an Instagram photo, it is posted to Twitter.


The forecast is sent to my Google calendar at 5:00 am every day. I just have to open my Google calendar to view the day’s weather report.


If the forecast calls for rain, I receive a text message the night before reminding me to bring an umbrella!


If I upload a photo to Facebook, then a copy of the photo is sent to my Picasa account.

There are many, many recipes available for you to follow. You can even use it for Craigslist searches! Find one that works for you and try it out! See if it helps simplify small tasks for you! Visit IFTTT.

Haiku Deck

I came across an app that is easy and a great tool for teachers – Haiku Deck. Haiku Deck is a presentation tool that is elegant and simple. There are a range of fonts and layouts available. It’s as easy as clicking and typing.

My favorite part of the app is the picture tool. When words are typed in, the app automatically finds pictures to apply to the background. The app pulls from millions of free, stunning Getty images. In fact, USA Today reported that Haiku Deck has over 35 million free Creative Commons licensed photos.


I enjoy the fact that I don’t have to open a browser and search separately for photos. It’s all-in-one! The presentations can be shared in Twitter, Facebook, embedded on a blog or website, or saved as a .pdf. Haiku Deck allows you to add speaker notes, or public notes for online viewing. Haiku Deck comes with 5 templates or create your own. There are others available for purchase. Give it a try!

New Routes = New Understanding

From my house, there are many ways to get to Shingle Springs. When I drive, I take the main road. The main road will get me there. When I ride my bike, there are countless routes. I can take Deer Valley on one side of the freeway, Cothrin Ranch on the other side of the freeway, or one of the many, many side streets along the way. Someone new to the area can figure out how to get to Shingle Springs many different ways: look at a road map, look at a satellite map, use GPS, use Goggle maps, follow someone, ask directions, etc. All of these ways will work. Some people prefer a paper map, others prefer a GPS system. I have found a new and deeper understanding of the area by cycling. I have ridden on beautiful country roads that I didn’t even know existed. I’ve even met some interesting creatures along the way…


Teaching is like this. There are many ways that students learn. A teacher will do many things to meet the needs of the various learning styles. This is similar to the many ways to receive directions on a route to Shingle Springs. A teacher that uses lecture only is similar to a person who will travel by the main road. Yes, it may get them there. But the person will have a limited view of the area. The individual could broaden their view by looking at a map, using Google earth for satellite imagery, or following a friend on a new route. When I cycle, I ride many different roads that lead to the same location. I have ridden roads that are well traveled, and roads that many people don’t know about. The point is, by riding all these roads, I have a deeper understanding of the entire area. Using technology is like this. When a teacher adds technology to a teaching lesson, it can cause certain learners to have a deeper understanding. True, a learner will gain knowledge through listening to lectures, reading course material, and participating in discussions. Adding audio, visuals, and even collaboration via technology opens up a new “road” to the learner. This road may provide a deeper understanding.

Let’s Hangout!

Summer = time to hangout. When I think of hanging out, I think of friends, fun, and food. Google Hangout is a great way to collaborate with others – friends, fun, and …(well, I guess you will have to bring your own food).

First, you need to be set up with Google Plus.  Everyone at our organization, WJU, is already a part of Google Plus – it just may not be activated. To activate your account, sign in to Gmail. Then look at the top left corner. You will see an icon such as this:


Mine is activated, so my name appears. If yours is not activated, it will say +You. Click this link. You will be brought to your Google Plus homepage. You may need to set this up initially by filling in your gender, birthdate, etc. It will also ask you to upload a photo of yourself. One you step through the initial set up pages, your Google Plus page will be all set.

Up at the top right, you will see this icon:


You may click people who are available to hangout, or you may go to the bottom to “start a party”:

Teachers, this is a great way to collaborate with students. Create “circles” for your courses in Google Plus and add the students for each course. When you collaborate together, you may do so by selecting the entire circle of students. Please note that your “hangout” will be limited to 15 members at a time.


Not only can you video chat during a hangout session, you can also chat, share your computer screen, or use Google effects (add a silly hat or sunglasses to your picture). My favorite thing about hangouts are the additional apps available.

I have two favorite apps I would like to highlight...Scoot & Doodle and Symphonical.

Scoot and Doodle is a collaborative whiteboard. While this fun video demonstrates drawing together, imagine the possibilities as a teacher.  How about working out a math problem together? Scoot and Doodle is an excellent tool for visual thinking.

Symphonical is a task and project management app. Users may create “walls” to share during a hangout.


Click   THIS LINK for a full tour of Symphonical!

So – don’t you want to try a hangout this summer?

Move to the Cloud

You’ve probably heard the phrase – the cloud. What exactly does that mean? Storing your computer files to the cloud means you are storing the files in a virtualized pool of storage hosted by a third party. In our case, we use Google as our cloud storage – or drive. You may have been saving files from work on your desktop, or in P: (private), S: (shared), M: (departments) or X: (inderdepartment). When you save in this fashion, the files are saved on our server and are either shared for members of that drive, or are private. When you go to use the files, you go have to be logged into our network to access the files.

The Google drive allows you to save files as private or shared. The files may be accessed from anywhere – which is a very convenient feature! You may access the files from home, on a smartphone, tablet, or anywhere in which you have internet access. The files may be edited and shared anytime, anywhere.

Using Google drive, you may share single files or entire folders. When an employee leaves the system, you may remove the sharing feature for that individual with a simple click. When new staff members are added to your department, you may add them to the shared folder or document with a simple click as well. By using Google drive, you may share with teams of individuals within departments and all members have access to the information at all times. Editing documents can also be controlled through an editing on or off button.

Do you want to collaborate over a document? Use the built in chat feature with Google docs and share comments and suggestions.

I save just about everything now to my Google drive. I do this because I know I can access it anytime, anywhere. I also save to the Google drive because it is secure. Not too long ago, my hard drive at home crashed. I was able to salvage some of the items…but not all. Saving to Google means my items will be there even if my laptop dies.

Want to learn more? Be sure to attend our next training session at WJU  (July 10, 10:00 AM). You will enjoy moving to the cloud!

Hello, Siri!

(My day off post!)

These past two days I have been on vacation. We decided to spend a few days cycling around Yountville in Napa Valley. Yesterday I decided to spend the day with Siri. I have an iPhone 5 and know I do not use it to its full capabilities. So, I decided to test it out. Here is what Siri was able to do for me:

  • Siri could not understand “Yountville”. She spelled it Yellville, Yeah Ville, Yeah Bill, Youngsville, and Youngville. So, asking Siri to give me directions to Yountville was just about impossible. (Sorry, Siri, but you know it is true.)
  • Siri looked up directions to a cycling store in Fairfield. We realized we didn’t have spare tubes!
  • Siri took notes for me.
  • Siri saved the map to Yountville.
  • Siri took a picture for me out the back window while we drove.
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  • Siri set a reminder for me to call and check on my dad at 8:00 PM to see how we was feeling from surgery.
  • Siri sent a tweet for me that she was dictating for me.
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  • Siri tried to help me find our way out of a wrong turn while cycling…but she couldn’t find the road I wanted.
  • Siri sent text messages.
  • Siri called my mom and dad.
  • I asked Siri about the weather, and she reported it to me
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    As a summary, Siri was able to understand me – most of the time. Using Siri is a great choice for setting reminders, calendar items, dialing, and taking brief notes that can be edited later. I never did figure out how to “teach” Siri a word. If I could have taught her to recognize the word Yountville, she probably would have been able to do everything I needed.

    How have you used Siri?





Trends You Need to Know!

The NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition is a report that discusses emerging technologies and their impact on education. Anyone involved in higher education should read the report and be understand upcoming trends. The report gives a report of “trends” for the next five years. You can read the entire report HERE. This is a summary of the potential trends and implications.

Near Term (The next 12 months)


Massively Open Online Courses. MOOCs are expected to grow in number and popularity over the next year. MOOCs offer the possibility of higher education at zero cost. For those wanting to learn more about a particular subject, I think a MOOC route is great. I love learning. I think my brain enjoys it! What does that mean for us at WJU? The first two words that come to my head are relationship and discipleship. If more and more MOOCs are going to become available, we need to make sure we are not only offering quality education, but relationship and discipleship as well. Students won’t find this through a MOOC. God created us relational.

Tablet Computing:

Tablets enable learning to take place in and out of the classroom at an affordable cost. The tablet arena is growing and there is major competition for innovation. At WJU, we need to consider this in our courses! Is your Moodle portal something that a student will be able to not only use for your course – it will actually help improve their learning experience? We all know that there are multiple intelligences and students learn through a variety of ways. Add audio and visual elements to your course and make sure that students can access these elements on their device. You will find that students will want to extend their learning beyond your classroom walls!


Mid-Term (2-3 years)


Games and Gamification: 

Badging and ranking systems recognize student achievements. Students are encouraged to learn more through engaging content and curricula that is also competitive.

Learning Analytics: 

Course management systems allow for differentiation and customization. As stated in the Horizon report, many universities use analytic software with the advising process to make it more accurate. Mobile software will be able to “coach students” toward habits that will lead to success.


Far-Term (4-5 years)


3D Printing: 

Over the next 4-5 years, 3D printing will increase. This is important to know when considering the arts, architecture, manufacturing, and the sciences. As we grow our programs, how will 3D printing play into our curricula?  3D printing is currently used in many research and lab settings.

3D printed blue treefrogs in different layer t...

3D printed blue treefrogs in different layer thicknesses (Photo credit: Creative Tools) 

Wearable Technology: 

Google glass is probably the most anticipated product. These glasses will enable the wearer to use tools for research and be able to track data (record or take a photo) all through voice-command. The report also discussed bendable OLED displays that can wrap around curved surfaces such as furniture. These displays will project computer images.

What does all this mean? 

The report (NMC, 2013) states that “the role of educators continues to change due to the vast resources that are accessible to students via the Internet.”  Students are connected to their devices, surfing the web, downloading applications, texting, and reading articles. We need to understand our students, and understand the tools that allow us to navigate to their language and area of study. Hybrid courses (courses that mix traditional learning with online learning such as our Moodle portal) are excellent ways to do this.

6 Challenges Listed from the Horizon Report:

  1. Digital media literacy by faculty is a key skill – training!
  2. The emergence of new scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching calls for new evaluation methods.
  3. Some have a resistance to change.
  4. The demand for personalized learning is not supported by current practices.
  5. There is increased competition to traditional models of learning.
  6. Some academics are not using new technologies.

What will you do about these challenges?


NMC (2013). NMC Horizon Project: 2013 Higher Education. Retrieved from