Happy Birthday Piktochart!

Infographics are graphics that provide information. There are three parts to infographics – visuals, content, and the knowledge. Statistics and facts usually form the content, although there are other forms of information that could be used. The information and graphic should somehow give insight into the topic and this is the knowledge. Faculty can easily create infographics to provide visuals to students for course content, and students in turn can create infographics to portray their understanding and research.

One tool that I have written about is a great web-based infographic creator – Piktochart.

Their easy-to-use-templates make it possible for anyone to create a visually stunning infographic! (Over 100 free templates available!)

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AND…Piktochart turns 3 in March! Piktochart is committed to nurturing creativity in school and colleges. Through March they will be giving out free PRO Piktochart packages to teachers to use Piktochart in the classroom. The PRO package includes 1 year access to 30-40 students (a $300 value!). So…how do you get yours?

“If you are a school practitioner (teacher/lecturer at any educational institution at any age from anywhere in the world) and are interested in this giveaway, please submit a 1-minute video of you and your students on why you would like to receive a PRO subscription on Piktochart and how you will use it in your class. Tell us where you are from and the name of the school you are teaching at. Next, upload the video on YouTube, title it “Piktochart’s 3rd Anniversary” and email me atstanislava@piktochart.com to let us know that the video has been uploaded. We will get back to you soon after. Videos must be submitted between the 1st and 31st of March 2015.

Terms and Conditions:
– Videos may be shared on our social media pages and/or featured on the blog
– Limited to the first 500 video applicants
– Piktochart is at sole discretion of deciding on the final recipients of the giveaway
– Terms and conditions may change without prior notice”

It’s a little early to submit a video yet – but start thinking about what you could do! It’s easy to tape yourself using a cell phone. Don’t stress over it! Just get it done. 🙂

Click the picture to see my Piktochart!

formative assessment


Must Have Mini Bites!

Yesterday I wrote about the great professional development site, Grovo, that offers 60 second training on all sorts of topics. I realize that I like Grovo because the training is offered in small chunks. My brain appreciates this! I can’t sit for more than 10 minutes before my brain starts to wander.

Most people can only sit for so-long before the brain begins to tire. So why is it that (some) professors lecture for 50 minutes non-stop? True, many students can pay attention longer than 10 minutes, but when presented with new material, we need to offer brain breaks.

A brain break is a short period of time when we offer a refresher to our brain by providing something different to think about. Allowing students to get up, stretch, visit, walk, etc. can even help refresh the brain to get back to work…and thinking.

Here is my suggestion – offer your students the content in mini-bites with small brain breaks. Here’s how:

  • Teach/lecture for 10 minutes
  • Offer a brain break
    • stand up and move
    • give a quiz or poll using PollEverywhere
    • pair/share…tell a peer what you learned in 1 minute, switch roles
    • play Kahoot for 2 minutes reviewing the content
    • ask a question, move around and tell 2 peers your answer
    • ask students to pull an item out of a bag and offer a way it could be reinvented. Tell 2 others.
    • be creative!…think of your own brain break
  • Teach/lecture for 15-20 minutes
  • Offer a brain break

Etc.! If you normally lecture for the full amount of time, teach like you normally do and ask your students to offer 3 things they learned and one question regarding the content in the form of an exit ticket (3×5 card is fine) before leaving class. Then, try the above technique. Teach 10, brain break for 2 min., teach 10, brain break…etc.  At the end of class, ask your students to offer 3 things they learned and one question regarding the content, again, in the form of an exit ticket. Is there a difference? You may or may not notice a difference in their responses – but note their enthusiasm. Are they leaving your room a little more rejuvenated?

I think your students will enjoy bite-sized learning and brain breaks!

Learn in 60 Seconds!

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I am a new fan of Grovo – “Grovo solves the skills gap by teaching Internet and modern professional skills to today’s workforce with 60-second videos in a beautiful and effective training platform.” I enjoy learning new information and learning in little bite size pieces of 60 seconds is easily manageable. According to Grovo, more than 200 million adults work with digital tools, yet 58% are not productive with the tools they use. “On average, workers lose two hours in productivity per person every day due to a lack of proficiency with core digital competencies, such as managing email, working with documents, and collaborating on projects.”  Yikes! Is that you?

Recently I took 2 of their mini training sessions:

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Both were to the point, easy to follow, and contained GREAT information! Simple, direct…I like it! After viewing the (free) video, take the associated quiz to check your understanding!  My next course?  Attention management!

You have to go check out Grovo! Keep learning!

Office for iPad: Free for Everyone

Great to know! View, create, and edit Office documents on an iPad for free! Thanks to Jonathan Wylie for the post.

Jonathan Wylie

Office for Everyone

Last week, Microsoft surprised a lot of people when they made Word, Excel and PowerPoint completely free for iOS devices. The apps themselves were always free for viewing documents, but editing access required an Office 365 subscription. Not any more. The subscription element was removed and now anyone with a free Microsoft account can view, create and edit Office documents on an iPad at no additional cost. They also included support for Dropbox so that you can open documents stored in Dropbox, edit them, and save them back to Dropbox.

Microsoft Word for iPad: Free

So, what is it like using Office on an iPad? It’s very enjoyable actually. Your documents, presentations and spreadsheets all format exactly the way you would hope they would with no strange views for a mobile device like the iPad. Everything is saved to your OneDrive or Dropbox account, so all your work is still available to you if you…

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I Need a Reminder!

I’ve used many different planners and calendars but Google calendar has done the best job of saving me time and reminding me about events. Keeping up with events shouldn’t be a burden and setting up notifications and reminders on Google calendar can help relieve some of life’s stresses.

Students – use Google calendar to remind you about due dates for homework assignments and class events. Color code each item and allow Google calendar to send a reminder to your phone.

Faculty – use Google calendar to remind you about meetings on and off campus. Color code the events for meetings, personal events, or class sessions.

Watch this video to learn more about setting up notifications for homework and events:

Overcome Your Nightmares

Today was the first day of a new semester at our university. I teach a Technology for Teachers course in the School of Education – but today…

  • I forgot our syllabus
  • I couldn’t log in to Moodle
  • I couldn’t type anything
  • My class was jumping rope in the middle of the room and doing the conga line in the back of the room
  • My class was completely out of control – completely
  • I stamped “Go to the veterinarian” on the foot of a parent passing by the room

Oh wait!! That was my nightmare! Not reality. (I had you going, right?)  Every year I have teacher nightmares that involve loss of control and disorganization probably because I normally am a control freak and very organized. My nightmare got me thinking about words.

In reality, I asked my class this semester to choose 2-3 words to describe themselves and text them to Poll Everywhere for our word cloud. Here is the result:

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An awesome group – right? It’s an easy and fun way to get to know students. Recently Poll Everywhere announced new changes. “You asked for it, you got it — A,B,C voting for everyone! Now, when you choose to poll in Presenter Session mode, the audience can simply text in your session name (your username), and after that, they can respond to multiple choice polls with no more than a single letter, number, “True”, “False”, etc. It even works for open-response questions. Once they’ve joined your session, you activate* an open-ended question and they just text their brilliant response. No auto-generated (e.g. “980325”) code necessary, ever again. Ta-daaaa!”  My class loved this newer, easier to use version. The visual settings were also upgraded to allow for better color choices. Please click this link to read about all the new upgrades!

In reality, I had a great first day of class. Nothing like my nightmare, thankfully. What will you be doing your first day back for the new semester?


The SIMPLEST Way to Search for an App!

There is one, simple way to complete a Google search for awesome apps. But first…

If I make a new year resolution, I will do all I can to keep it.  Two years ago I made a bold move to make a resolution to no longer use disposable water bottles. I purchased a Klean Kanteen and used it ALL year for water and iced tea. I did the same last year and will keep it again this year. It has become a habit – a nice one, at that!


That’s why I have entered the above giveaway – #DitchDisposable. I could use a new canteen!

I gave up reading the newspaper in the morning last year and replaced the newspaper reading time with devotional/Bible reading. I have kept that resolution as well. It’s another great habit. So what is new this year? I decided to make a resolution to eat more whole foods and less sugar. Notice – I didn’t say I wouldn’t eat sugar – because I know I wouldn’t keep it! And, resolving to eat whole foods is easy because it is pretty much what I do right now anyway. I am just going to try a little harder to pass on the extra cookie here and there.

Thus – the reason for this post. What is the SIMPLEST way to search for an app?  Google Search! Recently I took a course on creating an effective Google search and learned that Google has a search for “app” built right in! I decided to test it out with my whole food resolution.

First, I navigated to Google and typed in the words “Whole Food”.  Then, I clicked “more” and “apps” as seen here:

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Notice by typing in the words “Whole Food” the search came with the most obvious – Whole Foods Market (which is my #1 grocery shopping source). But I wanted apps – right? By clicking “more” and “apps” here is what resurfaced:

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Awesome! Now, I know what some of you are thinking – why not just go to the app store or iTunes and search? I could do that, too. But it’s great to know that Google will search apps for me. I can take it a step further by clicking search tools and I can narrow the search by price:

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I am a happy camper. I ended up downloading this app:

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Forks Over Knives  $4.99

They say “There’s an app for that.” Test out your resolution with a new app!

What’s on My iPad?


This is the final section of my 4 part series on our family iPads! I am concluding with my own mini iPad. I got a new mini iPad for Christmas and am trying to do a better job of not “clogging it up” with unnecessary photos and apps. I have a total of 236 apps! Yes, way too many. And no – they are not all on my iPad! Right now I have 26 apps on my iPad, and many are the apps that came with it. The rest reside in my iTunes cloud in case I want to call them up some day! I  often will download an app, then find that I don’t use it so I delete it.


The first essential element to my mini iPad is the keyboard case. As you can see from the picture, I use a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio. I purchased “new” but when it came I am pretty sure it was used due to the slight scratches on the keyboard. But, I did get it for a good price on Amazon and it works great so I am happy with it. Really, I use my iPad in place of my computer unless I am at work. I prefer the small size, portability, and instant on ease. I can get everything done that I need to do with an iPad.

I have written in other blog posts about the apps that I commonly use:


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Collect web articles, hand-written notes, and photos all in one place across all devices.


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I use this with my jot writer because I love writing by hand!

LinkedIn – Stay in touch professionally.



Twitter is my source for professional development!

I do have some apps that I haven’t written about that I love using. The first is common, Instagram.

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I adore looking at pictures and I definitely prefer Instagram over Facebook. It’s a simple way to capture life’s moments with your iphone and share with others. The built in filters are awesome.



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If I am going to use a regular word processor, Pages is my choice over Word simply because I am use to it. The Pages app has beautiful templates built in. I can easily add text, images, and shapes and my keyboard helps give it the computer feel. I am easily able to import and edit Word documents as well. It syncs across all devices. If I am collaborating with someone, however, I definitely would choose Google Docs. There simply isn’t anything that allows for easier sharing and collaboration.

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Most Americans are familiar with YouTube. It’s not a fancy app – but I use it all the time! Whether viewing videos for work or fun, it’s the way to watch a YouTube video on a small device. I subscribe to one station that is my morning favorite – Good Mythical Morning. Yes, it is silly and goofy and that is why I love it! Rhett and Link are hilarious. If you aren’t familiar with it, here is a sample video for you to watch – Will It Donut? They have over 5 million subscribers, and yes, I am one of them.


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Elevate was Apple’s 2014 app of the year and I love it! As I get older, I want to continue “working out” my brain and this app sends you a new set of daily challenges.  “Elevate is a brain training program designed to improve focus, speaking abilities, processing speed, memory, math skills, and more. Each person is provided with a personalized training program that adjusts over time to maximize results.

The more you train with Elevate, the more you’ll improve critical cognitive skills that are proven to boost productivity, earning power, and self-confidence. Users who train at least 4 times per week have reported dramatic gains and increased confidence.” Elevate your brain!

Evernote Food

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I love baking, finding new recipes, and eating! We try to eat very healthy in our house – whole foods and often (but not always) paleo. Evernote food allows you to explore recipes, save recipes from my own reserve or the web, and add pictures and notes from restaurants.


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Passwords could drive me crazy. This app was also voted best of 2014. It is a password vault and luckily I only have to remember 1 password to get in. “1Password creates strong, unique passwords for every site, remembers them all for you, and logs you in with a single tap.”

Finally, Rhonna Designs.

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I did write about Rhonna Designs a few months ago but want to make sure I include it again. It’s an easy app to edit photos with frames, masks, designs, and fonts. It’s great for creating inspirational word art.

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I wish you all a wonderful New Year! Happy 2015!

The Manly iPad

Today’s post features my awesome husband, Lee. We’ve been married 27+ years and he is the most devoted, hard-working person I know. He gives selflessly. And – he’s fun, too.

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One thing about Lee – he is not a technologist. He rarely uses a computer and not too long ago I had to review email skills with him, bless his heart. But, he does love using his iPad. Why? It’s easy! One click and it is on. He’s a hands-on person and much prefers to be outside working on the yard or our ’48 Plymouth. I told him I would be blogging about his iPad and asked him what his favorite app was. His answer? Safari! Lol. I didn’t want to tell him it wasn’t really an app.  He uses his iPad mostly for the Internet – looking up car parts or listening to engine sounds…really!

I finally got him to narrow down to more specifics and this is what I found…his iPad apps are almost all news related.

ABC News app

CNN app

Fox News app

Yes, they are all news apps. But I do know this next one is his favorite:

USA Today

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I even use the USA Today app as my news source. We don’t have television at home, so I rely on this app for my news coverage. “Here’s what’s new in USA TODAY for iPad v3.0: Deeper, richer and more visual storytelling as well as some great new features… Choose your news headlines view: scan the headlines with “List” or lean back and enjoy the image-rich Grid view.” You can save articles to read later, as well!


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If you use Google Docs or Drive, this is a great app. View your documents, spreadsheets, and even video files all stored on your drive. It has offline capabilities.

Dragon Dictation

“With Dragon Dictation you can also dictate status updates directly to your Social Networking applications (Facebook and Twitter) or send notes and reminders to yourself….all using your voice.  So when you’re on-the-go, stop typing and start speaking – from short text messages to longer email messages, and anything in between.”  I don’t think Lee has used this one much, but it is there if he ever needs it!

That’s all! Yep – his iPad doesn’t have many apps – but he is perfectly happy with it.

Tomorrow I’ll feature my iPad!