College Necessities 1988 vs. 2012

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In 2009, I wrote an article entitled "College Necessities 1989 vs. 2009" and compared what I had and needed in college back then, to what college students needed in 2009. I decided to revisit and update that for 2012 to see what has changed.

I went to college from 1988-1992, at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. Technology has changed a lot since then and so have student needs at college. I thought it would be fun to compare the needs (and wants) of a college student in 1989 and now in 2009.

1989:3.5" floppy disks for saving your work from the computer lab
notebooks - lots of them
3 ring binders to organize notes and handouts
graphing calculator
Tape recorder (record lectures)
Pens and Pencils
Post-it Notes
TV and VCR
Video Game console
Telephone for room (and an answering machine)
Books (leisure and reference)
Planner and Address book 

2009:Flash drive for backup
Laptop with CD/DVD drive and external speakers
Some notebooks and pens

Now let's see what has changed. In 2012 you need....a smartphone 
(and maybe a tablet/laptop for viewing things on the bigger screen. Typing can be done with a bluetooth keyboard and your smartphone if you really wanted to. )

That's it. No more flash drives (cloud storage to the rescue), don't really need a notebook (handwriting recognition on smartphone/tablets for math and science), and who needs a backpack when all of your textbooks are electronic and on your smartphone and tablet? Your smartphone does pretty much everything now. 

Heck, as an educator I only bring my smartphone back and forth to school with me. (Read more about that HERE).

Amazing how technology changes things. I think about how Social Networking must have changed the whole dynamic and communications at college. How the internet and WWW is so much more now (it was just text, newsgroups, email, and some FTP back then). Text messaging, smartphones and apps, streaming media, online research, online help groups, online class's just amazing.

What are your thoughts?


Android Smartphone and Apps I use as an educator

Cloud File Sync/Storage Services

Social Media in Education

Unfettered by Stuff - or "Why I don't lug stuff home every night"

NCLB’s Impact on Science Education - NSTA Reports

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NSTA, the National Science Teacher's Association, has a great report on the impact of NCLB on Science Education in the US.

The report has data and comments from educators. NCLB does not focus on science in the lower grades. As such, science takes a back seat in the lower grades. Many schools cut back on science education to make more room for reading, writing and math.

At the secondary level, science test prep causes many schools to cut back on labs and activities, instead focusing on test prep and content facts.

Science is important. It is a vital area for mankind. We need to make sure all students have a basic literacy in science to be informed consumers and citizens, and we need more students to go into science and engineering careers. Science and engineering solve the worlds problems. Standardized testing does not. We need to improve science education and make sure science is taught in every grade.

All science teachers, administrators, politicians, heck, everyone, need to read this report.


Experiments and Exploration are vital to science education!

3 Ways to Fix U.S. Science Education

10 Important Skills Students need for the Future

Free Aerospace Simulation App - made by educator

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Stephen Hall, and educator and aerospace enthusiast, participated in NASA's Aerospace Professional Development program and then created Aeroplans, a free Android app. The app includes aerospace simulations and instructions for different activities, along with links and information about aerospace topics.

I've been using it for a day or so and it's a fun app and educational.


Get Aeroplans from the Android Market.


NASA Simulation based Aerospace Resources for Educators

More great educational resources from NASA

STEM Resources for Educators and Students

NASA Simulation based Aerospace Resources for Educators

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NASA's Simulation Based Aerospace Engineering Teacher Professional Development Program is a program geared towards helping educators become skilled in teaching engineering concepts. The program includes education materials, teacher internships, and industry and higher education partnerships. The program offers US STEM teachers the opportunity to work beside NASA engineers and mentors. It is focused on aeronautics modeling and simulation and teachers explore cutting-edge technology, aerospace engineering concepts, and develop hands-on lessons.

The site has lessons from previous sessions that teachers can download and use. The lessons include the simulation and lesson plan. The resource section has downloads, information on simulations, more lesson examples, and other STEM resources and links.


More great educational resources from NASA

STEM Resources for Educators and Students

NASA Aspire to Inspire - women encouraging girls to enter STEM careers

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NASA, a source of great resources for educators, has another great site. Aspire 2 Inspire is a part of the Women at NASA site and includes resources to help encourage girls to get interested in STEM careers. There are videos and stories about women in different science, engineering and technology careers and career information for students. Videos include real women NASA scientists and engineers. Students can also interact with these women via Twitter.

This is a great way for girls to find out more about STEM careers from women in those careers.


More great educational resources from NASA

STEM Resources for Educators and Students

This Dynamic Earth - free plate tectonics lesson from USGS

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Earth from space

This Dynamics Earth is a free resource from the USGS (United States Geological Survey) for educators on plate tectonics. It is a PDF booklet that you can download and it contains chapters on Developing the Theory, Plate Tectonics and People and more. There is also a website that goes along with it, This Dynamic Planet: A Teaching Companion that has information and classroom activities on plate tectonics.

USGS - science for a changing world

The USGS also has some great resources on Volcanoes

These are excellent resources for teachers teaching plate tectonics and earth science.

map of earth showing plate boundaries

Bronx Zoo Teaching Fellowships - great opportunity for students/educators

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The Bronx Zoo (NYC, USA) is a great zoo. They have educational programs in addition to the typical zoo things, and they have teaching fellowships available.

The Teaching Fellowship program is a great opportunity for college students, recent graduates and graduate students to explore conservation education. Fellows learn how to provide a wildlife classroom with student directed learning and conservation issues.

Fellows are paid ($10-$12 per hour) but the learning experience is priceless.

More information can be found at the site:

There are two Fellowship terms:

School term – starts mid-September and runs through mid-June; fellows must be available to work four weekdays each week, 9:00 a.m.– 2:30 p.m. Additional weekend and overnight hours are also required. School year fellows must have a valid driver’s license.

Summer term – starts mid-June and runs for eleven weeks; fellows must be able to work Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. for all eleven weeks. 

To apply, please go to and follow instructions for the on-line application system. For questions about the Bronx Zoo Teaching Fellowship, please contact 

Teaching Fellowship FAQs 
Please note that these are education-focused fellowships, coordinated through the Bronx Zoo Education Department. They do not involve any animal care or maintenance. 

TryEngineering - engineering simulations and info on engineering

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TryEngineering is a great site about engineering. It has information on engineering careers, what engineers do, engineering colleges and more.

There are resources for students, teachers, counselors and parents about engineering careers, how to prepare, colleges and more. Students can explore what it takes to become an engineer, find a college, ask questions and get answers from engineers and engineering students, get news about engineering and technology and more.

The coolest part of the site though is the "Games" section. In this section, students can select from 27 different resources where they can design, model, and test products and solutions to problems, simulate engineering projects, answer engineering trivia questions and more. Projects include bionic arms, parachutes, solar cars, roller coasters, bridges and more. Some are hosted/created by TryEngineering and others are links to other sites. There are links to more information about each topic also. Some of the games are Flash Based, some Shockwave based, other HTML.

These "games" and simulations are a great way for students to learn about engineering and apply math, science, and problem solving skills to an authentic problem.


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Resources for students and Teachers.
(collection of resources, links, and more on science, technology, engineering and math lessons, careers and more)

10 Important Skills Students need for the Future

Great collection of E-Safety/Digital Literacy Resources

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Internet and online safety (e-safety) and digital literacy are huge issues that students need to understand and learn about. A member of my PLN shared this site with me yesterday.

"E-Safety Resources – supporting teaching Digital Literacy" is a site in the UK that has a huge collection of resources to help educators teach, and students to learn, about internet safety and digital literacy.

There links to simulations for social media issues, videos from Common Craft, games, lesson resources and many other sites and resources for digital literacy and safety.

Every teacher should discuss digital literacy and online safety with their students and this site has the resources to help them do that. 

More resources:

Internet Safety Resources - help students stay safe online

Discovery Education Web 20.11 - great internet safety resources.

Google Good to Know - online safety and data info

Google Family Safety Center - help promote safety online.

Web safety resource

Google Plus now open to Teens, with safety features

PBS Teachers - Excellent Resources for Educators - has resources on internet safety

10 Tech Skills Every Student Should Have

Top 10 Resources from Discovery Education - all free - internet safety lessons too

Dialogue 21 - free, teacher directed edtech conf in CT

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Dialogue 21 is a free, teacher led and directed, educational technology conference. The purpose of the conference is to promote effective technology integration into classrooms to improve teaching and learning. 

Topics will include assistive technologies, Web 2.0 Tools, digital citizenship, cyber bullying, and much more. Participants decide what they want to share and collaborate about. It is an unconference, focusing on discussions and sharing rather than lectures. This is a great format to really learn. 

Sat, May 5 2012, 8:30a.m. - 3:30p.m. 
Saint Joseph College, West Hartford, CT, United States
Cost: FREE


Dabbleboard - virtual whiteboard for online collaboration

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Dabbleboard is a virtual whiteboard that allows you to create, collaborate and share. It has an excellent interface that is easy to use. You can use it for presentations, homework and study sessions, chat, and as a whiteboard. 

This could be very useful to teachers and students as a way to collaborate and share. There is a free version and then paid plans if you need more functionality. 

Similar to:

Cosketch - online virtual white board you can share with others

Scribblar - online whiteboard

Twiddla - free online team whiteboarding and collaborating

Here is the interface layout:

Here are some examples of what can be done with Dabbleboard:

Splash1 Splash2

Kodak Gallery - online photo service and free apps

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Kodak Gallery is an online photo service that allows you to upload, share, and view your photos from anywhere. It is free to join and you even get 50 free 4" x 6" prints when you join.

The Kodak Gallery also has free mobile apps (developed in-house) for iOS, Android and Tablets, including the Kindle Fire. You can upload multiple photos and create groups to share photos.

This could be a great tool for education, sharing photos for projects and school. It also allows you to create slideshows of your photos, with audio.

Download the apps here:

Kodak Gallery Mobile App Ratings

BioInteractive - free resources for science teachers and students

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BioInteractive HomeBioInteractive Home

BioInteractive is a site from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) that provides free resources for science teachers and students.

The site has videos, lectures, animations, links, downloads, lesson ideas, virtual labs and much more. You can even order DVD's of many of their programs for free.

The virtual labs include: Transgenic Fly, Cardiology, Bacteria, Neurophysiology, and Immunology.

The materials were developed by educators and scientists and are excellent.

The HHMI is a great resource itself.

Wouldn't It Be Cool If...Great invention contest for 10-15 year olds

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Wouldn't It Be Cool If... is a contest for kids, ages 10-15, sponsored by Time Warner Cable's Connect a Million Minds, and FIRST. There are two age categories, 10-12 and 13-15. The challenge is to dream up the "coolest invention idea to make their lives, communities, and even the world more AWESOME."

Students can enter the contest now through March 28th as an individual or teams of 2 or 3 people. The submission is the invention idea and how math and science can make it real.

Winners will be selected by an expert panel of judges and then finalists in each age group will be invited to pitch their ideas, live, to, Dean Kamen (master inventor) and other judges at the FIRST Robotics Championship in St. Louis, MO. One grand prize winner may even have their idea developed by innovation firm Fahrenheit 212.

This is a great way to have students apply math and science concepts, creativity, and innovation in a project.

Details on how to enter and official rules are available at the site:


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Resources for Educators

Project Based Learning Resources for Educators

WPI Plan - a great educational model for all schools

10 Important Skills Students need for the Future

Free Project Based Learning Resources from Edutopia

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Edutopia, the George Lucas Educational Foundation, is an excellent resource for educators. Their site has a huge variety of resources, tips, and research on education and is accessible for free. They are a big proponent of Project Based Learning (PBL) and also have a lot of resources on best practices in education.

Resources include lists of reading materials on PBL, links to schools that are using PBL, Resources from Edutopia on PBL, Resources from Maine on PBL including examples of PBL, lesson plans, assessments for PBL, planning guides for teachers and schools, professional development resources, resources for parents, and links to organizations and other resources on PBL. (Resources are in PDF form).

Project Based Learning is a great way to teach content, as well as essential skills such as teamwork, collaboration, problem solving, and more. 

This is an excellent collection of resources about PBL and how to implement it in your school and classroom. 


Free Classroom Guides and Downloads for 2011 from Edutopia

More free classroom guides for educators from Edutopia

Project Based Learning Resources for Educators

WPI Plan - a great educational model for all schools

10 Important Skills Students need for the Future

"Lehr und Kunst" or "Theory and Practice." - what we strive for in education

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi - smartphone with out the phone - great for education

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Samsung Galaxy S Wifi 4.2

Samsung has just announced the Galaxy Z Wifi. It is basically the Samsung Galaxy S without the cellphone radios. It has a 4.2 inch display, 512MB of RAM, 8GB or 16GB memory, 1 GHz processor, a 2MP rear camera and VGA front camera, BlueTooth, WiFi, and runs Android (2.3 Gingerbread).

This could be a great mobile device for education. Schools, or parents, could purchase these as mobile devices for students, staff, or faculty to use. It is basically a mini-tablet (and similar to the iPod Touch)

Why would this be useful vs. a full size tablet? Portability and no cell contracts. Staff or faculty could use them for communicating, record keeping, notes, portable access to records and information. Students could use them as learning tools. They could even be used outside of the classroom for experiments and projects, such as science projects on the school grounds. 

There are thousands of great apps for Android and education available. Take notes, access social media, email, texts, Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, music, videos and so much more.

It is another tool for education. 

Price and release data have not been announced yet. 

More: Samsung Galaxy S WiFi page


Android for Education resources and apps

Some more great Android Apps for Education

Android Smartphone and Apps I use as an educator

Android news, resources, app reviews and more

Why I use Google’s apps as an Educator

Android 4 Schools - app reviews, tips and more for using Android in education

11 Awesome Apps to Try on your Android Device

101 Best Android Apps in Education

Adobe PhotoShop Touch for iPad2 now available

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Adobe announces the availability of Adobe Photoshop Touch for the iPad2. Photoshop is the premiere, industry standard, for photo editing and effects and having it available for the iPad expands it's usability.

The Android version of Adobe Photoshop Touch, along with other Adobe Touch Apps, was launched on Android back in November 2011.

Photoshop Touch brings core Photoshop tools to mobile devices, and now to the iPad2. Features include: combine multiple photos into layered images, edit and add professional effects, touch up photos, paint, lay out ideas, and more. It also integrates with Facebook and Google Image Search to make finding images easier.

It also has interactive tutorials for users.

This is another great tool for educators and students to use to create projects.

Adobe Photoshop Touch is available in the iTunes App Store for US$9.99. Adobe Photoshop Touch will also be available for $4.99 via the education volume App Store (iTunes Link:

If you would like additional information about the app please visit the product page or follow @AdobeEDU or @AdobeStudents for the latest news. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions.

Here is a link to the press release that Adobe issues – it has some really helpful links:


Adobe Education Exchange - resources, tips, links, and forums on using Adobe tools in education

Adobe Digital School Collection - supporting creativity and digital literacy

Adobe - wrap up of their recent product releases - great tools for education

Here are some screenshots of Adobe Photoshop Touch:






Check it out!

Some more great Android Apps for Education

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I have an Android SmartPhone (Droid Incredible 2) and love it. It is an indispensable part of my day as an educator. I use it for lesson plans, communication, organizing, research, and so much more. Android phones and apps also have a lot of great resources for students. 

Last week I wrote a post on Android for Education Apps and Resources. 

Here are some more:

TweetDeck - Twitter is a great learning and sharing tool and the TweetDeck app on Android is great. Works just like the desktop/web version.

Edmodo - access Edmodo system on your phone - makes it easy for teachers and students to stay connected and share information. Use your Android phone to send notes, post replies, and check messages and upcoming events while away from the classroom.

Whiteboard - Collaborative Drawing, a fun productivity app, allows you to draw with friends, work on projects, etc

FlashCards - Create your flashcards and carry them around in convenient digital format. Perfect for studying on the go!SHARE your flash cards and study with friends!

Skitch - Annotate, edit and save your photos & scribbles and then save to Evernote. Great for making quick sketches or marking up a photo for notes.

NoteRec - take short notes while audio recording. Notes are synced with audio. Great for lectures and meetings.


Android for Education Apps and Resources.

Android Smartphone and Apps I use as an educator

Android news, resources, app reviews and more

Why I use Google’s apps as an Educator

Android 4 Schools - app reviews, tips and more for using Android in education

11 Awesome Apps to Try on your Android Device

101 Best Android Apps in Education

11 steps to planning Professional Development

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Professional development is an important part of education and educator's professional learning. Unfortunately, professional development is not always planned or delivered well, or is not relevant to the staff. Here are some tips for planning professional development:

1. Develop a professional development committee to plan and coordinate.

2. Demonstrate examples of classroom technology use, best practices, etc.

3. Use multiple needs assessment instruments. What does the staff need/want for professional development? Take a survey, email them, ask them to send in ideas. Use the EdCamp model.

4. Design individual learning plans based on the needs and wants of the staff.

5. Identify leaders who can provide expertise. This includes your own teachers and staff. You do not have to hire expensive consultants for professional development. Look inside your own school and district first.

6. Create a list of on-site learning opportunities. What are you going to offer at your school?

7. Share a list of off-site and online learning opportunities. Also share methods and resources for funding. Share free conferences, like Day of Discovery, EdCamp, TeachMeets and online conferences and more with your staff.

8. Build in time for staff planning meetings.

9. Share successes as well as expectations not yet met.

10. Continue to plan and re-evaluate often.

11. Create programs that provide on-going support. This is very important. Offering 2 hours of training is all well and good, but there must be on-going support to help teachers implement what they learn.


Professional Development for Educators needs to change

Helping Educators Get Started with Educational Technology

Free Professional Development Resource - teacher PD sourcebook

Great Articles - Professional Development 2.0

7 Tips to Improve Teaching and Learning

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Teaching and learning - it's what we do and what we hope the students do. Here are some tips to help improve teaching and learning:

1. Help students combat fear of academic failure.
Encourage them. They can do it. Support them. Let them know that it is ok to be wrong or fail, as long as you learn from that and move on. Connect class concepts to their lives. Success here = success in life.

2. Determine grades on academics, not behavior. Behavior should be a separate issue from academic performance. Some of the academics skills they should be assessed on: Recall, comprehend, apply, analyze, synthesize, evaluate

3. Ask questions of "How", "Why", "What if"
Deep, critical thinking questions, vs. rote memorization or multiple choice tests.

4. Don't feel compelled to cover everything in the textbook. The textbook is NOT a curriculum.
Use other resources too.

5. Use State and Local Standards to promote what your students need to know and do.
Science: fundemental concepts and principles of scientific inquiry and problem solving. They need a functional literacy in the subject matter, along with other essential skills.

6. Build on their prior knowledge and experiences. Respect their opinions. What experiences do they have that can be applied to this topic. Make the topic relevant to them or something they already know about.
Science: ask students what they think will happen BEFORE a demo or lab and then discuss it afterwards.

7. Emphasize reading in every class. Reading for literature, for information, and to perform a task. Writing in every class is also important. 


10 Important Skills Students need for the Future

DEN SCICon - great learning experience and resources - also discusses how failure in science is part of process.

What I use with Physics classes instead of textbook

Curriki - social network and resources for educators

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Curriki logo

Curriki is a social network and resource site for educators. It is a free platform where educators can share resources and teaching ideas. There are over 250,000 members (free to sign up) and over 40,000 learning resources available. 

You can connect with other educators to collaborate and share feedback on teaching practices, curricula, lesson ideas, and more. 

Resources are searchable by subject, search term, and standards. Resources include links, lesson plans, animations, activities, and much more. 

It's another great free resource for educators. 

Top 10 Secrets to Successful Delegation

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Delegation is an essential tool for any leader. No one can do everything themselves, and no one is an expert on everything. Being able to delegate is what makes a leader effective. Here are some keys to successful delegation.

1. Know your staff
What skills does your staff have? Which staff members are not already overwhelmed with tasks? Who is the best person to handle this project? Is it something that requires more than one person? Staff members have outside interests and skills that can be useful. Take a survey of your staff at the beginning of the school year to find out their skills and talents that can be useful. For example, I am a paramedic with emergency planning and response experience and training so I am working on the emergency planning team. 

2. Establish objectives.
Clearly communicate your objectives to each staff member involved in the project. Your objectives should be concrete, measurable, and concise. Write them down and review them yourself if necessary. Remember your role is to direct. Provide support and assistance.

3. Give a deadline.
Deadlines should be given for any project worth doing. Be specific, strict and realistic when establishing deadlines.

4. Develop a method of reporting.
Esablishing a reporting system will eliminate staff coming to you throughout the day for feedback. Email, face to face meetings, written reports, time frame (when do get feedback).

5. Focus on the results.
The successful leader does not micromanage or get involved in the details unless the staff ask for help. Empower the staff to deal with the details. 

6. Keep a log of projects.
Keep track of the projects, who is working on them, when they are due, and what their status is. Keep this log so that you can keep track of everything and make sure all teams are on schedule.

7. Encourage creativity and independence.
Just like with students, don't solve every problem brought to you. Help them to reach a solution and ask teams to come with ideas fore solving problems. Give them support, feedback, and encouragement. 

8. Follow-up.
Continuous follow up with teams and staff is important. Do not wait until the deadline or due date. Communicate with them, listen to their concerns or issues, and check in to make sure they are proceeding.

9. Provide resources.
Make sure your staff has the resources (time, support, supplies, equipment, manpower,money, etc.) to complete the project. Provide them the resources they need so that they can be successful.

10. Rejoice and review.
Celebrate and congratulate the successful completion of projects. Show your staff that what they have done is appreciated and important. Discuss and issues or challenges they encountered and how they overcame them. Recognize the team members for a job well done!

A successful leader knows how to successfully delegate. 

Some more tips for going paperless

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I'm a big proponent of going paperless. When I worked as an engineer over 10 years ago, a few of the companies I worked for where going paperless back then. Many schools are going paperless, or as much as possible, now. I've written about tips and resources for going paperless before and here are some more tips.

Paper, we don't need no paper! Tools and tips for going paperless

Tools to go Paperless (in school and at home)


- use flat screen monitors on walls as electronic bulletin boards.
- install solar panels on roof to offset increased electricity use.
- 2 monitors for each PC - can have reference on one screen and working document on other instead of printing reference out (or use tablet)
- Use email, chat, and meeting software and other collaborative software
- all markups done electronically
- auto backup of network every day
- all files on network with offsite, fireproof backup (Dropbox, Sugarsync, own network)
- autosave files every 5 min
- battery and generator backups
- limit print outs to absolutely necessary items
- all files saved in two formats - original (such as Word or PPT) and PDF. PDF is readable by every device and operating system using free apps.
- Read-only terminals in certain areas for visitors and reference look up
- network accessible from home/road for personnel - no data on laptops
- all paperwork from outside is scanned into system - original is filed
- all partners, organizations and vendors are encouraged to use electronic communications - email, website forms, etc.
- Student Information are all searchable and connected and linked with all relevant files
- scan legacy files using OCR into PDF files or scan into Evernote to make searchable
- don't print emails!
- all files distributed as PDF's when possible - readable on any system
- Train your employees on going paperless

What tips do you have for going paperless?


Baldrige Criteria for High Performance of Organizations related to education

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The Baldrige programs mission is to improve the competitiveness and performance of  US organizations. It is part of the The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. I've used some of this in my past career as an engineer. I think some of the criteria can be useful in education also.

Baldrige Critera

Customer Driven - in education, our "customers" are the students. We need to make sure that everything we do, and every decision we make is for the benefit of our students.

Visionary Leadership - we need educational leaders with values who can come up with new and innovative ways to address issues in education.

Organization and Personal Learning - Continuous improvement and education - everyone in education needs to be lifelong learners and continue to learn and improve themselves.

Valuing Employees and Partners - educational leaders need make sure that their staff are valued and supported. We also need to make sure we include our community partners.

Agility - rapid change and flexibility - education, like most government, is slow to change. We need to change when needed to better address the needs of our students.

Focus on Future - long term goals, focus, commitments - what is the long term goal of education? Think beyond the next test or next marking period. Start planning long term.

Managing for Innovation - educational leaders need to embrace change, and encourage faculty, students, and community partners to come up with innovative ideas to solve problems and issues.

Managment by Fact - measure, analyze, data - data driven decision making. Decisions have to be made based on research, data, best practices, and what will benefit our students.

Public Responsibility and Citizenship - civic duties - our duty is to our students, their families and the community.

Focus on Results and Creating Value - in education, this is not test scores. It is providing students with the skills and resources they need to be successful in life.

Systems Perspective - look at the big picture.

What do you think?

Baldrige program for Education:  

Keys to running Effective Meetings

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Meetings are something that all managers and leaders need to be able to plan, organize, run and follow up on. When I was a project engineer, I had to run lots of meetings and had training in effective meetings at a couple different companies. I've attended good meetings, and really bad meetings. In education, many meetings seem to be a complete waste of time, or the entire faculty is at a meeting that only affects a small number. Meetings are expensive - you have to take into consideration the time and salaries during the meeting and the fact that people aren't doing other work. Make your meetings effective - have a clear objective and keep them short and to the point. 

These key points are great for anyone running a meeting. 

Keys to Effective Meetings

1. Define purposes of meeting - why are you meeting? What is the objective of the meeting? Also, does this meeting have to be face-to-face, or can it be virtual, via email, Google Docs, etc. Do we need to meet as a group or could certain people deal with issues?

2. Develop agenda - what are the key points that need to be addressed. Who needs to be at the meeting? What tasks need to be assigned during the meeting? What is the time frame for the meeting?

3. Distribute agenda prior to meeting - this gives attendees a chance to prepare any materials or information prior to the meeting and to be prepared. This also keeps meetings moving faster. The agenda can be emailed, shared as a Google Doc, or posted online.

4. Arrive and start on time - the person running the meeting should be there early and ready to go. Have extra copies of agenda available. Start on time and stick to the schedule.

5. One speaker at a time - follow rules. One person talks at a time, no side conversations.

6. Review agenda and set priorities - what is the top priority to be addressed at the meeting? What needs to be accomplished?

7. Stick to agenda - items not on the agenda should be held to the end or put off to a later meeting.

8. Assign task responsibilities - make sure people know what they are responsible for and where to go for support. Give them resources and help to accomplish their tasks.

9. Establish target dates - when do things need to be done by? When is the next meeting? When will follow ups be done?

10. Summarize agreements - summarize what was accomplished, decided, and agreed upon.

11. Close at or before agreed time - do not run over unless absolutely necessary. Things can be discussed online or at a later meeting.

12. Keep a written record of meeting - assign a secretary and keep notes of the meeting including attendees, agenda, what was discussed, tasks assignments, and follow up information.

13. Edit and distribute minutes promptly - minutes should be distributed within 24-48 hours of a meeting.

14. Encourage completion of tasks - remind persons of task assignments and due dates and offer them help and support.

15. Put unfinished business on agenda for next meeting. - Unfinished business should be addressed at the beginning of next meeting. 

Meetings should not be something people dread attending. They should be where things get discussed, accomplished, and decided. Follow these key points and your meetings will be more effective. 

Podio - social work platform - great for education too

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Podio is a "social work platform" that allows people to collaborate on projects. The service has already made apps for managing projects, and also provides an easy way to create your own project management apps. It also integrates with Google Docs. You create dedicated work spaces to work on projects and assignments. There are also iPhone and Android apps for Podio.

There's a free student version ( and there are free accounts for anyone.

Some of the features:
  • Project Management

    Discover the easy way to run projects. Simple yet fully flexible. Enjoy successfully finished projects.
  • Social Intranet

    Share knowledge, see what others are working on, and connect to your co-workers to become a great team.
  • Collaboration

    Discover the new way of collaborating across teams and organizations. Work smarter together and create more value
  • Product Development

    Boost your development process. Stay on top of customizable workflows. Leverage team power to create great products.
  • CRM & Lead Management

    Stay on top of all your business relations. Fully customizable to close more deals and know your customers better.
  • Recruiting

    Manage your recruiting process in one place. Get out of spreadsheets and email and enjoy hiring the best candidates.
  • Event Management

    All you need to organize great events. Easily keep track of budgets, participants and your team's tasks.

Some of the features of the student version:

6 reasons you'll love to use Podio

  • Task Manager

    Hit 'T' anywhere in Podio to create a task. It's as easy as that to create your to-do list
  • Simple Surveys

    Easily create survey apps, turn them into powerful web forms and collect your research hassle-free
  • Files

    Share all your documents and files in one place, so you can comment and work on them - unlimited storage included
  • Workspaces

    Create as many workspaces as you need to work together with your study group, research fellows, or your entire class
  • Social

    Think of Facebook just for your professional study and work-related needs
  • Mobile

    Use our free mobile apps to easily create new study notes and stay on top of your essays & uni projects on the go