Why I’m done with Evernote

First let me say that I have been a faithful Evernote user for several years now. It has been my go-to application because it is cross-platform, and syncs my data to the cloud. I love Evernote, well I used to.

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I recently purchased a Lenovo Yoga 11e Chromebook and have been using it on a very regular basis. Some Android apps have been allowed to run on Chromebooks, and Evernote was one of the first. A few times when taking notes at a meeting, I would flip to another application or step away for a short while only to find my latest notes to be gone. Today I was at a meeting and had to step out for a couple of minutes, so I shut the lid on the Chromebook. When I returned, I noticed that my most recent changes to the notes were missing.

It turns out that once a note has been edited, changes are only kept while the current window is open. If the window gets closed, or the device goes to sleep then the changes are gone. This is quite the opposite of how Google Docs works. I no longer feel that I can trust Evernote with my notes, and know they won’t disappear on me.

So long Evernote! It’s been a good ride but unless you can save my notes on the fly, I won’t be coming back.

I’m open to suggestions for a replacement. Tweet them to @johncase142 or leave a comment.

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I’m proud of you!

Sometimes those are the words that you just need to hear.

A couple weeks ago I reconnected with my high school golf coach on Facebook.  Dave was the PGA pro at our local golf course, and I had known him a little while before he became our coach. In high school I was a good golfer, not a great golfer. Dave always knew what to say to get my head straight, or to calm my nerves. I really enjoyed having Dave as a coach and didn’t know that 20 years down the road, he still could have an impact of me.

This summer has been a particularly stressful one for me work. Our Mac server lost a hard drive in the middle of imaging our labs, one of our SAN servers lost 2 drives and died, our master image for student laptops was not working properly, and we’ve had budget issues. It has just been a rough start to the school year, and we’re not there yet. After Dave and I became Facebook friends, I checked out his profile and his pictures, but there really wasn’t any communication other than the invite. Then last night Dave wrote on my wall that he looked at my pictures,  glad to see I was doing well, and he was proud of me. Those last four words really hit me. I haven’t seen Dave in over 20 years, but he was proud of me, and what I have become. I’m sure that when he typed them, he had no idea how much that would mean to me.

Some days you just need those extra words of encouragement and you don’t realize how those four words can make someones day. I have a challenge for you. When you see someone who does something that makes you proud, tell them. It may mean more to them than you know.

Thank you Dave.

 

Tech shortage for K12 this year?

As the 2014-15 school year is quickly approaching, it seems to be increasingly hard to get technology. Dell has recently halted the sale of their Chromebook product through their website (education customers can call their sales rep to order) http://goo.gl/HAizza. This spring Lenovo couldn’t guarantee that I’d be able to get their X140e laptop in time for school if the order wasn’t placed before July 1st. Bytespeed laptops are taking much longer than expected, and Epson projectors are on backorder.

Is it an industry-wide shortage, or are education customers opening up those checkbooks? What have you seen when trying to buy equipment for the upcoming school year?

Website validation training – the wrong way

Yesterday was Martin Luther King day, and I was home with my wife and daughter – that’s what happens when we all either work for or attend school. My daughter was telling me about the classes she has coming up for second semester, and we ended up talking about Internet research. She told me that they aren’t allowed to use Wikipedia, or websites that are from .COM domains. Rather, they are to use .ORG, .NET, or .GOV domains because those are reputable sources of information (nevermind the fact that Wikipedia is a .ORG domain).

I disagree with not being allowed to use Wikipedia, but that’s another story. I take issue with the fact that students are (incorrectly) being told that .ORG, .NET, and .GOV sites should be treated as reputable sources. To illustrate this point to my daughter, I showed her the http://www.martinlutherking.org (I’m not linking to it due to the horrible content) website which is run by a white supremacist group. The information on that site is quite different than what she has learned in school, and I told her that according to her school, that website would be a reputable source of information.

To further drive my point home, I took her to GoDaddy.com and searched for domains that we could register. We decided that cruiseohio.com would probably not be taken. Low and behold, they offered us the .NET, and .ORG versions of the domain as well.

I am not sure where her teachers heard that .ORG and .NET domains should be treated as reputable, but I’m working on finding out. If we are going to teach children how to determine if a website is credible or not, they should at least be given a fighting chance – not misled from the start.

DISCLAIMER: My daughter is 12 years-old and is NEVER wrong. I’m taking her word for this but am going to do my homework to be certain.

Digital Badges – Virtual Machine

This past week has been an awesome demonstration of the power of collaboration. My previous post Badges in Career Tech Education has seen quite a bit of traffic since it was posted. In working with Laura Fleming, it became clear that others wanted to replicate the site in their environment. Taking Laura’s hard work, I cleaned up the database, made some tweaks, cast my magic wand, and built a virtual machine that you can use for your own environment. Take a look at Laura’s post below. I can’t begin to write anything that better expresses our enthusiasm for this system. It couldn’t have been done without Laura’s hard work and dedication. Laura’s blog is located at http://worlds-of-learning.com/. She can also be reached on Twitter @NMHS_lms. Laura’s post is below:

Digital Badges: get your virtual machine here!

I am so pleased, and very humbled, by the attention my digital badge platform has received since I set it up just a few short weeks ago.  Although I created it for the staff of New Milford High School, I decided to open it out to see if anyone else would be interested in the concept. It has been wonderful – I have had people far and wide register on the site.

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This tells me that people are eager to push professional learning forward, and perhaps to an extent that is not fully recognized elsewhere. I believe that the amount of interest I have had in this platform shows what educators in the digital age really want out of their professional learning and gives us a big clue about where it’s going and what is possible!

The numbers taking an interest right from the start prompted me to offer a ‘clone’ of the platform to anyone who wanted to take it and use it in their own school or district. In response to my ‘Giving It All Away’ post, I have been astonished by the number of  inquiries I have gotten about replicating the platform. I have copied just a few of the great messages I have received in response to that offer.

And if you read past the lovely messages below, you will see that I am now able, because of a free offer of help from a great professional, to take the offer of a ‘clone’ of the platform a giant step further forward!


I would LOVE access to your badging system files.  You are a rockstar!!!  Thank you for paying it forward :)


I am an educator residing in Columbia, MO. Is it possible for me to access Worlds of Learning or must I be a New Milford faculty member?


I am completely in awe of what you have done at New Milford. I would love to implement a similar program at my school. Any information you are willing to share for how to set up a badge program of my own would be like an early Christmas gift.


I love your badges for professional learning site and would love to implement something similar in our school district.  I read in your blog that you are willing to share the files and database! What a tremendous offer- one we would love to take you up on!


Hi,

I was super excited to read the article about your Digital Badge system, in the latest School Library Journal.  I see that you offer to help others to create a district system, using your templates and documents.  I’d love to see that material and adapt it to my current situation.  I’ve been looking around to see the best way to create and maintain a system for both staff and students digital badge work.

Currently, I don’t have a WordPress, though I’m using Dreamweaver to maintain a library website.  I notice that BadgeOS is a wordpress plug-in; I’m not too familiar to know if that means the site has to be WordPress based to use.

You’ve created a wonderful system; I look forward to hearing from you.


I am very interested in learning more about your badges for school.  I just recently became the Technology specialist after being in the classroom for 10 years.  I have no true technical education —only what I have taught myself.


I am so excited that you would be willing to share all of your hard work with others.  I am currently working at a high school in NJ where we will be issuing digital badges to our students for their coursework in MOOCs and similar learning environments.  I am also interested in developing a system like your “Worlds of Learning” for our teachers.  It would be great not to have to reinvent the wheel, so if you could allow me to have access to your files/database/etc., I would appreciate it so much!


Trying to get a teacher PD system set up on WordPress – ran across yours and loved it – thanks for trail blazing.


Your platform is far superior to any that I have seen, and much better than anything I could have created on my own.


If you haven’t been inundated with requests since your site was featured in edtechdigest.com, I would love to request the files and databases for your website as offered on your blog.  I will, of course, send you a link to our iteration of the program and keep anything that I develop open for all to share as well.


Laura, you are my hero. I was just reading your blog post on the digital badge professional learning platform you developed, all the while thinking, “it is going to take me a while to figure all  this out.” Then I read your next blog post, and you are offering to give it all away for free! Please and thank you send me the files and database for your website!


I can’t believe my luck! I’ve been fan-girling over you for a couple of days now for doing what I wanted to do but never got to. I would be thrilled to receive copies of your files. Thanks so much for sharing your work and helping smooth the way!


Although the response to this platform has exceeded my greatest expectations, I also recognize that as much as people want to implement this system in their district, there is still very much a learning curve for many people in getting it up and running.  To get it working, you have to have a site in WordPress, be able to install my files and go into the database to manipulate them.  For many, this has understandably posed quite a challenge.

I am happy to say that I was recently contacted by one of santa’s elves, otherwise known as John Case.  John is the Technology Coordinator for the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center and was doing some research about how to get administrators interested in building a PLN using Twitter or some other sort of social media tools. While reading my principal Eric Sheninger’s blog, he came across the article about our digital badge system.  He expressed interest in implementing a digital badge system at the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center, and he blogged about it on his School Tech Tools blog.   John took it upon himself to clean up my database files that I have been offering but has taken it upon himself to turn my platform into a ‘virtual machine’ that will enable districts to more easily build their own badge infrastructure and get it working on their own school, college or district network.

The files can be downloaded here!

The instructions to take the virtual machines files and convert them to be used to create your own badges environment can be found here. The instructions will probably require the assistance of your network administrator, especially if you wish to use this on the school/corporate network.

Please get permission from your network administrator before beginning, as it may violate user and/or network agreements.

I can’t thank John enough for putting all of this together and for his willingness to share his tech skills.  John has been nominated for  the Technology Coordinator Innovator Award for Ohio’s eTech conference in January. Please consider voting for him here.  John can also be found on Twitter:
@johncase142

It is my hope that, with John’s help, more districts will easily be able to implement our digital badge professional learning platform.

Badges in Career Tech Education

Everybody loves some recognition from time to time. Some students prefer to get quiet recognition, whereas others prefer to be on the stage. An electronic badge system can fit quietly in the middle, and could provide the recognition that students need to stay motivated, and apply themselves. Many students play video games, and will work for hours just to get all of the stars, an extra medal, or a badge of honor. These same students are likely to work just as hard when doing lessons in Code Academy. Students in our Multimedia Marketing program were working on Code Academy lessons, and worked for nearly an hour trying to get the top badge for the lesson.

Today I was doing some research about how to get administrators interested in building a PLN using Twitter or some other sort of social media tools. While reading Eric Sheninger’s blog I came across an article about digital badges written by Laura Fleming, Media Specialist at New Milford HS. It looks like Laura has put together the Worlds of Learning webiste for badges.  It looks like NMHS is using these for teachers and PD, not yet for students.

Career Technical education, like what is offered at Ohio Hi-Point Career Center is the perfect environment for badges. CT students are placed in environments each and every day in which they demonstrate the skills they have learned, and build upon those skills to learn even more. If each of our CT labs were to generate a list of 10-15 skills that were major accomplishments (and tied to content standards), each and every student would be able to put together an electronic portfolio showcasing some of those skills. Let me make an example by using an Automobile Technology student and potential skills:

  • Gasoline Engine basics
  • Fuel and Emissions systems
  • Electrical System
  • Transmissions
  • Air Conditioning
  • Brake system
  • Steering and Suspension
  • Shop Management

Over the course of the 2-year program, nearly all students should be able to attain mastery (and badges) in these key areas. Students often work on projects that are hard to take home and show parents. An electronic portfolio would allow students to upload photos of their work, and include the badges they have earned.

Additional badges could be given for students who take on additional leadership roles, advisory roles, or any other area that student’s hard work should be recognized. When designing an environment for this, we need to keep it available for several years after student graduation so potential employers can view their work.

The system that Laura Fleming has put together is based on WordPress, along with the BadgeOS, Credly plug-ins. Laura firmly believes in giving back to the community, and has offered to share her files so the system can be duplicated at other sites. I am helping her to refine the files so other schools can more easily build their own badge infrastructure.

Stay tuned for more info!