Monday, March 31, 2008

Office 2007 Files and Your Classroom

The top sales months for new computer purchases are October, November, and December. This year many families received their new computers on the PC side, with Microsoft VISTA and Microsoft Office 2007. Some liked the changes and some did not.

Microsoft's new operating system called
"Vista" has received mixed reviews but is the only new purchase alternative unless you switch to XP after the fact and at a cost. However, once users go through the learning curve of the new system interface and updates, Vista is finally starting to be embraced by the public.

With the advent of Vista and Office 2007 we are just starting to experience their e
ffects in the classroom as users adopt both products.

Vista Desktop:
Office 2007 Menu:

Office 2007 has undergone a pretty thorough revamp with new flexible menus and features. One major change is the file format Office 2007 now employs. This change applies to all the Office 2007 programs such as Word and Excel. An "x" is placed after the normal file extension. For example (.doc) for a Word file is now (.docx). The problem with the little "x" is the file can only be opened by Office 2007 and no other version of Microsoft Office. I have encountered many situations where teachers and students are at school and cannot print, edit or submit their work electronically as the files created with Office 2007 are incompatible with the software available at school currently. I have written instructions for Office 2007 users to take advantage of the "save as" option and save files in the old (.doc) format so you can use the software at school. Saving in the old (.doc) format can cause a loss some functionality of some of the cool new features. I also have a solution for individuals who need to do a conversions at school without any software!

Help for Teachers:
Click HERE for the TEACHER solution:

Help for Students:
Click HERE for a Link for STUDENTS to access:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The One Way Email Address (Dropbox)

Do you every wish you could give out your email address to students so they can submit assignments electronically? Although this can save time and be a great convenience it can be a problem too. Perhaps you don't want to give your address out to students or you would rather not be subjected to the interesting user names your students find appropriate, but are not!

This can be easily done with a Gmail account and an address provided by your Google Docs. Full instructions can be found at .

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bully: Scholarship Edition - Glorifying Bullying?

A New video game called "Bully: Scholarship Edition" was released Mar 4, 2008 on the Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360. This it the latest incarnation of the Bully series by Rockstar Games. The main character in the game "Jimmy Hopkins" comes from a unstable home and has just recently been dumped at the fictional prep school "Bullworth".

Nintendo describes the game: "As a mischievous schoolboy, you’ll stand up to bullies, get picked on by teachers, play pranks, win or lose the girl, and ultimately learn to navigate the obstacles of the worst school around, Bullworth Academy - a corrupt and crumbling prep school with an uptight facade."

Sounds very exciting doesn't it? Reminds you of another socially positive game by the same manufacturer called "Grand Theft Auto", where you run rampant in a city working for pimps, doing drug deals, stealing cars and causing general mayhem.

This software seems to try and hide the fact the main character becomes a glorified bully to so called "stop" the bullies in a fictional educational institution that is the cause for most of the problems. The game is jam packed with sexual content, stereotyping, degradation of other students and revenge. The game has acquired top ranks from reviewers such as and Sounds like the perfect gift for any child, doesn't it?

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has given the game a rating of (T). The problem with this rating is twofold. First most parents don't usually pay much attention to these labels or they don't know what they mean. Secondly the kids want the game even more when it has a rating like this or higher.

There have been crusades launched against this program and those like it from individuals such as Jack Thompson (attorney) but in the end the game ends up earning more and more publicity.

This is where we come in. We have to spread awareness so parents are aware of the content of games such as these and they do glorify negative behavior and spread a negativity to towards other students. It is unfortunate with all the potential the Nintendo Wii has shown to Redefine Family Game Night with baseball, bowling, tennis and of course Mario they can regress with games such as Bully which only incite negativity and exploitation.

What do you think? Comment below...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wish You Could YouTUBE?

Is there content on YouTube you wish your students had access too? There is a solution to this problem. YouTube has excellent learning material but for as much good as it has it is full of content that is not appropriate. For this reason YouTube is unavailable. This can be solved buy pulling the appropriate videos off of YouTube and posting them on TeacherTube. TeacherTube is a monitored site that has restrictions on what can be hosted and is therefore an acceptable site. This can be done by setting up an account on TeacherTube and Uploading the files. The first step is to remove the files from YouTube first. This can be done by using a program called ZAMZAR. For instructions go to SADWIKI .

Monday, March 17, 2008

E-addiction ?

E-addiction? Why not? We can be addicted to coffee, medication, and Coca-Cola so why not the internet. In an article in the Windsor Star (March 17tth) Sharon Kirkey discusses this very relevant problem.

Docs citing e-addiction

"Compulsive e-mailing and text messaging could soon become classified an official brain illness. An editorial in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry says Internet addiction — including “excessive gaming, sexual preoccupations and... read more..."

How many of us used our electronic devices over the March Break to stay connected? Did you bring your cell phone with you on the beach? Did you check your email from an internet cafe while in the Bahamas? Is this a bad thing? Many questions that will surely spawn many different reasons why we need to stay connected. Will Richardson recently posted in his Blog on 130+ comments questions about whether we can be too connected , and too participatory for our own good? Well, this post generated 18 comments to date that seemed to say yes.

I think Balance is the key and the old adage "too much of a good thing" still holds true. If you want to go for a walk and enjoy the outdoors with an ipod or cellphone stuck to your ear that is your prerogative. The problem occurs when you rather not go outside at all because you can't find your ipod or would rather view the great outdoors on your new 52" plasma TV. Can compulsive texting or email become an official brain illness? I am sure it will but how much is too much? What will the solution be? Happy Texting!

Cluster Map