ICT related news and ideas

Posts tagged ‘favorites’

Passwords and Favourites (again!)


Steve Rigg’s recent e-mail about Linguascope subscriptions and related passwords has prompted me to write this post, which I had been thinking about doing anyway. Some time ago I became frustrated by my inability to keep up with all the user names and passwords I had to remember for the various subscription and sign-up websites I use for school-related activity, and I decided to do something about it.

So I investigated ways of storing log-in information on-line. There are lots of solutions available, but the one I liked best was www.passpack.com and I decided to try it out. I’ve been using it for a while now and I can thoroughly recommend it. It’s free as long as you store fewer than 100 sites and, although it is still in beta mode, it works really well.

To keep it secure, it requires two passwords of a high level of security, so they end up being the ones you have to remember in order to access all your password-protected sites. There is a trick to doing that in a memorable way, which I will share with you if you ask. And it’s not what they suggest on the site itself.

In addition to having all your log-in details in one place other than a piece of paper you have to keep on your person at all times, it has a neat little trick in providing an automatic log-in to your sites that you can set up on any computer that you use at home or in school.

I can’t really share much more here except to say that I have found it an absolute life-saver and am very happy to explain how it can work for you in more detail. So please ask if you are interested. And, unless you have an elephantine memory, you should be!

Favourites (again!)

This is another thing that was getting to me – the fact that I found myself with sets of internet favourites at home and in school that were almost the same but not quite …..

Once again I investigated web-based solutions, of which there are too many to even begin to count. I toyed with one or two before abandoning them, then finally during the Christmas holidays committed myself to Windows Live Favourites. That took some doing, because I am inherently ill-disposed to organisations like Windows, Google and Tesco that aim to take over the world. However, the Favourites bit is part of the comprehensive and well-integrated Windows Live set-up that offers a range of web-based services. Again, it’s still a beta version, but works well apart from a few little frustrations of the kind that you always get with technology.

You can import favourites from a browser in one hit, then keep all your bookmarks up to date and in one place. As with other bookmarking sites, you can organise them by tags and so on. Its beauty is it is relatively simple and uncomplicated, and you can link it directly to a Windows Live Space (or blog).

As I have done, by setting up a mirror site to this WordPress version here. The favourites I have chosen to share, in this case the MFL ones, are on the right hand side. The beta-typical glitches are evident in (1) the French and German folders of favourites are hidden among the alphabetical listing, and (2) new or edited favourites appear at the start of the list rather than in alphabetical order. I have submitted these failings to the help desk!

I hope you may be interested by some of the sites among these favourites of mine, and I also hope you may be spurred on to share some of yours with me. Never was the commonplace Share and share alike more appropriate than when faced with the bewildering universe of the world-wide web!



First Update

In advance of the ICT Inset Day on 19th October and in line with the recurrent bee in my personal bonnet that we would all benefit from sharing our experiences in applying technology in teaching rather than ploughing our own individual furrows, here is my suggestion how we might achieve that without eating further into what time we have available by having to arrange meetings at lunchtime or whenever.

A blog – like this one – allows us to share ideas without the need for a physical meeting. I can, for instance, post a few thoughts of my own, then others can put forward alternative or better thoughts by posting a comment on that topic. These shared ideas are accessible to all. It’s better than e-mail where things get buried in the over-full inbox and it’s fully searchable through the box on the right.

It’s not an original notion, even if it’s a fairly recent one in the world of education. I came across just such a blog by a teacher on the Isle of Wight who hosts this rather spectacular creation, and that got me thinking that we could do it too.

So here’s a couple of thoughts for starters.

Favourites. Or Favorites. Or Bookmarks. We all have them, but you must have some that I don’t know about and vice versa. So let’s share them. There is an easy way to do this. Using Internet Explorer, go to File – Import and Export – Export Favorites, then click on the folder of favorites you want to choose, where you want to save it, and what you want to call it via Browse, and you then have an html document of those favorites with clickable hyperlinks. Put it on Drive T and everybody can access it. For starters, here are my MFL favourites – a bit messy and in need of re-arranging, but there might be something of interest.

PDFs. This type of file, ie the kind of thing you open in Adobe Reader, can often be much better than other types of file, especially if you want to upload it to Moodle. It’s smaller in size and more flexible than a Word document plus it looks better – no squiggly bits under the words, for example, or text boxes or images that can be moved around. It can’t be edited, though, so is not for documents you want your pupils to change or add to online. PDFs are great for replacing Powerpoints when you don’t need all the delays of animations – again, good for Moodle in lots of instances. Excellent for grammar-related stuff, for example. So how do you convert Word or PPT files into PDFs?

Good question. Well, the best way is to use Flashpaper, part of Macromedia Studio 8, which also has the latest Dreamweaver web authoring tool incorporated in it. But I see that we have yet to get that on the network, due apparently to some incompatibility with RM Connect. But since RM sell the product themselves, the problem can’t be that bad. Contact your nearest ICT helpdesk in large numbers, please. Alternatively, download something like Easy PDF Printer Driver, which is free and does the job pretty well. Yes, I know you can’t do that on your School laptop, only at home on your own PC. Another reason to badger the Helpdesk. The Favorites file linked above was created by the tool I just mentioned as an experiment. So it does work.

Courses. There’s so much to learn from others about the use of ICT in language learning. Joe Dale, mentioned earlier, is organising a course on the 20th of October. Details of the course, which looks really good and is only a ferry ride away, are here. One of us should surely take this opportunity!

Apologies if I’ve tried to teach any grandmothers to suck eggs, but I’m just trying to stimulate debate and, more importantly, sharing of ideas. Any comments on the above and suggestions for future topics gratefully received.