Monthly Archives: November 2013

Saving Work from your Document Camera

Tech Tips for Tuesday

You’re sharing a piece of beautiful student work with the class using your fancy document camera. The student is so proud that he or she would like to get a digital copy. You left your smartphone in your other wallet.

What do you do??

Do you have an old SD card from a digital camera that you’re no longer using? Keep it in the document camera, and snap photos there. The Freeze button on our document cameras has two functions: temporarily freezing the image AND storing the image to an SD card. Hold the Freeze button down for a few seconds until the camera icon appears on the screen. You then have a file on the SD card, which you can recover by popping the card back into your digital camera.


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Converting images to text

Tech Tips for Tuesday

You’ve snapped a couple paragraphs out of an online source and saved it to your hard drive as a JPEG. You need the text — your students are expected to copy and paste it into their document to edit and annotate — but you don’t want to re-type it.

Is there a magic app that will take an image of text and turn it into editable text? Yes, and it’s already on your computer and your Chromebook. There is an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) option in the upload settings in Google Drive.
To convert an image into text using Google Drive…
  1. Click the cog icon in the top right of Google Drive, and hover on the Upload Settings sub-menu.
  2. Enable “Convert text from uploaded PDF and image files”
  3. Use the Upload icon in Google Drive (upward-pointing arrow in the red box next to Create), and select the file from your hard drive.
  4. The new file in Google Drive will be a PDF containing the image and the OCRed text.

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Creating Inbox rules

Tech Tips for Tuesday

“Inbox Rules”: It sounds as if I’m a big fan of my Inbox. Which I am. But that isn’t what I mean.

You can create rules to automatically handle mail that reaches your Outlook Inbox. If your Inbox is swamped with hundreds of pieces of email each day, and you want to easily refile all the Google Drive share notifications while simultaneously not missing that important message from your boss, consider automation.

Go to Options | Create an Inbox Rule, and create a new rule. You can magically filter on sender, recipient, subject, and other criteria, and you can then delete, move, or forward the message. I have a rule that deletes messages from a persistent spammer and another rule that refiles to the Junk folder any message that begins with “hey mr rhodewalt!” (This is part of my campaign to train the students to treat email as formal communication.)

You can add multiple criteria and multiple events to any rule. You might want to create a rule that takes each message sent from kwagner with the subject “SEE ME ASAP” and forward that to your personal email account with high priority. Or, you might want to refile every message with a subject starting with “PERIOD1-ASSIGNMENT” into a PERIOD1 folder and set the category BLUE. 

Once you create a rule, it will act automatically and silently, regardless of whether you’re logged in to Outlook or connected to the district email through a cell phone or other device.

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Calling home (semi-)anonymously

We all call home. It’s handy to do it from school, where inbound calls are filtered and blocked after hours.

But how do you call parents when you’re not at school? Do you want your personal phone number visible on parents’ phones, where parents can store it and call you back later at all hours, and where students can see it and use it later for nefarious purposes?

The best solution I’ve found is Google Voice. You sign up and are assigned a local phone number. You link this phone number to your own. You can now place calls to parents which will appear to come from the number assigned to you by Google Voice.

To a user, the experience goes like this: Enter the phone number you want to call into the web interface in Google Voice. The system then calls your phone; once you’re connected it calls the other party’s phone. To them it appears to be a regular phone call.

Google Voice comes with a ton of cool features, including voice mail, transcribed voice mail, text messaging, conference calling, and more. Explore the features here.

Be aware that although Google isn’t charging for this service, it isn’t exactly free. Of course, they collect all kinds of data as we use this. 

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