Categories

Transparency in School District Finances

On March 27, 2013, I’ll be presenting to the Delaware League of Women Voters on the topic of “transparency.”   Because my talk is only slated for 20 minutes, this is a rather abbreviated presentation.   I’ve attempted to set out a path for people who want to locate and use data about local district finances.   The presentation outlines how to find that data and then how to compare a single district to the state and national financial information.

Additional links and resources can be found on my Google site on this topic.

MOOCs

Last spring, as each day brought announcements of new MOOCS, I decided that this was something I needed to know more about. After all, I had taught college classes for more than 20 years both face-to-face and and on several distance platforms. My unit, IT-Client Support and Services, also provided the campus support for our LMS and other online instruction support. Obviously, this new area was something I needed to know about.

I signed up for “Introduction to Databases” from Stanford. At the time, they were using the platform that later became Coursera. I had a basic understanding of and experience with databases, but I knew my knowledge ended somewhere in the middle of a first semester course. This was the perfect opportunity to learn a subject that had eluded me through many web tutorials and and “Dummies” books.

Turns out, I really picked a winner for my first MOOC. The course was well-paced, provided ample support through a lively discussion forum, and was expertly taught by Dr. Jennifer Windom. And I worked my way through all of it and achieved my certificate! Remember, this was something I had failed at numerous times through my many self-learning attempts.

Several months later, I gave this presentation to the upper academic administrators to inform them about MOOCs. Definitely a room full of skeptics!!

Now that I’ve retired I’m engaged in several more MOOCs to get a feel for the whole world of MOOCs and to keep learning. I’ll report back on these later.

Surviving and Thriving Online – 2011

Today I had the pleasure of addressing the class of 2015 at St. John’s College High School.  The main message was around using the Internet to put your best foot forward, even while other data is growing around you.  There are so many ways for students to use the Internet to start building a strong online persona.

The presentation is hosted at slideshare.net and the links used are on my Diigo list.  Feel free to use the presentation which is Creative Commons licensed.

Creative Commons License
Surviving & Thriving Online 2011 by Pat Sine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Perfect iPad Notes App?

One thing that everyone I meet that has an iPad wants to do is to sit in a meeting and take notes, almost the way they did it before. Me too! So I’ve been on a quest for the “perfect” notetaking app. I haven’t found one yet, but I’m getting closer to my desired app.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • able to input text by typing or handwriting
  • handwriting recognized
  • able to draw figures, arrows, etc. on the page
  • allow me to organize the files in folders
  • sync to a file repository in the cloud – either Dropbox, Evernote or Google Apps
  • able to freely write on the page and have the app know “hey, this is real text turn it from handwriting to text.”

I’ve narrowed my search down to a few but none is yet perfect.

  • NoteTaker HD
  • WritePad
  • PhatPad
  • Livescribe

NoteTaker HD NoteTaker HD

This does a great job of allowing me to take notes on the fly mixing handwriting and graphic annotations. This was the clear winner on speed.

able to input text by typing or handwriting Yes
handwriting recognized No
able to draw figures, arrows, etc. on the page Yes, plus some predefined shapes
allow me to organize the files in folders No
sync to a file repository in the cloud – either Dropbox, Evernote or Google Apps Can upload, but pretty clunky
able to freely write on the page and have the app know “hey, this is real text turn it from handwriting to text.” No

NoteTaker HD WritePad

Price: $9.99 on iTunes

This is best when I want to do handwriting to text. There is a bit of a distraction when watching the handwriting translate, but I suspect that will decrease over time. I’ve also noted the software seems to be getting trained to recognize my handwriting better….or maybe it’s training me.

able to input text by typing or handwriting Yes
handwriting recognized Yes
able to draw figures, arrows, etc. on the page No
allow me to organize the files in folders Yes
sync to a file repository in the cloud – either Dropbox, Evernote or Google Apps Great sync with DropBox – two way!
able to freely write on the page and have the app know “hey, this is real text turn it from handwriting to text.” No

NoteTaker HD PhatPad

Price: $7.99 on iTunes

I haven’t tried this as much, but it’s from the same folks as WritePad and does allow mixing of handwriting and text. This is the one I’ve currently pinned my hopes on. The question will be whether I can easily switch among modes.

able to input text by typing or handwriting Yes
handwriting recognized Yes
able to draw figures, arrows, etc. on the page Yes
allow me to organize the files in folders Yes
sync to a file repository in the cloud – either Dropbox, Evernote or Google Apps Great sync with DropBox – two way!
able to freely write on the page and have the app know “hey, this is real text turn it from handwriting to text.” Kind of. I can write a whole page and then select the text and have it turned into text. If you mix in graphics, they will get erased, though.

NoteTaker HD Livescribe Pen

Price: $99 and up in various configurations

This is not an iPad app but an actual pen and paper. The pen will capture your written notes as well as audio. You can play back any part of the audio by tapping on the associated notes you were taking on the paper or in the uploaded version on your computer.

able to input text by typing or handwriting No…it’s paper
handwriting recognized Kind of with the additional app, but in my experience it’s just not worth it.
able to draw figures, arrows, etc. on the page Yes
allow me to organize the files in folders No, they are organized by page in the notebooks.
sync to a file repository in the cloud – either Dropbox, Evernote or Google Apps Stays in the pen until you dock it for recharging. Gives you access in your online Livescribe account as well if you upload and allows you to sync with Evernote.
able to freely write on the page and have the app know “hey, this is real text turn it from handwriting to text.” Kind of. I can write a whole page and then select the text and have it turned into text. If you mix in graphics, they will get erased, though.

Accelerated Reader + Amazon = Shelfari

I’ve always been an avid reader, but it runs in fits and starts. Lately I’ve been using a site called Shelfari that works for me like Accelerated Reader works for many middle school children. When I put books on my shelf, I get that same boost and sense of accomplishment that motivates many kids to pile up points in AR.

Combine that with the reviews and discussions and you’ve got a more personable version of Amazon. Depending on the book, you’ll get lots of good advice on what to read next and why this book is better or worse than another. The only drawback is that the numbers on Shelfari are so much smaller than Amazon.

In all, this is another tool that makes the Internet a community of like-minded folks.