UPDATING APPLICATIONS/SOFTWARE FOR EDUCATION

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

As anyone who has been reading this blog lately will know…I am getting ready to get back into the classroom on October 5th and have been attempting to prepare myself for this transition.  Part of this has been learning what applications and software I will have available to me on the MLTI MAC computers that will be used by the students and myself.I have been a long-time Windows user and fan (since Windows 1.0) and haven’t used anything else.  I am not saying that I haven’t been tempted by the allure of Apple or the “simplicity of Linux, but that I have never actually had the  opportunity to be converted.  It was easier to be safe and keep using Windows.

Well now I have no choice in the matter, I will be working with a MAC at school, so I have to learn to use one.  The problem is that the MLTI computers are not “open” and have restrictions on websites (at school) and what software I can use on them.  Knowing this I have had to look at the applications and software that I am using on my HP tablet Windows machine and match it up to the MAC as much as I can.  This means that I am going to have to do a few things a bit differently than I did previously.

Browser:  I am sorry to say Opera has to go, even though it is my favorite browser.  I can’t add it to the MLTI machine the school will provide me and it doesn’t make any sense to have Opera on one machine and Firefox on the other as my main Browser.  I never really liked Firefox all that much and had enough reasons to switch to Opera, but compared to the choices that I will have available to me it is the clear winner.  So the other night I downloaded Firefox (I had gotten rid of it this summer, as it had been just too buggy and froze up too often on me) and uninstalled Opera.  I will miss several features of Opera, but want to be able to utilize the same setup as much as possible on both machines.  I have FireFox setup pretty much the way the I want it using the below addons:
moz-screenshot-1
Now I have to set the MAC up with the same ones and I will be ready to go.

Blogwriter:  The next to go was LiveWriter, I won’t be able to access it on the MLTI MAC, so even though it is very powerful and in my opinion the best blogwriter software out there.  Due to the above reasons, I have chosen to go with the Firefox addon ScribeFire.  ScribeFire has improved significantly, since I used it last year and I have written 4-5 posts with it today and it did everything I want it to, especially being able to resize my photos which was a huge problem for me in the past.  The biggest thing that I want to see improved now is their use of Zemantawhich still is not at the level of other application’s integration, but it will come I am sure.

Also as part of this I am starting to use the FireShot screenshot addon in place of VISTA’s Snip for image management to include in my blogs or to document something from a screen and I will probably have to figure out an online photo storage application like Flikr or Picassa, dependent upon what the school blocks or does not block.



PRODUCTIVITY SOFTWARE:
  I currently use Office 2007 and am very comfortable with it.  I have a feeling that I will have to continue using this to submit my Special Education paperwork, but otherwise will have to use the same things that the students have available on the MLTI MAC I will be issued NeoOffice, Pages, OpenOffice or cloud apps such as Google Docs or Zoho.  So it appears that I will be using a combination of the Office 2007, OpenOffice or Google Docs as my primary productivity application/software.  I would really prefer to use only one of them, but from what I am seeing now it doesn’t appear it will be possible initially.

These are actually very major changes in the way I will approach my browsing and application/software useage.  This is an effort to simplify what I use in the classroom prior to starting, because once I begin, I have a feeling that I won’t have time to do this kind of research and adaptation and want to have these applications/software already in place and being used, so I am familiar with their capabilities and quirks.  Now I just have to figure out what the school will actually block versus what I can access there.

I hope these changes work, but only time will tell…in December, I will do another post on what I found worked, what didn’t and needed to be changed, to allow me to more effectively teach and prepare special education paperwork properly.

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