Noel Erskine, Technology Coordinator Norris Schools

Welcome to my technology blog.
Follow me on Twitter, @noelerskine
Noel's Home Page

Update- Turn your Nook eReader into an awesome Android tablet.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

This is an update from my blog column in March 2011:
That was great, but it turned out to be a little slow,  this build is awesome and easy to do by using Nook Cyanogen.  Follow the steps on this website to have a speedy Android tablet running from a simple micros SD card on a Nook:
If you do not want your android tablet, you just pop out the micros SD card and boot to the Nook eReader!

Great tool for finding out what is taking up your hard drive space!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Often, old video projects, class slide shows, memory book projects, etc... are hanging out in folders on your computer or network drive and you forgot they were still there.  Sometimes it is really tough to figure out what is taking up your file storage space and where those old files are hanging out.

Fear no more Kimosabe.  (For those of you to old to remember the friend of the masked man.... I am envious, because you probably still have a full set of hair too. )

The Windirstat program ( (Windows only tool.) is a great tool for finding those files.  It is a free program, that is easy to run. It is a small utility that is easy to install and can even be dragged to a pen drive or a network drive and ran from there as well!

Just yesterday, we found one folder in a teachers network drive that they no longer needed from 2003.  This folder was taking up 250 meg of network space.

Give it a try, and start deleting!

A way to eliminate textbook costs?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Can we get rid of textbooks and their associated costs in education? I know, this topic may open a can of worms for many in education, and especially for the text book and publishing companies!  As school districts adopt more 1-to-1 initiatives or BYOD (Bring your own device) initiatives, schools will need to provide more electronic resources for those devices.

Until the publishers and text-book companies come up with a reasonable price, as well as finding the best format and delivery mechanism .... we must look at developing our own materials.  

Here are just a couple resources to start with: 

The Khan Academy is a non-profit that is working on providing open-source distance learning curriculum. This institute provides user-paced lessons via hosted videos providing a free resource for students and teachers as well as supplemental exercises for the flexbooks (mentioned below).

Currently high school level math and science digital textbooks are available through the CK12 non-profit organization and I envision that the more topics will be added over time. The interactive student and teacher edition FlexBooks content is vetted, reviewed, core standards-based and also customizable. These books can be customized (Flexed) to meet your needs.  Check out their site for more information:

With these two resources alone, you would have a great start to customizing your math and science curriculum and optomizing it for the digital devices that are coming our way in education.

Google is giving away the Kitchen Sink - Will we use it?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

After seeing the Scripting capabilities of Google Apps, I was sold a year ago not only on Google Apps but what could be done with the scripting capabilities.  There are many things Google is giving us in education, but this may be the kitchen sink.

Back in my March blog I mentioned the self grading quizzes that you can do using a script called Flubaroo.  While attending the NETA 2011 conference a couple weeks ago, I attended a session that was put on by an administrator in a school here in Nebraska that highlighted several ways he used Google Forms and the power of scripts for many day-to-day activities including quick walk through evaluations. Many of his forms can be found here. 

While many of Google's tools are very easy to use, that is not necessarily the case concerning writing scripts. Thank goodness for individuals who create scripts like Flubaroo and are willing to share them for others to freely use.  There are many scripts out there that are free to use and add a lot of functionality to many Google apps.  I encourage you to look at those scripts and utilize them to accomplish many tasks that you did not realize were able to be completed using many of the Google Apps.

For those of you that have some coding experience or are willing to learn.... listen up "Grasshopper", this is where you can make the Google Apps do about anything you or your district wants it to do.  Will school districts be able to find qualified individuals who have some scripting capabilities to use the sink that Google is giving away?  I hope so, but in the mean time... I am hoping to learn a little bit about this scripting myself to be able to at least modify some great scripts that other good coders are willing to give away.

Happy scripting!