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Play any DVD on your Mac with VLC

Have you ever tried to play a DVD on your Mac only to have your computer ask you to change the ‘Region Code’? Continue reading “Play any DVD on your Mac with VLC”

Troubleshooting Web-Based Apps like Rosetta Stone & Aplia

Clearing  cookies and cache has been known to help load site content from Rosetta Stone and Aplia

There are times when a website will not load correctly, web images do not appear as they should  or a site just stops working.  A quick fix is to do a clean up in your web browser.

Continue reading “Troubleshooting Web-Based Apps like Rosetta Stone & Aplia”

Google Classroom: Share to Classroom

A Google Chrome Extension now exists to enhance Google Classroom, which allows the teacher to (A) push websites directly to student’s laptops,  (B) make an announcement with a web link directly from a web page and (C) make an assignment with a web link directly from a web page. Continue reading “Google Classroom: Share to Classroom”

An Update on iPads at BA

As many schools continue to implement 1-to-1 iPad programs under much fanfare, it makes sense for Brewster to reevaluate its 1-to-1 laptop program. As we all know, technology is not important in and of itself, rather it is how we use the technology that is important. In my opinion, Brewster’s 1-to-1 laptop program is stronger then most 1-to-1 iPad programs at this moment in time because of how we integrate the technology into the curriculum. BA teachers have been effectively leveraging the laptop to improve student learning since 1993.

To be clear, some schools have proven that the iPad can be a very valuable tool in the hands of students and teachers when intentionally integrated across the curriculum. The question we need to ask and answer is, what value does the use of an iPad offer over a laptop? Can a student and teacher do everything they need to do with an iPad as they can do you with a laptop? Can the iPad stand alone as a primary computing device or is it best to be used as a secondary companion device?

iPad Pilots
Two iPad pilots have been conducted here at Brewster in the past few years. A teacher pilot was conducted in the fall of the 2012, where 18 teachers experimented with iPad use to develop and deliver curriculum. The pilot was a valuable experiment but in the end, it was decided that “there is not yet a compelling enough case to say that the iPad is such a game changer in supporting the development of creativity or imagination that we should adopt its use school-wide.”

A second student pilot was conducted in the spring of 2014, where 6 students were challenged to use the iPad ONLY in class and for the completion of their homework. After the six week pilot was complete, students were brought together in a focus group to discuss their thoughts.

Positive comments included:

•  “Note-taking is easy and organized with an app like GoodNotes, where you have the ability to annotate PDFs – highlight, underline, and write in the margins.”

•  “Normally I would find it easier to use my iPad when I need to review something quick such as email, Moodle, grades, BMP’s and taking notes.”

•  “iPads are capable of doing almost everything a laptop can do. One can make Keynotes, build mind-maps, organize notes easily, and easily and quickly access relevant information.”

Negative comments included:

•  “Typing is a bit of a hardship.”

•  “I can’t open PDF documents in Moodle.”

•  “Composing papers/essays on iPad, particularly research papers, is simply impossible. The multitasking is too slow, and it doesn’t allow you to glance at multiple real-time apps at once. This functionality is crucial when referencing bibliographies and information relevant to whatever project one is working on. Text manipulation on iPad is a nightmare, and even when one gets the hang of it, it isn’t pleasant to be working solely with it during revision.”

Keeping our Finger on the Pulse
Although we aren’t currently conducting any formal iPad pilots, many Brewster community members are using iPads in their professional and personal lives and providing feedback to the Tech office. We watch with interest as Apple and other vendors announce new products with enhanced functionality and we continue to experiment with these tools. Below is a list of the advantages that both the iPad and the Laptop have to offer.

The advantages of an iPad over a laptop

•  More portable

•  Built-in camera for both video and still photography

•  Better reading device

•  Large variety of targeted educational apps (priced inexpensively)

•  Less expensive

•  Write on the screen with a stylus (still needs improvement)

•  Longer battery life

The advantages of a laptop over an iPad

•  Multitasking – you can have many windows open at the same time

•  Built-in keyboard

•  Google docs perform better

•  Moodle performs better

•  Larger display screen

•  Built-in file manager (Finder)

Based on research and hands-on experience with using the iPad, it is safe to say that the iPad is not quite mature enough to replace the laptop in Brewster’s curriculum…yet. More to come, stay tuned.

Curricular Spotlight: Chris Hafner and Wolfram Alpha

Tech on Tap Poster

How to conduct a Screen Capture with Audio

Here at the Help Desk we’re occasionally asked “How do I record my screen and include the computer’s audio.” Actually, it’s usually phrased “I need to download this YouTube video”.

If you’ve followed our guidelines on how to record your screen using QuickTime from this YouTube video (also on Brewster Academy’s ITD YouTube Channel) you may realize that this method for capturing a video WILL NOT capture the AUDIO “directly” from the computer. Rather, it can only record the microphone input (for copyright protection). Some users simply turn up the sound and have QuickTime record that input along with the screen to give a full audio/visual recording. It requires a very quiet space in which to record.

In circumstances where audio quality is really important to you, you may need to purchase a third party application to record video AND audio together, directly from the computer. These products can become quite expensive ($60-$100), so after review, we have chosen to recommend a product from the Mac App Store called Voila. ($19.99). NOTE: An additional Component must be installed to record computer audio. Faculty and staff can install this on their own after you purchase Voila. Students must come down to the Tech Office so that we may help them install the audio component.

  1. To record your screen using Voila. First open the application (after installing as per the above note) and select “Record” from the top of the application window.
    Voila Main Scrren
  2. Choose whether you want to record a specific portion of your screen, or the whole darned thing!
    Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 8.51.47 AM
  3. You will notice that ALL of the Voila windows disappear! This is so it isn’t in your way while you record! In order to stop or pause the recording click back on the Voila icon in your dock.
    Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 8.52.01 AM
  4. The main Voila window will appear again, however, the “Record” button you used to start the recording is red! Click on this to either pause or stop and save the video.
    Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 8.52.19 AM
  5. There are many ways to save the video out to iMovie, Final Cut, etc. Or, if you prefer, you can automatically upload the video to YouTube, Google Drive and more.
    Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 8.34.29 AM
    Note:  Voila also has a number of other useful features such as
  • PDF/Screenshot/Image Annotation
  • Web Page Capture
  • Screen Capture
  • Webcam Capture
  • Simple Video/Photo markup and editing
  • much much more…


Faculty Spotlight: Doug Kiley and Google Classroom

Click here to see the Tech on Tap Poster

Faculty Spotlight: Tom Owen and Google Forms for Guided Practice

Click here to see the Tech on Tap Poster

Faculty Spotlight: Rob O’Blenis and Doceri for iPad

Click here to see the Tech on Tap Poster

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