Category : Work


Seven essential tips for landing your dream job in 2018

Have you decided to make 2018 the year when you finally land a new job; that dream job?

The current job hunting landscape is more complicated that ever and it can be stressful to figure out how to stand out from the pack. That is why Skillshare, the online learning community of over three million students, has partnered with us at Glassdoor to create a new step by step guide on job hunting in the digital age. Whether you are looking to make a big change or just starting to consider your next step, here are some tips on how to manage every aspect of your search, from updating your resume, to navigating negotiation.

Narrow down
Starting the job search can feel overwhelming. You know what you want, but are not exactly sure how to get there, or which one of the hundreds available job ads is the right fit for you. A good starting point is to consider these three steps:

  1. Start by thinking about your skillset – what are your strengths and weaknesses, and do they correlate with what you enjoy doing or not?
  2. Work-life balance – how do you see your job fitting into your life and what are the factors that you need to take into consideration, i.e. a partner, children, commute, hobbies, etc.?
  3. The next five years  – do you know what job you would like but realize that you do not have the experience to get you there yet? Don’t worry. Instead, write up a five year plan and think about what jobs you will need to do to get to that final dream job.

Build new skills
If you realize that there is a quality or skill you need in order to get that dream job, don’t rule it out. Today, it is fairly easy to learn or brush up on a skill without having to go back to school full-time or it costing you a fortune. Instead, you can turn online and look for a platform that offers online classes such as  Skillshare, which has classes in everything from business to design and beyond.

Customize your resume
Even if you are looking for different positions that are all within the same industry, it is still important to tailor your resume to the specific job that you are applying for. Read through the job description carefully and make sure to include the key words and requirements they are looking for in your resume. By doing so, you are showing the hiring managers that you have done your research and are qualified for  the  position. It is also good to keep the resume concise and to the point. Standard is to keep it to a page or a page and a half, especially when applying to an entry-level position. If you are in a creative field, you might consider creating an infographic resume to showcase your talents and help you stand out from other applicants. For a guide on creating a visual resume, check out this Skillshare class from graphic designer, Catherine Madden.

Prepare for your interview
Congratulations, you have made it to the next stage! This is your chance to show how brilliant you are. The best way to counteract the pre-interview jitters is to make sure you are prepared. A good way to boost your confidence and get inspired is to watch TED talks. Two good ones are; Five Ways To Kill Your Dreams by Bel Pesce or How To Find Work You Love by Scott Dinsmore. 

Before going on an interview, consider doing these four steps:

Research the company you are interviewing with and the work they do.

  1. Practice answering common interview questions beforehand.
  2. Depending on what job you are applying for, bring along materials and examples of previous work you have done.
  3. If you know who will be interviewing you, look up background information about them.
  4. In addition to preparing for how to properly answer an interview question, you should also prep what information you want to know from the interviewer.

Start somewhere
According to the most recent numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, today’s average worker stays at a job for 4.4 years, but the expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees is about half that.

With that in mind, you are not bound to stay in one job for the rest of your life, so do not stress too much. Perhaps you need to kiss a couple of frogs before you meet the right match, or you need to do one job to be ready for the dream position.

Start your own
If is worth considering that perhaps your dream job is not at an established company, but rather a project or product that you want to develop. It is easy to be intimidated by all the reasons not to do it: it is risky, you could go into debt, you won’t have a social life – the list goes on. But there are just as many, if not more, reasons to take the leap and start your own. You don’t need to jump into the deep end straight away, though. Instead, establish the project as a side hustle and watch it grow into your dream. Start here, and be inspired by these nine companies that started out this way.

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How to mute Autoplay on the Chrome browser

I’m not the only one who thinks Autoplay sucks. It’s bad for accessibility, it clashes with your browsing. And its annoying…

Let me explain. Autoplay is when you open a site and a video automatically starts playing. It’s annoying!

This just happened to me: I was in a meeting, looking for an article on CNN and I opened a page and all of a sudden a reporter’s voice starts flowing from my laptop speakers. It was embarrassing and I silently cursed CNN’s autoplay videos…

Starting today Google has unveiled Chrome 64. This version allows you to mute (not stop) the autoplay. The downside side is you have to do it site by site, it is not a global feature . . . yet.

Here’s what you do. First check that your Chrome has updated to version 64. It does this automatically so don’t worry about having to go anywhere or do anything to achieve this.

To check click on Chrome (at the top) and select About Google Chrome.

It will then tell you what version you are on. If you are not on version 64 it will automatically start updating.

If it updated, quite Chrome and then reopen it. If it is up to date, then go ahead and go to one of those annoying sites that autoplay like CNN or CNET.

Click on the word Secure in the address line.

A dropdown menu will appear and from here you can select Always block on this site.

There is another way that is easier, but it does not seem to remember from one session to the next.

Go to the site and in the tab right click it and this menu will open.

Then select Mute Site and voila!

Death to Autoplay…


More from Tony DePrato here.

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The five best productivity tools to achieve your business goals

You can find an infinite number of tips online on how to be improve your productivity, but often not all of them apply. That’s mainly because the reasons for striving to become more efficient differ from person to person.

However, the ultimate goal of streamlining workflows can be summed up in these 3 intertwined categories:

  • Earn money
  • Save time
  • Preserve energy

In order to achieve these goals, you first need to have the right mindset. Define your priorities, focus on them, and don’t let anything distract you from the tasks you need to accomplish. A job that should take only an hour of your precious time can become a full-day nightmare if you don’t resist the urge to check your social media accounts in a browser tab or play games on your smartphone before you’re done.

The development of technology has brought us compelling innovations that can easily draw our attention away. Yet, at the same time it has provided us with numerous tools to fight procrastination and get high-quality results faster.

That’s why we’ve decided to present you with 5 best productivity tools that can help you organize your assignments better, automate boring and time-consuming tasks, and ultimately achieve your business goals more efficiently.

Able2Extract Pro 12
When you need to deal with PDFs, there’s not much Able2Extract Pro 12 can’t do.

This cross-platform desktop software (Windows, Mac, Linux) can create PDFs from more than a dozen of popular file formats and password protect them, accurately convert PDFs to editable formats, edit them without conversion, and much more. This new version comes with the ability to insert Bates numbering, fill, create, and edit PDF forms, and even batch convert entire folders in just a few clicks.

The most powerful and useful feature of Able2Extract is its PDF to Excel conversion. You can extract tables from PDF files even if they are surrounded by text. The Custom PDF to Excel option lets you manually control conversion options (rows, columns, headers, footers, and more) and preview results before you hit that convert button.

Asana is a powerful project management tool. You can use it on the web, as well as on the go by installing the Android or iOS application on your smartphone or tablet.

Projects inside Asana consist of main tasks and subtasks to which you can assign a person, deadline, and other details. Chats are available on every level of a project and the calendar feature can give you a clear overview of due dates. You can also integrate 100+ services with Asana such as email, communication, development, file storage services, and more.

Asana’s developers have made sure that the app is user friendly, easy to use, and highly visual in order to make teamwork hassle-free and projects run smoothly. With Asana you can keep track of each piece of work in one place and consequently drive better results.

Freshbooks is an online accounting and invoicing tool developed with freelancers and small-business owners in mind. iOS and Android applications are also available when you need to track expenses, send invoices, and manage payments on the go.

Overall, the design of the software is superb, making Freshbooks simple, intuitive, and easy to use. You can automate various tasks, schedule reminders, reuse invoice templates, and thus save even more time for the actual work that will make your business grow and prosper.

You can define projects in Freshbooks as well–set a project name, assign people to work on it, set due dates, and define a budget for it. Ideas and comments can also be shared within the project, which makes Freshbooks a great tool for team collaboration.

Microsoft Office 365
Besides its best-known Office suite apps such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, Microsoft Office 365 also features tools for email, calendar, collaboration, business intelligence, project management, and more.

You can use Microsoft Office 365 applications online (browser, cloud-based apps) or offline (desktop software). They give you the ability to work on smartphones and tablets as well. Applications are automatically updated to protect users from security risks and to provide you with the latest features available.

Microsoft Office 365 is probably the most comprehensive productivity-boosting solution. Whether you’re student or large company CEO, you’ll find a perfect fit for your needs among various monthly and yearly subscription plans.

Nebo is an application that can turn your tablet into a smart piece of paper. If you prefer to take handwritten notes instead of typing them with a keyboard, this tool can help you get the best of both worlds by recognizing the words you write and turning them into searchable and editable digital text. Furthermore, it can convert hand-drawn objects into vector shapes and solve equations.

The app supports handwriting recognition for 59 languages and runs on iOS, Windows, Android, and Chrome OS. Its user interface is localized in 11 languages. Keep in mind that in order to use it, you’ll need a touchscreen and an active pen.

These 5 tools can help you with almost every aspect of your productivity chase. It may sound counterintuitive, but we suggest you spend some time learning how to use them instead of just sticking with the same old workflows that hamper your productivity.

We promise–it’ll pay off big time.

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Four skills to ace your career in 2018

It’s the time when New Year’s resolutions start to get broken. .But as your diet, your exercise regime and your devotion to reading difficult novels start to falter, you can still look at ways to build the skills to move your career on to another level. After all, the rewards for that sort of commitment will last way beyond this year.

Skillshare, the online learning community of over three million students, have some ideas about the the skills that will help you take your career to the next level in 2018:

Champion Attention Management
Technology  has changed the way we communicate, build relationships, and work. We are less limited and constantly accessible, meaning we are prone to work longer hours and take on more than one project at a time. As such, it’s increasingly important that modern workers have tools to optimize their time and improve their productivity. 

The latest popular concept in the field of Productivity is attention management. This concept suggests that instead of trying to create efficiency through time management, you can focus on the attention you allocate to each project or person in order to  give each project the time it deserves without distraction. Being able to pay better attention to individual projects will consequently improve your productivity.

Attention management is a two-part concept; it’s your ability to deliberately dial in your focus when needed, and to choose wisely when deciding which tasks deserve that focus. There are several ways you can improve your attention management, for instance with the help of apps like Todoist, or classes, such as the recently launched class on attention management by Mark Siskar, the Managing Director of Founder Institute.

Master Mindfulness
The main purpose of mindfulness is to allow you to become more present in everyday life and be aware of your thinking, thus helping you improve your focus and boost your productivity. People might associate slowing down with being less effective, but it has the opposite effect.

In fact, many companies are offering mindfulness sessions during work hours in order to improve the employees’ productivity. A study by the insurance company Aetna, found that offering mindfulness-based training to team members added almost 60 minutes of productivity each week.

You can practice mindfulness on your own, or with help, through a variety of sources – apps like Headspace and Remente have guided meditation programs and tips on how to practice mindfulness and to improve it.

Become a Storyteller
Good storytelling is one of the most effective ways to get your point across and inspire action. Whether you’re talking to end consumers or your colleagues, the art of storytelling can help you cut through the nose and capture your audience’s attention. Improving your storytelling skills can touch almost every part of your professional life —  from executing productive meetings, writing concise emails, or simply expressing your feelings to a co-worker, friend, or family member.

Learn how to use the practice of storytelling to connect with your audience from broadcast journalist, Soledad O’Brien, who launched a course on Skillshare just a couple of months ago ().

Become a Data Visualization Pro
In this era of big data, the area of data analytics is more in-demand than ever. Even if you’re in a field that doesn’t require you to crunch numbers on daily basis, have some basic dana analytics skills on your resume can help you stand out from the pack.

One particular skill that’s gained alot of traction in recent years is data visualization, the art of transforming sets of data into digestible, impactful visuals. Understand the journey from data to design, and become a data visualization pro, through classes taught by analytics professionals on the Skillshare platform. 


Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands of classes in design, business, technology and more. The Skillshare community is comprised of over 3 million students and thousands of teachers, from 100+ countries, who come to the platform to learn cutting-edge skills, network with peers and discover new opportunities. Students can enroll in hundreds of free classes, or unlock unlimited access to the full class catalog by upgrading to Premium for a low, monthly rate.

Skillshare teachers include both industry leaders (such as entrepreneur Simon Sinek and notable designer Aaron Draplin) and talented practitioners who have built a following and a significant passive income stream through the site.

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Education Work

All you really need to know to make your own podcasts

Podcasts are an incredibly flexible tool for students to plan, produce and publish projects that demonstrate their knowledge. This post is going to be a crash course, why and how to do a podcast, whether its to educate of entertain.

By the way, myself and my colleagues at IT Babble have a podcast of our own that you should check out on iTunes.


Pheww – why not?! OK, OK I can see you don’t have time for that. Podcasts are great for students of all ages. It can be as simple a an third grader talking about a country they have researched or as advanced as senior talking about the real reasons that World War II started and debating those theories. Students get to talk (not write, not posterize, not PowerPoint) about a subject they know about. It is fluid and a discussion. When you get a group project it can often be done by one or two people and the others are along for the ride. On a podcast, there is no place to hide. Now that can seem intimidating for some and that is certainly a valid point, so having an alternative in the wings would be a good choice. Also, if a member of a team is just being a pain, maybe that special student so go it on their own as well.


The biggest concerns for teacher not doing podcasts (or not doing them well) is the technology side of things. I get you, sometimes it is hard to know where to start. I’ll talk about that a little later in the post. Another concern is that teachers get too focused on the technical (not the technology) side of things. They get more focused with jingles, time length and transition sounds. Don’t worry about that. If you have an eager and technologically gifted kid, you can have him make a jingle for everyone or you can simply have no jingle or transition sounds at all. It’ll be fine as long as the students focus on the topics at hand. This goes for you IT teachers out there. Don’t focus on the technical side. Forget that! Focus on the content. If you focus on other areas, the podcast will suck. It will sound boring, the students will know it sounds boring and no one will care.

Another big concern is where and how to publish them. To make it short you can use Soundcloud (while it is still around) or my go to Podomatic. You get 500mb free of storage (that equates to about 15, 30 minute podcasts) and it helps you with getting the podcast on the iTunes directory, thus making it pretty universal and accessible from just about anywhere. If you don’t like either of those try Completely free, will let you store as much as you want but no RSS feed (I could be wrong about that). Either way, one of those three free solutions will probably be enough for you and your students.

Technology – You have space and some money

If you have nothing else and no budget, then have one or squeeze three kids around a laptop and have them record using its internal microphone. It will sound bad but it is doable. I wouldn’t do more than three, four means the laptop probably needs to be pushed back a little and even inches can severely diminish the quality of the recording.

If you have the room and the means set up a podcasting studio with an inexpensive mixing board. You don’t need a huge one, just one that can support up to 6 channels will probably be enough. You can often find those under $100 USD. Now You need microphones and microphone stands (desktop stands). Since you’re not recording a full orchestra, jazz ensemble or auditions for The Voice, you can get away with some pretty inexpensive microphones. I picked up a 3 pack of Behringer Ultravoice XM1800S for $50. At the time of this writing it is down to $40 (IT Babble receives no money from Amazon or any other advertiser). Now pick up some mic cables (whatever will plug into your mixing board).

Desktop microphone stands are pretty inexpensive as well. You can find a pretty high quality stand for $15. I would check and BH Photo (if you’re in the States. I do not know if they ship internationally). Don’t worry if you don’t know what you’re doing with the mixing board. You will figure it out. Just know those things are hard to break so fiddle away and try new things. You’ll pretty quickly realize how to increase the volume for a track.

Now have the whole thing plug into a computer. If it is an Apple, you’ve got GarageBand preinstalled which will work for capturing the recording. Just plug the mixing board into the computer, fire them both up and you’re ready to start recording.

If you have a Windows machine (or don’t like GarageBand) then try Audacity. It is open source, free, pretty refined and for basic recordings it should serve you well.

Technology – No extra space and some money

This is probably most teachers I can think of. They will probably be recording in their room or a study room (if your school has those) and so your recording rig must be light weight, portable and probably the cheaper the better. If you have money then go with a Zoom Handy recorder You don’t need a computer, they have a built in mic but some cheap mics and mic stands would be the way to go. Yes, this is a little pricey but these devices are built very well, will last a long time and just don’t fail. That is what we record with on the IT Babble podcast and in more than two years has never failed me once.

Now if you don’t have that type of scratch to throw around, then a laptop and a USB microphone is what I would suggest. You may not be able to get as many people around as possible. USB microphones vary in price. You can find some as cheap as $13 USD and some that are $300 USD or more! The bottom line here and I’ll write in caps and bold is …


It is the truth. You are able to get closer to the mic and it will be more directional cutting out more background noise and if it sounds better if will feel more professional – simple as that. If you’re looking for some good options then the Blue line of USB mics are great. You can almost find them cheaper than their website elsewhere so shop around. They are very sturdy sound pretty darn good, you won’t be disappointed. Their most popular mics (by far) is the Yeti and the Snowball.

Recording the podcast

For younger kids a script may be a good place to start. Definitely have them write it for themselves. It won’t sound as interesting to listen to, but it will get them (and you) time to get more comfortable with the equipment.

For older students (5th grade and up) I’d have them write talking points on an index card and make sure there is someone to moderate and keep the podcast on task. The moderator could be you the teacher or someone who is good at knowing when to listen and when to jump in and redirect a conversation. It takes practice.

One thing to have them keep in mind is not to stop if they make a mistake. Big mistakes (like someone farting or cursing) can be edited out after the recording. No stopping! Sometimes those mistakes allow others to point out the mistake and that little moment is someone learning captured right there and that is pretty cool.

Wrapping it up

You’ve got your gear and software now play around with it. Ideally all the kids should have to do is sit down, hit the record button and start talking. Don’t focus on the gear and technology too much with the kids. Let them focus on their content and you’ll often get honest, informative and entertaining podcasts. That is what will make or break the unit of podcasting initiative if you’re starting one in your school.

If you have a student who is really keen to learn the behind the scenes, then that is great! You know have an assistant (as long as you can teach them how to commit). There is a good chance they may be able to teach you a few things about your equipment that you didn’t know.

The last thing to keep in mind is that this is a process. Don’t expect perfection on your first recording. Take it as it is and as you listen to it, try and find ways to improve it. Maybe it needs better topics, maybe it needs one more or one less voice. As for feedback from your listening community and keep at it! This type of commitment sounds easy but it’s not. It is hard. Take it from someone who has fallen down more than once podcasting.

Six podcasts to make you better people in 2017

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PDF tools for every occasion

In the modern everyday work environment, the need for frequent and constant sharing of digital documents, especially PDFs, is paramount for keeping your business running smooth and without any hiccups, no matter what exact type of occupation you are currently involved with. Of course there are some distinct differences between jobs, but in areas of marketing, banking, bookkeeping, accounting, analytics, human resources and many more, it is pretty safe to say that a lot depends on the uninterrupted and even flow of information.

On the other hand, one specific issue has been plaguing the business world basically ever since the inception of digital communication, and that is the difference of interpreting the formatting of all files. Every operating system has its own way of extracting and presenting the data that every file is built from, and this can create some serious unpleasantries if the file was created on one OS, and is being viewed on a different one. Usually this issue is presented by the file being displayed with some major or minor glitches, depending of what it is consisted of, and in rarer cases it can be completely unviewable by the recipient. But naturally there is way to overcome all of this, and it’s actually quite simple; convert the file to PDF form before sending it.

The Portable Document Format is exceptionally great for sharing important business documents because it can be perfectly viewed on all operating systems and devices, so you don’t have to worry if the receiver will have problems with viewing your file. Luckily, converting your file to PDF is very simple and can normally be performed from inside each software where the file was created in (just switch to PDF in the Save As window). The only lacking of the PDF is that it cannot be edited in any traditional fashion, but it requires software that can extract all the information from it and recreate it to the format that it previously was (before the conversion ever took place). This format also offers other useful advantages, like securing your file with passwords and limiting permissions.

Depending if your job requires you to travel a lot, or spend substantiating amount out of the office, we wanted to share with you a couple of highly useful online tools and software solutions, with whom you can perform literally all operations related to PDF files, either from your office, or from portable devices while you’re on the go.

Work with PDF Files from a Desktop Computer
The most practical and user-friendly way of handling any PDF-related activity is of course via your computer, offering many advanced choices that other types of software simply cannot. Besides the most frequent conversion operations, they allow rotating, splitting, merging several PDFs into one, batch conversions of multiple files at the same time etc…

PDF Converter Elite 5 allows all of these options, and it comes with a custom editing of scanned documents, editing files while still in PDF form. It also comes with a 7 day free trial period, so you can check out all of its features in great detail.

DoPDF is a similar program that has a lesser amount of precise options, but for non-english users it can be more useful, as it offers over 30 languages.

Use Online PDF Tools When You’re on a Business Trip
Not being able to access your paid desktop program can be troublesome if you have to perform a conversion while on a business trip, but there is an adequate alternative; free online tools. Normally, they cannot perform all the work such as custom PDF to Excel conversion that PDF Converter Elite has, but you can use them for some basic conversion from PDF to Excel, Word, PowerPoint or to merge PDFs.

PDF to Excel is a simple tool to use when you need to convert PDF tables to Excel spreadsheet. It doesn’t require an email address so you don’t need to worry about your privacy.

Cometdocs is suitable for all types of conversions and PDF creations. You can choose to register or to use the tool without any registration.

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Education Work

The app that helps students put down that mobile

Maths Mathisen, the CEO and Co-Founder of Hold explains how the app came about, and the benefits of using it and get students to put down that mobile.

Each year, we become increasingly reliant on our smartphones – from ordering our favourite take-out, to checking for news (true or fake) and, of course, looking for entertainment.

However, mobile phones aren’t great when for those in full-time education, those who need to concentrate – whether it be it during a lecture, or as in the scramble to finish an assignment on time. This is the gap that Hold is trying to fill.

Hold is a Norwegian app that rewards students for choosing to ignore their mobile phones while they are on campus. The free-to-use app allows students to collect points for every 20 minutes that their phone isn’t used, and once enough points are accumulated they can be exchanged for rewards, such as Amazon vouchers, scholarship prizes and cinema tickets. 

Evidence behind Hold

The idea for Hold came about during my time as a student, as I knew first-hand how difficult it is to concentrate on studying, when you have the option to text, Snap or play games on your phone. I also knew that for a student to give up their phone for any length of time, there needs to be a good motivation, which is why instead of penalising students for using their phones, Hold rewards them for choosing to ignore it.

Numerous studies have been conducted on the effect of smartphones and studying. For example, a 2017 study by the University of Texas, found that smartphones have a ‘brain drain’ effect, as they can affect intelligence and attention span, just by being on the student’s desk. Similarly, the University of California Irvine found that if we get distracted from a task by a mobile phone notification, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to fully regain our focus. All of which suggests that smartphones, while fundamental to day-to-day life, are detrimental when it comes to studying.

Norwegian success
We launched the Hold app in Norway in 2016 and accumulated 50,000 downloads in the first three months alone, with 40% of all Norwegian students onboarded currently. The average student will use Hold for 2 hours each day, ensuring that during those 2 hours their productivity is at its height, which in turn, leads to higher engagement and better grades. We have 120,000 users across Scandinavia and are partnered with major brands such as Coca Cola, Microsoft and Scandinavian Airlines, and aim to replicate the same success in the UK.

London pilot
As part of our launch strategy in the UK, we partnered with the School of Management at University College London, offering the students the chance to trial the app, boost their productivity and improve their grades.

At the start of the launch, Richard Pettinger, Principal Teaching Fellow at UCL School of Management said:

‘My initial interest in the app stems from my belief that technology is an essential part of daily life, as well as business, which can’t exist without it. By rewarding students for ignoring the distractions of social media notifications, Hold has been hugely successful in both Norway and Denmark, and I am very interested to see how the model will translate to the UK market. Phone addiction is a global issue, and using the phone to solve this issue is an innovative and unique way to combat this. I am looking forward to seeing how the UCL pilot will go, how much improvement the students will see in their work, and how Hold will develop and grow in the UK’.

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Education Work

Kickstarting kittens to teach coding

The team behind the coding game Erase All Kittens has launched a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter to raise funds for an expanded iPad version of the game that teaches children, especially girls, how to code.

Launched today, the aim is to support the creation of the first ever game that inspires girls to code and create. A game that makes code education meaningful — by allowing girls to apply practical skills in a creative way instead of just giving them instructions.

E.A.K are looking to raise £15,000 to fund a project with award-winning game developers Playerthree to develop E.A.K. for the iPad, building game levels to teach HTML, CSS and Javascript, so that the target audience of girls aged 8-13 can learn to design their own simple websites.

The Kickstarter project has a range of pledge levels from simple access to the iPad version of the game, through to donating licences for schools or organisations, to a corporate sponsor level donation.

E.A.K. ‘Chief Scribbler’ Dee Saigal said: ‘There’s plenty of research tells us that girls find coding boring and aimed too much at boys and we want to redress that balance. We’re making an extended version of our game that we already know that girls love and we want to bring it to as many as possible. If we can get the right level of support, we can really tackle the gender imbalance in tech at the very earliest stages.’

The game that saves kittens and teaches coding

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Education Work

Why the writing should be on the wall for the interactive whiteboard

It was my first international school and they were doing a quick tech presentations (setting up email, our electronic grade book, etc.) One of those presentations was with the school’s new Promethean Interactive Whiteboard.

At first blush I was impressed. I really was and wish I had one in my class. There appeared to be endless possibilities for student engagement. It seemed like a perfect marriage of technology and education. A great compliment to great lessons.

That’s the problem. The interactive whiteboards are not complimentary to lesson plans. In order for them to be effective, in my opinion, the interactive whiteboard has to be the center of the lesson and you have to use it all the time.


You may ask yourself Patrick, what’s the big deal? I am so glad you asked. Let’s start with the menus. Dear God the menus. There are way too many of them. Just to bring up that coordinate plane, it would take 3-5 clicks (or taps using the pen). You have to go from menu, to menu, to menu to find something and if you didn’t know where it was and had to looking forward then you have a few minutes of dead air in your classroom.

Then there is the alignment and calibration. Calibrating the pen for the boards is usually quite easy, but if the projector is not properly installed, sometimes calibrating the pen can be a real pain. The reason is, the software usually has places for you to tap with the pen in order to make sure when you place the pen on the board it lands true and makes the selection or annotation that you want to make.

You see good reader, if the projector is installed incorrectly or not set up well enough, then those calibration targets may be on the border of off the whiteboard all together making accurate calibration a pipe dream. Sometimes, this can be remedied with a quick adjustment on the projector, but there are other times, when the projector itself will have to be moved and remounted – a time consuming and depending on your interactive whiteboard provider could be an additional cost.


You can’t talk about a major addition to a classroom or school without considering cost. As we all know money does not fall from the sky and schools need to work within a budget (if they want to keep their doors open that is). So one needs to consider these costs:

  • Unit itself
  • Installation
  • Upkeep
  • Repairs

Now these costs differ from vendor to vendor and depending on your particular contract. I am going to say $5,000 per unit which includes a projector. If you pay more than this, please don’t go to your vendor, show them this piece and say Hey bub! What’s the dealio? I’ve known schools who pay muchmore just because of their location and services available.

Now, one thing that most schools don’t think about is the long term with these devices. Once it is installed and working properly it will take care of itself. Like a refrigerator or a stove. This is true . . . for a while. The very first time you turn on the projector, the picture will look great (at least I hope it does). However, if you compare day 1 to day 50 to day to day 365 you will notice that the picture will be dimmer each time. It’s just how light bulbs work and that is the heart of that projector. When that light bulb goes out, you need to replace it. These bulbs are not cheap and if you’re replacing 20% of your bulbs every year, then your costs go up. Be sure to tack that onto the original budgeted item. As you can see these costs can add up quickly.


So there are my problems, so what can schools do about this? What options do they have? Schools and teachers don’t want to not have an interactive display in their room. It looks good for parents and guests walking through the halls. There are some teachers who do use them.

There are alternatives out there. There are interactive displays (no projectors) that can replace your school’s interactive white board. The advantages to these boards are numerous.

  1. Dim much slower
  2. No bulbs to replace
  3. Easier and cheaper to mount
  4. No pen calibration or very easy pen calibration
  5. Lower costs over time
  6. Higher resolution (better picture)

Microsoft makes one called the Surface Hub which comes in two sizes – 55″ and an 84″ Their prices are $9,000 and *gulp* $22,000. Yeah that second price is a little hard to swallow. If your school is on Office 365 it might be worth considering and there may be a discount. It does some neat things too and would be great for Skype in the Classroom.

Google has the newly minted Jamboard (what a terrible name) made by Benq for $5000 which looks pretty promising.

This is more of what I am talking about and while 55″ isn’t as large as I would like and the rolling stand is an extra $1000 and of course what would an IT product be without licensing which you have to pay every year.  However, add all that up and I still think the Jamboard would win out over a traditional interactive whiteboard.

Bottom line is I don’t like them. They don’t deliver on their promise of really enhancing a classroom. They are too cumbersome to use and just not super effective.

If your tech choices aren’t student centered, then you’re doing it wrong

More from Tony DePrato here.

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Why you should audit your body language in the workplace

Many of us KNOW our body language influences our communication. But how often do you audit your actions?

Yes! Audit.

Habits come and go. Perhaps you stopped avoiding eye contact. Nice going! But what if you compensate by fidgeting? Do you even know which habits you should stop?

And no, you can’t expect everyone to simply accept you as you are. If you’re in a business environment, you rarely have time to build trust or evoke respect. Your etiquette during a first meeting determines what others think of you.

What if one individual is the key to your future success? Will your current etiquette and body language seal the deal?

You have to monitor your eyes, facial features, hands and even your positioning in relation to others.

That’s a lot to keep track of! But getting the hang of is worth it. One simple handshake can communicate the confidence your new boss is looking for. Prevent accidentally insulting your new colleagues. You don’t want to ruin your brand new working environment.

And that’s the power of using business etiquette and body language optimally. It literally determines your future.

We compiled a few guidelines in this infographic by Swiss Canadian Capital to help you understand these nuances. If you want to be successful, know exactly what you’re communicating from now on!


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