Tag Archives: google


Six things to look for to improve your website’s SEO

Search remains key to the success of any website. Get on the front page of Google search results for the key search terms for your business, and things start to fall into place. But there’s a lot of nonsense spoken about it by those selling search engine optimisation services (SEO).

The truth is that when you, or your developers, are building your company website, if you keep an eye on these issues, you won’t go far wrong. And if this seems a bit techy, then use it as a cheat sheet to keep your web builders on their toes.

The things you need to think about to keep your website visible in search are:


Content is king. It signals a page’s relevance to crawlers (the term given to the process by which Google investigates your page), allowing them to understand what the site is about and what keywords it should be ranking for in search engine results pages (SERPs). Unique body copy for every page is essential.


Site performance
The speed and weight of a site can impact heavily on the quality of experience for users and crawlers. Search engine crawlers won’t have time to crawl an entire site if it’s slow, limiting its performance in SERPs and scoring it badly for user experience.


Crawler efficiency
You want crawlers to be able to reach all of your pages and gain as much context from the content as possible, in order to position it well in SERPs. Maximising their efficiency when crawling your site is crucial.

See also: The step-by-step guide to making Google love your school website

User experience
Search engine crawlers increasingly attempt to recreate human user behaviour when assessing websites. In order to rank well, sites need to demonstrate logical and engaging usability.


Inbound links
Inbound links are still one of the dominant SEO factors influencing a website’s rankings. The quantity and quality of these links are equally significant and can help provide a good idea of your site’s SEO performance.


Visibility footprint
An initial look at where your site is currently ranking for keywords/themes found on your website and in its industry space.


Get all those right, and you’re well on the way.

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Education Work

How Google forms can help with parental engagement

My district (heck I think the whole state) requires that teachers keep a record of each and every time I contact a parent or a parent contacts me. In the past I did this in a notebook but there would be a time when I didn’t have the notebook on me or when I forgot it at home and sometimes – the notebook sprouted some legs and went to hide somewhere in my desk

Now being a Google school I have devised a much better way to keep track of this. My first thought was I just make a spreadsheet and enter everything into the spreadsheet. The problem with that is that sometimes, I need to write a lot and the cell height or width may make it a pain to see what I’m typing. Then it dawned on me – why not make a Google Form and just enter the info there! I can even make a link at the bottom to submit a new form if I have multiple entries to add at one time.

See also: An administrator’s guide to Google Forms

The form

OK, here is what my form looks like in all its illustrious glory.

Yep! There it is in all its glory. As you can see I have fields for this information

  • Student’s last name (required)
  • Student’s first name (required)
  • Contact type (required)
  • Parent’s name (required)
  • Phone number (optional)
  • Reason for call (required)
  • Result of the call (required)

I should have put Reason for contact but I’ll fix that up for next year.

Now, here is the great part. Every time I fill out this form, Google automatically throws that data into a spreadsheet for me. It even adds in a timestamp (down to the second). So if I want to know how many times I called Johnny’s parents, I can easily go and find that info. Great. Check out the image below to see what it looks like. I have blurred out important information.


It might look a little crazy at first. Remember it is a record and a spreadsheet. I can sort by any column and I can of course search by hitting ctrl + F or command + F and typing in a student’s name.

See also: 5 new Google Forms features worth trying out

It has also been a handy bit of evidence when I need to get and administrator involved. They usually want to know if I have made a contact with someone at home. This here is my proof and tends to help build a case for more support from the counselor and administration.

Overall this works for me, I can access it from any computer/device with Interwebs and sharing it with colleagues is pretty easy as well. I like it! What do you use to keep track of your record of contacting a child’s home?

More from Tony here.

Also you should check out his ITBabble podcast.

See also: 5 Ways School Administrators Can Use Google Apps


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How to make an area counter in Google spreadsheets

Google sheets is pretty powerful – heck most spreadsheets program are pretty powerful. This guide will show you how to create your very own spreadsheet that will automatically calculate area. Area is not terribly difficult for students but it is always nice to have a little something in your pocket to check your work.

I’m going to do this for with my grade 6 math class this week and thought I’d share it out! Feel free to change or get in touch with me about any questions!

  • Rectangles/squares
  • Parallelograms
  • Triangles
  • Trapezoids

Step 1 – Create a new spreadsheet

Before you can start working on a spreadsheet – we need to create it. This is very easy

  1. Go to http://drive.google.com
  2. If it asks you to log in – go ahead and do that
  3. Click on the New button
  4. A drop down menu will appear. From here select Google Sheets


Google spreadsheets

Step 2 – Set up the spreadsheet

Here is our brand new spreadsheet and we are going to set it up.

  1. Name the file
  2. Copy the information you see on my spreadsheet onto your spreadsheet – make it look exactly the same!

We can format it later to make it look better.

Google spreadsheets

Step 3 – Area of rectangles and squares –  length x width

Let’s add the formula for the rectangles and squares.
When writing formulas in a spreadsheet program (any spreadsheet program), you will need to start with the equal sign (=).
Now we are ready to start adding in some formulas. This is where the magic happens. We will start in cell B4.
Copy the following in B4


When you do this and hit enter you should the formula replaced by the number 12.
What is happening is the spreadsheet is taken the number in cell B2 and the number in cell B3 and multiplying them together.
When you hit enter you should get an answer of 12!

Google spreadsheets

Step 4 – Area of parallelogram – base x height

This formula is going to be very similar to the rectangle/square formula.
This time we will be typing our formula into cell D4.


When you hit enter you should get an answer of 42
Again, what is happening is the spreadsheet is taking whatever number is in D2 and D3 and multiplying them together.
When you hit enter you should get an answer of 42!

Google spreadsheets

Step 5 – Area of a triangle – 1/2 x base x height

Now that we have the rectangle, square and parallelogram taken care of, let’s try the triangle.
Since we are doing more than just multiplying two numbers our formula will look a bit different. We will be typing this formula into cell F4.


When you hit enter you should see the answer of 20!

Google spreadsheets

Step 6 – Area of trapezoid – 1/2 x (base 1 + base 2) x height

Now we are to our final and most complicated formula.
We will be typing this formula into cell H5.


Everything must be copied perfectly! If not it will give you an error. If you do this correctly you should get an answer of 15!

Google spreadsheets

Formatting (if you want)

Now that it is built you can type any dimensions of those shapes and it will automatically and correctly calculate the area of those shapes. Below is an area calculator that I’ve been working on.
Google spreadsheets
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Education Work

How to use the Google Translate app in the classroom

You might think that Google Translate would be a way of replacing language lessons, rather than supplementing them. Thankfully, you’d be wrong. And here’s some tips as to why.

Mike Reading, of the Using Technology Better YouTube channel talks first about how to use the app, with a few tips on how to get the best out of it.

Then, perhaps more usefully, he talks about the ways you can use it in the classroom – not to encourage laziness amongst students, but to get them to discuss accuracy – give them some text, let Google translate it and then have a discussion about is accurate or not, where’s the grammar wrong, and so to learn to understand that translation can be more art than science, and that technology can help them interact with information in a different kind of way.

Useful, and worth subscribing to the channel.

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4 Ways to Practice with Google This Summer

It is summer! A time to celebrate, relax, enjoy the beautiful weather, and keep learning! Summer not only allows teachers a mental break from the day-to-day routine of teaching, but is also an important time for all of us to continue our learning. While attending workshops and conferences are staples for many teachers, for others it is a busy and fast-paced season that can leave little time for focus on continuing learning. However, even during those busy and fast-paced times, it is a good opportunity for teachers to develop their skills for the next school year.
One way to accomplish this is to bring the power of Google Apps into your personal life. People often ask, “how did you develop your skills with Google?” The answer can be directly linked to using the tools, both inside the classroom and outside of it in my personal life. From planning a wedding, to organizing a shopping trip to the store, the power of Google can be a great benefit to all users. If the testament, “Practice makes perfect” is true, then practicing with Google in your personal life will make you more confident to use it with your students in the classroom!
To that end, I suggest four ways that you can practice with Google this summer to prep for the upcoming school year.

Learn to use the Bookmarks Bar in Chrome

The Bookmarks Bar is one of the most powerful features in Chrome and can streamline your web browsing experience as well as organize your online resources. If you do not see it under the Omnibox, turn it on from Chrome menu > Bookmarks > Show Bookmarks Bar.
Bookmark a Page
When you Bookmark a site, you create a link that directly takes you back to that location in one click.
Challenge yourself this summer by adding the bookmarks bar to your Chrome profile. Bookmark your email, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Facebook, Pinterest, and/or Twitter to get started. Of course, most importantly, you should also bookmark EdTechTeacher.org and visit us for many free resources and unique professional development opportunities! Applying this to the classroom in the fall could come in the form of teaching your students how to organize classroom resources or create Bookmarks Folders for research projects.

Plan a Party Using Google Docs

In the summer, everyone loves attending a BBQ or pool party. There is no better way to efficiently plan a party than with Google Apps, contact party & event venues in Galveston and plan one! To start, create a guest list with a friend who will be helping you plan the party. Create the list inside of a Google Sheet and practice adjusting the columns and editing headers. If you want to take it up a notch, enter a data validation drop down choice for those that have responded yes or no, and try conditional formatting to match who has RSVP’d. Watch this YouTube video on how to accomplish both tasks.
Also, share a Google Doc with your co-planner to keep track of items needed. If you are planning a bring-your-own-dish, go a step further and make the doc public on the web and invite all of your party guests to edit it and sign up to bring something tasty!
These skills of creating and collaborating will help you share and work with students and staff in the fall. By practicing in a low stress environment and learning with friends, you will be more confident with students and colleagues.

Make a short movie using your phone

It may be a fun day at the pool, or perhaps your children’s sporting events, but the summer is full of moments we want to remember forever. Use your phone to take a series of videos at one of your favorite events this summer, then upload those videos to YouTube Creator Studio.
YouTube Creator Studio, is a feature inside of your YouTube channel that allows you to edit your uploaded YouTube videos. Concerned that you don’t have a YouTube channel? Don’t fret, everyone that has a Google Account can set up a YouTube Channel in only a few clicks after going to YouTube.
Using video editing tools yourself can pay off big dividends for students when they are creating video on their own devices in the fall.

Build a Google Site

When the upcoming school year starts, teachers will be surprised with an updated version of Google Sites. While it is not yet available for all domains, or for personal accounts, it will be shortly. When the new update is released, teachers will be pleasantly surprised with its streamlined interface and integration tools. Everyone will now be able to create Google Sites in a much easier fashion.
Google Sites NEW
The challenge for this summer could be to create a new Google Site based on anything you are passionate about. Create a site for your child’s sports team or design a wedding website for a friend. You might even consider designing your classroom website for the upcoming school year. The possibilities are endless! Having a classroom Google Site can provide an area for students and parents to visit for the most up-to-date information of the ongoings in your classroom.
Entering into the world of Google Apps can be an overwhelming experience for many. By starting with these four activities, you will be able to gain valuable, practical experience in using some of the core Google Apps while in a low-stakes environment. Learning something fun this summer will not only bring you joy as you celebrate, but it will also help you gain the confidence to teach your students or colleagues later.

Come Learn more from Ben this year!

Ben will be a featured presenter in Boston and San Diego this year. He will be joined by other Google experts from across the country to share new ways to innovate student learning Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education.

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Google reveals 4,000 state-sponsored cyber attacks per month

A senior Google executive has said that the company was notifying customers of 4,000 state-sponsored cyber attacks per month.

Speaking at a Fortune magazine tech conference in Aspen, Colorado, Google senior vice president, and board member of the holding company Alphabet, Diane Greene mentioned the figure while touting Google’s security prowess.

The internet search leader, which develops the Android mobile system and also offers email and a range of other applications for consumers, has led the way in notifying users of government spying. Others, including Microsoft, have since followed suit.

Google had previously said that it had been issuing tens of thousands of warnings every few months and that customers often upgraded their security in response.




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3 Powerful New Ways to Use Chromebooks

When Chromebooks first entered into the 1:1 classroom environment, most people viewed the device to be strictly a portal to access Google Drive and the Google Apps for Education suite of tools. While there is immense power and potential to create collaborative working environments exclusively within Google Drive, Chromebooks have become so much more than just a gateway to Google Drive.

Chromebooks for Student Video Reflections

From the outset, creating video on Chromebooks proved to be a bit of challenge. In the early stages of Chromebook video creation, one was forced to use a Google Hangout on Air to record a Chromebook screen. With the emergence of Chrome extensions such as Screencastify and Snagit, screen recording on a Chromebook became increasingly viable. Chromebook classrooms can now add a new video creation tool into the mix. With Recap, students can easily create video reflections.
From the creators of the Swivl, Recap is a “high velocity” video reflection platform that allows students to quickly and easily submit video reflections based on teacher-generated assignments. Recently out of limited BETA testing, Recap is now open to all teachers and students. The platform works exceptionally well on Chromebooks.
Recap allows for quick, easy to create, and timely video reflection. The setup process in Recap will feel familiar to students, and the interface is exceptionally easy to navigate for teachers. Simply create a class in Recap, enter student names, and provide a class PIN number to the students. The non-email login option is a helpful feature with elementary and middle school classrooms. For high school classrooms looking to use recap, there is an option to have students log in with an email address.
From the student perspective, simply navigate to the student login page, enter the PIN number, and select their name. The simplicity of the platform is Recap’s strength. When a teacher creates an assignment in Recap, questions can either be text-based or a teacher-created video. A maximum response time per question can be established as well as a due date. Once students log in to the class, they will be immediately directed to the outstanding assignment.
The beauty of Recap is that the front facing camera is instantly activated and students reply directly within the platform. There is no need to download, upload, or share video files. When submitted, all student video reflections for the assignment can be viewed directly from the teacher dashboard. Without any need to download the video to view student submissions, teachers can quickly view and scroll through multiple student submissions. To keep the workflow simple, if teachers want to share student created video responses, there is a unique link provided for each student submission.

Recap & Visible Thinking

With the ability to instantly capture student thinking through video, the most critical question becomes, “What do I ask my students to ponder, reflect on, or consider?” One place to begin is with a series of Visible Thinking routines from Harvard’s Project Zero. By combining a Visible Thinking routine with Recap, teachers can end up with a clear insight into not only into the culminating answer to a question, but also the thought process or reflection on how a student ended up at their unique perspective.
Consider posting the Visible Thinking routine, “I Used To Think…,But Now I Think…” at the end of a class and giving each student one or two minutes to reply to each prompt through Recap. By pairing this thinking routine with a traditional assignment where the task is for students to answer specific questions based on course content, Recap can allow for insight that is simply not attainable at without using the technology.
As an alternative, Recap and a Visible Thinking routine can be used to gauge student understanding at the outset of exploring a new concept. Consider the “See, Think, Wonder” routine. Without any direct instruction, students can reflect via a Recap video assignment by explaining their initial observations (see), their evaluation and analysis (think) and finally their unanswered ponderings or questions (wonder). Once submitted through Recap, specific student submissions can be shared back out to the class via a web link.
Along with reflections and answering questions, Recap and a creativity Visible Thinking routine can be used to help students develop the capacity to think creatively about a scenario, concept or problem. While not for the purpose of collecting and evaluating a series of correct answers, pairing this style of routines opens up another potential use for Recap as well as an avenue for students to think creatively about challenging concepts. One particular creative thinking routine from Project Zero asks students to explore the following questions:

  • What would it be like if…
  • How would it be different if…
  • Suppose that …
  • What would change if …
  • How would it look differently if …

Each question from this routine could be added as a question within a Recap assignment, allowing a student to work through a concept step by step to develop a unique and creative perspective.
Each question from this routine could be added as a question within a Recap assignment, allowing a student to work through a concept step by step to develop a unique and creative perspective.
Check out the full demonstration video from Greg and how-to slides on the EdTechTeacher website.

Want to learn more from Greg this Summer? He will be on both coasts!ettsummer.org/greg


Featured image via Flickr

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How the Google OnHub router could finally make your school wi-fi usable

While it’s not specifically marketed to schools or education, the new Google OnHub router looks like it might just be the best education technology hardware innovation in a long time. After all, what good is a classroom of Chromebooks or a rollout of Apple iPads if the wi-fi is mediocre? Too often have I seen schools where a BYOD or 1:1 environment is set up only to have reliable wi-fi in only a part of the physical classroom.

So that’s what drew my eye to the all-new solution from the folks at Google. It’s called the Google OnHub router and it’s incredibly easy to use, offers a ton of features useful to classrooms, and is about $200 give or take.

google onhub router

Here are the key things to know:

It’s billed as a router that ‘speaks human’ because it doesn’t make you learn what IPv6 means in order to simply connect your device to the Internet. It uses the Google On mobile app which shows you a ton of information and tells you about alerts in easy-to-understand language.

The handy Google On app manages the router and shows you who is using it for wi-fi. This is great for IT administrators who want to quickly grasp the load, peak times, and other useful data.

The OnHub has a circle of antennae that are designed to offer 360-degree wi-fi range that stretches for a very long distance. That’s because one of the antennae has a single job: to identify which band is clear and to switch your device over to that. So it’s basically an adaptive router – meaning your connection speed will likely get BETTER as you continue to stream that YouTube video. Nice, eh?

It’s about $200. That’s about the same price a typical router would cost if you’re getting a higher-end model that has a similar feature set.

google onhub pricing

Going on Summer break? You can use the app to disconnect the wi-fi remotely or to monitor if anyone is using it. Great for IT admins who are home sick or working remotely.

It uses both Bluetooth and the latest connection options. From Google: “OnHub connects with your laptop or tablet through 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, and includes next-generation technologies like Bluetooth® Smart Ready, Weave, and 802.15.4, so that over time it will support a growing number of “smart devices.”

You can wave your device in front of the router to get priority connectivity. Great for presentations that require a little extra ‘oomph’ in front of the classroom!

The actual physical router is not ugly. It’s not a ‘bear claw’ as described in the below video. It’s designed (literally) to be placed in a prominent place that lets you grant the best possible wi-fi connectivity to all nearby devices.

You could probably run your entire school off a group of these routers. For the price of a single Chromebook, you could have a single OnHub in each classroom, supplying top-notch connectivity that you can actually manage. Would be curious to see if this happens in schools around the globe.

Want To Learn More?

There is a lot more information to check out – so be sure to click here to visit the official OnHub site on google.com.

google onhub logo

A Quick Note on the Google OnHub Router

I haven’t actually used an OnHub yet but will be sure to get one soon. I am just offering this post up as a chance to discover something new. It strikes me as a highly useful tool for schools that are trying to figure out how to integrate education technology. That’s a lot of schools right now. Best of luck!

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How to integrate Google Apps with the SAMR model

Bringing high-quality (and free!) Google Apps into the classroom is a popular trend these days in education technology. Whether you’re using the all-new Google Classroom to simply working on using Google Calendar to track your field trips, there is a lot to think about.
But what happens when you want to take your Google-ization of your classroom to the next level of learning? More than likely, you are familiar with the SAMR model. That is the ‘Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition’ framework that is built to help use technology for improving learning.
google apps samr model

Not familiar with SAMR? No problem. Watch this video.

SAMR stands for “Substitution – Augmentation – Modification – Redefinition”. It is a framework for using technology to transform learning.

  • Substitution: Using new technology for an old task
  • Augmentation: Using additional new technology for an old task
  • Modification: Using new technology to change an old task
  • Redefinition: Using new technology to create new tasks

Got it. Total SAMR master now. So what about integrating Google Apps with the SAMR model?

First off, know that we’re big fans of Google in education and write it about it on a regular basis. Subscribe, follow, like, etc. to stay connected and learn more. I suggest you check out this article as your next step. But wait! Before you go all click-happy, let’s jump into a bit more about how to integrate Google Apps with SAMR. What better way to do that than with this fabulous infographic from Erifili Davis of Google Apps Action.

google apps and samr model

Example of SAMR in action using Google Apps

  • Original task: Write a report about a city using paper/pen/glue/scissors, etc, using books in the library for research.
  • Substitution: Use Google Docs and research on the Internet to create the report.
  • Augmentation: Use Google Docs and research on the Internet to create the report. Share the document with the class teacher.
  • Modification: Use Google Docs and research on the Internet to create the report. Share the document with the class teacher and other students. Students use the comments feature to provide peer feedback.
  • Redefinition: Use Google Hangouts to connect to a virtual tour of the city hosted by a class in the target city with a reciprocal arrangement. Questions and pictures are shared using Google +. Groups of students collaborate to create a reporting using their choice of Google Apps for Education solution, e.g., Doc, Slides, YouTube or Blogger. Report would include multimedia elements. Redefinition can help create more meaningful and student-centred learning experienced.

Sweet! I’m getting there. So what do I do now?

I now think it’s time for viewing this absolutely fantastic video that involves SAMR, LEGO, and education technology. It’ll help you take your first integration steps into the brave new world of SAMR-edtech.

So now you’re an expert, eh? Want a digital badge? This video is for you:

Want a quick video from the Google team? Here you go:

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55 Google tips for heading back to school

Just about everyone has officially gone back to school here in the U.S. So what better time to brush up on your education technology skills than right now? Before students are deluged with homework, exams, and social anxiety (good ol’ high school…), it’s a great time to take a step back and really dive into how web tools can make this school year a bit better.
Since Google is one of the most popular options for just about everything edtech (controversial statement, I know, but it’s a popular option to be sure!), I wanted to share a fun graphic filled with Google tips for heading back to school. Is it marketing and promoting Google’s own products? Yes. do millions of students use Google products every day? Also yes. Therefore, it’s worth checking out, methinks.

See Also:  How to use Google tools in Project-Based Learning

The graphic below is a static version of the Google tips (created by Google, obviously). Click the image or this link to view the interactive version that presents more information for each tip.
Below the graphic, you’ll find the tips spelled out for your convenience as well!
google back to school

55 Google tips for heading back to school

  1. Translate foreign languages without leaving your doc
  2. Divvy up the work for a group project
  3. Drop a video into your presentation
  4. Email your whole class with just one address
  5. Turn in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint assignments even when you’re using Docs
  6. Never sleep through class again
  7. Don’t miss important emails from teachers and classmates
  8. Make edits on the way to class
  9. Say no to hackers. Actually, we’ll say it for you
  10. Make sure your roommate isn’t reading your email
  11. Translate languages you don’t even recognize
  12. Snooze without losing your place
  13. Look up new words without looking up from your doc
  14. Do research in a language you don’t speak
  15. Amp up your selfies with code
  16. Host movie night whenever, wherever
  17. Look sharp for your homecoming date
  18. Master the art of group projects
  19. Free music for studying and partying
  20. Show your History class what it’s like to see the Pyramids
  21. Take a field trip from your laptop
  22. Read textbooks that translate themselves
  23. Save your most needed translations for language class
  24. Had a fun summer? Cue the collage
  25. Check if it’s game on or game off. Get the forecast fast
  26. Learn to code nearby
  27. Do homework on the go
  28. Hack photos and PDFs to say what you want
  29. Go ninja on identity thieves
  30. Keep your sources straight with easy footnotes
  31. A complete spreadsheet with less typing
  32. Run your own research study
  33. Ditch the note-cards and present with confidence
  34. Get your whole team’s info in one place
  35. Find a good time to host a study group
  36. Pretend you’re always this organized
  37. Study and compare images for Art History
  38. Get inspiration for your next paper
  39. Keep track of all your classes
  40. Keep off the freshman 15
  41. Never miss that weekly study group
  42. See your plans (and due dates) for the week at a glance
  43. Got a lot of research? Use a lot of tabs
  44. See who changed what in your group project
  45. Keep your selfies to yourself
  46. Never miss a homework assignment
  47. Back to school pranks? Lock your device to stay safe
  48. Work without interruption. Or WiFi
  49. Check your school and personal email in one place
  50. Hit the books where you want to, not just where there’s WiFi
  51. Take turns taking notes with Google Docs
  52. Create a password haters can’t guess
  53. Have a research question? Just ask
  54. Computer meltdown? Your files are safe online
  55. Avoid long-term relationships with textbooks
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