Author: Sue Frantz

EDUCAUSE Live! Web Seminar: ECAR National Study of Undergrads and Info Tech 2011

The ECAR survey folks always have interesting information to present. Free and online. Hope to see you there! For those who can’t attend, but are interested, I’ll be tweeting live during the event. Follow me on Twitter by clicking the ‘t’ icon on the far right side of your browser’s window.

From the EDUCAUSE website:

Speaker: Eden Dahlstrom, Senior Research Analyst, Data, Research, and Analytics, EDUCAUSE
Susan Grajek, Vice President, Data, Research, and Analytics, EDUCAUSE (Moderator)
Date: December 15, 2011
Time: 2:00 p.m. ET (UTC-5); convert to your time zone
Topic: In this free hour-long session, “ECAR National Study of Undergraduates and Information Technology, 2011,” Susan Grajek and Eden Dahlstrom will discuss the groundbreaking year for the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research’s annual National Study of Undergraduates and Information Technology and plans for 2012.

Reserve your seat now—virtual seating is limited.

“About EDUCAUSE Live!

“Interact with today’s leaders in higher education IT while learning about emerging trends with Diana Oblinger and Marc Hoit as they alternately interview a special guest during this free online seminar series.

“Find Adobe Connect technical requirements; past seminar archives; instructions for attending web seminars using an iPhone, iPad, or android; and suggestions for making web seminars a collaborative event on your campus on the EDUCAUSE Live! website.”

QTT: Change Comment Color in Word 2010

Quick tech tip: Change the default color of comment boxes in MS Word 2010.

In any MS Word document, select the “Review” tab, click on “Track Changes” then select “Change Tracking Options.

Next to “Comments” click the dropdown menu and select the color you’d like.

Any document you open now will use that comment color.

Bonus tip: Use the keyboard shortcut to insert comments more quickly. Highlight the text you want to comment on, then press CTRL-ALT-M. After a little practice, the key combination will feel natural to you.

Dropbox: How to Get More Free Space provides you with 2GB free space out of the box. If other people who are invited by you join, Dropbox will increase your allotted space by either 500MB (edu accounts) or 250MB (everyone else) up to an additional 16GB for a total of 18GB. I was recently asked how exactly one gets that additional space.

  1. Share a folder with someone who doesn’t have a account yet. If they join as a result of your invitation, more MBs for you.


  2. Send your friends, family, and colleagues a link. Go to the referrals page. Here you have a few options. Log into your web-based email service and get all your contacts so you can pick and choose who to send the link to. Or you can just enter the email addresses of your invitees directly. Or you can push your invitation out to Facebook or Twitter. Or, at the very bottom of the page, copy the link directly. Anyone who signs up via that link gets you extra space – and gets themselves extra space.

Google Calendar: Hide Late/Early Hours

I bet you don’t schedule many appointments between 9pm and 8am. Yeah, me neither. Google Calendar now gives you the option to hide those hours, or whatever early/late hours you choose.

To activate the option, go to your Google Calendar, and click on the cog icon in the top right corner. Select “Labs”.

Click “enable” next to the “Hide morning and night” tool.

Click the “Save” button near the top of the page, and you’re done.

Go back to your calendar.

On the far left, where the times are listed, some of the times will be shaded. Click and hold the little bar at the bottom to select the morning times you’d like to hide.

Google Calendar will now look like this.

Then scroll down and repeat for the evening times. Done.

Any time you’d like to see those hours, just click on the shaded area in the time column. Click again to hide the hours.

What if you schedule something during those hidden times? Google Calendar will show you.

Thanks to the Lifehacker blog for the heads-up on this new tool!

60 Minutes: Chrome App

My friends over at the Teaching High School Psychology blog, just posted about the 60 Minutes segment on the flavorists which they describe as “a nice piece on the flavor industry and their attempt to create ‘addictive flavors’ to woo consumers.”

If you use Chrome and want to show 60 Minutes episodes during class, go over to the Chrome web app store, and download the free 60 Minutes app. When you open a new tab in your Chrome browser, you’ll see the 60 Minutes icon.

Clicking the 60 Minutes icon calls up the most recent episode. The segments for the episode are on the left. Use the menu at the bottom of the screen to select previous segments.

Previous segments are divided into categories you see at the top of the screen in the screenshot below.

Click on the segment you want, and it will automatically start playing. Here I’ve selected the segment suggested by my colleagues. On the far right side, click the film icon to read about the segment. Click the + button right below it to view additional footage.


TodaysMeet: A Walled-Off Space for You and Your Class

I just finished reading a Scientific American blog on how people watch television. The author reports that “TV networks have taken to dividing their audience into two new segments.” There are those who watch TV like people have always watched TV. And then there are those who watch with a web-enabled device in their hands. I’m not sure there’s much difference between those two groups in that both groups want to share the experience. If we have people in the home to watch with, we’ll do that. If our family and friends are scattered to the four winds, we’ll turn to the internet to connect with them – or to connect with strangers who love the show as much as we do. At root, we’re social creatures. Why wait until tomorrow morning at the water cooler to share our thoughts about the show when we can do it right now, in real time?

People are no different when you take them from in front of the TV and drop them into a classroom. If the class is even remotely engaging, students are going to want to say something to somebody. Some instructors encourage dialogue, others don’t, and don’t for a variety of reasons. Large class sizes certainly make dialogue more difficult, for example.

Some instructors encourage their students to use Twitter with a course-specific hashtag to ‘talk’ with each other during class. Earlier this year I wrote about as a way to create a walled-off space for you and your students. Here’s an even easier-to-use alternative. (Shout out to Steve J. of the Teaching High School Psychology blog!)

TodaysMeet is an impromptu meeting space. No logins required. Enter a name for your room. The URL will be[whatever you name your room]. Decide how long you’d like the room to be available. Click “Create your Room.” Give your students the URL.

When a student enters, she or he enters a name, and clicks the “Join” button.

The student types comments in the “Message” box, and clicks “Say”. Comments from all students appear in the “Listen” area. Anyone who is in the room can see what everyone else has written.

At the end of class, you can save all of the comments as a PDF. Use it, if appropriate, as assessment data or to assign class participation credit. Respond to student comments or questions during the next class session or take them to your class discussion board or email list if you use one.

Want students to work in groups? Great! Have them huddle up to respond to some question, and then have someone enter something on the group’s behalf.

I’m often asked, “If students are looking at their devices, how do you know they’re doing something class-related?” I don’t, any more than I know that if they’re writing on paper, they’re taking notes and not working on their math homework. Or if they’re looking at me, they’re thinking about the course material, and not the great weekend they had or are planning.

Password Security: Can I Guess Your Password?

Qwerty? 123456? Ashley? Bailey? SplashData has released the list of the top 25 passwords culled from lists produced by hackers. Is yours on the list? Password security is the best thing you can do to protect yourself.

I use LastPass to store all my passwords – one password to rule them all. It runs in my browser and on my Xoom and Android phone. If I remember that password, I have access to them all. It will also generate passwords for me if I’d like.

Don’t want to use a password manager? Be sure to create strong passwords that you will remember for the different websites you visit. Some people suggest using your favorite lyrics and mixing things up a bit. But don’t choose something popular. Hackers know enough to try those. Glen Campbell was recently honored at the CMA Awards, so let’s take a look at how some of his lyrics might look as passwords

“Like a rhinestone cowboy”





(*** = rhinestones, -^- = cowboy hat)

“I am a lineman for the county”


!mal!neman4the123y (123=count)


(_ = line, z = the)

“Oh Galveston”


(ton – 2000 lbs)

Develop a system that is unique to you, and use it.


Sandglaz: Task Management

[Update 6/20/2013: Sandglaz converted all of the grids to infinity grids.  This added a whole new complexity to Sandglaz that I don’t need, so I’m no longer using Sandglaz.)

I feel like I’m continually on a search for a good task management solution. I use to send reminders to myself via email. That works, but I’d really like something that works like paper. Sandglaz (sandglass, presumably) is the closest thing to that I’ve seen.

Here’s an example of what a to-do list looks like. (When you create a new account with Sandglaz, they’ll give you a grid of tasks that serves as a tutorial. Excellent idea!)

The section headers are the defaults, but you can change them to anything you’d like by clicking on them. To add another to-do item just click anywhere in that section. Click in the white space next to the checkbox, and start typing. See the little dots to the left of the check box? Click and hold to drag it. Drag it to change the order of tasks in that cell, drag it to another cell, or drag it to a completely different grid.

Mousing over an item gives you a down arrow on the right. Click it to add a description and a due date if you’d like. Click the “Delete Task” link to delete the task.

If you just want to acknowledge that you completed a task, click the task’s checkbox, and the task will receive a strike-through.

When you’re ready to delete all of your completed tasks, click “Delete Completed” at the top of the grid.

Want more than 4 cells in a grid? Click “Settings”.

That opens this window. Rename your grid, change the size, or delete it.


As with most tools in the cloud, you can share your grids with someone else. Click “Sharing” and invite whoever you’d like.

Advanced tools for the paid-for version.

[Updated 2/14/2012] Sandglaz is still in beta as of this writing, so the advanced tools are currently free, but they will likely only be available to paying users.

In the paid-for version, you can create an “infinity grid” that allows you to set milestones.

You can also use hashtags to create, well, tags. Here I’ve added “#psych100” to a task. That automatically makes “#psych100” clickable.

When I click it, all of my tasks are filtered to only show those tasks with that hashtag. The filtering tag is now displayed at the top of the grid. To stop filtering, click the tag button.

You can also you the @ symbol to identify particular people. It works just like the hashtag.

Click it to filter by that tag. When you’re done filtering, click the tag button to toggle off filtering.


Play around with this tool to find the best way to configure Sandglaz so it works how you work. Keep an eye on their blog for announcements of new features.

Shortmarks: Shortened Bookmarks

Web browsers have gotten smarter. Enter a few letters and the browser flips through your browsing history to find matches. Want to go even faster? Check out Shortmarks. When I type gm into my web browser’s address bar and hit enter, Google Mail opens. When I type im Jodie foster, my browser automatically searches IMDB for Jodie Foster.

Shortmarks starts you off with a bunch of shortcuts. Here are some. Most of these were already provided by Shortmarks. The keyword is in the first column. Typing this in your browser’s address bar will open the site it’s attached to. If you don’t like the keyword, you can change it. Click on “Edit bookmarks.”

That calls up the edit page. When I type cal in my browser’s address bar, Google calendar opens. But I can change that just by clicking in that keyword box and typing something else.

Adding new shortmarks.

One way to add a new shortmark is to go to the Shortmarks edit page, enter the keyword you’d like to use, name the page, and enter the link to the page. Click save. Done.

A quicker way is to go to the Shortmarks help page, and drag the “Add to Shortmarks” link to your browser’s bookmark bar. Now visit any page you’d like to create a shortmark for. Click “Add to Shortmarks” on your browser’s bookmark bar. The Shortmarks edit page will open with the name of the page and the URL already entered. Just enter the keyword you’d like to use, and click save. Done.

Searching websites.

Notice the far right shortmarks column; it’s labeled “Search link” (see above). Some websites have built-in search capability. Let’s take Google search for example.

With this shortmark, if I type g in my browser’s address bar, the Google search page will open. If I had typed g steelers instead, shortmarks would have used the URL in the last column, and I would have jumped directly to Google’s search result for “steelers”. Typing w takes me to Wikipedia. If I had typed w dachshund instead, then the dachshund entry at Wikipedia would have opened.

[Added  12/9/2011.] To add your own search, go to the page you want to search, and enter a search term.  For example, go to Barnes and Noble and search for Unbroken.  That will give you this very ugly URL:

Delete everything back to the first “unbroken”.  That gives you this:

Now add %s so it looks like this:

That’s what you will enter into Shortmarks’ search link box.

Make bn your Shortmark keyword.  Remember to hit save. Now when you type bn catcher in the rye into your browser’s address bar, you will be directed to the page at Barnes and Noble that displays all of their Catcher in the Rye holdings.


Have several shortmarks you’d like to open together? Use a bundle. If I type !d in my browser’s address bar, the sites I open first thing in the morning open. If I type !hcc four sites open, all related to my college.

To edit them, click “Edit” like you did for editing shortmarks. The bundles are located at the very bottom of the page. Add the keyword you’d like to use for your bundle, add a description, and then entry the keywords for the links you’d like to have included in the bundle.

[Updated 11/22/2011] It works best when Shortmarks is designated as your default browser.  Enter a search term in the address bar.  Your browser will go to Shortmarks.  If you have a shortmark for what you’ve typed, the shortmark will launch the appropriate webpage.  If there isn’t a shortmark, the term will be entered in the default search engine you have enabled in Shortmarks.  See this Shortmarks help page for how to change your browser’s default search engine to Shortmarks.

Shortmarks is easy to use and easy to customize, and it does speed up browsing considerably. One more thing. Since your shortmarks are linked to your Google account and stored in the ‘cloud,’ you’ll have access to them anywhere you’re logged into your Google account.

As a short footnote, I got shortmarks to work on my smartphone once, but only once. Since this service is still in beta, look for the possibility of mobile functionality in the future. These kinds of shortcuts would be a terrific addition to my mobile browser!

One more quick tip. CTRL-L sends your cursor to your browser’s address bar, and whatever is there will be highlighted. Just type your shortmark keyword and hit enter.