Monday, September 1, 2014

Learning Together

Image Source
For a self-styled hermit, loner, and, according to personality profiles, an introvert (INTJ), I am amazed at the value I can get by reflecting on my own work. Often, this results in a "You're too tough on yourself" perspective but I find that to be helpful when focused on moving forward.

Some questions I try to ask myself regularly include the following:

  1. How could I have had handled that better?
  2. What could I do differently to move the organization forward in ways that it hasn't before?
  3. How can I motivate myself to build better relationships with others to achieve organizational goals?
The questions are hard ones to answer and easy to avoid during the busy, crazy lives we all lead with myriad priorities. These conversations, self-dialogues of a sort, often take the place of community learning. Community learning insights fuel these self-dialogues, the self-reflection, making me come up with new ideas to apply to my life and work. I have complete control over these, which I have found is necessary for me as a learner. Obviously, I don't like to have my cheese moved any more than the next person...that's why it's important to move my own cheese, so to speak, so that I can stay ahead of the change.

In the Catholic tradition, there are two insights that a member can have. I do not pretend to know this with any certainty, only repeating the words of a spiritual mentor many years past. If that mentor only knew how long I would hold onto these words. Yet, I find those ideas of personal salvation contrasted with community salvation, eisegesis and exegesis. In the former, we interpret our sacred learning as individuals, gaining insights into it and our interactions with it. In the latter, we make connections directly from the sacred learning (e.g. Bible). The call is to community, whether at work, at home or in church.

These concepts come to mind while reading Howard Rheingold's Reflection, Conversation, Co-Learning Communities, where he writes:
Reflecting on material is a path to understanding by an individual learner, but when a group of learners reflect in public, they provide a rich field for conversations about the material. Debates. Conjectures. Contrapositives. Analysis. Conversations can lead to co-learning when other elements — trust, shared purpose, lead learners, skilled facilitation, serendipity — combine to influence groups of learners to be co-responsible for each other’s learning. And co-learners over time can grow into learning communities. 
As a blogger, reflection on other's learning--what can be more sacred than that?--and how we introduce our own biases into the conversation are powerful. The saving place is community. As a hermit, my success as a learner is limited, but a blog also provides me with the opportunity to dig deeper and share my insights, foolish, profound, or garbage with a greater world. In a real way, an introvert can connect with others in safe ways.

The Call IS to Community....

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Opera Mail as a Simple eMail client

Having played around with my share of email clients (e.g. Thunderbird, IceDove, the horrible (IMHO) Evolution, on GNU/Linux distributions (e.g. PeppermintOS, Lubuntu/Ubuntu (I hate kubuntu), #! and others), I found myself looking for something new and lightweight.

Although I started with Opera browser's Mail component, I promptly discovered that OperaMail is its own standalone program available on Windows. While I avoid Windows OS like the plague, it's nice to know I could use OperaMail on that if I had to. In the meantime, OperaMail is integrated into its browser but I simply stick the Mail part of it, and don't really use the other features.

Opera Mail Setup

I hadn't considered OperaMail as a viable alternative, even though it is cross-platform, supports IMAP and POP.  After a weekend of playing around with it--running 3 email accounts of my handful through it--I am generally pleased with it.

My plan is to setup BitTorrent Sync and sync the hidden .Opera folder with all the settings to other machines and see how that works out. Of course, one could also just copy the .Opera folder to a USB flash drive (gasp, encrypt it first).

These days, with so much email being archived in the cloud, I just need something to shuttle email from one cloud account to a private cloud one. Opera Mail can certainly help out with that...and it doesn't hurt that it has a built-in web browser, although not as robust as Chrome or Firefox.

An email client seems so boring in cloud mail and with tools like CloudMagic on mobile devices, but can be essential when you're moving emails from one account to another (e.g. GoogleApps for Education account to your personal Gmail or vice-versa).

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5 Leadership Lessons Fig Trees Can Teach Us

Fig Tree in the Desert

While I was having fun playing with the concepts behind 9 Ways to Become a Digital Nomad, I started to briefly explore the benefits of figs, "cultivated since ancient times," which I imagined are able to grow in extreme conditions given they are found in the Middle East.

Consider this excerpt from a Wikipedia entry:
The common fig tree has been cultivated since ancient times and grows wild in dry and sunny areas, with deep and fresh soil; also in rocky areas, from sea level to 1,700 meters. It prefers light and medium soils, requires well-drained soil, and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Like all fig trees, Ficus carica requires wasp pollination of a particular species of wasp (Blastophaga psenes) to produce seeds. The plant can tolerate seasonal drought, and the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean climate is especially suitable for the plant. Situated in a favorable habitat, old specimens when mature can reach a considerable size and form a large dense shade tree. Its aggressive root system precludes its use in many urban areas of cities, but in nature helps the plant to take root in the most inhospitable areas...The fig tree, with the water, cools the environment in hot places, creating a fresh and pleasant habitat for many animals that take shelter in its shade in the times of intense heat.
What could one learn from a fig tree? Quite a bit:

Fig #1 - Go Deep with Your Roots: If you are going to learn in arid spaces, which some characterize as inhospitable schools, you have to be aggressive and have a deep root system. Ever walk into a school system or organization that simply rejects your message or your approach to living? I've seen it often in colleagues who are depressed because their organization isn't supportive. Fortunately, they have already, or begin to build, an extensive network of fellow learners online that can support them.

This "deep root system" is diverse and doesn't rely on nourishment from their workplace, but rather, is able to sustain them and slake their thirst for personal reward and commitment in spite of drought. An added benefit is that the deeper and richer the roots you have, the more value you are to the organization, even when it may be doing its level best to slash and burn your initiatives.

Fig #2 - Learn to Spread Your Ideas In Spite of the Stings: Learn from those who might sting you a la fig's wasp pollination. In a similar vein as Fig #1, how do you share your ideas with others in a tough environment? Propagating your perspectives, seeds of ideas, to others in your environment can seem crazy when you have to rely on waspish partners. Yet, it is possible to adapt and find ways for people you wouldn't normally associate with to share ideas.

Fig #3 - Share Your Fruit: As you grow, don't be afraid to cast your shade and fruit to others in tough times. This one seems pretty obvious, but can be a tough one. In the midst of trouble, the desire is to isolate and withhold your goodies (e.g. figs, shade) from others. But then, we are all counselled to love our enemies, to do good to those who don't appreciate us. The reason for that is that being fruitful is a function of who we are, not something we choose to withhold or give. If you hold back, the only one you really hurt is yourself at first. Over the long run, leafy fig trees offer the promise of fruit to all who see them. Deliver on that promise to all who pass by.

Fig #4 - Be Cool: Cool the environment around you so you can improve the situation. In work, and in life, situations can become super-heated by those who generate heat (never happy whiners who prefer to complain, criticize without doing anything), reflect heat (gossipers), or those who sap your resources without giving back to the learning ecology (lurkers who don't blog or share what they're learning). Instead, as a fig tree, you are called to tap into deep sources of nourishment that others cannot, and use that as a way to bring shade to cool.

Fig #5 - Thrive on What Burns Others: Seek the sun so you won't wither and die, but rather, thrive in tough locales. If you're going to thrive in the desert, it makes sense that you can take advantage of the greatest resource available--the hot, burning sun who provides light and energy. If you can't, then you probably need to move on to a more hospitable environment. A fig tree prospers in the light of the sun.
Image Source

These are only a few, small figs of learning from the Leadership Fig Tree. What figs can you spot nestled amidst the branches?

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Embrace the Torrent: 9 Ways to Become A #DigitalNomad

A colleague, upon listening to a presentation by another Twitter Illuminati, said sarcastically, and perhaps unfairly, "Spare me another presentation on how twitter has changed his life." I promptly ignored him and tuned in to what Dean Shareski was saying...sometimes, even when you know the destination, the experience of getting there can be fun.
Source: Egyptian Nomad . I love this nomad picture. Now, imagine this person at the center of
connections made possible by social media. Awesome to imagine!
And, isn't that what learning today is about? A collection of hyper-connected experiences that help deepen and widen our understanding of our own learning? This blog entry explores how you can embrace the torrent of learning, offering 9 ways to become a digital nomad.

Over at A Principal's Reflections, Eric S makes the following assertion in his blog entry, The Limits of Being a Disconnected Nomad:
Being a disconnected nomad limited my ability to lead and learn.  We fear what we don't know or understand.  When this happens we make excuses not to do something and in education we resort to blocking, banning, or pretending something doesn't exist.  This is how I saw social media and mobile technology back in 2009. The problem is that the majority of educators in 2014 still feel this way.  The epiphany for me was that I saw a professional opportunity in Twitter to improve communications with my stakeholders. From here I began to lurk and learn, which resulted in no longer being a disconnected nomad.
Eric's then elaborates on how his epiphany has had a transformative effect on his work, cautioning others to overcome their fears. The connection to the term "nomad," though, captured my attention.

Nomads have a romantic image, don't they? They travel from location to location, picking up ideas, surviving desert sandstorms and cultivating self-reliant attitudes and practices. But nomads are no longer isolated, if they ever were.

Let's rethink this idea of nomads as being disconnected, and more interconnected. How would that fundamentally change things? I've included my description of digital nomads, as I play with the idea, as well as how to get there.

  1. Digital nomads are interconnected, unbound by educational territories such as schools and districts, connecting the local to the global.
    How To: Don't let your current organization's approaches and curriculum limit you. Grow global, share local.
  2. Digital nomads migrate from Twitter chat to Google Hangout to Facebook Group to online conferences, seeking pastures of the mind for wildly rampaging neuron herds.
    How To: Find common ground where others are, pursuing the ideas and learning rather than sticking with one technology over another (e.g. Twitter, not Facebook). 
  3. Digital nomads have a rich culture and heritage that rely on face to face AND online relationships cultivated over time.
    How To: Lurk on social media, respond to other's questions, pose your own questions (and answer them if you wish to be self-reliant and learning something worth sharing--your own journey).
  4. Digital nomads have spatial awareness of the digital paths and byways they travel, and can act on that awareness to enhance to growth of those they nurture.
    How To: Map the digital pathways your learning has travelled, sharing that with others. "I learned this on Twitter from +David Warlick and then shared it via Google + with @wfryer.
  5. Digital nomads, over time, are state-less, transnational, potentially considered terrorists in some systems (e.g. those that ban the use of social media to connect, collaborate) and welcome friends and teachers in others.
    How To: Don't be afraid to reference technologies and good uses others have put them to in places where they are banned. The focus is on the benefits, not the foolish, albeit real, fear.
  6. Digital nomads can never be refugees because they remain connected to the culture, geo-spatial networks that nurture them.
    How To: No matter where you go, stay connected with your learning networks, adding new nodes every day, mapping new watering holes to find nourishment. While one oasis may go dry, another wellspring may be unearthed.
  7. Digital nomads believe in scattering their learning widely across disparate systems in what some may see as redundant fashion, relying on no one system or structure because it may be unavailable in the future. 
    How To: Don't imagine the manifestation of your learning as existing in one place, but rather, allow it grow wherever it may find roots, like seeds cast upon the wind.
  8. Digital nomads embrace encryption and security, not because they fear transparency, but because there can be no transparency without privacy.
    How To: Without privacy, there can be no transparency. It is from the security of my privacy that I can allow what I share to be transparently available for others. Make the effort to secure your privacy with encryption.
  9. Digital nomads take no one person as their teacher or mentor, but rather, recognize that the accumulation of eclectic experiences grounded in learning conversations support growth.
    How To: While you may wish to claim one teacher as your primary source, avoid that. Instead, realize that the rain nourishes all, even though it is but a single droplet on a grain of sand. Embrace the torrent.
I definitely see myself as a digital nomad, a person who can find himself at home with any technology and, transcending learning. Eric writes the following:
There still are too many disconnected nomads leading schools and teaching our students who have yet to experience the unlimited potential that connectivity offers.

Come on...become a digital nomad. Share your reflections on this blog post by using the hashtag #digitalnomad

Doug "Blue Skunk" Johnson, Digital Nomad

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Same Old, Same Old

"What do you mean technology in schools won't work?" I was having a discussion with a college professor 12 years ago one summer day. His cynicism, for that's what I perceived it as, marred his leadership and humor. For him, the research clearly showed that technology integration was a failed strategy.  I certainly believed that technology could transform teaching, learning and leading.

And, when I read about Twitterbees swarming around new ideas, the concepts of PLNs, etc., it's clear that for many, technology CAN shift how each of us learns and collaborates. That aside though, school systems resist change. Although new technologies find their way into schools, they don't necessarily result in the desired change:
Individual change resistance is the refusal of a social agent (a single person, organization, corporation, etc) to fully support or adopt new behavior. Systemic change resistance is the tendency for a system as a whole to reject an attempted change, even if that change is promoted over a long period of time by a substantial fraction of the population. That's what's happening in the sustainability problem, so when we say "change resistance" we usually mean systemic change resistance. Source: Change Resistance
Through crucial confrontations and conversations, I believe we can see individuals change. In truth, though, those who won't change or who actively resist change, as one principal put it to me, "should be encouraged to exit." But I often find that resistance isn't about an individual, rather, a system that fights back.
Image Source: 

Over 20 years ago, I was introduced to the Levels of Technology Implementation (LOTI), a Concerns-based Adoption Model (CBAM) approach that took a hard look at technology integration in schools. I haven't seen anything better or more comprehensive since Dr. Chris Moersch introduced me to these ideas in Edgewood ISD, while teaching 6th grade bilingual at a school where the Mr. Demetrio Rodriguez--made famous by the legal case that names him--would often put in an appearance. Even then, CBAM and LOTI clearly outlined the kinds of fundamental changes we needed to see.

See more
Although the LOTI remains today, folks--as in The Importance of Change Management in Facilitating Instructional Technology Adoption (Kelly Walsh)--continue to hearken back to the original articles like this one, Implementing Technology in Schools, published in 1991:
The effective technology coordinator needs to understand curriculum, principles of staff development, organizational development, good pedagogy, and be especially skilled in understanding human dynamics...The technology coordinator needs to understand good pedagogy in order to assist teachers in being able to use technology to support and improve a good instructional program.
When I reflect on my years of serving in my role as instructional technologist, or technology coordinator, I see where this argument has gone wrong. While well-intentioned, it is plain wrong.

These days, when I wake up in the morning, I try to ask myself, What am I doing differently? What can I help others do differently? While I fear that different isn't always better, I'd rather not be caught up in the quicksand of yesteryear.

Here's how I'd revise that advice about technology in schools:

  1. Curriculum specialists need to take advantage of any and all technologies for facilitating teaching and learning.
  2. Adult learners need to organize and connect with each other to build their own learning networks that are independent yet collaborative with school district PD efforts.
  3. Pedagogy is only good if it employs the latest technologies that make learning possible in ways that were previously impossible without it.
  4. A "good" instructional program isn't one that teaches children how to learn the way we did, but rather, helps children learn in ways our teaching can only suggest.
That's all.

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Built for Schools: How efficacious are digital textbooks?

Yes, that is an important question. Many school organizations are moving to digital textbooks, but the question remains, how efficacious are digital textbooks?

In a lunch conversation with a retired Air Force Colonel, we briefly exchanged stories about our reading preferences. While I have no problems reading fiction content in digital format, reading non-fiction is problem-rich:
  1. I find I can't remember key ideas, instead have to write them down or blog them to remember.
  2. It's difficult to highlight content and share it (unless I'm reading on Amazon Kindle, but even then, I don't care for it since I end up re-formatting the content in Evernote).
  3. Simply, the non-fiction info seems more...abstract.
The "concrete" or tactile experience of reading non-fiction is preferred. In the audio book arena, only non-fiction works for me. Somehow, I remember more when I hear non-fiction. With fiction, I want to see the words on the page, digital or print. Sure enough, the Colonel's experience was the opposite of mind, reminding me that one-size-fits-all approaches to learning are problematic. 
The haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does' … an ebook reader. A new study which found that readers using a Kindle were "significantly" worse than paperback readers at recalling when events occurred in a mystery story is part of major new Europe-wide research looking at the impact of digitisation on the reading experience.(Source: The Guardian)

What's even more disturbing about digital textbooks is the following:
Mangen also pointed to a paper published last year, which gave 72 Norwegian 10th-graders texts to read in print, or in PDF on a computer screen, followed by comprehension tests. She and her fellow researchers found that "students who read texts in print scored significantly better on the reading comprehension test than students who read the texts digitally". (Source: The Guardian)
So, forgive me when I see content like this, which offers unstinting, unexamined praise for the use of tablets in classrooms for digital textbook viewing:
With tablets,  students can  type queries into their digital books as the questions come to mind, then sift through the answers themselves. And there’s a whole lot less peer pressure involved in entering a query into a search form, so hesitant students are more apt to ask questions in the first place. Source: Digital Book World
Admittedly, many of us will have little choice about adopting digital textbooks in schools. Consider this excerpt:
Education companies and organizations are getting on board by leveraging the technology of tablets to bring digital textbooks and all-in-one, next generation curriculum products to the classroom... “Noting that annual textbook costs for U.S. K-12 public schools has reached nearly $8 billion", the FCC and the Department of Education have encouraged the country to transition to interactive digital learning within the next five years (T-mobile helping to advance, 2012). There is no doubt that with the integration of tablets and the digital curriculum, apps, e-readers, and e-texts that will surely be paired along with them, will necessitate a shift of those textbook costs. 
Pearson’s Common Core System of Courses comes preloaded with Pearson’s math and English language arts curriculum, apps such as iWork, iLife, and iTunes, and a variety of educational third-party apps (Bowman & Muller, 2013).  With a complete math and English curriculum and additional built in resources, the need for textbooks is unnecessary. Students are able to access media and web resources related to the curriculum as well as engage in learning without difficult-to-plan trips to the library or the run down lab. 
The ultimate costs of digital textbooks and curriculum, coupled with the resources of the world wide web brought to the classroom via tablets, will eventually make more sense than printing, binding, and delivering textbooks that are often instantly dated the moment they are printed. 
“Although [digital textbooks] might be more expensive initially, the volume of sales should result in increased opportunity for lower unit costs. The logical result is more faculty demand, more publisher investment, and faster growth" (McFadden, 2012). Source: Why Digital Learning Is Here To Stay
What does this mean for schools? It means we'll need to soon start equipping students with low-cost tablets or Chromebooks. My money is on Chromebooks, which come equipped with keyboards, are being supported by state-wide tutorial/assessment initiatives--in Texas at least with offer the biggest bang for their buck.

This doesn't mean iPads or Androids are out, only that a more strategic approach is needed...but the search for one device may be so much jabberwock. The rush is on, not to provide efficacious textbooks for students, but rather, to simply provide access to devices that allow access to digital textbooks.

If not, we risk a digital divide built for schools.

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Digital Textbooks and eBooks in Schools

Thanks to the Texas School Business journal for highlighting a San Antonio area school district in their September, 2014 cover article. The article (page 12), written by Shelley Seale (@shelleyseale), spotlights a picture of Jeff Johnson (, high school teacher, who was in Cohort 1 of the East Central ISD EC3 Initiative (which happens to use iPads).

As Texas school districts jump into Math Textbook Adoptions--with Houghton-Mifflin and/or Pearson--there is a clear need to provide students increased access to digital devices. Getting the paper copies of the textbooks is cost-prohibitive for many districts since the Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA) is perceived by some to be "under-funded." You simply don't have enough funding to buy textbooks or technology, which was the original intent.

Read the complete article at their web site:
Kudos to the ECISD Instructional Technology team--Mary Ray, Marguerite Lowak and Jacob Ortega--for their hard work on EC3 Program, which has enjoyed 3 cohorts thus far of teachers. Of course, none of this would have been possible without top-level leadership support, including Gary Patterson (past superintendent), Dr. Patricia Birney (Asst. Superintendent of C&I), James Selby (Asst. Superintendent of Finance), and Roland Toscano (Current Superintendent).

You can find out more online at (the department web site) by clicking the EC3 tab. 

Shelley Seale (the author of the article) contacted me--following up on a recommendation from colleague and friend, Jennifer Bergland (TCEA)--back on July 21st and we did a short interview, where I attempted to respond to questions like those shown below:
Jennifer Bergland

Topic to explore: With e-books and digital learning tools on the rise, is the traditional textbook on the endangered list in Texas public schools?
  • What is your school district, or specific school (if the district is too broad for your perspective), doing right now with e-textbooks and digital learning?
  • Are there any particular areas, classes or subjects where you have particularly made more of a switch to e-learning? Why, and how?
  • Can you give any sort of “setting the stage” look at how you’ve incorporated digital learning – sort of the process or steps to get there?
  • Have you seen success with the digital learning you have implemented? Can you give some specific examples?
  • What have the challenges been?
  • Do you feel that traditional textbooks will be more and more on the decline as the digital classroom increases?
  • Will you continue with your present digital program, and/or will you expand them?
  • Any how-to advice you could give to other schools who are thinking about implementing e-learning would be terrific!
I was reminded of a research study that I had responded to earlier this summer by Dr. Mary Beth Green in a similar vein. She outlined a list of benefits/advantages, disadvantages and challenges.
ECISD High School Teacher, Jeff Johnson
 In my initial response to Shelley, I simply quoted something I'd written earlier in the year to other Texas technology directors:
This is a subject that came up recently with new textbook adoptions.  I’m reluctant to jump into supporting digital textbooks with both feet. My focus has always been on encouraging content creation, rather than reading other folks stuff. I haven’t seen the promise of eTextbook creation on iPads realized and figure that it’s because there are some who can do it, but most can’t or won’t.  
Furthermore, curriculum and assessment management systems are piecemeal and rely on each individual teacher. (gee, I’m making a lot of unsubstantiated assertions…quick, someone stop me with facts and real life experiences). 
With new textbook adoptions, eTextbooks are finding their way into our classrooms. What advice do you have about choosing a device to view these?

  • iPads (even iPad Minis) are too expensive to just use for eTextbook viewing
  • Low-cost Android tablets may be a boondoggle since their usability, although increasing, remains limited due to lack of rich ecology of edu-apps. I can see them for BYOT use, but are they ready for school systems?
  • Don’t want to get one device for one set of textbooks then have to deal with DRM and account management that mean they will only work on one device (e.g. Ibooks Author/iTunes working for vendor lock-in with Apple)
  • How do you assess eTextbook use so that one can justify purchasing expensive technology (e.g. device per student)?

  • Hope to pick a uniform platform for eTextbooks that is low-cost and easy to manage centrally
  • Hope to have DRM-free ebooks that can be viewed on any device
  • Hope to provide every student with a mobile device and/or be able to deploy district content on their phones without artificial publisher limits.
This served as the basis for my dialogue with Shelley and what ended up being included in the article:

Some of the source information quoted in the article is available online at the EC3 Program Overview and Assessment.

Again, thanks to ECISD, Shelley Seale, Jennifer Bergland and the Texas School Business journal! It was definitely my pleasure to have these dialogues.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Selecting a Virtual Private Network (VPN) Provider - #PrivateInternetAccess @buyvpnservice

Private Internet Access - It works and great price!

As my daughter went off to college, she remarked that she'd have free WiFi in her apartment.
"Really?" I asked. "Is it encrypted?"
"No," she replied. "Does it need to be?"
Data theft occurs at several different levels online. First, your data can be stolen by hacking into your social network and email accounts. Secondly, your data can be phished using emails that appear to be from valid sources. Finally, your data can also be stolen by wiretapping/eavesdropping on your internet connection both via wire and wireless connections.
ETHEREAL and WIRESHARK provide criminals access to your network traffic whether on wired or wireless connections. These softwares are free and available for anyone to use and download with minimal computer knowledge. 
Source: Data Theft, Private Internet Access
Of course, that kicked off a whole discussion on the issues with using unencrypted WiFi that you find offered free...well...everywhere. Although I've always had the good fortune to be on encrypted networks, whether at home and work, I've been a bit worried about her doing all her online banking, etc. via unsecured WiFi network that anyone can snoop on...having explored snooping myself, just to see if a low-tech person (wink) like me could do it, I was shocked.

So, I sent out a tweet yesterday and asked around. Wes Fryer ( suggested Astrill, a recommendation that was backed up by another in my network. Unfortunately, after doing the math, I realized that this solution wasn't going to work for my budget.

Reluctantly, I turned to the next best solution on the list, TorGuard. And began an epic journey that ended with me a bit irritated (enough to post 2 negative tweets) after 3 hours of suffering. I cancelled the TorGuard Pro account after banging my head against the screen of my Ubuntu 14.04 laptop. Although the support folks insisted, "We can get it working! Just give us a chance!" the fact is, anything that is that hard isn't worth it.

So, what to do?
What success looks like using Private Internet Access via

My daughter texted me, "Why don't we try Private Internet Access? The price is right--$40 per year for 5 devices!" I signed up and Ubuntu laptop was connected instantly. Apparently, their instructions actually worked (unlike, in my experience, TorGuard). I mean, it was that easy. The setup is drop-dead simple on Android and Mac (Windows, too).

"Privacy is the number one concern for our VPN service. Logging directly compromises that privacy, and also slows down the efficiency of an internet connection. When using a VPN service, privacy, speed and connectivity are all important factors to bring customers a better service. In order to provide the most private, efficient and high-speed VPN service to our customers, does not maintain any logs of any kind, period." (Source)
  • Secure VPN Account
  • Encrypted WiFi
  • P2P and VoIP Support
  • PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec
  • 5 devices simultaneously
  • Multiple VPN Gateways
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • SOCKS5 Proxy Included
  • No traffic logs
  • Instant Setup

I can't emphasize the highlighted item enough--Instant Setup! Check the pricing online.

You might find this review and walkthrough worth watching. (I didn't and was able to set up quick...also, Android works great)

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Free Tutorials for MS Office, OpenOffice and GoogleDocs #inpictures

As technology changes at an astounding rate, and given how many people are making how-to tutorials in video and print, making how-to tutorials has fallen by the wayside. Why bother making a tutorial for teachers if you can just find them online in infinite variety and languages?

Thanks to inpictures, these tutorials are available for free to educators:
My company creates illustration-based computer tutorials that are free for any teacher or student to use. Around the Corner readers might appreciate knowing about them.
The tutorials are available at They were developed through a research study funded by the U.S. Dept. of Education.
We've recently created many new tutorials, several on Google Drive applications. Considering the rapid adoption of Google Apps in schools, this might be of interest to readers of your blog. 
That aside, you may want to check these tutorials out. Although MS Office and OpenOffice tutorials are available, you can also find some for:
Google Drive Apps
Google DocsGoogle SheetsGoogle Slides

Here's one of the pictures from the GoogleSheets tutorial:

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure