Author Archives: TechnoLaurie

TechnoLaurie

About TechnoLaurie

Laurie Gerard, Research and Development ~ Laurie is responsible for the upkeep of our materials ensuring projects are developmentally appropriate, meaningful to students, integrate into the curriculum, and have clear instructions. Her duties include curriculum support and upkeep of our network and server. Laurie's contribution to the blog includes entries about the challenges of integrating technology in a school environment. The technical issues she overcomes related to hardware, software, and networking will be passed on to you in the form of practical strategies. In addition, she writes about the real-world problems faced by teachers as they struggle to offer a quality technology program with a limited budget.

Annotate a TechnoKids PDF on an iPad

tablet

With distance learning during COVID being our reality, making sure your students can complete tasks is not without its challenges. For the foreseeable future remote learning is essential. Which device a student has available to them at home may be out of your control. If your students are using TechnoKids and iPads, they will still need to be able to annotate the workbook assignments and submit them. TechnoKids’ resources can be used with an iPad. See iPads and TechnoKids Projects to read more about which TechnoKids titles to pick for use on an iPad.

Not all PDF editors are the same. When selecting one, an important consideration is that it must open and annotate a secured TechnoKids PDF document. Typically, we recommend using either XODO and Kami to type answers into a TechnoKids worksheet. These apps are a viable option for both desktop and Chromebooks users. However, XODO does not work well with TechnoKids and iPads. Read my review below to learn more.

XODO PDF Reader & Annotator

XODO is a fantastic application. I was hoping that I could get it to work with an iPad. However, I encountered lots of frustration.

First, I thought I could add Google Chrome to my iPad and add the extension for XODO just like desktop or Chromebook users can do. However, extensions are not available for the iPad. This was a disappointing discovery.

Next, I checked out the App store and installed the PDF Reader & Annotator by Xodo. I found that I could open and markup a TechnoKids PDF file, but the file needed to be available either On My iPad, from iCloud Drive, or OneDrive. Google Drive did not seem to be an option. If your students are working with Google Classroom, or sharing assignments through Google Drive, you will find XODO limiting.

Not willing to give up completely, I visited xodo.com and signed in (free registration). I then opted to retrieve a document from my Google Drive. This resulted in a Network failure error. I was unable to resolve this.

In my opinion, XODO was not a viable option for annotating TechnoKids PDF documents on the iPad. If you’re fine with moving files all around the device and not working directly with Google Drive, then the App may still work. Maybe as an adult this is doable, but for the average K-8 student, it is not an easy-to-use option.

Kami Your Digital Classroom Hero – Recommended

Kami is a PDF editor TechnoKids has been recommending for many years. It has annotation tools that make it simple to type answers into worksheets. For desktop or Chromebook users, Kami has an extension for the Chrome browser that works well. Unfortunately, extensions are not available on the iPad.

I could not find Kami in the App store. So, I opened my browser and visited kamiapp.com and signed in (free registration). From there I was able to tap OPEN FROM GOOGLE DRIVE. I did need to sign into my Google account again and give Kami permission to read my files. I could then easily get to my Google Drive files and open the desired TechnoKids PDF assignment.

open from Google Drive
Choose a file to open directly from Kami

Using the Markup highlighter, I could emphasize important text that I might need to refer to again later. I could fill in the blanks or make my own notes using the Text Box tool. I could even use the Drawing tool to write on the page using my stylus. I was able to move these things around the page or remove them with the Eraser.

Show markup Kami
Showing markup on PDF assignment

Saving and Sharing with TechnoKids and iPads

When I was finished, I was able to save the changes back to Google Drive directly from Kami. Keep in mind, that in order to continue working on the file you would need to reopen from Kami. When ready to submit your work, you have 2 options:

  • You can upload the document to your Kami account and then share with a link.
  • If you use the Google Drive App, you can display your files and share without having to open the file first.
Save annotated file
Save annotations back to Google Drive.

The person receiving the file then has 2 options as well, they can view the annotations simply when previewing the file, or they can choose to open it in Kami as well to add their own comments.

Can annotations be seen in Google Drive?

When I went back to open my assignment directly from Google Drive, the document opens in preview mode. It showed all the annotations that I had made. However, in order to continue working on the document it still needs to be opened through the Kami website.

Is Kami Free?

Yes and no. I was using the free version and was able to highlight, comment, add text, draw, add shapes, and erase anything I had done. I could save the changes I had made and even share the file. Some features, like inserting images, adding a signature, equations, accessing the dictionary, or text to speech come with the paid version. According to their website, the Teacher Plan is a yearly fee that supports 150 students and includes these additional features. School/district pricing is also available.

TechnoKids and iPads – Our Recommendation

In my opinion, Kami is a suitable option for annotating a TechnoKids PDF worksheet on an iPad. Students can type in their answers and submit the file to their teacher. It is a PDF editor that works with any device. Kami, TechnoKids and iPads are a powerful combination to make distance learning succeed.

TechnoKids and Google Classroom

What Is Google Classroom?

TechnoKids and Google Classroom work very well together! Google Classroom is a free web service developed for schools by Google. It was designed to simplify the creation, distribution, and grading of assignments without the need for paper. Now, paired with TechnoKids Technology Projects, you’re good to go!

TechnoKids and Google Classroom

We recently set up our own Google Classroom to try it out. We quickly discovered how easily TechnoKids and Google Classroom work together. Attaching a TechnoKids PDF workbook file to a new Class assignment was very easy.  We found that along with a few instructions, students were able to answer questions electronically in the document and open a template file in a Google App like Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Drawings. It was not difficult to attach newly created documents or additional files.

Google Classroom icon

Submitting completed assignments is also quick and easy. The teacher can review the completed work, assign a grade, and offer any comments directly to the student.

Getting Started

To use TechnoKids with Google Classroom, you will need to add a Chrome extension to your browser. This allows users to annotate the TechnoKids PDF worksheet files directly in the browser, save the changes, and submit them for grading. We suggest using either Kami or XODO extensions.

What You Need to Know

The first thing you need to do is create a Class in Google Classroom. Add your students simply by sharing a class code with the class or invite students by email. We found the former was the quickest where the student joined the class by simply typing in the code. The latter requires the student to open the email invite and click the Join link.

Next, you’ll need to upload the TechnoKids project resources to your Class Drive folder. This puts all the resources you’ll need to create assignments in one convenient spot.

Now you’re ready to create an assignment and issue it to your class. Open the first TechnoKids project assignment and read the instructions. Determine if the student needs to add answers to this document, do they need an added template file to complete the activity, or are they merely going to follow the directions to create a new document in Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, or Drawings? Next, create a new assignment in your Class, attach the worksheet and any other necessary files. Set the user permission to give the student access to read or write to the file(s). Give the assignment a grade value and a due date, then place it into the TechnoKids project category.

The student opens the assignment in their Class to follow the instructions and complete the activity. The convenient Turn in option will alert the teacher when the assignment is ready for grading.

All in all, we found that our resource materials work very well with Google Classroom.

Support

If you think you still need some help getting started with TechnoKids and Google Classroom, we have put together some supportive Q&A’s here.

Watch Our Google Classroom playlist!

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Batch Conversion to Change the File Type of Photos

Do you need to resize a batch of photos? Do you want to quickly convert multiple pictures to a new file type? You can!

You can resize a batch of photos using Photo Gallery if you have Windows 7 or Windows 8. However, at this time you can only convert the file type to JPG. Which is annoying! I posted to the Microsoft forum and received a response to use IrfanView.

Great advice! IrfanView is easy to use and can do everything I want. Follow the instructions below to batch convert your picture files. To learn more about this program view IrfanView Frequently Asked Questions.

How to Batch Convert Photos using IrfanView

  1. Download and install IrfanView.
  2. Copy the photos you want to convert into a folder.
  3. From the program window click File and select Batch Conversion/Rename.
  4. Select the files you want to convert:
    1. From the Look in: section, click the arrow and locate the folder with the photos.
    2. Double click the folder to view all the files.
    3. Click Add all to select all the files OR select a photo and click Add.
      select photos to batch convert

      Locate the folder with the photos you want to convert.

  5. In the Batch conversion settings area, choose the Output format from the drop down menu. In this case I wanted to convert my JPG files to BMP.
  6. select file type

    Which file type do you want to convert the photos?
    Set the Output format.

  7. If you also want to reduce the file size:
    1. In the Batch conversion settings area, tick the Use advanced options checkbox and then click Advanced.
    2. In the RESIZE section, set the options.
    3. Click OK.
    4. resize a batch of photos

      Select the options for editing the batch of photos such as crop, size, color, rotation, and more!

  8. In the Output directory for result files section, click Browse to choose a location for the converted photos.
    Click OK.
  9. select a folder

    Browse to select a folder to place your newly converted images. NOTE: It is a good idea to have already created the folder you want to use.


    Note: I made this the same folder as my original photos. Since I was changing the format my originals would stay intact. If I was going to just make changes to the originals (leaving them as JPG) I would likely create a subfolder to put them in. After all I would not want to lose my originals

  10. Click Start Batch
  11. When done, click Exit batch.
    batch conversion of photos

  12. Close the program and go to the folder where you converted the photos. That’s it – your done!

You will have to check with your system administrator if you do not have permission to download and install programs on your own. But for a freebie I thought this software worked quite well. It was simple and easy to use and accomplished the task I needed.

Now, I have an excellent option to use while I wait for Microsoft to add batch conversion (to something other than JPG) to Photo Gallery on its next update.

If you want to know more about converting photos refer to my blog article Resizing Images Without Losing Quality.

Setting Group Policies to Work with SkyDrive

Are your students unable to print or download files from SkyDrive at your school? Ask your system administrator to adjust your group policy settings by adding several URLs as a trusted source.

Please note, these instructions are written for Server 2003 (Yes, I know that’s OLD). If you have a newer server the instructions might be somewhat different, however the URLs will be the same.

NOTE: THIS SHOULD BE DONE BY YOUR SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR.

You can open your Active Directory Users and Computers’ control panel by navigating to it on your Start menu by going to Program Files > Administrative Tools > Active Directory Users and Computers.

That will open a console that looks something like this:

active-directory

If you want the policy to apply to your entire domain, right click at the top of the console. The domain is specified by an icon of three computers. If you want to apply the policy to another group or organizational unit right click on that instead.

Choose Properties from the context menu and then you will see the screen below:

properties

Click on the Group Policy tab and then click the Open button. This is called the Group Policy Management tool. The organizational unit you previously selected will already be highlighted.

Right click on it and choose Create and Link a GPO Here

group management policy

That will take you to the place where you can name the policy. Name it something that will make it easily identifiable. Then click OK.

trusted sites

You have just created your policy. Now you need to define the settings that you want to trickle down to your clients. Locate your policy in the right pane and right click on it. Choose Edit to get started.

edit

Now you need to drill down to the settings that you want to set. In the left pane, click the + sign to expand each group as follows: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Internet Explorer > Internet Control Panel > Security Page and then double click Site to Zone Assignment List in the right pane as you can see below.

zone assignment

After you double click on Site to Zone Assignment List you will see a window to enable the settings and configure it. Click enabled. Then click Show. On the Show Contents screen, click Add. By clicking add, you add URLs and specify what zone you want them to be placed in. You can also add wildcards to factor in variations of the URL.

Add the following URLs (one at a time) to allow your students to be able to view their SkyDrive documents as a PDF file, print the PDF, and download the Word file to their computer.

https://*.livefilestore.com/storageservice/passport/auth.aspx/* (this address uses wildcards * to include multiple portions of the url) (NOTE: This URL allows a file to be downloaded)

https://d.docs.live.net (NOTE: This URL allows a file to be downloaded)

https://word-view.officeapps.live.com/wv/WordViewer/request.pdf (NOTE: This URL permits printing)

add item

The number 2 denotes the number of the zone. In this case it is the trusted zone. Microsoft breaks down the settings as follows:

  1. Intranet zone – sites on your local network.
  2. Trusted Sites zone – sites that have been added to your trusted sites.
  3. Internet zone – sites that are on the Internet.
  4. Restricted Sites zone – sites that have been specifically added to your restricted sites.

After clicking OK you can wait for the 15 minute default refresh of Group Policy or you can run gpupdate.exe from the Run command on any workstation to see if it worked. Optionally you can also restart the workstations to force the update.

Your students will receive a series of prompts when they log into Skydrive and open a file. They must click Yes to be able to print and download.