Archive for August, 2009

6th Grade Journalist Interviews President on Education

Damon, a 11-year old student journalist from Florida got an interview with the president at the White House and grilled him on everything from school lunches, to school violence, and improving education. See the following video for more.

Free 2010 Printable School Calendar

As the new school year is approaching, does your school have a printable 2010 school calendar that your staff and students can access online or print for placement on their fridge? You can get a free printable 2010 calendar for your school by signing up for the free Tandem Basic online calendar.

Once school management sets up the school calendar it will be live online so that staff, students, and parents can access it by going to a specific url (typically From there they can print out the annual calendar or bookmark the page for future reference. They can also sync your school’s calendar events with a personal calendar like Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook, or Cozi or alternatively subscribe to the calendar RSS feed. Set up of the annual calendar is easy and takes just minutes. The public webpage is hosted on Intand’s secure servers.

Tandem Basic is much more than a static online school calendar. School management can log in to the administration panel and add new events or change dates at any time. These changes will immediately be reflected on the calendar web page and updates will also be distributed to members of the school who have subscribed to the calendar. Parent’s have often commented on the convenience of getting school updates to their personal calendar. To make it look official, you can also upload your school’s logo.

To get started with Tandem’s free 2010 printable school calendar simply register your information.

YouTube EDU: Free Lectures from World’s Top Colleges

YouTube recently made available a new channel on their site called YouTube EDU. The channel is the result of work by Google employees using their time to make academic content from universities on the popular video site more easily available. The videos are further separated by school. Popular school channels include Harvard Business School, the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Purdue University and UC Berkeley. The academic relevance of each school’s channel varies, but the amount of academic content is tremendous.

The lecture topics run the gamut from guitar lessons to anthropology lectures to an MIT course on quantum physics. For viewers seeking out lectures on specific topics, YouTube EDU provides a search utility that filters out non-educational content. Many of the lectures are full hour-length classes on film. The UC Berkeley channel offers up an hour and a half guest lecture by the Dalai Lama among 600 other videos.

Lectures have been posted on YouTube for years, but several YouTube EDU university channels have grouped together lectures to create entire courses. Yale University’s channel boasts 13 full courses, each with 20 to 25 hour-long videos. Offering full courses in easy-to-use chronological order undercuts the fractured nature of making single lectures available out of context. YouTube EDU offers over 200 of these full courses.

A similar site was launched recently called Academic Earth. It also provides free video lectures from top schools across the nation. While watching these videos is not quite the same as being in the classroom or engaging in discussion, the sheer amount of quality education available for free is a landmark achievement and attests to the value of technology in education.

Here is one of the more popular lectures series on YouTube titled “Physics for Future Presidents”:

Free Office Suite Software for Schools

Google Docs is an office software suite that you can access through a web browser. Users can create and share documents with the online word processor, spreadsheet and presentation editors. Google actively tries to recruit teachers to use Google Docs in the classroom and boasts specific advantages over traditional office software. The first is that teachers have the capability to share documents with their students during the writing process. This allows teachers to comment and provide feedback on projects before they are complete, and is more in line with the The National Council of Teachers of English assertion that writing should be taught as a process with continual drafts and revisions.

Another advantage of Google Docs is the ability to share documents. This is especially useful for group projects. Students can all have simultaneous access to a presentation, word document or spreadsheet and teachers can access document records to ensure that each student has made real contributions to a project.

Teachers also use Google Docs to track attendance and grades and share this with other teachers responsible for the same students. Shared spreadsheets can be used for quizzes and tests. Google shares creative ways that teachers have used the docs. One teacher had her students use the collaboration feature in real-time during a presentation. One student delivered the presentation aloud and the audience was able to share thoughts without interrupting. Another teacher had peer reviews take place outside the classroom. When a student was finished a draft, peers could read and comment on the draft from home or study hall, reducing the in-class time necessary for revisions.

Google Docs has many other features, but perhaps the greatest advantage is the price tag. It doesn’t have one! All of Google Docs features are free to use for anyone on any scale. A step-by-step guide, “Using Google Docs in the Classroom” is available here.

Tandem Implements Geneva Single Sign-On to Simplify User Permission Management

Intand was recently mentioned by for our work with Microsoft to integrate Tandem for Schools with Microsoft’s Geneva Single Sign-On, which makes it easy for students and parents to be authenticated with the user data stored on the school’s servers.

Geneva Single Sign-On is especially useful for schools that use multiple cloud-based third party applications because it provides an easy way to manage user log in permissions across multiple applications while maintaining a high level of security of personal information.

The first implementation of this in a school setting was with the Lake Washington School District who uses Tandem for Schools to manage their calendars at all of their 48 schools.

In the future Geneva Single Sign-On will allow schools to grant full access to students, staff, and parents who have been authenticated by the school. In the past this was possible but would require a school administrator to painstakingly add data manually on each individual or import data into the application. If a school uses multiple third-party applications this may require administrators to manage a separate database on each application which can be very time consuming. Geneva single sign-on will make it much easier to manage user permissions by “talking” with applications and telling them if an individual should be granted access based on student and parent data that is centrally located on the school’s server (Active Directory). This will reduce redundancies and lessen the work load of busy school administrators.

School Adminstration Software for Event Management

Tandem school administration software helps schools simplify school event management by allowing central control of the school’s events calendar and transportation through an easy to use browser based user interface. This has many benefits for school administrators in charge of coordinating school events.

Communicate Event Scheduling More Effectively

The school administrator in charge of planning school events can enter all the events going on at a school from Drama Club meetings to friday night football games into the online school calendar. Any student, parent, teacher, or coach can easily access information through any web browser to learn about a specific event, or filter the calendar to their specific needs. When an event time is changed by an administrator, the change will be immediately updated to the online calender.

Avoid Schedule Conflicts
It is quick and easy for administrators to add events to the school calendar through a user friendly online interface. Multiple administrators can have access to add events to the calendar and Tandem will automatically alert you if there is a scheduling conflict. No more time wasted on back and fourth paper trails to get a schedule conflict resolved. Coaches can also request facilities and the administrator can easily grant them access with a click of the mouse.

Easy to Implement

Our school administration software is hosted externally on Intand’s secure servers. That means there is no complicated software to install. Our support team can get your calendar up and running in minutes and Tandem allows you to quickly import Excel data like school groups, staff members, and competing schools. If you ever have any questions, our friendly support team will always be happy to help you help you through them.

Manage Transportation

The transportation management functionality is available with the Plus version of Tandem for Schools. It helps administrators easily request and allocate transportation for school events. Tandem’s transportation module will prevent driver conflicts and manage fuel costs.

There are many more helpful benefits of Tandem for Schools. Schedule a free 1 on 1 demo on your own computer to learn more.

Photo by Gil Searcy

School Administrator Approved Online School Calendar

Hear what several school administrators have said about our online school calendar:

The Tandem calendar not only gave parents the ability to check on upcoming events, but also gave them driving direction to out of town games. It also allowed us to schedule both our events and make reservations to our high school facility on one one calendar, which streamlined the work done by my office.

-Jeff Lunt, Assistant Principal/Athletic Director, Port Angeles High School

We’ve been using the Tandem calendar since the beginning of the 2008-09 school year and it has been a great addition to our district’s online presence. We have been able to use the RSS feeds to automatically update our main webpage with district events and will soon be extending this to the individual school web pages. I would recommend Tandem to anyone looking for a school events calendar solution.

-Brad King, Manor ISD

We have been struggling for years in keeping our schools’ calendars current. As soon as it is printed it is out of date. I have looked at several on-line calendar solutions and this is the best I have found. We have been using Tandem for about 6 months now and it has been a great hit with both parents and employees. The support staff at Tandem has been extremely helpful in assisting me with some unique issues that some companies might consider out of the scope of their product.

-Kelly Murphy, Merrilville Schools

To find out for yourself, sign up for a free 30 day demo of Tandem for Schools.

Create Free Quizzes for the Classroom with Quibblo

Quibblo is a user-driven survey, poll and quiz site where any registered user can participate in, create or modify quizzes, polls and surveys. After a user has created a quiz, poll or survey, they submit it to the world where other users can participate, rate, and comment. All of the quizzes and surveys on Quibblo are user-generated and can be embedded into any other site for external use. Quibblo’s format presents useful applications for students, teachers and administrators.

Students can also use a Quibblo poll limited to their class population to vote on senior class gifts. Student council representatives can use a Quibblo poll to uncover the most pressing issues for their constituents. Teachers can create quizzes for students to take in wired classrooms or at home; for credit, or to collect information about present levels of knowledge before beginning a class unit. Teachers can also use a Quibblo poll or survey to receive feedback on classes or teaching techniques from students, to hold a vote on an upcoming class trip or theater production. A survey or poll conducted at home or in a wired library encourages students’ sense of having a stake in their own education while improving the chances of candid responses by offering more anonymity than a “show of hands” approach.

School administrators may find Quibblo to be useful beyond teachers and students. A Quibble can be embedded in any website, so a survey or poll could be set up on the school site to receive feedback from parents and guardians on school activities, extracurricular functions, school lunches, graduation ceremony dates, or any other school program. A survey or poll not only allows administrators to quickly get access to the opinions of parents and guardians, it also helps to foster parental participation and an open discussion. As it is, a large number of the quizzes, polls and surveys on Quibble are posted by students and revolve around non-germane issues like celebrity and music, but this does not undercut the opportunities that Quibblo provides to democratize decision-making and bring new technology into the classroom.

Note: It can be difficult to copy the embed code for a poll or quiz. I had to click several times before the site finally copied the code.