Friday, October 31, 2014

Share your availability for specific dates to meeting organizer (Applies to Microsoft Outlook)

Do you ever get an e-mail from someone who is trying to arrange a meeting/conference call with multiple people who are at different organizations or institutions?  It often goes something like this, "Can you give me your availability for these dates or date range?"

If they were within your organization, you would just tell them to schedule using your Enterprise Microsoft Outlook.  Often people are unaware that they can schedule meetings like this, or are hesitant to do so.  They may also be uncertain if your Outlook calendar is up to date.

But what if the person organizing the meeting or conference call does not have access to your Outlook calendar?  They may use a variety of tools like Doodle or Calendly etc but these require you a follow a link and fill out multiple check boxes while viewing your calendar in another window.  Quite painful and time-consuming.  You have a couple of easier options:
  • Publish your Outlook calendar to the Web or
  • Sync it with a Google Calendar that you can share with someone
But both these options may have security or privacy risks particularly if you put sensitive information into your calendar or work at a health care facility and have to abide by HIPAA Privacy rules.

e-mail your calendar



A simple option for this problem is to e-mail your availability for the specific date range using the Outlook e-mail calendar functionality.  This is super simple and something folks may not be aware of.  The steps are explained here by Microsoft.  

The recipient gets an e-mail that looks like this:

Try it the next time you get a message asking for your availability.  It will save you a lot of email and phone tag and your colleagues will appreciate it.

The main risk is that if they don't schedule something soon, the calendar you sent them might be out of date.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Google's New Bookmark Manager vs. Diigo Chrome Extension

Google just released the Bookmark Manager extension for Chrome.
It has the following features:

  1. One Click Save
  2. Better organization
  3. Better search of bookmarks
  4. Sharing of bookmarks
  5. Add notes to the bookmark
  6. Nice visual interface - organized as cards.
The best part of the new manager is that it would work across all device on the Chrome browser.

While these are some good features, it would not convince me to switch from my favorite social bookmarking tool - Diigo.

Search for Google Bookmarks Manager shows my Diigo Bookmark in right column.

Diigo has some truly amazing features that make it indispensable.

  1. Ability to organize by lists, tags
  2. Annotate a web page with highlights and notes
  3. Share a link to the annotate web page so anyone who sees that link will see the annotations even if they don't have Diigo installed.  Try this link to see the lifehacker page annotated with yellow highlights. (see pic below)
  4. Ability to auto-search through the Diigo library even when doing an organic Google Search.  If any of the keywords in the search are in one of your bookmark titles or annotations, that bookmark will be listed to the right of the organic search results.  (See pic above)
  5. Very powerful social bookmarking features 
The only (minor) drawback is that you need to select the appropriate tools for your mobile device.  Diigo does have specific tools for each OS (iOS and Android).  Also if you don't use Chrome as your default desktop browser, Diigo has toolbars for most popular browsers.  


Diigo lets you annotate a web page and share a link to it that preserves the annotations



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Lesson Plan for a Mobile Learning Workshop

Suppose you wanted to do a short workshop for educators on using mobile devices in their teaching.

I did a short workshop on this topic recently and here is a lesson plan that I used.

Workshop participants scanning QR codes to read material for Socrative Quiz.


  1. Get everyone to download a QR code reader
    1. I like i-nigma which is one of the fastest readers, and keeps a history of codes scanned
  2. Discuss how to create content that automatically presents appropriately based on detected screen sizes - various options like
    1. Google Docs for text
    2. Google Forms to survey, quizzes etc.
    3. Blogger
    4. Google Sites
  3. Have the participants test their QR code reader with QR codes linked to this blog post.  They can favorite this on i-nigma so they can find this again (no need for handouts)
  4. QR code treasure hunt
    1. Create 5 Google docs with content on 5 topics
    2. Create QR Codes for each of these pages.  I like QRstuff.com but there are many other options.
    3. Print out the QR codes each on a separate sheet of paper and paste these around the room on the walls
    4. Give participants enough time to go around and scan the codes and read the content
  5. Mobile quiz
    1. Create a Quiz using Socrative.com
    2. Divide the group into teams 
    3. Launch your quiz in Space Race mode with groups
    4. Have them scan a QR code to get to http://b.socrative.com/login/student/ 
    5. Enter your room number
    6. Have them select their group color
    7. Student paced quiz on content presented in QR scavenger hunt
  6. Discuss uses of Socrative in the classroom
    1. Compare/contrast with PollEV
    2. Other options - NearPod, Kahoot
  7. Discuss other applications of mobile devices
    1. Flashcards - Quizlet, Anki
    2. Consuming /creating content
      1. Videos
      2. Podcasts
      3. Books/text
    3. Social Media