Free storage and backup in the Cloud

July 25th, 2012

Today, I discovered 4shared. 15GB free plus a desktop client that automatically syncs what you have in a folder to a server on the Internet. Just like Dropbox, SugarSync, and Google Drive.

I now have 15 + 9.4 + 8 + 5 = 37.4GB free and automatic backup. Not bad!

SkyDrive could have given me 25GB free space and Box 5GB, but SkyDrive does not have a desktop application for Windows XP (I still use the old operating system) and the desktop application from Box is not free.

MediaFire gives you 50GB for free. You have to manually upload files, but  with the desktop application it just means select files and right-click. However, the help file says that MediaFire is meant for sharing, not for backup.

Mozy gives you 2GB for free with manual backup or backup as many times per day as you like.


November 9th, 2011

Google+ is a social network like Facebook and twitter.

To get started you need a Google account. Click here to get a Google account. If you have Gmail you already have an account.

Note: you are not advised to use the Gmail account given to by the school. First, if may not have enabled Google+ yet, and secondly, when you leave school to go elsewhere you will no longer have the account. Therefore, create a Google account or a personal Gmail account.

Sign in to your Google account or to your Gmail. When you do, you will get a black menu at the top of your screen like this:

Click the leftmost menu option (mine is +Jan) and you are in Google+.

In Google+ you can write posts or read what others have written. Here is a video that gives you an introduction.

And here is more of a tutorial:

Google+ is about five months old and new features and improvements are added all the time. Here is a list of 100 improvements made since the start.

When you start Google+ you have to add people to follow. Obviously you want to follow people who writes stuff you find of interest. Here are some ways to find interesting people.

  1. Search by topic and add to your circles (i.e. follow) those who write or comment about the topic.
  2. Ask someone who shares your interests to share one or more of their circles. That is a fast way to follow let’s say 250 math educators.
  3. Check if the bloggers you follow also write on Google+. If they do, add them one of your circles.
  4. Look at who someone you like follows (it is in their profile page), or who follows them. If you find their posts interesting follow them.
  5. Search by name.

Famous people use Google+. Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu is one example. Here is his talk with his friend Dalai Lama.

What you get out of Google+ depends on two things: who you follow and who follows you, or, to put it differently who you read and who reads you.

Many use Google+ as an advertisement for their blog. This morning I found this interesting post which led to this blog. I am not an art teacher, but the idea explained can be used in various ways in a school.

This was just scratching the surface of Google+. Please use the comment section for questions and queries.

By the way, my Google+ posts are here.

How to find that file?!

September 24th, 2011

For a long time I have used the free QuickSearcher, but today I had to find a pdf file and for that QuickSearcher can not help. Up pops File Search Assistant which has a free version sufficient for my needs.

Cheat sheet for PBworks

September 7th, 2011

How to set up a PBworks account

  1. Go to
  2. Choose the Sign Up Now link from the For Education drop down menu
  3. Choose the Free version
  4. Type in a name for your workspace (the simpler the better!)
  5. Check the box agreeing to terms of service
  6. Fill in an email address
  7. Create a password
  8. Log into your email (the one you used for the account) to confirm
  9. Choose your security settings (public or private?) – Source
How to add people to your wiki britishschooltenerife:
There are three ways (I prefer the first):
  1. Ask them to go to and click the Request access button.
  2. Log in to your PBworks’ account. Click the work space britishschooltenerife. Click Users. Click Add more users. (Only administrators can add users).
  3. Log in to your PBworks’ account. Click the work space britishschooltenerife. Click Settings. Click Classroom Accounts. (This is used for adding an entire class of students.)
How to add a page
Click Create a page.

How to edit a page
Click the page in the Sidebar. Then click EDIT. When you are finished editing, click Save at the bottom of the page.

How to edit the sidebar
Click Edit the sidebar on the right.

How to add a link on a page
Select the text you want to make into a link. Click Add Link.

How to add an image on a page
In edit mode, drag the image from your hard drive.

How to add a video to a page
In edit mode, click Insert – Video.

Wiki for learning

September 6th, 2011

There are many free Internet tools that used correctly can enhance students’ learning. One of them is called a Wiki.

A Wiki is a website that allows the creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a text editor. Wikis are often used collaboratively by multiple users. The most famous wiki is Wikipedia, a collaborative encyclopedia where everyone can contribute.

Wikispaces and PBworks are two of the most popular free online Wiki programs. They make it easy to create content, edit it, and give others access.

A more detailed PBworks tutorial.

One use of a Wiki is as a school’s handbook. A handy place where all teachers easily can access documents on procedures, policies, and other relevant information. Click here for 50 Ways to Use Wikis for a More Collaborative and Interactive Classroom.

Click here for Examples of Educational Wikis.

PBworks has far exceeded our expectations.  We are using the wikis to not only enhance instruction for students, but also provide high quality professional development for our staff.

Sharon Grimes

Free school information systems

July 23rd, 2011

“We wanted to customize to our hearts content. One of the lessons we’ve learned is that going forward, the costs associated with maintaining a proprietary system that’s been heavily customized is too expensive.”

For thirteen years a government high school in the Cayman Islands used a system I developed with the vice principal. It was written in MS FoxPro 2.6 and ran on the school’s network. For the last two years an international school in Thailand has used a system I developed (and continue to develop) with the head of its secondary school. It is written in MS FoxPro 9 and runs on the school’s network. All the teachers and everyone in the school administration have access.

A basic question in the use of any school information system is that if the school should adapt to the system or if the system should adapt to the way the school is run. The ideal solution is, of course, the last option, but as the quote at the top indicates, it requires a lot of work with possibly high accompanying cost.

Do free system exist? Systems that can be accessed via the school’s network or through the Internet. The answer is ‘yes.’ Here is a presentation of some of them.

To decide which is best suited to your school is not an easy task. I am afraid one has to run a demo or do a trial before one can decide. If no free system fits the bill even after using its customisation features (if they exist), one may try a commercial system or ask someone to write a system from scratch. Both may come with a hefty price tag.

My guess is that many schools have no system per se, but use home made spreadsheets and/or data bases to do its student management tasks. That implies a greater risk for inconsistent data, unnecessary work load for the teachers entering data, and little or no options for analysing the data.


I have listed some free systems here.

Wanted: Learn this button

July 22nd, 2011

Blog. Page with this presentation.

Interactive textbooks!

July 22nd, 2011

The cork

July 22nd, 2011

– by Enrique Mariscal (translated by me from Spanish)

An inspector visited an elementary school.
During his visit he noticed something that caught his attention: a teacher was entrenched behind her desk, the students made a big mess, the scene was chaotic.
He decided to present himself:
– “Excuse me, I’m the Inspector. Any problems?”
– “I’m overwhelmed, Sir, I do not know what to do with these kids. I have no paper, I have no books, the Ministry does not send me didactical materials, I have no electronic resources, I have nothing new to show them nor new things to tell them.”
The inspector who was a “Teacher of the Soul” spotted a cork on the cluttered desk. He took it and spoke to the kids with determination:
– What is this?
– “A cork, Sir ” shouted the students surprised.
– “Good. Where does the cork come from?”
– “From the bottle, Sir. A machine put it on”,” … a cork oak tree”, “… from wood”, responded the children animated.
– “And what can be made from wood?” continued the teacher enthusiastically.
– “Chairs …”,” table …”, “a boat”. Well, we have a boat.
– Who can draw it? Who will make a map on the board and place the nearest port for our boat?
– Write down which Argentinian province it is in.
– What is the other nearest port?
– In what country does it lie?
– Which poet do you know that was born there?
– What does the region produce?
– Does anyone remember a song from there?

And so started tasks in Geography, History, Music, Economics, Literature, Religion, etc.
The teacher was impressed. After the class she was moved and said:
– “Sir, I will never forget what you taught me today. Thank you.”

Time passed. The inspector returned to the  school and looked for the teacher.
She was curled up behind her desk, the students again in disarray.
– “Miss … What happened? Don’t you remember me?

Yes sir. How could I forget?! What luck that you have returned.  I can not find the cork. Where did you put it? ”




Cooperating with fellow teachers

July 9th, 2011

How to.