IT & ICT Tips for an Easy Teaching Life (2)

Technology has undoubtedly brought us a lot of interesting solutions to most of our teaching needs but at the same time, it has probably made it harder to be in control of what happens to and around us.

The main aim of these weekly posts is to give three quick tips (in each post) to teachers to make their tech teaching lives a bit easier to manage. You will find them practical especially if you have just decided to integrate technology into your teaching life.

Tech Tips for Teachers 02

Have you ever forgotten to take your activity dice to the classroom and had an internet connection? Have you ever wanted to show a full-screen timer to the participants without worrying about finding a good clock app? Do you need to insert an image into a document and the file type fails to load in the application? Do you want to send an audio file to someone and they can’t open the type you are sending them? Are you on a Mac and use Pages to create worksheets but need to send them to your office PC which runs Windows to print them or do you just want to share them with a colleague who uses Microsoft Word? If yes, read on:

  1. How to replace the plastic dice with a digital one:

Don’t worry if you have forgotten to take your dice to the classroom for a board game. All you need is an active internet connection or an app which you have already installed on your mobile device:

  • Need it on the browser? Click here.
  • Want it on your iPhone or iPad? Click here.
  • Want it on an Android device? Click here.
  1. How to show an activity timer to everyone in the room:

There are many ways to broadcast an activity timer from any device to an overhead projector but if you are connected to the internet and need something quick and handy, Google has it for you.

  • In the search bar on Google type ‘timer … minutes’ e.g. ‘timer 5 minutes’ and the timer appears right below the box and starts the ticking!
  • Click on the box in front of the timer for a full-screen view. The timer beeps at the end.
  • (An active internet connection is only necessary for the timer to show up on your screen. If you lose your connection, the timer will still work.)
  1. How to change a file extension:

  • Over the internet (when there is no sensitive information in the file, your internet is fast and stable and you don’t feel like exploring your computer’s capabilities):

    • Go to http://www.convertfiles.com/ (You can also do it here but I personally find the first link a lot easier to work with.)
    • Choose the file from your computer or give the website a link to download the file from.
    • Choose the input and output format.
    • Click on ‘convert’!
  • On a Windows computer:

    • If you can’t see the file extension at the end of the file name after a dot, e.g. blogpost3.rtf or blogpost3.pdf, you need to follow these steps first:
      • Click on ‘control panel’.
      • Click on ‘Appearance and Personalisation’.
      • Click on ‘Folder Options’.
      • When the ‘folder options’ box pops up, click on ‘view’. (In Windows 8, this can be reached from top of the folder page next to the ‘computer’ tab.)
      • Un-tick the box next to ‘hide extensions for known file types’.
      • Click on ‘apply’ and then ‘ok’.
      • The file types must be visible now.
    • If you can see the file extension at the end of the file name after a dot on your computer, follow the following steps:
      • Right click on the file and select ‘rename’.
      • Change the part after the dot (which is the file extension and shows the file type) to something you want, e.g. picno1.PNG to picno1.JPEG.
      • Hit enter!
    • Note 1: This windows function only works when changing file types to something of the same nature, for example .PNG to .JPEG or .docx to .rtf and doesn’t work for changing a .docx file to a .pdf file or vice versa and the new file will look messy and unusable. Don’t worry if this has happened! You can still restore the file to its original version easily.
    • Note 2: Sometimes changing the file type can be done in a much easier way from within the application. Just click on ‘file’ menu and choose ‘save as’. Then choose a destination and/or a new name for the new file. Then below the box for the file name click on the drop-down menu for ‘save as type’. You can see a list of file types you can easily change your original file to. Then click on ‘save’!
  • On a Mac:

    • If you can’t see the file extension at the end of the file name after a dot, e.g. blogpost3.key or blogpost3.pdf, you need to follow these steps first:
      • Click somewhere on your desktop for the ‘finder’ menu to appear on the top bar.
      • Click the ‘finder’ menu and then click on ‘preferences’.
      • Click on ‘advanced’ in the ‘preferences’ box.
      • Put a tick next to ‘show all filename extensions’.
      • Close the box.
      • The file types must be permanently visible for all files now.
    • If you can see the file extension at the end of the file name after a dot on your mac, follow the following steps:
      • Click on the file but don’t open it!
      • Hold the ‘command’ key and press ‘I’. This will open the information box for that file which can also be reached by right clicking on the file and clicking on ‘get info’.
      • You can see all the information about your file, including its name in an editable box.
      • (You can uncheck the ‘hide extension’ option here as well if you want the file extension to be seen.)
      • Click in the editable box where you see the file name and change the extension which is after the dot.
      • Close the box.
    • Note 1: This function only works when changing file types to something of the same nature, for example .PNG to .JPEG and doesn’t work for changing a .txt file to a .key file or vice versa and the new file will look messy and unusable. Don’t worry if this has happened! You can still restore the file to its original version easily.
    • Note 2: Changing the file type can be done in a much easier way from within the application on a Mac and the Preview function can change most graphic file types to each other very easily. Just click on ‘file’ menu and choose ‘export’. Then choose a destination and/or a new name for the new file. You will see a list of options there to choose from. Choose your file type and export it.
    • Note 3: This can even export the file you have created with Pages (the Mac equivalent for Office Word) to a Word document if you are sending it to someone who is on a Windows PC. You can do this file export even if you don’t have Microsoft Office Word on your Mac at all!

Watch this space for the next posts if you found this one useful and comment on this post if you have any particular  issues or questions for the next-week post.

Link to previous posts:

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