Monday, April 29, 2013

Myscript: An incredibly fun calculator app

Yes, I just said that in the title. I am very obviously well into my 30s now that I would even consider saying that a calculator is fun but I just can't help it. A few days ago, one of my students, after going through the usual ritual of being told off for not bringing his calculator to a Physics lesson, asked if he could use  the calculator on his iphone. Assuming that he would use the iphone for non-learning related means, I lingered nearby. I soon noticed that he appeared to be drawing on the screen and I pounced in, ready to give him a good telling off mid-way through his status update or non-school related use of free tech  that us grown ups have yet to discover.

Myscript lets you do calculations by writing the numbers with your hand. It then converts the numbers into print like shown above with remarkable accuracy and speed. So fast in fact that I wasn't able to capture the handwriting aspect with a screen shot on my Sony Xperia P . It also lets you solve simple algebraic expressions. In the photo above, I actually traced with my finger, ? +2 =5. In the photo, the question mark has disappeared soon to be replaced with a 3, solving the equation.

I really need to ask my students what apps they are using more often. This was a great discovery and is available on both apple and android. I hope you enjoy this incredibly fun calculator. I'm off to water my tomato plants and contemplate my 30s whilst listening to some techno and house from my mis-spent 20s.

Note: There is one Amazon affiliate link and 2 non-affiliate links on this page.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Codelobster: A free code editor

This is a guest post by Stas Ustimenko from Code Lobster. Free Tech for Schools has not received any payment for this post.

Free PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript editor (IDE) - Codelobster PHP EditionFree PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript editor (IDE) - Codelobster PHP Edition

For valuable work on creation of sites you need a good comfortable editor necessarily. There are many requiring paid products for this purpose, but Codelobster PHP Edition is free.
    Let us consider some important possibilities and advantages of this program:
  • All code highlights depending on a type so mixed code is supported. The area of HTML will be highlighted as HTML, PHP as PHP, and Javascript as Javascript in the same file. There is  also the possibility of choice from colour schemes, including popular IDEs.
  • Powerful autocompletion for HTML, PHP, CSS and Javascript, including HTML5 and CSS3. For PHP the structure of project is fully recognized, and the complete list of methods falls out in the proper places.
  • HTML/CSS inspector on the type of Firebug, which allows easily to correlate the selected elements of page with a code and proper style.
  • Context help on all supported languages. By pressing the F1 key the page with detailed description for current tag, attribute or function will be opened.
  • PHP debugger. PHP debugger allows you to execute PHP scripts incrementally, watching the values of all variables in every line.
  • SQL manager allows you to produce all necessary actions with a database - to add, delete, edit a structure and records in tables, to export data, execute SQL queries. Highlighting and autocompletion works for SQL files also.
  • Support of FTP allows you to work straight with a remote server and to do all necessary changes with files;
  • The portable option allows you to use editor without the preliminary installation.
  • Other useful utilities include pair highlighting, possibility of blocks selection, collapsing, tooltips, navigation on descriptions of functions and included files by holding the control key, viewing of structure of files and  the project, preview in a browser, book-marks, and all other standard possibilities for work with a code.

Also there are special plugins for work with

  • CMS: Drupal, Joomla
  • PHP frameworks: CakePHP, CodeIgniter, Symfony, Yii
  • JavaScript libraly: JQuery
  • WordPress blogging engine
  • Smarty template engine

Developer Codelobster Software
Web Site
Language English, Russian, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Supported OS Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7
    Download link:
  • Free PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript editor (IDE) - Codelobster PHP Edition

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Zondle: Supporting learning through games

This week I have been playing around with Zondle  and I have to say I am very impressed. Once I have had time to create some games, I will definitely be using it in my teaching. First up, any app which describes itself as "free, and always will be" is off to a good start on securing my vote.

Zondle allows teachers to easily create games to support learning. You can also access many games created by other teachers or purchase games and resources from the extras marketplace. It is extremely quick and easy to use. Students can be added in several ways; adding them manually, issuing a course code or emailing an Excel file to Zondle. Creating games is also quick and easy but I think you can get to using it straight away by using some of the games created by others.

Zondle plays extremely well with other services and can be easily embedded into a website or a page on a VLE. There are also apps available for both apple and android which is fantastic for fostering student engagement, not to mention how useable it becomes in a school with a 1:1 or BYOD policy.

I can't wait to have a play around with it but first I have to learn how to use and develop our VLE. Why is the stuff you pay for always more difficult to use?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Why School? The Movie

The other day through my network on twitter I stumbled across an interesting post on Will Richardson's blog. For those of you unfamiliar with Will, he wrote the excellent book called Why School. Will has been asked to make a documentary called "Why School?" Will is looking for helpers on this project from production and promotion through to filming editing and marketing. He is really keen to tap in to the power of the educational network. If you are interested in taking part in this project (I know I am!), register your interest on this form.

I think this has the potential to be huge. Imagine if it were to become as big as Super Size Me? It could be a real driver for change and policy makers might just begin to listen if it resonates with the general public. Get involved!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Free video tutorials for educational technologies

This is a guest post by Christopher Pappas. Christopher is the founder and owner of the Instructional Design and eLearning Professionals’ Group (44K+) (, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning Industry at LinkedIn. Christopher holds an MBA, and an M.Ed. (Learning Design) from BGSU and currently works as project manager at S.A. (Antenna Group of Companies), which is the largest interactive learning platform from Greek-speaking students and learners across the Globe.

This is not a paid endorsement by Free Technology for Schools and the opinions expressed below are those of Christopher Pappas.

I am great fan of open source educational technologies and in general free educational resources. In case that you are a teacher, school leader, and or administrator, and you are interested in learning how to use or master educational technologies an excellent free solution is Viva eLearning (

Viva eLearning has more than 1000 free video tutorials in popular educational technologies such as Moodle, eFront, Articulate Storyline, Camtasia, Captivate, Snagit, etc. You can join Viva eLearning for free with your email or Facebook account and upload your favorite free video tutorials with a really simply process. However, you do not need to be a member to watch the free video tutorials for educational technologies.

So, the questions is "Do you support free video tutorials for educational technologies?" If yes, help us build the largest collection of free video tutorials. Share the knowledge!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The new blogger html editor

When I first started blogging I new very little about html and code in general. I still don't which is why I am hoping to start code academy in my school so that I can learn myself. What little code I have learned has come from experimenting on Free Tech for Schools, making changes and then previewing to see the effect, occasionally completely messing the whole thing up before having to restore from back-up!

The new html editor has several improvements, including each line of code being numbered and being able to jump to the code for widgets and identify which code relates to each widget. If you are just starting with blogging and don't know anything about html, this is a good way to practice and learn a bit. Download a free blogger template that you like and then start playing with the code. You'll be surprised at what you can do.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Under Ten Minutes

Teachers often complain about not having enough time to learn new skills with all the planning and marking that goes with the job. Under Ten Minutes is a fantastic website which aims to tackle this. It's aims are similar to this site. Just like Free Technology for Schools, it lets people submit content, however it is focused on short instruction videos on how to use technology, both free and paid for. The only stipulation is that if the video is about a paid-for prodoct, it cannot be a sales pitch.
Do you have 10 minutes to spare during your teaching day? If so, why not check it out and learn how to use some technology you've never used before, or if you are an expert, why not submit a video and help your fellow teachers.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Evernote for Extended Essay

A while ago I wrote about using Evernote. Here is a link to a great video on the blog of Mister Norris. It talks about using Evernote for researching the IB extended essay. While you are there, check out some of the other posts on his blog. In particular I like his post on Open Online Portfolios.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Duolingo: An excellent language learning tool

Lately, my journey in learning Italian has led to me discovering a new excellent resource called Duolingo. Duolingo was created by Professor Luis von Ahn, the creator or RECAPTCHA (the bit you have to type in to prove you are not a bot when signing up for web services). Following on from the crowd-sourcing model of RECAPTCHA, where by typing in the words you are helping top digitise books, Duolingo uses your input to help translate the web whilst giving you a free education in another language.
It is extremely easy to use. You can sign in using either using your Facebook account or with email and then you are ready to go. It currently lets you learn six languages; Spanish, French, German, English, Portuguese and Italian and there are plans to soon offer Mandarin. It works on a gamification model and it allows you to compete with other users and you are able to invite your Facebook friends.
When you first sign in you are introduced to Duo, a friendly owl who guides you through the 'skill tree'. As you progress, there are regular points for assessment, helping you to check your progress. You learn each section and then you master it once you have completed a set number of translations. As the translations come from actual documents that require translation, you are learning from language in the context it is used, rather than as a collection of contrived sentences. This is a product that will hopefully continue to grow and add many more languages. It already has a great iphone app and hopefully an android one will be on the way soon. It is a fantastically fun way to learn a language and the fact that it is free means it gets my vote.

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Google Nose

Google Nose BETA

I can't wait to use this in lessons. Once they improve the sensitivity, it should be able to detect the subtle changes in scent caused by perspiration when a student says they haven't finished their homework.