Research & Collaboration Tools for Students, Staff & Faculty: a Free eBook

I’ve just finished revising and updating the eBook and paper book versions of my book, “Research & Collaboration Tools for Students, Staff & Faculty: Creating a Modern Memex“.  It should be helpful for anyone doing research, but especially for high school students, university students, teachers and faculty. At 55 pages in paper book format, it is a short but informative read.

As a personal learning project, I’ve made the book available in multiple formats, so that it is accessible to everyone who is interested in reading it. Feel free to send a link to this page to anyone who you think might find this short book helpful. I’ve published it using the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions for the book.



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Posted in education, Google, Open Source, WebApps

Conserving Energy One Home at a Time

My UVic Speaker’s Bureau presentation to the First+Met Mens’ Lunch Group on Conserving Energy One Home at a Time.

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Posted in education, Sustainability

Solar Cellphone Challenge


SOLAR-Cellphone-cropI’ve set a new year challenge for myself to see if I can run my phone on solar power alone this spring and summer. Unfortunately this is the worst time of year to start a challenge like this in the northern hemisphere because shorter days and sun being lower on the horizon.  That said, if I can do it now, I’ll be able to do it all year!

I’m off to a good start with my new portable 16.5W solar panel (thanks Santa! $48 CDN) was able to fully charge my 6,000 mA battery from about 25% to 100% in 3 relatively sunny hours last week. I’ve also purchased a 13,000 mA battery ($32 CDN) to help me through the frequent non-sunny days in Victoria. My Nexus 6p phablet phone battery has a capacity of 3450 mA. My backup system is an older 5W panel I purchased from Canadian Tire three years ago with a lead car start battery (with a USB connector).

The only places I’m allowing myself to charge my phone is using one of my solar powered batteries, or in our car when using my phone for navigation (which will kill a phones battery in a hurry if not plugged in.

Hopefully between the two solar panel / battery systems I’ll make it through our dark Victoria winter. I’ll report back once I have a couple weeks experience under my belt!

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Posted in education, Sustainability

SmartPhone & Tablets: Research Tools for Students?

evernote-logo-designI spoke at Arbutus Middle School on January 9th to a great class of grade 7 students about how their SmartPhone and Tablets can help them with their school work.  The slides of the presentation are here: SlideShare.

As promised, here is a list of apps and websites I referenced during our time together:

  • Evernote: Your Second Brain.
  • Google Scholar: Reliable articles that will put a smile on your teacher’s face when you use them.
  • SmartPhone Microscope: A digital microscope & camera for $150!
  • Google Now & Apple Siri: Ask you phone for help ;-)
  • Google Goggles: Use your phone to translate paper signs, get product reviews and give you background information on landmarks your in front of.
  • CamScanner: Turns your phone into a scanner. Take pictures of your paper and turn them in PDF documents.
  • iBooks or Kindle: Read on your phone and/or tablet, and sync your place in the book.
  • YouTube: Tons of educational videos to help you with your interest or need.
  • Khan Academy: Great math and science videos from grade one to grad school and everything in between.
  • Google Drive: Create and edit document while easily collaborating with your group. I must have app for group projects.
  • Google Hangouts: Video conferencing and document collaboration for up to 10 people. Record your meeting if you like as well.

Fun Apps:

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Posted in education, Google

Quickly Find Inexpensive and Convenient Airfares with Google Flights


I was looking for airfares to Brazil a couple of weeks ago, and discovered a delightfully useful new tool that makes finding inexpensive and convenient flights easier than ever: Google Flights.  No, Google is not running a travel agency now, but they did create a great tool for searching for flights in a variety of helpful ways.

For example I was looking for a flight from Victoria, BC to Sao Paulo, Brazil in January, so I entered my ideal itinerary, and the results were interesting.  The least expensive price for the dates I entered was $1328 Canadian, including all taxes and fees, which isn’t a bad airfare (see 1 below). Not a great deal, but not bad, until I noticed that the travel time was 61 hours, including a 34 hour layover in Vancouver, BC (see 2 below)!  The next best flight had a travel time of 20 hours, but cost significantly more at $1733. Helpfully Google lets me know that if I leave on January 24 and return on February 7 there is flight for $779 (see 4 below).  That sounds very interesting, so I click on the link.

Flights to São Paulo - Google Flights Read more ›

Posted in Uncategorized

COHERE Conference EdTech Presentations Oct 22-23, 2015

cohereI’m participating in three presentations at the COHERE Conference (Canada’s Collaboration for Online Higher Education and Research), and am leading two of them.

First I’m presenting on behalf of George Veletsianos on a research paper that I helped gather and analyze data for, titled “A Systematic Analysis And Synthesis of the Empirical MOOC Literature Published in 2013-2015“.  It is a meta study that presents a comprehensive picture of MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) literature by examining the “geographic distribution, publication outlets, citations, data collection and analysis methods, and research strands of empirical research focusing on MOOCs.”  The article is is based on was co-authored by George Veletsianos and Peter Shepherdson.

Read more ›

Posted in Uncategorized

Back to College Tech Guide 2015

macbook-air-2015It’s usually in August when parents start asking me for advice on what laptop they should buy for their children heading off to university. If you are in a specialized technical oriented program like computer science, engineering or architecture, please consult with your faculty before purchasing your laptop. LifeHacker also has a quite long and detailed guide to buying a laptop That said given my years of experience, here is my general advice for the incoming class of 2015:

For a Standard Student Setup if you have a budget between $1200 and $1800 for a laptop and other hardware I would suggest the following: Read more ›

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Posted in education, Work

uBlock Origin Can Speed Up Your Web Browsing

ublock-origin-logoAd Blockers can go a long way towards fixing two chronic problems we experience while browsing the web:

  1. Annoying ads, including pop-up and flash video ads, and
  2. Websites that are sometimes surprisingly slow loading pages.  

One of the more reputable ad blocking browser plugins is called: uBlock Origin. You can download it for your Chrome and Firefox web browsers.

How does uBlock Origin do this?  When you load a web page in your browser, you are not only loading the HTML and graphical images from the web site your are visiting, like for example: , but you are also loading cookies and advertising images from up to 20 or 30 other web servers.  Depending on where in the HTML page the advertising images are requested, your web browser may wait until those images have downloaded before displaying any of the web page.


Another positive that comes with ad blocker software is that the ad images and cookies can add up to quite large downloads, not only slowing you down, but increasing your bandwidth usage. Read more ›

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Posted in education, Work

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