Academic Technology - Florida State College at Jacksonville

Academic Technology

Student Content

Chatbots In Education: Are They Useful?

Student Content, EdTechElizabeth Rodrigue

Recently, the term "Chatbot" has come to prominence in EdTech research. What is a Chatbot? They are software that allows for a conversational or messaging style interface to simulate a human interaction. They are computer programs that do their best to act like humans. Some Chatbots have artificial intelligence and many have a database of information and responses for whatever they are asked. Many people use Chatbots on a daily basis to shop, get directions, or even schedule appointments. Some examples of Chatbots would be Siri, Cortana, and Alexa, created by Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, respectively. Increasingly, people are turning to chatbots to control huge aspects of their life, as they can be used for organization, media consumption, and even to control your home's climate!  

How can Chatbots be used in education? Many colleges have already started using or discussing the idea of Chatbots as part of the learning experience. The general idea is that a Chatbot software would make it simpler for students to navigate their classes and college life while making it easier for professors and staff by answering the repetitive questions for them and freeing up more space for more in-depth academic interactions. So, students would be able to turn to the Chatbot for class times and room numbers, when assignments are due, applying for student aid, registering for classes, and other routine queries. An example of successful implementation of a chatbot is Georgia State's AdmitHub so that their students could complete all of the typical student actions, such as signing up for housing, through a simple chat interface.

Another example of a working Chatbot in education is integrated into the foreign language learning software Duolingo. Learners can hold a text-based conversation in the language they are studying that revolves around a specific concept. the responses entered into the interface determine the direction of the conversation, which helps one to practice language organically, in  a way that is more useful for retention and more authentic to the real-world speaking and writing experience.

Chatbot technology is still relatively new so humans have to respond to and edit content on occasion.  In the future, it is a hope that chatbots will be able to "learn" organically, so that human interaction will enable them to gain more knowledge that they can then use in future interactions.  All in all Chatbots can make a significant difference in education but we still have a long way to go with the technology so that Chatbots can completely function on their own.

Watch a Special (End-of-Semester) In Focus: Student Edition

In Focus, DMP, Student Content, EdTechRobyn Reese

At this time of year, we all struggle to make it the last fifteen percent of the semester because we just want to think about the summertime! The drawback of this magical feeling of euphoria is that it is also finals time: the most important part of the term! For April's In Focus: Student Edition, Brandi and Robyn took a look at some apps to help you stay on track during these final days so that you can master your final exams. Then, we switched gears to look at ways that you can make the most of your summer!

After watching the video, you can download the apps that were discussed by clicking on the tiles below. Good luck on your final exams and happy summer! 

iWork, Garageband, and iMovie just got better!

Student ContentRobyn Reese

Good news for owners of iOS devices! When Apple recently updated its flagship apps for productivity and creativity, it lowered their price to...wait for it....FREE! This is great news for users of Apple's mobile devices, as these apps were previously among the higher priced in the app store, ranging from $4.99 to $9.99 each. All are essential for making the most out of your Mac or tablet. Details of the functionalities of each are presented below, for those who are not already familiar with them. Apps are available for Macbooks, iPhones, and iPads, and require that you have one of the most recent operating systems (iOS 10 or MacOS Yosemite).

While these apps are must-haves for the casual user, they also have a number of pedagogical applications as tools for allowing students to synthesize and showcase learning in a variety of cool ways that will help them to develop real world skills. Teachers can also use the last two creativity tools to find ways to deliver instruction to students asynchronously while hitting different learning modalities. 


Apple's cleanly designed word processing app can help users make visually appealing posters, cards, and flyers, as well as serving as a word processor. Documents are stored automatically in the cloud for easy collaboration. 


Numbers is Apple's spreadsheet application, and while it is not highly robust in the formula department (Excel remains the industry standard), it can be used to easily make visualizations of simple data sets. 


With a slew of elegant-looking templates, Keynote makes beautiful presentations the norm. Its strengths are in looks and photo editing, though it does not feature as many customizable tools as PowerPoint. 


Want to make music or a podcast? Garageband is the app for you! It allows you to easily record voices or instrumentation and comes with built in beats and sound effects. It has been used to create top ten pop songs, and is a great tool for auditory creativity. 


iMovie allows you to easily make slideshows and movies with a series of still images or video files. It comes with built in transitions, music, and add-ons like credits and introductions that can enable you to make professional-looking movies very easily. 

Faces of Autism

Student Content, Studio, EdTechBrandi Bleak

This spring, the Academic Technology team collaborated with FSCJ's Author Series committee on a gallery exhibit called Faces of Autism.  Combining portraits of young people on the autism spectrum with a video telling their stories, The final portraits were exhibited in the South Campus Art Gallery during a lecture given by Dr. Temple Grandin, the author of their selected book, Thinking in Pictures. Participants on the Autism Spectrum were invited to have their portrait taken at the FSCJ Deerwood Campus in the TV Studio. Here's my artist statement for the project:

What can a portrait convey?

Even with the best of intentions, it’s easy to make a snap judgment about someone based on their features, characteristics, or even an associated label. When I take someone’s portrait I hope to provide a glimpse into who the individual is at the moment the image is taken. The viewer then has the opportunity to create their own interpretation.

The Faces of Autism project invites its audience to view the faces of young people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and see them as they are, without predefined ideas of what it means to be autistic. With this project, there is a focus on the unique attributes of each individual.

The exhibit has an added dimension of including behind the scenes footage of the photo shoots. During this time I work to create a connection with my subject, which is the most important thing to me, necessary to create a good portrait, and what separates portraiture from other types of photography. 

We hope those who attend this exhibit leave with a sense that we are all more alike than different and that anything is possible with strength, support, and perseverance.  One thing I know for sure is the differences in how an ASD person's brain works may make them more, not less, qualified to understand, accomplish otherwise unsolvable tasks, and perform in extremely creative ways. 

While the portraits were being taken, the TV Studio team recorded the conversation and interaction that occur behind the scenes of a photo shoot. The questions asked and answers provide an added dimension to the project. Here's the video that was produced:

This follows a similar project that I participated in with TEDxFSCJ, which I photographed people who are engaged in our local community. The Faces of Engagement portraits can be seen here.

Any way you Slice it, Raspberry Pi makes Computing Sweeeet!

Student Content, EdTechRobyn Reese

Recently, we in the Academic Technology department have been talking a lot about the Raspberry Pi, a computer that packs a lot of power into a teeny magenta case. The Raspberry PI was created in the United Kingdom to help democratize computing by providing an economical platform to teach coding and engineering in schools and to encourage experimentation in robotics.

In the five years since the first Raspberry Pi model was launched, the product has gone through several iterations, and is the third most successful computing platform of all time. The newest version, the Raspberry Pi Zero W, has a  1GHz, single-core CPU, 512 MB RAM, various mini-HDMI and and mini-USB ports, 802.11n wireless LAN, and Bluetooth 4.0, all for the astonishingly low price of $10.  While it does not come with a keyboard, mouse, monitor, or even an operating system, its small size makes it a great fit for creative projects.

Check out this Ars Technica article to see some of the ways that people around the world have used the Raspberry Pi to power robotics, create emulators, and even create musical vegetables.

Have a great educational use for a Raspberry Pi?  Let us know at! 

Virtual Reality on a Budget!

Student Content, EdTechRobyn Reese

Interested in getting your students out of the classroom and into the circulatory system, onto the grounds of Versailles, or even circling the moon? Virtual trips like these used to be more akin to Star Trek than the real world of learning, but in the last few years more economical and abundant technologies have made it possible for anyone to have an impressive VR experience for very little cash!

Last week at the Academic Technology Open House, our student assistant Elizabeth Rodrigue provided a demonstration of Google Cardboard, a fifteen dollar headset that uses your smartphone as the conduit for a pretty impressive 360-degree video experience. Here's what she had to say about it: 

Google Cardboard is a headset apparatus with two lenses that uses your phone to create an immersive 360 experience. Though there are tons of apps that work with Google Cardboard, at the Academic Technology Open House we chose to showcase Google Expeditions, an "adventure" app that allows instructors to take a class to almost any place in the world they can imagine. "Expeditions" range from underwater scenes to ancient ruins or large cities. You can even take a look at different careers! The instructor uses their personal mobile device to work as a "guide", and the app provides the guide with a paragraph about what is being seen, three questions to ask the students, and key points that can mark certain areas in the scene for students to look at when clicked upon. The students are the "explorers" and are immersed in the experience with the headsets. After some initial skepticism, the Google Expeditions presentation was well received, and by the end of it many faculty and staff were excited about how they could utilize it.

The Cardboard headset is quickly becoming a logical choice for those looking for an entry-level VR experience, and recently sold their ten millionth headset.  Google Cardboard can also be used as a viewer to access any of the thousands of 360-degree videos that are housed in YouTube by using the youtube app in iOS or Android, and setting it to "Cardboard" mode by clicking on the goggles icon in the bottom right. An example of such a video can be seen below, which allows the viewer to experience a current art exhibition at the Hirschhorn Museum at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. This was created by the New York Times as a part of The Daily 360 video series, through which the NYT releases a different 360-degree video each day on a topic of cultural, social, or political importance. The whole series can be accessed here

In Focus Student Edition: Collaborating on the Go

In Focus, Student ContentElizabeth Rodrigue

A big part of success for college students is keeping up with the work of communicating with professors and fellow learners. This is even MORE important if you are enrolled in online or hybrid courses, since group projects, content questions, and grade inquiries are more challenging when your audience is not right in front of you! Sometimes managing your schedule and workload can feel stressful.

Worry no longer...Educational Technology has your back! Join us for In Focus: Student Edition, where we discuss adding your FSCJ email and calendar to your mobile device and show you some tools for collaborating with classmates efficiently and effectively. 

Technologies covered in this video:

Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate is a web conferencing tool that is used by professors to connect with students. As a student, you can use Blackboard Collaborate to meet with your peers for a group project, attend a webinar, or share and work on documents. There are also tools to share your screen, review a PowerPoint presentation, and write on a digital whiteboard. Blackboard Collaborate can be accessed in courses, if your professor has enabled the Tool. Please ask your professor if it is not visible within the course’s menu on the lefthand side of the course shell.

For more assistance with Blackboard Collaborate, submit a ticket at or visit the Blackboard Help site.

Microsoft OneNote

OneNote is a virtual notebook tool that can be used to store photos, documents, links, and audio memos. Notebooks are stored in the cloud, update automatically, and can be shared. There is also a mobile app for OneNote that allows you to take photos, videos, and record audio files. OneNote is Included in Office 365 Suite and is FREE for all FSCJ faculty, staff and students.

For instructions on how to download Office 365:

For more information on OneNote from Microsoft:

Dropbox (and Paper)

Dropbox is a tool that allows you to store and share digital files with others. The basic version of Dropbox is free and gives you 2GB of space to use. You can write, comment, and embed media in Dropbox and access those Documents from anywhere, even a smart phone!

Click the link below to sign up for the FREE version of Dropbox.

Google Drive / Docs / Hangouts

Google Drive is a FREE cloud storage service that provides 15GB of space for its users. It accepts all file types and allows for collaboration and sharing with others. Google Drive integrates with the Google Productivity Suite, which includes these free, cloud-based apps: Google Docs, a word processor, Google Sheets, a spreadsheet program, and Google Slides, a presentation program. These are very similar to the Office365 Tool Suite. 

Google also provides a great communication and conferencing tool, Hangouts. It  allows users to text, make FREE calls, or video chat. The video function uses your computer's webcam, but also has screen sharing capabilities, so that you can show someone else what you are working on. You can use it to communicate one-on-one or in a group. It can also be used anywhere, via the Mobile Hangouts app, which is available for iPhones, IOS, and android devices.

For more about the features offered in Google Drive:

Find out how to get started with Google Docs:

Find out how to get started with Google Hangouts:

Thanks for watching! If you have any questions or would like to suggest topics for future episodes of In Focus, please email us at

Using Technology to Create Mathematical Magic

Workshop, Student Content, EdTechRobyn Reese
Adobe Spark.jpg

Educational Technology

Brandi Bleak, Robyn Reese, Elizabeth Rodrigue

If technology is the answer, what is the question?
— Wadi Haddad

Adaptive Learning 
Means that the product has multiple branching assessment paths and responds to student answers to adjust the level of the questioning. So, for example, if a student gets a question wrong they would get an easier one. If they get it right, they will get a harder one. Great adaptive software can target the specific aspects of complex problems that students are having trouble with and ramp them up in a specific skill.

Educational Websites


  • Student perspective from Elizabeth
  • Workspace assignments


Khan Academy

A personalized learning resource for all ages:

Offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom.

  • From kindergarten to calculus
  • Self-paced learning tool 
  • Adaptive technology identifies strengths and learning gaps
  • Missions are individualized math experiences grouped by subjects. 

Students can use missions to:

  • Fill in gaps at their own pace within a certain subject,
  • Master skills that are challenging and appropriate for their level
  • Use hints and videos immediately when they need help

Free tools for parents and teachers

Khan Academy empowers coaches of all kinds to better understand what their children or students are up to and how best to help them. See at a glance whether a child or student is struggling or if she hit a streak and is now far ahead of the class. Our coach dashboard provides a summary of class performance as a whole as well as detailed student profiles.


Pixar in A Box

  • Partnership between Khan Academy and Pixar
  • A behind-the-scenes look at how Pixar artists do their jobs. 
  • Connects math, physics, and computer science topics to animation
  • Scaffolds mathematical concepts from the real world to the basic to the advanced. 
  • Features video tutorials, applets, real-world activities, and assessments.

Educator’s Guide:


Math Nation

Free, online, easy-to-use resource aligned with the latest state standards.

What make math nation different?

  • Dynamic videos  specifically aligned to Florida state standards.
  • Videos break down each problem and provide a corresponding study guide so students can follow along at their own pace.
  • Encourages collaboration by asking questions that students can answer on the Math Wall
  • “Test Yourself!” practice feature - allows students to test their skills in the same computer-based format they will encounter on their course final.

Tell me more about Math Nation

  • Free, open source tool
  • Includes Adaptive Practice
  • Contains content up to calculus (even though name suggests it is not useful for Postsecondary institutions)
  • Brain genie—Math-based games and competitions
  • Modern look and feel to create similar feel (think fb for math)
  • Content is organized into “bytes”--small topic-driven modules. Instructor can create a designated learning plan for students in the class that can be based upon the textbook order or their own judgement.


MyOpenMath (MOM)

  • Provides classroom use, without any cost to students
  • Not adaptive
  • Integrates with OER textbooks.
  • Less video content and no “help me solve this”

How the system can be used by instructors:

    Mobile Apps


    Photo Math

    • Free app for Android, iOS, Windows
    • Create awareness, different approach
    • Application, not just process
    • Take a photograph of a mathematical calculation or equation and it solves it for you! 

    Myscript Calculator

    • Free app for Android, iOS, Windows
    • Accepts handwritten math problems
    • Will do calculations for you
    • Shows work
    • CES - Best Mobile App award
    • Same company as Nebo!



    Digital Whiteboards/Collaboration Tools

    Blackboard Collaborate

    • Already loaded in every Bb course
    • Can schedule and record sessions
    • Digital whiteboard
    • Can share screen, send files, chat

    Explain Everything

    • Free app-- full individual license $4.99
    • The most versatile suite of drawing tools
    • Zoom in and out
    • Built in equation editor!
    • Create custom color palettes
    • You own your content
    • Host or join collaborative sessions with complete interactive whiteboard toolset and recording
    • Allow participants to save copies of collaborative projects on their own devices following a hosted session.


    • Free for 1 hour of video, but they control the storage and use of recordings.
    • $5.99 a month for a premium subscription (300 hours and video export)
    • Cannot control video speed.
    • Limited built in backgrounds
    • Can search for images using google on the web to integrate
    • Can rerecord audio
    • Can create new slides in the middle of recording.
    • Lots of great content already



    • Lots of already existing content
    • Built in Math graph paper
    • No cost to download the app/set up account
    • Can share with student on educreations
    • No free drawing tools
    • Have to pay to be able to get more backgrounds
    • 50 mb storage with free version
    • Can't export without paying

    Taking Notes with your Mobile Device

    Student Content, EdTechRobyn Reese

    When I got my first iPad five years ago, I had grand dreams of how it would allow me to streamline my life by allowing me to have all of my work, play, and family resources in my tote bag whenever and wherever. My original iPad (and the iPad mini that replaced it), went a long way towards meeting this goal, but over the years I found that there was perpetually one specific functionality that was never quite perfect: notetaking.

    I could, of course, take detailed notes and draw complex pictures on my iPad relatively easily. There have been a number of great styluses on the market over the years, some of which have the ability to write on the screen like a pen (we recommend the Adonit Jot Pro for writing) and draw like a pencil (we use 53's Pencil for drawing with touch sensitivity). The problem was always the app--I was never able to find one that allowed me to use the notes in another format.

    The ideal note taking app should integrate with the other tools that you use for productivity, and allow you to share your notes with others who may not have access to the same apps or equipment that you have. In order to do that, the app needs to be able to translate your handwriting into text. Enter: NEBO! 

    As shown in the video above, MyScript's Nebo app uses a technology that they have dubbed "interactive ink" that allows you to easily manipulate notes and text by using intuitive gestures on your tablet. You can mark up text to create headings, bulleted lists, diagrams, and mathematical notation. Double tapping on the content turns it into standard text and illustrations that can be exported as a .pdf, word document, or html! 

    Nebo is the note taking app that I have always wanted, but it does have one drawback: at this time, it is only available for iOS and Windows devices. MyScript currently offers a beta version of its Stylus app, which offers more a more limited interface that also utilizes the interactive ink technology. 

    For those lucky notetakers who have an Apple or Microsoft mobile device, click here to learn more and download the app for free! 

    Explore the new, responsive!

    Student ContentRobyn Reese

    You may have noticed some changes to when you returned for the Spring Semester! Information Technology Services is pleased to announce the launch of the new and improved service site. The site has been redesigned with a focus on the user experience, and is now responsive, which means that you can get help from the convenience of your mobile device. It is now easier than ever to search the Knowledge Base, submit tickets for technical assistance, or chat with a representative.  We’ve even added a button to take you directly to the Password Reset area to ensure you always have access to the College portals.

    Need Help? Get Help! 

    If your computer is broken or you are having trouble with any of the college IT services, click on this icon at any time to fill out a service ticket that will be sent to one of our Service Desk Representatives. You can also use the Contact Us link in the top toolbar to talk to a Representative via phone or online chat during business hours.

    Discover the Knowledge Base

    The knowledge base can be used for self-service, as it contains answers to questions that are commonly asked, and ways to fix issues that are commonly reported to the Service Desk. You can also access the knowledge base to learn more about how to efficiently use FSCJ IT resources and about special features of each application.

    Request a New Service

    This area is only accessible to faculty and staff and provides a quick way to request educational resources such as iPads, blogs, and software licenses . Network, email, Cisco, and Sharepoint access can also be requested through this service catalog for new and current employees.


    Get Familiar with Additional Resources

    Are you looking for a solution, or want to try something new? Visit the Additional Resources area to see what applications, software, and equipment are available for faculty and student use. This site also links to other informational resources, like the Library Learning Commons, the OER library, and the Academic Technology Blog. can help you to explore the many ways that technology works to support and improve education here at FSCJ. New to the College? Start by visiting our Faculty, Staff and Student Technology Resource Guides. Need information about IT policies and procedures? Visit the Technology Library.  Need to reset your password? We can help with that, too! The newly redesigned Information Technology Services site is about just that: Service. Check it out today to find out what ITS can do for you.

    Here's a video overview on the new site:

    Students and Technology: A Recent Study

    Student Content, EdTechRobyn Reese

    Educause recently released their 2016 Students and Technology Research Study, which details how higher education students in the United States use technology as a tool for learning, which types of technology they favor, and what teaching strategies enable them to engage with content. The study's purpose is to assist institutions and educators in identifying broader trends in student behavior that can be used to make improvements to college IT services, as well as to adjust teaching strategies to increase technology productivity. The comprehensive 48 page study is worth a read for those who would like a deeper understanding, but for those who would like a snapshot of the larger trends observed in the study, Educause has also produced an eye-catching infographic. Both can be viewed here, along with more information about the study's methodology.  

    Become a Grammar Superstar!

    Student Content, EdTechElizabeth Rodrigue

    When it comes to writing, whether it is for work, school, or personal use, grammar and spelling can be a constant issue. Whether you compose with confidence or struggle with the written word, the proofreading app Grammarly can help ensure that your communications are fluid and polished. Grammarly is a free tool that checks for 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, and can also suggest citations for research papers. It is user-friendly regardless of your comfort with technology or writing.

    To become a Grammarly user,  you must first make an account on their website, which is linked to the graphic above. Once you have signed up for your free account, you have the choice to either copy and paste English text into their online text editor, or to add the Grammarly extension to the Chrome or Safari web browser. The browser extension will correct any text entered into blogs, social media sites, or online word processors. It will also correct any punctuation or spelling errors in discussions on Blackboard or e-mails as well. The screen shot below displays the portal for creating a new account, while the red arrow in the right-hand corner points to the Grammarly extension within the browser itself. 

    If you use Firefox, Internet Explorer, or the Edge browser, you have the option of using the online text editor, which is shown below. Text can be copied and pasted into this screen or typed directly into it. On the left, controls allow you to determine what sorts of grammar and punctuation issues you would like to correct.  

    The online text editor is different from the plug-in on Chrome or Safari because the plug-in can correct your spelling and punctuation with just the click of a button. It works on websites like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. The Grammarly website, on the other hand, provides extra opportunities to connect and learn. These include Grammarly Answers, an online community for writers to come together to ask and answer questions; the Grammarly Handbook, an online guide to help explain English writing, style, and grammar; and the Grammarly Facebook, Twitter, and blog communities.

    During the sign up process, you can choose between the free and Premium versions of the service. Grammarly Premium is a supercharged form of the free app that includes an additional plug-in for Microsoft Office, as well as a plagiarism checker. You can choose from three different subscription plans: monthly, quarterly, or annually, and the price adjusts accordingly. The image below details the major differences between the free and premium versions of the service. 

    Grammarly can help the simplest writer become polished and fluent. The plug-in will allow you to be sure that your discussion posts, social media posts, and blogs are written as professionally as possible, so that you can make a great impression. Give it a try today! 

    FSCJ Safe App

    Videos, DMP, Student Content, EdTechBrandi Bleak

    Here's a list of the features on FSCJ's new easy-to-use safety app that everyone should have loaded on their mobile device.

    1. FSCJ Twitter feed
    An easy way to get to the FSCJ Official Twitter feed, which offers up-to-date information such as closures, emergencies, and event information.

    2. Emergency Contacts
    Instantly call security, 911, or JSO for off campus emergencies while on any campus.

    3. Mobile Bluelight
    This feature calls campus security for you as well as sends them your location through the GPS on your phone.

    4. Friend Walk
    This feature allows you to connect with one of your contacts and to them your location in real time. They can watch as you travel to your destination and call for help if needed.  There is an emergency button that allows you to notify your friend if you are in danger and connects you with the emergency number.

    5. Virtual Walkhome
    This is similar to friend walk however, instead of one of your contacts being notified, you can be monitored directly by security while you are on campus.  To use, simply select your location and wait for confirmation that you are being monitored. This option also includes an easily accessible emergency button.

    6. Report a Tip
    If you encounter a situation that you think should be brought to the attention of campus security this feature provides several ways to do that.  You can email a report, email a photo or video, or phone in a tip.

    7.  Personal Safety Toolbox
    This feature provides useful tools when in an emergency situation.  They include a flashlight, a loud alarm, and another way to send your location to security to indicate you need help.  This is also where you can find the emergency hotline for college employees.

    8. Campus Maps
    This is a useful feature even when you aren’t in an emergency situation. The detailed maps are available for each campus and are interactive.

    9.  Emergency Plans
    It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these plans before an emergency situation happens.  It contains detailed instructions on the correct procedure and safest behavior in several different situations, including evacuations and severe weather conditions.  It also connects you with the College emergency hotline.

    10.  Helpful Resources
    This feature provides basic College information such as academic schedules and catalog in an easy to navigate format.


    How to Google Like a Pro

    The Chat, Student Content, EdTechBrandi Bleak

    Today on The Chat, I discussed a few features of the popular search engine many people aren't aware of.  Did you know that you could build with Legos right from your Chrome or Firefox browser?

    Here's a list of the other tips I suggest:


    Type in "set a timer for [x] minutes" and then get to work. I use this often to limit my social media time or to really focus on a task without interruptions. There's something about a countdown that makes you want to work faster! I actually set a 15 minute timer to finish this blog post - so, let's see how it works. You can also make this full screen, which could be useful for timing a speech, for example. It works in reverse if you prefer the stopwatch option.


    What I like about the ability to search right from Google is that it uses your location for quicker search and suggests dates; for example, an upcoming Thursday to Sunday trip.  Now, just select where you would like to travel and you're all set. The calendar shows price differences on varying days if your plans are flexible, or you can view a map of your route which shows prices for flying into alternative cities for comparison. I didn't feel like there were as many options available as some other search sites, but they did offer the same low prices I was able to find on my usual sites. 


    From equations to conversions, it's there when you simply don't want to use your seventh grade math skills. When cooking, try using Google to help by typing "convert ten ounces to cups." When shopping for the best deal try, "What is 15% of $67?" It works at a restaurant too, when you may not know the perfect amount to tip. "What's 20% of $83?"


    • Be specific. Use keywords strategically and on purpose. You can leave out extra words to complete the sentence.
    • Google can answer many questions. Try searching nutrition facts like, "How many calories are in a Jimmy Johns turkey sub?" or "How long does it take to get to Dayton, Ohio?" The answers are 514 calories and 13 hours and 31 minutes, respectively.
    • Use quotation marks to search exact phrases. Otherwise, it will search those keywords, in any order with an article. Sometimes that matters!
    • If you keep getting searches that include a word you do not want to be a part of the search, use the minus symbol. Add it before any words you don't want to appear in your search. 
    • Use .. to search a date range. Add two periods between a date range to only search within those dates. 

    And finally...


    You can do practically anything on your computer, so why not build something with virtual Legos? This works with Chrome & Firefox browsers and is actually pretty fun! You can change the colors of the Lego bricks or choose from extras like doors or windows to add to your creation. Visit the site here to build!