Tag Archives: high-school

What Back-To-School Software do You Need?

School bells will once again be ringing in the very near future. These days, kids of all ages need to have the best tools, gadgets and software to help them be a success. Over on Lockergnome, PixelPirate asked what types of school software is recommended for Linux. That, of course, made me think of students using all types of operating systems, and the types of software they may soon need.

One service (or software, depending on which version works best for you) that I keep hearing recommended is DropBox. I actually use this myself to get videos and documents to my assistant when she needs them. It’s a great way to help you sync data between computers at little to no cost. Beyond this, everyone seems to have a different opinion.

What software (or service) do you feel students today MUST have in order to help them do their very best in their classes?

You can always grab the hottest software titles available – at the hottest prices – from our download center.

How Does a Geek Survive High School?

High school is the best four years of your life – and the worst. It’s difficult for anyone to navigate their way through the ups, downs and drama. Believe it or not, even the popular crowd struggles on a daily basis just trying to survive. Imagine what it’s like for those of us who are Geeks! We’ve been looked down upon, picked on and stuffed into lockers for years. Now that Geeks are actually becoming “cool,” it may not be the nightmare that I recall. So, then, I ask you: what tips do you have on surviving high school for the younger members of our community?

To be honest, it’s not only Geeks that could use a little help. As I already mentioned, it’s pretty much every teenager who ever walked the planet that I want to help. Let’s put our heads together and come up with some excellent tips and tricks to give them. When I’ve collected several of them, I’ll publish a new post – just in time for back-to-school. Leave your tips here as a comment to the post.

Every teen needs excellent software on their computer when they head back to the classroom. Don’t forget to check out our software center to find the best deals on all of the must-have titles.

Social Media in Education

This is a guest blog post written by my assistant and Community Manager, Kat Armstrong.

After spending the past few days writing about the new iPhone, my brain was absolutely shot. Approximately 90% of what I write every day deals with technology news, gadgets and companies. About an hour ago, I hit a brick wall. I had zero ideas floating around in my noggin. I couldn’t bring myself to write about the iPhone yet again. I sat here staring at the screen as I frantically casted about for a subject – any subject – to talk about next.

I decided to fire up my handy-dandy TweetDeck application. Reaching out to my followers, I asked for ideas. One good friend suggested I talk about the uses of social media in education. That sounded interesting, and my mind began to churn. I fired off another tweet, asking “STUDENTS: How has/does the use of social media help your education (NOT your social life!)?” I also repeated the question in Chris’ live chat room.

The replies poured in, and I was dismayed. I heard from nearly one hundred students of all ages and education levels. I haven’t done the math, but I’d feel safe in guessing that approximately 5% of those answering claim that they make use of social media in their educational lives. The rest of them said they only use it to catch up with friends, chat about their day and play games.

In the age of Web 2.0, why aren’t students using social media in the classroom? We already know that Twitter is the fastest way to find information on breaking news stories. Blogs can be used to encourage creative writing and proper grammar skills. Cramster is a Q&A board much like our new Lockergnome site. However, its sole purpose lies in bringing together pupils of all ages to help each other with homework and research. Sites such as Box and Dropbox allow learners and educators to share files together quickly and easily.

At the very least, sites such as Twitter, Facebook and even (*shudder*) MySpace can be used to create discussion in the classroom. Teachers can pull news stories from any of those sources. Students can ask questions and facilitate deeper discussion after reading something on one of the thousands of SM sites. Professors can institute peer reviews on writing projects. Kids can locate an expert in a field they are interested in, and “shadow” them on the Web. Geotagging can be used to target and find information about places that are being studied.

The possibilities are, quite honestly, endless. I certainly hope that my quick Twitter poll is not indicative of the use (or rather – the lack) of social media in an educational setting. Will someone prove me wrong? I’d love to hear your stories of how your school or college has been incorporating the use of social media into the curriculum.

Kat can be found in any number of places around the Web. You can catch her on Twitter, Facebook, and of course on every site in our community. If you’re lucky, you may even find her occasionally rambling about something on her personal blog.

Is Traditional School a ‘Must’?

Earlier tonight, I uploaded a video where I discussed the advantages of homeschooling, and the K12 program in particular. The response has been overwhelming in a very short time. For instance, my assistant Kat homeschooled her daughter last year for a semester. She researched tons of different programs, and ended up creating her own. You see, homeschooling using an accredited course is quite expensive. Her daughter returned to public school this year to attend 8th grade. However, they’ve been looking and researching ways to homeschool again through high school. K12 offers her a perfect way to do so! Kat was really excited by this, knowing this is a great program and something she can afford.

This raises the question of why she is so set on homeschooling. Why are so many thousands of others turning to non-traditional means of education these days? In many cases, it’s not a matter of the public schools not being up to par. It has to do with the fact that the schools and teachers are limited in what they can teach, and for how long. There are strictures placed on kids who learn slowly – and ones who are much faster. There isn’t always an “accelerated” or “gifted” program available in smaller, rural communities.

So, we turn to non-traditional means. I’ve always been able to learn better and more outside of a classroom environment than in it. I know there are thousands and thousands of other kids who are the same way. I was forced to start thinking more about whether attending a traditional school is a must after receiving this email tonight from Om:

I am 18 years old, and I dropped out in grade 10. I have never been happier in my life. I now run my own business as a technical support guy – and am doing great! Since I started my business, I have been offered a job by an ISP and another computer repair company.

I have heard a thousand times from friends and family members that I “need” to go to school or I will end up with a bad job. Had I finished school, I wouldn’t have started my own business – and would not be living the almost perfect life (not to brag).

Now I’m not saying that traditional schooling is bad. I just think that is certainly isn’t for everyone. I also believe that traditional schooling needs a lot of redesigning. They’re still teaching the same basic courses that they did some 300 years ago. I think a class on how to run a computer would be more important that something like history or grade 12 math.

So my advice now to people is, instead of going to school and then figuring out what you want to do – figure out what you want to do, then go to school if you find it fits your needs.

What’s your thoughts on this? Is it imperative that kids attend a “traditional” school? If so, for how long? Do you believe that some non-traditional methods just may be even better for them in both the short term and in the long run? Let’s hear what you have to say!

GED vs High School Diploma

Fellow geek Steven Johnson is in a bit of a quandary:

I’ve learned from many experiences that I am just not a morning person. It is nearly impossible for me to wake up earlier then 8am every morning. I attend High School at Nutley High in New Jersey. I tend to be an overall good student with my “actions” but, my grades, not so much. Ever since I entered high school two years ago as a Freshman, I have been failing classes left and right. Not because I’m stupid, it’s because I’m solemnly a lazy person. I’m now a Junior and my future seems dull. I look back and think, “Why did I do that? I’m so stupid!” Now, I’m still failing classes and see two options. I can either go to summer school for the next to years to make up the classes I’ve failed and work my butt off next year as a senior, OR, I can drop out and get my GED. Although a GED doesn’t sound as great as a High School Diploma, it’s just as great and it seems to be my best option right now.

I plan to drop out and get my GED and attend a Computer College right here in my town. I would go for computer programing and computer science. Not 100% sure on what to do with computers, but I see that as my future. I take a lot of pride in my computer.

Now, I’m coming out to you guys for help on what to do! Do you think I should struggle through summer school for the next to summers or drop out and get my GED? I’ve been through summer school three summers already and really don’t want to do that! What do you think I should be doing.

I’ve never been much of a morning person, either… but I’m glad I finished high school (and college) in the traditional sense. That path is not practical for everyone, but if you can control your destiny then it’s best NOT to take the easy way out. After all, what would stop you from quitting again when the going got rough long after school was out? Food for thought.

I say stick it out. But, if nothing else, then at least you’d plan on getting a GED.

At What Point did You Know You Were a Geek?

Since the inception of Geeks, I’ve often wondered this: how and when did you know you were a Geek? I’ve always been one, I just didn’t realize it really until college. I asked everyone over at FriendFeed when they discovered the truth about themselves. Some of them were hilarious, while others were dead serious about their Geekitude.

The minute you know who Chris Pirillo is and can pick him out of a line-up… :-p – Live4Soccer

The moment I first heard about Dungeons and Dragons in 4th grade (78 or 79). – Just a Tad

March 13, 1972, born in the bay area unto two BART engineers and ex-Apollo rocket worker before growing up in Silicon Valley. – Eric Rice

Not sure if I’ve become one yet. I’m more of a nerd. – JustdoitMS

The entire world knew I was a geek when I got called to the principal’s office to reset his new digital watch after daylight saving time ended/began. – ha3rvey

I think I’ve always been one, but the boyfriend helped bring it out even more, so Feb. 2004! – Kat

Um, when I saw the moon landing when I was a few years old. But, really, when I got into Jr. High in 1977 and joined the first computer club at Hyde Jr. High in Cupertino and got my first tour of Apple Computer (back when it was only one small building). – Robert Scoble

Birth… the child of English/Drama teachers (one working as an engineer), who were friends with science fiction writers, like Roger Zelazney and the Haldemans. Seeing Star Wars when I was 6 didn’t hurt. – 9 (clever name here)

When I stole mom’s copy of Stephen King’s "IT" off ehr headboard to read. i think I was 7. – WarMaiden

My moment was when I walked through the door of the now-defunct Commodore Hotel across from Madison Square Garden, for the Bicentennial (1976) edition of the Star Trek convention (the only one on the east coast that I know of), way back before the popular use of the word "con". The attendance was limited to 6000 people. I heard the most recent DragonCon in Atlanta was 10x that much. And the very fact I know that is verification of my geekitude, as well as my geezertude. – Rick Wolff

Who you callin geek? – Brian Norwood

My mom and I used to play "Trax" on the Atari in the late 80s – it would read the game off a cassette player…I thought that was so cool. My mom would always beat me which strikes me as cooler now. – Kamath

sometime between 1982 and 1984 whenever it was i first made a triangle on an Apple IIe. then my inner geek went dormant until about 1998. – tiffanyNeedsANewNickname

When I bought my VIC-20, in 1983, with my own money. – Joey Gibson

When I went to math and science camp two summers in a row. – Stupid Blogger (aka Tina)

I suppose it became official on Christmas morning when I was 8 and there was a shiny new TRS-80 under the tree. The next Christmas I got a 5.25in floppy drive and it was the schiznit. – ※Lindsay Donaghe※

Conception. – torque

When I started talking extensively about IP multimedia subsystems, IP protocol, packets, session border controls or heard others speak about it and it made sense to me. last night was an example. IP engineers at the dinner table talking shop and i could completely understand all of it. – Patricia

Is this a "conception vs. birth" thing? – Mark VandenBerg

I think it was a birth defect. 😉 – Kol Tregaskes

When I accidentally the whole internet. – David

At my cousin’s house, walked into a room and instead of TV on TV, saw PONG! Did I mention I would soon be wearing an orange sweatband on one wrist and a calculator watch on the other? <nostalgic sigh> – Micah Wittman

When I realized I knew more about computers and QBasic, than my teacher in Middle School. – Michel Bechelani

At the point of conception. – Stuart Forsyth

What kind of Geek are you, and when did you realize it? Do you embrace your Geekitude, or do you hide it from others?

Starting a Catchphrase

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‘E Ya Later’ is how I end nearly every video I do. I started using it years ago, because I wanted a catchphrase of my own. I’m not even sure where and how I came up with it… but it stuck. Have you ever wanted to start your own word or phrase? These tips sent in by a reader should help.

  • Invent a random word or saying that no one understands. A string of gibberish words will attract more attention than you can imagine. My own school started saying “Baaaaaaaaadd Weeeeeek” to symbolize that you don’t agree with a teacher. No one knows who started it, and yet it sticks.
  • Use your word or phrase often. This is how you can succeed in having others hear and remember what you’ve made up.
  • Before using it, figure out how to use your word. Do you want it to be a noun, a verb or another little gem of grammar that our English teachers make us learn? If you fail this step, you won’t be able to control how your word or saying is used.
  • Remember that you are the reason this word or phrase was started. Don’t let others forget where it came from, but don’t be obnoxious about it, or you’ll end up getting a swirly. We all know how often that happens to us Geeks anyway.
  • Remember…. it’s just a saying. It doesn’t mean anything, unless you give it a specific meaning. You can have fun with it, and declare that your new word or saying just stands for “omg this is dumb” or even “Whoa this is totally cool”.


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How to get Homework Done

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Recently, I did a video with tips on note taking during class. Here are some tips for getting your homework done, as well as some for getting good grades.

Tips for Getting Homework Done!

  • Make sure all of all of your materials are at home or with you, for example bring all of your books home to ensure that your work is done correctly. I also recommend that you keep a drawer, shoe box , or any organized space full of things that may be necessary to do your work. You may want to include pencils, rulers, calculators, colored pencils, paper, scissors, and even a stapler.
  • Don’t sit or lay on your bed for homework, as you may get “to comfortable” to work or fall asleep. Your computer desk is another bad place to do homework because you could get distracted.
  • Do your homework right after school. I know as a student myself that some people have extra activities to get to before you even get home.
  • Take all the time you have to do your work in class. For instance, if you have a test that you might get done with early… take your stuff from the class you have homework in with you.(I absolutely don’t recommend doing your homework in the middle of class when your teacher is giving a lesson.) Also, use all of your study hall time to get it done. I have often found that I can get my homework done during study hall. This way, I don’t have to deal with it at home.
  • If you get home and realize you don’t understand something, go in to that class next morning before the start of school and ask for help. (I am not sure if this would work in high school or college but if not call a friend, and if you don’t have friends, sorry you are out of luck.)
  • Take occasional breaks! This will help to concentrate more as you do it.

Tips for Getting Good Grades!

  • Turn in all homework when it’s due. As you advance in your schooling, teachers will become more picky about this. It’s imperative to your grade that you turn in all your homework on time.
  • Ask if you don’t understand something. If you get home and realize you don’t understand the assignment try to get ahold of that teacher before the assignment is due and talk to them.
  • On open-ended or response questions don’t just say nothing if you know a lot about that topic already or don’t know anything about it. Put the answer to the question and then expand on it.
  • Save all papers. At the end of the semester there will be semester exams… these exams are usually cumulative meaning everything from the beginning of the year till present. Unless you are a genius, you probably won’t remember everything from that far back so save everything to review from. If you’re like me, you may have switched organization methods and such throughout the year and may not have all your notes in the same notebook. Always keep all your notebooks in your locker or wherever you keep your school things. This way, when exam time comes type up all of your notes this also may help refresh your memories of those topics.
  • Be nice to your teacher, He/She has a lot of stuff to deal with during the day. During class, don’t talk when he/she is talking and don’t be doing other things during class. When it comes to grading time, if you’re on the edge between someone who is between one grade or another if you’re nice, do your hw all the time, and are always on time and prepared for class the teacher will usually give you the higher grade.


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