Tech Tips

Technology TipsThere is something to be said about using the wealth of free and online tools for creating engaging learning materials for your courses.


This area of the site provides you with some technology tips and also some ideas for how free tools can be used in working more efficiently, more safely, and more accessibly.

If you have tips to share, please email them to me at jamesfalkofske [at] yahoo[dot] com.


Instant Messaging

Make yourself available to text and video messaging.  Setup conferences with students, conduct oral exams, provide advising at a distance.

There are many services from which to choose; here are a few.

Service Get an Account  Download the Software Access Via the Web
Instant Messaging Services
AOL Get AOL Email Account Download AOL Dashboard AIM Express
Yahoo Create Yahoo Account Download Yahoo Messenger Yahoo Messenger Online
MSN Get Microsoft Live Account Download Microsoft Live MSN Messenger
GoogleTalk Create Google Account Download GoogleTalk  
Meebo - Multisite Instant Messaging     Login to Meebo


Online Document Authoring / Collaboration

These tools allow you to create documents and materials online.

Site Description
Online Authoring Tools

Google Tools - these require a Google account

Google has a suite of different free tools for creating online websites and online documents (for collaboration and group work).  Access to the tools requires that you first create a user account for logging into your content areas.

  • Blogger - create online blogs (web-based journals / newsletters)
  • Docs - collaborative editing of word-processed documents and spreadsheet.  These can be saved and downloaded in Microsoft Office compatible formats.
  • Groups - create web pages, have online discussions, and share files.  Notifications of changes to the group site can be sent out to all users.
  • Sites - free space to create your own multi-page website.
Microsoft Windows Live 
and Microsoft Office Live
Free online file storage (access from anywhere).  Create workspaces from templates, and share files with others.  Upload and then view documents via web-browser.  Edit and save documents online.
WikiSpaces Free space for creating a sample Wiki (advertising supported)
Zoho Free productivity and collaboration tools (mail, writer, spreadsheet, presentation shows, notebook, wiki, file sharing, planning, chat, web-meeting, reports, projects)

OpenOffice - free and open source (and multi-platform) productivity suite which closely resembles Microsoft Office 2003. 



Catching the JumpDrive Flu

USB Flash Memory drives are extremely popular, essentially making 3-1/2 inch floppy disks obsolete.

Some newer devices combine MP3 players, FM radios, and voice recorders into a "one tool rules" device.

However, with the increased use of jump drives, there are even more risks that computer worms and viruses might "jump" to you.

Flash Drives

USB Flash Memory Drive

Jump drives have much larger capacities and run much more quickly than floppy diskettes. This makes them ideal for carrying and transferring viruses among computers. Also, these characteristics (and their appearance as a new "drive" to your computer) is a likely target for viruses, which may attempt to make replicas onto your USB device.

Another worry is spyware that can capture your usernames, passwords, and other confidential information. Spyware is very easy to copy onto your computer by a "friend" interested in learning more about you or having access to your computer when you're not around.

It is also very easy for someone with a jump-drive to copy sensitive and private information from your computer quickly and easily. Be cautious about allowing others to plug their flash-drives into your computer while you are logged in under your network account. Make sure that all anti-virus software is up-to-date, and "take the driver's seat" when any files are being copied to and from your computer.

If you find a flash drive, don't give into the temptation of keeping it or trying to "peek" into its contents. The "forgotten" jump drive might be a trick to install some nasty software onto your computer.

Some corporations are now "locking down" their computers so that USB devices cannot be added to the system. It is pretty easy to "play it safe" with your computer and your data.

Here are a few quick guidelines.

Google Search Tips


Google Search Tips


For more effective searches in Google and other search engines, you will want to restrict the types of results returned.  Here are some tips to make your searches more productive.

In the example below, we will be searching for information about G4 Macintosh Computers.  The item in bold is the information that will be affecting the search results.

Google Search String Results Returned
G4 Macintosh computers standard Google return results G4 Macintosh computers the site: qualifier only returns pages from websites ending in ".edu" (such as SCTC.EDU) G4 Macintosh computers the site: qualifier only returns pages from
"G4 Macintosh computers" the quote marks only returns pages where the phrase inside the quotes are present
G3 OR G4 Macintosh computers returns pages where either G3 or G4 are in the page Macintosh computers returns pages which have LINKS TO another site, such as SCTC.EDU
intitle:Macintosh computers returns pages that have the next word in the title, such as
Macintosh must be in the title and computers can appear anywhere else in the page
allintitle:Macintosh computers returns pages that have all the following words in the title, such as
Macintosh and computer must be in the page's title.
define:Macintosh computers returns pages that provide definitions for the page (dictionary type lookup)
Macintosh computers 2002...2004 returns pages that include the numbers on either side of the elipse (...), such as
2002, 2003, 2004
Macintosh -computers returns pages that do not have the word following the minus sign(-)

Additional search techniques can be found at the Google Help: Cheat Sheet

Video Tips from Others

The following are links to articles and images I've found from others.

Building Light Kits

Video Camera Supports








Web Browsing Tips


Web Browsing Tips


Here are some easy tips to make your web research and browsing more efficient.

  • Open Search Result Items in New Tabs / New Windows
    When you are reviewing search results, don't click on the link in the search results.  Instead, open that link in a new page or tab - so that you do not lose your list of search results.  If you are using a Microsoft Windows computer, use the RIGHT-MOUSE-CLICK to bring up a shortcut menu, and then choose Open in New Window.  If you are using a Macintosh, use the
  • Open Separate Windows for Each Task
    You can use the CTRL+N (Windows) or Control+N (Mac) key combination in your Internet browser to create a new browsing window.  This allows you to have your campus email open in one window, your online course site in another, and your library research pages in other windows. 
  • Create Emails of Links rather than Bookmarks/Favorites
    Often times, you need to be able to reference multiple websites to complete a single project/assignment.  Rather than creating Bookmarks/Favorites, which are only stored on the computer that you are using at the time, it is smarter to compose an email to yourself which has the website links and a couple sentence description of what the website has to offer.  This also allows you to collaborate with others, sharing resource sites in a meaningful way.
  • Copy and Paste to Print
    Some websites have a really bad habbit of designing pages that will not properly print out (you miss the last few words on the right of each sentence).  If this is happening to you, the work-around is to highlight the portion of text that you need and then paste it into your word-processing program (Microsoft Word).  This allows you to then format and print the content to fit your printer width.
  • Forced Refresh
    To speed up showing you webpages, your browser will save pages that you have visited to your local hard drive.  Then, on your next request for that webpage, the browser will show you the local harddrive copy rather than attempt to download the page again.  Unfortunately, if a page is updated frequently, you will only see the old results.
    You can force your browser to grab a new copy of the page by holding down the SHIFT key when you press the REFRESH or RELOAD button.