Top 10 free Windows applications

These applications have been around for a while so they have been peer and community reviewed pretty thoroughly. Most of them are cross platform and they are all high performing applications . Some of them have a pro paid version but all of them are very functional as free applications. I am always using Gimp and I did used to use Scribus .This video reminded me to take another look at it. These applications are very much for 2018 so  , if you have time, take a look. Open Office is good to have loaded if you want an alternative to cloud services. It doesn’t have the high end graphics and presentation capabilities of the Apple and Microsoft alternatives but it works really well. Libre Office is also free and equally as good.

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Pay attention to colour

aspergers syndrome colourImage: Aspergers syndrome – creating a supportive environment

 

Technology is colour. Screens are colour. Our life is very much visual. It is important to pay attention to the colours you use when you are creating screens for people to look at because colour enhances meaning, reaction, engagement and mood. There is currently a belief you need white areas to help the absorption of content. When it comes to reading the belief is that text should no longer be justified and have straight edges. I’d say that is for people whose reading skills are not optimum. People with good reading skills manage straight edges and dense text very effectively because they are taking in the information by reading downwards more than across. Jagged edges interrupt that downward flow as do areas of white space. Do your own research for your target audience. What do they react to better? What do they manage better? Can you offer visual options? Colour, though, is central to getting information across. Understanding Graphics has 10 good reasons why you should be paying attention to colour. .

Social media policies and guidelines for teachers

social media guidelines DECDWe are at the stage now where the various education departments around the country have come up with social media policies and guidelines for teachers around Australia. Every so often, as was the case recently, teachers discuss what the policies and guidelines are. This is not because they are ignorant or lax in their approach but because we have different guidelines and policies for different states and then PLNs for teachers can see different approaches which are acceptable in one state but not in another. As a professional body teachers probably need a national set of policies and guidelines which are set by AITSL and ACARA. If we have national professional standards for teachers, social media should be a critical part of this since we are in the age of technology. These policies and guidelines need to be reviewed at least twice a year because things change so quickly on the internet. Underpinning all of this needs to be the safety and security of all who are involved with social media and then parents need to know and understand what is occurring so they can raise their concerns or ideas easily.

The QR code for the South Australian guidelines which is on their brochure is not currently pointing to an active link. This is not surprising given DECD has just undergone a big site refurbishment and to ensure every link is working is a long, tedious process. A big, corporate site needs to constantly attend to link checking and even though there are link checkers we probably need a button on the landing page for a broken link which allows us to notify any site of a malfunction in their links. One of the joys of website care in 2018.

You can find all the state policies and guidelines on the federal site for the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

The South Australian Policy is available as a download here.

The South Australian Social Media Guidelines for DECD are here.

The South Australian Consent to use media and creative work is here.

The documents all provide some very useful information and links out to other sites which will inform practice and decision making around social media. It is becoming very complex, though, and a set of national guidelines and policies which apply to all states would probably be helpful so that practice is consistent across the country  .

Google Apps is no longer free

Google Apps, aka G-Suite , hasn’t been free for a while but it takes time for things like this to percolate into the system. It doesn’t help there are two names for it. That just adds to misunderstandings and confusions. It is a widely held belief that Google things are free. Chrome is free. G-Mail is free. Google search engine is free. Google Apps were free but have now gone down the path of being paid. We live in a world where you can become dependent on a free version of something and then you are brought up short. Many things still continue to run limited free versions of something but that may well pass. We are caught up in a perception which was built as we increasingly got to use the internet. Times have changed.

G-Suite is designed for teams and business and Google Apps for Business can be very helpful to small business. It is something Google has addressed now. It was supporting individuals and companies but now there is something for the small organisation or business. Google also has become very competitive on the cloud computing market and it has to in order to survive. Lifehacker looks at the situation to help you think out the work arounds and whether there are implications which will affect you.

As an individual the priced apps won’t affect you since you have to register as a business or organisation with your own domain name. Lifewire explains the changes and how they may or may not affect you so that you can continue to make good decisions as to which aspects of Google you wish to use.

It’s simple. It’s easy . It’s fun.

There are still people who are worried about technology and find it intimidating. There are still people who can do what they do but then worry when they have to do something new with technology. Basically, it’s what Kerwin Rae says – it’s simple, easy and fun! That has to be your attitude.

1. Be clear about what you want to achieve.

What so you want to do with technology? What can’t you do that you want to do? What do you want to do better? How do you want things to look and sound?

2. Use technology.

Stating the obvious. You can be apprehensive about doing something. You might think you will mess things up and you might think you will get it wrong. That is all negative self talk.

Be confident. Do what you want to do and ask about the bits you can’t quite get. There is a lot to learn with progressive disclosure which hides information until it thinks you need it but that might stop you from realising how things work. There is a lot to learn with swiping and gesturing. Do it a bit at a time but just use your devices. Use them to look and learn, use them to create images and videos. Use them to make sound recordings, shopping lists, plans, record ideas. Using technology means you will become more familar with how it works. Once in a while doesn’t get those learning patterns in place.

3. Share and get help.

If you know how to do something, share it. If you don’t know how to do something – ask. Look it up online. Just google it. If you have worked out how to do something , share it. Tell others, tell Facebook, tell Twitter, use a blog to share your discoveries, make a quick video .The internet works well because everyone is sharing what they have discovered and learned. You can look just about anything up on a search engine or YouTube and get help .

4. Look upon it as a challenge.

When it is not going according to plan, leave the device and go and do something else. Nothing will change and nothing will break. You need processing time. You might need to talk to someone and get help or you might need thinking time. Pushing yourself through on a device when you are unclear as to your own procedures will not help you. Figuring it out for yourself is a challenge because you can do it. You might just think you cannot and then you’ll just give up and do something you already know how to do. Learning is a challenge. It is also having confidence in yourself to know you can work it out.

5. Think .

Technology is about using your brain differently and you have to be fluid in your thoughts. You have to think and do and then process ahead and be aware there are next steps. You have to look at the whole screen. You have to examine all the menus and options. Sometimes you have to translate the text instructions to your own way of saying things. “DONE” on a button doesn’t always mean to someone that they need to click that to finish a procedure. They don’t know what it means. Labelling can be very tricky because it is designed for an age group and a certain linguistic level of expression. When if has click or tap to finish then everyone understands that. Ditto tabs in browsers. Some people have no idea there are tabs. They can see x’s along the top and think that means they should’t touch it. To some people x means stop it does not mean close.

6. Learn every day.

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