Category Archives for "Tips and Tools"

My best takeaways from B.T.C. just for Y.O.U.

By Erin Luckhardt, SCN's tech guru (when she's not teaching middle school) | Tips and Tools

LogoHey everyone!

Hope you enjoyed your 4th of July & long weekend!

A few weeks ago, Tom asked me about the Boyne Tech Conference that I help to put on.

The first thing he asked for were tips for hosting a conference (see that post here), but he also asked about any great takeaways from the conference.

What I may have failed to mention to him was that when you run a conference, sitting in a session can be tricky. I think I sat in two for all of about 10 minutes.

Enter Twitter Hashtag = #boynetech. This is where the hashtag becomes even better for me. I can still scroll through posts labeled with this hashtag and find all the tweets from that day.

As I was doing that this morning, I found a tweet about Mindy Lynch.

MindyMindy is a teacher turned administrator. She’s presented at BTC for two years and at MACUL for three. She knows technology.

She’s also fun and enjoys a good laugh as I learned when I had time to connect with her and other great educators before lunch.

But you know what her session was about? Showcasing Your School in the Digital AgeHow perfect, right???

In her presentation (which you can find here – by simply clicking and downloading) Mindy chatted all about the different ways to promote the great things going on in your school. She chats about ways to use social media, fun apps to help, and (what are the chances??) creating a hashtag for your school!

You’ll see many examples and tools when you click through her presentation.

You really, REALLY need to check out Mindy’s presentation, but you also might want to follow her on Twitter or keep up on her blog. (How does she do it all???)

Mindy’s got a social media presence for schools all dialed up for you.

Just tune in!

Tech Tip Tuesday: Planning Your Own Conference

By Erin Luckhardt, SCN's tech guru (when she's not teaching middle school) | Tips and Tools

In my past life, I may have been an event planner.

Hello I Am the Event Planner Nametag StickerHa,ha… but I really do enjoy putting together special gatherings.

Naturally when our district (Boyne City Public Schools, MI) thought about hosting a technology conference 2 1/2  years ago, I convinced a good colleague and friend of mine to co-direct the conference with me.

While it has been a ton of work, we have held two (what I would consider) pretty successful conferences, while having very little experience planning something on this scale until now.

There’s certainly been a learning curve.

So, here are the “TOP 5” essentials we learned while sweating over the details of our tech conference.  Of course, these five would apply to hosting any kind of conference.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 8.34.06 PM#1 Use a software designed to sell tickets and sign people up. We opted for EventBrite for our registration process.

It’s super-simple to set up and use. Refunds are no problem whatsoever. You can check people in to the conference using EventBrite’s super simple app: EventBrite Neon. And once your event is over, they send you a check for the tickets you sold (less their small service fee). Totally reasonable.  And if you’re hosting a free event, they don’t charge you!

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 8.38.32 PM#2 Create a #hashtag. Ours was #boynetech.
You may want to start by searching your proposed hashtag on Twitter just to make sure that no one else is using it or has used it lately AND that you’re not so out-of-date on your acronyms that you create one that’s ‘not so appropriate.’

The hashtag helps to get people connected and fired up before your event even occurs. Then, during the day, people can tweet out what they’ve learned, links to resources, and even pictures of people connecting and presenting.

One of my favorite things to do after conferences is go back through the Twitter feed for the specific hashtag and see what I missed (because you can’t get to every single session…). Perhaps the best part of this, though, is that you are doing some advertising for your conference.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 9.11.51 PM#3 Make it different.
We scatter in lots of variety and ‘flair’, if you will, into our Boyne Tech Conference.

First, it’s in beautiful Boyne City. Our slogan for Friday (the day of the conference) is: Learn. Network. Connect.

For Saturday, it’s : Beach. Golf. Relax.

Our “Team Boyne” downtown businesses and Chamber members work hard to help us out however they can.

Also, we do a BBQ on the pristine shores of Lake Charlevoix the night before. It’s totally free and you get to chat with some of the people you’ll see the next day…with burgers, dogs, and some great tunes by one of our teachers who is also an awesome DJ!

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 9.20.30 PM#4 Nail down sponsors.
As a teacher, this is always the toughest one for me.

Most of us don’t like approaching people asking for sponsorships. It’s awkward. But ya know what? Many business people want to see you have a successful conference, so we boost them at every opportunity in return.

We make sure to give our financial sponsors several shout-outs at our event and I’m sure they gain some potential new clients.

Plus, we’re not shy about extending a “whatever you can give us” option.

Our local bakery donates half the donuts, the Mexican restaurant gives us their amazing chips and salsa, and several local tech companies provided us some free stuff – that’s always popular.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 9.30.59 PM#5 Google Drive.
I know, I know, but after all…  it’s Tech Tip Tuesday, remember!

Rebecca (the co-director) and I have an elaborate system of folders in Google Drive with documents, budgets, conference programs, and so on. It’s our life-saver.

If I meet someone while I’m out and about who seems willing to consider a sponsorship, I simply email them the sponsor application with all of the details from my phone.

Our folders in Google Drive keep everything we created previously for our conferences all in one spot and make it easy-peasy to make tweaks and also bring in new ideas for next time.

So, there are my “Top 5” conference planning tips.

And be sure to check in next Tuesday.

I’ll share the top tips I took away from the conference itself.

Even the math challenged among us can avoid the “dimension X” hiccup in GoAnimate

By Jim Camenga, SCN podcast leader | Tips and Tools

This tip doesn’t offer an old-time rags to riches “Horatio Aspect” ending – but this minor hiccup is gone!

hiccup3Last time, we conquered Hiccup #1 in GoAnimate, finding the right format to add lip syncing to the character on screen.

Today, we tackle Hiccup #2, discovering a nifty way to avoid those ugly black bars on either side of your video.

GoAnimate is a great, online service for creating animated cartoon videos. Their customer support is superb.

What I found lacking, though, for a newbie like me, was a big road sign on the web site telling me there were potholes ahead when it came to the aspect ratio (the dimensions) of the video.

Check out my adventure below:

What are your thoughts? Any questions? Please contact me at

How I cured the hiccups in GoAnimate.

By Jim Camenga, SCN podcast leader | Tips and Tools

Okay, I should’ve watched the help tutorial first!

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 4.01.29 PMThat would’ve given me the cure I was looking for.

GoAnimate is a nifty online tool for creating animated videos, a product first shown here by SCN’s Holly McCaw.

I recently jumped into GoAnimate with both feet to create three animated cartoon lessons in school communications.  I liked the results. But my sudden jump gave me a case of hiccups in two areas of GoAnimate that added hours to my work time:
1. Lip syncing the character on the screen and
2. Figuring out the aspect ratio of the video.

In the video below, I address the lip syncing hiccup, a problem I eventually solved by working with GoAnimate’s stellar support staff:

Looking back on my trial by errors,  I should have watched the GoAnimate tutorial called: How To Select A Business Theme To Achieve Your Objectives on the GoAnimate support page:

Join me next time to read my cure for the GoAnimate “aspect ratio” hiccups. Have questions or suggestions? Please contact me at:

Whatever your politics, this video tool will work wonders! – SCN Encourager

By Tom Page, SCN Founder | Tips and Tools

Swivl is a great running mate – whether you’re on the left or on the right.

It will follow you around and help you easily connect with your intended audience.

And while political moderates firmly planted in the middle obviously won’t utilize the best of Swivl’s primary features, that’s okay.

Moderates need to get their videos up and running on the speedy-kwik, too.

Swivl will even work amazingly well for someone like me.

You know… someone prone to frequent round-a-bouts and communicating in circles.

Take a look at this made-exclusively-for you video introduction and you’ll see what I mean.

Swirl is design fit both your presentation style and “video posting” time frame perfectly.

The possibilities are endless.

As you may know, I’m the communications coordinator for Holland Public Schools (MI). All year long I saw Dave Bast, our tech integration specialist at Holland High creating great things with his students using a “goofy looking device” that I had never seen before. Since my office is located about 100 yards from Dave’s classroom, I had the opportunity to pester him nearly every week since September to record a tech tip for SCN about Swivl. He and one of our English teachers finally agreed to give it a go when school was not in session. Thanks, guys!

Dave evidently must believe that SCN will on the school communications scene for quite awhile.

When he sent me that link to his Swivl video, he told me not to badger him for any more tech tips for SCN until five years has passed.

Now, how’s that for a vote of confidence?

And My Favorite App is…

By Erin Luckhardt, SCN's tech guru (when she's not teaching middle school) | Tips and Tools

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 6.03.16 AMCanva (still).

If you checked out my Tech Tips a few months ago, my #1 app probably won’t surprise you as I had a whole slew of Tech Tips devoted to Canva (See the Intro, #1, #2, #3, #4).

I use Canva for everything… room signs for a tech conference, birthday party decorations, graphics for my Twitter account, even last-minute birthday cards!

As Canva continues to grow, they continue to add more features to their online site, and the iPad app that they launched last fall.

Check out the video below to learn more about my favorite new features and options in Canva! (Disclaimer: if I sound a little groggy, it’s because I try to record these quite early before my sweet girls are up and at ’em…I was only on cup of coffee #1 here)

I hope you start to check out Canva as there are so many great ways to use it! As always, email me with any questions you have –!


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