UPDATED October 2019 – Office 365 or G Suite? Windows 10 or Chrome? AND or OR?

Now that I have been in a hybrid district #HybridEdu (Microsoft AND Google) for over a year, I thought it might be a good time to update this post along with updated links and announcements coming out of ISTE 2019 along with a Wakelet collection of comparison charts for various apps to help you decide when to use which app (current charts for Forms, PowerPoint/Slides, and Docs/Word).

Full disclosure: We use Microsoft, Google, AND Apple products, both professionally and personally. Between us, we have multiple certifications in Microsoft and K is a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, Google Certified Educator (level 2), and Apple Teacher.

For work and home, we use Windows 10 PCs, Surfaces, Macs, iPads, Chromebooks, and have Android phones from Google Fi. (We also use a Google Home, Amazon Echo, Invoke with Cortana, and Siri, but home assistants is a different blogpost.) 

All platforms have their advantages and we respect those who may be devoted to a specific platform or product. We are not paid by any of the companies and/or products we discuss in our blogposts. You will ALWAYS read our honest thoughts and opinions from our personal experiences. 

I (K) read some interesting Tweets with articles that triggered my brain comparing platforms and digital inking. Honestly, I’d love to find a study that compares note taking on a laptop (AKA typing) vs. digital inking (this article compares paper inking and this research compares a laptop to a Surface with digital inking.)

While we understand why districts have purchased Chromebooks ($), G read an article from 2014 which reported that 85% of Chromebooks are in education. His response was that that means only 15% are in the global market. Another article around that time talked about over 60% of the global market using Microsoft. My favorite quote: “In 2016, devices running Android and Chrome made up 23 percent of the mobile market outside the United States, compared with 65 percent for Microsoft’s Windows, according to Futuresource.” (From what I can tell, they define “mobile” as non-desktops, such as laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets.)

This is starting to shift, however, according to Futuresource Consultings’ 2019 report, a recommended read.

purple OneNote logoKids are digital natives and seem to do fine, in my observation, using both, but, to us, Microsoft has OneNote, digital inking in multiple apps, and accessibility features like the Learning Tools with Immersive Reader. (As a former special education teacher, the accessibility alone is a deciding factor.)

It is important to remember that “digital native”, however, does not mean students are automatically fluent in technology, but that is another blogpost. Just because I am originally from the Chicago area does not mean I can make Chicago pizza (but I DEFINITELY can eat it! @LouMalnatis)

Google Keep logo - yellow rounded square with a lightbulb in the middleOn the flip side, Google has Google Keep which can be compared to index cards or sticky notes. I used it with a 4th grade class for research report note-taking because they could rearrange the cards to organize their report. I’ve used Google Earth in combination with OneNote Class notebook.

How do we best prepare our students for a world market? How often do you see “Microsoft Office” in an employment listing? How often do you see familiarity with “Google Suite” listed as a job requirement?

Some articles regarding technology and students that might also interest you:

Schools Must Get the Basics Right Before Splashing Out on Technology and one mentioned earlier: A Learning Secret: Don’t Take Notes with a Laptop

Both articles discuss how students learn. I loved the lean forward/lean back portion of the first article and found the typing vs. paper note taking interesting in the second. Students can write notes, draw images to help jog memory, and even organize them around (if digital, not paper). In OneNote, that area is unlimited versus paper where you may need to shuffle through a few sheets on a single topic. Plus, you can insert images, videos, PowerPoints, etc., and the search feature is AMAZING! It can even search text IN images that I inserted.

These confirm why we need Office 365 with OneNote AND should try to get touchscreen devices and styluses into ALL students’ hands!

Final thought – In fall 2018, my district added Google and we went hybrid. Here’s what I noticed. Students mostly view them as apps and programs they can choose from, bouncing between them, rather than seeing only one platform or the other. Many adults, however, appear to see it as one or the other, Google vs. Microsoft.

Tweet from Mike Tholfsen @mtholfsen: NEW! Teachers & Students will be able to login & use free @Office365 apps with their Google EDU account 😱 Use G-Suite & Google Classroom along with apps like #OneNote 💜, Immersive Reader, and @MicrosoftTeams #edtech #edchat #ISTE19 #MicrosoftEDU 👉 https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Education-Blog/Introducing-Simpler-Sign-on-a-way-to-sign-in-to-Office-365-with/ba-p/708898 …BOTH have great things to offer. I am grateful to be in a #HybridEdu district. Mike Tholfsen from Microsoft tweeted incredible news in June, 2019, for those who would like access to both. Microsoft Education announced the ability to log into Office 365 from Google Edu accounts.

(Many other Microsoft EDU announcements came out in June around the ISTE conference. You can view my Wakelet collection which features many, if not all, of them, from Microsoft or my Wakelet collection of the Google announcements.)

Google AutoDraw logo with a pencil outline on a yellow circle and colorful stars around itHave you played with Google Autodraw or had Microsoft OneNote create math practice problems for you? Did you know you can have live captions in Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint?

While we both still lean towards Microsoft because of the accessibility tools like the new mouse pointer options in 1903, Immersive Reader (which they just opened up in June, 2019, to 3rd party apps), and its use in the global market, we see the benefits of choice, allowing students to determine which works best for them as individuals.

Green speech bubble on blackboard background "Ed Tech is an AND, not an OR." - Joe Merrill at Flipgrid Live 6/2019

Feel free to share your thoughts below. We would love to hear the perspective of those outside the education arena (and those within it, too!)

BOO! It’s Boolean tools!

Halloween is coming up so we thought we would deliver an early “treat”.

HANDOUT UPDATED AS OF 2/22/19 TO INCLUDE CATEGORY SEARCH. See the tweet here. (For comparison, I searched philosophy “The Good Place” and got over 3,000,000 results. When I searched philosophy:”The Good Place”, less than 50,000 results!

So you visit Bing or Google, ready to do a search. How many hours do you have to scan millions of results for the information you need? Boolean Tools to the Rescue! Below is a handout K created for a presentation for teachers a few years ago that was followed by requests for a copy to share with the teachers’ own children.

Many of us know about the + and the -, but what about the * and the ~? (Yes, there is a use for that weird key in the top left corner besides emoticons!)

Feel free to comment below if you have found other shortcuts for filtering internet searches. Most appear to work in both Bing and Google.

Here is the link to the handout in Sway. Below is an example of the handout in Word and how it changed when I imported it into Sway.

Internet Search Tools handout in Word next to the same handout in Sway with

URL Shorteners – Why? Which? How?

Today’s post is all about URL shorteners. While there are many out there, my focus is on ones I have used personally. At the end, I’ve created a chart giving you a quick overview of all 4 and their pros and cons.

Why use URL shorteners? They make life easier when sharing a link verbally or when creating a QR code. Below is an example of 2 QR codes. On the left, the original link. On the right, the link using a URL shortener. Which one could be easier for attendees to capture on their phones, especially if far from the screen?


In July 2017, I did a presentation on Microsoft’s accessibility tools for my local Microsoft Store. I created a OneNote resource to share with attendees using a Tinyurl link.  For example, this takes you to our YouTube channel: https://tinyurl.com/gktechiesyt

Tinyurl is VERY easy to use. Simple paste your link and click Make TinyURL! You can also personalize your link by entering a custom alias in the 2nd field before clicking the Make TinyURL! button. Links are NOT case sensitive. https://tinyurl.com/GKTechiesyt works the same as https://tinyurl.com/gktechiesyt.

screenshot of Tinyurl.com homepage "Welcome to TinyURL"

Easy, quick, and free! However, there was no data, nothing to tell me if anyone was using the resource I created. I kept updating the OneNote for me, but had no idea if others were viewing it.


Shortly after that presentation, a colleague told me about Bitly. You can personalize the link, change the link title, AND have data. Example: for internet search tips, see http://bit.ly/InternetSearchTips.  Plus, there is a free version! You can see specific clicks in the last 30 days and the top 3 locations.

Now for the cons: What I found frustrating is that I can see the link for my accessibility resource has been clicked 15,368 times in 55 countries (as of 8/26/18), but cannot see the full list of countries. (UPDATE 5/21/19 – more countries are now listed in the free version! UPDATE 7/1/19 – those countries are gone again) Also, Bitly links ARE CASE SENSITIVE. bit.ly/internetsearchtips will not work, but bit.ly/InternetSearchTips will go to the correct resource.

Bitly analytics with a list of countries and a blue circle graph with 15,582 total clicks in the center



Then along came Leslie Fisher‘s webinar and I discovered Delivr. WOW! Now I can see a LOT of data so I started sharing my accessibility notebook with this link: https://delivr.com/27zf2. With Delivr, you can pull a report for the last 90 days to view the traffic to your link. As long as I check it within those days, I can keep track of the countries specifically and even states and provinces.

Also, Delivr links are NOT case sensitive. https://delivr.com/27zf2 goes to the same resource as https://delivr.com/27ZF2.

Delivr data as of 8-26-18

So what are the downsides to the free version? Unlike TinyURL and Bitly, you cannot personalize the end of link so it isn’t as easy to share out verbally. You are also limited to only 5 links at a time. HOWEVER, you can change where the link points to at any time.

For example, I created a handout of internet search tips (Boolean tools) in Word (Bitly link). Then, a colleague imported it into Sway (Bitly link), inspiring me to use that medium instead. The Word link had already been tweeted out and I couldn’t change where it pointed so I had to create a new Bitly. With Delivr, I could have changed it, Internet Search Tips (Delivr link), so people who had the original link would get the newer format.


If you are sharing a link verbally, Leslie Fisher also introduced me to an incredible tool called Yellkey. What is Yellkey? Basically, when you need to share a link easily and quickly, drop it into Yellkey and a URL is created using yellkey.com/ and a common word is added to the end. For example, yellkey.com/star.

Yellkey - enter URL and length of time for key to exist. Next field for selecting time for link to be live. blue button "generate yellkey" made with love by delta lab

Upside/downside? That link only works for up to 24 hours. You set the time, however.

Be aware that links ARE CASE SENSITIVE. The add on word must be lowercase, according to my tests.

Yellkey enter url and length of time for key to exist. 5 minutes, 10, 15, 30, 1 hour, 3 hours, 6, 12, 24 hours

There are numerous other URL shorteners online, some with dubious reviews like AdFly, which sounds great to monetize your resource, but I found posts talking about viruses and scam questions.

Goo.gl has been used by many, but is no longer an option.



Bitly: free, but can upgrade to enterprise version for $6-7k a year, overall statistics and the last 30 days available, can customize link. Delivr: free for 5 links, subscription plans available - cheapest is $270/yr for 100 links, detailed overall statistics for the last 90 days available, cannot customize link. TinyURL: cost is free, data is none, can customize link. Yellkey: free, no data, cannot customize link.

They are difficult to rank, but I would put Delivr as my favorite due to the INCREDIBLY DETAILED statistics, though you cannot customize the link and you only get 5 links in the free account version. (If sharing a link verbally, you could paste your Delivr link in Yellkey and then have the user bookmark it.)

Bitly also offers free accounts AND you can customize the links and see overall statistics and 30 days worth of data. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to the number of links you can create. The free version doesn’t let you change the site the link is pointing to, but you could create a fresh Bitly.

Tinyurl is free, lets you customize, but does not give you data. No sign in.

Yellkey is free, does not let you customize, does not give you data, and has a time limit. Sometimes, I did not like the word it created. One example was Yellkey.com/fear which sounded negative, but you can just create another one. No sign in.


FAVORITES (as of right now)

In the last few weeks, I’ve discovered some pretty amazing websites which has prompted me to blog about current #EdTech favorites that make life, education, jobs easier. #WorkSmarterNotHarder

In no particular order, here are some FREE!!!! tools, apps, and websites to check out!

Purple OneNote logo1. If you don’t know OneNote, you are missing out! So I said “in no particular order”, but THIS is my number one. I use it DAILY, both personally and professionally. It is a mobile app, Windows 10 app, software, AND web-based so it is with you EVERYWHERE!

So how does it help – Remember Trapper Keepers? Those coveted binders in the 80s with the folders inside to organize your classes? That is basically OneNote. It’s a digital binder for organizing just about anything. Create as many sections as you need with as many pages with as much area on each page to sketch, insert images, YouTube videos, documents, etc.

Potential uses (how I’ve used it):

  • homework agenda
  • vacation planning
  • organize IEP paperwork
  • kids’ artwork (section for each grade with pages for favorite projects, writing, etc.)
  • saving magazine articles so you can recycle the physical magazine
  • share tutorials by topic
  • journal
  • conference planning
  • photo album with photos AND videos!
  • lesson planner (including the digital whiteboard)
  • too many more to list, but check out @OneNoteC on Twitter for more OneNote information

Needless to say, I LOVE ONENOTE!

Rewordify.com Understand what you read.

2. A few months ago, while in a webinar with @LeslieFisher, I learned about Rewordify.com. An informational handout and quick start guide are provided. Basically, you paste in text and it simplifies the wording. Great for English language learners. Personally, I have used it when reading a vocabulary-ridden article and just needed to rest my brain!


Purple Smmry logo with an arrow on each side

3. Along the same lines, check out Smmry.com. Paste in text, a link, or upload a file and it will summarize it into a designated number of sentences. The default seems to be 7, but you can adjust it. How would I use this? When short on time, facing a long article, and I just want to get the gist of it, the CliffNotes, if you will. Students could use it to look for key points or teachers could use it as a lesson to determine if it really pulls out the main ideas. Thank you, @ksuding, for sharing this on Twitter!


red Office Lens logo

4. Office Lens! Office Lens is an amazing app available on various devices, but the iOS version is my favorite due to Immersive Reader. For a quick demo, see the video on our YouTube channel. Take a picture of an article, adjust the size of the text, and even have it read to you.


Seeing AI - Turning the visual world into an audible experience.5. Last, but not least, on the list is Seeing AI. Seeing AI is an iOS app to help those with visual impairments. See the video on our YouTube channel for an overview. It will read a document, read handwriting, identify currency, describe the scene around you, even help identify someone near you. You can save the image so if it “sees” that person in the future, it will tell you who it is, which could benefit those with memory issues. During my initial tests of the app, I noticed it often gave the person’s emotion which made me think of those who have trouble reading the emotions of others. So many possibilities!

We would LOVE to hear about YOUR current favorite apps, websites, and software – the tech that makes life easier and allows you to work smarter, not harder!

Tweet or DM me on Twitter – @Filibuster3, comment here, or comment on our YouTube videos.

Back to School Ideas

If you haven’t visited the Microsoft Educator Community, you are missing out. It is an amazing FREE resource for tutorials and lesson plans. I have posted several lesson plans using Microsoft products and since some schools have recently started and others are about to, it seemed a good time to share them here.

I’ve posted 2 for Back to School: First Day Quiz and What is Your Super Power?

Quiz?! On the first day?! EXACTLY! When teaching 5th grade, I knew that there would be numerous assessments (state-driven, district-driven, curriculum-driven) and I wanted to relieve some test anxiety on Day 1. The students came in, sat down, and I promptly told them they were going to take a quiz. HUH?! WHAT?! NO WAY?! Then I passed it out.

First Day Quiz
Image of the beginning of the first day quiz

This is just a snapshot. You can find the complete Word document posted to the MEC. They immediately giggled and went to work.

Why would I do this? While working on my masters degree, I had a professor (Amy Duncan at Azusa Pacific University) who started a class by saying, “Gossip about me.” We were put into small groups and she wrote topics on the board like her age, where she was originally from, if she was married, did she have kids, hobbies, etc.

The theory behind it was that we would talk more about someone else than about ourselves. Sure enough, we started talking, not only about our ideas for the answers, but about our OWN answers.

Once my students finished the “quiz”, we “graded” it. I answered each question and also pointed out clues in the room that would have helped. Previous students had given me thematic Winnie the Poohs that were lined up along the top of my whiteboard next to a Chicago Cubs troll. On the board near my desk was a picture of the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota. I had a bulletin board with Harry Potter trim so a good author guess would have been J.K. Rowling.

While discussing MY answers, the kids shared their own, not just what they THOUGHT the answer was, but their OWN answers. To me, it brought about quick bonding that continued through the year.

Back in March, 2018, during #tosachat, I saw this tweet.

Super Power Tweet
Tweet by Kim Calderon @CrazySciTeach during the #tosachat, linked above

LIGHT BULB!! Thus, the Super Power lesson was born. Let your students share their gifts, talents, strengths. I suggested Sway because the students seem to LOVE it. They can customize without too many distracting options and share the link with friends and family.

It might also be a good staff activity for your staff to share their strengths with each other. After Microsoft announced that Flipgrid.com would be free, it also gave me the idea to use it for parent volunteers. Create a Flipgrid topic for parents and community members to share their super powers like preparing craft project materials at home, creating bulletin boards, speaking to the class about their occupation, etc.

As a tech trainer, I miss those first few days of a new school year, the excitement of a new class, but love watching students I taught now becoming teachers themselves.




Our first blog!

2018 has been an eventful year!

  • We started a YouTube channel
  • The accessibility OneNote has been clicked over 15,000 times in over 50 countries!
  • Plus, K received her Level 1 Google certification and passed her Microsoft Certified Educator exam and is now MCE Certified.
  • G passed his Microsoft Office Specialist Exam for Microsoft Word (and continues to be K’s Excel go-to guru!)
  • AND, saving the best for last, K recently was chosen as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert! One of 30 in California!


Who are we? Two educators and life-long learners who love using technology – From CTE to accessibility, we’ll try to post helpful tips, ed tech information, and maybe some random non-educational ideas to make your tech life easier. From Microsoft to Apple to Google to web-based, we seek out tools that are simple to use, not time-consuming to learn, and, if not free, worth the money.