Discussion: Calendar Apps


Sunrise and Cal side by side

I think everyone I know has struggled with finding a calendar app that works for them. I have calendars from so many different places (personal, work, Gmail, iCloud), and I need an app that integrates them all in a way that is easy to view and simple to use. Currently, I use Cal (by the folks who created Any.Do), but I’m also testing another app, Sunrise.

What app are you using? Pros? Cons? What are the most important features of a calendar app?


SAMR as Coffee

In the ed tech world, we use the SAMR model (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) to describe the integration of technology into the classroom. It uses big words, and can be kind of confusing. Thankfully, Jonathan Brubacker created this very cool graphic that sums it up handily. He uses a coffee metaphor, implying that the simplest way to integrate technology (substitution) is the equivalent of buying a plain cup of coffee from Starbucks rather than brewing at home. As the integration becomes more complex, the coffee drink does too, so that it is no longer the simple cup of coffee you make at home, but instead a complete redefinition of caffeinated drinks.

SAMR Coffee

Next time you’re thinking about adding technology to your classroom, think about SAMR. Are you just substituting one task with another? Or are you using technology as a tool to allow for innovation and creativity that wouldn’t otherwise be possible?

Side Tech: nest Protect Smoke and CO2 Detector

Note: Side Tech is a new feature on non-educational technology. Don’t worry, this is still an ed tech blog, but every once in a while, I find something really cool that I want to share. Also, this is definitely not a sponsored post, but if the amazing folks at nest wanted to send me a free smoke detector, I certainly wouldn’t refuse ;).

1 am, Saturday morning. I am sound asleep, snuggled in my flannel sheets between two curled-up kitties. A noise rouses me from my slumber. Did I imagine it? I wait 60 seconds, and there it is again– the distinct chirp of a CO2 detector that is low on batteries. With a string of words you normally would only hear in biker bars or shipyards (certainly not from the mouth of a cat-lady librarian who reads penguin stories to preschoolers), I trudged out of bed.

My ceilings are a good 10 feet tall– there would be no reaching this detector from atop a chair. No, the only way to reach this whining appliance would be to drag my dresser across the room. By myself. At 1 am. For once, I was grateful for my poor-quality Ikea dresser, since there’s no way I would have been able to handle a solid wood one. After much dragging and grunting, I had the dresser aligned under the offending detector.

Now that I had access, a new question arose: do I have a spare 9 volt battery? Through some miracle of miracles, I did. So, despite my strong urge to rip the darn thing out of the ceiling and go to bed, I performed a battery replacement, strong-armed the dresser back into place, and crawled back into bed.

I was lucky this time. However, the inconvenience of the whole episode led me to ask: is there a better way?

The answer is YES. And it’s name is nest. This is some top-of-the-line at-home tech. The nest Protect is a combination smoke and CO2 detector that will change your life. Low on batteries? Rather than a constant chirp, the nest Protect will alert you via a light that glows red when batteries need replacing. Burned some toast? Rather than opening all the windows and getting out a dish towel to swat through the air, you can silence the nest Protect with a simple wave of the hand. Plus, this thing is totally connected: using a nest app, you can adjust settings and receive alerts right on your smartphone.

Recent research has found that small children often sleep through even the most blaring of smoke alarms. Their little brains simply aren’t tuned to that type of noise when in deep sleep. They are, however, still tuned to human speech. That’s why the nest Protect system not only sounds an alert tone, but also speaks in a human voice, alerting you to the location of the smoke or CO2 detected.

If you have several nest Protect detectors in your home, they can talk to each other. That way, the nest protect in your bedroom can alert you that smoke has been detected in the kitchen. Even if your wi-fi is down, they operate on their own network.

I’ll admit– it is pricey at $129 per unit. Still, for some next-level home security, there’s nothing else out there like nest. Check out their video:

[Update: as of yesterday, nest is now owned by Google!]