Saturday, December 03, 2011

Using ePub books on the Kindle Fire

Since the Kindle Fire is an Android device, there is a way to install the OverDrive Media Console to download ePub books from your local library. Of course, there are now Kindle downloads available in OverDrive, and you would pick those first. But sometimes the title is only available in ePub format or the Kindle copy is out.

Here is how you do it.

Overdrive site 
On the Fire, you will need to do two things first.
  • Go to Settings, More, Device, and turn on "Allow installation of Applications from Unknown Sources". (You can turn this off when you are done with this install.)
  • Go to the Amazon Android store and download AndroXplorer, which allows you to browse the file structure on your Kindle Fire.
Using the Android Web browser, go  to

Click on the Android option to download, and look right below the box for the link that states "If your device does not support Android Market, you can download OverDrive Media Console for Android from OverDrive."  (Screenshot on left.) Click on that link.

Accept the licensing terms and you will see a short pop-up stating "downloading application". You will not be able to see the application in your Kindle Fire App menu yet.

Open the AndroXplorer application you downloaded on the Kindle Fire and navigate to the sdcard directory and then the Download directory. You will see "ODMediaConsoleSetup.apk" in the Download directory. Click on it and it will install the OverDrive Media Console on your Kindle Fire. (You can delete this downloaded file later once everything works.)

Add your library to the OverDrive app, and you can visit your public library's OverDrive site and download Adobe ePub books. If you do not have an Adobe account, you will be prompted to create one within the OverDrive app when necessary. OverDrive shows up in your App menu, now, too!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Kindle Fire: First Impressions

Well, I took some time and worked with a friend's Kindle Fire and was actually quite impressed. While I was presenting in New Hampshire, I went out and purchased one.

I am really impressed with the device. Is it an "iPad replacement" for me? Absolutely not. The iPad borders on being a laptop replacement with its larger screen and thousands of apps that can do most anything!

The Kindle Fire is an Amazon device that delivers their movies, music in the Amazon Cloud, and, of course, their eBooks, in a small tablet form factor. 

The screen is responsive, the tablet is speedy, and it fits easily into one hand for holding. With this size (7.5" x 4.7" x .5") one can actually put it in a purse or deep jacket pocket for carrying around. The battery life seemed to last a long time, although I did not watch any videos in full yet...just tried out the Amazon Prime customer list of free flicks!

Since I am not a regular Android user, I fumbled around a bit with navigation to the non-Amazon and Web stuff, but am slowly learning. There are few buttons and icons to pick, so, once I got over that, I was fine!

I can search the Amazon App Store by title of app, but not all applications in the regular Android Marketplace are available for the Kindle Fire. The only one I really miss not having is the Sling Player Mobile app, but perhaps it will come. The interesting thing is, when searching, one sees the titles that are available in the Android Marketplace when typing the search term, but they are not listed as downloadable. It is quite a downer to see the app on the list, but then not be able to download it for the Kindle.

I still prefer reading my books on the e-ink Kindle Touch, and reading on the Fire is not unlike reading with the iPad and iPhone Kindle app. It's okay for short periods of time, or when you are in the dark, but the e-ink is much kinder on the eyes.

For someone who does not have a tablet, the Kindle Fire, at $199, is a nice device to get you started. Of course, at the big box tech store where I purchased it, I was answering all types of questions and concerns from shoppers-- it is just something I do this time of year when shoppers have that dazed and confused look on their face.

Here are some links to reviews of the Kindle Fire that go into more depth than I do:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kindle Touch 3G: First Impressions

I finally was able to purchase the Kindle Touch 3G today. It was not even out for demo yet, but they pulled it out of a carton in the back of the store. I quickly tweeted about it, and, based on some of the responses I received, I realize that everyone has not been following this new device as closely as I have been!

Quick overview: This is the fourth generation Kindle and the first to have a touch screen. There have been Kindles with rocker arms, five-way controller buttons, and keyboards. I have had each version and really love the Kindle. My reasoning is simple. You can read outside in the bright sunlight and the battery life lasts forever.

The current Kindle line-up is a bit larger. As I explained to both the employees of the store I was in and potential purchasers, it does take a bit of thinking about before you decide what to buy. 

The Kindle Fire is Amazon's new Android-based tablet. It does not have full access to the Android marketplace, but it seems to be intended to be used with Amazon's books, music, and videos. It also has additional apps available. (If you are an Amazon Prime member, you get access to some free books and movies.) I already have an iPad and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7", so, while the Fire is a great price ($199), I really did not need another tablet. And, since my goal was an e-ink device that is not backlit, easy on the eyes, can be used outside, weighs hardly anything (7.8 oz), and lasts forever on a charge, I never really had any intention of buying the Fire. However, if you do not own a tablet and want to step into the electronic book world and other media and apps as well, you should take a look at the Kindle Fire. Make sure to hold it in one hand for a while and read a bit in the store, to see if the 14.6 oz weight is okay for you.

If you are not interested in the Kindle Fire, there are some additional features you need to think about with the rest of the Kindle line-up.

Do you want WiFi or WiFi and 3G? (You also should realize that you can just hook the Kindle to your computer if you do not have WiFi available and load it up with books.)

Do you want "special offers" or no "special offers"? There is a price savings on the Kindles that contain special offers. The offers show up when the device goes to sleep, as screensavers, and at the bottom of the home screen.

Do you care about being able to have the book read aloud for titles that have that option enabled? Do you care about the ability to play music on the device while you read? Different models have different capabilities.
  • The entry-level Kindle sells for $79 with special offers and $99 without. It only comes in WiFi, does not read text aloud to you nor play music, and uses a five-way controller to highlight letters on an on-screen keyboard when you want to search for a book. It does have physical buttons along the edges to turn pages and additional buttons at the bottom for navigation. If you just want an e-reader this one is a good choice.
  • The Kindle Touch is WiFi only and sells for $99 with special offers and $139 without. This Kindle allows you to touch the screen to turn pages, flick up to scroll through chapters in books or view your lists of books, pinch to change the font size up or down, and type easily on an on-screen keyboard for all input boxes. The touch screen is very accurate from my brief experience so far.
Every Kindle owner who has Amazon Prime now also gets access to the "Kindle Owner's Lending Library" with access to download a free book each month. This option is not available on other devices (like tablets) that use the Kindle App to read books-- it is only for any Amazon Kindle owners.

I debated about which model to purchase. The Kindle also has an experimental Web browser that, before this version of the Kindle, allowed you to go anywhere on the Web. With the 3G model, you could tweet, check email, get directions and more, wherever you were. The experimental browser on the new generation Touch  3G now only goes to all Web sites over WiFi, so I had decided on the Kindle Touch with no special offers.

(Added later today: I found out that you can unsubscribe from special offers if you feel they are intrusive from your "Manage My Kindle" page on Amazon. You pay the difference that you saved-- in my case, it would be $40 if I decided I hated the ads.)

However, when I saw screenshots which showed how unobtrusive the offers were, I opted for the $149 Kindle Touch 3G with offers. This will allow me to download books where ever I am, and it was only $10 more than the Kindle Touch with no offers I had been considering. The experimental browser over 3G only goes Amazon and Wikipedia but goes everywhere over WFi. (One other point...with any Kindle version you get free WiFi access at any AT&T hotspot.)

In addition, in case you missed it, Overdrive (online e-book library) now offers books in Kindle format for any of the Kindles, back to version 1. Visit your local public library's Web site, enroll for Overdrive if they offer it, and search the library collection by Kindle format. Once you check-out the Kindle book for 7 or 14 days, it shows up in your book list on and can be sent to your Kindle.

My initial impressions of the Kindle Touch is that the screen responds well to direct touches, it is easy to turn pages since you do not have to swipe (although you can if you want), and it is much smaller than the previous Kindle Keyboard. I love it!

Did you get one of the new Kindles? What do you think?

(11/18/11) I looked at all the cases and settled on the M-Edge Latitude for the Kindle Touch. It is a zippered slip-case that is small, hard-sided, and holds the Touch in with four corner anchors. I read the Kindle with no case, but I feel better knowing it will not fall out of the case when I unzip the three sides! I picked it up at Staples, it is not yet on Amazon's site, and you can, of course, get it from the M-Edge site. It sells for $34.99.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Share your iPad app list with others

Tom Barrett tweeted a question today asking how to share your entire iPad app collection with someone. After a little research, I came up with a post on this page and followed the directions. Here is the first of the 12-page app list on my iPad.

First page of PDF printout of my iPad apps

Since the directions I found were posted back in 2010 (and I was using a Mac) I went through the steps again. Here are the edited directions for creating a list of the apps on your iOS device to share with others. 

  1. Open iTunes on your computer.
  2. On the file menu, pick VIEW-AS LIST
  3. You can pick a column to sort by for the final list, for instance name, genre, etc.
  4. Select PRINT from the file menu and, in the print dialog box, select "Song Listing" and, in the in the theme drop-down box, select "Custom". 
  5. Click the "Page Setup" button and select landscape mode to avoid word wrapping and click OK.
  6. Click PRINT in the print dialog box which will take you to your regular print menu where you can pick a printer or print/save to PDF to get a PDF file.

Screenshot of the choices in the dialog boxes

Thank you to Tom for posting the question. This is an easy way for us to share our list of apps!

Update 6/14/12: There is an application you can download which will scan your iTunes account, let you un-check any app you do not want to share, and give you a unique URL to share your list of apps with others. More here:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

AppleTV, Airplay, and VGA

I really love the AppleTV and AirPlay combo which allows me to mirror my iPhone 4s and iPad2. However, if I am going to move to the iPad as my presentation device, I would like to use it wirelessly, too. And, more importantly, the iPad's 30-pin connector port can be used to keep it charged, rather than being taken up by the VGA dongle.

After some discussions with Steve Dembo (@teach42), he told me he had used a device to do this already. I did my research, did some reading, and decided to try it out. The device I used is called the "LinkStyle HD Video Converter" and is available via Amazon.

A couple of notes:
A simple VGA to HDMI connector will not work for this purpose.
For hookup to a television monitor, you may need a pin-pin VGA cable. (The converter box has a port, as does my television.)
Since VGA does not carry audio, you will need a separate audio cable. The converter box has an 1/8" jack (headphone and computer speaker size) for audio out. You can plug speakers right into the converter or use adapters to get it to whatever your audio output device needs.

It was easier to create a graphic then explain the process, so you will see that below. 

Click on image to enlarge

Addendum (5/2/12): This VGA to HDMI device, the Kanex ATVPro, apparently works with AppleTV with no power source....nice solution!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Serendipitous Discoveries

I am creating a presentation dealing with online tools and utiities for my January webinar for the, PD in Action, and I am learning some new features of the tools that I have used for a long time! It is always a good thing to go back and re-visit the features of the tools because, over time, they all become better and better!

For example, I am typing this blog entry in ZohoWriter and I am going to post it directly to my blog from within ZohoWriter. It will be interesting to see how that works out.​ (Well, I could not do a direct post, but I was able to save it out of ZohoWriter as HTML and past the HTML into Blogger. I assume I could not do it since I have a custom Blogger URL.)

In addition, when doing research for the presentation dealing with strategies for the role of teacher as facilitator to support student learning, I bumped up against the "flipped classroom" model. I had been hearing about it for a couple of years, but never really had investigated how it works and the impact it has on student learning. (Where have I been?) What a great model! 
I have to give it more thought, but I do not know if every teacher can totally "flip" their classroom. A blended model of some "flipped" days and some "non-flipped" might be a great topic for a PLC and for teacher or curriculum team goal-setting for a school year. Here is a overview of the model from the teachers who developed it, Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann.

Wonder what other discoveries I will find today?

BTW,  If you are interested in the upcoming webinar, just sign up for the "PD in Action" community and you will find the information about the next four months of presentations.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

iPads in the Classroom 
As many of you know, I have created an "iPads in the Classroom" support page here: I include tutorials, lists of apps and related materials, a special education section, a Blooms/iPad app section, and a section dealing with successful uses in the classroom.

Since school has started, I have been monitoring a Google Alert in my Google Reader, selecting "iPads in the classroom" as the key phrase I am interested in. I am amazed at the number of posts on this single topic in such a short period of time!  The posts come from media outlets, parent Web sites, teacher blogs and wikis, school district media briefs, and many other places.

It is interesting to me that many of the posts are extolling the fact there are now iPads in the classrooms in their school, district, state, etc. I am waiting patiently for follow-up information on how the devices are being utilized to impact teaching and learning.

I know we are early in the game, but let's get to it, fellow educators! Those of you that are lucky enough to have a 1:1 tablet initiative, please post your findings on a daily basis. Even a simple Twitter post (hashtag #edtablet) with the URL of your blog, wiki, Weebly page, Google doc, or to where ever you are publishing your insights, data, or cautions, can help others convince their administrators or school boards that a personal portable device, with a student 24x7, can impact teaching and learning in a real way!

Thanks in advance for your help!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Kathy's Konsumer Korner (v.1)

I wanted to share some of my new technology gadget finds (okay, purchases) with you. Perhaps they might meet a need for you or for another tech geek in your life!

 ZuniConnect Travel Router (Zuni Digital)

This tiny 802.11n router (3.86" x 2.37"x 0.65") allows you to hook to a wired connection and create a wireless access point or it allows you to hook to an existing wireless connection and create a wireless hotspot for other devices to connect to. The ZuniConnect includes two USB charging ports, too, and comes in a study case with a tiny Ethernet cable and the AC adapter. (Amazon $49.95)

iHome IB969G Charging Station (iHome)

I have lots of gadgets and also need more desk space. This charging station includes a single iOS sync/charge connection, an iOS charge-only connection, and two USB ports to charge two other devices. The front pulls open to hold an ereader or other small tablet. It is perfect for holding my iPhone, iPod Nano, Kindle, and iPad. (I still hook to a USB port on my computer for the iPad since I want to sync and charge. I use the second charging port for my Garmin GPS). One downside is that the weight of the iPad makes the station a bit tippy, but I you can just weigh down the front underneath and all should be fine! You may have to buy inserts for the iOS charging docks if the device you have needs a different one.  (Amazon $44.24)

Nikon Coolpix S6100 Touchscreen Digital Camera (Nikon)

I admit it. I love Nikon cameras. I have a Nikon DSLR, the Nikon P7000 midsize, and now have the Nikon Coolpix S6100 as my point and shoot. I had been playing with this camera at the store for a while. I was first attracted by the 7X optical zoom (28-196) and also by the ease of use a touchscreen provides. It has vibration reduction, a motion sensor to allow you take moving photos with less blurring, and even has a Best Shot Selector which take ten shots and picks the sharpest image for you. There is a Smile Timer which does not take the photo until the subject smiles and an in-camera Red-Eye fix. But, the touchscreen is the best feature. No dials to turn or joysticks to wiggle and it takes no time at all to learn how to use it! Oh, and it takes good pictures, too! (Amazon $164.00)

Video Capture for Mac (Elgato)

I had some videotapes I wanted to transfer to my iMac and I mistakenly thought I could do video-in to my camcorder. I searched for various solutions, and came up with the Elgato Video capture for Mac. One end is a USB connection and the other end includes S-video, composite video, and two audio connections. I know that S-video and composite are not at the top of the heap of video quality, but ease-of-use trumped video quality for me. (And the quality was just fine, by the way!) The ability to put recorded videotapes into our one remaining VCR and hook up the Elgato to the video and audio-out jacks of the VCR and record directly into the computer was great! You can record in both MPEG-4 and H.264 formats. (Amazon $77.99)

That wraps it up for this edition of Kathy's Konsumer Korner! Let me know about new things you have found in the comments!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Leadership Day 2011: Honing Your PLN

Year 5 of the Leadership Day initiative, spearheaded by Scott McLeod, is being held today. I had not been aware of it in years past.

The instructions are for educational technologists to "blog about whatever you like related to effective school technology leadership: successes, challenges, reflections, needs, wants, resources, ideas, etc. Write a letter to the administrators in your area. Post a top ten list. Make a podcast or a video. Highlight a local success or challenge. Recommend some readings. Do an interview of a successful technology leader."

Some of things suggested to help out administrators are to help them with strategies for determining:
  • what it means to prepare students for the digital, global world in which we now live
  • how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers
  • what appropriate technology support structures (e.g., budget, staffing, infrastructure, training) look like or how to implement them
  • how to utilize modern technologies to facilitate communication with internal and external stakeholders
  • the ways in which learning technologies can improve student learning outcomes
  • how to utilize technology systems to make their organizations more efficient and effective
I have not participated in this initiative in the past, but I think it is an extremely important event. And, in addition, just the process the for the day is a way to mentor for administrators how to communicate, use their PLN to spread the news and to learn about new initiatives, and use the "power of many" for all types of things.

Patrick's post that led me to this initiative

For instance, I learned about #LeadershipDay11 this morning, via Patrick Larkin (@bhsprincipal) on Twitter. He is an important part of my personal learning network because, as a school principal and very involved in social media and training of other administrators, he brings a new dimension to the type of information I receive. He consistently targets successful practices in technology use in schools but it is through the eyes of an administrator. Patrick is someone I happen to know in real-life, too, but he was a trusted source of information well before I ever met him in person.

Administrators need to hone their personal/professional learning network in this way. Start following Patrick on Twitter, and then take a look at who HE follows. He is an expert in his field, and chances are very good that he follows many other experts that one can learn from.

Result of advanced search in Twitter search tool
Or simply use the Twitter advanced search tool to search by various topics you are interested in and find some people to follow. But, don't forget to "pay it forward"-- become a participant in the process, too. Answer questions posted by others or re-tweet great posts to your followers.

Screenshot of recent #edchat post
Administrators should also pencil in the weekly #edchat session on Twitter or read through the archives to explore new ideas, tips, tricks, and find others to follow.

This same skillset is what we are trying to help students develop as we prepare then for the digital, global workforce and world-- find the experts, participate in the process, and collaborate. With the information explosion, there is no way anyone can know everything. However,  knowing where to turn with a question or when trying to keep up with what is going on in a certain field, is a skill that will lead to our students to become lifelong learners!

Kudos to Scott and all the other bloggers who will contribute today!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Open letter to parents: Laptop choice for college

Around this time of year, as the back-to-school sales start showing up online and in stores, I receive emails from parents who are asking my advice about which laptop to purchase for their college freshman. Of course, I have to write back and ask some additional questions about their choice of OS, their planned laptop budget, what major the student is planning to pursue, what else besides schoolwork the student wants to do with the computer, if the laptop is going to be the single machine of the student's, and what school their child will be attending.

The last question is really the most important. I have heard horror stories from college students who purchase a laptop online or in the store of a retailer. Then, at some point during college (usually when they need it the most) the laptop breaks down. The student winds up spending hours on the phone with the laptop manufacturer's tech support or winds up being without the laptop for a few days after they drop it off at the retailer's repair shop.

There are tons of laptops on the market to pick from, but my recommendation is for the student to purchase it through their college's online store. Many colleges have standardized on a Windows-OS laptop brand and the Apple laptops. By purchasing the laptop through the college, the student receives an academic discount as well as the peace of mind to realize their college usually has brand-certified repair personnel either on-staff or on-contract. The student can simply walk into the technology department in their college bookstore and get the help they need. (In addition, at this time of year, there are online purchasing incentives with the purchase of a laptop for college. For example, a Windows-based machine over $699 garners the student a free xBox360 and the purchase of an Apple laptop comes with a $100 gift card to the Mac App store.)

Some things to consider:
  • A budget for a laptop that will serve a student well will not cost under $1000. Matter of fact, that should be the starting point. Parents should plan to spend $1000-1500 for this new laptop.  If a student has a decent desktop, and will only be using the laptop for taking notes in class, then a less-powerful and cheaper one (or even an iPad and external keyboard! will work. Most of the price of a laptop is determined by the processor and its speed, the amount of RAM (4 GB minimum!), the video card RAM (512 or better) and the size and type of the hard drive. (The screen size is part of the cost, but, sometimes, the smaller screens carry a premium price!)
  • Even if the laptop is also going to be the student's desktop machine, do not go for the massive 16-17" monster machine. It is way too heavy to lug around and will not fit nicely on a college chair-desk. Keep the weight of the laptop to under 5 pounds. A 13 or 14" (maybe even a thin 15") with a decent resolution will be just fine.  The price of a large external monitor for the student's desk, if the student feels they need a larger screen at times, will be under $150. (I currently like the  Acer S211HL BD 21.5" monitor ($140) because it is really bright and crisp.)
  • Wait until the student visits the college bookstore to purchase their Office or iWork suite, since the academic pricing in the college store is often the best pricing.)
I also am often asked if the laptop will be able to last through the student's college career.  I tell them, with the wear and tear on a laptop that is carried around in a backpack, used everywhere from the cafeteria to the campus bus, it is likely that a second laptop will probably be needed at the beginning of junior year.

Any thoughts to contribute to the conversation?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ruminations on the first month of retirement
It has been almost a month since I left the office for the last time and, although I do not think I look as relaxed as those retirees that come back to visit the school, I am getting there!

The ISTE11 Conference was first on the retirement "to-do" list. This year's conference in Philadelphia was just buzzing with positive energy! The sessions were varied and well-done, and the entire event was one of the best ISTE Conferences I have attended. My infographics presentation was well-received and the poster session I co-presented with Kim Conner, my district's middle school ITS, dealing with our "Manufacturing Across the Curriculum" Verizon Foundation grant was fun to do, too!

From there it was on to Hershey, PA to visit a high school friend and then home to get ready to travel to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts to present at the Southern Berkshire Educational Collaborative where I presented to a great group of principals and educators. David Warlick and I tag-teamed throughout the two days, and we seem to complement each other-- his down-home, southern charm is in direct contrast to my rapid-fire New Jersey style, but it seemed to work well!

In between, I have had time to try out all the new tech things that have been introduced. Google+ was released and I had the luxury of time to try to wrap my head around it and to attend and host lots of hangouts with friends and edtech colleagues. It takes some getting used to, but there are plenty of instructional videos available to help you out. And, there was the new Skype-in-Facebook to try out, too-- a one-to-one video conferencing option built into Facebook. It is smooth and easy to use!

I have signed agreements with McGraw-Hill, Follett, and eGenio, all to provide some form or another of professional development over the next year or so. (Watch for announcements of all kinds of Webinars if you are interested!) I continue, of course, to take care of my Discovery Education site, Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators and will continue with that as long as they will have me!

If you are interested in learning more about the use of infographics as a classroom assessment tool, I am teaching a 9-week, online graduate course this fall through our state ISTE affiliate, MassCUE. And, I continue to teach the Web 2.0 course in the Wilkes/Discovery Education Instructional Media program. You do not have to be in the program to take a course, and the courses are all practical and would support any level and any curriculum.

In addition, since I now have the time, I will be presenting at lots of places during the school year. The list thus far looks like this. It is exciting to be able to have the chance to provide professional development to educators around the country!

People tell me I will miss "school" once September comes. However, as I think about my previous job, which included taking care of the infrastructure, participating in data projects, Web publishing, doing the tech purchasing, meeting DOE requirements and filing reports, monitoring tech support for 1200 computers spread across 8 sites, and providing professional development when it fit into all of that, I realize that I will not miss most of it. I will miss the teachers and students who were the reason I did what I did, but now I can concentrate on what I love the best-- helping teachers with strategies, tips, tricks, and information to embed technology meaningfully into their curriculum to best support teaching and learning!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The times they are a changin...

I have four more work days and then 3 professional days for ISTE11 left in my Massachusetts teaching career. I recently had a taste of my "new" life when visiting Buffalo Public Schools the week before last and Fort Bend (TX) ISD this past week. It is a lot of fun to speak to teachers and learn about their district tech priorities. I think I probably learn more from them then they learn from me!

My plans for retirement are heating up! I am excited to have contracts with McGraw-Hill and Follett in the area of edtech professional development. I will still be teaching my Wilkes/Discovery Master's classes, working on my Discovery page (Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators) and I have six presentation gigs lined up between now and December!

Spotlight Speaker
Infographics in the Classroom as a Creative Assessment
June 27, 2011; 2:30-3:30 pm in PACC Grand Ballroom B
Poster Session
Using the Manufacturing Process Across the Curriculum to Target Literacies
June 29, 2011; 8:00 -10:00 am in Poster Session Area (Broad St. Atrium #30)
ISTE Annual Conference, Philadelphia, PA
June 26-29, 2011

Infographics in the Classroom as a Creative Assessment
Twitter for Administrators
Connecting Your Classroom to the Future
South Berkshire Educational Collaborative, South Barrington, MA
July 11 and 12, 2011

Keynote and Workshop Presenter
Rhinebeck Central School District Superintendent's Conference Day
October 7, 2011

Featured Presenter
4 presentations TBD
GATEC Conference, GWCC, Atlanta, GA
November 3, 2011; Time (tentative): 3:00-4:00 pm and 4:15-5:15 pm
November 4, 2011; Time (tentative): 8:30-9:30 am and 9:45-10:45 am

Featured Presenter
Infographics in the Classroom as a Creative Assessment
Connecting Your Classroom to the Future
Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference, Manchester, NH
December 1, 2011; 10:00am-11:00am and 1:00pm-2:00pm

Infographics in the Classroom as a Creative Assessment
R.I.P: Respect for Intellectual Property
Mid South Technology Conference, Memphis, TN
December 8 & 9, 2011

I have a couple of other irons in the fire, too, but news of those will have to wait.

People ask me if I feel nostalgic about retiring from my district. I don't. I see it as an exciting new chapter in my life with the opportunity to grow my knowledge and expertise!

The times they are a changin'....

Friday, May 06, 2011

Moving a video into Keynote (finally!)

Okay, I was determined to use the iPad to present yesterday, so I had created the presentation on the desktop in Keynote and moved it to the iPad through the file sharing in iTunes. I just dragged it to the area next to the Keynote app and it moved over to the iPad the next time I synced. You can see this below. (Fig. 1)

Fig. 1 Moving a Keynote file from the computer to the iPad via iTunes

 The presentation worked perfectly when I tested it via the VGA connection. All embedded movies worked, and things looked great! However, before I presented, I found another great video to use in the presentation. I only had the iPad, and did not know how to get the video into the PHOTOS app on the iPad, which is the only place Keynote on the iPad would pull it from. I tried iWork, DropBox, iDisk, and emailing the file to myself. I could play it on the iPad, but not insert it into the presentation.

It seems as if the only way you can get a video into the PHOTOS app is by using the computer you regularly sync with. I first tried loading the video into iTunes, and syncing, but that put the video in the VIDEOS app on the iPad which Keynote cannot import from.

So, here is my solution.

Fig. 2 Folder on computer containing images and videos
Go into the Pictures folder on your computer.

  1. Create a folder (mine is called "_pics for iphone") (Fig. 2)
  2. Put the photos AND videos you want to use with Keynote on the iPad into this folder
  3. Go into iTunes, pick your iPad, and choose the PHOTOS tab.
  4. Chose to "sync photos from pictures" (instead of iPhoto). (Fig. 3)
  5. Pick "selected folders"
  6. Check "include videos"
  7. Check the folder you created which contains your assets.
Fig. 3 Setup in iTunes  for syncing a particular folder of images and videos to the iPad

The items now all wind up in the PHOTOS app, as you can see from the screenshot below. (Fig. 4)

Fig. 4  Photos and the video in the iPad Photos app

Once you open Keynote on the iPad, add a new slide, and chose the MEDIA tab, you can easily chose the video  from the PHOTOS app to embed into the presentation. (Fig. 5)

Fig. 5  Selecting the video file from the Photos app in Keynote on the iPad

And, finally, the video is embedded in the Keynote presentation on the iPad.  (Fig. 6)

Fig. 6  Media embedded in the Keynote presentation on the iPad

You will need to know this process if you are planning to add media to a presentation you create on the iPad or add media to one that you have moved from the desktop to the iPad. I hope this blog post helped you out! (And, by the way, giving the presentation from the iPad yesterday was a breeze!)

Addendum (5/8/11)
  • When creating a Jing screencast sometimes, even after embedding it on Keynote for the Mac and moving the file to the iPad, the video is not accepted. I have found that the best format for videos to put in Keynote presentations on the Mac to make sure they work on the iPad, are mp4s with the codecs of H.264 and AAC.
  • I also found out that embedded audio files in a Keynote for the Mac presentation don't move over to the iPad. I had to make little movies of static images and put the sound files as the audio line in the mp4 in order to play the sounds in Keynote on the iPad.
Addendum (5/13/11)
  • Mike Wakefield sent a comment...."Kathy - I had no problems with a video (h.264) I e-mailed myself on the iPad2; when I touched the reply/fwd arrow in the (iPad) e-mail app, I just hit the "save video" option and it popped it right into my Photos file on the iPad. From there, I was able to bring it into Keynote with no issue." I tried it and it worked like a charm...thanks, Mike!
  • @WebGalPat on Twitter tried a "regular" mp4, and it worked just fine, too! Thanks, Pat!

    Sunday, May 01, 2011

    Learning Keynote for the iPad

    I have moved myself from PowerPoint to Keynote on the Mac in the last year for creation of my presentations. For those of you that do not use Keynote, there is one major difference between Keynote and PowerPoint.

    When I create PowerPoint presentations with linked videos or audios, I had to make sure to bring the media files along with my presentation when I went out to speak. Keynote, on the other hand, embeds all the media files right within the Keynote file itself, so I only have to take one (large) file with me! This is a huge relief for those of us that were always worrried that we might forget one of the linked videos for our PowerPoint presentations!

    When Keynote for the iPad came out, I was very excited since it was very easy to move my Keynote files from my computer through iTunes, iWork, or my iDisk to Keynote on the iPad.  All the sound files, movies and the standard transitions and timings worked great on the iPad. And, once the latest version of Keynote for the iPad came out, and I could see my presenter notes on the iPad while presenting, I began to present directly from the iPad with the VGA-out connector!

    The one thing I had not done was create a Keynote presentation on the iPad itself. I purchased the Visual Quickstart Guide, Keynote for the iPad, by Tom Negrino and found that it is really well-written. As one that learns well from manuals, I read it through it and tried some things out.

    However, an iPad app, Tutor for Keynote for iPad by Noteboom Productions, was recommended by my friend Midge Frazel, and I decided to demo it. It is made up of a series of screencast tutorial videos and is chunked beautifully! The speaker's voice is calm and low-key, and the tutorials are very easy to follow.

    Screenshot from Tutor for Keynote for the iPad

    The screencasts are broken up into the follow chapters:
    • Introduction
    • Presentation Sample
    • Presentation Sample Close Up
    • Keynote Interface
    • Virtual Keyboard
    • Themes
    • Working with Slides
    • Skipping Slides
    • Working with Objects
    • Deleting Slides and Objects
    • Working with Text
    • Working with Media
    • Working with Tables
    • Working with Charts
    • Working with Shapes
    • Hyperlinks
    • Copy and Paste
    • Transitions
    • Magic Move Transition
    • Using Builds
    • Presentation Notes
    • Laser Pointer
    • Sharing
    • Conclusion 
    After watching the entire series of tutorials and experimenting with Keynote on my iPad after each chapter, I realized that Keynote on the iPad is full-featured enough for teachers and students to utilize it for creating their presentations.  You really do not need to have access to a presentation program on a desktop if you have an iPad. With the purchase of the Keynote for the iPad application for $9.99 and this Tutor for Keynote for iPad app for $3.99, you and your students can have both a wonderful tutorial series and the software you need to create stunning presentations with enough bells and whistles to keep any student engaged!

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Winner of the Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z!

    Thank you to all the educators who participated by populating the spreadsheet with almost 200 interactive tools that would take advantage of the touchscreen on the Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z. The spreadsheet is located here if you are interested in viewing the list of the tools!

    As the rules stated, if there were any duplications of tools submitted, the later submission was deleted from the spreadsheet before I picked the winner. (There were five duplicate sites submitted.)

    I used the Random Name Generator suggested by Richard Byrne, to pick the winner. It is a great little tool and one you should put in your classroom technology toolbox!

    The winner of the Lenovo M90z is Megan Black! 

    Screenshot of the result from the Random Name Generator

    Congratulations to her, and thank you again to everyone who participated! And thanks also to Lenovo and Ivy Worldwide for running this contest!

    If you wanted some other chances to win a ThinkCenter M90z, take a look at the list below for additional giveaway contests!

    Lenovo M90z Giveaway Participants

    Site Start End Date
    Free Tech 4 Teachers Apr 14 Apr 18
    Ilja Coolen \ ICSS Apr 15 Apr 19
    Physician Mom Apr 16 Apr 20
    Scrubd In Apr 17 Apr 21
    Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch Apr 18 Apr 22
    Apr 19 Apr 23
    Box of Tricks Apr 21 Apr 25
    Clinton Apr 22 Apr 26
    Around the Corner Apr 23 Apr 27
    Tech Savvy Ed Apr 25 Apr 29
    Small Biz Technology Apr 26 Apr 30
    Ablet Factory Apr 27 May 1
    Click Newz Apr 28 May 2
    Geekazine Apr 29 May 3
    21st Century Education Technology Apr 30 May 4
    A GeekyMomma's Blog May 1 May 5
    Marsha Collier's Musings May 2 May 6
    VA Networking May 3 May 7
    Your Virtual Assistant May 4 May 8
    Jake Ludington's Media Blab May 5 May 9
    Mobile PC World May 6 May 10
    Dangerously Irrelevant May 7 May 11
    Bud the Teacher May 8 May 12
    Kikolani May 9 May 13
    Geeks To Go May 10 May 14
    Chad May 11 May 15

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Bloomin' Google redux

    There has been much positive feedback to my Bloomin' Google page ( Thanks to all who sent me notes!

    But, through my Google Alerts, I have seen that others are questioning the use of the tool and where I placed things and the limiting of the creativity of teachers. (Geesh!) There were various reasons for its development and why I put things where I put them.
    1. Finding and utilizing ALL of the Google Tools gave me a good 100 hours of experience across the board. I was able to eliminate the tools that are just information sources and focus on the rest.
    2. Being an a avid follower and studier of Andrew Churches work with the Revised Bloom's Digital Taxonomy for the past year, I feel I really understand how it works. I had created, with his permission, my own version of the triangle using mainstream Web 2.0 tools and utilities, and had been showcasing that in various presentations.
    3. As a Google Certified Teacher, I wanted to see if Google even HAD the tools to target each level of the taxonomy. I made the decision as to what level I assigned them to based on my years of experience with teachers and students and curriculum and assessment.
    4. Another of my goals was to introduce teachers to the "less common" tools in hopes they would explore them. I, too, found out so many cool things about the tools while working on this project. I have since adapted my presentation about the Digital Taxonomy to showcase the lesser-known Google tools that can be used at various levels.
    I stand by my choices, and could have included the rationale for why I put things on the various levels. It truly was hard to do, and I put a lot of thought into it. However, I felt it was better if I stepped back and allowed the creative teacher minds to contribute to the spreadsheet of ideas both with their successful practices and ideas sparked by "Bloomin' Google".

    In addition, there has been some chatter as to the Creative Commons license type I assigned to the information I created. I don't want alternate versions out there that are attributed to me. This one is mine,  and you can use it, but think about ways you can develop your own.

    For instance, if you are a content area teacher, create a Digital Taxonomy using the online tools and sites relative to that content area.  (You are the creative content expert, not me!) Provide the justification for what you picked or provide a form for others in your content area to add to the information you present.

    I hope this provides information in addition to the 140 character tweet that announced the project and the previous blog post!


    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Lenovo Thinkcentre M90z Contest (April 18-22)

    I am part of the second round of the giveaway promotion of the Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z. This promotion, administered by The Influential Network on behalf of Lenovo, has people in various jobs create a contest to support their area of expertise. Each giveaway is run for 5 days and, once it is closed, a single winner from each contest is chosen to receive a ThinkCentre M90z from those who participate in the contest.

    There are a few of us in the educational technology field participating in the giveways, and, since one of the participants has his contest running first and had the same idea as I did, I am going to change my parameters. Richard Byrne will be gathering the information I was interested in and there is no reason to have it duplicated.

    I posted a blog entry about my initial impression of the Thinkcentre M90z here a few months ago. You might want to read it and read up on this great new machine!

    My contest runs from April 18, 2011 at 6am (UTC -4:00) until April 22, 2011 at 7pm (UTC -4:00). The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on this site at 8pm (UTC -4:00). My contest will be open to anyone in education (whether practicing teachers, undergrad or graduate education students, or educational consultants) and will ask participants to contribute an online resource that works well (and is pedagogically-sound) using the touchscreen of the Lenovo.

    Our students are very "into" touchscreens with the influx of tablets into schools and their own personal lives. I have seen young children try to use a desktop computer's screen as a touchscreen, and, of course, it does not work!

    However, this model of the Lenovo Thinkcentre M90z DOES have a touchscreen, so I will be asking you to find some good resources to take advantage of that capability.

    The link to my contest page is here. Below, you will also find links to all of the others who are participating in this giveaway and the dates of their contests (and you will find some really cool new blogs to follow, too!)

    Update April 18, 2011: Link to my contest page!

    Lenovo M90z Giveaway Participants

    Site Start End Date
    Free Tech 4 TeachersApr 14 Apr 18
    Ilja Coolen \ ICSSApr 15 Apr 19
    Physician MomApr 16 Apr 20
    Scrubd InApr 17 Apr 21
    Kathy Schrock's KaffeeklatschApr 18 Apr 22
    Steve Harg
    Apr 19 Apr 23
    Box of TricksApr 21 Apr 25
    Clinton Fitch.comApr 22 Apr 26
    Around the CornerApr 23 Apr 27
    Tech Savvy EdApr 25 Apr 29
    Small Biz TechnologyApr 26 Apr 30
    Ablet FactoryApr 27 May 1
    Click NewzApr 28 May 2
    Geekazine Apr 29 May 3
    21st Century Education TechnologyApr 30 May 4
    A GeekyMomma's BlogMay 1 May 5
    Marsha Collier's MusingsMay 2 May 6
    VA NetworkingMay 3 May 7
    Your Virtual AssistantMay 4 May 8
    Jake Ludington's Media BlabMay 5 May 9
    Mobile PC WorldMay 6 May 10
    Dangerously IrrelevantMay 7 May 11
    Bud the TeacherMay 8 May 12
    KikolaniMay 9 May 13
    Geeks To GoMay 10 May 14
    Chad Lehman.comMay 11 May 15

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Google Tools and Bloom's Revised Taxonomy

    1. Leslie Owen Wilson provides a good overview of Anderson and Krathwol revised Bloom's Taxonomy which was updated in 2000.
    2. Andrew Churches developed a model, called Bloom's Digital Taxonomy, to highlight the use of tools and technologies at each level to facilitate learning.
    3. Alex Ambrose (2009) created a site dedicated to his idea of Googlios, the use of Google tools to support the creation of student ePortfolios to enhance their personal learning environment.
    After looking through the wealth of information offered by Andrew and Alex, and having already developed my own version of Bloom's Digital Taxonomy with my favorite Web 2.0 tools for students to use at each cognitive level, I decided to combine the two-- a Bloom's Digital Taxonomy using ONLY the suite of tools offered by Google.

    Boy, was I surprised! Even as a Google Certified Teacher, there were so many cool new tools that I did not know about! Google has purchased some already created, and there are some neat ones in Google Labs, which, hopefully, will "graduate" soon and become part of the core group of Google Tools.

    I explored 51 Google tools as I figured out how they met Andrew's criteria for each level of the Bloom's Digital Taxonomy. I justified their use, and some appear in all levels, some in various, and some only in a single level. In my presentation about "Connecting Your Classroom to the Future", I am redoing the section which highlights Web 2.0 tools and highlighting instead the "less-mainstream" Google tools.

    I developed a clickable graphic to allow educators to make their own judgments on how the tools can be used to support student learning at each level. I know you creative educators will come up with great ideas to for their use. (Hum, I think I will add a Google form to that page to allow educators to contribute their ideas, too!) The screenshot of the very busy graphic is below, and you can find the information and clickable graphic at this URL:

     Let me know via email or comments or Twitter what you think of it!

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    First impressions of the iPad 2

    Well, I ordered the iPad 2 at 4am yesterday morning, but it was not going to arrive for more than a week, so I just went to my local Best Buy and was able to get the same model I had ordered in my hand today! (Online inventory reporting is a great thing!) Got the white, 64gb, WiFi & 3G, AT&T version.

    With a simple call to AT&T, I was able to transfer my unlimited data plan to the new iPad 2 without a problem. (Hint for anyone else who is planning to do that-- sync the new iPad to your iTunes account and transfer all the stuff from your old iPad over before you call, so you do not have to stay on the phone for 30 minutes with AT&T. They were very helpful, but wanted to make sure the transfer of the account worked, so I had a lovely conversation with the agent about any number of things as all of my data and 253 iOS apps and 700 songs moved to the new device!)

    Reasons I purchased the new iPad 2
    • Craved the mirroring of the screen via the VGA dongle which makes training and showcasing apps oh-so-nice! I know, I could have jailbroken the old one, but did not want to go that route.
    • The two cameras, one for Facetime and one for photos and video so I can now use all my cool iOS photography apps on the iPad. I can also take movies and dump them right into iMovie or ReelDirector on the iPad 2.
    • Reportedly (and oh-so-true!) faster app launches 
    • I so wanted a white iPad. I was tired of the black-on-black color scheme.
    Mirroring of the iPad 2 onto my TV

    Things I did not really care about but which are very nice
    • The new one is thinner than the original but very sturdy
    • It is lighter, too, but it does not really seem that it is 15% lighter.
    • The new cover, which I was not going to get, but did. Besides keeping the screen very clean, the ability to type on the slant and, more importantly, hold the folded back cover in your hand as you use the iPad, is a big plus. Plus the magnetic way it attaches and turns the device on and off is very neat!
    If you have any questions or want me to try some things out, please let me know!

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z

    Lenovo's ThinkCentre M90z
    I have recently received a permanent evaluation unit of the Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z to both put through its paces and to consider ways it can be used in the K-12 arena. I am part of a second round of evaluators, all of whom have a different career, who get to use this new machine and blog about it.

    The ThinkCentre M90z is a very cool machine! The first thing that I tried out was its touchscreen, which Lenovo calls the "multitouch panel".  Of course, it comes with the requisite keyboard and mouse, but you can pan and zoom and rotate and right-click just using your fingers on the screen! The intuitive nature of controlling by touching is a feature we all have become accustomed to with our small tablets, but having that ability on this desktop's big screen is awesome!  The ThinkCenter M90z also comes with bundled software that allows you to control some of the hardware functions via touch.

    Now some geek speak...the ThinkCentre M90z is a one piece, all-in-one desktop with a 23" widescreen with full 1080p HD resolution. It has an Intel Core i5 processor and 4 gigabytes of RAM and runs Windows 7 beautifully! The M90z has a Web cam and mic, and also has some additional unique features. It has a DisplayPort connector, like some laptops do, to allow you to hook it up to another monitor or an LCD projector for whole-class viewing of the info on the ThinkCentre M90z computer with an optional cable. However, the computer also comes with a VGA-in port, which means you can hook up your laptop or iPad to the desktop and use the ThinkCentre M90z as a large-screen monitor, too!

    iPad projecting through the VGA-in port on the M90z

    The model I received has six USB ports, so, with the purchase of an external USB 802.11x wireless adapter, you can put this one-piece unit anywhere you can find a single electric outlet! Of course, it has an Ethernet port, too, but it is nice to think you could place this computer in a public place for access by students or staff!

    If you want to read more about the specs and watch it in action, take a look at this page. And the link to the user manual can be found here.

    There will be the announcement of a promotion soon, as there was in December for the first round of evaluators. I am not yet sure what the "prize" might be for the promotion I am going to sponsor, but, suffice it to say, if you take the time to read about the Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z and think of creative ways it can be used in the K-12 classroom or school, you will be ready for any promotion I launch!