Saturday, December 01, 2012

Tech Resolutions

This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in December 2012 and is re-posted here with permission.

It always seems a bit odd to me that we set resolutions on January 1. I need some time to plan for the things I resolve to do for the next year. I decided to share these with you so you can start planning your tech resolutions for 2013 and be ready to go on January 1!

One of the things I need to do is to become familiar with the mainstream operating systems I do not use on a regular basis. In order to think about what technology is best in various situations, I have to know about the pros and cons of various operating systems. Here is some information to help you get started if you want to do the same thing!

Windows 8
Windows 8 was recently released. I moved to the Mac OS right before Windows 7 was released, so I am already two operating systems behind on the Windows side! I can muddle through Windows 7, but Windows 8 looks and works differently from its previous editions. Did you know there are several "flavors" of Windows 8? Windows 8 Home/Pro is the computer operating system and will work with your regular software programs. Windows RT is the operating system currently on the tablets, such as Microsoft's Surface, and will only run applications that are available in the Microsoft Store. However, there is a planned version of the Surface which will be released with Windows 8 Pro and allow you to run the same applications you run on your desktop. Other manufacturers are also releasing "tabtops" (tablets that double as laptops) that will run the full version of Windows 8 Pro and take advantage of the new OS's touch capabilities.
Resolution 1: Upgrade netbook to Windows 8 and learn the new interface.

Google Chrome
I admit, I am a diehard Firefox user on my computers. However, as a Google Certified Teacher, I figured I better learn more about both Chrome as a Web browser and think about Google's Chromebook, which runs Chrome OS, as a classroom alternative for 1:1 initiatives.
I started looking the Chrome Web Store which provides the user with access to applications for Chrome, whether one is using the Chrome browser on a computer or the Chrome OS on the Chromebook. I was astounded by the number of really good apps that could be used!
Chrome Web Store
Resolution 2: Buy a Chromebook and use it exclusively for a week for everything. Blog about it.

There are certain pieces of software that I dabble in, but do not use to their full capability. I use these apps and software title almost daily, but need to spend some time learning how to use them right. I am guessing, once I learn all about these tools, I will be able to eliminate some of the other tools that do the same thing, but not as well as the ones below.

Apple's Pages
I have used Microsoft Word since I first loaded it up on a 5 1/2" floppy disk on my IBM 5150 in 1985. (Yes, all of Word fit on one 640K floppy disk back then!) I have been a big user of the Office Suite since it was first introduced in late 1996. My favorite program in the Suite was Microsoft Publisher, and I went on to co-author a book about the use of Publisher in the classroom.
However, Apple's Pages, one of the iWork components, is a cross between Word and Publisher. Whether I am using it on the computer or on the iPad, the ease of moving text boxes and images around and wrapping text is as simple as dragging. The ability to create separate objects that can be manipulated is very reminiscent of Microsoft's Publisher. (PS If you use a Mac, iPad, Chromebook, or Android device you can still get access to Publisher, for a $50 per year price for educators, using InstallFree Nexus.)
Resolution 3: Use Apple's Pages instead of Microsoft's Word for two weeks. Blog about the experience.

Evernote is kinda like the Swiss Army knife of the app and online utility world. I use Evernote a bit, but am amazed when I see what the experienced users do with it. Evernote allows you take a note, snap a photo and record audio to go with it if you want, save entire Web pages to your Evernote account, collaborate on projects and share assets with others. There are easy-to-use folders to help organize your material and the ability to search your items.
The wonder of Evernote is it works from all devices and syncs anything you do to all devices. On your computer via the Evernote client, on your tablet via an app, from many pieces of software, including any number of apps that allow you to upload to Evernote, as well as the Livescribe Pen software, everything looks and feels the same!
Introduction to Evernote video

Resolution 4: Use Evernote. A lot.

Adobe Photoshop Elements
Adobe Photoshop Elements is now up to version 11, and, besides having a new interface, it provides all types of really powerful tools that makes editing images and creating new images a breeze! As an Adobe Education Leader, I need to keep up on the newest version to help other educators learn how to use it.
This image editing software, if you have not seen it in a while, has come a long way from the early days! There are now three ways to use it-- Quick, Guided, and Expert modes. It is easy to move back and forth among the modes to allow for more or less options. There are several ways to pull images out of a photo, get rid of trees that seem to be growing out of a subject's head in a photo, and even a way to get rid of a movement blur in an photograph.
One of my favorite things to do with Photoshop Elements is to put images behind letters to create a cool title for a Web page. Below is one I created for my infographics page, with infographic samples making up the letters in the word.

If you have access to Photoshop Elements 11 or download a trial version, try using some of the great images from the Discovery Education Streaming photo collection to make a cool title of your own! I used a photo of a galaxy in the collection to make this STARS title.
[caption id="attachment_32930" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Adobe PSE11 screenshot Screenshot from Adobe PSE11[/caption]
Galaxy 4414 NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute,n.d. Image. Discovery Education. Web. 11 Nov 2012. .
Resolution 5: Learn Photoshop Elements 11 inside and out. Watch the tutorials on Adobe TV.

To summarize my tech resolutions for 2013...
  1. Upgrade my netbook to Microsoft's Windows 8 and learn the new interface.
  2. Buy a Google Chromebook and use it exclusively for a week for everything. Blog about it.
  3. Use Apple's Pages instead of Microsoft's Word for two weeks. Blog about the experience.
  4. Use Evernote. A lot.
  5. Learn Adobe's Photoshop Elements 11 inside and out.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sour grapes...not really

I am a Google Certified Teacher, an Adobe Education Leader, and a DEN STAR and GURU. I earned each of these distinctions by helping others, providing continuing support in the areas of expertise that I have, and I feel like a very valued member of each community. Two of the three require formal reporting of activities and re-application to continue to be a member. The goals of all three are clear and I know what I have to do in order to stay a part of those communities -- support other members of the community and all educators who request help and support.

I have been thinking about assessment lately. When we assess students, we always give them feedback. We let them know what they were successful with and things that could have been improved upon. Many times, this feedback goes hand-in-hand with a rubric the student had access to before the assessment.

I have applied to be an Apple Distinguished Educator twice and a Sony Education Ambassador once. I feel I have something to offer to both groups and I would also love to learn from the other stellar educators who are part of these communities.

I have been turned down all three times. I spent a lot of time studying what each community was all about and worked hard on the applications and products that had to be created. I didn't make the cut because there were others who did a better job than I did and/or were more qualified. That's fine and that's the way it should be. 

But how am I going to learn to grow to better meet the needs of what the communities expect without any feedback? I assume there were rubrics for judging and that there were educators who were members of the community who were judges. What about giving all the applicants their summary scoring sheet including how they were scored? 

I encourage all organizations who are creating educator support groups to include the scoring rubric being used in addition to the overview of the program and the expectations for becoming a member before the applications are submitted. And then provide both the winners and losers with a detailed score. I want to become a better educator. Share your organization's vision of what that looks and feels like with me, please, so I can continue to grow!

No sour grapes...really!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Samsung Chromebook: First impressions

Last week, I purchased the new Samsung Chromebook. I had been hearing lots of good things happening in schools that have Chromebooks, and, as a Google Certified Teacher, I decided to learn more about them.

There are two new Chromebooks available right now-- the Samsung for $249 and the Acer C7 for $199.  Here are the simple specs on each--

11.6" matte screen
Samsung Exynos 5 Dual 1.7 GHz processor
1 USB 2.0 port, 1 USB 3.0 port, HDMI port, SD card slot
2.4 lbs.
6.5 hours of battery life

11.6" glossy screen (1366x768)
320 GB SATA hard drive
Intel Celeron 1.1 GHz processor
Ethernet 10/100 port, VGA port, 3 USB ports, HDMI port, SD card slot
Wireless a/b/g/n
3.05 lbs.
3.5 hours of battery life

I waffled back and forth before deciding which machine to buy. Originally I was enticed by the VGA-out on the Acer for presenting and the Ethernet port to hook it up to a network, but the 3.5 hour battery life and extra weight of the Acer made me change my mind. However, I believe, in a school setting, the Acer Chromebook would make a good teacher machine. Since it would probably be plugged in, the teacher could take advantage of the larger hard drive, the Ethernet port, and the VGA-out for presenting and not worry about battery life.

I decided on the Samsung and was not disappointed! It is decently speedy and has a great keyboard and trackpad. (One kind of weird thing on the Samsung is the letters on the keys are in lower case!) I went to Best Buy to see the Acer and the Samsung side-by-side, and the glossy screen on the Acer popped and seemed to be more readable. The matte finish and not-so-bright screen on the Samsung took a little getting used to, but it seems to be  usable even when the sunlight is shining right on the screen and there are no reflections like those on the glossy screen.

Of course, it is not about the hardware but about the move to computing in the cloud. The Chrome OS brought over all my settings from my Chrome browser on my computers, so I had all my "stuff" right away! I then took the time and went through the Chrome Web Store and installed other apps and extensions for things I knew I would need, like an image editor, a Twitter tool, and and FTP client. There are tons of applications and utilities  available that can be run right in the browser! The camera on the Chromebook even allows you to record directly into YouTube!

There is a cool Remote Desktop plug-in, which allows you to control your home computer (or any remote computer) from the Chromebook. You have to install software on the other computer for it to work, but it works great!

With each Chromebook purchased (at least right now) you get upgraded to 100 GB of Google Drive storage. Getting used to using Google Drive for file storage, and not just Google Apps, is a different way of thinking for me.  You can save and access files off an SD card in the slot, too, but using online storage is so much easier!

When I am not in a wireless environment, I can still work on various Google apps, like Google Docs, using an off-line version of these apps. When I get back into WiFi, the items sync with my Google Drive.

I have not yet been able to print. One needs to use Google's Cloud Print to do so, and, although I can see my printers, they are grayed out. I am assuming it is something in my networked printer set-ups and not the Chrome OS itself.

With the cost going down on these devices, I am starting to get questions about the benefits of Chromebooks over netbooks and tablets for the classroom.  At much the same price point as a netbook, you really get a better experience on a Chromebook, in my opinion.  The browser becomes transparent to the user and everything works smoothly.  The 10" tablets are appreciably more money than the Chromebook, although some of the 7" tablets are less or just a bit more in price, so, if you are comparing apples and oranges, the smaller tablets and the Chromebooks are similar in price.

The battery life of the Samsung is a big plus, too. It can last an entire school day without recharging. Of course, most of the tablets can, too. And there are many apps on a tablet that are not dependent on Internet access, so tablets come out ahead in that respect. But, the "real" keyboard on the Chromebook is seen as a useful thing in some user's eyes.

One point that really is evident about the Chromebook is the ability of multiple users to use the same machine without any worries of getting to someone else's data, or special set-ups, or any worries at all! Shared netbooks and tablets do require some finagling at times if there are multiple users. If a school is supporting a 1:1 initiative, then this point does not make a big difference in decison-making. But for the many schools that go with the "cart o' devices" model, the use of a Chromebook takes all the worry and work out of sharing.

I love the iPad and do iPad training in schools all over the country. And, when asked, encourage schools to do a 1:1 pilot when starting out with iPads or Android tablets. The experimentation and testing goes easily when each device is only used by one student. (I know there are second party products that make the shared tablets doable, too, but, for schools that do not have the tech support infrastructure, it can be problematic at times.)

Is the Chromebook as cool as an iPad? No. The touch interface and the wonderful apps for the iPad that making you "feel as one" with the device cannot be beat. But, for schools considering an alternative, give the Chromebook a try in a pilot project You will definitely be pleasantly surprised!

Thoughts? Things you want to share? Leave me a comment!

Thursday, November 01, 2012


I took advantage of the iStopMotion app for iPad and the iStopMotion Remote Camera to create two versions of this video for two different purposes. One has already been submitted and the second does not have to be submitted since I am unable to participate in the required week-long institute.

I wanted to share the stop-motion videos with you. More about the process later!


Transformation is defined as a thorough and dramatic change.

Is education thoroughly transformed from the industrial model? Not yet, but there are some very exciting things being implemented into teaching and learning.

From lectures to flipping, STEM to STEAM, desktop to mobile, text to infographics, consuming to publishing, labs to BYOD, group teaching to personalized learning,  and networks to peer-to-peer, technology is becoming the conduit for it all.

Transformation of the traditional, teacher-centered or even the student-centered classroom, to one in which all members of the educational community have a part in planning, implementing, and creating, is becoming the norm. Collaboration is the way educators now work—from their PLN on Twitter to the global projects they and their class participate in.

Are we there yet? Not quite. Education systems, infrastructure, funds, and the “old” ways of doing things are still getting in the way at times.  But, with the number of successful practices and hard data coming out to support these transformations’ positive impact on student learning, education seems to be ready to forge ahead with these and other, yet undiscovered, innovative practices.

I wanted to showcase, in a unique way, the transformation that can occur with the use of mobile technologies in the classroom. I hope you enjoy it!

iOS version

Android version 

It was a steep learning curve to get the apps to drop into the respective tablets. I finally found the solution by using motion paths in PowerPoint, setting timings, and using Camtasia to record the single slide with all the motion paths. I simply took a screenshot from the video of the tablet before it entered the backpack and put that into PowerPoint. I then created one and two motion paths and just kept replacing the images. The all were stacked on top of one another. Here is what that looked like in the Android version of the movie. (Update 3/14/13: I re-did the apps for the iPad version using icons instead of screen shots. I realize now that I could have used FLY IN from upper right and left and FLY OUT to bottom right and left. PowerPoint would have allowed me to put the time between the two animations in order to pause the icon.)

Set-up of motion paths in PPT for Android movie

I was able to get the apps to drop "into" the tablet by creating a layer at the front of the slide that included half of the tablet. The image was at the back, and the items fell down in-between them.

Thoughts? Comments?

Infographics for advocacy and promotion

This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in November 2012 and is re-posted here with permission.

One way to promote your district, school, or program or to advocate for increased funding or attention, is to create an infographic.
An infographic is a way to capture your audience as you visually tell a story or clarify information. An infographic is defined as a visual representation of information. created a page to explain items to think about when creating an infographic intended to advocate.  I think the most important aspect is deciding who is the audience for your infographic. They suggest putting yourself in the shoes of your audience and considering the following questions.
What are they looking for?
What is their point of view?
What do they already know about the issue?
You are creating an advocacy infographic to persuade your audience to take an action, whether that action takes place at a school committee meeting or at the ballot box. You want to send a clear message to them.
A good infographic includes a “catchy” image at the top which highlights the main point, followed by some secondary details, and tertiary details. Since viewers skim infographics the same way they skim text, you need to capture them right away. See the sample below to understand what that looks like.
To create an infographic, you need access to an application that allows you to layer images on top of images. Adobe’s Photoshop Elements is one such program, and there are online and downloadable tools you can create an infographic with, too. You can even use a PowerPoint or a Keynote slide, saved out as a JPEG, to create an infographic.
Discovery Education includes hundreds of free clipart images you can use when designing an infographic. These range from technology images to logos and everything in-between! Images are often duplicated in an infographic to make a graph or showcase a large number of something. Re-use these images from Discovery Education by repeating them in the infographic, by using a large version and a smaller version to showcase a difference, or include them in different colors to highlight a point. A hamburger infographic from, makes good use of repeating elements, as shown below.

Re-sized graphics

Repeated graphics

There are now online tools that have been developed to help you create an infographic. Some of these tools allow you to start from scratch, but they all include a plethora of already-created templates to edit, the ability to add data, and create a good-looking infographic. Some of these sites include –

There are many advocacy infographics available on the Web to review for ideas when creating your own. There is a free PDF booklet created by John Emerson entitled “Visualizing Information for Advocacy: An Introduction to Information Design”. It is well done and includes useful information about considering the audience you are trying to convince as well as tips and tricks for creating infographics.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Assessment with the iPad

This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in October 2012 and is re-posted here with permission.

I have been developing quite a number of iPad workshops in the past few weeks, and I am amazed at the number of ways one can conduct assessments using the iPad. Of course, some apps have assessment components built-in, but I am talking about the online tools and apps that can be used to assess students who have access to iPads.
The first way students can share completed work with you is via a screenshot. Taking a screenshot of their work on the iPad moves the image into the Photos app and you can either view the shots on the iPad or have the students send it to a shared file storage space or email account. One thing to remember is, if the student’s name does not show up in the screenshot, have them open the image in an image-editing or drawing app on the iPad and either draw or type their name on the screenshot and save it back to the Photos app.
Taking a screenshot with the iPad is easy. Simply hold down the power button on top of the iPad and press the home button on the front. The screen will quickly flash and there will be an accompanying “flash” sound, too. The reason to hold down the power button first on any device that has Siri, is, if you hold down the home button, the default setting is that Siri launches.

One app for the iPad that allows students to view  Web pages and take notes as they do so is ScratchWork. Students can then email the PDF of their notes to you or, if they are just writing about a single Web page, they can create a screenshot of the Web page and their summary or comments.

ScratchWork screenshot

Socrative is an online quiz maker with short answer, true-false, and multiple choice questions. You can use the teacher iPad app, or your or Ipad or computer browser to create the quiz. Students take the quiz via the student iPad app or via the browser link for students.  Once you chose to start the activity, you can allow the students to take it at their own pace or you can control each question, you can present each student with a different order of answers to eliminate cheating, you can have students get feedback on right/wrong answers, or you can show them the explanation of the answer. The student app and the teacher app may be found in the iTunes App Store.

Creating a Socrative quiz

Mentimeter is a Web sites that is used for real-time audience response polling. It is a great way to reactivate prior knowledge on a topic or as a ticket-to-leave so you can get a feel for any misconceptions or something you may need to reteach or review. You can put multiple questions together in a series if you want to ask more than one.

There are many cool screencasting tools available for the iPad, like Educreations Whiteboard and ScreenChomp. With these tools. students can mark-up, draw, and record all steps and their voice to showcase mastery of knowledge. However, sometimes a quick use of the iPad as a traditional “slate” is a good way to assess students, too. Reedtz45 created a YouTube video focusing on formative assessment and literacy using the iPad. One idea I really liked is that he sometimes has students construct a response on their iPad (using Educreations or ScreenChomp) and they use red, yellow, or green markers to indicate their confidence in their work. They can hold up the iPad for the teacher to see or email or Dropbox the image.

Nearpod is a pretty neat assessment tool! The teacher creates a multimedia presentation viat the site. A PDF file can be uploaded or the teacher can create the presentation from scratch and can even upload a 3 minute video and push it out to the student iPads as well as share a Web page with students, following this by an assessment in real-time. The teacher shares and controls the content that shows up on the student iPads. The teacher and the students use the Nearpod app. All iPads must be connected to the Internet. The teacher can see the results of the assessments, which range from students marking up an image through multiple choice questions. (Updated 10/5/12)

Of course, for your own professional development, you can use the Discovery Streaming Web site or mobile site for the iPad to view categorized videos dealing with instructional strategies and assessment. Once you learn a bit more about formative and summative assessments, you will come up with many other creative ways to assess student learning via the iPad. If you have any methods you already find successful, whether they be through online tools or iPad apps, please share in the comments!

Discovery Education Streaming: Mobile version

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wipad iPad Wireless Projector

I was sent the Wipad Pro ( to demo and it is a cool device! The receiver plugs into an HDMI port on a projector or monitor (or to a VGA connection via a VGA/HDMI converter box accessory offered by Wipad). The snap-on back for the iPad 2 or new iPad with its  attached transmitter plugs into an Apple HDMI dongle and the 30-pin port on the iPad. The transmitter recharges via an included USB cable.

Wipad Pro: snap-on back, transmitter, and receiver

The iPad is projected in HD and the sound winds up coming out of the TV or projector. You are not tethered to the projection device so you can roam around the room. So what makes this different than simply mirroring with the Apple TV? One big thing that is useful for many schools.

With an Apple TV, the iPad and the Apple TV need to be on the same network, whether the Apple TV is being used wired or wirelessly. The Wipad does not use the network to connect and does not impact the network traffic! It uses a wireless technology that does not interfere with any other devices. So, when you are streaming that Discovery Education video from the iPad to the projection device, you are not utilizing the network bandwidth. The IT crews will love this device! And, in addition, there is no lag at all, with video, audio, or apps. I even powered up SlingPlayer, which loads the cable connection at my home to my iPad, projected it via the Wipad, and it was perfect on the TV!  (In addition, the Internet connection on your iPad still works, something that does not occur if you have to set up some type of ad-hoc network between your iPad and a computer.)

For school use, IT departments will be happy and for those of you that cannot wirelessly project via an AppleTV at school, this is a good solution. For those of you who present in hotels or in rooms with no WiFi, this device can be used to present since you do not need a network. You can roam with up to 100 feet away as long as you have line of sight to the receiver.  If your school or organization purchases several Wipads, the receiver can store the identifier of up to eight transmitters. This is helpful if the receivers stay plugged into projectors or televisions in various rooms and the iPads move around.

Set-up of projection. Projected image is perfectly clear. The photo is not!

There are a couple of things I need to mention. The Wipad does work great. You simply pair the transmitter with the receiver and the projected iPad immediately shows up. You can wirelessly project from up to 100 feet away. The snap-on back did not fully snap-on to my new iPad since I had a skin on the back of my device. If your iPad does not have a skin, there should not be a problem. The transmitter that attaches to the back of the snap-on back does add a little weight (6 oz.) to the iPad, but nothing that would preclude carrying it around the classroom or presentation venue.

The price of the Wipad Pro is advertised at $399 on their site. Educators can receive a discount of 25%. There are volume price breaks for the purchase of 50 or more, but things can be negotiated on a case by case basis. You can read more about it, see the specs, and the features on the Wipad site.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Your Virtual Blue Binder

This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in September 2012 and is re-posted here with permission.

As a student, when going back to school in September, there was no event I waited for more than shopping for school supplies. I would love the fact everything neatly fit into a blue binder, and my subject dividers and pockets kept my notes and handouts organized throughout the school year
Today’s students and educators have a different type of organizational task to think about—organizing their virtual resources. Keeping Web links available on whatever hardware device they are using. Storing photos.  Be able to access email from anywhere. And keeping up with blog posts and social networks. Oftentimes, items seemed to be spread among too many places.
What are some helpful tools to keep in your “virtual blue binder”? Here are just a few of the types of tools that can be helpful. There are many online tools that fit into these tool types. Please add your suggestions in the comments section and be sure to include the “type” in your reply.
Type: Aggregators
An aggregator is an online Web tool that aggregates or pulls a bunch of things together. Aggregators are also called newsreaders. The tool automatically gathers newly published articles of interest from news sources and blogs all over the Web to one single place for you. These Web sites allow you to “subscribe” to receive their new content by typing the URL of the site into the aggregator. The techie name for this process is Really Simple Syndication, abbreviated as RSS.
Some popular aggregators include:
  • Google Reader is part of the Google suite of tools and the most-used newsreader.
  • Feedly is available as an add-on for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox and also has apps for the iOS and Android platforms. If you have your Google Reader all set-up, you can use Feedly to easily access your subscribed feeds on a computer, tablet or smartphone.
  • Reeder is a newsreader app for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Mac computers.
Type: Capturing Tools
Capturing tools are like Swiss army knives. They allow you to photograph, record, scan, copy, paste, and gather items all in one easy place. These capturing tools are for your own use, although sometimes colleagues use the same account to share their discoveries or find other ways to share their findings. . These types of tools have various feature sets, including taking notes,  the ability to tag, search by keyword, turn handwriting into text, convert PDFs into editable text, and much more.
  • Evernote is the most popular tool in this category. Evernote has a Web-based site, a Web clipper extension for many of the popular Web browsers, and apps for iOS, Android, and third party apps for WebOS tablets. Your Evernote items remained synced no matter which hardware you use to access them. There are also specialty apps that allow you to connect your Evernote to online storage sites, handwrite notes and send them to Evernote, and other cool connections. And you can even email your text, images, and audio to your Evernote account. Once in the account, you can create folders, called notebooks, to keep your information organized and accessible.
Type: Curation Tools
Curation tools allow you to gather information, organize it in a meaningful way, annotate it and add your thoughts, and then share it with others. Curation tools differ from the capture tools since the idea is to meaningfully arrange items by whatever criteria you decide and make it available to others. This a very crowded arena right now, so I recommend you find the single tool that does what you want to do, and stick with it. Don’t jump around or cross-post to other tools. Spreading the URL of your curated information is encouraged, though!
  • Pinterest is a wildly popular curation tool. Starting out as a way to save images of items one was interested in, it has quickly grown to be a place where educators “pin” Web sites and items of interest on categorized “pinboards”. You can search across all the content on the site, “repin” something to one of your pinboards, or comment on a pin. Take a look at my search on “iPads in the classroom” to get a feel for the type of information you can find. And, when clicking on a pin, you can get to that educator’s entire pinboard, like this one called Technology in the Classroom.
  • is an easy-to-use tools to curate items of interest. Your first create a topic, then install the bookmarklet on your browser’s toolbar, and just add items to your topic pages easily. In addition, gives each topic page an RSS feed which allows you to easily aggregate the “scoops” of others in your aggregator.
  • Educlipper is a new curation site that is specifically dedicated to educators and students. You can create “clipboards”, add articles, images, audio, and more that you find to them, “reclip” items from others, and share your clipboards with the world!
  • BagTheWeb allows you to create “bags” of information sources for yourself or to share with others. They have a page dedicated to the use of their tool in the classroom that showcases some good ideas!
  • allows you to create a tagged, organized daily newspaper from information you post or gather from Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or any web content.
  • Pearltrees allows you to use a bookmarklet in a browser or in Safari on the iPad to send “pearls” that you find to folders. It also allows you to automatically save resources you share on Twitter or Facebook to your Pearltree. You can share these folders, and see who else has curated the same resource, thus finding others who are interested in the same topics as you!
  • Weebly is an easy to use Web page creator that allows you to organize information, upload images, attach files, embed content, and create weblink lists. They even have a free education version that allows you to allot Weebly accounts to your student.
Type: Online File Storage
One of the organization tools that comes in very handy is the ability to have all of your files with you at all times, no matter what the format. There are a host of online file-hosting services available that are no cost and some let you share documents with others, too. Read the rules carefully. Some, like Dropbox, only allow x number of megabytes to be downloaded by others from your public folder per month. (I learned this the hard way with a note from Dropbox telling me I exceeded the limit and they were not allowing access to my public folders for three days.) Some have a limit of 100 megabytes on the files you upload.
  • Dropbox starts you off with 2GB of online storage space, but, through referring others, you can increase that to 18GB. There is a public folder to share files with others and you run a Dropbox application on Windows, Mac, Linux, and mobile platforms. There is even a plug-in to Dropbox called DROPitTOme which allows you to give a secure URL to others who can then upload files to your Dropbox.
  • Box is another popular file storage and file sharing site. For free, you get 5GB of stograge, can view your files on demand, can share a link to a file to a colleague, and even share an entire folder of files. A Box application is available for Windows, Android, and iOS.
  • SkyDrive is a Microsoft file storage site that starts you off with 7GB of file storage space. There is an SkyDrive application for Windows and Mac which allows you to move files up and down, and Windows Phone app, iOS app, and third party app for use with Android.
  • Edmodo is not meant to be an online file storage site. However, any asset you upload into this learning management-type system gets a public URL. Simply right-click on the uploaded asset (up to 100 MB), copy the long, cryptic URL and, using a URL shortener, create a short URL of the file to share with others.
Type: To-Do Lists
One of the nice things about online and app-based to-do lists is the ability to keep your tasks organized and prioritized at all times. There are lots and lots of to-do apps. I have tried many of them personally. Some are very complex and full-featured. Others are just basic and provide only a few features. Here are some suggestions.
  • Mac Reminders works with iCal, Outlook, and iCloud. and your iOS device.  (There is also a  new desktop app in Apple’s newest operating system, Mountaion Lion.) Reminders allows me to set priorities and alrams, create separate topic lists, and allows me to set a location where I want to be reminded– for instance “Remind me when I get to work to write the article for Steve.” When I pull into my work parking lot, up pops the reminder on my phone. I really love location-aware apps!
  • Remember the Milk (RTM) is an online to-do list and task management application. There are mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Blackberry and you can view your tasks on our Apple iCal or Google calendar. You can even aggregate your task feeds with your aggregator and get reminders about your apps via instant messaging. And, if you are a big Twitter user, you can even use direct messaging on Twitter to send your tasks to RTM.
  • Nutshell is simply a browser-based to-do list with the ability to prioritize and make separate lists by topic. It is accessible through the tablet browsers, includes RSS in case, as the teaher, you want to assign tasks to be delivered to students’ aggregators, and is simple and easy-to-use.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Point 2 View to Evernote!

I have been using the IPEVO Point 2 View and the Ziggi USB document cameras for the past couple of years. Their ease of use for projecting 3-D objects, snapping images, and recording videos has made them a staple in many classrooms. The Point 2 View software for the desktop will soon be updated to include sending the captured images directly to Evernote!

I have long demoed Evernote to teachers and students. The ability to both upload and access the Evernote notes from all types of devices makes it the perfect curation tool for students. I, myself, have only just begun using Evernote to its full potential and on a regular basis.

When IPEVO sent me a beta version of their new software with the Evernote integration, I was very excited to try it. It works like a charm! Here are the images of the process of snapping an image and sending it to Evernote from the IPEVO desktop software.

Choosing the IPEVO image and the notebook in Evernote to send it to.

IPEVO to Evernote success!

The note and image as viewed in Evernote
With more and more classrooms having IPEVO doc cams and students using Evernote software, the integration of Evernote into the P2V software is sure to be a hit!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

More Gadget Reviews

I have a couple of other items I wanted to review for you...

Tego Case for iPad2 and the new iPad

The Tego case for iPad is another protective case for the device that schools should put on the consideration list. The iPad is easy to get in to the case and it has extra reinforced corners to avoid damage to the device. 

Tego site:

The Tego case is made of a very lightweight material but is thoughtfully designed to bothprotect the iPad and allow easy access to ports, buttons, and speakers. 

In addition, the material has an anti-bacterial property to keep the germs at bay. In schools, where the iPad gets used by multiple students, this is a great feature to have!

The retail price of the Tego case is $38.99.

Kingston Wi-Drive

This is a cool little accessory for your mobile devices. I purchased the 32GB version ($89.99) but it also comes in 16GB and 64GB. The Wi-Drive is about the same size and shape as the Apple iPod Touch but it weighs a lot less in your gadget bag!

The Wi-Drive attaches to your computer via a USB cable so you can first move files, movies, photos, and music to it. (It also charges via the computer USB port or with the included AC adapter.)

You have to dis-attach the Wi-Drive from the computer to use it. Once you turn it on, the Wi-Drive creates an ad-hoc network with the SSID of Wi-Drive. You must then install the Wi-Drive app for iOS or Android onto your mobile devices.

Wi-Drive network on iPad
On your  mobile devices, simply visit the network settings and join the Wi-Drive network. Up to three devices can view or play the files on the Wi-Drive at one time. They can all access different files and even start the videos at different times. (Imagine loading it up with 32GB of movies for a long trip!)

DRM movie playing in iPad browser

For moving DRM movies from iTunes, if you sync your iPad with your computer's iTunes account, you simply drag the movie to the Wi-Drive, and access the movies through the Web browser on the mobile device via the static IP of the Wi-Drive. Purchased items may only be played via the Wi-Drive on mobile devices that have the same Apple ID as the computer's iTunes account.

File system and file on the Wi-Drive
The Wi-Drive acts as external storage and is accessible even when you do not have WiFi available. And, for non-DRM items, any three mobile devices can connect to the Wi-Drive and view or play the files. The Wi-Drive is an interesting concept, and I will be spending more time thinking of creative ways to use it!

Side note: We have an MicroCell (cell phone service booster) in our house so, on the iPhones, we had to put them in airplane mode and then turn just the WiFi back on in order for them to see the Wi-Drive. No problem with the iPad, since it does not use the MicroCell.

Have any gadgets you would like to share? Just post about them in the comments!