Monday, March 17, 2014

Red is the new black!

Black technology cases don't show the dirt, but I love red cases for my technology! I was recently forwarded two new red tech cases for review and love both of them!

The Snugg Red Leather Macbook Pro 13" Wallet Case

I like to carry my laptops in wallet cases-- I don't need extreme padding since, when I travel, the laptops are always in a padded section of a computer case or backpack. The Snugg Red Leather MacbookPro 13" Wallet Case has a magnetic flap which makes it easy to open and close and avoids that noisy velcro sound! The back of the case, as you can see above, contains a full-width pocket for papers, file folders, or that new issue of MacLife or MacWorld! (This case is also available for the MacbookAir 13" and MacbookPro 15". And, maybe if we ask politely, Snugg will create the case for the MacbookAir 11", too!)

Snugg has put some other thoughtful touches into this MBP 13" Wallet Case, too. Under the flap, you have a place to store business cards (or flash drives) as well as a cut-out in the case that allows you to charge your computer while it is in the case. And you can see the inside is lined with a soft material that keeps your Macbook scratch-free!

Note the cut-out on the left that allows you to charge your computer while in the case!
Now, if you are not a lover of red cases, the Snugg Leather MacbookAir and MacbookPro  Wallet Cases are also available in black, brown, candy pink, orange, gray, baby blue, electric blue, hot pink and white leather, too! You can order the item from Snugg's site or on Amazon. The price at this writing is $35.99 on either site. 

This case provides protection for your computer as well as being slim and stylish! (And I still like the red color the best!)

Case Logic Griffith Park Backpack

Case Logic makes a lot of backpacks for all different purposes, but I was drawn to the Griffith Park Backpack in red. This backpack also comes in black and gray.

I am very particular about my backpacks. I only carry an 11" or 13" laptop when I travel, but I also have an iPad Air, my Google Glass and its case, and, of course, the chargers, cords, and dongles that are needed for presentations.

The Griffith Park backpack has two main zippered sections. The back section has a padded pocket for the laptop and an additional pocket for a full-size iPad (or any 10.1" tablet). This section also has room for files, newspapers, or magazines.

The second zippered section has a large pocket with two sections and another full-width pocket with a zippered, mesh pocket on the front of it with a key fob. This section has about a 2.5" width bottom. This is where I will carry my cable case, my Google Glass, or a light jacket for the plane.

There are also other interesting pockets on the Griffith Park backpack. There is a felt-line zippered pocket at the top of the backback which is perfect protection for reading glasses, sunglasses, a point-and-shoot digital camera, or your phone. 

There is an open pocket on the front of the backpack with a quick-release clip where you can put those items you have to get to quickly like snacks, your boarding pass, or your paperback book. There are also two side pockets that can be used for storage and these are also designed to hold a water bottle.

The most interesting pocket is one that is on the very bottom of the backpack. It is decent-sized, but not too deep. I might use this one for my toiletry quart-sized bag or even my small pocketbook, since it is easy to get to. You could also store cables or unbreakable items in this bottom pocket, too. I bet I can even pack my airplane pillow in it if I squish it down enough!

Size:  12" x 10" x 17.3"
Fits laptops up to : 9.8"x 1.1"x 14.3" 

I like the fact the backpack is not wide and will fit nicely under a plane seat and, of course, I will stand out in a crowd with the cool red color! The Griffith Park backpack is available from the Case Logic site for $79.99) and from Amazon.

Neon image courtesy of

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Web-ulous tools

This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in March 2014 and is re-posted here with permission.

I have gotten so caught up in all the wonderful mobile learning apps, I have been neglecting the new crop of Web tools. Here are some of my current favorites. (Some of these also have apps that can be used with them, too, but for this post, I will be concentrating on the Web-based version of the tool.)

Google Docs Story Builder (

Google Docs Story Builder is brilliant! Users simply log-in to the site, chose their characters and type a dialog between/among the characters. It is a great way for students to collaborate and conduct a question and answer session, an online interview, or a debate. Users can put music behind the story and the entire thing is recorded and can be played back in real-time!  You cannot download the finished product, but, if you need to capture it, you can use Screen-cast-o-matic, SnagIt, or Seencastify or any of the screencasting apps here.)
It is much easier to understand how it works by watching a Google Docs Story. Deb has created a Google Story about Google Docs Story Builder!
Deb's Google Docs Story

Magisto (

Magisto is an online movie creation tool that is similar to Animoto. However, the no-cost version allows students to create clips up to 15 minutes in length.. Students log-in with a Google, Facebook, or email address. The movies live on the Magisto site unless students pay to subscribe, in which case they get unlimited download privileges. There is a Chrome plug-in as well as both an iOS and Android app, too.
Magisto analyzes the uploaded videos and images and picks various components and puts it all together in an engaging video based on the theme the student selects. This would not be the tool to use if students need to have items appear in a certain order, but it does create a compelling visual story!
Here is a cute overview of Magisto created by the company.

Pixiclip (

Pixiclip is an online interactive whiteboard that allows students or teachers to record their voice and/or video, import images and mark them up, or simply draw or type on the blank screen.  Each item added to the board can be moved or deleted easily. The entire clip is recorded and hosted on the Pixiclip site with the option to embed anywhere.
Larry Ferlazzo has a sample project (below) he created as an exemplar of what he might expect his English Language Learners to create. The students were studying the theme of “home”.

Thinglink (

Thinglink is a tool that allows students and teachers to upload an image and then add “hotspots” to make the image interactive. The images can be uploaded from the computer or imported from the Web, Flickr, or Facebook. The hotspot links can lead to almost every site imaginable– from commerce sites like Ebay and Etsy, to video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, social sites like Twitter, audio sites such as Spotify,  and other useful sites like Google Maps and Slideshare. Thinglink has been gracious enough to provide a no-cost ThinglinkEDU account teachers can sign up for.
The completed Thinglink presentations are hosted on their site, and other users can add comments, share, and edit (if permitted) and remix the presentations. Below is a sample of an old photo in which I tagged the people and added some Oktoberfest music from Soundcloud. (This was taken at the Rock Oak Lodge, in Sparta, NJ, sometime in the 1970’s or early 80’s.)

Made with

Teachers and students are doing amazing things with Thinglink, and here are some links.

Narrable (

Narrable is an easy-to-use, digital online digital storytelling tool. Students upload photos from their computer or Facebook account, resize them, change their order, and then record audio for each image. The audio can be added via phone, uploaded audio files, or recording with the microphone.
The completed narrables are hosted on the Narrable site and may be viewed by those that have the unique link. In addition, the narrable can be shared via FB, Twitter, Pinterest, email, or embedded or not even shared at all.
If a narrable is upgraded to a group narrable (for a fee), users can invite anyone via email to add a narration to a single photo without seeing the entire narrable.