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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Build an App for Nokia Phones

Looking around the ed tech blog-o-sphere you might think that the only mobile devices on the market are Android or iOS devices. But if we look at what our students and their parents are carrying, we'll see a smattering or more of Nokia devices in use. The Ovi App Store is Nokia's attempt to bring more content to their users mobile devices. To that end Nokia has made it easy for anyone to build a mobile application and publish it through the Ovi App Store. Using the Ovi App Wizard I built an Ovi App for Free Technology for Teachers in a matter of minutes (I have minimal coding skills, and none were needed) and had it approved by Nokia in 36 hours.

Applications for Education
If you're looking to give your students and their parents more contact points for the content of your courses, building a simple application with the Ovi App Wizard can help you reach that goal. Likewise, you should also consider developing an Android App using the Android App Inventor which is now open to everyone.

Video - Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse

Depending on where you live last night or early this morning you could have observed a lunar eclipse. If you stayed in bed instead of watching it, you can see what it looked like through any number of videos of it posted on the web. One of the better ones I've seen, embedded below, is a time lapse video shot and produced by William Castleman. The video was captured in Gainseville, Florida.

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse from William Castleman on Vimeo.

A neat resource for teaching about the lunar eclipse is this simulation from Hey What's That? that uses the Google Earth browser plugin.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Solar Eclipse Simulation in Google Earth
NASA eClips - Educational Videos for K-12 Students
Explore Google Sky

The Guardian's Data Store Looks Promising

The Guardian recently launched a new component to their website that they are calling the Data Store. The Data Store is designed to showcase infographics, interactive displays, and articles that use data to illustrate an idea. The Data Store not only features the work of Guardian writers, but also pulls and shares information from other prominent data blogs. The Data Store has categories for European data, world data, development data, and US data. Additionally, there is an A-Z index of data-related articles and graphics in the Data Store.

Applications for Education
The Data Store could be a good place to find current news resources to use in your classroom. The combination of text and graphics could make materials more accessible to more students.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Is It Better to Rent or Buy? Interactive Infographic
Teaching With Infographics
Insightful News Infographics

7 Visually Appealing Ways to Publish Documents Online

Last week after I and ten others released The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators I received a handful of emails asking either how I built the page-turning effects into the ebook or why I chose to use a 3rd party to host the ebook. I figure if a handful of people were curious enough to email me about it, there are probably others who are also curious about the same questions. I choose to use 3rd party services to host the ebooks I publish so that I can track how many times they're viewed and downloaded. The other reason I use 3rd party services to host the ebooks is because I like having the option of displaying the ebooks with page-turning effects. Here are the services I've used to host my ebooks and some others that you might consider using.

Document sharing services I'm currently using.

Yudu is a free service that allows you to upload PDF, Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files to create online magazines. The page turning effect and the zoom options are all built into the technology of Yudu and automatically activated. When your Yudu online magazine is created you can embed it into a blog, wiki, or website. The only drawback to Yudu is that the download option can be hard to find when viewing a document full screen and the download file is a zip file which is a turn-off for some people.

Issuu, like Yudu, offers the option to display your documents with page-turning effects. You can embed your documents with those effects into your blog or website. Issuu also offers a "bookshelf" widget that you can embed into your blog or website to display previews of multiple documents. You can see the Issuu bookshelf widget in the right hand column of Free Technology for Teachers

DocStoc and Scribd are similar services that can best be described as YouTube for documents. You cannot create documents within either service rather you have to upload documents created with your preferred word processing program. Both services accept all of the common Microsoft formats, Open Office and Neo Office formats, and PDFs. Once you've uploaded your document it will be assigned a url and given an embed code. You can use the embed code to feature your documents on your blog or website. DocStoc and Scribd don't offer page-turning effects like Yudu and Issuu offer.

Youblisher is a PDF publishing service that is very similar to Yudu and Issuu. Youblisher turns your PDFs into online magazines complete with page-turning effects. The documents you upload to your Youblisher account can be embedded into your blog or website.

Tools for building ebooks from scratch.

My Ebook is a new service for creating rich multimedia ebooks. My Ebook allows users to create ebooks that contain text, images, and videos on each page. My Ebook users can create ebooks from scratch or upload their existing PDF files to display in a book format. When starting an ebook from scratch on My Ebook, users can import images from their Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, and Photobucket accounts or upload new images directly to My Ebook. If you don't have any digital images you can select some from My Ebook's gallery. Videos can also be embedded into the pages of My Ebook. My Ebook provides a good variety of themes and templates to give each ebook a different look and feel. Ebooks created using My Ebook can be embedded into blogs and websites or shared via email.

One word of caution about My Ebook, you might not want to let your students browse the library of ebooks without supervision. I didn't see anything that was explicitly bad (the terms of service forbid that type of content) but there is some material that you might not want middle school students accessing. 

Simple Booklet offers free online booklet creation and publishing. To create a book using Simple Booklet just sign-up for a free account and click create. Select the layout template that suits your needs. To add content click anywhere on the blank canvas and a menu of options will appear. You can add text, images, audio files, videos, and links to each page of your booklet.

Each page of your Simple Booklet can have multiple elements on it. To include videos you can upload your own files or select from a variety of provides including SchoolTube, TeacherTube, YouTube, and others. To add audio to your pages you can upload your own files or again select from the online hosts Last.fm, Sound Cloud, or Mix Cloud. When you're done building pages in your Simple Booklet you can share it online by embedding it into a webpage or you can share the unique link generated for your booklet.
Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Seven Places to Find Free eBooks
17 Free eBooks for Teachers and Parents

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