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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Three Good Tools for Creating Multimedia Books Online

Twice this week I've been asked for alternatives to iBooks Author that students can use to create multimedia books. This is probably a good time to share the three options that I usually recommend. These are listed in the order in which I typically recommend them.

Simple Booklet is a service offering 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. In the field for adding text there is an option to copy from Word documents.

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.

Widbook is a platform designed to help people collaboratively create multimedia books. The service is part multimedia book authoring tool and part social network. Mashable called it "the YouTube of books." On Widbook you can create a digital book that contains text, images, and videos. Widbook is collaborative because you can invite others to make contributions to your books. To use Widbook you have to create a profile on the service. The books that you create become a part of your profile. If you allow it, other Widbook users can add content and or comments to your books. Likewise, you can search for others' books and make contributions to their books.


Widbook - Write, read and share! from Widbook on Vimeo.

Glossi is a service for creating digital magazines. Glossi magazines can include images, videos, audio files, and links to external sources of information. The magazines that you create are displayed with page-turning effects. Your magazines can be embedded into your blog. Learn more about Glossi in the video below.

The Edublog Awards Voting Is Open - Vote for Larry!

As I wrote in my 2013 Edublog Awards nomination post, no one deserves to win more than Larry Ferlazzo. I nominated Larry for Best Ed Tech/ Best Resource Sharing Blog. Thank you to those of you who nominated and voted for me, but I would love it if you could vote for Larry.

I don't mean any disrespect to any of the other blogs that were nominated, but Larry deserves it more than anyone else. He's been blogging far longer than any of the now more popular resource sharing blogs. His lists are free from the SEO-grabbing headlines like "ten awesome sites every teacher must see." Larry's content is always original and he always cites those who help him create his content. Larry's blog is the one that I go to and refer people to when I can't find something in my archives. Larry always has great lists for holidays (American and international), world events (Nelson Mandela's funeral), and just about anything related to education. In short, this year I want you to VOTE FOR LARRY!

To vote for Larry Ferlazzo for Best Resource Sharing Blog, click here then scroll down to Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day.

Even if you don't vote for any of the Edublog Awards, you should check out the lists of nominees anyway. Every year I learn about new apps, sites, blogs, and podcasts by looking at the Edublog Awards nomination lists.

Larry and I have never met. I have no motives in encouraging you to vote for him other than I really think he deserves to be recognized. 

Chrome Desktop Apps Now Available for Mac Users

A few months ago Google introduced Chrome Desktop Apps. Today, those apps became available for Mac users. Chrome Desktop Apps bring the functionality of many popular web apps to your desktop. Chrome Desktop Apps work when you're offline and sync when you reconnect to the web. You can find the Chrome Desktop Apps in the Chrome webstore in the For Your Desktop section.


I've already installed the WeVideo and Pixlr Chrome Desktop Apps. Pixlr is an app that I've used online for cropping and enhancing pictures. WeVideo is a video editing app that I've been using for a couple of years. I'm happy to have both of these apps available to me offline.

Applications for Education
When I saw the announcement about Chrome Desktop Apps for Mac my first thought was about students in my district who have MacBook Airs issued to them by the school, but don't have internet access at home. For those students Chrome Desktop Apps could be help them work on projects that previously required web access.

Kids Wordsmyth - An Illustrated Dictionary for Kids

Kids Wordsmyth is a great visual dictionary that I learned about through Kelly Tenkely's excellent blog, iLearnTechnology. On Kids Wordsmyth students can search for words, hear them pronounced, read definitions, and see illustrations of words. Students can search for words or simply browse through the Kids Wordsmyth online dictionary. The dictionary is arranged in a virtual book format with tabs for each letter of the alphabet.

Applications for Education
Kids Wordsmyth is the type of resource that I like to link to and feature prominently on classroom blogs / websites. When a words of a definition aren't adequate, the picture could help students grasp the definition of a new word.

How to Make Your Own Version of "YouTube Rewind 2013"

Earlier today Google released YouTube Rewind 2013. YouTube Rewind 2013 is a playlist of the top trending, searched, and viewed videos of the year. Part of that playlist includes an interactive YouTube rewind timeline.  The rewind timeline is a short video that has other videos linked to it. You can click on an element in the video to jump to one of the most-watched videos of the year.

You and your students can create your own "Rewind 2013" interactive videos. By using YouTube annotations (directions here) you can link videos one of your own. As an academic project I might start by having students talk, on video, about the most important events of 2013. Then after uploading that video to YouTube students can insert linked annotations to videos about the events they talked about. For example, if my students were talking about the biggest events in sports in 2013 when their video got to the point in which they talk about the World Series, they would link to highlights of the Red Sox winning the World Series.

Offline Use Is One Of Many New Google Spreadsheets Features

Earlier today Google Spreadsheets received a slew of updates. The most notable of these updates is the option to use Google Spreadsheets offline. If you enable offline access (directions here) for your Google Drive account and use Chrome as your browser, you can work with your spreadsheets offline.

Some of the other new features of Google Spreadsheets are filter views, improved speed, colored sheet tabs, and function help. Filter views (directions for use here) allow you to save and share different views of your data without affecting how others view the same shared data. Function help is going to be a great feature for new or infrequent Spreadsheets users. Function help provides example, guidance, and help in identifying errors when running functions on your spreadsheets.

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