Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Make Your Blogger Blog Mobile Friendly

Twice this week (here and here) I've shared information about developing mobile applications to make your course content more accessible. But before you go and build an app for your course, you might want to just take the step of making your blog mobile friendly. If you're using Blogger to host your course blog, this can easily be done in Blogger in Draft.

Blogger in Draft is the version of Blogger in which Google releases new features before making them default services. When you sign into Blogger dashboard, at the bottom of the page below the list of blogs you're a member of, you will see a list of additional tools and resources. In that list is Blogger in Draft. (You can also just use the url you use Blogger in Draft for the first time you will be greeted with a pop-up window asking if you want to use mobile templates. Turn on mobile templates and your blog will automatically be optimized for mobile viewing (this doesn't affect the way your blog looks on computer). The alternate way to activate mobile templates is to sign into your Blogger in Draft dashboard, choose "settings" for your blog, then choose "email & mobile," then activate mobile templates.

Save the Date for the New Teacher Reform Symposium

Back in July I had the honor of giving the commencement keynote for day two of the Reform Symposium. The Reform Symposium is a free online event featuring educators like you and me sharing their ideas and best practices with a global audience. The first Reform Symposium was by most accounts a rousing success. I just learned today that another Reform Symposium has been scheduled for January 8, 2011.

The New Teacher Reform Symposium will feature two keynotes and eighteen online presentations and panels designed to help new teachers. You can see the schedule of events and the speaker list here. And, not that you need any incentive to attend, there are some nice door prizes being given away to those who register for the event.

Snag Learning Film of the Week - Rising from Ruins

I missed posting a Snag Learning Film of the Week last week, but I've got a really good one this week. This afternoon my Civics class watched a portion of Independent American - Rising from Ruins. This film documents the economic recovery efforts in post-Katrina New Orleans. In particular the film examines the efforts of community organizers and small business owners to get the economy moving again. The film does a  nice job of comparing the roles of small businesses in the community with those of corporate conglomerates operating franchises in the community. Watch the whole film and find discussion questions here.
Watch more free documentaries

Applications for Education
The students in my Civics class just finished creating and presenting their plans for reviving the economy of our community (Oxford Hills, Maine). You can see the outline of that project here.

My purpose in showing Independent America - Rising from Ruins was to provide my students with some more ideas about the important roles of small businesses in the local economy.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Snag Learning Film of the Week - Immersion
The Lifespan of the Dollar Bill
Comparing Taxes and Costs of Living

Last Minute Gifts for the Teachers in Your Life

Image Credit: Leo Reynolds
From the shameless promotion department: if you're looking for some last minute "gifts" for the teachers in your life, check out the downloads page on Free Technology for Teachers and pass along one or all eight of the free ebooks available there. Email them, Facebook them, Tweet them, or print them. In my obviously biased opinion, they're all good resources for teachers looking to improve their uses of technology in their classrooms.

What you will find on the free downloads page:
The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators
How to do 11 Techy Things in the New School Year
Google for Teachers
Google for Teachers II
Google Earth Across the Curriculum
Beyond Google - Improving Search Strategies and Results
Making Videos on the Web 
Twelve Essentials for Technology Integration

Happy Holidays!

Google Shared Spaces - Potential Collaboration Tools

Google Wave crashed on the beach earlier this year, but its code and various parts of it live on in various incarnations on the web. (Technically, Wave still exists for existing users, but Google is not supporting it). One of the places where some of the Wave technology is still in use is in Google Shared Spaces. Shared Spaces is a gallery of little widgets that can be used to collaborate on various tasks like drawing, making lists, creating surveys, and developing maps.

I tested out a Shared Space for drawing with about 15 other people and found it easy to use. That said it did get a little messy because we couldn't tell who was drawing what. There is, however, a chat option in the drawing Shared Space which could be used to assign colors or tasks to people in the space.

I also tested out a Shared Space for map creation. The map space looks and acts a lot like a Google Map and can be used to collaboratively develop a map. As with the drawing space, the map Shared Space includes a chat function.

To invite people to your Shared Space you can Tweet, Buzz, or email the unique url for your space to other people.

Applications for Education
Google Shared Spaces is still a Labs project which means they're still in development. That said, my initial impression is that Shared Spaces could be useful little gadgets for having students do simple brainstorming exercises and generate to-do lists for group projects. Teachers and or administrators could use Shared Spaces to develop surveys to gather feedback from students, staff, and parents.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google for Teachers
Twenty Google Tools Tutorials for Teachers
Google for Teachers II