Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Listen to Customized Bite-sized News

Update February 2015: This app is no longer available.

Snackr is a free iPhone and iPad app that allows you to listen to a set of customized news channels. Snackr's goal is to provide you with headlines and summaries of news that is most important to you. You can used the app to hear tech news, world news, sports news, weather, and more. Watch and overview of Snack in action in the video below.

Snackr Demo v1.0 from Snackr App on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
When I taught Contemporary Global Studies my students were responsible for reading and watching the news. If you teach a similar course, Snackr could be good app for your students to use to get an overview of headlines and hear a bit of the stories. After listening to their Snackr news channel, they can select a story or two to investigate in further detail.

H/T to Joyce Valenza

Class Connect - Share, Find, and Connect on Lessons

Last week I was contacted by a nice young man and student named Eric Simons who was seeking some feedback on his new service. The service is called Class Connect.

The basic purpose of Class Connect is to provide a place for teachers to store all of the digital materials associated with their lesson plans. Teachers can store documents, images, video files, and websites (bookmarks). To help you keep your materials organized, Class Connect provides a tagging system. The tagging system allows you to use custom tags or assign Common Core standards tags from the standards menu. If you choose, you can share your materials with colleagues. Class Connect provides an option for collaboration on shared materials.

There is a community aspect to Class Connect. If you choose to, you can make your materials public so that they can be searched and viewed by other Class Connect users. There are two ways to search for lesson materials in Class Connect. You can search the shared materials by keyword or search by Common Core standard.

Applications for Education
By our good nature, teachers like to share. Class Connect makes it easy to share our best resources with each other. Sometimes it's by seeing what others have done to teach a topic that we get our best ideas for our own lessons. Maybe you are looking for a new way to teach a topic or need an idea to get your lesson plans started, have a search in Class Connect. And if you benefit from the sharing of others, return the Karma and share some of your own good resources.

Google Puts a Search App in the Windows Phone Marketplace

While Android and Apple devices dominate the smartphone market, there are other smartphones that our students are carrying. The last time I stopped into my local US Cellular store I noticed a few Windows phones available at very reasonable prices. I'm sure that students in my district are carrying those phones. (US Cellular is by far the most popular carrier in my area). So that's why I was happy to learn today from a CNET article that Google now has a search app in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

I don't own a Windows phone myself but, it seems that the Google search app in the Windows Phone Marketplace could be a good alternative to the Bing search and or trying to search through the browser on a Windows phone. If you have a Windows phone and you're tried the Google search app, please leave a comment.

Wiffiti - Gather & Display Feedback via Text

Wiffiti is a service that allows you to receive text messages and display them on a screen. In fact, if you've been to a sporting event in the last year you may have seen Wiffiti in use. The display doesn't have to be a Jumbotron, it could be as small as your laptop screen projected on to a wall. Today, Wiffiti launched the beta of a free version for educators.

Wiffiti for schools offers a platform through which you can collect feedback from students and display that feedback in a manner similar to sticking Post It notes to a cork board. You can collect feedback from text messages or from Tweets on the web. You can also collect images that your audience sends to your Wiffiti board. The new free Wiffiti for schools includes a G-rated filter to keep out inappropriate comments and a "zap" feature to remove any comments you want to remove.

Wiffiti's free offering to educators is still in beta so you will have to register for an invite to use the service.

Applications for Education
Wiffiti is kind of like Wallwisher for collecting and posting messages from a variety of devices. You could use Wiffiti to have a classroom full of students quickly share what they know about a topic or ask questions about material from class. You could also use Wiffiti to have your students vote on a question. Give the class a question, have them submit there responses, then eliminate all but the most popular three and vote on those. By the way, you can also do a similar voting activity in Socrative which was a big hit in one of my workshops today at NCTIES.

Two Years Later This Pattern Still Exists

I spent today at the NCTIES conference working with educators and talking with educators. One pattern that I heard throughout many of my conversations, and this happens everywhere I go, is "our school bought product X, but I'm the only one using it." As I wrote two years ago, buying stuff doesn't fix problems. Without instruction for teachers on the classroom of technology, putting a laptops, iPads, or SMARTBoards in every classroom won't improve students' learning experiences.

Does a $399 Price Point Make the iPad a Better Choice for Schools?

The new iPad was unveiled to the world today. From what I've read the big improvement to it lies in the screen resolution. The big news for cheapskates like me is that the iPad 2 dropped $100 in price to $399. I've long said that I prefer to see schools invest in building a 1:1 program with netbooks or laptops before putting their money into iPads. But now that the iPad 2 can be had at a price that is very comparable to netbooks and Chromebooks, I wonder how many more schools will give more thought to going the iPad route instead of the netbook or Chromebook route. Even at the new price point, for now I still prefer to see schools use iPads as secondary devices instead of primary devices. Read more of my thoughts and about this choice in I Don't Hate iPads, But...