Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Use Mozilla Thimble to Learn How to Write HTML & CSS

Last month I wrote about Mozilla's Thimble App which was the first public version of the new Thimble product that Mozilla released today.

Thimble is a free Mozilla product designed to help users learn how to write HTML and CSS. Thimble features a split screen on which you can write code and see how it works at the same time. On the left side of the screen you write your code and on the right side of the screen you instantly see what that code renders.

The latest version of Thimble gives you the option to start from scratch or to modify sample projects. The sample projects include directions for writing code. If you write the code correctly, you will know right away. Likewise, if you don't write the code correctly, you will know right away. Some of the sample projects you can work with include webpages, games, and avatars.

Applications for Education
Mozilla Thimble could be a fantastic tool for learning to write HTML and CSS. The instant feedback piece is a huge benefit over writing the code then having to open a new window to see what happens. Thimble's sample projects with directions could be a great resource for students who want to try to learn to write HTML and CSS on their own or who just want to practice beyond what you've taught them in your classroom.

TechTalks.tv - Sync Videos and Slides

TechTalks.tv is a new service that is designed for publishing slides that are synchronized with videos. Judging from the demonstrations on the site, TechTalks.tv is good for matching video of a live presenter with that presenter's slides. On one side of the screen you can watch the video and on the other side you can view the slides with the same timing that you would have experienced had you been there for the live presentation. You can also fast-forward through the slides if you want to.

Applications for Education
If give a presentation in person and want to share that same content later, TechTalks.tv could be a good service for do that. Often times videos of presenters are heavily focused on slides or heavily on the presenter, but rarely are both captured well. TechTalks.tv could be the solution to that problem.

Quickly Gauge Your Students' Understanding with Understoodit

Understoodit is a new web app for quickly gauging your students' understanding of information that you have shared with them. Saw it in action for the first time today when my Ed Tech Teacher colleague Greg Kulowiec used it during a workshop we taught.

Understoodit is quite simple. Just open your account (it's still in beta by invitation only) and open the simple poll of "understand" or "confused." Students can vote using any internet-connected device. Students can vote whenever you have the poll open. They can vote multiple times too. So if they are confused at the beginning of class, but understand ten minutes later they can change their votes.

Understoodit from Liam Kaufman on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
After seeing it in action, I can see how Understoodit could be a great tool for quickly getting anonymous feedback from your students. The option to see the timing of when your students vote for "confused" or "understand" can be a great way to quickly determine which topics or what content to you need to repeat.

Click here for three other services you can use to quickly poll your students.

Update: In a classic case of not proofreading, I meant to title this post "Quickly Gauge Your Students' Understanding" not "Quickly Change Your Students' Understanding." The title is correct now.  

110 Page Guide to Publishing With iBooks Author

Apple's iBooks Author is an excellent tool for creating multimedia ebooks, but there are some elements of using it that can be confusing and or frustrating. While you can figure it all out on your own as you go, that's how I've been going about it, you can save yourself a bunch of time by reading a good guide ahead of time. I wish I had done that.

Publishing with iBooks Author is a free 110 page publication from O'Reilly Media. I  just discovered the guide a couple of days ago and I wish I had found it earlier because it would have saved me a lot of time in learning how to use iBooks Author. Publishing with iBooks Author covers everything from copyright, DRM, and the End User Agreement to templates, layouts, media insertion, publishing, and distribution. You will have to register for an O'Reilly Media account to download the book (that does take a few minutes and requires email verification) but I think that's a small price to pay for an excellent free ebook. Publishing with iBooks Author is available to download as an ePub file and as a PDF.