Sunday, September 23, 2012

Create Beautiful Presentations with Haiku Deck

Haiku Deck is an iPad app that all students and teachers should have installed on their iPads. Haiku Deck enables anyone to create beautiful slide presentations. It's so easy to use that when I was describing the app to someone last week I said it was like "Animoto for slide decks." Like other slide presentation apps Haiku provides templates for creating your presentation. But there are some significant differences between Haiku Deck and other presentation apps.

There are two features of Haiku Deck that stand out. First, Haiku Deck intentionally limits how much text that you can put on each of your slides. Second, Haiku Deck helps you find Creative Commons licensed images for your presentations. When you type a word or words on your slides you can have Haiku Deck search for images for you. The images that Haiku Deck serves up are large enough to completely fill your slide. You can also upload your own images from your iPad or import images from Instagram and Facebook.
A slide from one of my Haiku Decks. 
Haiku Deck has an adequate selection of free templates that should suit all students. However, Haiku Deck also offers additional templates for purchase.

Applications for Education
Without the option to create long lists of bullett points or big blocks of texts, the beauty of Haiku Deck is that after students create visually pleasing slides they then have to focus on really knowing their material before presenting to an audience.

While we're on the topic of sharing presentations, a question that I'm often asked is, "how can I have my students project from their iPads." There are three options that I've used. First, I have projected using a VGA dongle. Second, I've used the Reflection App to mirror my iPad to my MacBook. Third, I've used Apple TV.

Tips for Setting Up Google Apps Training Activities - Part 2: Devices

Last week I published an updated version of my guide to Google Drive and Documents for Teachers. I know of a couple of people that are using that guide this week and next week in trainings that they are facilitating. If you are considering using the guide too, I have some tips for you. These tips are part of a larger document that I am developing. The first set of tips was about browser choice. This is the second set of tips.

Unless you’re training session is specifically about using iPads or Android tablets, the best way to introduce new users to all of the Google Documents features is to have them use a browser (again Chrome is preferable) on their laptops. You can certainly have people bring their iPads and or Android tablets to your training session, but make sure that they know that not all of the features available in a desktop browser are also available in the iOS and Android apps.

When I have participants bringing iPads or Android tablets to one of my workshops, my preference is to have people try all of the features of Google Documents in their browsers before moving to their tablets. This way they have exposure to all of the functions of Google Docs. Then when they move to their tablets they can clearly see the differences between the browser experience and the tablet app experience. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Most Popular Ed Tech Posts of the Week

Good morning from the Portland, Maine Jetport where I'm quickly writing before jumping on my first flight in four weeks. It was a great month at home with my dog Morrison and I was able to get a good start on some exciting projects that will be completed soon. More about that next week.

If you had a busy week and would like to quickly get caught up on some of the most popular ed tech tools of the week, the following list is a good place to start.

1. An Updated 63 Page Guide to Google Drive and Docs
2. 7 Good Sources of Creative Writing Prompts
3. Picture Book Maker - Create Children's Stories
4. Dozens of Ice Breaker Activities and Games
5. Stop Frame Animator - Create Stop Motion Movies
6. A Google Guide to Google Apps Accessibility
7. Interactive Whiteboards 101


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MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
ABCya.com is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
Lesley University offers quality online graduate programs for teachers.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Ed Tech Teacher offers professional development services for schools and is hosting iPad Summit USA in November. Register now for an early bird discount.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Tips for Setting Up Google Apps Training Activities - Part 1: Browser Choice

A couple of days ago I published an updated version of my guide to Google Drive and Documents for Teachers. I know of a couple of people that are using that guide this week and next week in trainings that they are facilitating. If you are considering using the guide too, I have some tips for you. These tips are part of a larger document that I am developing. This is the first part.


Not all browsers support every feature in Google Documents. Not surprisingly, Google Chrome does support all features of Google Documents and Google Drive. For that reason it is preferable to have all participants in your training sessions use Google Chrome. Google Chrome automatically updates whenever a new update is released by Google. A day or two before your training session send an email to all participants asking them to install Chrome if it’s not already installed on their laptops.

If getting all participants in your training session to use Chrome is not an option for you, at the very least stress to them importance of having the latest version of their preferred browsers installed. Not only is this a browser security issue (older versions of browsers are more susceptible to security threats) it is a Google Documents functionality issue. The latest versions of browsers support the most functions of Google Documents. For example, as of this writing Google has officially ceased supporting Internet Explorer 8. 

Finally, regardless of which browser you ultimately have participants in your training sessions use, have them all use the same browser during your training session. Initially, this might be uncomfortable for some participants, but by the end of the day most people will be comfortable with a different browser. Having everyone use the same browser will make your day easier. When everyone uses the same browser if there are unexpected glitches or problems they will likely be the same for everyone in your training session. Solve the glitch once and you’ve solved it for the whole group for the day.

Why Do Leaves Change Color? Video & Graphic

According the calendar Autumn has officially arrived and here in Northern New England we're approaching the peak of fall foliage colors. To help students understand why the leaves change colors in the fall, the Maine Forest Service has an animated video explaining why leaves change colors. The video is titled Maine's Autumn Magic and you can watch it here. To help students understand some of the terms in the video, the Maine Forest Service has a glossary of tree terms.

USA Today has a simple interactive illustration that students can click through to see how the weather affects the color of leaves. Students can select individual tree leaves to see what different leaves look like throughout the seasons.

While not as informative as the two resources above, National Geographic has a couple of nice photo galleries of fall foliage. Click here for a small gallery of images from Acadia National Park. Click here for a gallery of images from the Adirondack Park.

Applications for Education 
Fall provides a great opportunity for students to see science in action in the form of changing leaf color. If you can't get your class outside to look at the various leaf colors in the fall, the two resources listed provide nice visuals to complement your lessons on changing leaf colors.