Thursday, March 14, 2013

Narrable Adds an iPhone App for Creating Audio Slideshows

Last month I shared a new service called Narrable that lets you create short, narrated slideshows in your web browser. One of the key features of Narrable is that you can add narration through your computer's microphone, through a phone call, or by uploading a separate audio file.

A few days ago Narrable launched a free iPhone app that you can use create audio slideshows. The free app allows you to record up to five minutes of narration for each of your projects.

Applications for Education
I initially learned about Narrable through Wes Fryer. Wes recently recorded a podcast with the one of the founders of Narrable to talk about how the service might be used for digital storytelling. The first part of the podcast is about the founding of Narrable after that it gets into a discussion of education. I recommend listening to the podcast here.

Narrable projects can be shared via email, Facebook, or by embedding them into a blog. Narrable could be a good way to get students to tell a short story by adding narration to pictures that they have taken or found online. Have students search for some Creative Commons licensed images arranged around topics that they're studying then record a short slideshow about them. 

Duolingo's Updated App Allows You To Learn a New Language Anywhere

On the first day of 2013 I encouraged you to try Duolingo to learn a new language. Duolingo is a free service designed to help students learn Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese. The service can be used in your web browser or on your iPhone. The latest version of iPhone app now works even without an Internet connection. You can complete practice activities offline and when you reconnect to the web your progress will be synced to your online Duolingo account.


Applications for Education
A number of practice activity formats are available in Doulingo online and in the iOS app. Students can practice translating real-world texts as well as simple rote translation activities. Students can also compete with their friends to get to the next level in the language that they are learning.

To learn on Duolingo students read, listen to, and translate words and phrases. For example, if a student wants to learn Spanish he or she will be shown Spanish words with translations. Students can hear the words pronounced too. Then to practice students type and or speak translations. The activities start out with simple words and phrases. As students become more proficient, Duolingo presents them with more challenging phrases. To help them track their progress Duolingo awards points and virtual badges to students.

H/T to TechCrunch

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Google Announces the Closure of Google Reader - Don't Panic, Use Feedly

Google Reader may have had a bigger influence on my life in the ed tech world than any other single app or service. Since the day I started using it in 2006 to now it has reliably served me fresh content from all of my favorite sites and blogs. So this evening when I learned that Google Reader is going to be shut down on July 1, 2013 I freaked for a minute. Then I realized that I'm not using Google Reader as much as I used to because for the last year I've been using Feedly to read most of my RSS feeds.

Feedly is a service that allows me to subscribe to all of my favorite sites and blogs. In my case, I've just synced it with my Google Reader account. Feedly has just announced that they have developed a service that will make it easy to transition from Google Reader to Feedly. I like Feedly because I can use it on my Android tablet, on my iPad, my Android phone, on my desktop, and in my Chrome and Firefox browsers. Feedly displays all of my subscriptions in a magazine-like format that makes it easy for me to quickly view 6-8 headlines and images on a page before deciding if I want to click through to the full article. From Feedly I can share articles to Evernote, Twitter, Diigo Powernote (Android), Facebook, and many other services. I can also simply save articles to read later in my Feedly account.


Feed Your Mind On The Go from Feedly on Vimeo.

Feedly is not the only alternative to using Google Reader. I have tried Zite, Netvibes, Flipboard, and Pulse in the past. You might also want to take a look at MyLinkCloud's new support for RSS feeds.

Vyclone - A Social Video Editing Service

Vyclone is a free service for collaboratively editing videos on your iPhone, on your Android phone, or on the web (does not work in Firefox). The main purpose of the app is to allow multiple people to record the same event, each at a different angle, and combine their footage to create one video. With the app installed on your phone and location services enable you can record videos and upload them to your account. Then share your footage with other users who can add to it and remix it with their own. If you don't want to share your footage with all Vyclone users you can specify the users who can access your videos.

The web version of Vyclone isn't as polished as the mobile apps, but you can remix any footage that has been shared by others. Vyclone on the web only works in Chrome and Internet Explorer 10.


Applications for Education
For students 13 and older Vyclone could be a good app for creating and editing short video reports to post on classroom blogs. Vyclone could also be a good app to have students and teachers use to record highlights of a science fair then combine the footage to create a highlights show.

Widbook Makes It Easier to Collaboratively Create Multimedia Books

Widbook is a platform designed to help people collaboratively create multimedia books. I reviewed the service last summer and since then it has received a couple updates of note. Widbook's editing platform now allows you to upload DOCX and TXT files. This means that you don't have to do all of your writing online. You could start your project offline and bring it into Widbook later. The second update to note is that Widbook now has a chat feature that you can use with your collaborators to discuss edits to your work while you're in a project. Of course, all Widbooks can still include pictures, text, and videos.


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

Applications for Education
I love Google Documents for collaborative writing, but sometimes I feel like want more formatting options. If your students feel the same way then Widbook might be the collaborative writing tool for them try on their next writing assignments.