Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chrome Desktop Apps Now Available for Mac Users

A few months ago Google introduced Chrome Desktop Apps. Today, those apps became available for Mac users. Chrome Desktop Apps bring the functionality of many popular web apps to your desktop. Chrome Desktop Apps work when you're offline and sync when you reconnect to the web. You can find the Chrome Desktop Apps in the Chrome webstore in the For Your Desktop section.

I've already installed the WeVideo and Pixlr Chrome Desktop Apps. Pixlr is an app that I've used online for cropping and enhancing pictures. WeVideo is a video editing app that I've been using for a couple of years. I'm happy to have both of these apps available to me offline.

Applications for Education
When I saw the announcement about Chrome Desktop Apps for Mac my first thought was about students in my district who have MacBook Airs issued to them by the school, but don't have internet access at home. For those students Chrome Desktop Apps could be help them work on projects that previously required web access.

Kids Wordsmyth - An Illustrated Dictionary for Kids

Kids Wordsmyth is a great visual dictionary that I learned about through Kelly Tenkely's excellent blog, iLearnTechnology. On Kids Wordsmyth students can search for words, hear them pronounced, read definitions, and see illustrations of words. Students can search for words or simply browse through the Kids Wordsmyth online dictionary. The dictionary is arranged in a virtual book format with tabs for each letter of the alphabet.

Applications for Education
Kids Wordsmyth is the type of resource that I like to link to and feature prominently on classroom blogs / websites. When a words of a definition aren't adequate, the picture could help students grasp the definition of a new word.

How to Make Your Own Version of "YouTube Rewind 2013"

Earlier today Google released YouTube Rewind 2013. YouTube Rewind 2013 is a playlist of the top trending, searched, and viewed videos of the year. Part of that playlist includes an interactive YouTube rewind timeline.  The rewind timeline is a short video that has other videos linked to it. You can click on an element in the video to jump to one of the most-watched videos of the year.

You and your students can create your own "Rewind 2013" interactive videos. By using YouTube annotations (directions here) you can link videos one of your own. As an academic project I might start by having students talk, on video, about the most important events of 2013. Then after uploading that video to YouTube students can insert linked annotations to videos about the events they talked about. For example, if my students were talking about the biggest events in sports in 2013 when their video got to the point in which they talk about the World Series, they would link to highlights of the Red Sox winning the World Series.

Offline Use Is One Of Many New Google Spreadsheets Features

Earlier today Google Spreadsheets received a slew of updates. The most notable of these updates is the option to use Google Spreadsheets offline. If you enable offline access (directions here) for your Google Drive account and use Chrome as your browser, you can work with your spreadsheets offline.

Some of the other new features of Google Spreadsheets are filter views, improved speed, colored sheet tabs, and function help. Filter views (directions for use here) allow you to save and share different views of your data without affecting how others view the same shared data. Function help is going to be a great feature for new or infrequent Spreadsheets users. Function help provides example, guidance, and help in identifying errors when running functions on your spreadsheets.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Three Good Tools Students Can Use to Organize Online Study Groups

As the holiday break approaches many high school and college students will be preparing for exams. When getting together in the same place to study with a group, an online study group is a good option too. Here are three tools students can use to organize online study groups.

ExamTime is a service that middle school, high school, and college students can use to prepare for tests. On ExamTimes users can create flashcards, mind maps, and practice quizzes to help them study. ExamTime also provides the option to create online groups to share study materials. Groups allow teachers and students to share learning resources to group members and to host discussions.

Think Binder is a website that gives students a place to create online study groups. In each group students can share files, share links, chat, and draw on a collaborative whiteboard. Students can create and join multiple groups. As you will see in the video below, getting started with Think Binder takes just a minute. Embedded below is my brief video overview of Think Binder.

Google+ is probably the most robust service for high school and college students to use create online study groups. Students can create private communities in which they share resources, have discussions, and they can host Hangouts in which they talk see each other as well as share whiteboard space, share documents, and share presentations.