Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Map of US Military Bases World Wide and a Crash Course in Imperialism

Empire.is features a map of more than 700 United States military bases and postings around the world. The map uses satellite imagery from Google Maps and Bing to display these bases. The map alone could be an interesting resource for a U.S. History and or current events course. (It should be noted that some of the postings on the map are closed) I would combine the use of the map with a viewing of John Green's Crash Course in American Imperialism (embedded below).


On a related note, you may also be interested in this animation of Howard Zinn's A People's History of American Empire.


H/T to Google Maps Mania.

MIT App Inventor 2 - Design Android Apps in Your Browser

This morning I went to use the MIT App Inventor for the first time in a couple of weeks and discovered that MIT App Inventor 2 is now available to anyone who has a Google Account. MIT App Inventor 2 works just like the first version except version 2 runs entirely in your browser (Chrome or Firefox, IE is not supported). I immediately went to my Chromebook just to confirm that MIT App Inventor would run correctly on it, and it does.

The only download that is required for App Inventor 2 is the optional emulator. The emulator allows people who don't have Android devices to text their apps on their desktops. If you have an Android device then the emulator is not required and you don't need to worry about installing it.

Applications for Education
If you would like to introduce your students to programming real-world applications, the MIT App Inventor is a fantastic tool. App Inventor does not require you to have any prior coding or app development skill in order to create a working Android app. MIT provides excellent support documentation and curriculum for classroom use for new users of App Inventor.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Three Good Tools for Creating Multimedia Books Online

Twice this week I've been asked for alternatives to iBooks Author that students can use to create multimedia books. This is probably a good time to share the three options that I usually recommend. These are listed in the order in which I typically recommend them.

Simple Booklet is a service offering free online booklet creation and publishing. To create a book using Simple Booklet just sign-up for a free account and click create. Select the layout template that suits your needs. To add content click anywhere on the blank canvas and a menu of options will appear. You can add text, images, audio files, videos, and links to each page of your booklet. In the field for adding text there is an option to copy from Word documents.

Each page of your Simple Booklet can have multiple elements on it. To include videos you can upload your own files or select from a variety of provides including SchoolTube, TeacherTube, YouTube, and others. To add audio to your pages you can upload your own files or again select from the online hosts Last.fm, Sound Cloud, or Mix Cloud. When you're done building pages in your Simple Booklet you can share it online by embedding it into a webpage or you can share the unique link generated for your booklet.

Widbook is a platform designed to help people collaboratively create multimedia books. The service is part multimedia book authoring tool and part social network. Mashable called it "the YouTube of books." On Widbook you can create a digital book that contains text, images, and videos. Widbook is collaborative because you can invite others to make contributions to your books. To use Widbook you have to create a profile on the service. The books that you create become a part of your profile. If you allow it, other Widbook users can add content and or comments to your books. Likewise, you can search for others' books and make contributions to their books.


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

Glossi is a service for creating digital magazines. Glossi magazines can include images, videos, audio files, and links to external sources of information. The magazines that you create are displayed with page-turning effects. Your magazines can be embedded into your blog. Learn more about Glossi in the video below.

The Edublog Awards Voting Is Open - Vote for Larry!

As I wrote in my 2013 Edublog Awards nomination post, no one deserves to win more than Larry Ferlazzo. I nominated Larry for Best Ed Tech/ Best Resource Sharing Blog. Thank you to those of you who nominated and voted for me, but I would love it if you could vote for Larry.

I don't mean any disrespect to any of the other blogs that were nominated, but Larry deserves it more than anyone else. He's been blogging far longer than any of the now more popular resource sharing blogs. His lists are free from the SEO-grabbing headlines like "ten awesome sites every teacher must see." Larry's content is always original and he always cites those who help him create his content. Larry's blog is the one that I go to and refer people to when I can't find something in my archives. Larry always has great lists for holidays (American and international), world events (Nelson Mandela's funeral), and just about anything related to education. In short, this year I want you to VOTE FOR LARRY!

To vote for Larry Ferlazzo for Best Resource Sharing Blog, click here then scroll down to Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day.

Even if you don't vote for any of the Edublog Awards, you should check out the lists of nominees anyway. Every year I learn about new apps, sites, blogs, and podcasts by looking at the Edublog Awards nomination lists.

Larry and I have never met. I have no motives in encouraging you to vote for him other than I really think he deserves to be recognized. 

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.