Sunday, November 9, 2014

Poetica Introduces Groups for Editing Online as if You Were Writing on Paper

Back in April I wrote about a neat service called Poetica that you can use to edit documents almost as if you were writing on paper. This month Poetica is introducing groups. Groups will allow you to share drafts of documents with reader that you invite to your group. You can register for access to groups by completing the form here.

Editing writing in Poetica is very similar to the manner in which we have written edits on papers for years. When you read a document in Poetica you can click on any word or space between words to insert a line drawn to the margin where you then write your comments. Clicking on a word or space also allows you to simply insert a suggested word above a line in the document you're editing. If you want to suggest a change for an entire sentence you can highlight it and insert a drawn line to the margins where you can write your suggestions. Your suggestions are written in blue while your corrections are written in red.

Applications for Education
Poetica supports importing Word files, PDFs, and Rich Text documents. If your school doesn't use Google Drive, Poetica could be a great tool for editing your students' written work. The visual connections between your markings and the comments could make it easier for your students to match your suggestions to specific portions of their documents.

MasteryConnect's State Core Apps Make It Easy to Identify Standards

Disclosure: MasteryConnect is an advertiser on this blog.

A couple of years ago MasteryConnect released a free iOS and Android app that made it easy for teachers to quickly identify and access Common Core standards. That app has been downloaded by more than one million people. But if you work in a state that hasn't adopted Common Core standards or is phasing them in slowly, MasteryConnect's Common Core app didn't do much for you. That has changed with the latest release from MasteryConnect.

This fall MasteryConnect launched State Core Reference Apps for every state. These apps are designed to help teachers identify the standards (and the language of the standards) for the grades and subjects that they teach. Each app is different for each of the 50 states. For example, if you work in a state that doesn't use Common Core standards, your states' standards are featured in the app. MasteryConnect's State Core Reference Apps are available for Android and iOS. Find your state on this map and you will be taken to the app that you need.

Applications for Education
MasteryConnect's State Core Reference Apps probably won't change the way that you teach, but they could save you time and frustration of looking up standards on a poorly-designed state website or booklet.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Turn Your Physical Sticky Notes Into Digital Notes

Post-it Plus is a free iPad app that I demonstrated for someone at the ISLMA conference yesterday. It's a great iPad app (you have to have iOS 8) that you can use to turn your physical sticky notes into digital sticky notes. With this free app installed on your iPad you can snap a picture of a collection of physical sticky notes and have them quickly digitized. Once your notes are digitized you can re-arrange them, share them with collaborators, or send them to another application like Dropbox. If you have multiple sets of notes you can combine the best notes into one board on the Post-it Plus iPad app.

Applications for Education 
Post-it Plus could be a good app for digitizing the output of a brainstorming session that started with physical notes. In a classroom in which only the teacher has an iPad or there are only a few iPads you could have students carry-out brainstorming sessions with physical notes then go around the room with one iPad to create a digital record of those notes. Then project the app through an LCD projector or interactive whiteboard to show students all of the notes and talk about which notes should be sorted into various categorized boards in the app.

The Tools On My Desktop and In My Browser

This week at the Bring It Together conference in Niagara Falls someone asked me which tools I regularly use in my work. That's a great question because while I review a lot (1,000+) of apps, sites, and browser extensions, there are some tools that I consider my core tools. Here are the tools that I use a regular basis.

Chrome web browser.
I use Chrome 99% of the time. It's fast and it syncs across all of my computers and mobile devices.

I use Jing for most of the annotated screenshots that you see on this blog. I've been using Jing since 2007. Jing is installed on my MacBook and on my Lenovo ThinkCentre at home.

Snagit for Chrome
Snagit for Chrome is the tool that I use when I need to create screenshots on my Chromebook.

Evernote is installed on every device that I use on a regular basis. I mostly use it for bookmarking websites and occasionally to dictate notes on my Android phone.

Screencast-O-Matic is installed on my MacBook (it is also available for Windows). I use it for creating the screencast videos that you see on this blog and on

Google Drive
Almost every document that I create is created in Google Drive. I install the Drive app on every computer and mobile device that I use. I have Drive set for offline access too.

When I am designing a presentation that I will be delivering in-person, it gets designed on Keynote. As much as I love Google Slides for creating presentations to share on the web, it still lacks some of the design tools that I love about Keynote on my MacBook.

That's about it for desktop apps that are in my life these days. Everything else that I do on a regular basis is done in a web browser.

Three Google Drive Updates You Might Have Missed This Week

This week Google announced three updates to Google Drive that will be of interest to you if you are a regular user of Google Drive. First, as I outlined on Thursday, Google updated the Drive for iPad app. If you have updated your iPad to iOS 8 you will see an option to secure the app with Touch ID. The updated app also included a couple of small workflow enhancements.

This week users of the Google Drive desktop app for Mac and PC received an update that allows them to open files stored in their Google Drive accounts in another desktop application. For example, if you have a Keynote file saved in your Google Drive account you will now be able to right-click on it to open it Keynote on your Mac without having to first download it then open it. For this to work you do have to have the Google Drive desktop app installed and have offline access enabled. That requirement could be a limiting factor in schools in which students share computers.

The third update to note is a new default user interface for Google Drive. Google launched the "new" Google Drive user interface back in June and it has been slowly rolled-out to those who have wanted to use it. Starting this week the new user interface will be the default view and you will have the option to return to the old interface for a while although the old interface will eventually be phased out. This update should make it easier to introduce Google Drive to your students and colleagues as all will be looking at the same user interface.

As always, if you're in a Google Apps for Education domain you may not see these updates immediately if your domain admin does not have you on the "rapid release" track for updates.

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