Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Office Lens - Now Available on Android, iOS, and Windows Phones

Office Lens is an app from Microsoft that is designed for converting pictures of notes on whiteboards and paper into notes that can be edited in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. I wrote about the app eight weeks ago when it was still in a limited beta for Android users. Office Lens is now available for all Android users. You can find the app in the Google Play store. The iPhone version is available here and the Windows Phone version can be found here.

Probably the best aspect of Office Lens is that hand-drawn images and figures captured through the app can be separated from the text to move and manipulate as individual objects in PowerPoint slides. See the video below for an overview of Office Lens.

Applications for Education
Office Lens could be a great app for students to use to snap a picture of something on a whiteboard then add their own comments to it in a Word Document.

The option in Office Lens to separate hand-drawn objects could be a good way to digitize a brainstorming session. When I brainstorm I often do it in a paper notebook that has pages of edits. By taking a picture of the brainstorming session I could separate each part of the notes then move them into new positions on slides or in a document.

H/T to The Next Web.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dozens of Story Starters in One Free eBook

Make Beliefs Comix is a great service that offers comic strip templates and writing prompts in seven languages. The templates and prompts can be completed online or you can print them out to give to your students.

The latest release from Make Beliefs Comix is a free ebook called Something to Write About (link opens a PDF). The free ebook contains dozens of writing prompts. Students can write in the ebook online and print their work. Alternatively, you can print all or part of the book to give to students.

Applications for Education
One of the things that I like about Something to Write About is that the writing prompts aren't just one sentence, "tell me about something interesting" prompts. Instead, nearly all of the prompts have further suggestions to help students start their stories. In many cases student will find a full page of further suggestions related to the original prompt.

As you can use the writing templates online or as printed documents, Make Beliefs Comix is a good resource for classrooms that do not have enough laptops or tablets for every student.

Celly - Create, Send, and Archive Group Text Messages

Last week I published a PDF titled 5 Good Ways to Send Text & Push Notifications to Students & Parents. In response to that PDF I've had a bunch of people suggest that I add Celly to that document. I was aware of Celly but I didn't try it until today.

Celly is a free service that enables you to create and manage contact groups for text messaging. Celly calls these groups "cells" and you can create as many as you need. You can manage these groups from your phone (Android or iOS) or from your laptop. Likewise, you can send messages from your phone or from your laptop. Like regular text messages you can attach files to your messages.

People can join one your Celly group by sending a text to the join code assigned to your group. People can also join via the web by going to the unique URL assigned to your group.

Applications for Education
From the perspective of a teacher or administrator Celly's big appeal is the option to archive all conversations that occur within a Celly group. You can set permissions in Celly groups to allow replies to messages that you send out. Or if you don't want to receive replies you can set permissions to not allow replies.

For students and parents who don't want to receive text messages, there is an option for them to receive email alerts instead.

Celly wasn't quite as intuitive to set-up as some similar services that I've used. I recommend watching the Celly intro videos to get started.

Use the Love Reading Map to Find Good Books

Last fall I wrote about two good places to find stories based on their locations. This morning through Maps Mania I learned about another service that offers the same function. Love Reading's Google Maps Mash-up has geolocated hundreds of books. You can browse the map to find stories based on their geographic settings. If you have a specific location in mind, you can enter it into the search box to find stories too.

Applications for Education
It could be a fun summer reading challenge for students to try to read their way around the world. Ask them to try to read a story from each continent. Or to try to read stories from as many countries as possible. The Love Reading map would be a good tool for finding stories to read toward that goal.

How to Create Image-based Quizzes and Polls on

Last week I shared a new service called Riddle that enables you to quickly create image-based polls and quizzes. In the video embedded below you can see just how easy it is to create a poll or quiz on Riddle.

Applications for Education
Riddle's format of using images as response choices could make it a good option for giving informal quizzes on topics that require a lot of visuals. For example, a quiz on fractions might use pictures which represent various fractions. A quiz on art history might use Riddle to showcase works of art of answer choices.