iBooks Author - the good, the bad, the wait-and-see

Yesterday, Apple introduced three products aimed at the Education market: iBooks Author, iBooks 2, an updated version of iBooks that allows for interactive textbooks, and the iTunes U app. Much has been written (already) about iBooks Author, but there seems to be some confusion about what it is and what it's for. What is iBooks Author? According to Apple's website: iBooks Author is an amazing new app that allows anyone to create beautiful Multi-Touch textbooks — and just about any other kind of book — for iPad. With galleries, video, interactive diagrams, 3D objects, and more, these books bring content to life in ways the printed page never could. There are a few things in that description that are noteworthy: "for iPad", and "galleries, video, interactive diagrams, 3D objects, and… Read more

Monday Morning Roundup (Wikipedia, open Internet exams, math instruction)

It's been a while since I've done a roundup - too many other things going on, and really, Twitter has almost made these posts unnecessary or redundant. But, as Twitter doesn't afford the same opportunities for commentary, I'll still do an occasional roundup. This one has some great articles, old and new, about student use of Wikipedia, allowing full Internet access during exams, and why we're (generally) teaching math incorrectly. Students Contribute to Wikipedia Content and Credibility The subject of using Wikipedia in school has always sparked intense debate among teachers, students, and even parents. Too often, though, the arguments against using Wikipedia are rooted in ignorance and misinformation. This article talks about a growing trend of teachers assigning their students to write… Read more

A few interesting posts from the past week

Summer is upon us (for most, anyway), but that doesn't mean good articles about educational technology stop flowing. Here are just a few from this week: The Seven Golden Rules of Using Technology in Schools Tina Barseghian takes inspiration from a longer piece by Adam S. Bellow (The Tech Commandments) in this article about using technology in schools. Technology should be like oxygen, Bellow said, quoting Chris Lehmann, the founding principal of Science Leadership Academy: Ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible. Why hide technology in a special room or lab? Technology should be ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible. I agree. “The world is not a sterile place. Kids need to learn how to deal with it.” And because kids have access to every kind of information at any time, they need to learn… Read more

What is LibreOffice and why should I care?

[caption id="attachment_488" width="333" caption="The LibreOffice Start Center"][/caption]LibreOffice is a free, open-source alternative to Microsoft Office. Or, as they say on their website: LibreOffice is a comprehensive, professional-quality productivity suite that you can download and install for free. There is a large base of satisfied LibreOffice users worldwide, and it is available in more than 30 languages and for all major operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, Suse, ...). Why LibreOffice? Before I go into more detail about LibreOffice, you may be wondering: what's the point? Why should I use LibreOffice? Here are a few reasons to add LibreOffice to your arsenal: LibreOffice is 100% free, always. No more licensing… Read more

Why I'm Not Worried About the Dropbox Security SNAFU

In case you hadn't heard, Dropbox had an error during a system update yesterday that allowed people to access Dropbox accounts without a password. The glitch lasted about four hours before it was fixed. A SNAFU of this type is very serious, but I'm not really worried. Here's why: I don't have any confidential information stored in my Dropbox account, unless it's encrypted. In fact, if someone where to have accessed my Dropbox account yesterday, they likely would have been bored to tears at the files they found. Bottom line: don't store any confidential information in Dropbox (unless it's encrypted). More on encryption in a bit. The only confidential information I do store in Dropbox is my 1Password data file, which is encrypted automatically by 1Password. So, if someone would have gained… Read more

The Civil War Today iPad app - 4 years of daily updates

To coincide with the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, The History Channel has released The Civil War Today - an app exclusively for the iPad. The app presents a newspaper-like layout with tons of interactivity hiding just beneath the surface, including thousands of original document scans, photographs, maps, diary entries, quotes, and full newspapers for each day of the 4 year war. The amount of information presented in the app is enormous, but what makes the app most interesting is the ability to experience the war as it unfolded, one day at a time, in real-time. Actual newspaper articles, diary entries from various figures, a running total of casualties for both North and South, and much more make this the most compelling Civil War application I've seen. Check out the… Read more

Getting Started with Google Chrome

Google Chrome is a web browser from Google, designed for speed, simplicity, and security. Chrome is quickly becoming a popular web browser to rival Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. Why use Google Chrome? Google likes to tout speed, simplicity, and security as the main reasons to switch to Chrome from your current web browser. Let’s see if they’re right: Speed Many different independent speed tests have been done, and Chrome routinely comes out at or near the top of the list. Here’s a test from March 30, 2011 that includes the newly released Firefox 4. Overall, the current version of Google Chrome tied with the current version of Opera as the fastest web browser. Simplicity Simplicity is largely subjective, but there are some nice things in Google Chrome that help make it… Read more

Understanding the Mac's green zoom (+) button

If you've switched from a Windows computer to the Mac, you may be confused or frustrated by the little green (+) button in the upper right corner of every application window. It's called the zoom button, and it is not the same as the maximize button in MS Windows. Once you understand what the zoom button does and how it works, your confusion and frustration should come to an end. Ant at MacYourself.com wrote an excellent article explaining exactly what the zoom button is and how it works. I highly recommend it for all Mac switchers: Why doesn't Mac OS X's green Zoom button maximize windows? Read more

Google Art Project - This Changes Everything

Google has taken their Street View technology and applied it to some of the world's most famous paintings, resulting in the Google Art Project. You can zoom in so far as to see the individual brush strokes. You can explore various art museums and view over a thousand works of art. You can even create your own collections, including specific views and comments, then share the collection with others. Here are some videos about the project: Art Project Preview: Art Project Visitor Guide: Read more

Monday Morning Roundup (Algebra, English Language Learners, History for Music Lovers)

In this first Roundup of the new year, you'll find links to articles about fixing the algebra problem, biliteracy for long-term English learners, and some fun History resources using popular music. I found the first two articles in a blog post by Emily Alpert at voiceofsandiego.org, titled The 7 Fascinating Education Ideas of the Year: How Einstein Started Solving Its Math Problem This article looks at how one school (Einstein Academy), and the San Diego Unified School District are tackling the problem of kids who were doing well in elementary school math suddenly started struggling once they started learning algebra. Yet when they hit algebra, their scores plummeted. Three years ago, just 9 percent of eighth graders in its sister middle school were proficient in algebra on state tests… Read more

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