Tuesday, January 27, 2009

iPhone Apps - Part III

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 02:  Steve Carp...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeTime again for the cutting edge apps I have found to be of use on (still) the greatest device I have ever owned. I have used and evaluated each of these apps for at least 30 days and found they are worth having in your arsenal. These apps are all ideal for people who are on the go.

WiiFinder - ever need to know if there is Wi Fi available? Need to know the signal strength or whether it is protected? WiiFinder allows you to do all the above, whether it is to seek out and eliminate rouge access points or steal someone's signal.

Open Table - in a hurry and don't have time to call a restaurant to make reservations? Or just prefer to do it from the web? Open Table allows you to make reservations at your favorite restaurant from the comfort of your iPhone. (This of course requires you to be in a metro area. Sorry...will not make reservations at The Four Pigs in Benton, KY.)

Amazon.com - I was scepticle about this app, but figured I would give it a try. I have found the Amazon.com app both easy to use / navigate and secure. I have already made a few purchases while traveling down Interstate 24 in TN.

eBay Mobile - As impressed as I was with Amazon.com's app - I am as equally impressed with eBay's. I have been able to track a handful of auctions, ask questions to sellers and even make bids all from the app. While the app obviously does not offer the full functionality of the web, it provides the user enough information to both sell and buy from their device.

SnapTell - SnapTell allows you to take a picture of a CD, DVD, video game, etc. and immediately have all vital information at your fingertips. For example: you see a DVD case at your friend's house and can't remember who the supporting actor was or what year that movie came out. Take a quick picture and within seconds you not only have that information, but the ability to purchase that DVD from eBay, Amazon or other stores and read any reviews on the movie.

Animoto - if you enjoy making professional quality videos without the fancy equipment or software, then you have probably already used Animoto on the web. But now Animoto is available for the iPhone. That's right - you can create the same quality videos - on the go - using images already stored on your iPhone.

eReader - if you enjoy reading (as I do), then eReader is a must for your iPhone apps collection. eReader allows you to download and read books on your iPhone. But - also offers these capabilities: highlight, bookmark, page flipping and more. This app is a must for all avid readers.

LifeCast - and I save the best for last. For those of you who live in the blog world (as I do), this app is for you. LifeCast allows you to post blog entries (Blogger and Tumblr) straight from your iPhone. At a conference and want to take a quick picture with caption and upload to your blog - use LifeCast. Networking with collegaues at a reception and want to quickly upload an innovative project someone is using before you forget - use LifeCast. I have already found LifeCast beneficial for those times I don't have access to my laptop or desktop and need to update my blog.

I hope you find these apps as beneficial as I have. As I continue to find new ways to use my iPhone not only for work but to improve the way I live my life - I will continue to share those findings with you. Enjoy!


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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

BLE Group

Amerindian woman and child in the Sacred Valle...Image via WikipediaI had the opportunity to serve on 3 panels as a member of the BLE Group at FETC in Orlando, FL. Quite the experience. Not only the interaction with the vendors and their cutting edge technologies and products, but the discussions with my fellow members were outstanding. I made contacts with superintendents, CIOs, technology leaders and integration specialists - people who are experts in their own areas. I feel truly humbled and honored to be associated with such a great group of leaders.

I won't go into great detail on two of my panels, simply for confedintiality purposes. But I will say a few words about each:

  • McGraw Hill has hit a home-run. They have a game changer coming and it will revoluntionize the textbook industry. If you haven't read my earlier post about e-textbooks - now would be a good time - and it will give some precursors as to what we saw from them. I feel fortunate to have a hand in helping shape this revolutionary product.
  • I also had the opportunity to work with Knowledge Delivery Systems who specialize in on-line professional development. We were able to provide feedback to KDSI in how PD is shaped in our respective districts and to what degree will on-line PD play a part in the future of professional development.
The highlight of the event for me was to participate in the panel with the Peruvian Ministry of Education. Peru is one of the lowest achieving nations in the world in math and reading. They struggle to reach students because of geographical barriers and also struggle to train their teachers. The ministry decided it was time for a radical change and that change was in the form of a 1:1 initiative utilizing the XO computers.

Our panel was charged with providing hard information to them and what changes needed to happen in order for this project to be successful. We informed their representative that he needed real data to show that student learning is increasing. We also informed him that peer-to-peer tutoring is a viable option, especially allowing teachers and students to learn together. (Considering their teachers struggle mastering basic skills.)

I could sit here and write all evening about what I saw and heard about the project in Peru. I admire their Ministry of Education for having the vision to make change and believe in the future on their children. They have a large task ahead of them and with the proper support, encouragement, data driven decision making and training - they can and will make a difference.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Great Websites!

Thanks to John McMillen over @ Techucation for posting this site on his blog. I have been reading this site over the weekend and I also shared it with my district leadership.

The site is a wiki called education2020. The main purpose of the site is to create and encourage dialogue around what education will look like in the year 2020.

The chart in the middle of the main page discusses Education 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. With 3.0 being the goal for 2020. It is an excellent visual of where we have been, where we are (hopefully) and where we need to be.

The second website was also shared by John via Twitter. It is Educational Technology and Related Educational Conferences for January - August 2009. This site lists both online and face-to-face educational settings / conferences. This is a great resource for anyone looking to make connections and experience an event at a national level.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

e-Textbooks vs. Traditional Textbooks

A selection of programming language textbooks ...Image via WikipediaAn article came out recently in the state of KY talking about a school district that is contemplating spending textbook dollars on e-textbooks versus the traditional books. Here is the link to that article.

That article started some excellent dialogue in my district between myself, our two instructional leaders and our superintendent. All four of us were on the same page that e-textbooks are the future. I feel blessed to work in a district where our leadership understands the role technology plays and will play in the education of our students.

Our conversation then progressed to how do we get devices in the hands of students (all students) should e-textbooks be the future? While I still feel the day is coming when all students will have a device that is their personal learning device, I still don't believe we have seen that device yet. The mini devices (as I have reviewed in other blog entries) are getting us a step closer, but devices such as the iTouch and iPod could also play a role.

I firmly believe e-textbooks will be the "norm" within 10 years (hopefully sooner). Educators are beginning to understand and embrace that technology is the vehicle to engage our students at the next level. The more our educational leaders understand how our students live their lives outside of school and these students read on their laptop, iTouch/iPhone/iPod, desktop or something like a Sony Reader...the quicker e-textbooks will be embraced. This change must fall squarely on the shoulders of educational technology leaders to be the champion of such initiatives and embrace, explain and implement the necessary tools for change.

What are your thoughts on e-textbooks and their role in education? Will they be as common as the traditional textbook within 10 years? If so, why? If not, what would be the barriers?

Here are a few related articles on e-textbooks:

E-Textbooks - for real this time?
Publishers loosen rules on e-textbooks.
The Bottom Line on E-Textbooks.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Ed Tech Articles

Here are a few Ed Tech articles of interest I came across today:

I also want to give props to @alphadoggs on Twitter for including me in this article:

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Networked Student

Here is a video posted by Henry Thiele on School CIO Ning - the social network. The video speaks to how students today are connected.


The Complete Web 2.0 Directory

A tag cloud with terms related to Web 2.Image via WikipediaI started utilizing this site over the holidays - http://www.go2web20.net/ - Go 2 Web2.0 - and was amazed at its ease of use and productivity. This site easily provides you with the cutting edge Web 2.0 apps while allowing you to filter, preview and easily access the apps from the site. I highly recommend this site for any user wanting find the latest and greatest Web 2.0 tools.

A couple of great finds on the page:

  • TechFuga - All the top tech news.
  • CloudFire - Share photos and videos from your desktop.
  • Yammer - Share status updates with your co-workers.
  • PDFfiller - On-line PDF form Filler, Editor, etc.
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