Wednesday, February 27, 2013

iPad Apps 4 Schools - great site with info and resources for iPads in Education

iPad Apps for School

iPad Apps for School is another site from Richard Byrne, author of Free Technology for Teachers and Android 4 Schools. In this site, Richard and his guest authors will be sharing resources and reviews of apps (mostly free) that can be used in K-12 schools, along with ways that those apps can be used in the educational setting by teachers, students, and administrators.

If you use iPads as an educator, administrator, or student, or your school is looking at using them, you should check out this site.


Android SmartPhone and Apps that I use as an Educator

Android resources - information, news, resources, and more

Adobe Education Exchange educator community announces new features


Adobe Education Exchange is an online community of educators who share resources, ideas, tips, and more. It launched at ISTE 2010 and now has over 75,000 educators sharing over 4,000 resources.

They just re-launched it with some new features which you can read about here:

The new version includes simplified navigation, a new design, easier browsing of resources, increased social/community features, and API's so that it can integrate with other apps and platforms. 

It's a great, free resource.

TotSplash - organize and present ideas

TotSplash is a new site that combines online mind mapping and "Prezi-like" presentations.

Users can focus on organizing their thoughts and ideas and then the app transforms them into a "Prezi-like" presentation. You can share and embed your TotSplashes also.

There is a free version with no login required.

It's easy to use and could be a great alternative for students and teachers.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Simplify Project Based Learning With Biteslide - guest post

Simplify Project Based Learning With Biteslide

What is Project Based Learning?
What is Biteslide?
Planning the project
The Entry Event
Researching the project
Creating the project
Presenting the project

In this article I shall give you a brief introduction to Project Based Learning (PBL) and show you how Biteslide can be used as an end-to-end technology solution for PBL projects.  

There is a dizzying number of EdTech tools on the market today. Some are good and will give you a significant return on your time investment, others aren’t so good, and will lead to wasted time and frustrated students. Using an end-to-end solution simplifies the integration of technology and keeps the focus where it should be, on the project.

What is Project Based Learning?
Project Based Learning (PBL) is a dynamic approach to teaching where students undertake extensive inquiry in response to real-world problems and challenges.

In response to a driving question, students create authentic products and presentations that are then delivered to a public audience.

PBL projects are designed to address the curriculum and also develop students' 21st century skills - creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.

If you’re new to PBL, two of the best resources around are the Buck Institute For Education and Edutopia.

What is Biteslide?

Biteslide is a creative presentation tool for school projects.
Teachers use Biteslide to assign, manage, and give feedback on projects.  Students create slidebooks - a creative form of self-expression combining images, video, and text.

Biteslide works well across the curriculum and with students of all ages.

Now let’s see how Biteslide can be used used in each phase of a PBL project.

Planning the project
Good planning is the key to running a successful PBL project. If you've never planned a PBL project before, here is a good place to get to grips with the basics.

When planning your PBL project it’s a good idea to organise your planning into a series of project documents.  Commonly these are a project form, project calendar, and project rubric.  Thanks goes to Manor New Technology High School for sharing these excellent sample documents.

So, how can Biteslide help? Rather than having a static series of PDF documents stored on your school server, you can use Biteslide to create a slidebook of project documents.

This means your documents can be stored right within the project itself. They are accessible online, and can be easily copied into future projects.

Once the plans are in place and the project launch date has arrived, it’s time to introduce the project to your students.  

The Entry Event
When introducing the new project to your students the aim is to activate their ‘Need To Know’. A simple handout just isn't going to cut the mustard. Starting with inspirational and motivational content sets the tone and will energise your students.  

A powerful way to activate your students’ need to know is to have an entry event. Entry events can be videos, discussions, or debates. Any format will work as long as it resonates with your students and makes them eager to learn more.

Slidebooks are a great tool to use at the heart of the entry event. During the planning phase of the project, use a slidebook to gather research and develop your entry event presentation. The slidebook format makes it easy for you to create a thought-provoking and interactive presentation as the centerpiece of the entry event.

And when your slidebook is ready, you can present straight from the slidebook to your students. You can do this from any computer or interactive whiteboard. Slidebook presentations save you time repurposing content and also provide an interactive forum for your students after the entry event has finished. They are the perfect catalyst to activate your students’ need to know.

Researching the project
Typically the initial phase of a PBL project will involve some form research.  It could be desk-based or out in the field. Students begin to develop their knowledge and gather the significant content for their project.

As part of this process, they'll inevitably gather a wide range of assets that they'll need to organise for use in their final presentation. These could be quotes, photos, videos, diagrams, and much more.  

During the research phase, a slidebook is a brilliant way to scrapbook together images, videos, and text. Students can use their digital scrapbook to organise and re-organise their thoughts before putting together the final presentation.

Students can even collaborate on slidebooks and use them as a shared resource to gather and organise their research. And as Biteslide is entirely web-based, students can do this from anywhere they have an internet connection.

Biteslide has several simple, yet powerful, research tools built right into the slidebook. Students can drag and drop images straight from Google and Flickr, and even add videos from Youtube.  And if they want to gather images as they are browsing the web, they can use the Nibbler bookmarklet.

But to be honest, the best thing about researching a project with Biteslide is that it’s fun.  The drag-and-drop interface and easy-to-use tools take the strain so your students stay energised and can keep their focus where it should be, on the research.

Creating the project
Once students have gathered the resources they need to create their slidebook, it's time to synthesise the research and create the project narrative.

Biteslide's easy-to-use design tools mean that students all the way from K-12 can create stunning projects. Eye-catching extras (backgrounds, borders, and stickers) help students to bring their projects to life.

During the creative process, a project’s slidebooks are open for teachers and other students in the class to view. This means that teachers and classmates (if you’ve enabled the feature) can give feedback during the project creation phase.

Making projects authentic is fundamental to Project Based Learning. This means involving people from the outside world. Biteslide can be used to invite outside parties into the project to comment and review as the slidebooks progress. This is a great way for students to hone their final presentation with authentic input from the outside world.

Presenting the project
A key milestone in a PBL project is the final presentation.  As well as demonstrating what the students have learned and created, it provides focus and authenticity to the project.

Your students have used the slidebook to research, create, and now they can use it to present. A single button-click transforms the slidebook into presentation mode - an engaging showcase for your student’s work.

Presenting in person is undoubtedly valuable, but slidebooks can also be shared on the web.  Embedding slidebooks into blogs, websites, and virtual learning environments (e.g. Edmodo or Moodle) is an excellent way to share projects with both inside and outside the school walls. Other teachers and students as well as outside parties such as parents or industry experts can all be invited to view and give feedback on a project.

We are living through a golden age of technology. Incredible new web tools for educators are appearing every day. Having choice is a good thing, but it also comes with two key challenges. Choosing the tools that meet your pedagogical needs and deploying the tools your chosen tools in the best way.

There are no clear cut solutions to these challenges. Two good rules of thumb are to choose tools that are easy to use for both teachers and students, and keep the number of tools chosen to a minimum.  As is often the case, keeping it simple is the key to success.

Sign Up For Your Free Biteslide Account Here

About the author
Seb Hardman is a EdTech entrepreneur passionate about making great digital products.  He is a founder of Biteslide - the creative presentation tool for school projects.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dropbox adds new features - document preview and photo sharing

Dropbox, the very popular cloud file/sync/backup/sharing service, has announced some new features, including document preview and photo sharing and sorting.

You can preview PDF, DOC, DOCX, and PPT files by double-clicking on them. This way, you can see if that is the file you want, or even view what you need, without downloading it.

Dropbox has also added some features for photos. When you click on "Camera" you will see all of the photos you have uploaded from your phone. You can then group them, email them, or share to Facebook and Twitter.

Some more great features from a great service.



Lots of Great File Sync/Backup/Share services

JustBeamIt file sharing service comes in very handy - also has links to more file sharing services

Let's Crate - easy, free, file sharing

minus - file sharing service

eBackpack - educational file sharing and backup

YouSendIt - easy file sharing, sync, and sign

LibreOffice 4.0 released - better performance and greater interoperability

LibreOffice is a free, open-source, powerful office suite software that is a great alternative to Microsoft Office. I use it on my home computers. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux and has six applications: Write (word processor), Calc (spreadsheet), Impress (presentation), Draw, Math and Base (database). It works great and the menu functions are similar to Office 97, so the learning curve is easy. It is built off of the same code base as OpenOffice. I happen to like LibreOffice better and think it runs faster.

One of the great features is that it can open, and save as, files in a variety of formats including Microsoft Office (multiple versions), PDF, ODF, and more. I have mine automatically set to load and save as MS Office files so that they work at school without a problem.

Support is excellent, with a great support site and user forums.

Libreoffice has just been upgraded to version 4.0 and offers leaner, faster performance, greater interoperability between different file formats such as DocX and RTF documentsOther new features  include an Android app for controlling presentations, UI upgrades and a performance improvements. You can also attach comments to text in documents, import Visio and Publisher files, get themes, ink annotations and over 1500 other changes and improvements.

Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on office software, download LibreOffice for free.

Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office

Why do schools still pay so much for software? Free alternatives to paid software and services.

Google for Educators resources (includes Google Docs)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Livescribe announces Discounted Education Pricing on SmartPens.


I'm a huge fan of the Livescribe SmartPens and use them daily in my role as CIO. I had also used it as a teacher. May administrators I know are looking at them for teacher evaluations and notes and students love them.

These pens let you take handwritten notes, as well as record audio, and then sync these notes to Evernote, Google Drive and more. It's a great way to take notes and then have them available anywhere. In addition, struggling students can use the audio record feature to help them review their notes, learn English, and much more.

Livescribe has announced some discounted education pricing on the Smartpens which make them more attractive to schools. Savings range from $40 to $72 per item.

See more in the official press release below:

Livescribe Announces Discounted Education Pricing Bundles on Smartpens

Livescribe’s Customized Training Programs and Livescribe Helper App Also Available to Improve Learning in the Modern Classroom

Oakland, Calif. — Jan. 29, 2013 —Livescribe for Education announced today at the Florida Educational Technology Corporation (FETC) national conference their new their new Smartpen Education Bundles and customized training programs that offer significant savings for K-12 educators and higher education institutions. Dedicated to the education industry, Livescribe is pleased to share special offers on the latest smartpen model, the Sky wifi smartpen, which is the first digital pen to integrate WiFi technology and cloud services to make learning easier anytime, anywhere. To deliver an improved learning experience at schools, Livescribe also launched the new Livescribe Helper application to give teachers and students the added option of syncing their notes and audio from their smartpen to their Evernote account over a USB cable, using a computer’s Internet connection.

These new offerings have been developed as part of Livescribe Education’s pilot program for the Sky wifi smartpen at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto, Calif. Livescribe is deeply immersed in the pilot program to assess use cases, as well as the impact of using the Sky wifi smartpen, both at school and beyond classroom walls. The initial findings from this pilot and feedback from other customers helped influence the education bundles, training and additional services. Livescribe also developed the Livescribe Helper app to accompany the Sky wifi smartpen, so schools with closed WiFi networks can still sync notes to their private online account without a WiFi connection. The Sky wifi smartpen pilot program will culminate later in 2013, at which time Livescribe will share the highlights and results of the program.

The Sky wifi smartpen digitizes everything students, educators or administrators write and hear and automatically syncs it to their personal Evernote® account, where it is securely stored and readily available to search, play back, organize and share. Students and teachers can have convenient access to their recorded notes and audio whether from paper, tablet, smartphone or computer – making notes and educational materials available any time, anywhere.

Ideal for students and teachers wanting to make the most of their smartpens in a classroom environment, the new education bundles include the smartpens, their respective accessories, and other special features such as tailored training courses and a Best Practices Guide for Educators. The Best Practices Guide supports innovative teachers who are using new technology to improve the learning experience. It includes sample learning activities for blended learning environments, group activities such as creating class portfolios with Evernote to display student work, formative assessment strategies for educators, and special tips and tricks for educators to share interactive course materials. Livescribe is also offering special training options for educators, including customized webinars and onsite professional development.

To meet the Livescribe team at the FETC national conference, visit booth #137 at the Orange Country Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. On Thursday, January 31 at noon, visit Room S230G at FETC to learn teaching tips and techniques from educators that use Livescribe smarptens effectively in their classrooms.

To learn more about available education pricing bundles or place an order, visit the Livescribe online store for education at

Students and educators interested in purchasing specially discounted education bundles may contact Livescribe for further information at

To download or learn more about the Livescribe Helper app, visit


About Livescribe for Education
Livescribe’s smartpens bring handwritten notes and lessons to life to enhance educator effectiveness and improve student learning. Livescribe syncs handwriting and audio so students can take better notes and educators can record interactive lessons. Teachers can easily capture, store and share difficult concepts and class lessons with Livescribe so students can study material at their own pace.  Used across K12, special education, and higher education institutions, Livescribe makes learning more engaging, customized and accessible.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...