Archive for the ‘Technology’ category

Flipboard vs. Feedly

March 22nd, 2013

I am a huge fan of Flipboard. Normally, when I think of RSS readers, I think of a chaotic swarm of information. Flipboard simplifies what’s current on the Internet into a visually-pleasing set of squares based on categories. The issue that I have with it, though, is that it’s a little limited on some of the features that I have come to appreciate in Google Reader. Since Google Reader is being discontinued, I thought that I would see what all of the buzz about Feedly was.

Here are my thoughts after spending a few days with Feedly. I do the vast majority of my Internet reading on my phone, so that’s the context of the comments.

Flipboard allows you to add RSS (and Twitter and…) feeds, which is great. The limitation, though, is that Flipboard only gives you four screens (six feeds (in beautiful big boxes) per screen) of information. There are preset categories like News or Technology that you can use, but those (to the best of my knowledge) are not customizable. You can add more feeds, but they hang out off in the wilderness a few clicks away. For scrolling through news quickly, those feeds will be missed.

Feedly is more customizable as long as you use the Google Chrome or Firefox plug-in on a computer to get it started (which was kinda annoying since, like I said, I run most of this off of my phone). In the plug-in you can create as many categories as you want and sort the information based on the number of articles to read and how many times you like to read from certain categories. You can even get categories to show you bar graphs for buttons as to which ones contain more unread information.

Both Feedly and Flipboard display graphics from feeds in a nice manner. Both have widgets that display on your device’s home screen. Feedly’s main negative, though, is that it lags a bit more than Flipboard. Jon Virtes from Flipboard says that the speed of the app is the reason why they probably won’t add more pages to Flipboard.

The final verdict? If you’re just going to read a few general categories like Business or Politics, go with Flipboard. If you want to separate feeds into umbrella categories like Teaching Ideas, School Leadership, and Typography, go with Feedly.

Google is accepting applications for Google Glass testers

February 20th, 2013

Wearable technology has been a fascination of mine since I first saw a Scientific American story about Steve Mann‘s attempt to be a cyborg.

Now Google Glass is looking to make some of that technology available to consumers and they need people to test out the devices. You can find out more details about the application by clicking here.

Here’s the catch:

Explorers will each need to pre-order a Glass Explorer Edition for $1500 plus tax and attend a special pick-up experience, in person, in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles.


SmartBooks from McGraw-Hill

January 24th, 2013

At CES, McGraw-Hill showed off a collection of etextbooks that periodically quiz the reader for comprehension. That’s pretty cool for reader engagement (although it will definitely get annoying if I’m trying to skim for a particular section), but what makes it even more intriguing is the fact that, based on the results of the quiz, the text adapts the complexity of its vocabulary.

It reminds me of Renaissance Place’s STAR Test to determine the zone of proximal development. It’s also similar to Brainrush, which School Library Journal pointed out. Brainrush’s CEO is Nolan Bushnell, the guy who founded Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s – so you know he knows how to have fun. Brainrush will teach you a concept and adjust the game to fit your skill.

ePals Global Community

January 15th, 2013

Writing assignments are more engaging when they have a real-world context (think quadrants B and D on the Rigor/Relevance framework). One way to incorporate that is through written correspondence to people of other cultures from around the globe.

Instead of just randomly emailing people, ePals has set up a community specifically for educators to connect classrooms from around the world. It’s like paper and pencil pen pals, but for the new “flat” world.


December 11th, 2012

There are some beautiful things about learning a programming language:

  1. You can create instead of just accepting what someone else gives you.
  2. It helps you troubleshoot problems with someone else’s applications.
  3. Computer languages are free, just like how no one charges you to speak English or Spanish.

The trouble is knowing where to start when learning a computer language.

Enter Codecademy.

It’s a brilliant website that walks you through step-by-step lessons on how to program and, more than that, has you try out the code as you read. The creators of Codecademy understand that doing something is a very effective way to learn something. Try it out. It’s free.

Paper embedded with USB drives

December 4th, 2012

Check out intelliPaper, a company making USB drives out of paper. It’s perfect for a business card to have your resume stored on it. It could also be fun to have a birthday card that had photos saved to the drive.

The only downside that I can see (aside from a possible environmental impact), is that you tear the paper around where the drive connectors are. If you didn’t tear cleanly, you could make a mess when you shoved it into your computer.


October 3rd, 2012

Ms. Preble, one of our PE teachers, showed me Educreations, a great website (and iOS app) for creating lessons on a digital whiteboard. I see this as a wonderful tool to help students who have missed class or need extra time with a concept.

Here’s a sample from Ms. Preble’s nutrition unit:

Overdrive Media Console

September 18th, 2012

If you have a smartphone/tablet and haven’t downloaded the Overdrive Media Console, you need to. I hadn’t until last night because I’ve been researching ways for our campus to incorporate ebooks with what we already have. Yesterday, though, I decided to try out the public library’s catalog for MP3 audio books. I was wondering how the library could deliver an MP3 to a user’s device and still respect copyrights.

The Overdrive Media Console reminds me a lot of the TED Air app that streams TED Talks near seamlessly. (It’s a beautiful app and the content is always intriguing if you needed my recommendation.) Overdrive downloads a buffer file that is then played through the app. The big plus to using the app versus downloading a straight MP3 file is that you can add bookmarks to the audio file. This was a huge feature for me. The app creates a data file that says how many minutes and seconds the player was into the MP3 file. When you click on that bookmark, you can skip straight to where you were.

Another great perk is that you can set the player to rewind a few seconds automatically the next time you open the app so that you get a quick review of the last sentence or two. That saves some of the jarring “where was I?” that I’ve experienced with straight MP3s.

The app works well for ebooks, too, in much the same manner as the Kindle or nook apps do.

The biggest perk is that all of this content was free. I only needed a library card. I found my library in the app, typed in my login information, and then had access to the catalog. The only drawback was that the catalog ran in the browser instead of the app, so the interface was a little clunkier and took longer to load, but I guess that’s a trade-off. I would rather have that than have to wait while thousands of books were re-registered/catalogued each time I opened the app.

Google’s 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon

September 13th, 2012

Have you seen Google’s new Bacon Number search tool? Type Bacon Number and then a celebrity’s name. Check it out.

Do Something

August 22nd, 2012

(a screenshot from the Do Something site) 

I’m always a fan of students getting positively involved in the world around them. Do Something is an organization that helps point teens (and adults) towards ways that they can help. The app was what really caught my attention. Check it out at Google Play (I haven’t found the app for other systems yet).

Whether you’re on the site or the app, there’s an action finder where you can pick which issues you are passionate about and decide on your level of commitment. You don’t have to sign up for anything; it just gives you information about where you can do something. It’s definitely worth a look, whether for ideas for where your club can volunteer or for your own personal commitment.