Do you attend Khan Academy?

As you may recall from his TedTalk, “Let’s Use Video to Reinvent Education” Salman Khan started Khan Academy after he got the idea from frequently Skyping with his cousins and subsequently creating videos on YouTube to help them with their math homework. The video lessons caught on and now Khan Academy has its own website and app.

What is Khan Academy?
According to their website, “Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom.”

What subjects does Khan Academy offer?

  • Math
  • Science
  • Economics & finance
  • Arts & humanities
  • Computing
  • Test Prep (SAT, MCAT, GMAT, IIT JEE, NCLEX-RN, CAHSEE, AP* Art History

As you can see, the subjects are focused on STEM. The “arts & humanities” sections are mostly art and some history; there is no English or writing at all. This is disappointing to an English teacher like myself, but I hope those modules are in development (or will be soon).

Who is Khan Academy for?
Everyone! Students, teachers, parents, and anyone else who wants to learn. Need to refresh a concept for a meeting? Khan Academy! Need to relearn elementary math to help your kid with homework? Khan Academy! Want to brush up on your history so you can sound knowledgeable on a date? Khan Academy! Want to study coding? Khan Academy! (Are you getting the pattern here? Good!)

Do I have to pay for Khan Academy?
No, it’s free! Forever. It’s a promise on their homepage. “For free. For everyone. Forever.”

Do I need a username/password to use Khan Academy?
Nope! You can log in to track progress, save content, etc., but it is not essential to log in to watch a video.

Are the videos hard to follow?
Some of the more advanced math may be difficult if you’re skipping around; however, in a general sense, no the videos are easy to understand and follow. There are two ways to learn in the video: visual and audio. The speaker walks the person through the topic with a drawing and audio information. Additionally, there is a transcript to follow if you want to skim through and find something specific.

Can you embed videos into your own website?
Yes! Click on a video and beneath it you’ll see a “Share” button. There is an option for embed. Paste the code into your site/blog and the result will have a heading and look like this…….

Adding fractions with like denominators: With like denominators, you’re basically just adding numerators. That’s not too bad, right? Can the resulting fraction be simplified?


Wave Interference:

Grammar Girl Podcast and the Top Ten Grammar Myths

Last year I started listening to the Grammar Girl podcast. It was a daunting task…to start at the beginning and listen to all the podcasts since it began in late 2006 and it was 2014! Nevertheless, I was up for hours upon hours of grammar.

First, I started listening to the podcast on the Podcasts app on iTunes. However, I grew weary of the advertisements. I completely understand the purpose of them, but considering I planned to go through ALL of the podcasts, I wondered…was there a better way?

I found the Grammar Girl app for iTunes this year. I can’t believe it only cost $1.99! The hours it saves me from not having to hear the same ads over and over…definitely worth the price. Plus, there is bonus content only available on the app. There are extras embedded into the track, like pictures and PDFs and bonus tracks. MORE GRAMMAR? YES PLEASE!

I love the Grammar Girl podcast and the app. I can easily favorite an episode while I’m driving to look back at the transcript later or just note the content in general.

Which leads me to this…

I’ve listened to several episodes that I’ve wanted to share. However, I cannot simply embed the track into WordPress. My only solution is to embed the transcript that contains the audio as well.

Feel free to read, listen, or do both! I highly recommend subscribing to this podcast, but you don’t have listen to all the podcasts. I’ll periodically embed the transcript from the Grammar Girl archive of podcasts that you definitely shouldn’t miss.

So here is the podcast from March 4, 2010, titled “Top Ten Grammar Myths”. Scroll down and read them all, and be sure to click to the second page to see myths 1-5.

Grammarly Spell Checker: A Review

Let’s be honest. We’ve all written something in error—either accidentally or negligently. Spell checkers and autocorrecters have become integrated into our digital lives, and not always for the better.

grammarlyRecently, Nik Baron at Grammarly, a spell checker company, reached out to me and gave me a two-week paid subscription to Grammarly to test and review it.

My first order of business was to read other reviews. I wanted to see what others had to say and find some interesting features to look for. Unfortunately, I was not met with positive reviews by grammar sites: “Grammarly doesn’t do all it claims to do” (Grammarist) and “$140 will buy a lot of well-written and edited books. Caveat scriptor.” (The Economist).

Test One: Pre-written Paper
My first test was uploading a pre-written paper. It was one I wrote and submitted to a college class about 10 years ago. This paper was reviewed by me several times prior to submission for mechanics (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.); but since it was just a reflection piece on a project, it was not necessary to have pristine mechanics like one would have on a term paper. Nevertheless, prior to running it by Grammarly’s checker, I thought it was pretty good.

After running it through the checker, I’m embarrassed to say I turned it in! My paper had a score of 78/100, with 16 “critical issues”. Right off the bat, 9 of them were now (10 years and two degrees later) obvious mistakes. These were mostly comma or hyphenated word errors. Whoops.  But there were still 7 of them that I didn’t really agree on.

Some of these critical issues were instances in which I purposefully broke style convention to make a point or word choice. In the instances of word choice, the checker wanted to exchange “aforementioned items” to “items above” or “items mentioned earlier” or “items as mentioned above”. Personally, I think “aforementioned items” is less wordy. Perhaps it thought I used too many syllables? It also did not like the phrase “their own strange group” and wanted me to delete “own”. Perhaps in the phrase it sounds okay, “their strange group”, but it sounds odd to me in the full sentence, “I thought they were their strange group that did not fit anywhere.”

Despite having a few issues with the uploaded document, I still wanted to like Grammarly. It found many punctuation mistakes that Microsoft Word did not. Unfortunately, when I downloaded my edited version, it opened in Microsoft Word with a bunch of comment bubbles, some indicating what I deleted, others just indicating deletions that I didn’t make. It seems like a waste of time to edit a document and then have to go through again and accept all the comment bubbles.

Test Two: Plagiarism
One of the comments in the reviews I mentioned above was that the plagiarism checker did not catch plagiarized statements. Or, if they did, it was from a published book. So, for my second test, I tested the plagiarism checker by thinking like a tech-savvy student. I copy and pasted the first paragraph from the To Kill a Mockingbird Wikipedia page.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American literature. The plot and characters are loosely based on the author’s observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old.

The software detected that the work was “unoriginal” and gave me a link…to Wikispaces. I guess the Wikipedia page has some un-cited plagiarism. Grammarly also gave me the MLA, APA, and Chicago style citations that I could use instead of rewording the unoriginal work. Neat.

But you know, tech-savvy students aren’t dumb enough to just copy and paste word for word…they use synonyms! Unfortunately, this is still plagiarism. I ran the same sentence with a few word order changes and synonyms that either Microsoft Word recommended or the first synonym that came to mind. I did not change any punctuation or check for grammar. This was the new paragraph:

To Kill a Mockingbird is a book published by Harper Lee in 1960. It was instantaneously popular, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a standard in modern American literature. The story line and characters are roughly based on the author’s own observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an incident that transpired near her hometown in 1936, when she was ten years old.

Grammarly found the second half of the paragraph to be plagiarized from “The story line…” to “ten years old”. It did not, however, recognize the first half as being plagiarized, even though the YouTube source contained it.

Grammarly’s website claims that its plagiarism checker “finds unoriginal text by checking against a database of over 8 billion webpages.” Huh…only webpages? A few teachers do require book sources now and then.

I grabbed the nearest book, Origin by Jessica Khoury, and randomly opened to a page. I typed a few sentences into the checker from page 83.

I watch his every move with fascination. Questions surge to my lips, batter at my teeth. I want to know everything about him. Where does he sleep? What does he eat? Has he been to a city? Does he have friends? But I feel unusually shy and don’t know what to say.

What do you know…Grammarly didn’t catch it. It just recommends changing “his” to “him”. Umm, no. A possessive pronoun is correct here, not an object pronoun.

Summary
Test one: FAIL. Test two: FAIL. I see no reason to continue testing, based upon my results corroborating The Economist and Grammarist reviews. If you’ve installed the browser add-on or the Microsoft Word plugin for Grammarly and would like to leave a review in the comments, please do so.

Unfortunately, Grammarly’s checker isn’t fool-proof. You still need to know what you’re doing and be ready to defy yet another spelling/grammar checker. It may be helpful for students and teachers, but I do not see the value of paying for Grammarly’s spell checker when Google and Microsoft are free and are already decent spell checkers.

Glogster—Replace Your Flimsy Poster with a Digital One

Glogster is a web 2.0 tool that helps students create digital posters for class projects. Unfortunately, the one glog that explains all about Glogster doesn’t work. In its place, I’ve selected a few from the Glogpedia as great representations of what Glogster can do (see below).

Pricing

Glogster is a paid service. There are three pricing tiers available for elementary, secondary, and faculty. Head on over to Glogster for more specific numbers/detail.

ACCESS: Education ONLY

Sadly, Glogster and its awesomeness is only available for educational use. It has a .com address, but it is frequently called GlogsterEDU. There is no commercial product available. It is truly a shame because I think there a some business meetings that could cease to exist if a link to a Glogster was just emailed instead. Just think of how much time you could save NOT listening to THAT GUY asking the same question three times and then playing Devil’s advocate.

iPad App

Have an iPad and an a Glogster login? Then, according to the marketing copy, you can “experience the new standard for learning anytime, anywhere with our iPad application – built from the ground up for a truly engaging learning experience. See Glogpedia at its very best with a sleek new browser, and express your ideas instantly with enhanced editing functionality.” Sweet. Still need to download the free app? Here’s a link.

Glogpedia Content Library

Students make glogs and some of them are available to the public for examples, enjoyment, or you know, educating. Sometimes you just need to school someone one Newton’s Laws or the Oxford Comma using some sweet graphics and videos. If you happen to find yourself in that type of situation, visit the Glogpeida Content Library to find the perfect lecture, sans lecture*.

  • “Boom!” and “Booyah!” not included.

Sample Glogs

For the following Glogs, you may need to expand into full-screen mode as some of them are widescreen glogs. A message may also pop up about Flash. It is okay to click allow.

Podcast Review: English Pronunciation Pod

One of my main complaints from my ESL/ELL students is that people cannot understand them when they speak. Grammar books and bilingual dictionaries don’t help them when they want to converse with native speakers or simply go about their lives in the United States.

I sympathize with my students greatly and empathized with them slightly. Too many high school and college Spanish courses have taught me that I sound like a dummy when I speak to my native-speaking professor.

Thus, I searched to find materials that will actually help them reduce their accent in a meaningful way.  There are too many pronunciation tools out there that have students repeat words and sounds without telling them how to make those sounds.  A student can hear “dog” over and over, but if they don’t know to drop their jaw to produce the vowel sound, it will always be said with an accent (discounting children…their brains are wired for language differently than adults).

Enter in Charles Becker and his podcast, English Pronunciation Pod.  I found this podcast several years ago and have used it over and over again with numerous students.  They love it.  They love it because it tells them how to speak English, including: what they are probably doing wrong, what “wrong” sounds like, and common mistakes for some languages.  Students have found his pronunciation easy to understand and like listening to him.  Of course, some of the really novice students have too much of a difficulty understanding him so this podcast is best used with students who know English but want to improve their pronunciation.

I really like that this podcast has transcripts on its website for students to follow along.  However, he could have used a better editor…there are some glaring problems that Microsoft Word can fix quite easily and quickly.  I like to copy and paste the web transcript into a Word document, fix the errors (save it so I only have to do it once!), and print it off for my students to use while they listen to the podcast.  This allows them to read and hear at the same time.  Unfortunately, the transcript isn’t a word for word transcription.  It seems to be the podcast in visual form.  It leaves out some digressions.  It does confuse my students at first, but then they get used to his format and appreciate the succinctness of the transcript for future reference.

Podcasts can be downloaded via iTunes to an iPad or iPhone.  I have them all downloaded to my iPad.  However, it is also possible to listen to podcasts on the web.  You can listen to the podcasts on the archive page or the transcript page.

The most unfortunate thing about this podcast is that it is no longer being updated.  I do not know why.  Awhile ago I emailed Charles Becker telling him I used this podcast frequently and would love more podcasts.  He did reply back indicating he would publish more podcasts.  However, only a couple podcasts were published in 2012.  Most of the podcasts were published in 2008-2011.

You can also purchase his “full pronunciation course” (Best Accent Training MP3s) that you hear an advertisement for at the end of every podcast (I usually stop the podcast before that…my students understand and appreciate it).  I’ve looked into it before.  It costs $75 and consists of most of the same material that is presented in the podcast.  Thus, I have not purchased it.  Let me know if you have purchased it and find it to be vastly different from the podcasts!

Overall: I love this podcast.  I have learned more about my own language while listening to this podcast.  It has helped me become a better teacher and has helped my ESL/ELL students reduce their accent and sound more like an American.

Can You Teach Computer Science Without a Computer?

You can get students interested in computer science even if your school doesn’t have enough computers. In fact, you can get students so passionate about computer science before they even turn the computer on.

Forget about engaging them before you turn the computer on.  You don’t even need a computer to teach computer science. Watch how Computer Science Unplugged separated the computer from computer science.

Visit csunplugged.org for activities and teaching guides.

Best of MACUL: Ignite Learning

On Friday, August 8, I attended the Best of MACUL conference at Oakland Schools.  It was jointly hosted by the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) and the REMC Association of Michigan.  The conference was designed to highlight some of the presentations that were given at the MACUL conference in March, mostly for those who were unable to attend.

The Best of MACUL conference ran similar to most conferences, there were one of three presentations to choose from during each hour.  There were four total hours in addition to one lunch hour.  For the full list of presentations and presenters, please see the Best of MACUL Oakland Schools conference schedule/agenda.


App Smashing Your Way to Powerful Learning
(PresenterLaura Cummings, Oakland Schools)

App Smashing, coined by Greg Kulowiec, “is the process of using multiple apps to create projects or complete tasks.”  It’s not a new idea, but once Kulowiec gave the concept a catchy name, it became the newest buzzword in education.

Cummings demonstrated a few apps on the iPad that worked well together to create digital content that reflected student learning.  These apps help students see that the information they learn in school is doing something.  The paper is no longer the final product; the digital content is.  The students are now producing something they can share on social media.

Side note: Cummings created a Weebly page with links to the apps and project examples.  It also has some excellent links to more information about App Smashing and rules to follow for a successful experience.

I was most impressed with the following apps: Skitch, PicPlayPost, and ThinkLink.  Skitch, as many of you may have heard, is a photo annotating app.  It allows you to add text, shapes, blurs, and crop.  The final image is then saved to the Camera Roll.  This saves students time from having to add annotations in the program they decide to use.  For example, students can then import those images into PicPlayPost, along with a recorded video (reading their paper?) to create a final media collage. See an example of a PicPlayPost collage uploaded to Dropbox.  But what if there is just too much content to annotated on the photo?  ThinkLink creates hotspots on an image that can link to video, images, text, sound (reading the paper in SoundCloud), and even downloading the paper in Evernote.  See an example of a hotspotted image on ThingLink.


Engage Students.  Explore apps, interactive books, and MultiTouch textbooks
(Presenter: Joanna Montgomery, Apple)

“Just because the students know the technology, doesn’t mean they know how to use it to learn.”

Montgomery’s presentation also focused on apps on the iPad.  But while Cummings’ presentation focused on apps that created digital content to demonstrate learning, Montgomery’s presentation focused on apps that had rich content written by academics for use in classrooms.  Montgomery sees a future in which back-to-school lists will eventually include recommended apps.

iTunes U has expanded exponentially since the last time I looked at it.  In fact, course materials for universities is only one-third of the content.  There is a section exclusively for K-12 and another for Beyond Campus (i.e. the Smithsonian, Khan Academy).  Material is not exclusively courses anymore.  Of course, there are many courses, but users can download singular materials from a course.  During Montgomery’s presentation, she showed us some videos and PDFs available from several sources.  All content is screened by at least one educator, so while it is educationally appropriate, there is no guarantee it will be grade-appropriate.  Thus, it is still best to preview material.

iBooks has may books that are beyond copyright for free.  There are also plenty of books available for free.  But Montgomery emphasized caution in using iBooks in the classroom.  The “Top Free” book list is full of erotica.  Teachers are encouraged to have students select a genre when searching for a free book and not using the top list to assist in filtering out inappropriate content.


Showcase Your Classroom Using Google
(Presenter: Jennifer Bond, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools)

Bond using numerous Google products in her classroom to connect parents with her classroom.  She highlighted several classroom blogs that she has created using Blogger.  Since she is a third grade teacher, students cannot have an email address and thus, cannot publish their own blog.  Thus, she is the moderator.  Most often, the students write blog entries in their journals and Bond would choose the best ones, type them up, and post them. Another option for teacher moderation is, using Blogger, set up an email address students where can email posts (this works best if the school has a contract to allow the students to have an email address under the age of 13).  The teacher will then be able to see the post prior to accepting it for publication. Many teachers have been doing this for years, but only showing the best writing in class, not publishing it to the internet.

Google Hangouts was another technology Bond used in her classroom.  She uses it to help connect her class with other classrooms as well as parents.  Sometimes, it is used just for fun.  But be careful…there is a different between Google Hangouts and Google Hangouts ON AIR.  On Air records the entire hangout and automatically uploads it to YouTube after you click done.  There is no editing.  There is no option to not upload.


Creating a Genius in Every Hour: 20 Time in Education
(Presenter: Nick Provenzano, TheNerdyTeacher.com)

A number of years ago, Google implemented a policy that employees were to work on a non-assigned project 15% of their week.  In other words, Google would pay them to work on side projects.  Just something fun.  Many people though the executives at Google lost their mind.  Do you know what they got?  GMAIL.  ADSENSE.  And so some people wondered…what if we did the same for education?  What would students achieve?  The concept then became known as 20 Time (easier to give 1/5 of the week).

Provenzano piloted 20 Time in his class last year.  He said it was difficult…when he realized in order to make it truly 20% of the school year, he had to figure out how to get ride of 34 instructional days (yes, there was a deep inhale by the teachers in the room at this moment).  He cut movies, he trimmed his curriculum, and reworked lessons.  Eventually, he obtained those 34 days.  He didn’t even waiver on the commitment when the worst Michigan winter eliminated numerous instructional days.  He kept his word: every Friday was 20 Time work time.

Students were graded on a completion basis, did they write this blog post, etc.  They gave a speech at the end, TED style.  In fact, they organized a TEDx event to showcase some of the projects.

I was amazed at some of the projects that students did.  But the more I think about it, I wasn’t so amazed as I was thrilled that students rose to the challenge.  Given time and encouragement, students are capable of doing great things.

For more information on 20 Time, visit: www.20timeineducation.com or www.thenerdyteacher.com.

Take a Look, It’s in a Book!

Earlier this summer LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow created a Kickstarter to raise $1 million dollars.  There were two goals: everywhere on the web and free subscriptions to 1,500 classrooms who want Reading Rainbow but can’t afford to pay for it.

Burton set a timeline of 35 days.  It wasn’t necessary.  He was fully funded in 11 hours.

The campaign stayed open for the full 35 days and when it ended on July 2, the Kickstarter had raised $5,408,916.  To top that off, Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy and American Dad, “promised to match every dollar pledged following the $4 million mark to the $5 million mark if the campaign reached $5 million.”  In other words, if the Kickstarter made it to $5 million, MacFarlane would match the last million, making the $5 million dollar benchmark all the more sweeter (by turning in into $6 million).  Since Kickstarter has a $10,000 limit on donations, MacFarlane’s donation is not added into the number seen on the Kickstarter site.  Thus, the final total that the Kickstarter raised is $6.4 million dollars.

The Reading Rainbow Kickstarter is the 5th most funded campaign on Kickstarter.  According to Forbes.com, “The top four are: Pebble ($10.2 million), OUYA ($8.5 million), Pono ($6.2 million) and the Veronica Mars movie ($5.7 million).”

There is one record that the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter broke: the most backers.  Over 105,857 backers pledged to bring Reading Rainbow to all mobile devices, consoles, and OTT boxes as well as 7,500 classrooms who can’t afford it.

If your book adventures took you away to magical places and were unable to join the Kickstarter, you can still donate through Reading Rainbow’s site.  You can $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, $125, $175, $375, or $5000.  While all the packages have names based upon the dollar amount or rewards you can earn, the last two are special: $375 is the perfect amount to pay for a “adopt” a classroom and $5000 will allow you “adopt” a school.  If you really want to know exactly where you money is going, those two cannot be any more specific.

The Reading Rainbow Classic Series is available on Amazon Instant Video (free to Prime subscribers) and on iTunes (video).

The Reading Rainbow app is available for iPad and the Kindle Fire.

Though time has passed, Burton has aged, and the books have gone digital, the fact remains that Reading Rainbow is still enchanting as ever for the next generation of readers.  Then again, LeVar Burton always sticks around for The Next Generation.

BONUS: LeVar Burton, Reading Rainbow, and Star Trek: The Next Generation

Book Crawler: Keep Track of Your Own Library

Have you ever bought a book only to come home and find out you already had it?  No?  Well, then have you ever found a book in a series but you weren’t sure if you had it, passed it by, and then returned home only to find out you didn’t have it?  Still no?  Hmm, you must not be a bookworm or have your own physical library.

I have lots of books.  I have two encyclopedia sets (one Britannica one from the 70s and one called the Great Books of the Western World), a leather-bound book collection, mass market paperbacks from several favorite authors, popular fiction I’ve read, a lengthy “to read” shelf, textbooks from undergraduate and graduate school, textbooks for tutoring, graphic novels, etc.  My children’s books are currently in storage.  Like I said, I have lots of books.

I’ve always wanted to digitally keep track of my library; however, I did not have the funds to purchase card catalog software (though if I had, I would have years ago!).  Thankfully, I didn’t because I’ve found a smartphone app that scans the ISBN bar code of a book and populates an entry for me to keep track of each and every book (since it populates from WorldCat).  It’s called Book Crawler.

Book Crawler is available for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch ($1.99) and the Mac Desktop. The free/lite version of Book Crawler limits you to only 25 books.  I use Book Crawler on my iPhone and iPad.  The app is perfect; I can scan each book (that has a bar code, I will have to manually create new entries for all the leather-bound books and encyclopedia sets) and add any additional information I want to the entry.  I can add the price I paid for the book, whether I own it, the genre, have read it (and the date I read it or just put “a long time ago…”), have multiple editions of the same book, the medium (Kindle, paperback, hardcover, audio, etc.) plus several custom fields.  But what I REALLY like is the ability to classify the series it belongs to, including the order number.

I can delete any information that is populated from scanning the bar code and/or add any information.  This is great because sometimes the populated information isn’t specific enough for me or it doesn’t match others in the same series and thus, the database thinks this new book is a different series.  For example, one author I like to read is Debbie Macomber.  She has a series she calls “Dakota”.  Two of the books scanned with “Dakota” as the series, but another used “Buffalo Valley”.  It is a common reference to the series.  However, I wanted to keep the series name consistent, so I changed it to “Dakota”.

I like the ability to create Collections as well.  This allows me to separate my cookbooks.  Collections can be a smart list so I can specify a “Sparks Notes” Collection by publisher or content for my graphic novels.  I can also tag content in the books.  Right now I am not tagging content, mostly because of the sheer number of books and it’s not a priority.  But since I can go back and edit this, I may add tags in the future.

An excellent time-saving feature of Book Crawler is the ability to set defaults for my entries.  For example, if I am scanning all the books I own, I can set the default to of “Own” to on.  Why would it be anything else?  Perhaps you want to keep track of every book you ever read…including library books.  And since I’m scanning books I’ve already read, I’ve got that default set in the on position as well.  Lastly, since most of my books are paperback, I’ve got that default set to on as well.

When I first started scanning books using Book Crawler, I frequently got an error message that it couldn’t find the book.  I would have to manually enter the information in.  It quickly grew tedious and time-consuming on an iPhone to do so.  I have found three things that together solved the problem.  First, and most importantly, there is a difference between the UPC bar code on the back of the book and the ISBN bar code on the inside flap of a mass market paperback.  Book Crawler needs the ISBN bar code.  If there is no other bar code than the back of the book (like with a hard cover book), then chances are the ISBN bar code and the UPC bar code are intertwined.  Secondly, the default scanning program that Book Crawler uses is not that good.  It has trouble reading the ISBN bar codes.  Book Crawler recommends that you download pic2shop, a free bar code scanning program that integrates with Book Crawler.  I have found the recognition rate to be much higher.  Lastly, I have found that, on occasion, Book Crawler can take up to a minute to populate the entry with scanned information.  On the times the information is not found instantaneously, I begin filling out any information that I want that won’t be populated, like if I have read the book, how much I paid for it, etc.  Generally, after about 3 fields, the information is populated.

Now that I have Book Crawler running smoothly, I am excited to scan all my books.  I typically scan on my iPhone, however, if I want to use my iPad, the Book Crawler database does not automatically sync.  I have to back up the database to Dropbox (an excellent feature) on my iPhone and then download the backup on my iPad.  It takes a couple of minutes to do, but it’s not a big deal once I have it initially setup.

Book Crawler is essentially my own electronic card catalog for my own library!