Book Review: Goodnight iPad

As a child, one of the many bedtime stories I heard (and eventually read myself) was Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. The basic premise is a bunny who is going to bed and looks around his room and sees different objects and then says good night to them, including the moon outside the window.

Goodnight Moon was originally published in 1947 (Wikipedia). And though it still is beloved by many parents as they read to their children at night, some children may not connect to the book the way the parents did when they were younger. Now, there’s a parody for that.

Goodnight iPad tells a similar story of the bunny family at night. However, this family has so many electronic gadgets that the mother bunny cannot sleep. She says, “okay, that’s it!” and start’s saying goodnight to all the electronics…by tossing them out the window! She then tucks the little bunnies into bed and reads “Goodnight Moon” via flashlight.

According to the back of the book, the parody was written by Ann Droyd (get it?…android!), a pseudonym for an IRA/Children’s Choices winner who has written over 25 books. A quick visit to www.anndroyd.com and I found that Goodnight iPad was the first book in the parody series. There is another…If You Give a Mouse an iPhone! I may have to get that one too…

I love the book. I thought it was cute, however, some of my younger tutoring students did not think the use of digital devices was all the clever or interesting. Perhaps they had not read Goodnight Moon or maybe I’m too old and still fascinated by technology rather than it being everyday objects. Or most likely, it was just below their reading level. We all go through a “that’s for babies” phase. Perhaps I caught them in it.

You decide….On Ann Droyd’s website there was an animation of Goodnight iPad. Watch it below and leave your thoughts on the book in the comments below.

Kindle Unlimited: Not Worth Your Money

Have you heard?  Netflix for books has arrived!  Amazon now offers a new service called Kindle Unlimited.  For a nominal fee of $9.99/month ($119.88) you can “enjoy unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audio books on any device.” Sounds excellent, right?  Sorry, no.  It’s not worth your money.  Here’s why:

    • Borrowing books, not buying them…so there is a limit on how many you can have out a time.
    • Not included in Amazon Prime
    • Do not have access to all Kindle books
    • Better/More Popular selection available for FREE through your local public library using the app OverDrive.
    • Not a new, innovative idea

Borrowing Books, Not Buying Them Did you actually read the all the fine print or just watch the sailboat video?  I’ll say it plainly so there are no questions: you are borrowing books, not buying them.  The subscription service is not “get unlimited books for $10/month”, it is “borrow 10 books at time, as frequently as you want for $10/month”.  That’s right, you’re actually restricted to “ten books at a time and there are no due dates.”  While the restriction seems logical…it’s not so awesome if your family shares an Amazon account. A caveat of borrowing Kindle books is this: once you return the book, any annotations and notes you make are gone.  Technically, they are inaccessible because they are saved as a separate file on your Kindle, so if you borrow the book again your notes will be there…as long as you didn’t accidentally delete the “letter” that states your rental expired.

Not Included In Amazon Prime Kindle Unlimited is not added into the Amazon Prime subscription.  It’s an extra cost.  However, if you have Amazon Prime and a Kindle, each month you can read free books through the Kindle First and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (about 500,000 titles).

Do Not Have Access to All Kindle Books Did you read the first paragraph thoroughly or did you just skim right over the 600,000 titles number? Or did the difference simply not register?  Amazon boasts “over 1 million books are available for the Amazon Kindle”.  Let’s do some simple math: 1,000,000-600,000=400,000 Kindle books that Amazon has that are not available for Kindle Unlimited. So what accounts for the large difference? Five major publishing houses opted not to participateSimon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, MacMillan, and Penguin.  So while Scholastic and HoughlinMifflin Harcourt are participating, there is a noticeable lack of New York Times Bestsellers.

Better/More Popular Selection Available through OverDrive and Your Local Library OverDrive is a free app that you can download to your iPad/iPhone/iPod, Android, Windows Phone, Kindle, Nook, Mac, and Windows.  Once downloaded, you log into OverDrive using your library card and pin/password that was given to you at the library.  If you have any trouble with this, consult your local library. Be advised: the availability of books for you may differ from someone else as availability depends on what subscription your public library has with OverDrive. You can filter search results by format: Audio book, Adobe ePub, OverDriveREAD, Adobe PDF EBook, and Kindle.  Yes, you can borrow several Kindle books through OverDrive that are unavailable through Kindle Unlimited.

Not a New Concept There are already a few eBook subscriptions sites available: Scribd, Oyster, and Entitle, just to name a few.

Not Worth Your Money So, why is Amazon charging an extra $9.99/month to borrow books that I can digitally borrow on my iPad through OverDrive and my local public library for free?  It’s a great business endeavor for them, but bad for the consumer.  You’re better off either buying the ebooks, borrowing for free from your local library, or using a different subscription service that actually has some of the top publishing houses.

Apps in the Classroom: How do you know which ones to use?

On the internet there are hundreds of articles reviewing iPad, iPhone, and Android apps that can be used in the classroom on mobile devices.  Some reviews tout how amazing and life-changing some apps are for the classroom and others reveal that certain apps just don’t live up to the hype.

But is there any way you can weed through apps on the App Store or the Android Marketplace/Google Play?  How can you evaluate apps for yourself?

According to the Texas Computer Education Association, apps should:

• be easy to use
• be easy to understand
• have no/few ads
• be subject-intensive
• connect to the classroom units of inquiry
• differentiate for users, accommodating the many ways students learn
• have skills and approaches that are real world
• require higher order thinking–which according to Bloom’s includes creating, evaluating, analyzing

But if you are more of a rubric person (after all, most teachers are…), Edudemic provides a list that works quite well if you copy and paste it into a Google Doc.

Overview of the App

  • App Title:
  • App Publisher/Developer:
  • Version:
  • Link to App Store:

Curriculum Compliance

  • Yes/ No – Is it relevant to the curriculum framework?
  • Please add any additional comments regarding implementation.

Operational

  • Yes/ No – Is navigation easy? For example, index, contents, menus, clear icons
  • Yes/ No – Is on-screen help and/or tutorial available?
  • Yes/ No – Does it have multiple ability levels?
  • Yes/ No – How does it respond to errors? For example, incorrect spelling.
  • Yes/ No – Are there audio/video options with controls?
  • Yes/ No – Can selected material be tagged, copied, pasted, saved, and printed?
  • Yes/ No – Does it keep a history of the user’s work over a period of time?
  • Yes/ No – Features that address special needs? E.g. physical, aural, visual, ESL.
  • Yes/ No – What support materials are included? For example, online resources, booklet, lesson plans, student worksheets?

Pedagogy

  • Yes/ No – Does the material accommodate diverse ways in which students learn?
  • Yes/ No – Is it developmentally and age appropriate?
  • Yes/ No – Does it provide an opportunity to increase students’ understanding?
  • Yes/ No – Does it provide an opportunity for higher order thinking?
  • Yes/ No – Does it provide an opportunity for engagement and interaction?
  • Yes/ No – Does it provide opportunity for collaborative practice & idea sharing?
  • Yes/ No – Does it promote creativity and imagination?
  • Yes/ No – Does it provide an opportunity for problem solving?
  • Yes/ No – Does it provide feedback and assessment?

Need a bit more formalized rubric?  Kathy Schrock has a iPad App Evaluation rubric in PDF form you can download and use.

These three guides came from an article, “Friday Five: Top 5 iPad Apps for Your Classroom,” written by Jacqui Murray for TeachHub.com.  Using these guides, she recommends the following 5 apps: Babakus, GarageBand, Educreations Interactive Whiteboard,Google Earth, andTimed Test Arcade for iPhone. Read Murray’s article for her rationales.

 

Murray, Jacqui. “”Friday Five: Top 5 iPad Apps for Your Classroom.”  TeachHub.com.  Web.

The Wired Child

The Wired Child

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Jobulator

This year I am guest teaching while I finish my Master’s degree.  It works out quite well for me.  I can teach during the day and leave at the end of the school day without having any additional grading or lesson planning.  I can also take off as many days as needed to work on my Master’s.  There are several challenges to guest teaching, however, one in particular is that the guest teacher is responsible for accepting their own jobs.

One of the most commonly used automated systems for guest teachers is Aesop, which stands for Automated Educational Substitute Operator, by Frontline Technologies.  Essentially, it is a central database in which district personnel can create a substitute job for an employee who will be absent.  Once the job is created, it then uploaded into the substitute employee database for that district.

In years passed, the Aesop system would then call eligible substitutes until one of them accepted the job.  However, in the last few years, substitutes have been able to log on to Aesop system via computer and accept jobs online as soon as they were posted.  This led to too many people being tied to their computer, constantly hitting refresh and hoping to snag a job.  So, Frontline developed some software that could assist substitutes in regaining some of their “freedom” back.  This software is called Jobulator.

At first, Jobulator was only available on the desktop.  It was a program that ran in the background and an alert with a sound would notify the substitute employee when a job had been posted.  The person could walk over to their computer and click “accept”.  While this was definitely a step in the right direction towards substitute employee freedom, it was not enough.  The employees were still tied to being within hearing distance of their computers.

Jobulator Mobile was then created to finally break those chains.  It works wonderfully, the substitute employee receives a push notification to his or her iPhone or Android smartphone when a new job is posted.  Then, the employee can simply hit “accept” and immediately receive a confirmation email.  Now, a substitute employee can accept jobs wherever he or she is.  There is a drawback of course.  Since all eligible substitute employees receive the same push notification at the same time, the job will frequently be accepted within seconds.  It does take some ninja-like skills sometimes.  And if you don’t get the job?  Don’t worry, there will always be another one.

The chief complaint against Jobulator is that it a subscription service that costs $39.99/year.  Many people do not feel that it is fair to have to “pay to get jobs”.  It is important to remember that Jobulator is optional; you do not have to use it.  Also, it is imperative you differentiate Jobulator from Aesop.  While both services are provided by Frontline, the district that the substitute employee works for pays for the Aesop service and the substitute employee (optionally) pays for Jobulator.  The subscription cost of Jobulator goes toward paying for the development and maintenance of the service, however, I cannot guarantee that Frontline does not profit from it.

For some people, paying the $39.99 subscription service fee for Jobulator is too risky.  If you are considering using Jobulator but are still somewhat concerned about it, then you should watch the video or try the 30 day free-trial.  You do not have to enter in a credit card in order to participate in the trial.  You just need your name, an email address, your Aesop number, and your Aesop pin number.

There are a number of new features that will be added to Jobulator in the near future with the release of Jobulator 4.01.  These include integration into your iCal or Google calendar, French and Spanish language compatibility, and functionality on iPad and Kindle Fire.  I am especially looking forward to the calendar integration.

Personally, I love Jobulator.  I have used it to work every single day that I want to work, easily block off days for my grad school work, and always know at least a day or two (or more!) when and where I will be working.  It eliminates the rushing that comes with the Aesop system calling me late in the morning and not having enough time to eat breakfast.  Sure, the $39.99 subscription fee seems steep at first, but that boils down to 80 cents per week.  You’ll be able to recoup the cost in a half day’s worth of work, but I think the ability to wake up in the morning with enough time to prepare for the day and eat breakfast is worth at least $39.99/year.

Flipboard

Flipboard is an app for the iPad, iPhone, and Android that connects the best aspects of print media with the best parts of social media. It gives the user the organization of newspaper sections, the appearance and functionality of magazines, and the sharing capabilities of social media.

It has been around for quite some time; in fact, I downloaded it about a year ago. At the time it did not function like I wanted it to, or perhaps I didn’t understand it well enough, or even a not-so-friendly user interface made seeing its potential difficult. I abandoned it in favor of Google Reader. I was content with saving my RSS feeds to Goggle Reader, and we got along quite well. Recently, I logged into Google Reader to find an announcement: Google was going to retire its Reader. I cringed. We were so happy…I understood Google’s explanation for discontinuing he service, but I was sad…how will I aggregate my RSS feeds now? I did not want to bookmark them and individually go to them every day; there had to be an acceptable RSS reader somewhere. Flipboard was back on my radar.

Flipboard is amazing. You can save each individual RSS feed as its own tile on the Flipboard screen. This allows you to go specifically only to that feed if you want. However, there is a feature titled “Cover Stories” where it pulls popular items from all your feeds and you can leaf through the most frequently looked at.

Flipboard TilesThis app goes beyond RSS feeds. As I mentioned above, it combines the sharing capabilities of social media. Connect as many of your social media networks as you want, for example, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr. Not only can you post to these accounts, but Flipboard retrieves the feeds from these sources as well. You can have a tile on your Flipboard that goes directly to your Twitter feed, but items from each of these feeds will appear in “Cover Stories”.

Flipboard also has an abundance of interest categories you can select to creat tiles on your Flipboard. When you tap that particular tile, you can view articles relating to that interest. There are subcategories within each interest to showcase more specific information, such as a particular style of humor, entertainment publication, or sports team.

In other words, “Cover Stories” pulls from all your social networks, all your RSS feeds (blogs), news sources, and interests. You can select to just view one individually or scan thorough all and see the “highlights”. Just like a newspaper, the front section is the highlights but there are more specific sections as well.

Flipboard is formatted for the user to flick from right to left to see more content. It mimics the movement of turning a page, but without it being too page-like. There are no fake pages that curl as you move your finger; however, the illusion of turning pages is present. Flipboard doesn’t mimic the look of paper because it isn’t an imitation of anything; it is its own app with its own defining characteristics.

imageAmong those characteristics is its newest feature: magazines. Magazines allow you to save any item from Flipboard into a “magazine”, which is basically like your own interest category. You can make magazines public or private. A private magazine would be great to save articles you’d like to read later. A public one would be one you’d like to share with anyone. Instead of posting links on Twitter or Facebook, Flipboard allows you to “flip” an article into the collection and people who have added that magazine to their tiles can instantly see it. If you have Flipboard already, check out Teaching and Technology’s Flipboard Magazine. If you don’t have Flipboard, you should download it. It is available for iPad, iPhone, and Android.

Diigo: Technology Review

Diigo is an online bookmarking website that helps you organize your bookmarks with tags, access your bookmarks from any computer, Android device, iPad app and/or iPhone app.  But it’s more than just a bookmarking site.  Diigo caches websites that you save so you can highlight text, create sticky notes, and allows you to share this content with no one or everyone.

I found Diigo through the 21 Things for the 21st Century Educator website.  My technology class for my master’s in teaching is using this site as its textbook, so-to-speak.  I will post several things from this site that I find particularly useful.

Diigo allows me to tag my bookmarks to help me better organize and find the particular link I am looking for exactly when I need it.  Another use of this tagging ability allows me limit what I embed into a widget of links that I could put on a website.  In other words, the Resources page for this blog could have an embedded box from Diigo that automatically adds a link to the Resources page when I bookmark the site on Diigo with the tag “education”.  Of course this ensures that not every bookmarked site will appear under Resources, just the ones I want!  Pretty neat.  I’m considering implementing something with Diigo and Teaching & Technology’s Resource page.  It will reduce the amount of duplicate work I will have in creating links.

Diigo is free and all my bookmarks are stored in the cloud.  I can download a backup any time I wish.  If I need more space for cached files and screen captures than are allotted by the free account, Diigo allows me to upgrade for a reasonable fee.

Check out my public Diigo page, http://www.diigo.com/user/katdavisedu.  There are not too many links on there now, but expect it to grow over time.  I definitely see myself utilizing this technology in the coming future.  Diigo has definitely surpassed what Delicious aimed to do, but fell short.

Do you used Diigo?  Another social bookmarking website?  I’d love to hear all about it.