Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Free iOS App Today - Starlight - Mobile Planetarium


Point your iPhone like a magic lens into the night sky, and see in real time what stars, planets, and constellations hover above.

Starlight features the smoothest navigation available on the app store, at a blazing 60 frames per second. Not only is this planetarium app fast, it's beautiful to look at. See constellations come to life against a vibrant backdrop of stars, each colored according to their actual stellar classification. Amaze your friends and educate your kids with this impressive app.


➔ Information at your fingertips. Learn about stars and planets. Discover trivia connecting stars to some of your favorite science fiction Learn the folklore behind constellations.

➔ Lightning-fast navigation.

➔ Over 100,000 stars from the Hipparcos database, painted accurately according to their spectral type.

➔ All 88 western constellations.

➔ Planets of the solar system. (We threw in Pluto because we're sentimental.)

➔ Universal app - play on either your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad!

★NOTE: This has been designed for the iPhone 3GS and later, iPod 3rd Gen, and the iPad. You must have the Location Service enabled for the application to work properly.★

Free iOS App Today - Activity Monitor



The app shows you system info about your device. It takes almost no space and really easy to use.

✧ Information about the network.
✧ Wi-Fi, Edge/3G/LTE and Bluetooth traffic.
✧ CPU info.
✧ Battery level, status and remainng life.
✧ Memory status.
✧ Disk free space information.
✧ Processes list.
✧ Other detail info about Apple devices.

Free iOS App Today - Kid Face : face paint booth


* Photorealistic effects. Works like a real paint.
* 76 funny characters: cheetah, pirate, lion, zebra, fox, cat, spiderman.... (more to come)
* save or email it!
* Facebook publishing support
* high resolution (retina) full support (interface and photos)
* paint colors are applied with blending - works like in photoshop (professional and advanced technique)
* eraser tool for fine adjustments
* intuitive interface
* premier quality app

In-App purchase for optional mega-pack...

Free iOS App Today - Jazzy 123 - Learn to Count with Music


Learn about music instruments and numbers in a fun and interactive game!

 Learn to count from one to ten in over ten languages!

Free iOS App Today - Look and Touch - The Colours (Preschool)


An app for young children to learn their colors.

Free iOS App Today - Ringtone Wizard Pro for iPhone


Create ringtones with your own music library!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Apple TV vs Interactive Whiteboards in the Classroom

There have been several posts on the web discussing what makes the most sense to purchase for the classroom, an Apple TV setup or an Interactive Whiteboard. While it’s great to say one is better than the other,  I would like to show you the differences between the two setups and break each setup down into categories to see which outperforms the other.

The Setup

Before we wage battle, let’s identify the components involved in each setup.

Apple TV
  • Epson LCD HDMI Projector
  • or Existing VGA Projector with Kanex Adapter
  • Apple iPad
  • Apple TV
  • Logitech Speakers
  • SMART Interactive Board
  • LCD Projector
  • Wall Mount
  • VGA Cabling
  • USB Audio System
  • Professional Installation

The Costs

Apple TV
  • Epson PowerLite 95 Projector – $645
  • or Existing VGA Projector with Kanex Adapter - $60
  • Apple iPad - $499
  • Apple TV – $99
  • Logitech Speakers – $79
Total w/Projector – $1,322 Total w/out Projector – $737

  • SMART Interactive Board – $1350
  • LCD Projector – $645
  • Wall Mount – $245
  • VGA Cabling – $50
  • USB Audio System – $240
  • Professional Installation – $149
Minimum Total – $2,679

Apple TV wins this round as you have the ability to buy two full Apple TV setups for the price of one SMART Board.

Diversity of Equipment

Apple TV Setup
Where do I begin. First of all, you gain an iPad using this setup. This is almost worth it as it is. The iPad can be used for so many things, especially in education, that its worth is likely higher than its sale price. The fact that you get the iPad, Apple TV, and Projector in this setup gives you a pretty diverse set of tools to do just about anything you can think of with display technology. If you add your computer into the mix (especially if it is a Mac running Mountain Lion), your options increase dramatically as well. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the iPad and Apple TV combination allows for behaviors very similar to that of a SMART Board. There are whiteboard apps available to allow for users to use their iPad as the whiteboard. This coupled with Airplay mirroring makes for a pretty great setup.

Short of being an interactive whiteboard, the only diversity this equipment offers is the ability to be an always ready projector system. It’s great to have an all inclusive system to just ‘plug into’ but your functionality beyond the touch panel and the projector is limited.

The winner here for diversity of equipment is the Apple TV setup.

Ease of Use

This category is a tough one. Out of the box, and due to it being a ‘constantly setup’ solution, I believe that the SMART Board is easier to use in its most basic form. That is certainly not to say that the Apple TV setup isn’t easy, because it really is. But the ready to go whiteboard setup requires a press of a button to start projecting your screen (of your laptop). The only thing that makes the Apple TV setup more complicated is that there are several components to the setup to worry about.

That said, once you start diving into SMART Notebook software I believe the Apple TV setup becomes easier to use. SMART Notebook is well designed, but is cumbersome and sometimes confusing (likely since we are so accustomed to PowerPoint).

At the end of the day, a consistent setup will always be used more – so by default I side with SMART on this one.


The SMART Board by itself is actually quite dumb. You MUST have a computer to use the features that make an interactive whiteboard come to life. That being true, the SMART Board is hardly adaptable – sans the fact that you can hook several video output devices to it.

When you combine the power of an Apple TV, WiFi enabled projector, and Apple iPad, your adaptability of technology is nearly endless. You could use the Apple TV, iPad, and projector in various combinations to enable different types of activities. The nicest part of this system is that you don’t need the whole system in order for functionality to be present. You could stream Netflix from the Apple TV to the projector and still have the iPad to use for something else.

For the reason that you can independently use the components, the Apple TV setup reigns supreme in adaptability.


Lets face it – technology changes. Especially Apple technology. Are SMART Boards upgradeable? Sure…it just costs the price of a new SMART Board. The Apple TV components can be individually upgraded and still work with the other devices. This allows the classroom to be incrementally upgraded (new iPad one year, Apple TV the next, projector the following, etc).
With the speed of innovation, you never want to be stuck with technology that is outdated and still costing you money. You want to be able to swap out parts that no longer integrate with what is important – your curriculum.

For this key reason, the Apple TV is the way to go to stay up to date.


Category - Leader

The Costs - Apple TV
Diversity of Equipment - Apple TV
Ease of Use - SMART Board
Adaptability - Apple TV
Upgradability - Apple TV

Overall, for the price and for the extra dimensions it brings to your classroom, the Apple TV setup is the way to go when adding some interactivity to your classroom. Questions about the setup or how to go about purchasing/installing? Post in the comments and let’s start talking!

iPad mini vs. Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD: On display size and density

See this article, by Rene Ritchie, for comparisons on the iPad mini vs. Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Free iOS Apps Today - October 26, 2012

Star Map 3D+: Stargazing and Astronomy

The Great Cookie Thief... A Sesame Street App Starring Cookie Monster

Facinate Halloween - Funny Scary Props

Vintique (Photo)
My Sketch

The Ugly Duckling HD for iPad

Farm Frenzy 3 for iPhone

Little Solver - Figural Analogies for iPhone and iPad

Cinderella-Interactive Book iBigToy for iPhone and iPad

Christmas Pantomime Puppet Theatre for Kids for iPhone and iPad (Trial Version)

Mouse in a House for iPad

Mouse School for iPhone and iPad

Lab Values Quiz for iPhone

Voice Translator - On the Fly Translation for iPhone

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Six Multimedia Timeline Creation Tools for Students

Be sure to read the entire post here:  http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2012/10/six-multimedia-timeline-creation-tools.html#.UIiMoYVcSa9
  1. Meograph
  2. myHistro 
  3. XTimeline  
  4. TimeGlider 
  5. Time Toast 
Note from one of our readers about Dipity (which I deleted from the list above) - "Today in class the students logged into and created accounts on Dipity.com.  Almost immediately, many of their email accounts were hacked.  Just a heads up."

What Does the 'Khanification' of Education Mean for Teachers?


Online-learning expert Will Richardson criticizes the "Khanification of education"—the seemingly widely accepted process by which "anyone with a passion can make a video and be given 'teacher' status." But Richardson also thinks that the growing influence of Khan Academy and similar "flipped classroom" resources raises urgent questions for real teachers in terms of how they define and distinguish themselves in the current education environment. He concludes:
Here's a hint: Our value lies in that which cannot be Khanified. We better figure out ways pretty quickly to articulate that value in spades to parents, boards, corporations, etc.
For his part, incidentally, Salman Khan has repeatedly contended that his videos and related classroom-technology initiatives are not meant to diminish the teacher's role but rather to enhance it. As he wrote in a recent Education Week Commentary:
Technology will never replace teachers; in fact, it will make teachers even more important. Technology will give teachers valuable real-time data to diagnose students' weak points and design appropriate interventions. It will enable teachers to more quickly gauge students' comprehension of new topics so they can adjust their lesson plans on the spot. Virtual tools may have the potential to provide educational materials to children who have access to nothing else—say, in a remote village in India—but they will never be a substitute for rich experiences with fellow students and amazing teachers.
But in some ways, at least under the surface, I think he and Richardson may be saying something similar. That is, teachers today need to adapt to new conceptions of what classroom instruction means. They need to redefine their purpose and, even as they leverage technology strategically, focus on the aspects of education that cannot be reduced to digitization.
What are your thoughts on this? How can teachers redefine their value amidst the growth of electronic instructional resources? How, if at all, are you trying to change your practice?

Click here to post your response to Anthony's blog post...

UCET 2013 is Coming!

What the Future Should Hold

A Day Made of Glass: Watch first, then read below

While doing some research for a presentation I will be doing at the SUECON conference in St. George this weekend, I came across the above video. If you haven't watched it, do so now. Though it shows how Corning Glass will be changing the way we live, I see in it a vision of what the future classroom could be like.

Imagine with me a school where each of the students has a computer in their pocket, much like a smart phone. Picture with me their desk or work station, where they set their pocket computer down, and it lights up like the Corning Glass and becomes the monitor, keyboard, and interactive device to work on the project(s) stored on the pocket computing device. All of the student work could go with the student, giving minimal editing capability while away from a work station.

When Apple first came out with the iPod Touch, I had a similar vision. The student would carry the iPod Touch from classroom to classroom, and in each classroom there would be a dock to connect the device to a keyboard, charge the device, and somehow increase the size of the monitor. That could easily have been the Apple Keyboard, though I wasn't sure at the time what the monitor could have been. Now everything is wireless, you can't even buy that same keyboard, only bluetooth keyboards. With the introduction of Airplay a year ago, student projects could easily be shared via AppleTV to the classroom projector, enabling some of the magic that Corning is envisioning.

I don't know how far off this technology may be, or better yet, how we can fund such technology widespread for all of our schools. I am not a futurist nor do I have a crystal ball to predict how teachers will teach and students will learn in the years to come, but I do know a good idea when I see one. Apparently I am not alone. I found the second video after writing this post.

Watch Part 2 now:

The ride of Educational Technology is a bumpy one, but this kind of futuristic approach excites me and makes me what to be a part of technology in the classroom of the future.

Free iOS App Today - National Geographic's Weird But True


★Winner of Spring 2012 Parents' Choice Award ★ New York Times App to Keep Kids Happy ★ Chosen as New & Noteworthy, What’s Hot, and Staff Favorites by Apple

Recently updated with wild and wacky sound effects for all 300 facts, new Weird-O-Meter sounds, and other surprises. Hear the pronunciation of the official name of Bangkok, Thailand--it is 167 letters long! Plus, now you can share facts with friends and family via Facebook and Twitter with the touch of a finger.

Did you know that girls have more taste buds than boys do? Or that slugs have 3,000 teeth and 4 noses? And who knew that gorillas burp when they’re happy? Get more than 300 Weird But True kid-friendly facts with the interactive app from National Geographic Kids!

Based on the phenomenally popular department in National Geographic Kids magazine and best-selling book franchise, Weird But True is now available for iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad!

-Swipe to move from fact to fact or shake the device to see a random fact.
-Use the Weird-O-Meter to rate the level of “weirdness” for each fact and monitor results from all users on the Weirdest Facts list!
-Bookmark your favorites or share the grossest facts with your friends via email, Facebook, and Twitter.
-Use the Fact Finder to locate facts about your favorite subjects—animals, weather, space, science, and more!
-Loaded with sound effects and awesome surprises, Weird But True is fun for kids of all ages!

Filled with wacky facts and tantalizing trivia that will engage curious kids and parents alike, Weird But True presents each of the 300 facts in a fun, colorful, and interactive format that will keep kids entertained—and learning—for hours! And parents can rest easy knowing that each fact is age-appropriate and handpicked by a brand they know and trust: National Geographic Kids.

Free iOS Apps Today - McGraw-Hill Everyday Math Apps

Everyday Mathematics® Monster Squeeze™ - EDUCATION
  • McGraw-Hill’s Monster Squeeze game reinforces number recognition and offers a quick and easy way to practice number line concepts and number comparisons. This two-player game runs on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

Everyday Mathematics® Beat the Computer™ Multiplication - EDUCATION
  • McGraw-Hill’s Beat the Computer game offers a quick and easy way to practice and reinforce basic multiplication facts (0–10). This facts practice game runs on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

Everyday Mathematics® Equivalent Fractions™ - EDUCATION
  • The Equivalent Fractions game by McGraw Hill offers a quick and easy way to practice and reinforce fraction concepts and relationships. This game runs on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

Everyday Mathematics® Addition Top It - EDUCATION
  • McGraw-Hill’s Addition Top-It game offers a quick and easy way to practice and reinforce basic addition facts (0–10) and number comparisons. This two-player game runs on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.
Everyday Mathematics® Divisibility Dash™ - EDUCATION

  • The Divisibility Dash game by McGraw-Hill offers a quick and easy way to practice recognizing multiples of a number and applying divisibility tests. This fast-paced computation game runs on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

Free iOS App Today - The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Children's Book)


A beautiful iPad version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, the classic children's story by Beatrix Potter.

From TechRepublic: Five Portable Antivirus and Antimalware Tools to Carry With You At All Times


"Sometimes the antivirus tools installed on the machine just aren’t enough. When that time comes, you’ll be glad you have one (or more) tools on your USB drive to help you out. I’ve found five such tools that could certainly get you out of a serious pinch. All of these tools are portable and work like champs."

1. ClamWin Portable

ClamWin Portable is very much like its big brother: It’s free, open source, and does a great job of disinfecting machines. ClamWin has a very high detection rate, has frequently updated definitions, and has an easy to use graphical interface. The only caveat to using ClamWin is that it does not offer a real-time scanner - which is not an issue for a portable version. This is my go-to portable virus scanning software.

2. Sophos Anti Rootkit Portable

Sophos Anti Rootkit Portable is one of those tools you hope you never have to use; but you know, at some point, you will. Sophos is remarkably adept at locating root kits - especially for a portable app. Sophos: scans, detects and removes rootkits, is 100% free, supports Windows XP, Vista and 7, and works alongside your existing antivirus. I have found Sophos reliable enough to use even while the PC being scanned is in use.

3. Emsisoft Free Emergency Toolkit

Emsisoft Free Emergency Toolkit is a powerful malware removal tool that can scan for, and remove, over six million dangers to your PC. Emsisoft Free Emergency Toolkit has both a GUI and a command line version, so you can scan your machine even if there are problems with the GUI. With this toolkit, you not only get the malware scanner, you also get HiJackFree and BlitzBlank as well. Emsisoft offers the free download, or you can purchase a pre-compiled USB stick.

4. Vipre Rescue

Vipre Rescue is that tool you use when your machine is severely infected. Vipre is run in safe mode and does not depend upon a GUI tool for use. You double-click the executable and a command window opens with the scanner running (and running at blazing speeds). If you already use the full version of Vipre, you can still run this tool should your machine become so infected, Vipre will not run.

5. Spybot Search and Destroy Portable

Spybot Search and Destroy Portable is the portable version of the massively popular full Spybot Search and Destroy. This antimalware tool does a great job of finding and removing malicious software - all from your flash drive. Spybot has a unique feature that will help you backup your registry before you begin the scan. Should Spybot fubar your PCs registry, you have a backup to restore to - safe and sound.

Also read:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

NEON - NASA Educators Online Network - Events for this week

Education Resource of the Week - National Chemistry Week (Oct. 21-27, 2012)

The Mars Curiosity Rover is conducting elemental analysis of a sand target this week. How will you and your students celebrate? Click here for ideas!!

AESP NEON OFFICE HOURS - Please note new times!!

Ask about NASA education resources, content knowledge, and more. Speak with our Education Specialists (log on as a "Guest") Monday through Thursday, (9AM-1PM & 4-8PM Eastern Time) and Friday, 9AM-1PM Eastern Time. Bookmark the page at http://neon.psu.edu/officehours/.


AESP Webinar Series - Next installments coming October 24th, 25th and 30th

Join our specialists for webinars highlighting NASA Resources that you can use in your education activities.

On October 24th (4-5PM Eastern), John Weis will introduce participants to the five problem based learning educator guides in the NASA Investigating the Climate System series (wind, precipitation, energy, clouds and extreme weather).

On October 25th (5-6PM Eastern), Steve Culivan will discuss NASA's Kepler telescope and its search for Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.

On October 30th (4:30-5:30PM Eastern), Steve Culivan will explore how to use robotics, inexpensively, in your classroom to enhance your students' understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Click here to join the conversation (log on as a "Guest").

2012 Cassini Scientist for a Day Essay Contest

Participants examine three possible Cassini observations, choose the one they think will yield the best scientific results, and then write a 500-word essay explaining their choice. Click here for more information. Submissions are due October 24, 2012.

"The World's a Place of Living Things" Art Contest

Students in grades 2-4 are invited to explore biodiversity and create artwork reflecting on what they have learned. Click here for more information. Submissions are due by mail no later than November 5, 2012.

2012 Humans in Space Youth Art Competition

The deadline for this competition has been extended. Students ages 10-18 are invited to express their ideas about the future of human space exploration through visual, literary, musical or digital art. Submissions are due now November 15, 2012. Click here for more information.

Call for Papers from Middle School & High School Student Researchers/Authors

Journal of Emerging Investigators is publishing a series of peer-reviewed climate-related research papers authored by middle- and secondary-school students (standalone or science fair projects; click here for more information). The "intent to submit a manuscript" e-mail is due to David Brooks (brooksdr@instesre.org) by November 30, 2012.

NASA Announces Asteroid Naming Contest for Students

Students worldwide have an opportunity to name an asteroid from which an upcoming NASA mission (OSIRIS-REx) will return the first samples to Earth. Click here for rules, guidelines and a video explanation of the contest. Entries are due December 2, 2012.

2013-14 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship

This professional development program is open to current public or private elementary and secondary mathematics, technology, engineering and science classroom teachers with demonstrated excellence in teaching. Applications are due by December 5, 2012. Click here for more information.

2012 OPTIMUS PRIME Spinoff Video Contest

Featuring OPTIMUS PRIME, the leader from the popular TRANSFORMERS brand, this contest (click here) highlights spinoffs from NASA technologies with the goal of helping students understand the benefits of NASA technology to their daily lives. Registration must be done by December 15, 2012.

2013 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Awards

Do you know K-12 teachers or district-level administrators who are making a difference in education through the use of technology? Click here to nominate them for this award. Nominations are due January 14, 2013.

RealWorld-InWorld (RWIW) NASA Engineering Design Challenge

RWIW encourages students in grades 8-12 to explore and build skills essential for successful careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through project-based learning and team competition. Important dates include January 31, February 9 and April 26, 2012. Click here for more information.

NASA’s REEL Science Communication Contest

NASA is looking for talented high school students to create videos that engage students in earth science. Click here for more information and registration details. Videos are due February 15, 2013.

2013 NASA Space Settlement Design Contest

Students in grades 6-12 propose a design for a space settlement, a permanent community in orbit rather than on another planet or moon. Click here for more information. Proposals are due March 15, 2013.

Like Us on Facebook!! (click here )

Do you need ENGAGING & EXCITING lessons that satisfy your state’s education standards? If the answer is ‘YES!,’ then choose a solution: 1) click here to ask an Education Specialist, 2) click here to find an informative webinar, 3) click here to browse/search lesson activities in our Resource Repository, or 4) send an email to weiss@psu.edu or gamrat@psu.edu .

To log into NEON: http://neon.intronetworks.com/#

Educator Resource Repository: http://aespresources.psu.edu

If you would like to meet your top matches, join a new group, reply to a forum or explore a resource, click here to login.

Some of our Future Events (Calendar Tab on Welcome Screen)
  • Green Strides Webinar Series: Investigating the Climate System - 10/24/2012
  • Deadline: 2012 Cassini Scientist for a Day Essay Contest - 10/24/2012
  • Lunar & Meteorite Certification Workshop - 10/25/2012
  • Paths to Successful STEM Careers - 10/26/2012
  • NES Video Chat: Multiple Teams Make the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle - 10/24/2012
  • AESP Langley Webinar: Here an Earth, There an Earth, Everywhere an Earth: The Kepler Telescope Search for Habitable Planets Beyond Our Solar System - 10/25/2012
  • NES e-PD: Pythagorean Theorem (Exploring Space Through Math) - Lunar Rover - 10/24/2012
  • NES e-PD: Meteorology - How Clouds Form - 10/25/2012

A pen that types what you write...


Note: I post this as an example of technology that could be useful in education - not as an endorsement or an advertisement... Nathan Smith

Write your notes anytime, anywhere. When you are back to your computer, simply connect the USB receiver to your computer (PC or Mac). Your notes will be instantly converted into editable text (Word, Outlook®, Notepad).

Write your notes on any kind of paper! Simply place the receiver on your document and you are ready to go! The IRISNotes is cordless, battery-powered and can be used anywhere!

Easily export your notes on your PC and Mac using the USB connection, or send it directly to your iPhone and iPad using the free IRISNotes application which allows you to write and draw on your mobile device (Available on the App Store).

Apple Launches 7.9-Inch iPad mini, 4th-Gen iPad

  • 5 megapixel (rear) iSight camera and front-facing 1.2 megapixel camera;
  • Bluetooth 4.0;
  • Support for 1080p HD video recording;
  • Support for LTE and DC-HSDPA in cell-enabled models; and
  • Up to 10 hours of battery life.



Flipped Classroom Resources from UEN


TED - Ryan Merkley: Online video -- annotated, remixed and popped


Teacher's Reading Toolkit - Common Core ELA Standards


K-5 Math Websites by Grade Level


Grades K-2

Numbers and Operations
Algebraic Concepts
Data and Probability
Math Reasoning

Grades 3-5

Numbers and Operations
Algebraic Concepts
Data and Probability
Math Reasoning

Monday, October 22, 2012

100 Best Digital Learning Tools For 2012

Jane Hart from the Center for Learning & Performance Technologies today released the following Top 100 Tools for Learning 2012 (as voted for by 500+ learning professionals both inside and beyond education internationally).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to Use Google+ Hangouts for Teaching


Also, for other interesting articles, have a look at http://www.scoop.it/t/focus-online-edtech

"Google+ is the latest social media platform which has caught the imagination of professionals in all walks of life. Fortunately for educators, many features like Circles, Sparks, and Hangouts are of immense value – for an educator teaching at institutions located in different places, a lot of time is lost in travelling from one location to other, not to mention the strain involved in alternatively travelling and teaching.

Google Plus's Hangouts is a tool that takes the travelling strain out of the teaching process. Teachers can use that time to conduct more virtual classrooms at a greater number of places. This enables institutions to teach more students with a lower number of teachers, thereby saving costs and placing institutions in a position to reward teachers in better ways. The biggest advantage is that the Google Hangouts allows a teacher to teach to ten classrooms at a time. In case there are more, each of the receiving classrooms can relay it to ten more classrooms in turn.

Classes can be interactive and students at any center can ask questions through FM mikes. The speaker's image will always be bigger so that there is no confusion as to who is speaking. You don't have to search faces to find out who is speaking. Here are some suggestions for using Google+ Hangouts to improve your teaching experience."

Click here to read the entire post...

Android Apps for special needs children

The following is from the site: Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs:  a blog that focuses on ideas for teachers of learners with severe, profound, intensive, significant, complex or multiple special needs. 

Have a look at their site - it has some great ideas and good reads...  Here's one of them.

Android Apps for Our Kids

iPods and iPads are slowly facing more and more competition from Android and Windows.  As that happens there are more options on those platforms for AAC-related and other apps for individuals with severe or multiple special needs.  Here are a few to get you Android users started:

Augmentative and Alternative Communication
  • AAC Speech Buddy, $27.99, uses the free Mulberry Symbol Set, 12 TTS voices and online management
  • Discover My Voice, $50.00, uses photos and TTS or recorded voice
  • Free AAC, speech output from screen full of proprietary symbols, free
  • iAugCom, $4.99, uses white on back communication icons
  • JABTalk,$9.99, uses photos and recorded speech
  • LangLearner Speaker, free, text based only, TTS, low quality voice
  • myVoice AAC, free but costs to increase vocabulary, complex vocabulary sets, uses photos, high quality TTS voices, GPS allows automatic location based board changes
  • My Voice, My Words, TTS with clip art images arranged in grids, $10.23
  • TapTalker, TTS using an adapted keyboard, $3.23
  • TapToTalk, free but upgrade costs $99.95 a year, uses included icons or user photos, TTS with subscription
  • Touch and Go, free, uses photos and TTS
  • Vocal Slides,free, a flip through photo slides and touch to make them speak
  • Voice4U, $29.99, uses proprietary icons or user taken photos
Visual Supports
  • Activity Timer, $.99, visual countdown timer 
  • AutiPlan, free for basic version, uses Screla Icons (black on white images) works with the AutiPlan software
  • Autism Turn Taker, $3.99, uses visual prompts to teach/supports turn taking
  • Easy Kid Timer, $1.00, A visual countdown timer that then gives a visual prompt to do what is next, also includes a photo cropper
  • Model Me Going Places, free, social stories to support children in situations like going for a haircut
  • myPrompts, $1.61, use photographs to create visual schedules, offer choices or use with the built in count down timer
  • Visual Auditory Primer Pro, $.99, visual timer

ABA/Data Collection
  • Behavior Status, free, track behavior, graph and be able to show a child is their behavior is red, yellow or green
  • Behavior Tracker Pro,$29.99 , track multiple behaviors for multiple individuals using many intervention designs (ABC chart, intervals, audio/video recording, etc) and graph data (also integrates with the Behavior Tracker software if you have it)
  • Easy Kid Tokens, free, set up a "I am working for..." sentence and number of tokens to be earned and use as a reward board
  • Kid Mode, free, games, stories and more for kids
  • Synapse Apps, $7.99-$29.99, apps for SLPs
  • WebTeam Corportation offers 10 Android apps for children with autism that use principles of ABA to teach skills
  • Vizzle Player, free, if you use Vizzle in your school this free player app works with the Honeycomb OS to offer mobile access

Free iOS Apps Today - October 17, 2012

Cursive Writing HD

Ice Age Movie Storybook Collection
(in-app purchases)

Madagascar Movie Storybook Collection
(in-app purchases)

Blighty: The Ugly Duckling

Steadfast Tin Soldier - Interactive Book iBigToy

Momotaro - Interactive Book iBigToy

Twelve Dancing Princesses - interactive iBigToy


Teed - To Do List


Priority Matrix

Alphabet Learn

Metronome 'x

Cat and Mouse in Partnership - Interactive Book iBigToy

Stop Math

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Good reads about MOOCs - Massively Open Online Courses

From the Center for Digital Education - "Massively Open Online Courses Are 'Here to Stay'"

Massively Open Online Courses have slowly garnered attention. Called MOOCs, these courses are offered to anyone at no charge. Since they began on college campuses in 2008, large numbers of people have been taking these courses.

When 12 more top universities announced on Tuesday, July 17, that they will offer some of these online courses, the higher education community woke up to the reality that MOOCs will be a part of education's future.

“[Tuesday's] announcement is a pretty loud call to action for other universities," said Jonathan Becker, assistant professor of educational leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University. "What it mostly does is it legitimizes these kinds of courses."

The 12 newest universities are California Institute of Technology, Duke University, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Georgia Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, Rice University, UC San Francisco, University of Edinburgh, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Toronto, University of Virginia and University of Washington. They signed agreements with Coursera, a company started less than a year ago by two computer science faculty at Stanford University to provide courses to anyone at no charge through partnerships with universities.
In April, Princeton, University of Michigan, Stanford and University of Pennsylvania started working with Coursera. The addition of 12 more universities proves that MOOCs aren't going anywhere.

"This is a strong showing that the MOOC movement is not a passing fad; it's not a passing fancy, but it's something that's here to stay," said Andrew Ng, one of the Coursera co-founders.

The skinny on MOOCs

Although MOOCs share the common characteristics of being large courses open to anyone, there are two main types, one called an "x MOOC," and another called a "connectivist MOOC."

The companies and partnerships that fall into the "x MOOC" include Coursera; an MIT and Harvard partnership called EdX, and a new venture founded by three roboticists called Udacity.

Other universities follow a connectivist MOOC model developed by George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Dave Cormier in 2008.

What's the difference between the two? Connectivist MOOCs are more social and focused on deriving meaning of the learning experience with others, Virginia Commonwealth's Becker said. And they allow students to participate through blogs, RSS feeds and other decentralized methods, said Downes, a senior researcher for Canada's National Research Council.

By contrast, x MOOCs emphasize content mastery, centralizes courses on one website and uses automated grading tools to support hundreds of thousands of students.

But regardless of the category, MOOCs as a whole will change how universities offer courses, Downes said. And they're not going away.

"Universities can't just keep doing what they're doing and hope this whole online thing goes away," Downes said.

Opening doors to students

At University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, organic chemistry educator Michael Evans found out that his blended Organic Chemistry 2 course in the fall would be a MOOC. His boss volunteered his class for the opportunity.

"What's exciting to me is the possibility of opening up the doors of the classroom potentially to off-campus students as well," he said.

Those off-campus students could bring different perspectives to the class and collaborate with a variety of students. But at the same time, he hopes that the university's students won't experience much of a change, and he plans to give the on-campus students priority.

Education was once a scarce resource, Ng said.  With MOOCs, that's no longer the case.

"Today anyone in the world can learn from the best professors in the best universities, and I think that's really exciting," Ng said.

Challenges lie ahead

But with this rosy picture comes much uncertainty and some knotty problems. Designers of open online courses have to figure out how to accurately assess students in a scalable way.

"A big problem that I think is a barrier to change is the inability to assess and give some really solid credibility to MOOC courses," Evans said.

And educators have to design these courses so that students who aren't motivated can participate successfully, said Geoff Cain, director of distance education at College of the Redwoods in Eureka, Calif. That includes creating guides for collaboration and engagement.

"One of the things about MOOCs is they take a lot of student motivation to be successful," Cain said. "And some students aren't prepared for that."

Ultimately, everything around MOOCs is uncertain. And no one knows what will happen in the next year.

"Universities need to earnestly begin conversations about what this all means," Becker said. "And if that's what [Tuesday's] announcement causes, then that's a good thing."

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From the Center for Digital Education - "First University System Joins edX"

Huge online courses will be coming to the University of Texas System next year, the system announced Monday, Oct. 15.

With this news, the University of Texas System becomes the first university system to throw in its hat with edX, a not-for-profit enterprise started by Harvard and MIT in May 2012. By partnering with edX, the University of Texas' nine campuses and six health institutions will develop massively open online courses (MOOCs). These courses allow anyone around the world to participate, draw large numbers of students and do not charge participants to take the course.

"Our partnership with edX will help us provide that high-quality education, make it more efficient, make it more accessible and make us more affordable," said Gene Powell, Board of Regents chairman.

The university system decided to offer massively open online courses to provide maximum options to students, said system Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa. Current students and alumni — as well as anyone else who wants to — will be able to take courses from edX institutions. These institutions include MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley and the University of Texas System. While they won't get credit for the course, they will get a grade and a certificate of completion from that campus if they finish.
"We wanted to join the world of MOOCs, and we felt that if we joined with edX, we'd leapfrog into a great orbit of excellence," Cigarroa said.

But this isn't something the university system jumped on overnight. Nineteen months ago, the Board of Regents created two task forces to improve the system's excellence, access and affordability of higher education. One of these task forces looked into blended and online learning. As a result of its research, blended and online learning made it into the chancellor's framework, and the Institute for Transformational Learning was created.

"Higher education is at a crossroads," said Steve Mintz, executive director of the Institute for Transformational Learning in the University of Texas System. "But by leveraging new technologies, we can enhance student learning, we can accelerate graduation, and we can hold down the cost of higher ed."

EdX, Coursera and Udacity all provide platforms for these types of courses. But the University of Texas System chose edX for a number of reasons, Cigarroa said:
  • The organization aligns with the mission and vision of the Institute for Transformational Learning;
  • The system protects the intellectual property of faculty and the university;
  • Faculty can modify and contribute to the course development;
  • The system has access to the platform's foundation code.
Existing online course partnerships with other organizations including Academic Partnerships can continue as well. And this will be more of a partner relationship with edX rather than a vendor relationship.

The chancellor stressed that the massively open online courses will be of high quality and will be offered along with existing blended and online learning options the system already has for its students. In fact, some of the massively open online courses can be offered in a blended format on campus. In these classes, students would watch recorded lectures and participate in the forums, but also have in-class discussions and one-on-one time with professors.

In the summer and fall of 2013, the University of Texas system plans to offer at least four classes through the open-source platform that edX provides. Also, the system will pay $5 million to continue developing the platform and use the research analytics that comes with it. Another $5 million will go to edX so that its leaders can help faculty develop courses and understand how students learn better.
"We will keep 100 percent of our revenue," Powell said, "and in short, we will better meet the learning needs of a wider range of students."

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Articles Author - Tanya Roscorla

Tanya Roscorla covers education technology in the classroom, behind the scenes and on the legislative agenda. Likes: Experimenting in the kitchen, cooking up cool crafts, reading good books.

E-mail: troscorla@convergemag.com
Twitter: twitter.com/reportertanya
Google+: Gplus.to/reportertanya

Monday, October 15, 2012

$175K for STEM teachers - 2013 Teaching Fellowships

Read more by eSchool News Staff

These highly competitive fellowships are awarded to new teachers committed to teaching STEM in high schools nationwide.
Contact Information
  • Grant Organization: 2013 Teaching Fellowships
  • Contact URL: http://apply.kstf.org/applications/...
  • Eligibility: New high school STEM teachers
  • Grant Deadline: Wednesday January 9th, 2013
  • Grant Value: Up to $175,000

Friday, October 12, 2012

Free iOS App Today - Show & Tell: Jack and the Beanstalk


From the KinderTown website...

Show & Tell: Jack and the Beanstalk

Connected interactivity that has kids tilting, turning and dragging to progress the story along. The interaction and mini-games are original and fun. Oh, and it’s FREE! Full Review

Download Now

Show What You Know

Activity 1: Science - "Mom, can we grow a beanstalk like Jack?"

This science activity will allow your child to grow  beans in a plastic bag and have the ability to see the sprouting and observe the growth. We have often discussed having an ongoing Science Journal. This is the perfect time to have them get it out. Let them observe, have them draw their findings, label and talk about how a seed becomes a plant with the right environment. Don’t forget to have them date their observations.
You'll need:
  • dry lima beans
  • cold water
  • paper towel
  • spray bottle (optional)
  • gallon size baggie

Activity 2: Math - "What do we do with the leftover beans?"

In this game your child will estimate and count different groups of dried beans. They will use problem solving, reasoning and Number Sense.
You'll need:
  • box of dried beans
  • a cloth purse or bag for each child
  • one number dice (1 to 6) (for older children you can use two dice)

Deep Learning Isn’t about Technology

Two recent experiences have significantly impacted the way I think about teaching and learning and the importance of student autonomy and volition in our classrooms.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a PD seminar around embedding technology in the classroom. A wonderful goal, really. I think embedded tech is important; in fact, I think it should be the status quo in every classroom, every day. I honestly think there’s little point to tech as an afterthought — something we add on so that we can say we’re doing something “techie,” as if that’s the goal instead of deep, authentic, transformative learning.

As I listened to the presenter, something didn’t sit right with me. At first I couldn’t figure out what it was. So much of what was being discussed I agreed with. Tech needs to be part of the entire learning process: social bookmarking during research, Google Docs to create a common document, virtual collaboration among peers, the creation of technology projects. These are things that I advocate and have implemented in my own classroom. It wasn’t until talk turned to the importance of outlining  student objectives at the beginning of each class that it hit me. This is a teacher-centered classroom that’s being advocated — the complete opposite of my own classroom.

Students need to be co-creators

As presenter and participants discussed the importance of  introducing students to the day’s objectives by posting them where students can see them, I thought, “Why would I do that?” My students know what our objectives are because they’ve chosen them. And they know how they’re going to be assessed because they construct the criteria. Not that they can’t be posted, they can. But what’s really important is who creates the objectives, not where they’re posted.

And that’s when I realized — embedded technology is not evidence of a transformational shift in teaching practice. It’s possible to embed technology into every aspect of teaching and learning and still have a completely teacher-centered classroom, with the teacher in control of what is learned, how it’s learned, and for the most part, how students show their learning.

This needs to change.

Powerful learning begins to manifest when students take responsibility and ownership for their learning — when they become co-creators of their learning experience, rather than their education being something that is done to them. True student empowerment and engagement begins when we cross the threshold of co-creation.

“You do what the teacher tells you”

My second experience involved my two daughters. Rebekah, who is 7, and Chloe, who is 4, were playing school. Rebekah was the teacher, and she’d spent a fair amount of time creating worksheets for Chloe. She was really proud of the work and effort that went into these magnificent artifacts of learning. Chloe, in her 4-year-old wisdom, didn’t want to do them. “Why?” They weren’t any fun. Maybe we should have more 4-year-olds designing our educational system, but I digress.

Rebekah came to me completely distraught that Chloe wouldn’t jump through her hoops. So I responded from my own experience as a teacher and said, “Well, why don’t you ask Chloe what she wants to learn about?”

Rebekah looked at me and retorted, “That is not what school is like.”
“Well, that’s what my classroom is like.”

Quite emphatically she exclaimed with all of the authority that a seven-year-old can muster: “Well, all the years I’ve been at school I’ve never had a teacher like that.  Miss-so and-so didn’t do that, and Mrs. so-and-so didn’t do that. You sit in your desk and do what the teacher tells you. That’s how school works.” And she stomped away.

I knew the assimilation into factory schooling began pretty young, but I didn’t realize how much it had taken hold by grade 3. It was honestly shocking to encounter it face to face, especially with my own daughter. And to try to convince her that there was another way “to do” school was much like trying to convince her that Never Land is real. Students aren’t really asked what they want to learn about. That’s a fairy tale.

We need to make this fairy tale a reality. Student-centered learning is powerful, transformative and life changing, for teachers and students.  I’ll be honest, it can be difficult and messy. But once you’ve experienced it — once you’ve hung on for dear life until you see it work its magic — you’ll never go back.

Photos – Creative Commons: quinn.anya & apc33

About the author

Shelley Wright is a teacher and education blogger living in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in Canada. She teaches high school English, science and technology and works with other teachers interested in connected, inquiry-driven learning. Her passion is social justice and helping her students make the world a better place. She blogs at Wright’s Room. Follow her on Twitter at @wrightsroom. Meet the rest of our Voices. 

Free iOS Apps Today - October 12, 2012

Environmental Science Buddy

3D Math Racing PRO - A Fast Fun Math Facts Math Game

Easy Piano Chords

US History Regents Buddy

Earth Science Regents Buddy
Chem regents Buddy

Paddle Duck in Where's Carrie Cat? An Interactive Story (Children's Book)
Why The Sea Is Salt (Children's Book)

Little Match Girl - Interactive Book iBigToy  (Children's Book)

Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island - Interactive Book App for Kids

Fisherman and the Goldfish - Interactive Book iBigToy

The Frog Prince-Interactive Book-iBigToy

Kids Christmas Radio

Digital Pan (Steel Drum Musical Instrument)

Beethoven Symphonies Free

Hourly News

Panorama™ (Shoot panoramic photos with your iOS device)

Millie's Book of Tricks and Treats

Solar Walk - 3D Solar System model