Supercharging Evernote

Evernote is a useful tool for staying organised and keeping your notes synchronised across all of your devices. After exploring the uses of Evernote in the classroom last week, let’s look at two ways to make Evernote even more useful- note linking and bookmarklets.

Note linking is not a well publicised feature but it has some really useful applications. Using the desktop version of Evernote you can find a direct link to your note and then hyperlink to it. Then when you click on the hyperlink the related note will open up automatically. Students could use these links to build a to-do list for the week, with direct links to a new note for each task they have to complete.

Use note links to build an interactive to-do list

Have a look at our video showing you how to build a to-do list using note linking.

Adding bookmarklets to your iPad (or iPhone) browser is also a great time saving option. One of the problems with the iPad is that it is time consuming jumping between apps. If you are reading a page in Safari and want to save it to your Evernote account you need to install a special shortcut (called a bookmarklet) that will do it for you with a few clicks. Our tutorial video below takes you through the (rather complicated) process of installing an Evernote bookmarklet on the iPad.

You can also install other bookmarklets for useful services such as Pocket, Instapaper, Diigo and more. The process is similar to the one outline in the video, so visit this page or do a search online to find the codes you need to make the bookmarklets work.

Remember to subscribe to the Bright Ideas YouTube channel to stay up to date with all of our video tutorials.

Searching Google with your voice

Today’s guest post comes from Bev Novak. Bev takes a look at the new Google search app for IOS devices and tests out the voice search feature. 

Released a couple of days ago, I just discovered the latest Google search app and I must say it’s really cool!

Designed for both the iPhone and iPad, this latest update allows you to search just by asking a question! Simply select the microphone icon on the new Google search page to instantly find answers to absolutely anything.

I’ve just had fun asking some very basic questions and had graphic returns within seconds:

What year was Napoleon born?

What is 10 Euro in Australian dollars?

What’s the weather tomorrow?

And if you want to be really impressed, just sit back and relax after giving the command ‘Play the trailer for the new James Bond movie’.

By using Knowledge Graph in its search technology the app is able to answer questions about people and places, says Google. Referred to in some reviews as Google’s attempt to take on Siri at her own game, the competition is certainly heating up with this new release and the winners are most definitely the users!

My one disappointment though is that none of the responses to my questions have elicited audio responses as they do in this video released by Google. I must admit though that even without audio responses I’ve been very impressed with both the speed and accuracy of responses. My mind is abuzz with the many different ways this can be used in our classrooms.

Have a listen and be inspired!

Thanks to Bev for taking a look at this interesting new Google search feature. This post originally appeared on the NovaNews blog, where Bev has some wonderful thoughts about teaching and learning. You can also follow Bev on Twitter

Explore Victoria’s history with Vic Heritage

Today’s guest post comes from Tanya Wolkenberg, Heritage Communications Project Officer for the Heritage Council of Victoria. Tanya introduces Vic Heritage, an iPhone app that lets you explore significant sites across Victoria. 

Vic Heritage is an app designed to connect people to the history of the places around them. For years now I’ve been watching the development of mobile technologies with keen interest, thinking of how these technologies can connect people to the stories and layers of history in their streets and suburbs.

There are lots of apps out there doing this really well, Historypin probably first among them. As I work for the Heritage Council of Victoria and we have an amazing database of 2,200 places and objects of state significance to Victoria, that’s where my focus lies. Each place or object on the register has a Statement of Significance – a statement of why that place is so important it should be protected – and these reasons might range from architectural to scientific, to contributing to an understanding of Victoria’s cultural history.

I was also really interested in capturing people’s stories about those places. If we think of the Statement of Significance as the official history of the place, I wanted to know the unofficial history too. Maybe someone saw their first gig there, or their parents got married there…. I wanted the app to reflect the layers of personal and community meaning attached to places.

In order to do that, I worked with our developers, Outware Mobile, to create some custom functionality. This allows users to add their own content to individual places, either a comment or image. Once the content is moderated it is displayed on a tab attached to the place.

We also created some custom tour functionality, which allows users to create their own tours by adding places together and giving them a title (might be related to a theme or location). Users can theme places together by a type of place, style or personal interest (for example, silos, Art Deco or swimming pools) or by location. They can save the tours for themselves or chose to share the tours with others.

The tours functionality is particularly useful for excursions – students can individually or in small groups create their own tours of the city according to buildings on a particular route, by architectural style or era, or by a type of place (civic building, church, etc). They can share these tours with the rest of the class, or report back on the histories of some of the places they’ve seen along the way, having read the Statements of Significance. I’d be keen to get feedback from other teachers using it as part of their classroom or excursion activities.

There are also ‘Recommended tours’ – tours created by us. These include two audio tours – one of the housing styles and social history of St Kilda narrated by Radio National’s Peter Mares, and another on contemporary architects’ re-use of old industrial buildings in the city. The two other tours in this section include one on 20th century architecture, and another which explores, via the built heritage of the city, Victoria’s Framework of Historical Themes. Each of these are easily walkable and lend themselves to excursions.

The app is currently only available for iOS devices, but we plan to rebuild the Victorian Heritage Database with most of the app’s functionality in the near future, and a mobile version of this will be available to all smartphone users.

The Vic Heritage app can be downloaded from the Apple Appstore.

Thanks to Tanya for taking us through some of the features of the Vic Heritage app. Tanya has also recorded a brief video demonstration of the app’s key features.

Springpad

In recent times there has been a deluge of online tools that promise to help you organise all aspects of your life. Many services keep track of your bookmarks, notes or contacts, but only a few services try to do it all.  One of the best and most comprehensive is Springpad.

On first impressions Springpad seems very similar to Evernote as it organises items using notebooks and tags. Simple text notes can be created and then added to notebooks. However, Springpad has quite a few features not available in Evernote. Items can be manually added and then grouped into types such as recipes, books, movies, contacts, bookmarks or products. You can also make checklists or create events that can be synced with your Google Calendar.

Where Springpad really shines is the search function which helps you to automatically add an item to your collection. You can search for a book title, then add this to your collection, add a short note or review and mark the item as ‘read‘ or ‘want‘. Notebooks can be shared and collaborators can be invited, so you could have students creating their own wishlist of books or building a shared page with reviews of their favourite novels. With categories for film, television, books and recipes Springpad would also be a useful tool for shared curriculum planning for teachers across many subject areas.

Adding a book using search

Adding a book using search

One brilliant feature is the barcode scanner in the mobile app (available for IOS and Android), which lets you scan product barcodes and then add the item to your collection. It’s a great way to quickly index your personal library as the app will also search the web and find cover art and details of the book. This function would also be useful for students keeping track of their research. The app also includes a QR code scanner.

Barcode scanner in the Springpad mobile app

Barcode scanner in the Springpad mobile app

When saving a web page the Springpad clipping tool does a good job of recognising the type of resource you are saving. However, in terms of saving the full text of webpages Springpad is not quite as powerful as Evernote or a dedicated bookmarking tool like Diigo. It doesn’t clip an entire page and then allow you to search within that saved page.  What Springpad does exceptionally well is saving recipes, books, films or products and then automatically adding the details of the item.

Saving an item with the Springpad toolbar

Saving an item with the Springpad toolbar

The lovely visual nature of notebooks combined with easy sharing and collaboration options means Springpad definitely deserves a place on your device. It’s the perfect tool for keeping track of many aspects of your life. With some minor improvements to the web bookmarking feature Springpad may well become the all in one organisational tool that many people have been craving.

e5 Apps for iPads in a Secondary School

Today’s guest post comes from Catherine Hainstock of Vermont Secondary College.

The e5 Instructional Model was recently introduced in Victoria and Vermont Secondary College has been trialling it for the past 12 months. We are also on the first phase of a 1:1 iPad program beginning with Year 7 in 2013. As one of the Teacher Librarians I am keen to evaluate and recommend resources of any sort to support quality teaching and learning so last year I began reading blogs about apps for education. I listened to individual recommendations then downloaded and trialled apps but only passed on a handful to specific teachers. I started questioning the quality of educational apps available (most were gimmicks, games or had limited use). Were we expecting too much too soon? I decided to take a different approach.
 
My question became – how could I support teachers to implement the e5 Instructional Model via the iPad Program? Was it possible to find quality apps suitable for each of the facets of e5?
 
As I re-examined e5 and trialled more apps, I had several objectives in mind:
  • to find apps that could be useful across Learning Areas (not always possible)
  • to choose apps that could support both teachers and students
  • to keep costs minimal
  • to check the terms and conditions (especially with regard to age restrictions and ownership of uploaded work)
Here is what I came up with –
 

 

While trialling apps I found that:
  • many suited more than one facet of e5
  • many suitable high quality apps are not listed in the education section of the iTunes Store
  • the apps I found suitable for the Engage facet of e5 tend to be subject specific  so I continue to sample across the learning areas
The e5 app chart is also available as a pdf to download. I’d love to receive comments or constructive feedback and continue the conversation about quality apps for the e5 model.
 

To find out more about Catherine’s work or give her feedback about the app chart, head over to her fantastic blog TL Under Construction.

Display Recorder: Screencast your iDevice

(Update July 2, 2012: The Display Recorder app has now been removed from the Itunes App store. At this stage it is unclear whether the app will reappear or has been permanently removed.)

There was some surprising news this morning with the announcement that Apple had approved a screencasting app for the iPad and iPhone called Display Recorder. As far as we know this is the first app that allows for full screencasting of other apps on your Apple device. Previously if you wanted to record a screencast you would need to link wirelessly to your computer using the Reflection app, which we looked at recently.

Display Recorder costs $1.99.  The app seems to work reasonably well though at this stage there is a bug that means you have to change your region settings on your device to United States. You can do this in Settings>General>International>Regional Format.

Recording of the screencast was simple. Just open the app, hit record and then you can skip between apps by clicking your home button and selecting the app you want to use (you can also double press your home button to quickly access open apps, or use the four fingered swipe to switch quickly between apps). Once you’ve recorded, head back to Display Recorder and click stop.

We did run into some problems uploading to Youtube as the upload froze on each attempt. Instead we saved the video into the iPad’s Camera Roll and then uploaded from there. You might use an app like iMovie to trim the video and clean up any errors (particularly the first and last few seconds when you need to start recording within Display Recorder).

Display Recorder looks like a promising screencasting solution. We had a very quick play with the app and recorded our first impressions which you can watch below. (1.17)

Reflection: screencasting for your iPad

The Reflection app has been available for the Mac for a while and is now also available on Windows. The app allows you to display the screen of your IOS device (iPad, iPod or iPhone) on your computer, meaning you can easily switch to your device during presentations or record screencasts.

To establish a connection and share your screen your computer must be on the same network as your IOS device, but our initial impressions are that it is reasonably easy to establish a good connection. We had a play with the trial version of the app, which is fully functional but limited to 10 minute sessions. Have a look at our first impressions and quick guide to getting started below (2.26).

An apple a day…

The latest model of Apple’s iPad is now on sale in Australia, with several stores opening at midnight for the launch. Much has been written about the improved display, faster processor and better camera. However for the education sector the greater impact may be on the pricing of the older model.

The iPad 2 has now been reduced in price, with the base model starting at $429. This places it much closer to the price of a netbook or low powered laptop computer. With educational discounting available, along with the recent announcement of Apple’s move into digital textbooks, it seems that Apple are making an even more concerted push into the education market.

The difficulty of managing multiple devices has been seen as one of the barriers for the introduction of iPads in a classroom setting. Apple look to be addressing this concern with the launch of a free utility for Mac called Configurator, which allows administrators to manage a class set of iPads. You can read CNet’s early impressions of the Configurator utility here.

For educators considering the introduction of iPads in the classroom, there are a number of useful resources available. The iPads for Learning website features details of the Victorian iPad trial. The trial details the implementation of iPads in ten educational settings throughout Victoria. You might also like to watch a video reflection by teachers and students at Epsom Primary School, one of the schools involved in the trial. The Slide2Learn website also has some great resources for educators looking to use Apple devices in the classroom.

Lastly, for anyone who is lucky enough to have picked up a new (or older) iPad you’ll probably want to buy some apps. Make sure you visit Gift Cards on Sale which keeps track of discounted Itunes cards.

 

 

Ten meta-trends from the Horizon Project

The New Media Consortium (NMC) is an international community of experts on technology in education who produce an annual report known as The Horizon Report.

Horizon reports highlight key trends in technology and education for the year to come, with an emphasis on innovation and adoption of new devices into schools and higher education.

In commemoration of the tenth year of the project, the NMC will issue a report highlighting key meta-trends in technology and education. The top ten trends have been released:

  1. The world of work is increasingly global and increasingly collaborative.
  2. People expect to work, learn, socialize, and play whenever and wherever they want to.
  3. The Internet is becoming a global mobile network — and already is at its edges.
  4. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based and delivered over utility networks, facilitating the rapid growth of online videos and rich media.
  5. Openness — concepts like open content, open data, and open resources, along with notions of transparency and easy access to data and information — is moving from a trend to a value for much of the world.
  6. Legal notions of ownership and privacy lag behind the practices common in society.
  7. Real challenges of access, efficiency, and scale are redefining what we mean by quality and success.
  8. The Internet is constantly challenging us to rethink learning and education, while refining our notion of literacy.
  9. There is a rise in informal learning as individual needs are redefining schools, universities and training.
  10. Business models across the education ecosystem are changing.

 

Appy holidays

Apps to get you started

With Christmas and the holidays fast approaching, there’s a chance that many of you may be unwrapping a shiny new phone or tablet this weekend. So after the obligatory first step (downloading Angry Birds) what apps should you download next?

Here’s our list of some of the great apps to download so you can make the most of your new toy. The list includes apps for Apple (IOS), Android, Windows mobile and Blackberry devices. Let us know your about your own favourites on Twitter or in the comments section.

Feedly (IOS, Android):  Feedly integrates with your Google Reader account and presents your feeds in a clean, attractive interface. You don’t need to create an account as you can just login with your Google account, and any changes you make to your feeds and folders in Feedly are also updated in Google Reader.

Tune In Radio (IOS, Blackberry, Android, Windows mobile):  Tune In Radio allows you to listen to thousands of internet radio feeds from across the world. There is a free version but the paid version adds the ability to record and save content for later.

Hootsuite (IOS, Blackberry, Android): The official Twitter app has come in for quite a bit of criticism, so we recommend Hootsuite as a great Twitter alternative for mobile devices. It’s reliable, allows you to  access multiple accounts and also allows you to add columns which monitor hashtags. Tweetdeck is another good option and offers similar features.

Flipboard (IOS): Considered by many to be the IPad’s flagship app, Flipboard takes your RSS feeds, social network accounts and curated content to create a beautifully presented, personalised magazine. Flip through your articles, tap on content to browse and pinch to close. It’s a great example of why tablets are so good for consuming content. Zite is another good option for IOS, while Google is also testing out the newsreader market with its upcoming Google Currents app.

Evernote (IOS, Blackberry, Android, Windows mobile):  If you haven’t signed up for Evernote yet, then prepare to be more organised than ever before. Evernote allows you to store notes on multiple devices, including your computer, and keep them all synced and updated. The mobile app lets you record voice memos and take pictures. All notes can be tagged and text is fully searchable, making this one of the most powerful organisational tools available.

Read It Later (IOS, Blackberry, Android) or Instapaper (IOS): Both of these apps allow you to save articles on your computer and then read the text version on your mobile device. The articles are presented in a clean, simple interface and are stored on your mobile device so you can read them even when you don’t have an internet connection.

Dropbox (IOS, Blackberry, Android): Dropbox gives you 2 gigabytes of online storage for free, and the mobile apps allow you to access your files on the go. This can also be a good way to get files to your IOS device without having to sync your device with a computer. Another powerful tool for transferring many types of files to your IOS device is GoodReader, which removes much of the hassle of trying to get documents from your computer to your IPad or IPhone.

Strip Designer (IOS): A powerful yet straightforward comic design tool, Strip Designer allows you to use your photographs and pictures to create comic strips. Add text, export directly to Facebook and make the most of your photographs.

Star Walk (IOS): Inevitably when you are showing off your new tablet someone will say “Well it doesn’t do anything a computer can’t do.” This is the app for putting these people in their place. Star Walk is a paid app, but it’s worth it for the wow factor when you hold your Ipad up to the night sky and see a full, interactive map of the stars and planets. Search for constellations, learn about the universe and more importantly get envious glances from your non tablet-toting friends.