Category Archives: Apps

Digital Curation Step #4 – Learn a New Code

Okay.  So let’s recap here.  This week we are talking about how to overcome your digital hoarding addiction.  Here’s what has happened so far:

  • Step #1 – Admit You Have a Problem
  • Step #2 – Restore Sanity
  • Step #3 – Examine Your Past Errors (such as thinking one tool would solve all of your problems or thinking another tool won’t help you at all.) My problem was that I couldn’t “Pocket” screen shots b/c they need to have a link.

For Step #4 you are going to learn a new code.  Don’t worry; it’s easy…

IFTTT

IF This, Then That

IFTTT is THE essential tool.  It’s the  Leatherman of the digital world. In brief, it will let you connect practically anything to anything.

I’m not going to spend this whole post shouting out the virtues of IFTTT.  Just go ahead and sign up for a free account and then:

*Note: These steps might be easier to do on a computer than a mobile device.  No worries, though.  You only have to do them once.

  1. Go to “Channels” and search for either iOS Photos or Android Photos.
  2. Click on the appropriate one.  You will need to give information to connect your Photos to IFTTT.
  3. Go back to “Channels” and search for Bitly, and connect that, too (If you did Step #3 yesterday, then you should have a Bit.ly account already.) Connect it.
  4. Go back to “Channels” and search for Pocket.  Connect that one as well.
  5. Next, click on “My Recipes” at the top.
  6. Click on “Create a Recipe.”
  7. Your first recipe will be

IFTTT Recipe #1

Of course, if you have an Android device, choose that instead of iOS. And this, my friends, is how confident I am that you will get IFTTT right away.

I’m not going to show you how to make the recipe. ;)

8.  You aren’t done.  You’ve basically just told IFTTT to make a public hyperlink for any screenshot you take on your mobile device.  Now, you need to tell IFTTT to send the link from Bit.ly to Pocket.

IFTTT #2

Now, you’re done.  I do need to warn you to give IFTTT a little time to rumble through these new recipes.  After about 15 minutes, try taking a screenshot.  Don’t expect it to show up on your Pocket list right away.  It will probably take another 10-15 minutes.

But when it does, you will see how super cool IFTTT is.  From now, every screenshot you take will be added to Pocket for you.

It will look something like this on your Pocket list (you probably won’t have a bulldog in your screenshot, though).

IFTTT Pocket

Now if you’ve followed instructions on these 4 posts, you should have everything streamlining into Pocket, where you can then search, tag, and curate to your heart’s content.

If you want, check out the other Channels on IFTTT.  You can send things to Evernote if you prefer – or even Google Drive.  I’m not claiming my way is the only way to gather info effectively.

It’s just the only way that has preserved my sanity ;)

Digital Curation Step #3 – Examine Past Errors

Click on these links if you missed them: Step #1 and Step #2.

As I mentioned yesterday, I got thrown a curve in my quest to conquer my digital hoarding addiction.  I thought the Pocket app would solve my problems by putting everything I wanted to save from Tweets and other online sources in one searchable list – until I noticed that I wasn’t always given the option to “Send to Pocket.”  It took me awhile to see my error.  If a Tweet didn’t have a link, I couldn’t send it to Pocket.

Now, I know there are other ways to save things.  I could, for example, take a screen shot.  But that would mean I wouldn’t have everything in one place – which is critical for me.

So, I did a bit more research and discovered a possible “workaround.”  What if I could take a screen shot, and automatically give it a link?  Then Pocket would accept it.  But that would still require me having to find the link and send it to Pocket :(

Unless…

Ah ha! I found a workaround for the workaround!  Perfect!

Now, you’re going to have to have a little faith here.  For Step #3, I’m going to tell you to create a Bit.ly account.  Don’t worry.  Like Pocket, Bit.ly is also free.  Perhaps you already have a Bit.ly account, and you are wondering how  in the world this is going to help streamline your digital curation.

That will be revealed tomorrow in Step #4 – learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior or, for short, learning a new code ;)

Bit.ly

Digital Curation Step #2 – Restore Sanity

So, in yesterday’s post, I admitted that I have a digital hoarding problem that is way out of control. Think of it as storing the food in your pantry all over the house and then trying to remember where you hid the marshmallows.

I decided to undertake the task of creating a more streamlined process for saving the great articles and ideas I collect from all over the web.  You can see the criteria in my last post.

Step #1 was admitting I have a problem.  Step #2 was to restore my sanity by looking for someone who knows more than me – which is pretty much anyone on the internet.

I Googled “digital content curation” and found tons of advice. Unfortunately, most of it was for marketing purposes.  However, I found many articles about using “Pocket” as a read-later utility.  It is available as an app and/or bookmarklet for any device.  You can find more information here.

With Pocket, I can save an awesome Tweet on my iPhone by tapping on the three circles at the bottom of a Tweet and choosing to “Send to Pocket.”  I can also do this on the browser and Flipboard.   (The Pocket website gives you easy-peasy directions for connecting other apps to Pocket.)  If I am on my home computer, I can do the same by using the Pocket bookmarklet in my Chrome browser.

Whenever I want to see what I’ve saved, I can look at my Pocket app on my mobile devices or my computer.  This is what part of my Pocket list currently looks like:

Pocket List

Note that there is a Search function in the top right (magnifying glass) so I can look for anything I saved if I remember a key word from the title or the source.  On computers, you can tag items as you save them – or even afterwards.  Unfortunately, you can’t do this on mobile devices.  However, I can go back and tag entries later if I want.

I also like that I can click on any entry that came from Twitter and see the original Tweet.  This allows me to give credit to the person who shared it.

Now, my sanity has been restored.  Everything goes to one place.

However…

there was one little sticking point with Pocket that was bothering me.

Pocket only saves links.  So, if a Tweet does not include a link I can’t save it.  This is a problem.  Often people will say great things or include pictures that I want to refer to later.  Without a link, Pocket is useless.

This problem threatened to throw my sanity back out of whack – but I decided to go to my “higher power” one more time and see what the internet advised me.

I found a “workaround” that fixed this problem.  It adds a little work to the back end initially but will stay true to my “no more than 2 steps” criteria once I lay the groundwork.

Interested?

Read tomorrow’s post for how I examined my past errors to arrive at a solution for my digital hoarding addiction!

Digital Curation Step #1 – Admit You Are a Hoarder

I’ve Scooped, Flipped, Bookmarked, Pinned, and Evernoted. My favorite hobby is collecting information.  In fact, I can pretty much brag that I am GREAT at searching for information and saving it.  The problem is that I am not good at remembering where I saved it.

“Did I save that article in Flipboard or on one of my Google Sheets?  No, I think I Pinned it,” I mumble. Often.

After I spent 20 minutes looking for an article that I knew I had saved on whether or not I am more like Sherlock Holmes or John Watson (Sherlock Holmes, surprisingly), and realizing I could have found it in 3 seconds by using Google, I had to admit I had a problem.

I am a digital hoarder.

I decided to spend this summer looking for a way to streamline the digital content I collect.  Here is my criteria:

  • One place to store everything
  • Accessible on any device and in any web browser, Twitter, Flipboard and other places from which I gather info
  • No more than 2 steps to save
  • Taggable
  • Searchable
  • Maintains the source information (especially if obtained on Twitter)
  • Free
  • Unlimited Storage

It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but I actually found a way to hoard more information – yet become more organized.

I’ll explain more in Step #2 tomorrow.

In the meantime, go ahead and feel free to join the Digital Hoarders Anonymous Program.  The first step – admit you have a problem ;)

image by Grap from Wikimedia
The perfect metaphor for my digital curation before I entered my own Step Program. ~image by Grap from Wikimedia

 

 

 

Google Slides Templates (Updated)

This week, I’ve decided to reblog some of my more popular posts with some updates. Since I’ve posted this piece on Google Slides Templates, I’ve found some other resources to add to the list.  You will find most of the updates at the bottom of this post.

Now that our campus has a set of Chromebooks, my students have been delighting in exploring Google Drive.  One tool that has been an asset is the Presentation tool also known as Slides.  Similar to Powerpoint, the Google version has a few advantages in our environment: automatic saving (extremely helpful when the network isn’t always reliable), the rockin’ Research Tool, and the ability to use Google image search within the presentation. Even more importantly, a shared presentation invites collaboration.  I’ve enjoyed having the students work on slides in the same show simultaneously, such as the metaphor presentation I’ve embedded below. (UPDATE: Alice Keeler has a great post on how students can submit work on a collaborative Google Slide Presentation.)

There aren’t a whole lot of themes available in Slides.  But a growing number of templates are popping up online.  You can start with Google, itself, for public presentation templates that are free to download. Another fun resource, though somewhat limited right now, is Slides Carnival.

One of my favorite templates that I’ve run across recently comes from the DavidLeeEdTech blog.  This virtual museum template is so cool!  Scroll down to the comments section on his blog to get the direct link for downloading the template.

from David Lee's Virtual Museum Slides Template
from David Lee’s Virtual Museum Slides Template

Another option is to download a Powerpoint template that you like, and then to import the slides into your Google Drive presentation.

To download most templates, you will need to be signed in to your Google Drive. If the link provided for a template does not give you a direct copy, then you may have a “View Only” version, and will need to make a copy yourself. When applicable, always leave the proper source citations for the template on the slide show, but do whatever other editing you would like once you make a copy.

Tired of the limited fonts available for your Slides Presentation? Check out these instructions for adding more.

And, if you are feeling very enterprising and graphic-designy and would like to make your own template, Alice Keeler has step-by-step instructions for doing just that.

UPDATED 6/22/15:  More Google Slides Templates Resources

Bitsbox Subscriptions

“Are we going to do Share Time today?”

“Yes.”

“When?”

“Soon.”

5 minutes later…

“When can I share?”

This 5th grader was super-excited, and completely determined to make sure I didn’t forget to give him his 5-minute sharing opportunity.  In my GT classroom, students can earn different privileges for certain achievements, and this was a privilege for which this student had worked particularly hard.

Finally, it was time.

The student came to the front of the room with a box in his hand.  It turned out the box was his first package from Bitsbox.  It included cards, a magazine, stickers, and a surprise toy.

image from Bitsbox
image from Bitsbox

I last posted about Bitsbox in December.  The site is free, and allows students to learn how to code programs.  Once the students log in online, students can write and test programs on a virtual tablet. When users create something they like, it can actually be shared and played on mobile devices.  You can access the Teacher Guide here.

My student’s parents had gone one step further, and gotten a Bitsbox subscription.  Depending on the subscription level that is chosen, either a PDF or an actual box is delivered to subscribers monthly. My student obviously received the box, and he could not wait to share its contents with the class. The students were in awe as he demonstrated how you could actually write a program online, and then play it on your mobile device.

I was thrilled to receive my own Bitsbox in the mail for review.  So was my 12-year-old daughter, especially when she saw the “surprise toy” – a Slinky.

The current Bitsbox magazine is great quality (nice paper, color pages), has 22 apps to try, and includes an inventory of some of the songs, stamps, fills, and sounds that you can use to “remix” the apps. It also has a link to a Grownup Guide – one of the best features in my opinion – which allows you to type in a code number for any of the programs. Parents then have access to a helpful “translation” of the programming involved, as well as extension suggestions.  LOVE!

My daughter enjoyed the “Who’s My BFF?” code, which randomly chooses a friend’s name from the ones that you input.  My students like things that explode, so “Fido’s Lunch” (one of the included programming cards) made quite an impression.

The difficulty of the apps varies.  Some are very short and simple. Others have quite a few lines of code, but obviously allow for more fun when playing the completed games. Content-wise, the target ages seem to be about 7-12 years old, though I must admit that I certainly enjoyed trying them out even though I’m nowhere near that age bracket ;)

So, the big question is, “Is a Bitsbox subscription worth it?”  One thing you should do to help yourself make this decision is try the website activities first.  If your child enjoys those – to the point that he or she is modifying them and begging for more – then you should consider a subscription.  My 5th grader obviously did!  Personally, I think the $20 PDF would not be that exciting.  Kids like to get packages.  That being said, I’m not sure the $40 month-to-month is a very good value.  I think I would try the $35/month for 3 months or the $30/month for 12.  My advice to Bitsbox would be to offer 6 months for $30 each, and the 12 months for $25/month.  I think that would be ideal.

 

Quiver 3D Coloring App

Before you download this app (available in Google Play or iTunes), please note that it is not “Quiver – The Matchmaking Game.”  Trust me, you don’t want that on your elementary classroom iPads ;)

Quiver-3D Coloring App is the new face of ColAR, an augmented reality app that brought colored pages to life.  In fact, when you go to the Quiver website, you will probably recognize some of the same coloring pages that were offered by ColAR.  One of my favorite free pages, the one they offer for Dot Day, is thankfully still there – although it now has “Quiver” across the top.

Quiver offers a few new free pages of particular interest to educators.  I think the Animal Cell one was part of the ColAR inventory, but I hadn’t seen the Planet Earth or Volcano ones before. I played with the Planet Earth one last night, and wish I had seen it before my last class with my 1st graders.  They were learning about the continents, and would have flipped over the augmented reality – especially the different viewing options of the earth, being able to manipulate it, and the ability to take pictures and video.

Planet Earth Page: You can choose different modes - including one that shows your own coloring and designs
Planet Earth Page: You can choose different modes – including one that shows your own coloring and designs

I decided to check out “Magic Letter” (also free).  I have absolutely no idea what the characters are saying or what the writing is, but the video that shows up when you scan it is very cute.  As you can see, it looks a bit like an award certificate, so I put my name on it to see what it would do.  At the end of the video, the characters hold up the “letter” with your writing and confetti flies.

Magic LetterLike Zookazam, there are free features and paid features in Quiver. Really, though, the free ones are only limited by your students’ creativity.

For more augmented reality fun, check out my resource page here. There are lessons, activities, and app suggestions. For these last few days of school, augmented reality might be just the thing to  engage your students.