Category Archives: Education

Brainspace Interactive Magazine

Brainspace is a quarterly magazine for kids aged 8-14 that is published in Canada.  U.S. Subscriptions are also available (about $30 for 4 issues).

image from video in Brainspace Magazine's "School of Rap" article
image from video in Brainspace Magazine’s “School of Rap” article

The magazine topics in the issue sent to me for review ranged from dinosaurs to speaking French to whether or not you can get sucked out of an airplane toilet (not likely, it turns out).

What sets Brainspace apart from other magazines you might find in your elementary school library is that it also includes augmented reality.  For example, if you download the free Blippar app, you can see the dinosaur on the magazine cover move and roar.  The majority of the pages inside also have “Blipp This” tags, allowing you to scan an image and watch videos related to some of the articles.

The videos are educational and often include students.  Some of them definitely give this magazine an advantage over print-only magazines because the articles alone would not be as effective.  It’s helpful, for instance, to learn French phrases by seeing other students using them in context.

If you have a child who does not like to read, I wouldn’t count on this magazine changing their attitude.  More likely, they will scan for all of the “Blipp This” tags and close the magazine after they’ve watched each video.

But, if your child is eager to learn, and is especially interested in scientific topics, a Brainspace subscription could make a great gift.

If you are a teacher or librarian, Brainspace might be popular with your students.  I would caution you to try one edition first to make sure access to the videos is not blocked in your school.  I found at least two videos in the Summer 2015 issue that were hosted on YouTube and wouldn’t have been accessible with a student device if I was on school grounds.

Parents’ Choice recently gave Brainspace a “Gold Award.” (National Geographic earned a silver, just to put that in context.) You can read the Parents’ Choice Award review here.

I would like to see the magazine make things even more interactive by including polls or quizzes that could be accessed with a scan. They could also engage their readers by asking them to submit videos (with parent permission) for future issues.

Overall, this magazine has a lot to offer, and I look forward to seeing its evolution.

For more augmented reality resources, including lesson plans and free apps, check out my Augmented Reality page here.

English Idioms and Their Meanings

It’s Phun Phriday – and tomorrow is July 4th!  As we celebrate Independence Day, we should remember the rich history of our country and its diverse inhabitants.  We should also remember that not everything we say makes sense to speakers new to the English language!

Illustrator Roisin Hahessy has created a delightful set of posters to help out those who might be confused when we casually say things like, “Hold your horses!”  You can check out the fun series here.

roisinhahessy

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

 

 

 

Hola Llamigo

Today’s Phun Phriday post is an adorable video that I found on Kuriositas.  Hola Llamigo is a creative and fun animated short about a young boy who lives on a pinata farm.  Watch the video to see what happens when his favorite pinata is in danger of being sold.

Screen shot from Hola Llamigo
Screen shot from Hola Llamigo, a short film by Charlie Parisi and Christina Chang