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Skype for iPhone Now with Video Calls

I could remember back to 1964 at the New York's World Fair being transfixed as I spoke to my mother an father and was able to see them on the video phone in the ATT Pavilion. It sure has taken a long time for the idea of video calls to take hold. But if there is one prediction which will really take hold in 2011 it will be how we begin to make more and more video calls on our mobile phones. Apple lead the way this year with their  application FaceTime running on the iPhone 4 and iPod Touch, allowing users to have video conferencing calls on the go when they are within earshot of a Wifi network. Skype today announced the release of Skype for iPhone which is free that will allow users to place video calls over a 3G or Wifi network.

With Skype, you can:
  • Make video calls to people on their computers as well as other iPhones (details below)
  • Make free audio calls to anyone else on Skype
  • Make great value calls to landlines and mobiles around the world
The new app is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and iPod touch 4th generation with i0S 4.0 or above. You can also receive video calls on the iPod touch 3rd generation and iPad. Calls can be made between devices using the new Skype for iPhone app and desktops including Skype for Windows 4.2 and above, Skype for Mac 2.8 and above, Skype for Linux and the ASUS videophone.

So enjoy the New Year and reach out and touch someone with Skype for the iPhone!

Documenting Student's Work with Xpaper

I have always been a big fan of the digital pen technology and have witnessed the growth of this market over the past 8 years with the release of such products as the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen and PaperShow for Teachers. Using a digital pen and digital paper makes the solutions come alive and are a ,natural for students and teachers to use since very little training is required. One of the solutions which I believe could have tremendous impact on how teachers and school administrators capture data in the schools could come about by using digital pen and paper solutions.

I have been using a product called Xpaper from a company called Talario, LLC for the past couple of years, which lets me print my documents or forms on ordinary plain paper from a color laser printer. Once the document is printed with Xpaper, it lays down a grid of microdots on the page which makes it ready to write on with your digital pen. In the example above, I used Xpaper to record the errors a student made while reading a text passage. Using the Logitech digital pen I marked up the reading passage and once I was done I docked the pen and a crystal clear PDF file was created for me to archive the document. Using Xpaper, I eliminated the need to scan the document into my computer and I was quickly able to create a workflow with the digital document. Using Xpaper, I can quickly send the PDF document in the cloud and store it on Google Docs if I prefer. Now imagine if teachers and schools administrators used this technology to process all of the forms and data collected in the schools? I think you will find that using this technology one could save time and be able to begin to manage, collect, and archive data that is important to the life of the school. If you are interested in learning more about Xpaper and how you could take advantage of this technology, please feel free to email me. To watch an overview of how Xpaper works click here.

aHa!Visual Web Export for MindManager 9

I find myself spending more times these days creating and putting up more  information on the web for both the classes the I teach and the workshops that I facilitate. As a result, I am always looking for tools that will make it easier for me to accomplish these goals. I spend a lot of time using various mind mapping tools to brainstorm and communicate the ideas and information that I will cover in my sessions. I tend to use MindManager 9 now to create a lot of my materials and have been looking for a way to quickly be able to output  my maps on the web. Several years ago I had reviewed aHa!Visual Web Export and found it to be an easy to use solution for moving my MindManager maps to the web. Since moving to MindManager 9 , I had a chance to take a look at the aHa!Visual Web Export plug-in which was recently updated to work with the latest version of Mindjet MindManager version 9.

Installing aHa!Visual Web Export was extremely simple process. To export your MindManager 9 mind map to the web you Select from the File Menu Export as Web Pages and then you will see an option to Export using the aHa!Visual Web Export plug in. While there are lots of ways to customize how the map will render on the web page- it is easy enough to select the default options and save your outputted files to a folder on your desktop. Once you save the outputted files you can simply upload them to your server to display them. I found the process very easy to do and within minutes I was able to view my map on the web. All of your notes and web page links are live when they are exported. You can click on this link to view the output from aHa!Visual Web Export. I would highly recommend aHa!Visual Web Export if you are looking for fast way to share your MindManager 9 maps to the web.

Rebit’s Holiday Specials Bring “Ridiculously Simple” Discounts on PC Backup

Rebit has to be one of the easiest ways to back up your PC. I have had the opportunity to use Rebit on my laptop and it works as advertised. Rebit not only backs up your files but it also backups your applications and system. This is a great gift for the holidays! Brian


Rebit’s Holiday Specials Bring “Ridiculously Simple” Discounts on PC Backup
All Software, 1TB Drive on Sale through New Year’s Eve

LONGMONT, CO –  December 16, 2010 – Rebit Inc., the company dedicated to making backup and recovery for PC users “ridiculously simple,” today announced that it is offering holiday specials through December 31, 2010 on orders placed through www.Rebit.com.

“Our online holiday specials are a great way for users to save on complete and automatic backup and recovery for themselves and their friends, so all of those holiday memories can be safely stored and  treasured for years to come,” commented Charlene Murphy, executive vice president, sales and marketing, Rebit. 

About Rebit’s “Ridiculously Simple” Software
Rebit is the only backup and complete system recovery solution that starts working the minute it is installed, keeping PCs continuously protected from crashes, viruses or accidental file deletions.  Rebit backup and recovery is available for both Direct Attached Storage (DAS) and Network Attached Storage (NAS), and can be purchased at www.Rebit.comU.S. computer retailers and resellers can purchase through Rebit authorized distributors D&H (www.dandh.com), and SED (www.sedonline.com).

About Rebit Inc.

Rebit Inc. is a software company committed to delivering fully-automatic and complete PC backup and recovery, removing the burden of managing backup from users.  Rebit was named a 2009 and 2010 CRN Emerging Vendor by Computer Reseller News, and Rebit products have earned the Editor’s Choice Awards from Computer Times and Dragon Steel Mods. Contact Rebit at www.Rebit.com.  Rebit recommends “following the frog” via Twitter (@Rebit_Inc), Facebook (www.Facebook.com/Rebit) and the Frog Blog (www.Rebit.com).


Creating Language Arts Lessons with PaperShow for Teachers

As more and more teachers have begun to use PaperShow for Teachers in the classroom I wanted to share this tip for creating quick grammar and cloze technique activities. Using the interactive paper that comes with PaperShow for Teachers gives you the freedom to create activities for the classroom that your students can interact with. Once you create the activity and print it out on the interactive paper you can then pass the activity out to your students and have them complete it from their desks, so that everyone can see. Likewise you could use it to model how to complete the activity so that everyone can see how it is done. So lets get started!

I have found that the trick to creating these activities is using PowerPoint. So open PowerPoint and create one slide for each of your activities. In the screen shot below you will see that I created a slide that the students could use to correct the grammar.



It is probably a good idea to select a simple PowerPoint style that has a white background for two reasons: one, this will use less ink and two, it will be easier for your student to see the text when it is printed. Likewise, you will want to select a larger font so that it will be easier for your students to write on once it is printed on the interactive paper. For the second activity I created a cloze activity from the first stave of A Christmas Carol. I simply pasted the text into my PowerPoint slide and then removed the text and used an underscore to create the gap. For each of the words, I cut out I then pasted them on the bottom of the slide.

Now that my activity is completed I can save my PowerPoint file and import the slide deck into the PaperShow for Teachers application that is on the USB key and print it on the PaperShow for Teachers interactive paper. PaperShow for Teachers will prompt you print the slides on the interactive paper so make sure that you have the paper loaded in your color printer before clicking the OK button. Just a tip it is good idea to place the Printer Sticker on the printer that you will be using with PaperShow for Teachers that you received when you purchased the PaperShow for Teachers Starter Kit to help remind you how to orient the interactive  paper.

Here is a quick screencast of how to create import your activity into the PaperShow for Teachers application.
Click on this link to see a video on how to import your PowerPoint Slides into PaperShow for Teachers

Sharing Ideas with PaperShow for Teachers in the Classroom

As much as interactive whiteboards pervade the classroom landscape it is amazing what you can do with PaperShow for Teachers to get students involved and engaged in the classroom instruction. PaperShow for Teachers provides a great vehicle for students to actively record their ideas as apart of a classroom discussion. PaperShow for Teachers has a 30 foot range from the computer which is ideal for walking around the classroom and having students make contributions to the lesson. Students will feel right at home using the digital pen and paper notebook to capture their ideas that their classmates can then see. Teachers will find it easy to pass the notebook and pen around the classroom and give students the opportunity to contribute to the classroom discussion. Once students have made their contribution, the notebook file can be saved in a PDF format, emailed or placed on the schools website to share.

PaperShow for Teachers makes for a great tool when students are brainstorming or story-boarding ideas. Consider setting up a learning center with a laptop, a LCD projector and PaperShow for Teachers. Students can then use PaperShow for Teachers to mind map their ideas or brainstorm while working in a small group. There is no need to complete the entire session during one class- just save the the file you are working on the PaperShow for Teachers USB key and you can always revisit it, the next time the class meets.

While many PaperShow for Teachers users-use it to deliver more engaging presentations, PaperShow for Teachers is an ideal tool for actively engaging students when they need to analyze or annotate images, diagrams or pictures. Using the PaperShow for Teachers application that resides on the USB key you can quickly bring in a series of images- print them using a color printer on the 8 1/2 x11 interactive paper and be ready to use them with the digital pen to mark up. Simply place the images you would like to use in a folder and PaperShow for Teachers will dutifully import them and get them ready to print on the interactive paper.Once the images are printed on the paper you can use all of the PaperShow for Teachers tools to annotate and mark up the images. This feature gives teachers the flexibility to bring in whatever pictures they need for a particular lesson. Once you do one time you will see just how easy it is do accomplish and how much fun it is to use in the classroom. So make you lessons more interactive by printing images with PaperShow for Teachers and then pass the binder with the images around the classroom to engage the students. Using images, students can identify certain features on the picture, comment about the picture, add additional ideas and then save them if it so desired.

At just $249 dollars, PaperShow for Teachers gives you tremendous value and a way to engage students in the classroom by providing them more opportunities to participate and interact with ideas and images. Contact me if you would like a free demonstration of PaperShow for Teachers.

New and Improved Adobe Acrobat X

Adobe Acrobat remains one of the best kept secrets in the software industry. While many users, use the ubiquitous Adobe Acrobat Reader to open, print and display files on the web- many are unaware of the engine that makes this all happen. I have been fortunate enough to be provided with a Reviewer Copy of Adobe Acrobat X Pro which was recently released into the marketplace. As a long time user of Adobe Acrobat I was looking forward to working with the latest version of Acrobat to see what new and innovative features were build into this version. Adobe Acrobat X is now available for both Windows and Macintosh computers and builds on the long tradition of Acrobat as easy to use tool to create and publish PDF files.

The most significant change that you will see when you start up Adobe Acrobat X is in the interface. If you have used any of Adobe's newer applications you will feel right at home. Adobe has really done their homework and analyzed how users are most likely to use Acrobat and reconfigured the menus. You will notice on the right had side of the screen three different tabs, Tools, Comments, and Share. Clicking on any of these items will reveal a Pane with the associated tools and features. Being a long time user of Acrobat it was always a challenge to find where I might find the tool that I was looking for. Having the new interface now makes it a cinch to know exactly where to find something. The new interface is very intuitive and makes it easy for you to be as efficient as possible when you are looking for the right tool. The simplicity of the interface is going to be a hallmark of this version and one that I know I will enjoy using.

Creating PDF files is a lot easier to create with the new version of Adobe Acrobat X. Simply select the Create button from the menu and you have your choice of how you would like to create your PDF. One of the areas that has been vastly improved is creating a PDF from Scanner. I found that Adobe Acrobat X was much faster at creating the PDF and the finished PDF file size was much smaller than in the past. There were significant improvements in the Optical Character Recognition Engine which would account for better recognition of scanned material. Having a fully search-able PDF document with a small footprint really foots the bill for me.

One of my favorite features which was introduced in version 9 of Acrobat is the concept of a PDF Portfolio. This is an extremely powerful tool  and one that I feel has the potential to take this product far both in business and education sectors. As the term would implies a PDF Portfolio is a way for you to include a range of different types of  files and media formats and wrap it up in a PDF envelope. With a PDF Portfolio one could include a Word, Excel, Audio, Video, PDF documents and convert it into one single PDF file that can be delivered to your client or student. When they receive the PDF Portfolio you can package it and brand it with your company's colors or logo. Your recipient then receive I highly stylized PDF portfolio with easy to use navigation that can be opened with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader (version 9 or X) and presented with the files in the order that you wold like to present them in. Perfect for a business or educational portfolio which displays a range of different content and media. Adding video and Flash content is easier than ever and allows you to bring your documents to life with video playing inside your PDF portfolios.

Sending your PDF documents just got a lot easier with the advent of the new Adobe Service called Adobe SendNow Online. Adobe SendNow Online. is now integrated within Adobe Acrobat X and can be accessed from the Share tab. Adobe SendNow Online, as you can tell from the name, stores your files in the cloud and provides a link to your PDF that you can email to your recipients right within Adobe Acrobat X. If you have ever had the problem of sharing large PDF files via email, then you will really like how Adobe handles this new feature. Simply enter the recipients email address and they will receive a link to download the file. It is really that simple and you can control how much time they have before the link expires and receive delivery receipts when it is downloaded. The integration of Adobe SendNow Online with Adobe Acrobat X is really seamless and you will be asking yourself how did you ever live without it.

Working with Adobe Acrobat as much as I do, I am extremely pleased with this upgrade and the thought that went into making this easier and more intuitive to use. Right out of the box you will find Adobe Acrobat X a pleasure to work with. With a little time you will find that Adobe Acrobat X is one of thiose must have applications that you will turn to for all of your creative needs.

PS: Look for another post on the Action Wizard and Forms coming soon

Mind Mapping in the Cloud with Comapping

As I try to move more and more of my work to the cloud I keep going back to one application time and time again and that is Comapping. Comapping is a simple and easy to use mind mapping application that runs within the browser and gives me access to my maps from anywhere that I have access to the web. I should note up front, that Comapping has really become a great way for me to share information when I am presenting or teaching my graduate courses. It is easy to place web links and attach documents to the map which then gives my students access to the information that I need to provide them.

In many ways my Comapping maps can be thought up as a way for me to transport information that I need to share with others. One of the key features of Comapping is the ability to publish the information in such a way that it is easy to re-purpose it on a wiki, Blog, Google Site, or within Moodle. I have developed a number of Comapping maps for my graduate classes that I teach which is ideal since Comapping provides me with the embed code to publish it right within Moodle. This feature alone is worth its weight in gold. Now my students have access to web resources that are just a click away or they can download PDF files that I have attached to the map. If you haven't tried Comapping I urge you to take a look at it and see how it can help you manage the information more efficiently.

Here is an example of a Comapping map that I have used for some of my presentations:


Qwiki- New Informational Video Mashup

I recently came across this new informational  mashup service that is in beta called Qwiki which automatically creates a video complete with audio on a topic of your choice. The service is very engaging and I thought would be an ideal way for students to get an overview on a topic by watching the Qwiki video. There are invitations available for the service while it is still in beta - but it is very engaging and has lots of potential for the work we do. So if you have a chance check it out and let me know what you think.

Free PaperShow for Teachers Demo

Join me on Monday November 29th at 10 am EST for a free demonstration of PaperShow for Teachers.Find out how this innovative presentation tool can be used in the classroom, boardroom, or for webinars. Click here to sign up.PaperShow for Teachers is a cost effective tool to spice up lessons, presentations and webinars. Learn how you can use PaperShow for Teachers for brainstorming sessions or for capturing ideas in the classroom. Once you have captured the information you can easily share it as a PDF file. PaperShow for Teachers also lets you annotate images or your PowerPoint slides to make for richer and more engaging presentations. So sign up for this free webinar and learn about the power of this cost effect presentation tool. Click here to sign up.  Once you sign up you will receive a link for the webinar. Hope to see you there! Brian

Matchware Announces Mindview 4

It just came to my attention that Matchware has announced MindView 4 which is chock full of new and exciting features. One of the hallmarks of this release is collaboration and the ability to share your MindView 4 maps in a shared workspace.This feature will certainly herald in new and innovative ways to use mind mapping in the work space. Matchware has also included some new formatting and styles that can qucikly be applied and there is now the ability to Export to PDF which looks interesting.I for one am looking forward to finding out first hand the ins and outs of what looks to me to be a fantastic upgrade. Hope to do a review soon!

What Would Happen if Reading Was More Social?

It is hard to imagine my world without books yet for many students this is their reality. From a young age I could always remember my love for reading. For many, reading is a very personal and solitary activity. But things are about to change. You see it is now possible using eReaders like the Kindle to share ideas and engage others in the books that you are reading. With so many students engaged in the use of electronic and digital devices we have seen that the amount of time students are reading books has plummeted. Yet we know from a recent study ( 2010 Kids & Family Reading Report-published by the Harrison Group) that many students reported that they would be very interested in reading an e-book on an electronic device. Devices like the Kindle are very appealing reading devices because of all the built in features. Many students will enjoy the ability to change the size of the font or use the text to speech feature to have the book read to them. But from my perspective the Kindle opens up all kinds of possibilities for making reading a more social activity.

Now for a moment imagine that all of your students in your reading class had Kindles and were reading the same novel on their eReader. You with me so far? On the Kindle it is possible for the students to set up their social networks like Facebook and Twitter which would allow then to automatically post text they highlight in the book as well as notes they have taken on a particular passage. If all of the students have Facebook and Twitter accounts they can simply log into their accounts and view what their friends have posted about the book. If students use a simple # hashtag when posting their notes then it would be possible to search their Twitter accounts to see what everyone has posted. Likewise students could use a service like Tweetchat and with the hashtag have real time discussions about the book. Students would need to have access to WiFi to accomplish this, but as we move forward being able to utilize social networking to engage students in the reflection and discussion of the books they are reading can be a tipping point to more fully engage students in the reading process.Bring social networking into the reading process may just be the factor that keeps students engaged and coming back for more. I would be interested in your perspective so please leave comment.

DAISYtoEPUB to Kindle 3

In a previous post I shared my experiences using the Kindle 3 which to date is probably the best selling eReader in the marketplace. I'm sure that the Kindle 3 will be on top of the list for gifts this holiday season with nearly every big box store carrying it. One of the reasons why I had decided to buy the Kindle 3 was that it was the only dedicated eReader that has built in text to speech. Working with a lot of students with reading disabilities I wanted to see how the Kindle could be used by them, to access their books with text to speech support. While a lot of the publishers at their discretion can turn off the text to speech component it is still exciting to think of all the ways students can access text using this device. Now imagine the ramifications of your students who have access to Bookshare being able to read their NIMAS books on their favorite eReader the Kindle. Well it is now possible and let me share with you how you can do this.

Just this week Don Johnston released a new application for the Mac and Windows called  DAISYtoEPUB that can convert DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System), NIMAS and Bookshare files to the popular ePub format.The ePub format is the most popular format for ebooks and is supported natively on the iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, NOOK, and Sony Readers. If you are using the iPad, once the file is converted you can turn on VoiceOver and have the the book read aloud with the text to speech.

DAISYtoEPUB is extremely easy to use and within seconds the file is quickly converted. Once you have used DAISYtoEPUB to convert the file getting the books onto the various aforementioned devices is quite straightforward. This is not the case if you are using the Kindle. While the Kindle supports a number of different eBook formats, unfortunately it does not support ePub. However, not all is lost in the conversion. You see, using the free application Calibre, you can bring the ePub book into the Calibre library and convert it to the Mobi format which is in fact supported by the Kindle. Using Calibre you simply drag the ePub formatted book into the Calibre Library and using the Conversion tool save it as Mobi formatted file. From here I simply plugged my Kindle 3 into the computer and sent the file from the Calibre application to my Kindle 3. It really was that easy. Now when I opened my Kindle I had the NIMAS file in the Kindle and using the text to speech feature the Kindle could access and read the pages, complete with the graphics.

While it did take me a couple of steps to accomplish this - just imagine how useful a tool this can be for someone to be able to access their DAISY, Bookshare, or NIMAS files on a small and lightweight eReader like the Kindle 3. If you have any questions- please let  know . I would be interested in your comments. So if you have the chance take a look at the Don Johnston's latest application- DAISYtoEPUB.

iPevo 2 USB Document Camera Just Got A lot Better

I know it might seem like a little thing, but not having a carrying case for my IPEVO Point 2 View USB Document Camera at times really got in the way of carrying it with me. Since I have been using the IPEVO Point 2 View Document Camera I have kept it in the original box was somewhat bulky and would stick it in my duffel bag. when doing presentations. I have to be honest there were times that I decided not to take it because it was too bulky to carry in the original packaging. However, that all changed today when I received my IPEVO Point 2 View Document Camera Carrying Case specifically designed for the camera. The carrying case secures all of the cables and the stand and makes it an elegant portable solution which is easy to carry and store the camera. If you own the IPEVO Point 2 View USB Document Camera this is essential. I know that once you have the IPEVO Point 2 View Document Camera Carrying Case that you will be more inclined to take it with you when you are on the road and making presentations.

At the International Dyslexia Association Conference in Phoenix

Wow if only they had used Ginger to check the spelling! In any case-I just got into Phoenix yesterday where I will be helping out at the Ginger Booth at the 60th Annual International Dyslexia Association Conference. It was great meeting and talking with all of the educators who had a chance to come over and see Ginger in action. Each attendee received a free copy of Ginger which they can download to their own computer when they get home. Everyone who I spoke to yesterday was in awe as they watched Ginger process the spelling errors and make the correct suggestions. With each and every release of Ginger the spelling and grammar correction gets better and better. A new spelling intervention module will be added in the upcoming weeks that will identify specific lessons based on the students pattern of errors. Look for a post when this is released. If you are attending the conference please stop by Booth 200 and say hello. Regards from Phoenix!

Providing Technical Support with Glance

During the course of a week, I am spending more and more of my time working with teachers, providing them with professional development on various assistive technologies that can be implemented in the classroom. For many of the teachers that I work with this is their first encounter with many of the assistive technologies that are being introduced. Not being on site, I often leave access to software guides and reference materials on my Google Site for the teachers to access- should they need help. There are those times when these materials are not enough to pinpoint a particular issue and technical support is needed.

 Just last week I received an email from a middle school teacher who was puzzled why the software was not  working as she had anticipated. Rather than emails going back and forth, I set up a time for her to speak with me as well as a link where I could see and remotely control her screen. As part of my services to schools, I offer "Just in Time Training and Support." Using Glance an easy to use screen sharing tool, I was able to email the teacher a link so that when we spoke I could see her screen and take control of her computer. Once we connected on the cell phone and I started the screen sharing session I was able to see the teachers screen and she was able to walk me through the steps so that I could see the process. While doing the screen sharing - the teacher realized that she had left out a step which could explain why the program did not work as expected. We quickly went through a new scenario and added the missed step and all of the issues were quickly resolved. What would have taken weeks to solve was handled in 5 minutes using Glance. If you have not had a chance to use Glance click here to find out more information.

Glance has become an indispensable tool which I use for doing webinars and for providing on the spot technical support. If you are looking for "Just in Time Technical Support" for your assistive technology program let me know and I would be glad to send you a proposal. In the end the teacher was up in running in minutes and now is confidently going back into the classroom and using the software with her students. Without this support the teacher would have put the software aside until I had our next scheduled training session. To make sure you are getting the most out of your software investment consider contacting me for "Just in Time Technical Support."

Assistive Technology Webinar: From Knowledge to Advocacy

For someone who has been in the field of assistive technology for over 25 years it is really very exciting to see how far technology has come to assist students with special needs. For as long as I have been in the field, I know just how important it is for special education students to have have access to assistive technology. Unfortunately, not every school has the personnel who are knowledgeable about the latest advances in the field of assistive technology and so students are generally not offered the opportunity to try these tools. It is with this in mind that this webinar came to be. I reasoned that if parents became more knowledgeable about what assistive technologies are available- that they could become their child's best advocate in the schools and begin to request these services.

In this 1 hour webinar, Assistive Technology: From Knowledge to Advocacy- Dr. Friedlander will review the rules and regulations that pertain to assistive technology and talk about technologies  that can be employed to support access to the curriculum. Emphasis will be placed on meeting the needs of students with mild to moderate needs. Dr. Friedlander will talk about tools for reading , writing, organization, and math. Come learn about some of the new and exciting ways that computers, iPads, and eReaders can be used to address the needs of students with special needs. The fee for the webinar is $24.95 and includes the 4 page Assistive Technology Laminated Guide: What Every Educator Needs to Know About Assistive Technology which was recently just published- it is chock full of information about what you will need to know to advocate for assistive technology for your child. So join me for this informative webinar on November 19th at 1:00 pm. Sign up early and get your laminated guide mailed to you before the webinar! Once you are signed up you will receive via an email, the link for the webinar and information about how to connect to the teleconferencing center.

To pay for the webinar cick on the PayPal button below:




Using PaperShow for Teachers in the Music Classroom

I was talking with my wife and daughter, who are both musicians about PaperShow for Teachers and how it could be used in the music classroom, when it dawned on me how great this could be for writing music on staffs that everyone could see. In order to accomplish this with PaperShow for Teachers I did a quick search on Google for musical staffs in a PDF format that were in the landscape orientation.

I found a rather good site to download some staffs in the landscape mode and then I launched PaperShow for Teachers, imported the musical staff into the application and then printed it on the PaperShow for Teachers interactive paper on my HP Color Inkjet printer. Once I had the page printed I was able to draw the G Clef and add a couple of notes. Now imagine for a moment that you are a music teacher in the classroom just how handy this could be. Everyone can clearly watch you as you write the notes on the staff and when you are through you can export it as a PDF and send it to all of your students.

iTunes Apps Store Now Has Special Education Section

A couple of weeks a go I had the opportunity to work with a student who was having difficulty in the area of fine motor skills and decided to bring my iPad along. I had downloaded a number of apps to trial with the student but was counting on using the  iWriteWords app to see how the student would do with it. To say the least it was incredible to watch the student use the app and to see just how focused he was while working with it. His special education teacher and some of his therapist who watched the demonstration were amazed at his task engagement and attention.

It has been really exciting to see the iPad move into the realm of special education and I know for myself that it will find a place that is dear to the heart of special educators. There are lots of stellar apps out there that have the potential to change the way we think about assistive technology and the delivery of the services that we provide. Apple has always been at the forefront of accessible technology and recently added a Special Education section to the iTunes App Store. So check it out and let me know what apps you plan on trying with the students you work with.

Supporting Students in the Classroom with PaperShow for Teachers

For many students with learning disabilities, taking notes can be a daunting task. In classrooms where teachers are providing in-class support having access to PaperShow for Teachers can be invaluable. PaperShow for Teachers is a digital pen and paper technology that allows teachers to easily share written notes with the entire classroom. Simply plug in the PaperShow for Teachers USB key into your Mac or PC and start writing on the notebook paper that is supplied. With your computer connected to a data projector now all of the students can see what is recorded in real time. Just imagine for a moment that as the support teacher, you are writing the notes with PaperShow for Teachers and everything that you are recording is able to be seen by the classroom.  After the class is over you can easily save what you have recorded and export the notes as a PDF or PowerPoint file.

So if you are looking for way to add a new strategy to your bag of tricks - look no further and give PaperShow for Teachers a try.  For more information please feel free to contact me via email.

AnyBook Reader from Franklin - Teacher Tested

When I first learned about AnyBook Reader from Franklin I knew I had to get my hands on it and give it a test run. The idea behind AnyBook Reader is very straightforward. Pick a book any book, activate one of the provided stickers, record the page, and then let your child hear your voice reading the book. When my AnyBook Reader arrived from Franklin, I was excited to give it a whirl. I first installed the 2 AAA batteries and then followed the simple instructions that were provided and within seconds I was able to hear myself read the book. Following the sequence in the instructional  guide was made even easier as AnyBook Reader provides auditory cues to let you know when you are ready to record the page. Once you record the  page you simply touch the AnyBook Reader to the sticker and voila your page is read. AnyBook Reader comes with package of reusable stickers as well as stickers with pictures on them that make fun sounds and noises. It is easy to remove the plain stickers and re-record over them when you are ready to use them with another book. If you need to you can always reorder additional stickers. The AnyBook Reader is available in two different models- one that can store 60 hours of recording and another model which can store 15 hours of recordings. AnyBook Reader is priced at $59.99 for the higher capacity reader and $39.99 for the lover capacity reader. Children will find it easy to adjust the volume when using the AnyBook Reader and will enjoy the high quality audio when listening to the pages being read. AnyBook Reader makes it difficult for students to re-record a page by virtue of the sequence that is required to do so.

As much as I enjoyed using AnyBook Reader- the true test for AnyBook Reader had to take place in the classroom. I was so excited with the potential of AnyBook Reader that I decided to demonstrate it to one of my advanced assistive technology classes that I teach. All of my students immediately saw the value of AnyBook Reader  and could think of many ways to use it in the classroom. With this in mind, I decided to loan AnyBook Reader to one of my students who teaches preschool children so that she could field test it. I went over the directions on how to record the pages and set her off to give it a try. The preschool class had the opportunity to use AnyBook Reader for a two week period and when my student came to class to share how it went, she was so excited to share her observations. My student shared the she couldn't believe just how wonderful AnyBook Reader was in allowing her preschool children to sit and have the book read in her voice. She shared that the students were enthralled with AnyBook Reader as they sat there and listened attentively to the book being read. It was very exciting to hear this feedback and know that this is from an experienced teacher who actually field tested it in her classroom. I know that she will go out and purchase one for her classroom. The only comment that she made was that she wished there was a way to plug in a headset or ear buds. Which I would concur. For more information about AnyBook Reader click here.

If you are looking for a quick and easy way to make books accessible then you have to take a look at AnyBook Reader from Franklin. This is an affordable and fun way to engage students in the reading process. And along the way I'm sure you will come up with interesting ways to use this device to modify all kinds of materials :-).

Adobe Unveils New Acrobat X Solutions

Easily Create, Review and Share Compelling Documents with Greater Productivity Across Organizations
SAN JOSE, Calif., — Oct. 18, 2010 Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today introduced the Adobe® Acrobat® X software family – Acrobat X, Reader® X, the Acrobat X Suite and new document exchange services at Acrobat.com – that empowers professionals to innovate and create higher quality content, driving tighter collaboration and productivity across teams in today’s dynamic business environments.
“Companies today need to work with their customers and partners in multiple time zones, languages and cross-functional teams,” said Melissa Webster, analyst, IDC. “Seamless, fluid content creation and collaboration is critical to how organizations use, repurpose and share information – it is no longer a ‘nice to have’ – it is an imperative to success in today’s business world.”
Acrobat X delivers new guided Actions to simplify multi-step document preparation and publishing processes; completely new customization capabilities in PDF Portfolios unify multiple file types into a compelling presentation. New document services available at Acrobat.com give individuals the ability to collaborate more efficiently. Integration with Microsoft SharePoint enables consistency of PDF documents across the enterprise; re-use of content is now easier with higher quality export to Microsoft® Word and Microsoft® Excel.
New Acrobat X Highlighted Features
·         Automate routine, multi-step tasks with new guided Actions and easily share them with coworkers and collaborators, reducing the burden of training.
·         Change how users view, think and interact with content and its context with PDF Portfolios using new layouts, visual themes and color palettes.
·         Maximize the power of Adobe Photoshop® and Adobe Acrobat to easily create dynamic communications with the new Acrobat X Suite. Quickly capture, edit and combine digital content right from the desktop.
·         Increase productivity across the organization with new Microsoft® SharePoint integration. Check-in, check-out PDF files for reviewing and editing shared documents.
·         Streamline the process for large organizations to deploy, configure and manage updates and conform to ISO standards, in both Adobe Reader X and Acrobat X, including support for Microsoft SCCM and SCUP.
·         Display the most commonly used tools all in one pane with the updated user interface.
New in Adobe Reader X
·         Commenting is now available in Adobe Reader X, with Sticky Notes and Highlighter tools available to all users.
·         Expands PDF access to mobile devices with free Adobe Reader X for Android, Windows® Phone 7 and Blackberry Tablet OS.
·         Safer viewing of PDF files with new Protected Mode security capabilities in Reader X.
New Services via Acrobat.com
·         Adobe SendNow, a valuable new document exchange service at Acrobat.com, enables users to send and receive large files and track them with proof of receipt, avoiding e-mail gateway issues, complicated FTP servers, or the costs of expensive overnight mail.
·         Adobe CreatePDF for easily converting files to professional PDF documents from within Adobe Reader X or any Web browser.
Quotes
Kevin M. Lynch, vice president and general manager of Acrobat, Digital Enterprise Solutions Group, Adobe
·         “Today, more than ever, people need to communicate and collaborate reliably and professionally with people outside their organization. Acrobat X is a response to this dynamic – to drive more fluid collaboration and to create richer experiences in today’s fast-paced, complex business environments.”
Larry Hawes, lead analyst, Collaboration and Enterprise Social Software, at Gilbane Group
·         “Collaborative documents is a visionary collaborative content model that is just now beginning to be realized. Perhaps the clearest, productized articulation of this vision that I have seen is the PDF Portfolios component of Adobe Acrobat, enabling content creators to bring together multiple related files into a single space without altering them, and then share that bundle with others. Think of a PDF Portfolio as a ZIP file in which the relationship between the individual files in the container is defined and sequenced, as are the slides in a presentation.”
Bill Rue, chief information officer, HASSELL, international network of architectural design studios
·         “Using advanced Microsoft SharePoint functionality in Acrobat X, we can seamlessly integrate documents into our workflows, simplifying projects and helping to ensure we have the right people working on the right project, at the right moment.”
Johnny Chloride, solution delivery manager, HASSELL
·         “Acrobat X offers a sleek user interface and tool panes that make the software extremely easy to use for anyone.”
Mason Farmani, COO and managing partner, Barkley Court Reporters, the largest court reporting firm in California
·         “With Acrobat X, streamlined document commenting and collaboration improves sharing ideas and information. For us, it helps accelerate our internal learning processes and gives our clients the tools to work together more effectively.”
Ron Usher, managing partner, Bell Alliance, real estate and estate planning leader
·         “The Action Wizard in Acrobat X empowers our staff to transform many of their time consuming tasks into simple one-step processes.”
·         “In the latest release, Adobe has found a great balance between rich features and delivering an intuitive application with a modern, clean interface.”
Helpful Links
·         Acrobat blog
·         Acrobat Twitter account
·         Acrobat User Community
Product Family
This release line-up includes the following Acrobat X products:
·         Acrobat X Standard
·         Acrobat X Pro
·         Adobe Reader X
·         Acrobat.com services, including new Adobe SendNow and Adobe Create PDF online document exchange services.
Pricing and Availability
Acrobat X and its associated products are scheduled to ship within 30 days, with availability through Adobe Authorized Resellers, the Adobe Store and Adobe Direct Sales.
·         Estimated street price for:
o    Acrobat X Standard is expected to be US$299 ($139 upgrade)
o    Acrobat X Pro is expected to be US$449 ($199 upgrade)
o    Acrobat X Suite is expected to be US$1199 ($799)
·         Free 30-day trial of Acrobat Pro will be available upon product ship.
About Adobe Systems Incorporated
Adobe revolutionizes how the world engages with ideas and information – anytime, anywhere and through any medium. For more information, visit www.adobe.com.
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© 2010 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved. Adobe, the Adobe logo, Acrobat, Captivate, LiveCycle, Photoshop and Reader are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Experimenting with the Kindle 3

Once I saw that the Kindle 3 with WiFi was launched for $139 dollars I had to get my hands on it to test it out. Early reviews of the Kindle 3 were stellar praising Amazon for the redesign and the feature set in such a  small and lightweight package. Many of the reviewers praised the new high contrast E ink screen as well as the sleek design. At 8.5 ounces the Kindle 3 can hold its charge for a month's time and store over 3,500 ebooks. Since the first Kindle was released I was impressed with the fact that it had built in text to speech capabilities which I thought would be a great reading tool for some of the students that I work with. Early on Amazon was challenged by a union of  professional narrators who felt that having text to speech capabilities in some way interfered with its members livelihood. Amazon did settle and gave publishers the right to have the speech disabled if they so desired. When you download books from Amazon you can see if the speech is enabled or disabled for a specific book title.

The experience of buying the Kindle 3 off of the Amazon website was fast and pleasant and I was offered the opportunity to apply for an Amazon credit card that when approved gave gave me credit to purchase the Kindle case. When my Kindle 3 arrived in the mail it was already registered and the screen prompted me to turn it on how to get started. There was even a personal note from Jeff Bezo's about my purchase and how I could provide feedback to Amazon about the Kindle 3. I used the Kindle for a couple of days and then realized that the power switch was defective. I called Amazon's Customer Service on a Thursday evening and explained what happened and by Saturday afternoon FedEx dropped off a new one. That was impressive service to say the least. Once my new Kindle 3 was turned on  I synced it with the Whispernet service and all of my books were downloaded and I was ready to enjoy reading. It is hard to believe just how thin and light weight the Kindle 3 is when you are holding it. Based on my experience of using the Kindle 2, the Kindle 3 definitely refreshes the pages much faster than the second generatoin Kindle and the screen is much brighter. Having the freedom to change the size of the font and spacing of text is a great feature and one that I have come to rely on. Turning on the text to speech is easy to do and you have access to male and female voice. You can adjust the speed that the text is being read and the page will automatically advance when it is being read. The speech engine is adequate for the job but is by no means a high quality speech engine experience.

The Kindle 3 does have a jack to plug in a headset or ear buds and there is a volume control rocker switch which makes it easy to adjust the volume level. Pausing the text to speech is easy enough by pressing on the Space key. The Kindle 3 is easy and enjoyable to use and for the price it is unmatched in terms of features and functionality. I for one am very impressed with the Kindle 3 and have enjoyed the experience of using it to read ebooks. It certainly gives those of us who work in the field of assistive technology another option when we are looking for tools with text to speech capabilities.

From Livescribe Desktop to Evernote

Today I learned of an exciting synergy between Livescribe Desktop Software and Evernote. Ever since I got my iPad I find that I  been using Evernote more and more to store my notes and ideas. Working with the iPad makes you think about your workflow and having access to your notes and clipping wherever you may go. That is why I was so excited to learn about the ability of sending your Livescribe notes to Evernote from the Livescribe Desktop Software. So today I upgraded by Livescribe Desktop Software and gave it a try. The software worked as planned! Within minutes I was able to share my Livescribe notes and view them in my Evernote account. The the integration is seamless and easy to use. So give it a try and let me know what you think.

Presentation Tip with PaperShow for Teachers

As a presenter I know that there are going to be times when I need to share the URL's of web sites or other reference materials that my participants will need to go to. It certainly is a lot easier when this information is readily available and I don't have to spend the time writing it down for others to see. In this instance, what I usually do is open up PaperShow for Teachers and ahead of time- write down the information my participants will need to access on the flip chart notebook paper and then save the file to the USB key. This way when I am in my training session all I need to do is open the file and the information is there ready to be shared with everyone.Having this as a stating point is a great way to get right into the meat of the presentation and saves me time! Look for more tips on how to use PaperShow for Teachers in coming blog posts.

Latest Wordle

Every one in awhile I like to use Wordle to highlight what I am blogging about. Here is the latest Wordle.

Introducing Builder™ Research Paper Edition from Mead

I am always on the prowl for new and innovative products that can make a difference in the life of students in our schools. This past summer I came across a new software product called Builder™ Research Paper Edition from Mead which is intended to help students in the planning and writing of research papers. Builder™ Research Paper Edition is intended for middle school and high school students and provides students with planning tools that one needs to write an effective research paper. For many students the thought of writing a well researched paper can be daunting. There is a great deal of planing, organization, note taking that must be accomplished in a timely fashion to get the research paper done. Builder™ Research Paper Edition from Mead walks students through the entire process and provides them with a great deal of feedback along the way. Builder™ Research Paper Edition ships on a USB drive and can be used on Windows and Mac platforms. The program is easy to use and one that you should take a look at. I am planning to do a more thorough review but wanted to give you the heads up so that you can take a look at it. Click on the video below to learn more about Mead Builder.

PersonalBrain 6 is Officially Released Today

Marina del Rey, CA – October 5, 2010 – TheBrain Technologies, the leading provider of dynamic visualization and knowledgebase software, announced its newest release, PersonalBrain 6, which augments PersonalBrain publishing and provides synchronization of Brains across multiple platforms and machines.
Like the human mind, with PersonalBrain, users can make associative connections so ideas and files can be related to anything else. There is no limit to the number of connections an idea can have. PersonalBrain’s highly scalable user interface and database enable a virtually unlimited amount of information to be stored and visualized in a digital Brain. PersonalBrain has been downloaded by over a million users. Over half of the Fortune 100 organizations use PersonalBrain to organize information, brainstorm, manage projects and communicate complex ideas more intuitively.

PersonalBrain’s context rich interface provides an intelligent platform for sharing large information sets. Business managers, researchers, teachers, hobbyists and users worldwide publish their brains online at http://webbrain.com. PersonalBrain 6 takes Brain publishing to the next level by enabling one-step synchronization to WebBrain.com. Now users can share, backup, and synchronize across multiple platforms for universal access to their digital thinking.
“With PersonalBrain 6 you can access your Thoughts and information from the cloud or desktop,” said Harlan Hugh, Chief Technology Officer of TheBrain. “But what’s really unique is the desktop synchronization so whether you are on the road or even offline you can still take your Brain with you. With encrypted data transfer users’ mission critical information can be safely and quickly synchronized across multiple computers.”
PersonalBrain 6 has over 100 new features and enhancements including:
  • One Click WebBrain Publishing – Share your Brain with the world on WebBrain.com. Users can publish publicly, unlisted or privately. Send links to key Thoughts or areas in their Brain and track comments from the WebBrain.com community. Published Brains can be embedded in blogs or Web sites and are searched and indexed by all search engines.
  • Secure Synchronization and Backup Get access to your complete digital memory and knowledgebase anywhere. Synchronize your Brain across multiple machines, platforms and location. One step WebBrain publishing gives users and their coworkers instant access to information online or offline on the desktop.
  • Increased Performance – Work at the speed of Thought with twice the navigation speed powered by an augmented database backend. PersonalBrain’s dynamic user interface enables one to visually navigate across all relevant information quickly and intelligently. PersonalBrain 6 makes digital Brains even faster and more reliable. This increased speed further enhances the ability to easily create Brains with hundreds of thousands of Thoughts while increasing productivity.
  • Transparent Visualization – Connect your thinking to your work patterns. With PersonalBrain 6’s transparent mode users can float their Brains over top of their desktop or any application while still working. This revolutionary view enables Thought visualization to be seamlessly integrated with any activity.
·         Windows Explorer Integration  – Organize files and documents under multiple topics so you can move beyond linear file folder structures. With PersonalBrain 6 in addition to easy drag and drop of files, users can now right click on any file and use the “Send To” command to instantly add it to their Brain. Now, no file is more than two clicks away from your Brain.
·         More Tools for Getting Things Done  -  Get complete task management and mental clarity by creating Thoughts for all key tasks and projects in your life. Action-oriented PersonalBrains enhance productivity. With PersonalBrain 6 users can gain control of projects and to-dos with checkbox lists in notes, a more powerful calendar, and Google calendar synchronization.
·         Augmented Thought Type Visualization –  Create key information types and tag information with a wide variety of attributes to further delineate information and contextualize tasks. PersonalBrain 6’s new Thought Type display lets you visualize relationships between types and centralizes management of types.
PersonalBrain 6 Pricing and Availability
PersonalBrain 6 is a complimentary upgrade to registered PersonalBrain 5.0 users who purchased after February 1, 2010. Upgrades are $119.95 for other PersonalBrain 5 users. Upgrades can be purchased online at http://www.thebrain.com/purchase
PersonalBrain 6 is offered in three editions: Free, Core, and Pro (the most powerful edition). PersonalBrain Free is offered at no charge. The Free edition does not expire and lets anyone link ideas and Web pages on their desktops. Pro and Core editions are priced as follows: PersonalBrain Pro $249.95, PersonalBrain Core $149.95.
PersonalBrain 6 is cross platform and runs on Windows, Mac OS and Linux machines and is available in 7 languages. English, German, French, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Dutch.
WebBrain Services Pricing
WebBrain.com is a hosting service for PersonalBrain users. You can share your Brain online or browse other published Brains at http://webbrain.com.
WebBrain Free Services – Users can publish Brains for free with WebBrain Free Services which includes:
§  Publish Brains to share with the world
§  Unlimited Thoughts including support for Web link attachments
§  Brains can include Thought images/icons, notes, custom colors, and wallpaper
§  Brains cannot include file attachments
§  Upload as many Brains as you want
WebBrain.com Premium Services – Enables users to securely synchronize their Brain across multiple machines and publish publicly or privately. This service includes all types of file attachments – up to 50 MB each
§  Use your online Brain as a back-up – you can download it whenever and wherever you need offline access to it
§  Upload as many Brains as you want – up to 10 GB total
§  Subscriptions are $7.95 monthly or $74.95 annually.
About TheBrain Technologies
TheBrain® Technologies helps people see, share and find information faster. TheBrain’s Enterprise Knowledge Platform, BrainEKP™,  provides a complete knowledge management solution for companies that includes visual search, content management and powerful access control for mass Thought collaboration. TheBrain’s PersonalBrain™ Software helps users organize and capture ideas, projects and information on their desktops and synchronize their digital knowledge hubs online or to any machine cross platform.
Over half of the Fortune 100 use TheBrain, now downloaded by over a million people. TheBrain’s Government customers include the Department of Defense, Navy Special Warfare, as well as multiple state and municipal organizations. Everyone is encouraged to download PersonalBrain at http://www.thebrain.com to visualize their thinking or e-mail info@thebrain.com for more information.
TheBrain, PersonalBrain, BrainEKP and WebBrain are trademarks or registered trademarks of TheBrain Technologies LP. All other corporate names or trademarks stated herein are the property of their respective companies. Copyright © 2010 TheBrain Technologies LP.