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Five Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Dedicated eReader

I have been using eReaders for some time now and really enjoy the convenience and ease of use of these dedicated devices. In my travels to schools, I am beginning to see more and more schools pilot eReaders in the classroom, especially for students who struggle or who are unmotivated to read. Teachers see the value of students being able to change the size of the font and easy access to the dictionary feature. For many students who struggle in reading many are now more motivated to read on an eReader device as compared to a traditional book. Students can also peruse the Electronic Bookstore and of course with teacher permission download sample chapters from books to see if it will pique their curiosity to engage them in the reading process. But before you go out and purchase an eReader here are some questions you should think about:

1) Do I have access to WiFi in my school or building?

Many of the eReader's support WiFi as well as 3G which will enable you to download books directly to the device without the need to use a computer. If your school has a good WiFi infrastructure then you can save a considerable amount of money by buying the WiFi model of the eReader. For example the  Amazon Kindle Touch with WiFi is $99 dollars compared to the Amazon Touch WiFi/3G model which is $149  dollars. If your schools doesn't support WiFi then you should consider the Kindle Touch WiFi/3G model which would allow you to download books over the air using the 3G network. There is no extra data costs associated with using the Kindle Touch WiFi/3G model for downloading books to the devices.

2) How long can  I expect my dedicated eReader to stay charged?

Many of the dedicated eReaders that utilize E Ink technology can stay charged for long periods of time under normal use. The E Ink technology mirrors that of a traditional page and uses minimal battery life to render the black text on a white background. eReaders like the Kindle Touch and Nook that utilize E Ink technology can stay charged for up to 2 months- which is really incredible if you will be using in a school setting. eReaders that utilize E Ink technology assume that you will be reading the book with a lot of ambient light available.

3) Where can I purchase my books?

All of the major re-sellers of eReaders like Amazon, Bares & Noble, & Kobo provide the user with one stop shopping in their online book store. The online bookstore can be accessed from the devices and books can be quickly downloaded to the devices over WiFi or the 3G network. If you are purchasing books for a school you should investigate getting a corporate or school account with the companies so that you can purchase books with a school Purchase Order

4) Can I read other materials beside books on the dedicated eReader?

In addition to books many of the eReaders also support reading magazines, newspapers, blogs as well as your own personal documents in various formats ie. PDF & Word. When you purchase an Amazon Kindle you are provided with unique email address that you can send Word or PDF documents to, which can be delivered to your Kindle over the WiFi network. This feature is handy for students who want to read their documents on their eReaders

5) How important is having audio and Text to Speech capabilities on my eReader?

While eReaders are great for reading books some eReaders like the Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch also support playing audio books from Audible.com as well as reading text on the screen if the Text to Speech capabilities have been enabled by the book publisher. For students with reading disabilities or for those who struggle to read having the text to speech capabilities is a great feature.Likewise, being able to listen to a professionally narrated book from Audible can be very motivating for students who need to reengage with text.

I hope these questions and answers have provided you with some food for thought when you are planning to purchase eReaders. If you have any questions about eReaders, please feel free to email me. If you are interested I am available to run workshops on using eReaders in the classroom.


Waiting for Kindle Fire to Land

When Amazon announced the Kindle Fire in September, I quickly pre-ordered the device knowing that it would be a big seller. If all goes well I should have the Kindle Fire in had some time tomorrow so that I can share that experience with you. I have been using a Kindle for some time now and really enjoy reading on the device and look forward to experiencing reading on the Kindle Fire. Amazon relying on their Cloud Services has made it really easy to access my ebooks from the many devices that I use. As a company Amazon gets high grades from me for customer support and when my Kindle Reader arrives it will be registered and ready to use with my account. Amazon has done a marvelous job with the integration of their Whispernet network and I cam looking forward to a seamless experience with my Kindle Fire out of the box. More details in the coming days!

Great Sound from Jawbone Jambox

I ended the weekend at a soiree that my daughter was singing at which was a fund raiser for a local New York City Ballet Company and as luck would have it there was a Silent Auction included in the night's activities. As I scoped out the items, my eyes caught a shiny box with a Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker that I had read about in the tech blogs. The Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker have a retail value of $199 dollars and when the auction opened it started at $125 dollars which was a steal at that price. While I paid a little more for the Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speakers when the auction closed- they are well worth it when I'm listening to my music from my iPohne 4S. The Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker includes some really interesting speech technology which lets you know when the speaker is in pairing mode. Pairing the Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker with my iPhone was a cinch and the sound is really awesome. The speaker is extremely loud but the driving bass really sounds great listening to the Allman Brothers. The Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker comes with everything you need to use the system including a power adapter to charge the lithium battery, USB charging cable, mini- RCA jack and a carrying case. You can use the Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker with any device that has Bluetooth or if you want you can use it as an external speaker with the included RCA jack by plugging it into any audio output. As I sit here writing this blog I'm relishing in the sound of my iPhone and the Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speakers.

Just Released: IPad™: Enhancing Learning & Communication for Students with Special Needs


I am happy to announce the release of my latest reference guide: 
IPad™: Enhancing Learning & Communication for Students with Special Needs




The reference guide is 6 pages - three hole punched and laminated and is a great resource if you are just getting started or thinking about using the iPad in your classroom. Both authors are special educators as well as assistive technology specialist who designed the card for ease of use. The laminated reference guide is chock full of ideas and tips and tricks on how to best use the iPad in the classroom with recommendations for some of the leading apps for students with special needs.


The iPad™ is a revolutionary technology for use in our 21st century classrooms. It is profoundly changing both the manner in which teachers present instructional content, as well as the way students process and learn new information. The multi-sensory design of the iPad™ makes it an ideal tool for teaching students with special needs. This laminated reference guide provides valuable information on the use of the iPad™ in classroom settings to reach students with diverse learning styles and who have limited functional communication abilities. Proloquo2Go, iCommunicate and other types of applications (Apps) to enhance language development are presented in an easy-to-understand format. An ideal resource for teachers, speech therapists and other educators who work with students who have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), learning disabilities or other language-related challenges.


If you are interested in purchasing this laminated reference guide please email me for a quote. Volume pricing is available and school purchase orders are accepted.


To purchase:


  


Free Upcoming eSeminars - Adobe Captivate & eLearning Suite


Adobe’s series of free eSeminars on Adobe Captivate and eLearning Suite continues into November – this month’s featured sessions focus on publishing and packaging. Please note the next eSeminar, covering the Multi-SCO Packager, is tomorrow, Nov. 10, at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern.
   
Thursday, Nov. 10 – 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET
Join Vish and Dr. Pooja Jaisingh to learn how to combine SWF and PDF from Captivate, Learning interactions SWF from Flash and Course Builder SCOs from Dreamweaver into a single course. You will also learn about using Learning Interactions in Flash and Course Builder in Dreamweaver.

Wednesday, Nov. 16 – 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET
Join RJ Jacquez, Adobe eLearning Senior Product Evangelist, to learn how Adobe is helping advance Mobile Learning (mLearning) through various technologies, including Flash, HTML5 and native mobile apps.

MatchWare Launches MindView 4 Mac, Mind Mapping Software for OS X Lion

Today MatchWare (http://www.matchware.com) announces the release of MindView 4 Mac, a professional mind mapping software ideal for optimizing brainstorming sessions, creating visually driven presentations and displaying project plans in an easy-to-overview timeline. Thomas Henriksen, MatchWare’s Product Manager, explains, “Our user feedback was very clear, Mac customers want a professional mind mapping tool to visually overview ideas and improve communication, collaboration and innovation. MindView 4 Mac provides the professional feature set to drive productivity through seamless integration with Microsoft Office and a cutting-edge presentation mode that ensures brainstorming, organizing and presenting ideas has never been easier.”

The enhanced Microsoft Office integration and ready-to-use templates enable users to effortlessly export their mind maps as professionally formatted Microsoft® Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. With 7 dynamic viewing options including a timeline, new map styles, and innovative presentation options, MindView 4 Mac continues to take mind mapping to the next level. Additional new features include a new formatting toolbar, the ability to record audio commentary as a sound note and attach the file to a mind map branch, open MindView 4 for PC files and the option to export a mind map as a PDF.

MindView 4 Mac’s new presentation mode displays information one branch at a time, enabling users to deliver dynamic, interactive presentations directly from the mind map. Focus mode empowers users to zoom-in on specific areas of the map, allowing participants a clear view of the specific information presented. MindView 4 Mac enables users to customize the placement of branch pictures; further enhancing the capability to provide clear, visual displays to improve the understanding of complex topics.
“I have tested MindView 4 Mac on OS X Lion and the new Presentation Mode and Focus Mode are extremely helpful when presenting my mind maps during meetings. I like the fact that the Focus Mode lets me zoom in automatically on branches in a non-linear way so people in the back of the room easily can see and contribute to brainstorming sessions,” says Frans Merrild, C.E.O of Tell-It Online.

MindView’s unique Timeline view delivers a powerful, visual overview to improve any project planning process and enhance the study of historical and future events. By adding dates or times to the mind map branches, users can simply switch to the Timeline view to instantly display information on a horizontal time axis.

MindView 4 dramatically improves the ability of professionals to capture and share information in one click from a mind map to Microsoft Office, a timeline, a PDF document or a HTML website. Mac users now have a professional productivity tool for turning ideas into action plans.
MindView 4 Mac is available for purchase at http://www.MatchWare.com and the Mac App Store for the upgrade price of 149 USD or 249 USD for a single user license. For more information about MindView, visit http://www.MatchWare.com or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Contact us for multi-user and educational discounts.

About MindView
MatchWare MindView is professional mind mapping software that allows you to optimize brainstorming sessions and present ideas visually. MindView's mind mapping capabilities provide an effective way to organize and develop ideas, outline reports, and streamline decision making. MindView’s visual hierarchy and professionally designed export templates convert your mind map into a polished presentation with the click of a mouse. Brainstorm topics, storyboard presentations and enhance meeting discussions. Attach pictures and videos, take notes or add hyperlinks – everything will be included in your export.

About MatchWare
Founded in 1992, MatchWare is a leader in intuitive Mind Mapping and multimedia authoring tools for enhancing individuals’ ability to create, visualize, manage and distribute information. The company’s award-winning software packages, MindView, Mediator, and ScreenCorder, offer highly intuitive user interfaces and powerful features at affordable prices. Headquartered in Denmark, MatchWare has subsidiaries in the UK, the USA, Germany, France and Sweden.
  • MatchWare, MindView, MatchWare Mediator, MatchWare ScreenCorder are trademarks or registered trademarks of MatchWare A/S. All other trademarks and registered trademarks used in this document are the property of their respective companies.

A Busy Month

October has been an incredibly busy month for me and so my blog posts have slowed down. Between presentations, workshops, and teaching my days have been full. Of course there is always time for new technologies and just last week my iPhone 4S arrived on the scene. It is an incredible device and with the large number of apps it is overwhelming-even for me.

Setting up the iPhone was quick and easy to do, and once I connected it to my Google account, my contacts and schedule came streaming in. Talk about smooth integration. As much I will become wedded to my iPhone 4S, thinking about the whole category of smartphones for students with disabilities is really intriguing. Just last week I did a demo of Siri, Apple's integrated assistant for my graduate students and was thinking about all of the applications for students that we work with executive functioning disorder. With Siri it is possible to create Reminders easily using your voice as well as enter Events directly into the calendar. Apple has once again taken the initiative to build a speech recognition engine into the iPhone 4S which allows users to use natural language to control certain aspects of the phone. I'm sure over time new functionality will be added that will even take the Siri technology even further. In fact, Apple has integrated speech recognition into all aspects of the iOS 5 which I have found works really great. Simply click on the microphone which is located on the onscreen keyboard and start dictating. You will find the speech recognition to be highly accurate and a great tool for instant messaging and for composing emails. Have to run but look for more posts about using the iPhone with your students with Executive Functioning Disorder- coming soon!

Amazon Announces the Kindle Fire for $199

Wow! Amazon announced today that they will be shipping on November 15th the Kindle Fire with a 7 inch color multi-touch screen for $199 dollars. With all the speculation it looks like they delivered on their promise of a highly functional reader complete with access to the web, ebooks, apps, music, and streaming video. At $199 dollars  they will carve out a niche for those consumers who were waiting on the sideline to jump into purchasing a tablet of their own. The Kindle Fire will be powered by a dual core processor and host a multi-touch screen (7" multi-touch display with IPS (in-plane switching) technology and anti-reflective treatment, 1024 x 600 pixel resolution at 169 ppi, 16 million colors) and come standard with Wi-Fi and a USB 2.0 Micro-B connector along with a the built-in Amazon Silk browser for fast web surfacing. The Kindle Fire is reported to be able to run for 8 hours on a full charge and can be charged with the wall AC Adapter or via a USB connection to a computer. The Kindle Fire will ship with has a native email client that can support Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL etc. Of course you will have access to the entire Amazon collection of music, videos, apps, and music which you can purchase for their store. This looks like the Amazon Kindle Fire will hit that sweet spot for a powerful but easy to use device that can serve as portable  tool when we are away from our desks. For now the Kindle Fire only support Wi-Fi,  but I would imagine if it is a success in the marketplace that we will see a 3G version as well. From the likes of it, it doesn't look like the Kindle Fire supports Bluetooth- but I will have to delve into that a little more. Amazon has put on their boxing gloves and looks to be in for the long haul as they position the Kindle Fire as an  alternative to Apple's iPad. At a price point of $199 dollars the Kindle Fire is sure to be a winner for consumers. The Kindle Fire can be pre-ordered now from Amazon for a mid November delivery.

Magic Whiteboard Now Available from AssistiveTek!

It is easy to capture our students' imagination and attention when we use visuals in our teaching. Of all the things we can do in the classroom non-linguistic representation of ideas has been demonstrated to be linked to achievement and retention of information. In this day and age of computers and technology it is quite liberating to touch a marker to whiteboard. Now imagine if any wall or blackboard or desk could be turned into a writing surface with a simple and easy to use product. Well your quest has been answered, you see, Magic Whiteboard was just recently launched in the United States and AssistiveTek, LLC is one of the premier resellers of the product. 

Magic Whiteboard is a supercharged whiteboard on a roll that can be put up anywhere in seconds, and sticks with static. The magic lies in the statically charged polypropylene film that clings to almost any flat surface.  This film can be written on with standard dry erase markers and erased just like a standard whiteboard. Magic Whiteboard is portable and reusable making your investment cost effective. This easy to use solution requires no special set up or installation-simply peel a sheet off the roll, adhere to a wall and start writing. You can use standard dry erase markers to draw with and erasing is simple and easy.

If you are looking for a cost effective tool to engage your students in their learning then take a look at Magic Whiteboard- you will be happy you did. Magic Whiteboard is $56.99 for a roll of 25 perforated sheets which gives you over 65 feet of whiteboard writing surface. Order your Magic Whiteboard today and get started with this exciting new product. 


Click this link to watch a video about the product.


Amazon To Make Big Kindle Announcement this Wednesday

Jeff Bezos will take the stage this coming Wednesday at 10:00 am in NYC and will unveil the latest Kindle offering. From following the bloggers, it looks like we will see a 7 inch back-lit touch screen color Kindle that will be running a customized version of the Android operating system. The color Kindle will be positioned as a ebook reader very much like the Nook Color has for the past couple of years. However, the color Kindle will offer you rich media through the Amazon Store where you can download and play songs, movies and of course download your books. The color Kindle will support WiFi at this time and will come with a Browser giving you access to the web and the full range of Amazon Store services. What is really exciting is the price point that everyone n the web has been has been speculating about. Some have shared that they believe the new Kindle Color Reader will be priced below $250 dollars which will certainly get everyone excited about the potential for this tablet/ereading device. Having access to a color eReader like the Kindle Color with good performance and access to the web could certainly shake up the tablet market. So I know I will stay tuned to the announcement this Wednesday to find out all of the details. We certainly live in exciting times! So check back here next week for the Kindle Color update.

Free Adobe eSeminars for Captivate 5.5


While Adobe Captivate 5.5 is an easy to use tool- it is great that Adobe will be offering free eSeminars to walk you through the finer points.  To register for one of the seminars just click in the link. Enjoy! Brian

Thursday, Sept. 22 – 8 a.m. PT/11 a.m. ET
Join Dr. Pooja Jaisingh and Vish to learn about the alternate options available for quiz reporting like Acrobat.com and Internal Server. They will also show you how to analyze the results using Adobe Captivate Quiz Results Analyzer.

Thursday, Sept. 29 – 8 a.m. PT/11 a.m. ET
Join Vish and Dr. Pooja Jaisingh to learn how to use the Branching panel effectively in Adobe Captivate 5.5.

Wednesday, Oct. 12 – 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET
Join Dr. Allen Partridge for Part 3 of an advanced tutorial on creating soft skills simulations with Adobe Captivate. This session is recommended for intermediate and advanced users and assumes fundamental awareness of Adobe Captivate. Dr. Partridge will demonstrate and break-down the elements commonly used in creating soft skills simulations. This will be a technically oriented session focused on advanced actions and creating the logical decision trees and complementary functions to make advanced branching dependent projects really sing.

Kindle eBooks from Public Library are Now Available

One of the shortcomings of the Kindle platform is that it does not support the ever popular ePub format which made it next to impossible to borrow ebooks from the public library. But all that has changed and as of today, patrons of the public library can now take out Kindle eBooks which can be delivered over a WiFi connection or via a USB download.

I decided to give it a try and so I  logged into Overdrive and searched for my Public Library which was quickly found. I then logged into the digital library with my Patron Number and clicked in the Kindle books library which allowed me to search for a book. Once I found a book I wanted, I clicked on Add to Cart and when I checked out- I was redirected to the Amazon Kindle page where I could send it to my Kindle. Once I turned on my Kindle the book was automatically delivered over my WiFi connection and I was up and reading in no time. The process was fast and efficient. Having access to the eBooks from my Public Library  library will open up all kinds of possibilities now for reading adventures using my Kindle.

Mindjet MindManager 2012 Professional for Windows!


San Francisco – September 13, 2011 — Mindjet®, the company that improves how people work together, today announced the release of Mindjet MindManager® 2012 Professional for Windows®, the most powerful version of the world’s leading visual information software. MindManager 2012 is designed for today’s professionals who need to spark ideas and collaborate with their teams for more productive outcomes.
MindManager 2012 is the most significant release in the product’s history including real-time co-editing, enhanced information maps and new desktop interface, plus new brainstorming features that guide users to unleash their team’s creativity. The innovative feature directs teams to:
  • Utilize predefined challenge questions to promote different ways of thinking about the subject
  • Use inspiration cards to generate hundreds of fresh ideas
  • Leverages MindManager’s powerful visual experience to refine concepts and plans

"MindManager 2012 has been designed to meet the needs of today’s professional who are constantly barraged with new opportunities and pressing business challenges,” said Blaine Mathieu, chief products officer, Mindjet. “The new guided brainstorming feature organizes an outpouring of ideas that can be quickly honed into real solutions for real business needs.”
In addition, MindManager 2012 integrates with Mindjet Connect®, Mindjet’s cloud-based service (see separate release) to provide open and full sharing of MindManager maps with anyone, anywhere, on any device.
“Through the Connect cloud-based service, MindManager 2012 customers can freely collaborate on maps with anyone,” said Mathieu. “The combination of MindManager 2012 and Connect is nothing short of the future of the collaboration for teams and businesses.”
MindManager 2012 is available on September 22nd for the upgrade price of $179 USD and $399 USD for new customers at http://www.mindjet.com/mindmanager-pricing.
For more information about MindManager 2012 visit the Mindjet blog athttp://blog.mindjet.com.
About Mindjet:
Two million individuals, small businesses and Fortune 1000® companies using Mindjet understand that working visually and collaboratively brings results. We set the standard in mind mapping and now our focus is to provide collaborative work management solutions that dramatically improve how people can work better together, accomplish goals more successfully and be more productive.
Forty-six of BusinessWeek®’s "World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies" rely on Mindjet to see the big picture – let us show you too

Mindjet Premieres Cloud-Based Collaborative Work Management


Acquires social collaboration innovator Cohuman for optimized team accountability and launches Mindjet Connect, a free online service to improve how people work together
San Francisco – September 12, 2011 — Mindjet®, the company that improves how people work together, today announced new Mindjet Connect® collaborative work management software to help groups working toward common goals get more done. Mindjet Connect is a cloud-based service that helps groups visualize their best ideas and plans, securely manage and share files, get teams on the same page and access information anywhere, at any time.
Forrester®’s Rob Koplowitz indicated in his 2011 report that 43% of information workers work from multiple locations over the course of a month, and that 42% work outside of the corporate firewall. Work is decentralized, moving faster and likely to keep changing at a rapid pace to keep up with the similarly frenetic pace of change in communications, business and technology. Mindjet Connect addresses the needs of this changing workforce.
"Work today is different. Individuals and teams are overloaded, increasingly virtual and knee deep in unstructured information, resulting in a lack of clarity, accountability and action,” said Scott Raskin, Mindjet CEO. “Mindjet Connect goes beyond document management and file sharing, and includes a powerful way to visualize information that provides faster insight and better results."
Mindjet also announced the acquisition of Cohuman® (www.cohuman.com), a social task-based web service that keeps teams in sync by making information more people-centric, organized and transparent. With social aspects similar to Facebook® and Twitter®, Cohuman gives people the ability to better coordinate with colleagues on projects and tasks.
"Where Mindjet Connect helps teams get on the same page, Cohuman helps teams stay on the same page,” said Raskin. “The combination of Cohuman and Mindjet Connect will further Mindjet’s vision to help people work better, together."
With these announcements, Mindjet is well-positioned to be the leading provider of collaborative work management software.
Mindjet Connect will be available free of charge on September 22, 2011 athttp://www.mindjet.com/connect. To find out more about Mindjet Connect visithttp://blog.mindjet.com. To learn more about Cohuman visithttp://blog.cohuman.com.
About Mindjet:
Two million individuals, small businesses and Fortune 1000® companies using Mindjet understand that working visually and collaboratively brings results. We set the standard in mind mapping and now our focus is to provide collaborative work management solutions that dramatically improve how people can work better together, accomplish goals more successfully and be more productive.
Forty-six of BusinessWeek®’s "World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies" rely on Mindjet to see the big picture – let us show you too.

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Mindjet, Mindjet Connect and Cohuman are trademarks of Mindjet, registered in the US and other jurisdictions. Forrester, Facebook, Twitter, Fortune 1000 and BusinessWeek are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc., Facebook, Inc., Twitter, Inc., Time Inc. and The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., respectively, registered in the US and other jurisdictions.

Visual Summary Goes Live on WikiSummarizer

Context Discovery  Inc. the developers of WikiSummarizer today released the Visual Summary View for their leading on-line summarization tool, WikiSummarizer. Now right within the browser you can get a visual overview of key information on any topic within Wikipedia without the need to own a mind mapping software application.  The Visual Summary View will appeal to those users who like the graphic representation of the summary data. The Visual Summary View is interactive and allows the users to open and close nodes as they review the information. The Visual Summary View breaks new ground for summarization on the web with its ease of use and speed. For those users that prefer the outline view that can be accomplished by clicking on the Tree View in your browser. You will be happy to learn that WikiSummarizer- Visual Summary View also works on the iPad  and can be exported to your favorite mind mapping app on the iPad. I have tested WikiSummarizer with iThoughtsHD and the Mindjet app without any issues. So take a look at WikiSummarizer and see what it has to offer.

New Releases: Mindomo 6 & MindMapper 12

Although I haven't had time to completely review some of the new releases this week, I wanted to let you know that the folks at Mindomo have released their web based mind mapping application Mindomo 6 which is a major release and rewrite of the application. Mindomo 6 is a very attractive application that at times makes you forget that you are using a web based application running through the browser. I will have more to say about the program but wanted to let you know that Mindomo 6 has been released and if you can give it a test drive. I am including an embedded Mindomo 6 mind map to give you an idea of what is possible. One of my favorite features of online mind mapping applications is the ability to embed your map online by pasting a bit of code into the blog post as you will see.




SimTech this week also announced the release of  MindMapper 12 a full featured desktop mind mapping application for Windows. MindMapper 12 now sports the Fluid Interface Ribbon common in many Windows applications making it easier to use. MindMapper 12 now enjoys many more user panes to make the program easier to navigate and use. MindMapper 12 offers users some very sophisticated mapping structures to accomplish brainstorming, project management, presentation of ideas, as well as root cause analysis. MindMapper112  incorporates project management features as well as Gantt Charts for those professionals who need to track ongoing projects. Once I have a chance to sit down with MindMapper 12, I will share with you some of my thoughts.

It is exciting to be able to cover this arena and to see all of the choices we have in the tools that we use for our business and professional work. Stay tuned for more thoughts about these applications. In the meantime- if you have a chance go to SimTech's and Mindomo's Website and trial each of the applications and let me know how you make out.

Bookstream™: New Cloud-Based Library Delivers eBooks to Students' iPads, Smartphones, and Laptops


Press Release 2010-11
For Immediate Release  
Contact: Valerie C. Chernek 410-871-2670  vchernek@donjohnston.com 
 Bookstream™: New Cloud-Based Library Delivers eBooks to
Students' iPads, Smartphones, and Laptops
September 6, 2011- Volo, IL – This school year, educators will have a new option to deliver their books. In addition to handing out textbooks in class, they will deliver eBooks through the cloud to students' iPads, smartphones, and laptops with a new online service called Bookstream.
Bookstream, developed by Don Johnston Incorporated, makes it easy for educators to hop on the Internet, upload eBooks and share them with students for anytime reading. It was designed to help educators comply with IDEA 2004 (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) that require schools to deliver core curriculum in accessible formats to support students with disabilities.
"We work with assistive technology specialists who drive hundreds of miles each week to deliver eBooks on flash drives," said Ben Johnston, Director of Marketing. "It's ironic that eBooks are delivered by car, but as one special educator explained, there aren't many alternatives—book files are often too big and unwieldy to email or download. She was also concerned about violating copyright laws and wanted an easier way to manage digital content. She inspired us to do something about it, and now we are withBookstream."
For districts that are just beginning to build an accessible curriculum, Bookstream includes access to thousands of eBooks and fully supports Bookshare's more than 110,000 digital files. It will read any book in ePub format without DRM restrictions. Teachers can also upload and share their own quizzes and worksheets with students.
Consumers are quickly embracing eBooks, but there are additional challenges for school districts to do the same," said Kevin Johnston, Director of Product Design. "For schools, eBooks come with different rights for different students, the books need to be accessible on school computers and on personal devices, and some electronic textbooks can be over two gigabytes each! With Bookstream, we solve these challenges for educators, making the whole process easier. We also built in tracking tools so educators can see how much time their students spend reading and which books they read."
Your Accessible Library 
Could
 Look Like This
Bookstream on iPod
eBooks read through Bookstream are 508 compliant as outlined in the Federal Rehabilitation Act. They are accessible to any assistive technology with a web browser, such as Don Johnston's Read:OutLoud text reader, or the JAWS screen reader for individuals with visual impairments. Bookstream embeds text-to-speech that can be streamed on any Mac or Windows computer.
"Cloud computing has the potential to create the infrastructure our schools need to keep up with the digital world," said Debbie Fogg Ed.S., CCC/SLP, ATP at Naperville School District #203, IL, one of the first school districts to purchase Bookstream. "We're excited to have a platform to deliver electronic text to students' personal and district-owned laptops and mobile devices. We hope to see an increase in academic performance as a result of the anytime reading access."
From now until December 30, 2011, U.S. schools can take advantage of introductory pricing on Bookstream that gives school districts two years of access for the price of one. First year costs are regularly $1749 with an annual maintenance fee of $529 per site. Districts may also qualify for discounts depending on the number of sites they purchase.
"Educators can set up their accessible library and deliver e-Books in less than 30 minutes," adds Ben Johnston. "Our technology is similar to Amazon's Cloud Drive and Apple's iCloud, but we're choosing to focus on education: that's what we're passionate about. Five years ago, it was inconceivable that schools could deliver an accessible curriculum beyond a few students per school, but now through the new cloud technology and digital books, Bookstream makes it all possible and cost-effective."
Resource Links:
Learn about BookstreamAccessible Instructional Materials and all of Don Johnston's reading products.
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About Don Johnston Incorporated
Don Johnston
 develops accessible and emerging reading and writing technologies to support K-12 and postsecondary students with cognitive, physical, and learning disabilities. Since 1980, the special education company has partnered with literacy experts, AT specialists, SLPs, OTs, special education teachers, university researchers and DSS coordinators to improve access to learning and to increase writing independence. Tens of thousands of students with dyslexia, autism, dysgraphia, down-syndrome and diverse learning challenges use our software and hardware devices to accommodate their learning needs in schools, the workforce and at home. Find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Using Comapping for Workshops

As much as I enjoy the power of desktop mind mapping applications and use them all of time in the work that I do, one of the tools that I am relying on more these days is Comapping, an online mind mapping collaboration tool. Comapping can be accessed from any computer and browser that is connected to the Internet and gives me the flexibility to organize my ideas, add hyperlinks as well as attachments. Comapping does a great job allowing you to share your maps when they are done and I have been taking advantage of this feature for years now when I teach my graduate courses. For each class I create an interactive agenda with Comapping and then publish it to my Moodle classroom account for all my students to access.

Recently I have done a number of workshops and needed a quick way for my participants to be able to jump from web site to web site to view the contents. Using Comapping I was able to create the agenda embed the hyperlinks which made the day go so much more smoothly for me. Publishing your Comapping maps to the web is really quite simple and easy to do and when you are done you are given a unique URL that you can then pass out to your students. Because the URL is rather long, I generally log into my Bit.ly account shorten it and customize the link so that when I get to the workshop I just have to give out the shortened URL.

Comapping is also unique in that it allows you to embed your attachments that your participants can access from the map.  In the example below you will see that I have embedded a number of Quick Reference Cards for the SOLO training I have coming up. This will make it easy for my participants to access these reference materials on the day of the training as well as when they are back in their classroom. You will also see that there are live links to the Don Johnston Website for additional support videos that can be quickly accessed from the Comapping map. Using this technique not only saves me from printing costs and paper, but models for teachers what is possible as we move from analog to a digital  materials. So interact with the Comapping map below and let me know you thoughts about using Comapping in the work that you do. If you are interested in learning how you can do this shoot me an email.


Run Flash on Your iPad with iSwifter

As much as I enjoy using my iPad-one of the few drawbacks of the iPad is its inability to play Flash. With the rapid adoption of HTML 5 it is unlikely that we will ever see Flash on the iPad. Hoverer, there are some clever solutions out there that can help you play Flash on your iPad that work well. I recently came across iSwifter for the iPad and decided to download the Lite version to give it a test run. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that iSwifter can play Flash based applications over the web which really impressed me.With iSwifter I was able to open and use Comapping quite effectively. There are some little things that didn't work exactly as they would on my laptop but having the ability to open my stored maps on the web was really fantastic. I was also able to play my Flash content that I created in Adobe Captivate and Presenter without a problem on my iPad. If you are looking to run Flash on your iPad then take a look at iSwifter and let me know how you make out.

Great iPad Speaker: Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515

Always in search of the more perfect gadget, this past week I received my Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515 from Amazon and had a chance to use it with both my PC and iPad. The Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515 is a very aesthetically pleasing sculpted charcoal black speaker with a built in stand in the rear. The Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515 can be used with any Mac/PC as well as with the iPad.

To start using the Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515,  first I had to charge the built-in battery for approximately 6 hours. Once that was done I tried it with my iPad. Pairing the Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515 with my iPad was really a piece of cake- all you need to do is hold down the two Volume control buttons and then turn on the Bluetooth on your iPad. Within seconds the Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515 showed up on the iPad and I was ready to go. I then opened up iTunes and played one of my favorite Allman Brothers songs Hot 'Lanta and wow the sound was great. It is hard to believe how these speakers can put out so much sound. I also tried them with Write Outloud and the sound was impressive. Way to go Logitech! These speakers are a keeper! To pair the Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515 with a computer you simply plug in the USB Wireless USB dongle and turn on the speakers and they you are ready to go- it really is that easy and the sound is awesome. I purchased these speakers through Amazon for around $75 dollars. The Wireless USB dongle stores conveniently in the back of the speaker and the Logitech Wireless Speaker Z515 does come with a carrying case to hold the speaker and power supply that is needed to charge the internal battery. I do wish Logitech would have included a power supply that allowed you to collapse the prongs- that is my only complaint. If you travel or if you are in the classroom and need some great speakers to use for your computer or iPad then this is the way to go.

Adobe FormsCentral Adds Email Notification

I have been using Adobe FormsCentral since its release and have found it really easy to create very professional looking forms which I have used for workshops, webinars, and demonstration registrations. One of the missing features of FormsCentral when it was initially released was the ability to be automatically notified when a form was submitted. Well that has all changed this week with the addition of this feature and now it is a cinch to get an email notification as well as a summary of the number of people who has responded in the body of the email. See the image below to see how easy it is to turn on this feature.

With Adobe FormsCentral it is now easy to follow up with all of the submissions with email notification-give it a try and see for yourself.

Tweeting with ConceptDraw MINDMAP 7

While I was on vacation last week, I received a Press Release from CS Odessa about the release of the new MindTweet feature that was now integrated into to their flagship product ConceptDraw MINDMAP, and just today I had a chance to give it a try. Once you install the latest version of ConceptDraw MINDMAP V 7.1.0 you will now see the familiar Tweet icon on your toolbar. To start using the MindTweet feature you will need to authorize ConceptDraw MINDMAP to access your Twitter account which was quick and flawless. Once your account is authorized it is a cinch to use the feature to tweet directly from within ConceptDraw MINDMAP. Being able to tweet from within ConceptDraw MINDMAP is really a great idea and lets you get an overview of  what you have been tweeting. Having access to the brainstorming tool within ConceptDraw MINDMAP makes it a snap to quickly go from ideas to tweets with a click of the icon.

To get started tweeting from within ConceptDraw MINDMAP you simply type your tweet within a topic and then click on the Tweet icon on the toolbar. Once you do this the Tweet dialog box comes up where you can preview or edit your tweet before sending it. ConceptDraw MINDMAP also allows you to automatically place a check mark within the topic to give you a visual cue that it has been tweeted. If you have hyperlinked a URL to a topic it will also come over in the tweet which is handy. With ConceptDraw MINDMAP you can quickly create a dashboard for your tweets so that you can see how your campaign is coming along. It would be nice if in future release if you were able to set the date and time of when your Tweets were sent. Likewise it would be great if you could generate a ConceptDraw MINDMAP from a Twitter hashtag or from a particular person you are following. Overall, ConceptDraw MINDMAP does a great job of integrating tweeting and provides me with a dashboard for my tweets - which gives me a great overview within a powerful mind mapping application.



Presenter Tools for the Road

As a presenter and consultant, I am on the road a great deal doing presentations and am always on the look out for new tools and gadgets that makeS my life easier for me. I would like to share a couple of these tools with you which I think you will enjoy using. The first gadget is the Monster Outlets to Go300USB - this little device cost less than $20 dollars and gives you 3 additional outlets as well as a USB Quick Charging outlet, in a very small and concise package. With the USB Quick Charging  port you can charge your digital camera, cell phone or other devices. The power cord management is exceptional and the small size makes it easy to store in your laptop bag.

For the past couple of years I have been searching for the perfect speakers for my laptop that would give me good sound and really amplify the output. Using a lot of text to speech applications as well as audio it is very important that my participants can clearly hear the output from my computer. Just recently I purchased the Logitech Laptop Speaker Z305 Portable speakers which are powered via the USB port. The Logitech Laptop Speaker Z305 Portable speakers can be found for around $39.99 and really does a great job of amplifying the sound. The Logitech Laptop Speaker Z305 Portable speakers clips on to the screen and has volume controls to increase and decrease the volume. To configure and power the Logitech Laptop Speaker Z305 Portable speakers you simply plug it in to your USB port. The Logitech Laptop Speaker Z305 Portable speakers work with Mac and Windows. The Logitech Laptop Speaker Z305 Portable speakers comes with a soft pouch for storage and the USB cable fits firmly in the track that is on the bottom of the speaker for easy storage.

I also recently started to carry the Woods 4907 25-Foot Extension Cord Reel with 4-Outlets and Circuit Breaker which has come in handy when I get to a venue that don't have outlets close by. The Woods 4907 25-Foot Extension Cord Reel with 4-Outlets and Circuit Breaker provides me with a 25 foot extension cord with 4 outlets and a handy reel to wind the cord when I am done using it. I now keep the Woods 4907 25-Foot Extension Cord Reel with 4-Outlets and Circuit Breaker in my car and take it with me whenever I am doing a presentation. I'm sure many of you have lots of gadgets you rely on and it would be great if you could share some of them with us.

Brainstorming With Quartet Kapture

I have been kicking the tires as I explore the capabilities of Quartet Kapture over the last couple of days. Quartet Kapture works as promised and captures your hand written notes and ideas from a flip chart with ease. Here is a session that I captured and exported the notes as a Jpeg file. For more information about Quartet Kapture click here.

Are You Using Flip Charts in Your Meetings?

I just started to market a new product called Quartet Kapture and was interested in finding out how many of you use flip charts in your meetings when brainstorming or facilitation conversations.





Adobe is Offering Free eSeminars on Adobe Captivate & eLearning Suite

If you have moved up to Adobe Captivate 5.5 or the new eLearning Suite then you should consider signing up for these Free eSeminars that are being hosted by Adobe. Adobe Captivate 5.5eLearning Suite 2.5 breaks new ground for designing and developing rapid elearning courses. Find out how to accomplish more with these tools by attending these free seminars. Information about how to sign up is below. HOpe yo can make it!

I would recommend registering for the eSeminars in advance by visiting Adobe’s Webinar site or using the links below. You’ll be prompted for your Adobe ID (creating one is easy and free) during registration and will receive detailed log-in information via email. NOTE: Click on the “test your computer” link to ensure you’ll be able to successfully log into the eSeminar.  


Thursday, July 21 – 9 a.m. PT/noon ET
Join Dr. Pooja Jaisingh and Vish to learn how to use Adobe Captivate Reviewer to get your Captivate projects reviewed by the SMEs, internal team or customers. Also learn how to leverage Acrobat.com or your internal server in this process.

Wednesday, July 27 – 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET
Join RJ Jacquez, Adobe Senior Product Evangelist, for a fun session on Photoshop, specifically designed for new users who are already familiar with Adobe Captivate. In this session, you learn how to get started using Photoshop for enhancing your Captivate projects, how to work with Layers and how to use the powerful content-aware fill tool for including just the right images in your eLearning projects.

Thursday, July 28 – 9 a.m. PT/noon ET
Join Vish and Dr. Pooja Jaisingh to learn more on video integration in Adobe Captivate 5.5. In this session, they will show different ways to insert video in Captivate and use them as an object or slide video. They will also demonstrate how to distribute the video to multiple slides as well as how to add video to TOC.

Thursday, August 4 – 8 a.m. PT/11 a.m. ET
Join Dr. Pooja Jaisingh and Vish for a hands-on session on how to add standard and interactive objects in Adobe Captivate 5.5. They will also discuss the best practices of using these objects in Adobe Captivate 5.5.

Wednesday, August 10 – 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET
Join RJ Jacquez, Adobe Senior Product Evangelist, for a session on how to take audio editing beyond the features in Adobe Captivate using Adobe Audition. In this session you will learn best practices for moving your audio between Captivate and Audition, as well as tips for adding background audio that you can control with precision and more.

Read2Go is Released in the Apple App Store

I have waited for some time now for the release of Read2Go App for the Ipad to be released by Benetech, Inc- and today it finally arrived in the Apple App Store. I quickly downloaded the app which is $19.99  in Apple's App Store and gave it a quick test drive. Once I downloaded the Read2Go App, I logged into my Demo Account and downloaded a couple of books directly to my iPad- which were quickly saved. I was able to configure the Font size as well as a host of various Visual Settings which was very straight forward.

Read2Go uses the popular Acapela Speech Engine and I had a choice of the text being read using Heather or Ryan.. It was easy using the slider to change the speed that the text was being read and highlighted. By default the sentence is highlighted in yellow and each word is then highlighted in green. Users can change the various colors of the highlighting by going into the Visual Settings menu. Read2Go makes it very easy to navigate to a Section, Page, or Bookmark. On first pass the Read2Go is very easy to use and the only problem that I had was I received a Low Memory dialog when reading a book that asked me to quit the other applications. Once I did that everything seemed to work fine. If you are not sure how to Quit apps - just Press your Home button twice and then hold down your finger on any app in the bottom of the window until the icons jiggle- now quit out of each app by Pressing on the Minus sign.

Read2Go looks great and I for one am going to highly recommend it to the students that I work with who have a "Print Disability." Please remember that you must have a Bookshare Account to download books to your iPad. Let me your thoughts about this new app that breaks new ground for students with reading disabilities.