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Burke County Public Schools > Information and Technology > BCPS Technology Team Blog
Interesting Article about E-Reading and Memory

​I just read this article about some early e-reading studies that found that some people find it harder to retain or remember what they read on an e-reader. I might have agreed with them based on some of the first versions of e-readers but with the newest e-reading software, I would disagree.

My guess is that the data studied is based on the earlier versions of e-readers that involved endless scrolling. 

The interesting part of this article is the subject of reading landmarks - something that the author calls the "method of loci". What this basically equates to is learning to visualize the text in a location on the page.  We've all done it . . . you remember that you read that at the bottom of the page or at the end of a section, etc.  In the old versions of e-readers, there was no spatial context for "pages" because there were none. So you had no landmark.  With the newer readers, they more closely resemble books and page turning.

I remember my first Kindle. At the bottom of the screen, there was a number that gradually increased toward the larger number, which I assumed was the end of the book. Even as mathematically minded as I was, it just wasn't the same as knowing I was on page 52 out of 489. But even so, I had "pages".  Prior to this software, pages didn't exist.

One thing I do agree with - I couldn't remember anything I read if I had to read from a mobile phone.  I would have a perpetual migraine.  I think the iPad is a great size for reading. The Kindle Fire is also a good size.  Neither is too small so you don't spend all your time turning pages, searching, or scrolling.

Perhaps an update on the study might show that e-reading has improved since the original study was done and that digital isn't so bad after all.


Here's the article:

iPad App Evaluation for the Classroom

​There are millions of apps available on the Apple appstore and it's so easy to get lost in the "needle in the haystack" search for what's good out there.  So how do you evaluate an app for for its instructional validity and soundness?

Langwitches Blog/Globally Connected Learning has a great way to evaluate apps with transformative use of the iPad in mind. Read about it here:

And also take a look at their evaluation checklist:

This is a great way to look at apps for their instructional value to help avoid apps that are purely "game-like" in nature.

Interesting Article on EdWeek

One of my Instructional Technologists shared this article with me from Education Week written by Paul Barnwell. The title, "Why Twitter and Facebook Are Not Good Instructional Tools," was a little off-putting to me at first but as I read the content, I found that I actually agreed with most of what the author had to say.  Take a few minutes to read the article before you pass judgment based solely on the title.  He makes some very good points and raises some great questions about about what kinds of things we should be teaching and the reasons why we teach what we teach.

Limited Flash for the iPad

Even though most websites have gotten with the program and "buried Flash", there are still a few out there that require that you have Flash to view certain things on their websites. Some of our educational software that resides in the cloud (on the internet) requires Flash so that makes it kind of difficult to cooperate on the iPad.

There are now several alternatives available for those sites where you absolutely have to have Flash.

  • rover.gifRover - ​free education app that streams educational Flash content to your iPad.  It already has some of the common educational sites with Flash content bookmarked - Like Discovery Education, Funbrain, BrainPop, Khan Academy (yes, Khan Academy will stream through Rover past our content filter)
  • photon.gifPhoton Flash Player Browser for iPad - not Free and not incredibly fast but does the trick if you need something that requires Flash to play on your iPad.  Cost $4.99.
  • CloudBrowse - not Free but also streams Flash content in addition, you can see java content that will not load on other browsers.  Cost $2.99.  Note:  the app is not free and you can upgrade your secloudbrowse.gifrvice.  The "free service" that comes when you purchase the app only gives you 10 minutes of browsing time.  You can subscribe and get unlimited browsing for a fee of $4.99/month or $5.99/month for premium service.
  • OnLive Desktop - This is a great app because it provides you with FREE PowerPoint, Excel, and Word 2010 for your iPad (2GB online storage).  It looks like a Windows 7 desktop when you open it up - and you have Internet Explorer within onlive.gifthis app.  However, you the free unsubscribed version of this app will only let you visit the onlive site through the app. If you purchase a monthly subscription, you get "lightning-fast speeds with full-featured Adobe Flash".  The subscriptions for this start at $4.99/month and range up to $9.99/month (although I don't think that is quite ready).  On a side note, get this app fast. I hear that Microsoft is suing OnLive because they have not properly licensed their software.  So I'm not sure how long it will last.  Since it is a cloud service, if they lose, then your app will probably stop working.

So long story short . . . if you need Flash on your iPad, there are ways to do it.


​I find myself spending hours and hours looking for educational apps for our teachers.  Sometimes you can truly get lost in the Apple App Store because the only way to search for educational apps is through Categories (icon along the bottom of the screen), click Education, and then hope by blind chance you find something useful in the New and Noteworthy section, the Staff Favorites section, or in the select few content areas being showcased for the month. 

Most of the time it's a blind search for me. A teacher or administrator will ask if I know about a good app for . . . . (you fill in the blank) and I'm off on a scavenger hunt looking for something that fits the need.  Luckily I am fortunate to have a lot of colleagues who can help me find things or who have shared their knowledge with me.

I found a great site this morning by chance.  The site is called AppAnnie.  Mostly app developers use the site to track their app deployment, sales, and reviews - but the consumer can view information on their site too. One of the great things about AppAnnie is that you can view the top 200 Apps by country, by category, and by device.  I know you're thinking - ooooh ahhh, I can do that on the App Store. Well you can't look at the top 200 education apps on the App Store.  There are about 20-25 categories for you to filter by, education is just one.

This might be a way to see what others are downloading and using on their devices.

I have incluced the link to the iPad/Education top 200 list of free, paid, and top-grossing below. Notice that you can also search for iPhone and Android apps.  You can filter out whether it has in-app purchases, no in-app purchases, or just show you all apps.  You can also look at it by country.  It might be interesting to watch what other countries are downloading in the education arena - especially those countries who are speeding past us in their education initiatives.


Socrative - Use your iPads as Interactive Clickers (classroom response devices)

​One of the greatest things about the iPad is its versatility.  You can use it for so many different things depending on the apps you download.

A recent find that I want to showcase is Socrative.  Socrative turns your set of iPads into a set of Interactive Clickers. There are actually two apps to download - a student and a teacher edition.  The teacher edition gives the instructor the ability to create interactive quizzes from his/her iPad.  Once created, the teacher can activate the quizzes for their students. All the students need to know is the teacher's "room number" (that's assigned to you when you set up your account).  You can create a quiz that is time sensitive, one that teacher-paced (where the teacher releases the questions as he/she is ready), one that is student-paced, a space race (run a quiz as a game), or an Exit Ticket (check the pulse of your class at the end of the period).  There are many options.  Teachers can also create the quizzes on their computer.  There is also an option to import quizzes.  I think the key to managing the data for your students is to always include as your first question, "What is your name?" The software is kind of basic but it is FREE.

The student version of the software is very straightforward.  The student does not have a login. He/she just enters the teacher's room number and waits for the quiz or quizzes to be "run".  When the quiz is activated, the software will immediately allow the students to begin taking the quiz.

When finished, the software compiles the information by question and the data can be analyzed and emailed.


NC WISE and the iPad

​Someone shared with me on a email listserv how to access NC WISE on an iPad without remoting to another computer this week. It involves an app called Cloud Browse. The app costs $2.99. It is a little clunky and takes a little patience but with some practice it works. One should note that there is no F7/F8. You have to use the query menu and the enter/execute commands from the same menu, but other​ than that it works pretty well.​​​ ​Also you need to know that it only works in ten minute intervals unless you subscribe to the monthly service.

UPDATE: you can even run reports from this app if you have the Adobe Reader free app installed.

It's Not About the Stuff

I've been reflecting the past few days after returning from NCTIES, the NC Technology in Education Conference, about what I've learned and I just wanted to share a few things.

One of the biggest things we tend to do when we get new technology is get caught up in the hype. I'm guilty of it.  Many of us get new hardware, software, the latest and greatest and we focus on the tool and sometimes we lose sight and focus.

I just wanted to take a few minutes to give kudos where kudo​s is due.

Don't forget why we are here . . . our students are our number one priority, not the tool. The tool only enhances what the teacher does best -- teaches!

bcps.jpgAnd who teaches that teacher how to use that wonderful new iPad, SmartBoard, Computer, piece of software, Document Camera, Digital Camera, Netbook, LCD projectors, Nook, Kindle Fire, etc., etc., etc.? Their Instructional Technology Specialist/Facilitator, the media coordinators, and sometimes their Technology Engineer!

Who helps keep those tools up and running? Who installs those tools? Who services those tools when then they need TLC? The technology engineers, the electronics and AV technicians . . .

Who helps you learn about the curriculum changes, the new essential standards, the common core, and how to use the new tools along side all this? Your technology facilitators/specialists, curriculum coaches . . .

You can see there is a vast array of people just listed in a few simple examples above and I

have left a ton of people out (please don't be mad if I have excluded you - I have not meant to exclude anyone). My point is this - it takes a community of people to teach our children. It is not about a tool or a piece of software. People are the key to being a success educational community. We become successful by learning new and innovative ways to use the tools we have and sharing what we learn within our community of teaching and learning.

It's not about the stuff - it's about the people.

Make your own QR codes 
Fantastic site for QR history, information, software links, examples, readers and create your own. All free! Create your QR based on data type, key the data, pick your color and watch your code 'evolve'. Download, print or email the file when you pleased with your QR code. 
Another great free resource. Fewer data type options and no color choices but you can alter the code size. Click Generate under the size options to generate the code. To save the file (it does not have download listed) click on the picture and choose Save Picture As to get the file. Icon in upper right hand corner lets you download the reader if you need one.

Both are super easy, lots of fun, and offer endless possibilities for classroom application!

Darlene Epley

How eReaders Changed the Way I Read

​I'll be the first to admit that when I was a child I really wasn't an avid reader. It wasn't until much later in life that I really learned to love to read. But I'll let you in on a little secret to what really made the biggest difference in the sudden increase in my reading habits over the last years: eReading.

Three years ago I received a Kindle - one of the very first versions of the eReading devices and I was amazed by the ease of access to books, both free and paid, that I had access to through the Amazon store. I found that I was reading more and more books in a shorter amount of time. At first I dismissed all this new-found reading as the novelty of having a new device. However, even though the "newness" did wear off somewhat, my reading habits did stay at this heightened level.

So why did I read more? I guess it had to do with the ease of finding and accessing more reading material. Yes, I could have easily driven to Barnes and Noble or any other bookstore - but look at how easy it was to pick up my new Kindle, turn it on, search for that new book, click purchase, and voila, in a matter of seconds, I had it in my hands. No sweat.  And some of the books cost me nothing!

Within a few months (well years), I upgraded to an iPad (3G) and downloaded several eReader apps, including Kindle, Nook, and iBooks - to capitalize on each of the major vendors' software for reading eBooks.

Overall, eBooks made a huge impact on how much I read and continue to read simply due to access and availability, portability, and ease of use. I really see the potential for eBooks and eReaders in the hands of our students. 

In BCPS, we are actively looking at ways to fund eBooks and eReaders for our schools. The first step is looking at what it is we want to accomplish - what is our instructional plan?  The tool is secondary.  Once we decide what our instructional goal is for our students and our schools, we can choose the most appropriate 21st century tool for the goal.


Article about how Reading Habits are Changing: 

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