Category Archives: eLearning

Two free apps to turn your iPad into an interactive Smartboard

At the iteach lounge at the University of South Florida, we are always looking for easy to use apps for iPads that allow teachers to quickly and easily create educational content. Two apps we have recently compared are ScreenChomp by TechSmith and ShowMe app by Easel. Both are essentially doodling apps that allow the student/teacher to record their voice. After recording your drawing and voice the individual to upload their to the “cloud”. Each app has its own cloud type storage service that will generate a link to be shared with other students, teachers family and friends. ShowMe requires the individual to create an account prior to being able to upload the video to the cloud.

ScreenChomp has a few more sharing options by harnessing the Facebook and Twitter networks from within the app as well as providing in app email and open in Safari app support.

ScreenChomp also does not require a login to allow students or teachers to begin making videos and sharing them online. This also means your videos are open to the public provided they have the link. ShowMe app provides a “private” upload, but this just means the video is not listed in it’s website directory. I will say that once you are on, you can share that link to Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, email, and webpage embed.

Another feature of Screenchomp is that it allows you to download the video as a MPEG-4 file. Now you can add this to your iTunes,, or other podcasting service.

Both of these apps could be used by students or teachers to explain certain visual concepts or tasks such as math or science equations. Students can also use these apps for think aloud exercises. Both apps also allow the individual to add a picture from their photo library, allowing one to annotate over a picture or diagram.

Have you used these apps? What do you think of these apps or other interactive whiteboard apps for tablet pcs (iPad, zoom, tab, etc.) in education?


Search Google Scholar Effectively

How many times have you searched endlessly for scholarly resources and found your searches inadequate?  Did you know that Google Scholar is a great tool and a useful enhancement to other searches in Proquest, Eric, and any of the other journal sites or databases?    Google Scholar is a separate tool in Google and is meant to be a place to research peer-reviewed journal articles, court decisions, magazine articles, books, patents, editorials, and other similar written publications.  Be aware that it will find books and articles that may or may not be peer reviewed.

Google Search

More  Scholar

In order to start your search in Google:

  1. Open the main search page and locate the upper left hand corner where it says more and click onthe down arrow to the right of it.
  2. Click on Scholar.
  3. Once you click on the link, Google Scholar is opened up.


Remember that it may be an additional resource to the other databases provided within the library research database for your school. Ask your school librarian if this resource is available to you.  There are times when you will look up an article or book that takes you to an outside resource that requires a fee for access.  Make sure you have accessed the information for Google Scholar through your library research database and if this continues to occur, speak to your Librarian as they may have a way to obtain the resource through your school library.

Search tips in Google

There are a variety of tips for searching the site that applies for any searches.  These shortcuts  work with many other search engines that are available in your university library and other search engines.

There are a number of little tricks that can be used to help create a better search.  The table below gives a number of the best tips that are useful. 

Modifier What it does What to type What you will get
“ ” searches for an exact phrase “assistive technology in education” results that include exact phrase “assistive technology in education”
excludes search results with a particular word or phrase bass -fishing results about bass that are not related to fishing
~ searches for a word and all its synonyms ~mobile phone results with the word “phone,” as well as, “cell,” “cellular,” etc.
OR searches for webpages that include either word vacation London OR Paris results with the word “vacation” and either “London” or “Paris”
searches for a range of numbers Willie Mays 1950…1960 results about Willie Mays during this time period
define: define a word or phrase define: plethora links to definitions of the word “plethora”
site: searches only particular websites global warming site:edu references to global warming found on .edu websites
link: searches for webpages that link to a particular website websites that link to the University of South Florida website
1+1 basic calculator functions 4+7, 30% of 55, 20^2, sqrt(4), etc. the answer
cm in foot converts unit of measure cm in foot, 28C in F, $ in pound, days in fortnight, miles in league, mph in speed of light, etc. the converted answer

For more search tips to use in Google Scholar, follow this link

There are many posters that librarians or teachers can post in the classroom or library to remind students of the various methods of searching the database and finding the specific information for a research project or paper. One is linked below.

8.5″x11″ Poster

Google Scholar Email Alerts

Email alerts are a tool that can be used to continue receiving information as it becomes available.  Once you are inside a search, click on the envelope icon on the green bar that says create email alert and a new window opens where you can place any email or your Gmail address.  Once this is done, any new papers, articles, or other items that fit into the search parameters is published, the information will be sent to the specified email.

Readability: Controlling the view of the Web 2.0

In education, more and more professors, teachers, and educators are using web 2.0 resources in their courses and trainings.  Web 2.0 tools allow many educators or enthusiasts to voice their views, opinions, and research.  Educators are now and have been using blogs, wikis and other types of websites to gather, produce, and share information. There are a many avenues of providing a blog. There are both paid and free services available to bloggers.  Paid services for blogs usually have a cleaner design than free services. This is because free services are subsidized by advertisements.  This great for the aspiring writer because anyone can write about their passions. For the reader this may not be ideal.  Advertisements can be a distraction from the primary article. As an educator, you would not want your students to be distracted from the primary content.  For blogs there is a company that has developed an easy to use solution for this distraction.  The people at have developed a tool (Readability) for easily customizing the look of a blog to make it easier for the student to read. As an example here is a screenshot from a popular guitar website (

Guitar Website (

You can easily see the many distractors that is presented to the learner. These are all links that can take the learner away from the content.  The advantage the Readability adds is the ability to take away the distractions.  It also makes it easy to print busy pages with only the relevant content. Below is an image of the same webpage after Readability has been used on it.

Readability Revision See how clean the site has become. All of the distracting adds and links have been hidden.  Returning to the original view is easy to do as well.

Refresh, Print, Email

Refresh, Print, Email

The top left hand corner of the page has three buttons. The top button is the refresh or return button. This button returns you to the original view of the webpage. The second button is the print button. The bottom button is the email button. This button emails a link of the webpage to colleagues, friends, or students. They then can use Readability to simplify the view. The email button does not send your simplified view, but rather a link to the page you are viewing.

Readability provides a few different looks that an individual can choose the first time they install Readability to their preferred browser. The user can choose from 5 styles, with the options to change the font and margin size for each style. The picture below shows the choices available.

Readability Options

It is easy to see how this can be a valuable tool for the educator who would like to use blogs in their curriculum. The teachers can limit distractions for the learner, easily print handouts, or email just the necessary content to students or colleagues. Hopefully this is a beneficial tool for you in your classroom or personal reading.

What Can Gaming Do for You?

With the advancement of electronic devices gaming on these devices are increasing. There are many different types of games on different platforms and devices. There are games aimed at the casual gamer to games for the very serious gamer.  Games vary in the continuum of collaboration from no collaboration in single player games to very collaborative games such as MMOs (massive multiplayer online) games, i.e. World of Warcraft.  Gamers across the world spend/waste/invest (depending on your view) billions of hours weekly playing in the virtual worlds trying to solve a mission, complete a task, or WIN!  These gamers enjoy playing the games so much that they do not even realize many times how much time is passed. And gamers all have the same goal: to be successful at the task.

Recently on, Jane McGonigal (Twitter page), a game designer, recently presented a talk of how Gaming can make a better world.  In it she talks about the emotions that gaming does and does NOT produce.  She also wants to develop away to take the emotions real people have while seriously playing collaborative games and apply them to the real world. Her them seems to be: if the energy, emotion, and sticktuitiveness of gamers in the virtual world could be applied to real world, real life issues and events, then the world could be a better place. You can view the video below.

Now apply that to education. Ms. McGonigal points out in the video that the average gamer in a strong gaming culture will have logged 10,000 hours or more by the age of 21. She states that is approximately the amount of face time teachers will have with students from 5th grade till high school graduation in the United States. During that time frame adolescent gamers are spending almost the same amount of time playing video games. Imagine if educators could tap into that extra time.

The University of South Florida (USF) is trying to do just that. How can educators harness virtual worlds to educate the k-12 students?  USF has created a website of lesson plans, resources, and case studies related to education and gaming platforms. You can find these resources on the USF website. The project is called Worlds of Education and it focuses on using virtual worlds to enhance or distribute education. The two gaming environments primarily used in the project are the World of Warcraft game by Blizzard and SecondLife.  The website also has a small but growing resource of lesson plans grouped by subject area.

Should gaming be used in education?

Supporting Literacy through Podcasts

The University of South Florida has added a new resource to their iTunes U store for literacy, language, literature teachers and other educators. Through the collaboration efforts of The University and the Florida Department of Education a resource for supporting the learning and teaching of literacy was developed.

Lit2Go iTunes U Store

Lit2Go iTunes U Store

Lit2Go provides access to audio formats (MP3) of many  historically and culturally significant poems and  stories. A website has also been developed to accompany the Lit2Go iTunes U store.  The website ( also provides a print out of the stories and poems. The collection includes famous classical authors such as Poe, Twain, and Shakespeare.

The Florida Center for Instructional Technology, which is housed within the University of South Florida, has headed the production/and development of the materials. The Center hired talented voice actors to record the numerous stories and poems available on the iTunes Store and website.  The website provides a search by author or story to make it easier to find specific stories or poems to incorporate into your lesson plan.  The iTunes store makes it really easy to download the stories and poems to your mp3 player for easy offline access. You will need to have iTunes downloaded to your computer to use the iTunes U store.  iTunes can be downloaded from the apple website (

%d bloggers like this: