Thursday, August 30, 2018

Bring Nearpod into your classroom!

If you are familiar with this blog, you would notice there are tons of posts about classroom tools teachers can utilize. Today, I plan on sharing with the readers of this blog another excellent classroom tool by the name of Nearpod. In some aspects, Nearpod is actually similar to the Apple's Classroom App that was shared a few weeks ago on this page. However, as previously discussed, the Classroom App by Apple can be quite pricey for the school districts with limited tech budgets. On the other hand, Nearpod is excellent because all you need to do is create a free account to start using this tool.

What is Nearpod?

Nearpod is a simplistic online computer program which allows educators to create assessments or lessons easily. One of the objectives of the program is for teachers to "spend less time planning and more time teaching". Teachers in Nearpod have the ability to create interactive lessons in a matter of minutes by importing existing lessons then also adding additional custom interactive tools. Students are also given a voice by the program with a variety of classroom discussion tools. For example, Nearpod can provide a classroom poll in which students can vote and discuss their thought processes for an answer.

To see more of what Nearpod can do, click here.

For a brief video explanation of Nearpod, click here.

Nearpod is simply an amazing tool. The fact that it is a free-to-use program means that I highly recommend educators to simply experiment with it. There are no risks involved in testing out a new gadget for your classroom.


Video URL:

Monday, August 20, 2018

Photo Tools

11 Outstanding (Free) Alternatives to Photoshop

I have only tried GIMP.  It had a steep learning curve when I tried it out as a possible solution for struggling Free Lancers back in the early 80ʻs.
However, I hear that it has a cleaner interface and isnʻt quite the struggle it was.

As to the others, I have no feedback to offer.  They are free or donationware.

I am no longer a fan of anything Adobe anymore since they instigated the draconian pricing model of their subscription “service”.  I know many industry and service/printing companies are so tied to Adobe that they cannot extricate themselves.  But if you find any of these that offer compatibility/SaveAs features for current, “native” Photoshop/Illustrator apps, dig in.

If you are looking for a mostly “compatible”, commercial and affordable solution, look closely at Serifʻs Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer are both just $49.99 $US each and NOT a subscription.  You pay for it and own it and all the files you create in them.

And guess what:
PSD import/export
Import and edit Photoshop files directly in Affinity Photo, keeping adjustments, effects and layers intact.
Support for large PSB files, Photoshop plugins and ABR brush files are also included.

Affinity Designer is a good replacement for Adobe Illustrator.  (Iʻm not sure if it will open and save out to Illustrator.

Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer are for both the Mac and iPad.  Both compatible with the iPad Pro Pencil.

Check them both:  <>

Full Disclosure:  I am not connected to Serif, nor do I get money or beer from Serif for hawking their products.  Just a happy user!!

By: Bill Martin

Friday, August 10, 2018

Fact Check IT with Gapminder!

Have you ever been in an intense or heated debate regarding a topic on the world in general? Have you ever wondered if the fact/argument that your opponent stated was valid? If so, you should definitely check out Gapminder Tools. The purpose of Gapminder is to promote basic facts regarding this world and to stop people from being ignorant about facts of the world. They actually provide a short 13 question quiz regarding the basic facts of the world that most people fail. Click here for the link to the quiz to see if you can pass!

Above are examples of topics that are often misunderstood. Gapminder erases all of these misconceptions by using concrete facts. In addition, all of these tools are interactive and easy to operate.

For example, if you were arguing with someone regarding wealth, Gapminder has a plethora of tools to fact check with. These tools include bubble charts, maps and graphs. Additionally, for all of these tools you can even select your own regions or countries. In the above graph, I selected a GDP per capita graph for 5 countries. My favorite part about this type of graph is that a general trend can be seen. 

Obviously, all these tools are free to use and are simply at your discretion. Check it out!