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July, 2011:

Diigo Introduces New iPad Reading Tool

Diigo has announced the release of a new iPad app called Readict. The app is a new RSS reader for the iPad and can sync up to your Google Reader or Twitter account. The app’s website states that Readict is meant for those who “take reading seriously”.

The top features of the app seem to be the ability to save a web page for offline reading and the ability to annotate an article (using both a highlight and note tool). It’s nice to see an RSS reader with these functions built inside. An app like this may be ideal for instructors who are browsing content while planning for courses in the fall!

LMS Trends & Predictions

In a recent article in Campus Technology, a panel of educators, technologists, and vendors were interviewed to discuss what they thought of the recent upheaval to the LMS market and the future of learning management systems in education. Blackboard, once the dominant LMS in higher education, now holds only 57% of the market compared to 71% in 2006. Alternative learning management systems such as Moodle, Sakai, Desire2Learn as well as the new start-up Canvas now control over 30% of the market.

In addition to the numbers, learning management systems are also facing several new factors that are changing the way they operate. Social networking, mobile devices, and a shift of preference to open source systems are some of the things that face LMS developers today.

Read more about these changes and the Q&A session that was conducted at Campus Technology.

Historypin Lets You Search and Pin Historical Photos

Historypin is a site that works in collaboration with Google Maps to map historical photos from all around the world. The user can post their own photos to the map or explore the ones which are already on the site. On Historypin, you can search by area, subject, and even time period.

Not only does the map let you know the area in which the photo was taken, but the user can also compare the photo to a modern-day satellite image of the area. There are also various other helpful tools, including tours- a tool which allows the user to be guided through a sequence of photos that tell a story. Overall, Historypin seems like an exciting tool that could be used for a variety of subjects. For more information, check out the video from Historypin’s site below:

Google Plus in the Classroom

In case you missed it, Google has announced that they will be releasing their own social networking site. The project, which is called Google+, is currently available on an invitation-only basis and is not yet available to the public. Still, many people have been able to try it and are saying Google+ could be a very useful tool in education.

A Wired Campus article by Jeff Young highlights the following key features on Google+, which may be beneficial to both students and faculty:

  • Google+ allows “selective sharing”, meaning that users can choose which circles of friends they would like to share specific content with. This feature could come in handy when professors would like to add their students as friends, but are concerned with respecting their privacy or personal lives.
  • Friend circles could also work as small group communication, possibly for class projects.
  • Google+ “hangouts” (casual video conferencing) can be used in place of office hours or face-to-face tutoring.
  • One assistant professor at UT Dallas even predicts that Google+ may be an alternative to the traditional LMS.

It’s hard to tell exactly what Google+ has in store for education. Since the social networking site is still in the developing stages, it may take some time before it’s widely used in the classroom. The site is expected to be released for public use on or before July 31st, 2011.

“Think m.college.edu, Not iCollege”

An article published earlier last week by the Chronicle of Higher Education discussed colleges focusing less on mobile apps for their institutions and more on mobile sites. There are so many different kinds of smartphones on the market (Blackberry, Apple, Microsoft, Google), and all run on their own apps. The more smartphone users colleges want to reach, the more kinds of apps need to be created for the different devices. This costs time, money, and requires constant updates as technology quickly evolves.

So, rather than creating mobile apps, colleges are leaning towards the idea of creating mobile websites for themselves. Mobile websites are simplified versions of sites specially made for viewing on a mobile device’s web browser. Although they aren’t as quickly accessible as mobile apps, one mobile site will run on any smartphone with internet access and a web browser.

Currently, the University of Washington has both iPhone and Blackberry mobile apps, as well as a mobile website: m.uw.edu.