Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Teachers Lives are made Easier with Google Classroom


Google has introduced a new feature to their educational suite of apps with the advent of Google Classroom. This new program is in preview mode and open to select schools in the USA.

Google Classroom has three major facets that is designed to appeal to teachers and leverage existing apps, such as Google docs. One of the most important ones is being able to create and collect assignments. Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly. They can quickly see who has or hasn’t completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback to individual students.

Sometimes students are not in the classroom due to sickness, vacation or otherwise indisposed. One of the benefits of Google Classroom is the fact teachers can make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real time—improving communication inside and outside of class.

When assignments are dispatched to the students, instead of collecting them manually Classroom automatically creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student. Students can easily see what's due on their Assignments page.

Google is currently working with about a hundred schools to pilot the program and make adjustments on the fly. They are engaging in a mass market release this September, starting today, teachers and professors can apply for a preview of Classroom.

Teachers Lives are made Easier with Google Classroom is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amazon Cart for Twitter is a Boon for Self-Published Authors


Amazon and Twitter announced a new project today that will allow you add items to your cart from the social media network. The initiative is called #Amazoncart and this program is one of the best things to help facilitate more eBook sales from indie authors. Starting today, Twitter users can link their accounts to their Amazon account, and automatically add items to the shopping cart by responding to any tweet with an Amazon product link bearing the hashtag #AmazonCart.

Indie authors not only have to write their books but also play the role of book marketer. Twitter is often an avenue to foster meaningful dialog between an author and reader. There are many cases where authors participate in large scale discussions with agents, publishers and help each other recognize new opportunities or even just vent.

#AmazonCart was mainly developed as a way to sell items directly on Twitter, but self-published authors can now use the social media network to sell books directly to their fanbase. Often books are for sale via the Kindle Store or physical titles using Amazon Createspace, or even the audiobook edition via Audible. Authors can now tweet product links out to their followers or pay famous people to endorse the link to their book. This is a brand new marketing vertical that all authors should be embracing.

This Amazon Cart program will have the potential for massive abuse by authors who only use Twitter to spam links of #buymybook. More authors than not use social media as a non-stop promoting tool and often fail. The authors that do well are the ones like Hugh Howey, which use the platform as an avenue for engagement and expressing thoughts.

In the end, self-published authors have another free way to promote their book and glean a few extra sales.

Amazon Cart for Twitter is a Boon for Self-Published Authors is a post from: Good e-Reader

Podcast: Christian Publishing and DBW Debates


Welcome to another installment of the Good e-Reader Radio Show! Today Michael Kozlowski and Jeremy Greenfield of DBW talk all of the latest news in publishing, eBooks and e-Readers.

Today on the show Michael and Jeremy discuss the current state of Christian Publishing industry and the latest news. HarperCollins just purchased the suite of Olive Tree Apps and what a savvy move it was. There is also a discussion on romance publisher Harlequin and what this move means to readers and writers.

Finally, DBW is launching a brand new debate series which sounds very compelling. Many luminaries in the publishing industry are going to talk about the merits of eBook subscription services. You can find out more or watch the stream for free HERE.

Podcast: Christian Publishing and DBW Debates is a post from: Good e-Reader

B&T Axis 360 Now Integrated into BiblioCommons


Baker and Taylor have building up a library distribution system for not only tangible books, but also eBooks and audiobooks. The company has been working hard to integrate their services into the BiblioCommons discovery layer. Today the Axis 360 platform now allows library patrons to have access to all library materials from the online catalog – whether physical or digital – and creates a convenient experience for borrowing and enjoying ebooks and digital audiobooks in the patron's favorite reading apps and on their device of choice.

The integration of the two systems creates a simple and straightforward presentation of Axis 360 digital content alongside the library's print, movie and music holdings. From that unified and user-friendly display, patrons can discover and select from the library's entire range of materials available for borrowing. The real-time inventory display and deep API integration allows patrons to place holds when digital copies are not available, and to check out ebooks and digital audiobooks directly from a library's website. The entire experience for digital borrowing is centered in the BiblioCommons interface so that library patrons do not have to leave the library's website to access materials hosted remotely in the Axis 360 repository.

Baker & Taylor and BiblioCommons recently completed the first implementation of the new technology integration with Johnson County Library in Overland Park, Kansas. API-level integration with Axis 360 will now be available to all libraries using BiblioCommons.

"Baker & Taylor strives to improve patron and library experiences with digital services," said George Coe, Baker & Taylor's President and CEO. "Because of the close partnerships we’ve forged with BiblioCommons, ILS vendors and mobile technology providers, the day is coming soon when all Axis 360 libraries will be able to offer this valuable, user-friendly integration to their patrons. We would like to thank Johnson County Library for their participation with Axis 360 and the work they undertook to pioneer the integration with BiblioCommons."

"Our libraries’ vision of interoperable ebook services, as outlined through ReadersFirst, gave us our direction," said Patrick Kennedy, President of BiblioCommons. "BiblioCommons was pleased to collaborate with Baker & Taylor in this important step towards realizing this goal."

BiblioCommons will make the update available to all of its library customers who use Axis 360.

With the addition of BiblioCommons, Axis 360 is now integrated with many of the leading ILS systems and discovery layers, including products from TLC, SirsiDynix and Polaris. Work is underway with other providers.

Used by many of the country's top public, K-12 school and academic libraries, Axis 360 offers a fully accessible platform for library users to find, check out and read digital titles on their phones, tablets and ereader devices.

B&T Axis 360 Now Integrated into BiblioCommons is a post from: Good e-Reader

Podcast: Collection Highlights for schools


Need inspiration for your school's digital library? Check out our school collection highlights podcast, where we shine the spotlight on some of the excellent content in OverDrive Marketplace for students of all ages. In 15 minutes, we'll give you a taste of some of our favorite fun reads, reference books, bestsellers, and hidden gems for schools, along with tips about finding sales in Marketplace. Listen now!


Carrie Smith is a Technical Writer at OverDrive.

Kobo eBook Readers: How to Enable Multi-touch (Video)

Awhile ago I came across a really cool hack that enables multi-touch on Kobo ebook readers that normally don’t support multi-touch. I know it works on the Kobo Aura HD and Kobo Glo because I’ve tested it on both; apparently it works with the Kobo Mini and newer Kobo Touches as well. The multi-touch hack […]

Kobo eBook Reader Night Mode Trick (Video)

A long time ago I posted about an interesting hack I came across at MobileRead that can enable night mode on most Kobo ebook readers—the Kobo Glo, Kobo Mini, Kobo Touch, and Kobo Aura HD. The hack makes it so the device displays white text on a black background instead of the usual black text […]

Kindle for Android New Font Choices (Video)

I haven’t been doing very many video reviews over the past six months, so I thought I’d break the ice with a quick and easy video showing the new font choices now available on the Kindle Android app. Amazon recently updated the Kindle for Android app to add a few font choices. Kindle devices and […]

Improve your math skills with our new tutorials!

Math is a subject that comes naturally for some—and very, very unnaturally for others. If you fall into the second group, then you'll love our new Math tutorials—they cover the basics of Fractions, Decimals, and Percents, so you'll gain a quick understanding of how they work (and how to convert them) without sweating through it!... Read More ›

Inkling Signs On As McGraw-Hill Education’s Digital Publishing Provider

McGraw-Hill Education has become synonymous with innovation in digital textbooks and technology-based learning platforms, specifically for its award-winning and game-changing CourseSmart platform. So when the arguable leader in the digital academic sphere looks for a new provider to build its content delivery, it says something profound that they chose Inkling Habitat.

"Our team researched and tested virtually every digital publishing tool we could find, and only Inkling offered both the scalability and ease of use we sought," said Stephen Laster, McGraw-Hill Education's Chief Digital Officer, in a press release. "With Inkling, our teams can collaborate seamlessly around the content they're building and deploy it directly into our products."

This three year, multi-million dollar partnership deal is perhaps most exciting due to its initial stages which will focus on the K12 market, specifically math and science. The K12 market has seen barely a trickle of the capabilities associated with digital textbooks and digital learning tools, and this partnership stands to make significant waves not only in the availability of digital content for public education, but also in the way those courses are taught. The blending of technology and STEM is so commonsense, yet too many schools still do not take advantage of their own digital natives’ abilities by incorporating more technology into the instruction.

The most important aspect of the deal may be that Inkling’s team will build the content schools needs while still making it compatible with any device or PC. Where public schools initially experimented with budgets and grant funding sources to purchases school-owned devices for student use, the financial limitations actually became a hindrance to digital adoption. Schools that have instituted a Bring Your Own Device policy actually found a higher rate of tech penetration, but were limited by the constraints of digital licenses. Inkling’s compatibility will enable schools to opt for the McGraw-Hill resources while not footing the bill for as much as the technology.

In an interview with Good e-Reader, Inkling’s CEO Matt MacInnis cautioned schools against purchasing multi-year digital textbook licenses, which locks them into using whatever digital content the license issuer creates. Instead, schools should explore the possibilities of a seamless learning platform that allows them to use the specific content they need.

“The big incumbent publishers are all trying to transform themselves into software companies,” MacInnis explained, “and the notion of the print book is not going to be around for a while. The flat-fee book is probably a bridge technology. We think we’re fast becoming the standard for how a lot of this next-generation content is being built.”

Inkling Signs On As McGraw-Hill Education’s Digital Publishing Provider is a post from: Good e-Reader

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge Kicks Off for 2014

As the world’s largest publisher of children’s content, Scholastic is one of the pioneers in both engaging content and innovative instructional strategies for young readers. As such, the company hosts its annual Summer Reading Challenge every year to keep students motivated and to prevent the dreaded “summer slide,” in which students return to school having lost many of the gains they made during the previous school year.

Scholastic announced this week that its 2014 challenge is now open to students, parents, librarians, and educators to sign up, with the theme–cosponsored by battery-maker Eveready–”Reading Under The Stars.” As is expected, this year’s challenge includes teacher materials, a parents’ guide and summer calendar app, reading minute tracking, and much more.

"We know that the more children read, the more they succeed and time spent with books is especially important during the summer months so students return to school ready to tackle more challenging texts," said Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer at Scholastic, in a press release. "In the summer, we want our kids finding books that fit their personal interests because those are the books that will make them fall in love with reading. Being part of the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge motivates kids to build up their reading minutes and earn rewards, while parents and teachers can monitor progress. Everybody wins!"

In keeping with this year’s theme, there are also live events at various museums and planetariums around the country, and Eveready is offering free books to participants with the purchase of two of its products in order to encourage families to read together in atypical settings. For complete details on the program and its support materials or to register a reader, visit Scholastic.com/summer.

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge Kicks Off for 2014 is a post from: Good e-Reader

Raspberry Pi spinning wheel

Cyndi Minister runs The Twisted Purl, a yarn company in Arkansas. She’s also a bit of a geek, and when her ankles became sore from too much work at the treadle, she hit on the idea of making a Raspberry Pi powered spinning wheel for her hand-made yarn.

Raspberry sPIn

Raspberry sPIn

If you’re spinning, you need to be able to do three things: turn the wheel in one direction to spin, in the opposite direction to ply, and halt. Cyndi went from a standing start (“It’s the first time I’ve ever done anything electronically; ever coded; ever worked with computers”), to building the perfect electronic spinning wheel. The machine incorporates a camera so she can blog what she’s spinning; she’s planning to get it hooked up to the Twitter API to live-tweet whatever she’s working on too.

First yarn from the RaspberrysPIn, knitted up.

First yarn from the Raspberry sPIn, knitted up.

Cyndi decided to enter Raspberry sPIn in the Raspberry Pi Bake-Off competition hosted by Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas; and we are completely unsurprised to learn that she carried away the first prize. Here’s video from David J Hinson of the event: Cyndi’s segment starts at 2.42.

You can read more about Cyndi’s yarn-tacular adventures with the Raspberry Pi on her website. Congratulations on your win, Cyndi!