Monthly Archives: March 2012

StudyBlue: Give Students the Power to Create and Share Online Flashcards

Interview | Changing the ‘Study’ Paradigm with StudyBlue

Posted on December 2, 2011(

There are some tools for learning that just feel right. What’s better is when they’re actually good for you, and when the results are amazing. This story is about a little company having a big impact, and that provides for students both in high school and college settings, as well as the teachers and professors who help them. As head of company, Becky Splitt brings over 15 years of experience in early stage tech business growth, has worked for Microsoft running MSN’s International business; Christopher Klundt heads technology development and operations, graduated top of class in Computer Science and BioMed Engineering at UW Madison, went straight to work designing the software platform that is now StudyBlue.

Victor: Briefly, why StudyBlue?

Becky: We created StudyBlue to give students the power to create and share online flashcards and study materials for their courses. We realized that, all too often, students have to rely on their teachers to take advantage of technology created for learning. StudyBlue puts the power of making useful online study materials directly in the hands of students.

Victor: What is it and who created it?

Christopher: I founded StudyBlue with a friend from college and with the help and support of a mentor of mine who eventually became our seed investor. We started StudyBlue because we were driven to find a better way for students to achieve greater academic success through the use of technology. The original prototype service, called “,” offered tutoring, class calendars and study group coordination, as well as note and flashcard sharing. We launched StudyBlue in 2009 as a suite of online and mobile study tools focused on helping students mastertheir stuff.

Victor: What does it do and what are the benefits?

Christopher: StudyBlue provides a digital backpack for students to store, study, share and ultimately master course material. They can choose to work alone or collaborate online with others. Now that students can create and study materials on their phones, studying can happen anywhere.

Becky: Students can type and text much faster than they can write, so whether they create flashcards using their computer or their phone, they save time. We’ve found that students who use our mobile app are two times more likely to study between the hours of 6 and 8 a.m., which saves them from studying late into the night. Additionally, mobile studiers spend up to an hour or more studying every week because they take advantage of downtime, such as waiting for the bus. We’re creating the easiest and most convenient way ever for students to master their material.

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


TED Launches TED-Ed To Help Spread Lessons Beyond the Classroom

TED Launches TED-Ed To Help Spread Lessons Beyond the Classroom (from Campus Technology) 
By Dian Schaffhauser03/21/12

TED, the non-profit organization known for its captivating conferences and thought-provoking sub-20-minute videos on a tapestry of ideas, has launched a new education initiative for K-12, college, and lifelong learning. TED-Ed will bring teachers and professors with excellent classroom lessons together with animators to create versions of those lessons for online sharing on a new education channel on YouTube. Organizers said they hope the videos will provide instructors with new, free material to supplement their curriculum.

To kick off the new channel, the initiative released a dozen videos, all under 10 minutes long. The count has since risen to 15 lessons (many culled from TED’s archives), and new ones are expected to be added every week. Current topics include:

  •  “How Pandemics Spread” by author and journalist Mark Honigsbaum and animator Patrick Blower;
  •  “Deep Ocean Mysteries and Wonders” by oceanographer and scientist David Gallo and a team of TED-Ed “visualizers”; and
  •  “Evolution in a Big City” by Baruch College Professor Jason Munshi-South and the TED-Ed visualization team.

The organization has an open submission process to invite educators and animators worldwide to contribute lesson plans and video reels on any topic. TED-Ed’s team will select the best submissions from teachers and others and provide them with the means to work with animators to create video lessons.

“TED’s core mission is to spread ideas,” said TED Curator Chris Anderson. “By turning great lessons into vivid scholastic tools, these TED-Ed videos are designed to catalyze curiosity. We want to show that learning can be thrilling. Because they are only a few minutes long, they can readily be used by teachers during class time. But we also envisage them being viewed by learners of all ages.”

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at



Leave a comment

Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Uncategorized


Google’s Helpful and Quirky Tools…

(Full article:


Are you feeling lucky? Samantha Amjadali shares some of Google’s helpful and quirky user tools. 

SO, WE all know Google is omnipotent. Hell, sometimes the big G knows what you’re searching for before you do. But Google’s all-knowingness, believe it or not, is greater than most of its users realise.

While most of us are content to whack in a couple of words when seeking just the right piece of information online, a few minor tweaks can not only speed up your searching but also ensure your results are more accurate and relevant.

Google + calculator = awesome 

Yep, type in a mathematical equation into Google’s humble search bar and the little people inside will add, multiply, divide or minus it all quick-smart. This feature isn’t confined to primary-school maths, either. It can handle more complex requests – as long as you can figure out how to ask them. In the case of 12*9+(sqrt 10)^3, for example, the question is more complex than the answer, 139.622777.


Ditch your dictionary

Google’s inbuilt dictionary allows surfers to look up the definitions of words within the search engine – and without madly flipping through the pages of your Oxford or Macquarie. For example, if the word ”conundrum” perpetually befuddles you, typing ”definition: conundrum” will solve the mystery. Google scouts various online dictionaries of repute and returns the definition. In this case a conundrum is: ”A confusing and difficult problem or question.” Nice. Conundrum solved. Mr Google kindly provides synonyms for your word as well.

It’s all academic to me

An offshoot of is the brilliant Google Scholar (, a resource for anyone wanting to avoid wading through digital fluff and flotsam and get straight to the good and, most importantly, verified ”stuff” when searching. Google Scholar filters out popular literature and returns only results found in academic journals, professional societies, universities and other forms of scholarly literature. It’s particularly popular with students, especially those with impending deadlines.

What’s the time, Mr Google?

One of the most practical Google extensions is the ability to find the current time in any of the world’s cities, big or small. Simply type: ”time in [city name]” and the current time will appear in milliseconds. If you’re searching for the time in countries such as the US, where there are multiple time zones, all will be displayed. The same feature works for weather. Just type ”weather in [city name]” and you’ll get back today’s temperature, humidity and wind forecasts, as well as predictions for the next five days.

I’ll see your dollar and raise you four shekels

Rather than visiting a currency converter site or, heaven forbid, working it out manually in your head, type your desired conversion in plain old English into your search bar, such as 20 Australian dollars to pesos. The conversion will appear instantly using the latest rates; and, if you’re after a currency such as rupees, which is used by several countries, try inputting the exact code, for example PKR for Pakistani rupees, INR for Indian rupees or SCR for Seychelles rupees.

The engineers at Google have a sense of humor!

Type the following lines into your Google bar (may not work with Internet Explorer) and watch what happens:

  1. Do a barrel roll
  2. Askew
  3. Anagram
  4. Google mirror
  5. xx-klingon or xx-pirate (click the I’m Feeling Lucky option, not Search)


Leave a comment

Posted by on March 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


From eCampus News – New Educational App Lets Users Annotate Files

New Educational App Lets Users Annotate Files

(from eCampus News) by wrie service reports


After three months of beta testing by K-12 and college students, the eNotebook app went live in the app store last month for $4.99.

A Maryland high school math teacher has launched an educational app for the iPad that allows students to add their own notes and markups to their instructors’ Word, PDF, and PowerPoint files without the need to convert those files to another format.

Kevin Giffhorn had the idea for the eNotebook app, which he says is the first app of its kind, roughly a year ago—around the time he saw iPads starting to make their way into education.

“Everyone was having to adapt their files,” said the Carlisle, Pa., grad whose first teaching job was also at Carlisle High School.

Struck by the possibilities of an app that would allow for quick and easy access to a variety of files, as well as note taking, Giffhorn founded WeLearn Educational Software and commissioned the Silicon Valley Company IndiaNIC to develop his idea into a working app.

“It’s just really neat working with them and seeing something that I wrote down on paper and had in my head … become a workable, usable app,” Giffhorn said. “It’s kind of amazing still that no one’s done it yet, but it’s nice to be first.”

After three months of beta testing by K-12 and college students, the app went live in Apple’s App Store last month for $4.99.

The basics of the eNotebook app are simple. Students can take a teacher or professor’s presentations, whether they are created in Word, PowerPoint, or PDF format, and add their own notes or markups to them just as if they were working with a hard copy—whether that means writing a formula or date in the margins or highlighting an important piece of information.

What the eNotebook app does goes beyond its basic functions, however. There are numerous possible implications of such a software program.

While other parts of the classroom have changed—such as blackboards being replaced with interactive whiteboards—the notebook has not, Giffhorn explained.

“My students are still using the same three-ring binder their grandparents used,” he said. “I really believe my app will be able to move my students into the 21st century classroom.”

Eventually replacing binders and notebooks with tablets and software like the eNotebook educational app could improve student organization and simply reduce the weight of student backpacks.

“It’s going to save kids time from writing down everything on the board, because they’re going to be using the teacher’s pre-configured notes and just adding their own notes too it,” Giffhorn said. “It’s one less thing for the kid to have to do. It allows the kid to focus more on the actual learning.”

Such a tool could be especially useful for those students with learning disabilities who have a hard time copying notes from a board, the teacher added.

“I would love to be a part of the movement to change the classroom,” he said. “As the iPad starts getting accepted more into traditional education, I am hoping my app is one of the flagship apps that goes along with it.”

If interest in the app is any indication, Giffhorn might see his hopes become a reality. Schools and universities from as far away as Ireland and California have contacted the high school math teacher about his educational app.

“I knew this wasn’t going to grow overnight, but it’s moving in the right direction,” he said.

For more information about the eNotebook app,

Copyright (c) 2012, The Sentinel (Carlisle, Pa.). Visit The Sentinel online Distributed by MCT Information Services.


image acquired from Flickr Commons

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


From Chronicle of Higher Ed – Create Your Own E-book


As devices for reading e-books proliferate, it increasingly makes sense to make publications available in an e-book. There are a number of cases in which you might do this: 

  • If you want to give your readers the option to read your content as an e-book. For example, I’m the web editor for The Journal of Southern Religion. As a supplement to the articles on the website, I intend to make an e-book of each issue with the articles “bound” together.

Making an e-book can be easy—almost trivially easy—using Pandoc, a tool I’ve written about earlier on ProfHacker. Of course, Pandoc isn’t the only way to do this. Mark has used Sigil and written about it, and another good option is Anthologize, which Julie wrote about.

Since a good way to learn is by doing, let’s create an e-book of My Favorite ProfHacker Posts. You can follow along with the commands below and these files hosted on GitHub, and you can also look at the Pandoc documentation. We’ll use just three posts to keep it simple:

Here’s how to make an e-book with a few commands.

1. Get a clean copy of each of the “chapters.”

You’ll need a clean, plain-text copy of each of the documents that will go into your e-book. You might have them in your blog, in an HTML file, or perhaps in a LaTeX file. Either Markdown or HTML is fine. In this case, since I don’t have the originals of these posts, I’m going to use Pandoc to grab them from the web and convert them to Markdown. (I explained how to do this in the previous post about Pandoc.) Let’s grab Billie’s post and turn it into Markdown; you’d do the same thing for the other two posts.

pandoc -s -r html -o ch01.hara.markdown

You’ll have to delete the junk from the files, such as the Chronicle’s navigation bar, but this is easy. We&rsq
uo;re left with three files, one each for the post by BillieGeorge, and Mark.

2. Create the front matter

Our e-book will need a little metadata. First we’ll make a simple text file which will be our title page. We’ll call it title.txt. It will have these two lines for the title and author. (See the file on GitHub.)

% My Favorite ProfHacker Posts

% Team ProfHacker

We’ll also need to provide the equivalent of a copyright page, which gives some information about the book. This is also a simple two-line text file, which we’ll call metadata.xml. (See the file on GitHub.)

<dc:rights>The copyright status of this e-book is ambiguous.</dc:rights>


3. Stitch the e-book together with Pandoc

Now that we have all the parts of the e-book, we can stitch it together with one Pandoc command. You would type this into the command line. (The s tell the shell that you are breaking one long command into several lines.) The first line calls pandoc, tells it where to find metadata.xml. The second line tells pandoc to output (-o) an EPUB file named my-favorite-profhacker-posts.epub. The remaining lines list the parts of the book in order.

pandoc -S –epub-metadata=metadata.xml

    -o my-favorite-profhacker-posts.epub





And that’s all there is to it: you’re a twenty-first-century Gutenberg. You can download our new e-book from GitHub. Now you have an e-book in the EPUB format, which works on Nooks, iPads, iPhones, and iPods, and which you can easily convert to the MOBI format for Kindle using Calibre.

What uses do you have for e-books? Have you made your own e-book? Let us know in the comments.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Simon Zirkunow / Creative Commons licensed


Leave a comment

Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


HU Livescribe Project

If you are an HU faculty memeber interested in learning how Livescribe can benefit your students, read about the project at?

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tablet Owership Triples Among College Students (from The Chronicle of Higher Education)


Tablet Ownership Triples Among College Students

March 14, 2012, 3:01 am

By Nick DeSantis


The number of college students who say they own tablets has more than tripled since a survey taken last year, according to new poll results released today. The Pearson Foundation sponsored the second-annual survey, which asked 1,206 college students and 204 college-bound high-school seniors about their tablet ownership. The results suggest students increasingly prefer to use the devices for reading. 


One-fourth of the college students surveyed said they owned a tablet, compared with just 7 percent last year. Sixty-three percent of college students believe tablets will replace textbooks in the next five years—a 15 percent increase over last year’s survey. More than a third said they intended to buy a tablet sometime in the next six months.


This year’s poll also found that the respondents preferred digital books over printed ones. It’s a reversal of last year’s results and goes against findings of other recent studies, which concluded that students tend to choose printed textbooks. The new survey found that nearly six in 10 students preferred digital books when reading for class, compared with one-third who said they preferred printed textbooks.


The new survey results arrive as several new tools have emerged this year to simplify digital publishing, including Apple’s self-publishing software and Inkling’s enterprise platform for large companies.


Harris Interactive, the same firm that conducted last year’s survey on behalf of the Pearson Foundation, conducted the poll in January. Figures for age, sex, household income and other factors were weighted to be representative of the U.S. population of college students.


[Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by sridgway]

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Uncategorized