Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Advertisers Beware!

While browsing through one of my favorite lesson plans exchange sites today, a quick tour of the recent additions page, I noticed over half of the posts were from a particular educational software site. I clicked on one of their lesson plans and quickly discovered the instructions consisted of two lines.
  1. 1. Subscribe to their site
  2. 2. Check out this great resource, with a link to that lesson on their site
But not much more to tell you anything about it or how to integrate it into the classroom.

Please excuse this rant, but, when I log into a teacher exchange website, I'm expecting to see posts from other teachers, as opposed to spam. If I wanted spam, I could log into Facebook more often, or revisit an old chatroom I used to hang out in.

If you are an advertiser/software vendor, please post only a few posts in teacher exchange sites telling us a little about your site and ways it may be helpful to us as an educator, rather than dominating the site with useless posts of links to your site. These are not helpful to us, and I find these to be quite a turn off! I've learned much more by a month of two in Twitter communicating with other educator and learning from them about sites that I can really use, and ways they are useful. These are the sites that I repost in emails to my staff, and write about in this blog. Rest assured, if you are an advertiser that posts nothing more than links to subscribe to your site and a resource page on your site, I will avoid your site. An advertisement is supposed to entice the viewer to your product, not turn them off from it. So spend a few extra minutes telling us about your site and what it can do for us rather than simply posting links to pages in your site.

Just my thoughts. Who am I? I am the consumer you are targeting, and I am the consumer that can make or break your business through all of my contacts, and their contacts.

Create page flipping books with FlipSnack

I really wished I would have known about this site two years ago, or wished this site had been around a couple of years ago. A quick look at their registry tells me it wasn't around... This site would have saved me so much time, and my family so much aggravation in watching me spend more than two hair pulling weeks trying to create what this site can create for you in minutes. I'm talking about FlipSnack, part of the SnackTools site free site tools line, that takes your .pdf files and turns them into beautiful page turning digital books that you can share.

Creating an interactive page turning digital book with FlipSnack takes only a few minutes, and is pretty simple to do. When you log into the site (free registration), click the big yellow "Make a flipping book" button, or the Create a book link at the top to start creating your page flipping book. You are given options to either browse your computer for a .pdf file, or enter the URL to a .pdf file that you would like to turn into a book. Then allow it a minute or two to upload your .pdf file. From there it will take another few moments for it to compile your book. (Go check your email or Twitter feed for a minute or two while this is going on.) When its done, the fun begins. Click the Next button and you can easily customize your book. The interface gives you choices to customize the background color or texture behind your book, template styles, and size options for your book. You can view it in widget mode or full-screen view. There are also options for including sharing options for you book, so the viewer can share it in a number of social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Blogger. When you've achieved the look you like, click the Finished button and its done. You are given a link to your book, with other options for sharing, such as embedding.

There is a premium (VIP) version of the site for $24 a month that gives you access to all of the Snack Tools sites with premium embedding (no watermark), and downloading options, but for most uses, the free version will suite you just fine.

I created this page flipping book in about five minutes from a file I already had uploaded on my site of a photography weekend trip I took last summer.

However, my Creativity Portfolio book I created for my Creativity in the Classroom class I took a couple of years ago took me several weeks of searching through free and relatively inexpensive flash and javascript catalog and photo album page turning book scripts, and trying to figure out the code and integration myself. It was a maddening two weeks + around my house during that time. Yes, I learned a lot from that experience, and can say I know the technology behind this, but its not something I do everyday, nor have I repeated the experience since then. FlipSnack makes this process a whole lot simpler and quieter! I don't think any one else in the house knew I was creating the book this time around, at least not until they read this!

Imagine adding an extra dimension to those teaching portfolios with an interactive digital page flipping book, create exciting interactive story books for your students, or have your students work a math story then turn it into a beautiful book they can share.