Google Reader Alternatives

Google Reader Alternatives

Did you hear the collective gasp across the internet last night? As blog readers around the internet settled in for the evening to read their blogs on Google Reader, they were informed that things were about to change.  Google announced that it would be closing Google Reader as of July 1, 2013.  What’s more, there seem to be few programs that can do the job that Google Reader currently does.

As I mentioned here,  I rely heavily on Google Reader to manage the blogs that I read.  I currently have over 1000 unread posts that I’m hoping to get to some day, as well as over 50 blogs that I check on a fairly regular basis. Moving all of that content to another, preferably free, provider seems like an enormous task.

A quick internet search last night provided few alternatives.  Fortunately, this is the digital age, and a short 24 hours has already produced a plethora of articles about Google Reader Alternatives.   The ones I’ve looked at so far are below. Click the name of the service to see their website.

Bloglovin

Initially designed for fashion blogs, the interface for this service is particularly visual. Most of my favorite blogs, are on my favorites list because of the pictures. Show me a beautifully decorated room or entree that looks incredible and I’m instantly drawn in and ready to see more.  So I like the idea of a blog reader that will make it easy to enjoy my favorite blogs.  I worry about how hard it will be to transfer all of my content to Bloglovin.  I’ve started Google Takeout, as Google suggested when they made their announcement, but importing that content into Bloglovin wasn’t particularly intuitive and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to figure it out.  It seems like a promising option though.  Some of the other bloggers I’ve talked with are excited about Bloglovin.

Update: Bloglovin quickly updated their service and they have made it almost as easy to upload blogs as with Feedly.  All of my blogs were uploaded, but I did have to recreate my categories.  I love seeing the blog post in the context of the original blog, but this did slow things down a bit.  I tend to skim through blog posts and this was hard to do when I had to wait for each blog page to load. I still seem to be doing most of my reading on Feedly, but I haven’t totally given up on Bloglovin.

Feedly

Feedly is a Chrome product that someone mentioned last night.  It took me only seconds to import my list of blogs from Google Reader.  Unfortunately, it was incredibly slow to import my content. I’m inclined to suspect that the site was over run with Google Reader refugees and that this will improve with time. Now that my content is there, it seems to be pretty similar to Google reader.  I had  to adjust the settings a bit to get it to feel right, but over all, I think  I could get used to it.

The Old Reader

This service is at the top of a lot of Google Reader alternative lists.  It’s supposed to be just like, “the old google reader.”  It looks to be that way, but honestly I never got a chance to try it out.  In contrast to Feedly, which automatically imported all of my content from Google Reader, The Old Reader wanted me to unzip and upload my Google Takeout files.  That’s a lot of extra steps when Feedly does it all for me automatically and I’ve got other things I want to spend my time on.

Conclusion:

I really want to like Bloglovin.  Other bloggers I know speak highly of it, and I love the visual interface, but they’re going to have to make it a lot easier for me to import my content if they want me to do my reading over there.   The Old Reader had the same issue as Bloglovin. Getting my reader content into it was not automatic and seamless like it was with Feedly.  Feedly was just so very easy, and I’m all about easy. I’ll keep my eye on Bloglovin, but I’ll be doing most of my reading on Feedly for the time being.  

Advertisements

Giraffes: A Popplet and a Project

It’s giraffe week in our class.  We’re learning all about them! Did you know they only need to drink every few days?  We have a collection of giraffe facts that we always share with our class and thought it would be fun to spice things up a little bit.  I started scrolling through Pinterest and the blogs on my reader to see if I could find a fun way to present all of our facts.  One of the first things I found was this Laura Candler Post, 20 Terrific Presentation Tech Tools for Kids. I clicked on a few of the different tools, and decided to go with Popplet.  It seems similar Prezi, which I’ve seen other teachers use.  The first thing that appealed to me about Popplet was the way that it linked to Flickr’s collection of creative commons pictures, making it easy to grab some giraffe pictures to go with our facts.  It only took me a few minutes to create a short little giraffe Popplet which combined all of our facts with fun giraffe pictures. Here’s what it ended up looking like:

Giraffe Popplet overview

You can click here to see it and interact with it. On the Popplet website you can zoom in and out to see the pictures and text up close.  It’s a very simple, linear presentation. There’s a lot of room to go much deeper and more complex with Popplet.  Hopefully we’ll be able to spend more time with it and explore all it has to offer. When I’m logged in to Popplet, I’m actually able to click on the setting icon to put it into “presentation mode” (under the “view” tab) for a slide show.   That’s how we shared our Giraffe Popplet with the kids.

giraffe popplet

DSCN7077

DSCN7081In the picture above, the kids are spreading their legs apart to drink water just like a giraffe might.

After we shared the Popplet with the class, we put the kids to work on our favorite giraffe activity.  One of my very first Pinterest pins was the adorable giraffe painting below.

giraffe pinIt’s a canvas painting that was for sale on Etsy but is no longer available. We loved it so much that we turned it into an activity for our students. They cut out the white head, pink ossicones and pink nose and then paste them on to a piece of 12×18 construction paper.  We have a collection of buttons and ribbons that the children use to embellish their giraffes. They add the eye with a black marker  (and sometimes another nose and a mouth 😉  )and we end up with an adorable collection of giraffes for our hallway!

DSCN7083
DSCN7091-001

Giraffe

Giraffe Project7FBF8CFDA6AD9BD0B34E6CD50E760EA9blog button-002

Why Blog?

pencils found.  ransom sought.

So yesterday was the first day that I really started  telling people about this new endeavor of mine, blogging.  For someone who is somewhat private and reserved, opening myself up like this made for a rather overwhelming day.  This is all a bit of a stretch for me, even if it is more of a professional endeavor more than a personal one.  As I shared my plans with different people, I got a lot of different responses and affirmations.  One of the best questions I got though, was “Why?”  “Why are you starting a blog?”  So as I sit here a day or so after telling all the world (or at least what feels like all the world!) about my blog and I am feeling just a bit apprehensive about the whole thing, it seems a good time to examine the question of “Why?”

*I want to dialogue with other educators. I know there are other people out there that are trying to use technology with young children, particularly ipads, but they are hard to come by with just a quick internet search.  There’s a lot of trial and error involved in this whole process and I think it is helpful to figure this out with others who are experimenting in the same realm.  I know that if I get involved with the educational blogging community,  it will be easier to find those people that are trying to accomplish the same goals as we are in our program.

*I want to grow as an educator and the kind of self reflection that happens with blogging encourages that. One of the first people I told about this blogging experiment was our technology coordinator.  When I asked for her advice she sent me several articles about blogging in education. They expressed something that I hadn’t really considered before: writing is a form of self reflection, and self reflection leads to growth. I was only a few posts into this blog when I realized that indeed, writing about which apps we’d used or what our management strategies had been, had caused me to consider them more carefully and then find ways to improve them.  Even if no one ends up reading what I write, I think the way that we use technology in our classroom will still be better because of the time I’ll have spent writing about what we’re doing.

*I want to help other people who find computers confusing and overwhelming to perhaps understand them a bit better.  I consider myself lucky to have grown up with computers. I can not remember a time when our family was without one. I started watching my dad build them when I was a toddler and still enjoy helping him when “we” (really he) replace a motherboard or get my wi-fi situated. Technology has always been such a big part of my life that I forget that it’s still very new and intimidating to some people. I like helping people make sense of technology. It is fun for me to find ways to simplify seemingly complicated programs so that technology novices can master them.  Of course there’s still plenty for me to learn too. I’d be hard put to replace a hard drive, and am quite the novice when it comes to blogging, but I do know more than some and I like to help.

So I think those are the main reasons I’ve started this blog. And I think they are good reasons. Reflecting on them has helped me feel a little less anxious about the fact that I am sharing so much with potentially so many. So hopefully now I’ll experience a little bit of that growth I mentioned above.