Sunday, 4 March 2012

Mashable: Latest 9 News Updates - including “SnappSchool Connects Parents With Classrooms”

Mashable: Latest 9 News Updates - including “SnappSchool Connects Parents With Classrooms”

SnappSchool Connects Parents With Classrooms

Posted: 03 Mar 2012 03:15 PM PST


A startup called SnappSchool is compiling a weekly rundown of the Kindergarten to 6th-grade math curriculum — for parents.

The idea is that if parents understand more about what and how their children are learning, they can better support their children’s education.

Each digest contains a “quick refresher” about the topic, links to further resources and exercises, and a link to a news story or other information that connects the topic to the real world.

SnappSchool hires certified teachers to write the digests, and they’re based on Common Core Standards that all but five states use. Because the emails are not coordinated by your children’s specific teachers, however, they might be paced slightly ahead or behind their actual classroom lessons.

Parents simply sign up for the appropriate grade level to receive emails each week. The service is free for three weeks and then costs $7.99 to continue the year.

“To do long division, I don't need the full lesson my fourth grader needs to get through it, but I do need a little reminder. It's not something I do every day,” explains SnappSchool co-founder John Halloran. “At that level what often also happens is that there may be different ways of teaching things.”

There are legs to the startup’s theory that more-involved parents beget better students.

A recent survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that parental involvement is linked to better student performance.

"Just asking your child how was their school day and showing genuine interest in the learning that they are doing can have the same impact as hours of private tutoring,” Andreas Schleicher, who oversees OECD exams, told The New York Times.

SnappSchool’s first stab at connecting parents with classrooms was a product that allowed teachers to easily SMS or email the parents of students in their classes. It’s a good idea, but hard to monetize and dependent upon teacher initiative.

Halloran hopes that the new SnappSchool digests will give any parent the opportunity to connect with their children’s education, even if it’s just a matter of checking in once in a while.

“Everybody asks, ‘what did you do in school today?,” and the kids never answer,” he says. “If you can ask, ‘I know you’re doing long division, how is that?,’ then it’s a little bit easier.”

Do you have school-aged children? Would you find a weekly digest of their curriculum helpful? Or would it just be another newsletter to ignore?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, lisafx

More About: education, SnappSchool, Startups

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13 Products You Can Make From Your Instagram Snapshots [PICS]

Posted: 03 Mar 2012 02:55 PM PST

1. Bangles

This Instagram'd bangle on Etsy is made by BuyMyCrap.

"We fell in love with the Instagram process and how it allows you to create pieces representative of yesteryear with different tones, filters and effects," says Lainey Bard, who's affectionately known by her customers as Mrs. Crap. "Since we create wearable works of art, we decided to include Instagram inspired pieces in our shop."

The Craps access the Instagram API via iPod to pull photos. Bangles are sold for $40.

Click here to view this gallery.

Photo-sharing service Instagram has 25 million users who have uploaded 500 million photos since its launch in October 2010.

The app is a go-to for amateur and professional photogs alike, and its filters and tilt-shift functionality have won it a legion of loyal fans — and it’s still only available for iOS.

Noting Instagram’s popularity, opportunistic companies and individuals have realized that these beautiful images shouldn’t be confined to your smartphone or tablet screen. By plugging into the Instagram API, these savvy entrepreneurs have created products — and sometimes even entire businesses — that bring your Instagram images to life.

Take a look through the gallery for 13 cool Instagram-based products — and an exciting bonus item that could spice up your office, a wedding and any event.

If you want more products, such as mugs or tees, give Instamaker a try. Other Instagram items we’d love to see: laptop cases, umbrellas, dishes, stationery, postage stamps, dog paraphernalia and charm-style pendants. What would you want to see? Let us know in the comments.

More About: canvaspop, Etsy, instagram, iphoneography, Small Business, trending

Facebook Briefly Incorporates ‘Interest Lists’ [VIDEO]

Posted: 03 Mar 2012 02:35 PM PST

After Facebook launched Timeline for brand pages on Wednesday morning, a feature not mentioned in any of the company’s marketing materials briefly appeared on them: a menu item titled “add to interest lists.”

The option quickly disappeared from pages, but it left speculators wondering if Facebook might be plotting a way for users to opt-in to brand messages or even some sort of discovery engine.

What do you think the social network has planned for the feature? Tell us in the comments.

More About: Facebook

Top 10 Twitter Pics of the Week

Posted: 03 Mar 2012 02:10 PM PST

1. Oscars

Last week, the 84th edition of the #Oscars took place. The Artist won five Oscars, including Best Picture. Lots of celebrities attended the Oscars and the parties that were organized around the event. This picture displays "Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth at Elton John's Oscar party." It was posted to Twitter by E! Online (@eonline, over 4 million followers).

Click here to view this gallery.

What happens when you take 45 million pictures posted on Twitter, rank them according to popularity and hash tags, and place them in a 10-picture gallery? If you’d like to know the answer to that question, you’ve come to the right place.

We didn’t do this all by ourselves, though. Our good friends at Skylines, eagle eyed researchers all, have developed a special algorithm that gives them an uncanny way of finding the most interesting pictures transmitted around the world during the previous week.

By the way, If you’d like to get to know these cool Skylines people — and if you’re going to SXSW — they’re putting together an event called Photo Drinks on March 11 at 4 p.m., and you’re all invited!

So get ready for another batch of Top 10 Twitter pics of the week, spanning images that are filled with beauty, pathos, triumph, high fashion, and even a bit of cuteness. The best news? We’ve gathered all of it for you, right here.

In case you missed them, here are last week's Top 10 Twitter Pics.

More About: Skylines, Top 10 Twitter Pics, trending, Twitter

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Top 10 Tech This Week [PICS]

Posted: 03 Mar 2012 01:17 PM PST

1. Tron Lightcycle for Sale

We knew there was a Tron Lightcycle that was street legal, and there was even one for sale from Hammacher Schlemmer, but this one's different: it's created by the motorcycle designers at Parker Brothers Choppers.

Unlike that other lightcycle that was powered by a Suzuki four-stroke engine, this one is an electric bike powered by custom lithium ion batteries, donated to Charitybuzz by Evolve Motorcycles.

So now you can ride around in your scary-looking crotch rocket guilt-free, knowing that you contributed to a worthy cause. Current bid? $29,000.

[via Ubergizmo]

Click here to view this gallery.

It was a livelier tech week than we’ve seen in a long time. On the heels of the big smartphone and mobile tech convention in Barcelona, the tech world braced itself for a huge auto show in Geneva next week, leaking pics of cool cars like a sieve. We’ve sorted out the best of the techno-goodness, just for you.

SEE ALSO: Previous editions of Top 10 Tech This Week

In the meantime, rumors abound, and we have our ears to the ground. Find out the latest scuttlebutt, experience gadgetry from the present and future, and hold on for dear life as we bring you the latest edition of Top 10 Tech This Week.

Here’s last week’s Top 10 Tech.

More About: cars, ipad, space, Top 10 Tech, trending

Apple’s App Store Hits 25 Billion Downloads

Posted: 03 Mar 2012 12:13 PM PST

Apple customers have collectively downloaded 25 billion apps from the App Store, the company has announced on its webpage. That’s more than three apps per person in the world.

The milestone signals not only a vast appetite for apps, but also growing smartphone penetration and Apple profits (the company takes a 30% cut from every app or in-app purchase).

People with iOS devices are downloading an increasing number of apps. One 2011 study, for instance, concluded iOS owners download about 60 apps each, which is 50 more apps that the same researcher found each iOS owner downloaded in 2008.

And as the number of apps per device has grown, so has the number of devices. In a 2011 Pew Survey, 35% of the 2,277 U.S. adults questioned in English or Spanish said that they owned a smartphone. Pew released another study this week that found this percentage has since jumped to 46%. More Americans now own smartphones than feature phones, and the world bought 37 million of them from Apple last quarter alone.

Growing app downloads and growing device sales are a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation: Do people buy iPhones because they want to download apps or do they download apps because they have iPhones?

Combined net sales for the iTunes Store, App Store and iBookstore in 2011 was $5.4 billion — just 6% of Apple’s net sales, but a 33% increase compared to 2010.

Whether devices are driving app sales or the app store is driving device sales (or, more realistically, some combination of both), growing app demand and growing mobile device penetration have served Apple’s bottom line quite nicely.

The company reported its highest revenue and earnings ever last quarter. If you go by its market cap, it is now worth more than all the tea in China.

In this context, the $10,000 gift card Apple promised to give away when it hit the 25 billionth app from its App Store looks less over-the-top. Apple hasn’t yet announced the winner, but considering that to enter the contest, users were required to agree to publicly share some App Store picks with the Apple community if they won, we’ll likely be meeting the lucky winner soon.

More About: app store, apple, apps

7 New Apps You Don’t Want to Miss

Posted: 03 Mar 2012 11:38 AM PST

Zombies Run! for iPhone

You might think jogging is boring, but not with this post-apocalyptic zombie chase. In Zombies Run! -- a companion app for running -- you are "Runner 5" in this scenario, which is explained to you through voice recordings. To save civilization, you must gather supplies around the city while being chased by zombies. Running for a longer time wins you more supplies. When you get home, you can decide how to distribute the supplies you earn most efficiently. According to the Zombies, Run! website, the app will becoming to Android this spring. $7.99.

Click here to view this gallery.

Smartphone users got a variety of new app options this week.

In just the top seven of them we selected from the virtual haystack, there are new ways to imagine yourself on a post-apocalyptic zombie chase during a daily jog, focus your phone’s camera on one point while adjusting exposure in another (if, of course, the zombies let up long enough for you to take a snapshot) or spend some time catching up on the election.

Apps featured in the gallery above will also show you what the other apps you’ve downloaded are telling ad networks about you (if you’re feeling private) or send up to 30 images from your iPhone at once (if you’re in a sharing mood).

When you’re done with all that, you’ll no doubt be hungry. In which case, you can use Seamless’s new iPad app to order some food for delivery.

Have you tried any of these apps? Which is your favorite? What other apps have launched this week that you would add to the list?

More About: apps, Kicksend, Lookout, Seamless, smugmug, trending, weekly app roundup

How Employers Are Paying in 2012 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 03 Mar 2012 10:26 AM PST

For those of you who have been working hard for your companies under tight financial constraints during the last few years, a silver lining might be coming your way. Thanks to rosy outlooks of employers in companies of all sizes across the country, it looks as though 2012 is going to be the year of the raise.

According to the infographic below, which was researched and compiled by, more than 93% of employers surveyed plan to give compensation adjustments to their workforces. That’s significantly more than the percentage of employers who actually gave their employees salary adjustments in 2011 (60%) and 2010 (about 30%). The good news isn’t just for the already-employed, either: A large percentage of companies in the business support services, information/telecommunications and retail sectors expect financial growth in 2012 — a sure sign of new jobs to come.

Check out the infographic, which also maps out employer performance in 2011 in areas such as recruiting, social media and overall growth. Do you think 2012 will be a boom year for employees? Let us know in the comments below.

Social Media Job Listings

Every week we post a list of social media and web job opportunities. While we publish a huge range of job listings, we’ve selected some of the top social media job opportunities from the past two weeks to get you started. Happy hunting!

Infographic courtesy of

More About: Business, features, infographic, job search series, mashable, salary, trending

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Mercedes Rolls Out Invisible Car [VIDEO]

Posted: 03 Mar 2012 08:55 AM PST

When Mercedes wanted to promote its new fuel cell vehicle, instead of placing it squarely in front of everyone in the world, the company decided to make the car invisible. We have video.

In this clever publicity stunt, Mercedes wanted to emphasize that its F-Cell vehicle has no omissions, making it virtually invisible to the environment. If you take a look at the gallery below, you’ll see how these clever dudes did it: by placing a mat of LEDs across one side of the vehicle and mounting a video-shooting Canon 5D Mark II digital SLR camera on the other side.

We saw a Halloween costume like this once. Mount an iPad on your belly, surround it with costuming that looks like a hole, place a webcam on your back shooting backward, and then feed that video into the iPad. Voilà! It looks like you have a gory hole going all the way through you:

Mercedes is doing basically the same trick. As you can see in the Mercedes video, even though people could still tell there was a car going by, they seemed impressed by the “invisible” fuel-cell vehicle.

Mercedes says its hydrogen-powered drive system is “ready for series production,” but other reports have its commercialization set for 2014. However, fuel-cell technology is still notoriously expensive, partly because hydrogen is a difficult fuel to store and transport. The materials needed to create a viable fuel-cell are still hovering in the pricey stratosphere.

Practicality aside, we applaud Mercedes and its efforts to create a vehicle with zero emissions and less impact on the environment, and admire the lengths to which these artists went to bring home that point.

By the way, with all the ultra-cool cars in the Mercedes stable, why did the company pick a minivan for this showy demo? Oh, we get it: more surface area to mount that video screen.

Invisible Mercedes: Setup

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Advertising, cars, Fuel Cell, mercedes, trending

How to Take Your PR Pitches to the Next Level

Posted: 03 Mar 2012 07:15 AM PST

Social Media Conversation

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Often the most visible element of public relations, media relations is a tried-and-true tactic that can influence opinion, change behaviors, and generate new leads and sales. PR people have always built relationships with relevant journalists to pitch stories about clients. And as bloggers' popularity increased, PR specialists began adding bloggers to their media lists in an attempt to secure product reviews, guest posts and other forms of editorial coverage. Industry insiders like to debate the merits of influence, but the truth is that virtually anyone has the opportunity to shape perceptions by creating and sharing content online. In fact, the New York Times recently quoted a tweet, helping someone with seven followers gain a much larger audience.

If you work in PR, here are some innovative ways to improve your pitches and hopefully, help you nab some buzz. Of course, the best way to generate buzz is to pair an excellent, tailored pitch with a stellar product.

Incorporate New Platforms

A #WarbyWalk Instagram by @deluda

As technology forces the PR industry to evolve, one constant remains true: Businesses need to incorporate the right mix of tools to deliver the right message to the right audience. That still involves working with reporters to secure stories in "traditional" media outlets. But nowadays, even traditional media roles are changing: Magazines and newspapers employ multimedia producers to create companion videos and slideshows that supplement the original print version of a story, and beat reporters are responsible for creating blog posts in addition to their "regular" stories.

To capitalize on this trend, don't simply offer a story line when working with traditional media outlets. Instead, offer opportunities for reporters to generate "non-traditional" content. But remember: Innovating your media relations requires more than just securing digital coverage in traditional media outlets. It's smarter — and more effective — to cast a wider net. Here are platform-specific examples:

Pinterest — Reportedly the fastest-growing standalone site ever, Pinterest is rapidly attracting brands and individual pinners. Some individuals have already accumulated hundreds and thousands of loyal followers. One byproduct? A new set of influencers for brands to engage. Start by identifying pinners with loyal followings on topics relevant to your organization. Like and repin their content, and connect with the individuals on their blogs, Twitter accounts or Facebook Pages. Look for natural opportunities to share your content with them, with the goal of securing a coveted "pin" on one of their boards. Proceed with caution, as this is new territory, and many pinners won't want to be pitched. However, it won't be long until brands and individual pinners figure out how to work with each other.

Facebook — Brands have created Facebook pages, some with success … others not so much. If your brand doesn't have a strong Facebook presence — or if you need to connect with a niche group — consider tapping into existing communities. For example, identify Facebook Pages and groups that serve as a hub for people who would likely share an interest in your product or service. Take note of who the Page’s admin is, and try to provide that person with fresh content that the page's members would find valuable. Remember, a key page admin responsibility is to spark engagement — mostly through Likes, comments and shares. If you're going to pitch a Facebook Page admin, make sure you're providing content that will help him strengthen connections with existing fans.

Instagram — A real-time, photo sharing network, Instagram is the largest mobile social network. As brands navigate mobile marketing opportunities, Instagram may be a natural network to explore. However, it's safe to assume that most Instagram users wouldn't be comfortable uploading a photo a brand emailed them. Instead, companies can create opportunities to connect with their online networks in offline settings. A few ideas:

  • Host a "iPhoneography" photo shoot for local Instagram users, like Warby Parker‘s #WarbyWalk)
  • Organize a "photo-a-day" meme and invite Instagram photographers whose interests align with your brand's to participate
  • Create a contest and invite users with relevant followings to spread the word and/or participate

YouTube and UStream — A couple years ago, "haul videos" were all the rage on YouTube. As video production becomes more accessible and simpler, more individuals are broadcasting shows on YouTube and UStream. Just as you'd pitch a television reporter, brands can connect with the hosts or producers of these shows. But be sure to think visually. For example, can you provide the broadcast with a high-level interview or behind-the-scenes footage?

The Rewards of Relevancy

When it comes to generating media coverage and engaging content creators and influencers, the most effective PR people are the ones who research each opportunity and develop a customized pitch. Be warned: If your pitch appears off-topic or feels like a "canned" message, it won't pique the attention of traditional media, bloggers or this new set of online influencers. So, before you ask someone to pin your image or share content with a Facebook group, do your homework. Relevancy is rewarded.

More Small Business Resources From OPEN Forum:

- Pinterest for Brands: 5 Hot Tips
- How Klout Found Success By Focusing On Users
- Email Newsletters: Best Practices For Small Businesses

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, chris_lemmens

More About: Facebook, features, How-To, instagram, mashable, open forum, pinterest, PUBLIC RELATIONS, ustream, YouTube

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