Keeping up with education-friendly iPad and iPod apps is getting more and more difficult, good ones end up slipping past me. But I have run across a few pretty cool things that you might enjoy.

The first two are news apps that provide a different way of giving you access to lots of information.

1. News360 gives you lots of options on how you want your news displayed. News360 starts with a list of categories such as US Politics, World News or Entertainment and provides a list of specific stories. Clicking a story allows you to read it with the option to click on other news outlets writing about the same story. You also have the option of starting with the news outlets themselves, CNN or the Washington Post for example, and then reading the various stories written by just that outlet.

I like this. It gives me a chance to get a variety of perspectives on the same event quickly and easily. I also like that each story has embedded hyperlinks based on keywords within the story. If I’m reading a story about the Bin Laden raid, I may want to know more about Abbottabad. Clicking that link opens a Wikipedia article on that topic. News360 also a semi-cool photo montage option that you can scroll through with each image a link to a story based on that image. It’s a bit hit and miss but a nice way to get a quick visual sense of the day’s events.

The app also has some extensive social media tools built in.

2. Zite is a personalized magazine for your iPad that automatically learns what you like and gets smarter as you use it. Zite gives you personalized news, articles, blogs, videos and other content from a variety of both mainstream and niche publications and sites. Zite can personalize by syncing with your Twitter or Google Reader account or on its own.

Every story you read gives you the chance to “like” certain topics, keywords or web sites. Over time, the software begins to understand your “likes” and provides more and more news that fits your personality. Zite is easy to use and easy to look at – so much so that I’m moving away from Flipboard.

I like the idea of a piece of software learning what I enjoy reading but at the same time, I get a bit concerned that I’m shutting out differing opinions and ideas. So I’ve gotten into the habit of “liking” stuff that I disagree with – ensuring that Zite keeps giving me a variety of opinions and ideas.

The next couple of apps are connected to my ongoing obsession with the Civil War.

3. The people have put together an awesome iPad app called The Civil War Today. “Experience the war as it unfolded, one day at a time, with daily updates that let you live the events in “real-time” over the course of four years. The Civil War Today leverages the iPad multi-touch interface to enable app users to feel and explore thousands of original documents, photos, maps, diary entries, quotes, and newspaper broadsheets like never before.”

4. Civil War: Gettysburg is an app designed to be used while you are actually on the battlefield. Equipped with GPS, you can use the app to literally guide you through the events of 1863. But even in your classroom, the app is powerful stuff. Maps, info, photos and video clips by park rangers provide a nice, interactive overview of the battle. Clicking on any of the embedded “virtual signs” will provide you with a wealth of historical information, expert videos, and the voices of the participants who fought. The app also comes with a wealth of onboard information for your “visit” – orders of battle, facts about the battle, historical photos, chronologies, and our famous battle maps are all at your fingertips.

5. The last app is created by the people at Colonial Williamsburg. It’s a bit clunky but it has some pretty amazing info. Also designed to be used as an actual guide while on-site, it has video clips, photos, maps and textual info about Williamsburg. If you can’t make the trip to Virginia, this app would a great way to take a virtual tour of the site.

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