Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Prophet on the Web #edtech

Typically, I don't do this.  But I am going to tell you about a site that is currently in closed Beta. Proto.io is an amazing looking application that allows you to develop you own apps for the IPhone or IPad.  Because I don't have either device (I know - for shame) you'll have to wait till they come out of private beta to test it for yourself.  In the meantime check out their slideshow and demo prototype.  You can also follow @protoio them Twitterfor announcements of their progress.  I'm predicting that Proto.io is going to enable a number of creative educational applications to come about through their easy to use drag and drop interface that would not otherwise exist because of a lack of programming skills of the typical teacher.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sqworl Away Your Websites #edtech

I've been meaning to post about Sqworl since I learned about it last week at #edcampchicago from Anne Truger.  Basically, Sqworl is an interesting visual social bookmark grouping tool.  After signing up for a free account, you create groups.  Within these groups, you can add as many websites as you like and add a brief description.  Once you have completed the group you are given a public Sqworl link so you can share it out (All links are public - but cryptic enough to not easily be found unless you choose to share the link).  Additionally, you can follow other Sqworl users. There is a bookmarklet tool and an IPhone app as well. It's just a nice way to share a group of organized websites in a visual manner.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Subtitle Your Videos #edtech

A few months ago, I told you about Dotsub.  But, I am a firm believer in alternatives..  And tonight's post about Overstream is certainly a leap of faith since I am still waiting for my confirmation email.  But the site looks like it works well for creating subtitles for videos you can find at "YouTubeGoogle VideoMySpace VideoVeohBlip.tvArchive.org and Vimeo.com" .  That's what seems to make it unique.  While DotSub worked with videos that you and others uploaded, Overstream allows you to subtitle videos from themore popular video hosting sites - Opening a whole new world of opportunities.  I can see this being used not only for ESL but for struggling readers as well.  Now, if I could just get that confirmation e-mail I could confirm it.  Of course, knowing me it's my own fault and I misspelled my own e-mail address again (I'm down to one eye - with an eye infection)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Clipboard in the Cloud #edtech

It's been a long day, so it's time for a tiny post.  Or, ahem, TinyPaste.  OK, bad pun intended.  But seriously, TinyPaste is a fascinating tool.  It's somewhere between an online document and a Social Bookmarking tool.  Basically, if you are on a site and only want to remember a potion of it you can higlight the text and paste it into a TinyPaste post.  It's a bit like having a clipbioard that you can take with you wherever you go.  Each post you make has a tinypaste link associated with it to easily share the information you have found. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Searching That's Elementary #edtech

I'm always on the lookoout for kid friendly search engines.  One of the best is from the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) at Kent State University.  It's called KidsClick.  The younger you can teach students about conducting effective research, the better off they'll be.  But I'm not a huge fan of just unleashing the power of Google on young students.  And that's why I like KidsClick  While you may only find 2-3 sites returned by search you know they are safe. (Yes, I have it the four letter word test and it passed with flying colors).  There is an advanced search as well with options to help narrow results.  I also like that the basic search tells you how many illustrations are on the site as well as suggested reading level (don't ask me how they do that - but its a nice feature).  Once students start using KidsClick and get a feel for how to search safely, if they aren't getting enough information the site suggests a number of of "safe" search engines to try.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another YouTube Post? Yup! #edtech

If you've read some of my previous posts talking about YouTube, you know I have a love/hate relationship with the site. I love that there is a wealth of information and content being created and shared.  I hate that a lot of it is in violation of copyright, cluttered with associated videos (which may or may not be accurate) and riddled with often ridiculous comments.  The reason I dislike YouTube is the reason a number of schools block it entirely.  But I'm always looking for ways to help you convince administrators of it's value as well.  Today, Lucy Gray shared a link that Henry Thiele had shared with her called: SafeShare.tv and I knew it was instantly going to be my post for tonight!
You see this SafeShare.tv allows you to paste a link to a YouTube video and instantly strip out all the extraneous noise and provides a link to just the video.  No extra ads (in the case of the video I tested no "buffer" ads either), no comments, no "fuzzy" noise - just the video.  Plain and Simple.  Much like Tubechop, (which I reviewed in an earlier post) you can also cut segments of the video before creating the new link.

As an example, take a look at this video explaining Meporter a new location based app with actual educational applications that I just discovered thanks to Vicki Davis.  Something tells me next years 365 project is not going to be about Web 2.0 utilities but mobile applications.  They seem to be taking over the world!

My goodness that was a lot of extraneous name dropping tonight! But, they're all people you should be following if you aren't already.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What? You Want a Private Place to Write? #edtech

As public as I allow my life to be, there are times when I want to write things down that are either in draft form or simply private - and that's OK.  So, do I write them down in an old composition notebook?  Sometimes.  But recently, I've been using a site called Penzu?  Why? Simple. I can loose a composition book.  I can't loose the Internet.  The free version allows me to write posts to my online notebook. Additionally, there are writing prompts to help you if you get a case of writer's block.  It also auto saves for you).  You can also configure Penzu to send you reminders to write. The free version is fairly bare bones.  Of course, simplicity can be good.  All of your posts are instantly privat, but you have the option to share them if you so choose.  But, if you need all the bells and whistles Penzu Pro which includes an app for your smart phone, encrypt your posts, customize the look of your journal, export your writings in multiple formats, create multiple journals, import writings from "an XML file, RSS feed, or import directly from your Live Journal account", and even post via e-mail or a mobile phone app.  All that and more for $19 a year.  This may be a Web 2.0 that provides enough value that a pro account would be worth it.  If you use the link in this post to Penzu Pro, you get an extra 20% off and all proceeds apparently "are donated to global charities
that improve literacy."   So why not give Penzu or even Penzu Pro a try?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Meeting in an Instant #edtech

Tonight's post is for those of you who have not yet "Gone Google" or even those who have.  It's a minute taking app for meetings called minutes.io. Currently, the District in which I work has implemented Google Apps for Education and we use Docs for our meeting notes and collaboration.  But if you don't have that option, minutes.io is a fantastic option.  It's basically an online form that you set up on the fly and start adding minutes to it.  You can "label" each minute by ToDo, OK, Info and Idea (personally I'd like to see them add the option to create your own labels.  Once the meeting is over you choose who you want to send the notes created at minutes.io via e-mail.  After being sent,  you get a cryptic web address where the file is stored.  And all of this is done without even signing up for an account.  Because of this, I would not use it for meetings that contain sensitive or confidential information.  Additionally, you must log on from the same computer if you wish to edit the minutes. It seems to be based on cookies and local storage.  But still if you need to take minutes, the concept of minutes.io has a great deal of potential

Monday, May 23, 2011

Forget YouTube #edtech

OK, that title was a little harsh.  But I'm thinking about creating my own start up Web 2.0 video hosting site.  I won't give details here.  But, suffice it to say, I would need a host that would allow for upload and storage of videos.  Of the options I've found so far, GlowHost looks fairly impressive.  Reasonable costs for unlimited hosting.  This is not the typical web 2.0 utility that I would share on this site.  It takes some tech knowhow to put something like this together.  But if your looking for a YouTube alternative for your school that you control this may be an option.  This is where I need your help.  If you know of a better alternative to GlowHost, please be sure to leave a comment.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Present Me #edtech

I didn't get creative with tonight's post.  Namely because I think Present.me is impressive enough on it's own.  This is another one of those sites that I have not had time to explore but am going on the faith of the potential I see here. Yesterday, I had the honor and privilege to be involved with Ed Camp Chicago. Some of the greatest minds in education converged on Stevenson High School in Licolnshire, IL to discuss all things related to education (and some technology).  More on that in a future post.
One of the groups that developed decided to have a Web Site Smackdown!  This was one of these times that I wish I could have split myself in two, since I was in another session.  But apparently one of the sites that came up was Present.me.  So I decided to take a look at it today.  And I think this fits right into the Flipped Classroom model.  Basically it provide you the ability to create a two-paned presentation.  On one side is your slides full of valuable information.  On the other is your recorded presentation or lecture.  Currently their free version only allows 15 minute presentations.  But, it's a start. Remember that Edtech is about learning a skillset.  Once you learn with Present.me, you just may come up with an alternative method of presenting that better suits your needs.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Twitter Means Never Having to Say I'm Sorry #edtech

OK, that title is a bit of sarcasm.  Because I'm sorry Twitter, but tonight you have made my life difficult and I'm not happy about it.  Anyone who knows me, knows I am obsessed with micro-blogging and probably have more blue birds swirling around my head than a cartoon character that just got knocked over the head with an anvil.  I digress...as I compose.
So, why am I upset with Twitter? Because they seem to keep changing the rules of their API, and breaking many 3rd party apps in the process.  For example: tonight's post was and still is about a utility that enables you to archive Twitter conversations via hashtag! TweetDoc does an amazing job with this.  You can simply type in a hashtag and TweetDoc will find each occurrence on the timeline and build an beautiful PDF (example).  That builds a list of the people who used the hashtag, the trending words for that hashtag and up to 500 tweets that were sent.  The problem is because you are limited to 500 updates (likely do to the number of API calls 3rd party apps can make - but don't quote me), if you are using Twitter as a back channel for a large event or a hash chat, you better build a new Tweetdoc every few hours.
But, if you don't think about it in advance good luck trying to recapture all the knowledge.  I must have looked at 15 different online apps tonight claiming they could do the job.  Some had been shut down for violating Twitter's TOS (OK, I get that).  But others, just were to limited in their scope.
I even download and tried Archivist but it only went back so far in time as well.  So what did I end up doing, in order to capture the Twitterstream from today's #edcampchicago? I ended up going to search.twitter.com and manually copying and pasting 50 tweets per page for 30 (yes I said 30 pages) and pasting it into a word document!  Come on Twitter really?  OK, I got the app out for tonight and entered my frustrations in one post.  Mission accomplished!
I'll be posting a reflection about a marvelous day spent at #edcampchicago tomorrow.  After I've had some time to reflect.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Onward With History #edtech

It's Friday Fun Night once again.  Who remembers Oregon Trail? One of the first educational games for many of us.  There are still online versions.  But there are also spinoffs.  Such as the "Go West with Lewis & Clark" adventure found on the National Geographic for Kids page.   While it's not as impressive as the original, there are a number of fun educational games at this site.  More importantly, within the kids section, you may want to check out their GeoBee section.  I had no idea that there even was such a thing.  But, the site has a ton of resources (for students and teacher) to explore and prepare those interested for the event!

Why Do We Need to Label Everything?

Earlier this month.  I was having a Twitter discussion with one of my favorite people in the world, Jen Wagner regarding our need to label everything.  I wish I had taken snapshots of that conversation.  Mostly because it talked about the difference between Personal Learning Networks, Professional Learning Networks and Professional Learning Communities.  It ended with Jen saying something like: "Why do we need these different categories? Why can't I just call everyone my friend?" And that got me thinking.  Obviously, since it is still resonating in my brain weeks later.  I never did anything with those thoughts, but they have been ruminating.  Why do we need to categorize our lives?  Perhaps, because they are so complex and full of information, it's the only way we can process it? Perhaps.  But do we also do a disservice to ourselves by saying this information needs to remain compartmentalized in this way?

Then last night on Facebook, I saw this from one of my "friends" (who also happens to be a former colleague, I won't mention names here just to perpetuate the myth of anonymity on Facebook):

"Stressed over how my students did on their exams. I never thought they would do as bad as they did. I knew it was tough, but not that tough. Did they learn anything this year?"

First thought I had was: "Wow it's great to see a teacher that concerned over his student's well being, when so many put exams on 'Set It and Forget It' "  Then the conversation started to unfold.  Of course, there were the cute Facebook responses such as [paraphrasing] 'just give them all A's - the kids will appreciate it'.  Somewhere from the thread grew thoughts of authentic assessment. And then this:

"I completely agree with you! If we want them to use the material, let's make them use it. How about product-based assessments. Make the language assessment be a project that incorporates what they've used all year."

I of course had to throw in my 2 cents about "Project Based Learning".  Which of course is different from "product-based learning" and certainly, different than "student-driven service projects" accomplished by students participating in the East Initiative.  Or is it?

You see, when we place a label on something, we change our expectations of the outcome.  And the same is true for standardized testing.  Those students who don't score as well are expected to fail.  Those in the top 10% are destined for success. Right? Maybe?

Let's forget for a moment the bubble sheets of the classroom or even the dreaded state tests which society hold in such high esteem that many states have suggested tying teacher salary to them.  Let's talk about the SAT's, a national standard that can become a roadblock to the hollowed hall's of learning.  Did you know that Bill Clinton is widely reported to have scored a 1032?  In fact, "A survey of 1,371 millionaires by Thomas J. Stanley, author of "The Millionaire Mind," found that many had SAT scores below 1200, and they averaged 1190. Many of them were told by high school teachers that they were mediocre students but had engaging personalitiesFortunately, for these individuals they were able to "beat" our system or just gave up on it.  Ever hear of Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg?

Do we need a way to assess student progress?  Absolutely.  Does it have to be a cut and dry as standardized tests?  Probably not.  Where is the middle ground?  Where and how does learning happen? Until our labels and perceptions start to change our systems cannot.  As my Facebook "friend" said, there is a need for "changing the entire culture of "learning" and school: students, parents, and most difficult, teachers." And he's right!  We need to change our perceptions of learning.  And one way to do that is to change remove the labels we apply to just about everything.

One thing is certain.  I will continue to learn from my friends like Jen and my anonymous Facebook friend, no matter the label or category applied!
Cross posted at: TeacherTechAcademy

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Quizes and Now Stories in a Flash #edtech

I've been touting a site called Quibblo as a 3rd party quiz making Twitter App for some time.  But in reality, it is much more than that.  In fact the ability to "tweet" out your quiz is only a small part of Quibblo.  It's a very powerful way to build and give quizzes online.  You can also build polls and surveys. That alone was worth sharing the site in this post tonight.  But when I revisited the site to prepare the word you are currently reading, I almost fell off my chair!I don't know when they did this or if I've just missed it all along but they have a story feature.  You can write your own story online.  Work collaboratively with a group of authors you know to write a story.  And in my opinion, most powerful, are the chain stories.  Writing with complete strangers to complete a finished product is a fantastic writing exercise.  I can't really do Quibblo justice in just a few words.  Make sure you spend a few minutes on their site and judge for yourself.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

QR Code Contact #edtech

My head is spinning with QR Codes.  I'm on the volunteer committee for EdCamp Chicago and I have a feeling one of the hot topics is going to be QR Codes.  In fact we are working on a bit of a surprise for the attendees that has to do with QR codes and email.  You see, I recently discovered that not only can you create QRCodes for URLs, Text and SMS, but also for emails!  If you head over to  http://www.mobile-barcodes.com/qr-code-generator/ you'll see exactly what I mean.  But for right now I have another 50 or so codes to go generate and compile.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Just the Facts #edtech

How many time have you conducted a search using one of the more popular engines only to find no facts about your search on the page? This is partially because search engines use meta data (that you can't normally see) as part of it's algorithms. While meta data is beyond the scope of this post, it does add some kinks into your typical search.  Enter FactBites a mix of search engine and an encyclopedia.  This is a search engine that you can use to actually conduct general research.  It's not great if you want to find out about Lady Gaga's latest album.  But, if your looking for the causes of World War II or information about a specific mineral this may be a viable seach engine for you and your students.  What I like is that it actually gives a bullet point synopsis of the pages it returns which include your keywords.  If the only data it finds is from a "questionable" source it will actually tell you "these results are not from the primary (high quality) database."  While I'm not sure how they determine a high quality database, FactBites should certainly be a search engine option you should consider.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Say What? #edtech

It's been a while since I posted about a Web 2.0 for language learning.  So tonight, I'm excited to tell you about Lingro.  They have a fairly standard translation dictionary that allows you to translate from English to a number of other languages and vice versa.  What I really like about the translations is that for many of the words there is also an audio file associated, so you actually get to hear the word as well.  Their dictionaries are also open content and will be free forever under a creative commons license.  You can also add to the translations.  But that isn't even the great part about this site.
If you've ever tried to learn a foreign language, you may have found (like I) that reading in a foreign language is much more difficult than learning to speak it.  One thing I often like to do is play a DVD with foreign language subtitles on so I can try and read along in that language while listening to the English audio track.  Lingro akes this an amazing step further.  When you first arrive on their home page they give you the opportunity to apply their dictionaries to any web page.  Basically, when you put in a website and select the translation direction you would like, any word on the page can be clicked on and translated with the definition.  It's hard to explain, you just have to try it.  Bonus?  Do you ned more reasons? What if I told you each word you click on gets added to a word list for you to later review?  Still need one more reason to  give Lingro a try? Those word lists can be turned into flash cards?  Are you still reading this post?  Why aren't you visiting Lingro?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It Was a Mad Mad Weekend #edtech

Well, winter seems to have returned to Illinois.  What miserable weather we've been having.  With having to write two posts yesterday, work on stuff for EdCampChicago and some physical ailments that I won't get into, I haven't had much time to do anything else.  But I did find and interesting way to create a monthly newsletter called Madmimi.  Now technically they claim to be an email marketing service.  But the drag and drop interface makes it very easy to create a professional monthly newsletter and give that color copier a break!  The limitation to the free version is that you are only allowed 100 contacts.  So this is better for an elementary level teacher because they rarely have more than 60 contacts to whom they need to send a newsletter anyway.  However, they offer a number of paid services that will allow include up to 350,000 contacts! Wow!
If you send home newsletters, it may be worth looking at Madmimi.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Informational Maps Made Easy #edtech

As long as I mentioned the History Channel in the last post I may as well stay on that topic for the second post of the day. One of my other favorite shows of late has been "How the States Got Their Shapes".  Can you tell I've always been a bit of a history buff?  At any rate I've often been jealous of programs like this one that are able to highlight states on a map and add additional information on top of a map.  B.C. (Before Google) you would need to do some pretty elaborate Photoshop work to make that happen.  Then along came the great and powerful Google Maps.  Now I'll admit that although I still have to submit my application to become a Google Certified Trainer (I've already passed the six tests), I never understood how to add features to a google map.  I've seen others do a very nice job of placing pins and directions on a custom Google Map but it always seemed like just as much work as Photoshopping a map.
That is until today.  In looking for another site to post about today, I became reacquainted with ScribbleMaps.  At first glance, I thought the site was just another "toy" Big deal you can draw on a map?!  but I actually spent some time with this today and have been extraordinarily impressed with it's potential.
Now, you may have noticed over the past few months that I have been trying to shorten the lengths of my posts because I prefer that you form opinions about site recommended here on your own through exploration.  This will be a longer post because there is SO MUCH here.
As the name implies you can draw on a Google Map.  But you can also change the map to OpenStreet, ScibbleMaps (which is basically a blank canvas), something called CloudMade and a version called CloudMade Plus (which I know nothing about but will need to explore), Astral and ESRI (which includes Physical and Topographal maps).  See what I mean about all the potential.
Once you choose your map, you can add features like circles and rectangles.  But the powerful bit is that you can also create multipoint shapes.  So, if you wanted to fill in Illinois for example you could simple follow the contours of the state and then use the fill bucket.
Not enough? What if I told you that you could not only add pins, but icons to mark areas of the map?  Still not enough? How about overlaying an uploaded image of your choosing that is autosized to fit the point you are placing it into?
You can also use the search engine to find map locations, add directions, find businesses and search for other maps that have already been scribbled upon! Additionally, from the menu button you can Save your map, load/import a map, print it or save it as a jpg,  embed it or create a widget, add even more features from the Style Map, Save it as a KML or GPX file, and view it in Google Maps or Earth. See how feature rich this site is all without even signing up for an account!? There are even more things you can do if you decided to sign up for a pro account which is also free!
I really would like to hear your feedback on this one, including how you are already using Scribblemaps or the potential you see for it.

It Took 150 Years to Create This Post #edtech

Blogger's outage really messed with my 365 project this week.  That being said you will be rewarded, dear reader, with a double post today!  The first is what should have been the Friday's post.  I'm a huge fan of American Pickers on the History Channel.  If you have watched the show recently, you know Mike and Frank have been asking you to donate $1.50 to save lands that were a part of the Civil War.  But History channel doesn't stop there.  They have an amazing series of "interactives" (which are more like infographics) that cover everything from the technology of the civil war, to culture and battlefields and even have video and audio for much of the content. I'm always about differentiating the learning and History has done a great job with their humongous database of information at their Civil War 150 page.  Probably best for older students as the information is very detailed.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Post That Should Have Been #edtech

The Blogger outage prevented me from putting this post up last night.

Well, if Blogger ever decides to come back to life tonight's post will be about http://www.plotbot.com Lost somewhere in between a Google Doc and a Wiki, Plotbot is a rather interesting collaborative screenwriting application. Very simple in it's nature, Plotbot gives you an interesting way to start creating your own storylines for later video production.  You can create your own scripts, invite others to work on an idea collaboratively, or even find and join other projects on which to work (known as a showdown). What is nice about Plotbot, is that you can see who has added what to the project and even make comments for the collaborators to see.  Formatting, is the key to Plotbot.  Depending on whether you choose action, dialogue, slugline, transition or shot, your text will be indented and highlighted differently.  You can choose to make your work public or private.  So wether your writing the next great epic or mearly a class play or vodcast, Plotbot might be worth a visit.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Struggling with YouTube blockage? #edtech

Has your school or district decided to block YouTube, but you still want to use video in your lesson plans?  You may want to try Videosurf.  While this video search engine does search YouTube videos it also searches news outlets and a variety of other video sites including: Hulu, CNN, TMZ, Metacafe, Fancast, Comedy Central and Dailymotion all with one search.  They claim to search within videos for your keywords.  i haven't been able to figure out if that's true or not.  maybe you will when you look at Videosurf.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

If my Head Wasn't Attached?! #edtech

Another quick post as I am still tending to my back. How often do you have a great idea throughout the day and by the end have completely forgotten it? But you don't necessarily want to share it with the world? Memiary allows you to post up to five quick thoughts during the day and then go back and search your history if you need to.  It's somewhere between a micro-blog and a private online journal.  If you eventually decide you want to share your "memories" you can grab a widget for your website or blog.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Back Out of the Saddle #edtech

Tonight's post is going to be extremely quick as I wrenched my back and am in incredible pain.  Need to get horizontal in a hurry.  So my good friend Jon Orech put a call out on Twitter for a way to download youtube videos as a .wmv.  As you may have read in a previous post, Keepvid.com only allows for download of flv and mp4 files.  I discovered that if you download the flv and simply rename the flv extension as wmv it works.   However, Michelle Baldwin really came to the rescue with tonight's utility: http://www.online-convert.com/ I'm going to let you explore it on your own.  But what I really like is that you can convert audio, video,images, documents, ebooks, archive and even hash tags into many different formats on the fly.  no waiting for a link to come via e-mail to download the file.  OK, that's it all the steam I have for tonight.  Thanks to my PLN for providing tonight's utility.  Off to bed.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Music Without Borders #edtech

You know I am all about the visualizations. I found a mashup called GeoMusic recently that will take your last.fm history and map out exactly where in the world the music you listen to comes.  While this may seem a toy at first, if you start to think about it, it quickly becomes a lesson in history as well as a conversation starter about geography.  I was quite surprised to find that one of my favorite bands was actually from South Africa.   I also had no idea that Frédéric Chopin was from Poland.  Geomucic is very intriguing application indeed.  I tried to keep this post short as it is Mother's day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What's on My Mind #edtech

Tonight's post brings us to another interesting mind map tool with potential.  Normally, I wouldn't recommend a tool like Text2MindMap because it's just not all the way there yet as a tool.  But here's why I like it: It's simple! All you have to do to build a Text2MindMap is paste or type an outline into a text box and click "convert to mind map."  Instantly a mind map is built out based on the indentations in your outline.  It is somewhat interactive and customizable.  You can make the map full screen and pull the nodes around to rearrange them.  When your happy you can save it as a jpg file.   Here's what I think needs to be added to make this a real viable tool.  First, the ability to save and come back and edit the map.  Second, there needs to be an embed feature?  Text2MindMap is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Friday, May 6, 2011

I Post in Peace #edtech

It Friday Fun night here at Zenodotus.  And while most of the time the sites mentioned here will be geared more toward elementary age students.  I found a site tonight that you likely wouldn't think would have fun, educational applications on it. Nobelprize.org has an absolutely amazing educational section with 46 "productions" (29 of which are interactive learning games). I actually stumbled upon this site earlier this week. The games on this site are more educational then they are games (surprise, surprise)! But they get you involved in the learning process.  You really have to have read the information found throughout their site in order to answer the questions in most of the productions accurately. You actually have to learn to succeed!  I must warn you, if you venture into this site and start to explore, give yourself a few hours!  I would recommend this site for age 10-110!  Depending on the "production" you choose some of the vocabulary may be beyond younger students.  Of course there's the rest of http://nobelprize.org to explore as well.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's Your Life Yo' #edtech

It's not often that I am drooling for the chance to work with a new Web 2.0 utility.  But, that is the case tonight.  I am currently sitting at the NICE (Northern Illinois Computing Educators) meeting and was perusing Web 2.0 utilities that have recently hit the horizon - scanning for what I would write about next.  And lo in behold LifeYo popped it's had up and screamed "choose me!"  LifeYo is very similar to Weebly.  It allows you to build your own website with a simple template/widget based system.  From what I can tell, it is somewhere between Wetpaint and Weebly.  I'm impressed with the number of plug-ins that are available - including Google Maps! Everything is drag and drop and re-sizable once you put it there.  If you have HTML code that you need to insert you can do that as well.  There is way too much to describe here in this post.  Follow me on Twitter @JMGubbins because if I have the time in the busy weekend coming up I will do a UStream covering this site and will post the link on Twitter.

The digital divide is about to widen

An Open Letter to AT&T

I'm furious. Last night as I read the Chicago Tribune (yes, I still like to read the newspaper) I noticed a little blurb that caught my eye.  "AT&T to cap broadband usage." Really? Yes, really.  AT&T in their greedy infinite wisdom has decided to cap monthly broadband usage for DSL subscribers to 150 GB of data (UVerse users get an extra 100 GB).  Every 50 GB you go over is another $10 tacked onto your bill.

Hey AT&T get with the times! Information is ubiquitous thanks to the information superhighway.  People rely on this to not only gather information, but to disseminate it as well. We have enough people in this country who cannot even tap the power of the internet and now your going to control how much access those of us who can afford it are able to get? How about you deliver what you promise in the way of what I already pay for your services?  When I was at 1.5 DSL, my service rarely provided me above the 1 Mb range.  So, I ponied up and jumped to 3 Mb so I could harness the power of the internet a little better and I'm getting speeds in the 2.2 range.  Before you start limiting access, maybe you should get your act together.

Better yet, I issue a challenge to those who have the ability to do this (including myself) - contact your neighbors and build a wireless mesh in your neighborhood.  If you walk up and down the block, you are likely to find that many of your neighbors have an access point set up.  This indicates they are paying for their own internet access (and probably low end access at that).  If one person agrees to subscribe to high end service (as long as everyone chips in) you could easily throw a wireless cloud over your entire block for a fraction of the cost you are paying now! End the information monopoly!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

EdYOUcate Yourself #edtech #spedtech

We all know there are lesson plans that we can find across the internet. I've even mentioned some of them on this blog (BBC, PBS, Discovery Education to rename a few). But what if I told you there was now a way to search specific topics and subject areas for lesson plans stored across many of these databases? There is and it's called Edyoucator.  They appear to still be in development/Beta mode.  I had to sign up for a pin yesterday and had one within minutes (thumbs up for that)!  I've since had a chance to run it through many of it's paces and have been pretty impressed. It works like a Google search except all of the results are to lesson plans and teacher resources from well respected locations.  As always, I recommend you lok at the advance search options to help you narrow down your results by subjects matter (including subcategories) and grade level. Big bonus here for my friends in Special Education - there is a checkbox just for you!  And for those especially well versed in search engine "hacking" click the help link for all the additional features available to help you find exactly what you are looking for.  If you are a content provided of teacher lesson plans/resources they have a form you can fill out to be added to the search database.
The one thing I did notice (and it likely is just my lack of experience using the search engine), is that there is no way to search by date.  This makes it hard to search for hot button topics like the recent Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami or the death of Osama Bin Laden.  Maybe a date feature is in the future?
Definitely spend some time perusing Edyoucator and let me know what you think.  Or better yet let them know yourself via Twitter by following @allofek12 on Twitter like I do!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

1st 365 #fail

I must apologize for tonight absence of a post. Between children's soccer practices and recitals. By the time I got home I thought my head was going to explode. And the site I had planned to share tonight deserves more attention than I could possibly give tonight. I will make it up to you dear reader with a double post this weekend.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

More than Meets the Eye #edtech

I'm a visual learner and I know I'm not alone. So when I find a new visualization tool, I feel the need to share it with you. I discovered Many Eyes which is provided by IBM. There are a ton of data sets that have already been uploaded.  Of course, you can also upload your own. Once you pick your data set (depending on how it is structured) there are 20 different types of visualization tools including word clouds, maps, traditional graphs and scatterplots.  I'm still digging through this site but am fairly impressed. As an example, let's take President Obama's speech from Sunday night.  your average word cloud would look something like this:
Notice that it's interactive. But what if you wanted to see how the words in the cloud actually interact? You may want to generate a Word Tree:

As you can see, you can embed your visualizations. I'll let you explore the ins and outs of this site on your own to discover how it can work for you. I hope you find it as intriguing as I do.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Drop It Like It's Hot Part 2 #edtech

OK, so why was I so pumped about DropBox in yesterday's post, when I've never been a huge fan of the application?  Thanks to a lipdub project in which I recently participated.  Once the Mp4 was done I didn't email the file to @stumpteacher who would be doing the final edit.  Instead, I simply dragged it into a http://www.dropitto.me/ site that he had set up for the project.  I had no idea that there were third party applications that worked with DropBox.  And what's the big deal?  What about students who don't have e-mail accounts? They can just drag and drop homework asignments to you using Dropittime and it ends up in your dropbox!  I'm now excited to find out what else DropBox works with!
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