Saturday, April 30, 2011

Drop It Like It's Hot Part 1 #edtech

Surprisingly, with how much I live in the cloud, I've never been a huge fan of DropBox until tonight. A free DropBox account provides you with 2 Gb of storage in the cloud that is accessible from anywhere, including your smart phone (something I didn't know about until tonight).  The problem I have had with DropBox is that 2 GB of storage is barely enough to store any files these days.  Of course, if you get enough people to sign up your storage limits start to go up as well.  last I heard you could get up to 10 GB for free. Still when you can buy a 16 GB USB drive for under $20, the site has application has never done it for me.  One nice benefit of dropbox is you can now share folders within your DropBox. It's worth signing up for an account, and tomorrow night you'll find out why.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Royal Post #edtech

No, I didn't get caught up in the Royal Wedding hysteria.  I did not wake up at 3 am to watch the "Wedding of the Century".  I did wake up around 4:30 to get ready for work, and did open my eyes to part of the event taking place.  I did see another few minutes on YouTube, just becuase I was curious how they covered the event live.  Was this why YouTube brought back live streaming?  And I certainly won't be buying any Tea Cozy emblazoned with the Royal Couples faces!  I do have an Irish lineage after all. And yes, the Irish Guards uniform worn by William today got the blood boiling just a bit.
But I am aware that most of the world was captivated.  So, in honor of William and Katherine and since it is Fun Friday, I thought I'd share the BBC's Primary History Site.  American's often forget there are other networks out there and are probably familiar with a number of resources for students at PBS.org  If we expand our horizons with the web we can really find some valuable resources. The BBC's Primary History Site has lessons online, resources for teachers and even built in quizes.  The activities are fun and educational. There is way too much to cover in one blog post so I encourage you to explore the resources on your own.


©AFP / Leon Neal

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's Comical #edtech

Usually, I'm not a big fan of comic tools. But I came across a site called Chogger the other night and I've been thinking.  If you come across a comic making tool that allows you to create a layout, you just found a natural storyboard that you can use it for laying out video or audio projects, even if you can't draw.  What I like about Chogger is that not only does it have a tool to let you draw or upload your content, but there is also google search tool to find images.  If that's not enough you can add a Chog it! bookmarlet that will let you grab images from any website (please remember to adhere to copyright law).  So, maybe my opinion of comic creators has changed a bit and i'll keep an open mind in the future!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Create and Bind Your Photos #edtech

A few days ago, I saw a request for a way to share photos collaboratively and keep them private with the option of making them public later.  My instant suggestions were Snapfish or Smugmug.  While these are commercial companies that will allow you to print out your photos, it doesn't cost anything to post and store your images.  The only cost is when you decide to have the pictures developed.  You can invite someone to view an share your albums. It's all good.
And then along came Keepsy.  This is 
sister site and it takes online photo albums to a collaborative place.  You can invite up to 120 people to add images to your album via it's email address.  Each album you create gets it's own.  Each album also gets a unique url (making it a bit like a google doc that only people who have the link can view.)  But like a Google Doc anyone with the link can share it.  So, once you create an album only share the page with someone you trust if you want to keep it "private". Once your album is complete, you can add a group gift feature which if I understand correctly allows visitors to make small contributions until the cost of a hard bound copy of the album has been paid for.  Again an interesting concept - what if you used Keepsy for yearbook creation for your classroom?  Parents could all chip in towards the payment of the order based on what they can afford and everyone gets a copy.  This would also be a good way to gather your students artwork and create a hardbound keepsake.  Of course, you don't have to publish it but simply Keepsy it as a digital album.
Oh, plus if that wasn't enough...they'll even gather your Instagram feed and turn that into a hard bound album.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Have You Been Carded? #edtech

Twitter has been an amazing resource for suggestions for this blog lately (whether the people I follow realize this or not). Shannon Keehner (@CRBusiness) was either in some kind of training, attending a session at a conference or simply on sharing frenzy today because a swarm of marvelous applications were appearing in her Twitter timeline.  Shannon I must admit, I have no idea what the hashtags   stand for (please enlighten me). I Re-Tweeted a number that intrigued me.  Among them was a site called WikiCards   This appears to be a hybrid of one of the many "corkboard" apps that are out there mixed with a wiki.  Plan and simple You can create projects and add sticky cards to them.  Very similar to Wallwisher.  What makes WikiCards unique?  For starters you can add tags allowing you to search through your cards and make their organization simple (maybe assign groups of students to certain cards).  Additionally, you can upload any file to attach to cards.  It doesn't have to be linked to but simply attached.  You get to invite who you want to the wikicard site allowing you to wall the garden if you like.  Finally, the card groups you create are available for browsing on many smart phones.  The few moments I have spent at WikiCards has really impressed me.  How would you use this interesting tool?

Monday, April 25, 2011

What Time Is It? #edtech

I'm always looking for better ways to build timelines.  I think they are a fantastic visual tools!  Once again, I have @shannonmiller to thank for sharing Tiki-Toki earlier today on Twitter.  The visual appearance and pop-out features appear to be really impressive.  I like that you can incorporate multiple pictures, audio and video per slide.  The free version seems a bit limiting but they do have three paid levels with more features.  But, if you've been paying attention to this blog you know I'm all about the free. I'm looking forward to seeing how #vanmeterbpchs  end up using this!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Searching Done Better? #edtech

I could probably do a 365 project on the variety of search engines that are available.  There are such a multitude that all claim to do different things.  Tonight I wanted to tell you about a decent search engine for students and teachers alike Refseek.  A couple of quick searches showed that the top hits came from trusted sites and are ad free.  Even when searching topics that web filters would typically block such as gambling you are not sent to the local casino as you might be with other search engines but instead are taking to educational sites about the subject matter.  You can also search for documents on the subject (typically PDF).  One drawback I see is that it does not handle slang very well, but that's why we should be teaching digital citizenship in the first place.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fi Fo Phylum #edtech

As you can probably tell tonight's post is for the science teachers out there.  It's an interesting database application called ARKive brought to us by the fine folks at Wildscreen.  I am pretty impressed with this massive database.  You can search by keyword, species or geographic location for just about any animal on the planet and find not only your typical facts on the species, but also some amazing videos and photos. For example had you ever heard of Abbot's duiker? Probably not because it is an elusive nocturnal animal that roams the forest's of Africa.  See the great video below that I am sharing via the embed code provided on their site.  What I really like abot ARKive though is how nicely they provide attribution for the photos and videos and site the reference information in their descriptions.  This makes it very easy for your students to practice proper attribution when collecting information for reports and presentations.  I have just scratched the surface of their offerings,  For example, some animals have images shared on Flickr associated with their pages.  And the fun doesn't stop there.  You can also search plant life at ARKive as well.  If I had one suggestion it would be to be able to search a little more granularly by location.  For example, in the US you cannot search by state.  Perhaps a Google map mashup is in order?

ARKive video - Abbott's duiker - overview


Friday, April 22, 2011

Does This Make Cents? #edtech

I've been thinking about adding some structure to this 365 Web 2.0 project and maybe making Friday night, fun night. Specifically, fun tools for younger students. Now notice I said tools NOT TOYS. Learning can be fun lest we forget. That being said let's start Friday Fun Nights with a Money Counting Game that is located at http://www.kidsmathgamesonline.com  This is a great tool for students learning about money values.  Basically there are 5 coins (a penny, nickel, dime, quarter and half dollar).  They provide a number of values and ask you to choose the right number of coins to match that number. There is also a timer that you have to complete all of the totals within.  After getting to level 4 I actually started to struggle to beat the timer! It's fun, addicting and challenging even for an adult.

RIP FLOCK

Just received this email from Flock.  The browser will be no more:

Flock Official End of Support Notice

Support for Flock browsers will be discontinued as of April 26th, 2011. We would like to thank our loyal users around the world for their support, and we encourage the Flock community to migrate in the coming weeks to one of the recommended web browsers listed below.

Our Recommendations

Since no further security updates will be provided to keep you safe on the web, we encourage all Flock users to upgrade to either Chrome or Firefox. Both are based on the same reliable technologies as Flock, and both are being actively maintained and improved. Also, each of these browsers has a broad selection of add-ons and extensions to customize and extend their capabilities.

For more information (including notes on how to migrate to other browsers), please see our FAQ.

Thanks,

The Flock Team
You joined this list when you downloaded the Flock web browser, so you could get tips, alerts, and announcements related to Flock.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Free Knowledge Is a Good Thing #edtech

OK, so you've bought an IPAD, a Kindle, a Nook or maybe just want to use your smart phone as an e-reader; but, you don't want to spend a fortune on books purchased on the web. Where do you turn? How about the Gutenberg Project? This site has been around since before the first e-reader or even the thought of Google Books and was produced as a "volunteer effort to digitize, archive, and distribute cultural work" for free.  How do they do this? All of the works distributed through the Gutenberg Project are in the public domain.  There are now over 33,000 books available to read on your favorite device.  But it doesn't stop there. They also have audiobooks and digitized sheet music.  The have a very large database of FAQs that explain much more about the site than I ever could.  If you have some time this weekend, I highly suggest you check out there database!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Video Worth Watching #edtech

Let me start tonight by saying I am disappointed.  I was going to tell you about a site called lectr.com tonight, but unfortunately the site has been suspended.  I'm hoping it's because it was getting too much traffic and not because it wasn't supported.  So, what was it? Lectr.com was a collection of lecture videos from professors and teachers that were donated globally to the website.  What made this site special?  It was put together by an 18 year old student who was working on his equivalence exam and realized the power of knowledge sharing on the web and developed a site dedicated to the process.

What this site did however was spark my interest in a  number of similar sites and one will be tonight's topic.  LearnersTV provides lectures on a wide range of various subjects. Everything from Physiology to Law to Dentistry! And I'm not just talking about a few minute clip that you find on YouTube.  These are 20 to 60 minute videos in their original format.  They are nicely organized as well.  Additionally, they have interactive animations, lecture notes and even access to trade magazine and technical documents.  Think you really learned something take the online tests (more like final exams)! LearnersTV is a fantastic way to catch up on the subject matter that you teach and for your students an even better way to explore what they want to major in when they get to college.  Best part? Everything is released under the Fair Use Doctrine!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Web is Constantly Evolving #edtech

I have spent the last three hours looking for alternatives to Skribit since they announced today that they would be shutting down their service this summer.  I must admit I was really bummed - I liked the way their service worked.  However, in the 21st century, I am not one to cry over spilled code.  So, I used SimilarSites to look for an alternative and after 30 minutes of searching moved on to Google searches.  I found a number of paid alternatives and a few free sites.  However, the free sites also had announcements they would soon be shutting down (which tells me someone is out there buying out the free competition.)  O.K. enough back story.  If you are looking for a feedback service for your blog, wiki or website you may want to look into UserEcho.  I am going to give this one a shot. It's seems a little trickier to use and is going to take some time to get just the way I want it, but your feedback is important to me and if I didn't do it know I would have likely been scrambling when my current solution went away.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Twitter Lists Made Easy #edtech

I recently added Formulists to my presentation about using Twitter for Professional Development.  Lists are a great way to track a specific group of users or a hashtag. But honestly, I've never included them in my presentations about Twitter because they have traditionally been a pain in the neck to deal with!  Formulists changes all that.  With a number of different categories for list creation including "Organize Your Network, Expand Your Network, Track Followers, Strengthen Social Ties and Customize Existing Lists" (and all the subcategories), Formulists is the most efficient way to deal with your Twitter feeds and filter out the "noise".  The only drawback for me is that it only allows two lists at a time unless you go pro or get some friends to sign up which then allows you more lists. There's really too much here for a quick blog post, maybe I'll do a webtopia.tv episode about it soon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Take a Kid to the Symphony?! #edtech

I just had an amazing experience. While looking for tonight's post, I stumbled upon SFS kids.  This site is put together by the San Fransisco Symphony and is designed to allow young children to start exploring classical music! How powerful is it? It tore my youngest child away from the TV!  I started exploring the site and it started playing music and the next thing I knew a half hour had gone by as we explored different instruments and the sounds the make.  There is a radio station that plays some of the more popular classical pieces.  But this site doesn't stop there.  There are all kinds of learning activities within the "music lab" that teach tempo, rhythm, pitch, harmony and other technical components of classical music.  Some of it definitely needs the guidance of a parent for the youngest children to benefit, but I have a feeling that's part of the site's intent.  While it does feel a little like an online toy, it is a great introduction to the world of classical music.

140 Characters Got You Down? #edtech

Do you find it frustrating to have to limit your status updates to 140 characters when using Twitter? 280daily might just be the micro-blogging solution for you. Doubling your character count makes it easy to create a daily "micro-journal".  A great way to sum up your day or post reflections online.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Historical Tweets #edtech

A few posts ago I told you about Fakebook brought to you by the fine folks at Classtools.net  We'll I just saw a tweet come across my timeline about Twister. Same theory as Fakebook except this time around your students can set up fake Twitter accounts as historical figures!  Interesting idea but not as impressive as it's predecessor.  I was particularly unimpressed when I tried to fake tweet as myself and it created a headstone for my avatar! But in fairness, I haven't had time to explore and wanted to get a quick post done to stay up to date on this project, so I'll let you be the judge.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A New Look at Clip Art #edtech

The post for tonight and tomorrow will likely be rapid fire as I get ready for the SETConnections conference on Saturday.  With the wealth of images available through flickr, morguefile and other social image sites, clip art often gets lost among the fray as campy images that take up too much space in presentations.  But I still believe if used sparingly there is still a need for clipart.  Clker is a great place to search for public domain clipart.  They have a huge repository that is fully searchable and have very few restrictions on how it can be used.  But what I really like about this site is they have incorporated an editor that allows you to deconstruct and truly make the image your own.  Of course, that same image must be shared under a public domain license.  Clker has definately found a way to make a name for itself in the Web 2.0 world.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Little Birdy Holds My Secret #edtech

By now, if you've signed up for even half the sites I've mentioned in this blog you've likely had to come up with many a unique password.  In this day and age, we can never be too careful about protecting our identity online and as a network administrator, I have always suggested coming up with a different password for every site you register with.  I realize that's not always practical, so at least try to come up with something that's easy to remember, yet complex enough not to guess.  This is a great lesson to share with your students as well.  Passwordbird can help you with this.  There is no sign up or download required (there is advertising with a download link - which is likely related to another product).  Passwordbird will ask you three simple questions (What is your favorite name? Is there a word that is special to you? Is there a special date you can think of?)  Based on your responses, Passwordbird will create a password that is not only complex but should be easy to remember.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Alternative to Edmodo #edtech

I am a big fan of Edmodo following my experience at the 2011 FETC conference.  But there is some serious competition coming in the form of Diipo.  I just signed up for an account after finding it on Listio and must say that I am pretty impressed.  The interface is extremely similar to Twitter, but is a walled garden like Ning or Edmodo in that you create a passcode that users have to enter to join your Diipo network.  It appears that each user also gets the opportunity to blog and that you can share resources with your students. Unlike these other sites there is an Educator network page for educators to connect.  A brilliant idea for such a fledgling network.  While Edmodo has a great help center and I'm sure a similar community, Diipo really has some potential.  let me know what you think.  Sign up, if you like and help me explore by connecting with me on Diipo.  As always I am JGubbins207.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Freebasing #edtech

Another quick post, since I'm not feeling well tonight. Tonight's utility is another Web 3.0 search engine based on a Google Refine backbone. It's called Freebase.com and worth looking at and I promise to tell you more about it tomorrow.

*Update as promised. As I said in a recent post, life has a way of getting complicated which is making it harder and harder to keep up with this project - but I will continue to do my best. So, what is Freebase?  It's a search engine based on entity graphs which basically take a group of  subjects and put them together and graph different aspects such as number of topics, members in the group or number of topics.  That's on the surface though.  Once you actually start searching topics, you find out that this search engine is Wikipedia on steroids. Everything is very nicely interconnected. Much like Wikipedia, the information is edited and compiled by experts and in fact a lot of information seems to be pulled from Wikipedia.  I really need more time to explore the site, but I really like the clean interface and ease of finding information.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Can't Wait for Monday - Did I Say That? #edtech

If you read yesterday's post you are aware I have had a very busy weekend.  Today was spent completing my taxes, buying the wife a new phone (in case you're wondering it was an EVO Shift) and attending a children's birthday party and I just returned home.  I updated yesterday's post with some more information on Babelwith.me and now I need to share another site for tonight's post. See, why I want Monday to come?

Being around all those children today and watching mom's and dad's pull up YouTube videos on their cellphones to keep their children entertained.  I started thinking about a struggle I have had for year's and that's with the amount of garbage that's on YouTube. While it's been getting better as an educational resource, I still think back to a time many years ago when I had some work today and thought I'd be smart and plop my daughter in front of a stream of Little Bear videos on my computer.  Everything was great at first until I overheard one video that had been "edited'.  The video was an episode Little Bear - but the soundtrack was not. Someone thought it would be cute to turn Little Bear into a gangster and the words coming from the computer had me moving quickly to pull the plug (although it was one of those slow motion parenting moments)

That was a long lead up to share a site that I would recommend for any elementary school classroom.  It's called Kideos.  Well maintained and organized you can find YouTube videos broken down by age level and channels.  You can create your own favorite list.   The search engine works well, so if you need a quick video on the alphabet or addition and subtraction - simply search, and Kideos will find videos on your subject matter, helping you differentiate the learning safely in your classroom. Best of all you're able to disable the YouTube links to other videos and avoid those "embarrassing" situations.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Jampacked weekend.

Had a very long day that isn't over yet. I'm currently at the 50th birthday party of a friend of some 20 years. So, I might not be home in time to put up tonight's post. I promise to flush it out more tomorrow, but tonight's post was going to be about babelwith.me a very interesting concept for backchanneling.

*Update: OK, I promised I would tell you a little more about this utility today, so here goes.  There really isn't much to tell.  It provides a chat room for you to be able to communicate with anyone in the world. Big deal right?  Well, it is, because there are a couple of features that make this powerful.  First, there is no need to sign up for an account. Simply click start a conversation and you are given a link to distribute to the people you wish to converse with - it's a little cryptic - but you could always make it easier to remember by creating a custom link with Tinyurl.com  Second, and here's the best part, when you enter the chatroom you can choose from up to 45 different languages in which to converse.  When you type in the native language it automatically translates it into the language someone else came into the room.  Great for ESL instruction or just for taking your backchannel global!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Connecting a List of Links with BridgeURL #edtech

More than I care to admit this 365 project has been getting harder and harder to keep up with.  I've shared well over 90 sites with you so far that can either enhance you lessons or your own digital experience.  But what I have enjoyed the most is also my greatest struggle and that is the hunt for sites to share.  I can't tell you how many times I have almost shared a document sharing utility and then stopped myself because really what;s the point when Google pretty much has that market cornered with Google Docs.  Then there are sites that I need to explore further before feeling confident enough to recommend, hitorypin.com for example - amazing potential just not sure exactly how it works yet.  I also realize that the sites I've shared thus far have run the gamut from Video Editing to Cartoon Creation to Webquest Tools and that there is really no cohesive structure. That is somewhat intentional.  If I decided that next week I would only share QR code sites, would you come back every day to read a new post.  Probably not? Variety is the spice of life. But variety can also lead to chaos.  So tonight, as I ramble on, I wanted to share a way you can keep sites neatly organized and that is with BridgeURL.  No signup is necessary making it a great way for students to conduct research and "collect" websites.  Simply come up with a title and start pasting URLs (one per line, please) into the list box.
Once complete you get a link (or even a short link) to the collection.  When that URL is visited, it overlays arrows to the right and left so you can quickly access all the sites in your list.  Usually, I create linklists for presentations that I do and share them as excel spreadsheets on the internet.  Obviously those can end up looking cluttered and confusing.  Here, is the link the the BridgeURL list that I created for my upcomming Twitter session: http://bit.ly/f597eC  You can view it as a webpage, as a list of hyperlinks or even open all pages at once if your computer has enough processing power.  I see some real potential here.  How do you think you will use BridgeURL?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Don't Loose That Image #edtech

OK, so you know how to bookmark webpages with sites like Delicious, Diigo and Pearltrees, right? But what about images that you want to keep track of?  Vi.sualize.us can help with exactly that.  After signing up for an account you can simply select the Post tab paste the link to an image in the box or use the browser button that you can install and use without having to go back to Vi.sualize.us.  You will need to fill out some information just like you would with any bookmarking site; including, a title, description, tags and a link to the original page on which it appears.  Once done, it will be included under the pictures tab and visible according to the option you select (public, shared with the people you watch or private).  Additionally you can search for images others have shared publicly on the site.  What I really like about this site however, is the ability to click on an image and be redirected to the site on which it was found.  So it serves two purposes.  It creates a repository of images you found on the web (be sure to respect copyright) and also acts as a visual cue to bookmarked pages.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Engage the Network #edtech

I am presenting in a few weeks time at the SET Connections Conference on my favorite topic: Twitter!  If you can be there on April 16th, I would highly recommend attending.  In addition to my session, there is a fabulous lineup scheduled for the day of which I am honored to be a part. Typically, I present on using Twitter in a classroom environment.  This time around I was asked to switch it up and turn it into a session for Professional Development.  Any Professional Development requires that you be engaged in the conversation.  A great way to do that is to participate in hashtag conversations like the weekly #edchat sessions.  And a good way to do that is to use a 3rd party Twitter App know as Tweetizen.  Tweetizen allows you to build a filter specific to the keyword you want to search on Twitter and even take that filter a step further and be able to have conversations by selecting only certain people to be a part of the chat (truly turning Twitter into a chat room).  As a bonus, you can embed your filtered Tweetizen on you blog, wiki or website!  Can a local client do the same thing? Of course! But when it's out there on the web your not tied to any specific client or device.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rhyming in April #edtech

Tonight's post is going to be.
Very fast as you will see.
Because when done -
I'm watching Tron Legacy

OK, that was awful! But, April is national poetry month and in it's honor I want to share a site with you called RhymeZone.  It's basically a search engine that helps you find - you guessed it - rhyming words.  Additionally there is a drop down menu that also allows you to search near rhymes, synonyms, antonyms, definitions, realted words, similar sounding words, homophones, match consonants only, match included letters, check spelling, search in pictures, quotations or even Shakespeare! Whew! That was a mouthful! Some of the searches actually take you to other engines (e.g., pictures will use http://www.picsearch.com) but for the most part RhymeZone seems to use it's own database.  It's a great place to help overcome writer's block - something I didn't know I struggled with until I started this 365 project!

Oh well, time to watch Tron! So excited, I got the last special edition copy from the five Best Buy stores in my area! Can you tell I'm a true geek?!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Keep Your Favorite Youtube Videos

Tonight's post is going to be short and to the point.  I'm always being asked what the best way to download Youtube videos.  I'm usually hesitant about sharing that information because I'm honestly not sure how legal it is to download those videos.  I'll let you be the judge.  but if you have bandwith issues or need to incorporate that video into a presentation, the best method I've found is with Keepvid.  Simply paste the link to the URL box on the Keepvid site and click download. As long as you have Java installed, You'll be presented with a number of options.  Many different resolutions of FLV file, but also mp4 (which is important because that's what most portable devices like Ipods will play). and now even mp3s (stripping away the video).  I ask that you use Keepvid responsibly at least trying to adhere to fair use standards.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Power of Someone Else's Words

I often find myself enhancing presentations that I do by quoting others to make a point.  It helps to create a feeling or theme to a slide that I otherwise would not be able to achieve.  It can also help me get over hurdles when I hit a creative wall.  Sometimes those quotes are eventually taken out all-together; however, adding those quotes can inspire the thought process.  So, the question is where do I find quotes?  Twitter is a great place to start.  Searching by keyword I often find exactly what I'm looking for from some unknown person in the Twittersphere.  When I'm looking for something that really packs a punch I turn to a site called Thinkexist.  There I can search by keyword, topic or author and typically will find something in a matter of seconds.  If you do end up using a quote in your presentations, please don't forget to provide attribution.  Also, make sure you make sure to cross reference the quote.  The last thing you need is someone who is an expert on the person you are quoting to call you out in the middle of a presentation!  There are other sources out there for finding quotes and you will find them posted here throughout the rest of the year.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

That Profile's a Fake #edtech

Recently, I had a teacher I work with ask if there was a website that would allow a student to pretend to be a historical figure or a character from a book and create a "Facebook" type page where they could post information as that individual.  Now being the huge fan of Twitter that I am this was my first inclination.  However, the teacher did not want the information to be public.  I thought about maybe using grou.ps or even Google sites because both those application have ways to lock down the information and wall the garden.  Then Viki Davis (@coolcatteacher) came to the rescue today with a post on Twitter about Fakebook! Normally, this utility would never make it into my 365 project because I wouldn't have seen much purpose.  I would normally look at it as a fun web toy rather than an academic tool.  But I think it will actually fit this teachers needs perfectly.  It requires no sign up, is relatively private and is very easy to use.  Fakebook is brought to us by the fine folks at Classtools.net. You simply click the link to enter a name (when you do it will automatically generate an appropriate avatar or you can upload your own), then when you edit the profile you can enter information about the character or historical figure similar to the way you would on Facebook.  You can add posts and select friends.  You can also grab some embed code to put it on a blog or wiki.  If you want to add more to it later or share the profile with the world simply click save and copy out the link (you'll be prompted for a password to keep the page secure and make sure you are the only one able to edit it).  You must add at least one friend a post and profile information in order to save the page for later,  What a great tool to investigate the character you wish to portray and learn how to be a responsible digital citizen all at the same time!  You can even leave comments as supposed friends would do and even include movies from youtube!  There's some real potential here!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Revish Your Books

I had intended to share a site tonight that would allow you to build book collections online, share and review what you are reading and even create groups for discussion.  That site was Shelfari. I had a very old shelfari account (guess I haven't picked up a printed book for awhile) and was not aware that they had sold out to Amazon some years ago - silly me.  So, I have spent the last few hours looking for an alternative - not that theirs anything wrong with Amazon but if a teacher is looking for a way to hold meaningful book discussions, my guess is they would not want to have to have their students first sign up for an Amazon account.
So, I present to you Revish.  It has a number of the same features of Shelfari.  A reader can mark books they plan to read, books currently being read, as well as create a list of books read in the past.  They can write reviews (Revish has guidelines and expectations to avoid basic one line reviews) and mark books as favorites.  What I really like about this site however, is the ability to create groups for class discussion and keep them private if you so desire.  One thing I don't like about the site is their revenue model.  They are fully supported by Google Adsense.  Fundamentally, I don't have an issue with Adsense provided it is neatly designed.  Unfortunately, the way Revish lays out the ads makes the site somewhat difficult to navigate.
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