Category: Bookmarking (page 1 of 2)

So, What’s in Your Browser?

Many folks still don’t realize that the browser they are using at this very moment is designed to be customized. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, even Internet Explorer–all have some really cool and powerful add-ons (called extensions) that do countless things, from blocking annoying popups to checking spelling to making sites more easily readable for people with visual impairments. You name it, there is probably an extension for it. As a way of an introduction, I thought I’d share a screenshot of my own Chrome toolbar and the extensions that reside there currently (It’s a fluid list.). More Chrome extensions can be found here, and Firefox extensions here.

Chrome extensions 2

Social Bookmarks: 5 Tools to Try

I once had these unnamed, quite brilliant colleagues (They’ll probably nail me for talking about them behind their backs. 😮 ) who were and are wonderful friends, phenomenal educators and true technology innovators. They provided me with countless ideas and resources. However, they usually insisted on sharing by sending me an email. While I did appreciate the sharing, I spent literally years advocating for them to  jump on board with the idea of sharing with one another via online, social bookmarking tools. “You see,” I would explain, “I get SO many emails, and I have to then open each one, click on the link inside, then add it to my bookmarks. I have to repeat the process at home to put it on my home computer. It’s just exhausting!” (Okay, I’ve always been a bit of a hyperbole fan.) I offered that simply adding it to a bookmark list in a Diigo group would be much more efficient, accessible, organized, etc. They could click a simple button added to their browser, add a little description, some tags, then share them with everyone that was a part of their group. We would all learn of these great, shared resources in one tidy, weekly email. Ahhh….a dream come true!

Alas, my efforts at persuasion met with very limited success, for unknown reasons. The emails kept coming (replaced occasionally by a tweet). A normal person would have felt beaten. Not I, however. If, by continuing to share the virtues of online bookmarks, I can save just ONE inbox, my efforts will be worth the high costs. To that end, here are 5 email server sparing online bookmark tools you might think about using:

  • Diigo for Chrome

    Diigo’s Chrome extension

    Diigo –Diigo is a very useful tool that has been around for several years. Users can bookmark sites using a simple browser plugin, which also allows bookmarks to be categorized by tags (also the best way to search through collections), added to lists, annotated with virtual sticky notes, or shared with groups. The groups feature is a great way to discover new resources or share with a specific audience. Members can opt to receive notifications of shared resources daily, weekly, etc.

  • Adding collaborators in Pinterest.

    Adding collaborators in Pinterest.

    Pinterest –A huge hit among casual users, Pinterest also has a loyal following amont educators. Users can use bookmarklets or browser extensions to quickly add Pins to specific boards, where they are shared in Pinterest’s appealing, visual style. Don’t forget that Pinterest can be very collaborative, too. Just visit the user dashboard, click on the Edit button at the bottom of any board, then add contributors using their email addresses.

  • Symbaloo webmix

    Symbaloo webmix

    SymbalooEDU –Symbaloo EDU is another tool that has grown a huge following in education circles, in particular. Users create very slick, graphical “webmixes”, collections of bookmarked sites. One shortcoming is that webmixes can be shared, but are not truly collaborative just yet. Still, its attractive style, user-friendly results, and ample pre-existing collections make it worth a look.

  • A flipped classroom pearltree.

    A flipped classroom pearltree.

    Pearltrees –Pearltrees is a tool unlike any of the others. It is very visual in nature, and folks who like graphic organizers are likely to love Pearltrees. Bookmarks, called “pearls”, are added via browser extension and organized into “trees”, which are clusters of pearls. Pearltree users can share trees and pearls, follow others’ collections, and collaboratively build collections. Probably not for everyone, but for those who like its style, Pearltrees is a powerful resource.

  • A ScoopIt collection.

    A ScoopIt collection.

    ScoopIt –ScoopIt takes yet another approach to saving bookmarks, assembling groups of them into pages resembling online newspapers or magazines. A browser bookmarklet can expedite the adding of resources to topic lists. Users choose the destination lists and add descriptions. Users can follow one another and “suggest” new resources to be added, a list of which can be browsed (“curated”, in ScoopIt lingo), evaluated, and either added or rejected. ScoopIt will also make recommendations from the web based on user-defined terms. A drawback is the inability to filter items on a specific collection, but I keep coming back to the tool after several years.

Certainly, there are countless other bookmarking tools being used by educators to collaboratively cultivate classroom collections. What are others that should be in any such list? How are you using them with your students or teams?

Presentation Notes: What’s New in Web 2.0?

At the risk of having the entire group focus on their food and ignore me (ahem) the following are some useful resources I’ll be sharing with Highland Park ISD teachers during lunch on Thursday.

  • Learni.st –create & share online “boards” around any topic or area of expertise. 
  • Gooru –powerful new search tool for education that returns results that can be filtered by type (e.g. notes, handouts, quizzes, interactives, etc.). Can also create collections, virtual playlists for students to use.
  • Aurasma —partly a Web 2.0 tool, Aurasma’s key component is an app that uses a phone’s camera to access images, videos, etc. that have been linked to an image of a particular object.
  • Tynker –online tool that lets students learn the basics of programming and lets teachers manage students, create programming assignments, assess, etc.
  • Videonot.es –watch videos and take notes as you go. Notes are saved to Google Drive account.
  • Checkthis –great, free tool for quickly creating sharp-looking websites, including text and many types of embeddable tools (maps, videos, web apps, etc.).
  • TubeChop –very practical tool that allows users to select and share specific snippets of YouTube videos.
  • Knovio –share your PowerPoint presentations online PLUS add video clips of yourself providing narration.
  • Comicmaster —really cool tool for creating graphic novels online using click-and-drag interface. Products can be saved and printed.
  • Marqueed –collaboratively share and discuss images, website screen captures, more. Includes a useful history tool to keep track of conversations and works nicely with Google Drive.
  • Thinglink –create and share interactive images, maps, etc. Add an image, add a trigger, and link it to content (video, podcast, website, Wikipedia, etc.).
  • GroupMap –create and share very collaborative mindmaps. Simple interface, let’s users have easy control over privacy.
  • Infogr.am –free, collaborative tool for creating infographics. Uses handy click-and-drag format and includes numerous templates and graphics to get you started.
  • Easel.ly –another tool for creating infographics online, Easel.ly also has an easy interface, great graphics, and ability to create collaboratively.
  • Phrase.it –simple tool lets users add speech bubbles to upload images and save or share in a variety of ways.
  • BiblioNasium –create a safe social network for students that is centered on reading. Teacher can create recommended book lists and monitor student progress, students can engage in book discussions, parents can monitor children, much, much more.
  • Portfoliogen –create sharp, professional-looking online portfolios.
  • DoSketch –very simple, free drawing tool. Unlike many similar sites, drawings can be downloaded and saved!
  • GeoGuessr/GeoSettr –fun and engaging geography guessing game using Google Street View. GeoSettr lets users create and share their own games.
  • Remind101 –create text-message class contact lists without ever seeing student numbers.
  • Presenter –online presentation tool still in beta. Good tool selection and interface, but has been a little buggy (That’s why it’s in beta.). Still, it has a lot of potential, the development team is very responsive to questions or suggestions, AND it creates presentations that are mobile-device friendly!

10 Curricula-Spanning, Learning-Boosting, Creativity-Inspiring, Must-Have Apps

Because there are just not enough app lists, I decided I needed to throw in one more. There are tons of lists that tout subject-specific apps for students at all levels. The following apps have broad applications in virtually any subject area, and they promote important higher level skills such as critical thinking, analyzing, researching, planning, and communicating in engaging and powerful ways. The biggest advantage each offers over similar tools on traditional desktops or laptops is their fantastic usability and short learning curves. They can also accomplish these things on the go–at the museum, on the bus, on the camping trip, etc., potentially turning any event into a true learning experience.

  • Catch Notes (FREE) – Fantastic tool for taking and organizing (via tags) text, audio, or visual notes, independently or collaboratively. Notes can be accessed via apps or through the Catch.com website.
  • Pearltrees (FREE) – Pearltrees is a creative social bookmarking tool that lets individuals or groups create collections of bookmarks organized into webs by subject. It is a fantastic organizational tool, and it gives students a powerful visual representation of their saved resources. The app walks you through setting up a mobile Safari plugin that lets you add “pearls” on the go.
  • VoiceThread (FREE) – Still one of my favorite digital storytelling tools, VoiceThread’s app makes the creation process even faster and easier. Still need to sign up for a free account at Ed.Voicethread, but now VTs can be created on the go, using the built-in cameras and microphones of the iPad or iPod.
  • Explain Everything ($2.99) – Simply a phenomenal screen-casting tool, Explain Everything lets students create narrated, annotated presentations that include drawings, images, websites, and videos. Resulting movies can be shared in a wide variety of ways. The applications are limitless and could certainly fit any subject area. This is perhaps the most powerful tool on this list.
  • Spreaker Radio (FREE) – Spreaker is my new favorite podcasting/broadcasting tool. The web-based platform has as good of a free podcast system as I’ve ever seen, incorporating tools reserved for paid services. The app lets you or your students broadcast live Internet shows on the go or record shows for future listening. It’s very intuitive for students and only requires that an account be set up on the Spreaker site to use.
  • ShowMe (FREE) – ShowMe’s ease of use and versatility make it a must-have. Students can create narrated videos explaining anything they can draw, write, or illustrate. Videos are saved on the ShowMe site, also free.
  • Popplet ($4.99) – Popplet is a slick tool for creating mind maps, flow charts, or other graphic organizers. Charts can include text, drawings, or images, and can be exported as .pdf or image files. Use Popplet for brainstorming, group planning, project management, process illustration, or many other applications.
  • Animation Studio ($2.99) – The best animation creation tool for the money, by far. The feature list of Animation Studio is too long to list, but features like text-to-speech, the library of animated characters, music tools, YouTube sharing, etc. make it the best. Students can use this app to create original videos describing, depicting, or explaining anything imaginable.
  • Dragon Dictation (FREE) – Dragon Dictation is an oldie (in iOS terms, anyway) but a goodie. It turns spoken words into printed text, and it does so pretty darned accurately. Great for many applications, such as allowing ESL students to transcribe their English practice or other special population accommodations. Also makes a fantastic note-taking tool (SOME people even use it while driving, I have heard…cough.).
  • Google Earth (FREE) – Still a powerful tool for research, the Google Earth app includes many of the standard maps and search tools, plus a fantastic gallery of user-currated maps and tours. Kids can research settings in literature (using built-in Wikipedia links), map historical events, study geologic or political processes, and more.

That’s my list. What apps would you add that could be used across the curriculum?

TCEA 2009: What’s New in Web 2.0?

Doing two sessions this year at TCEA. The first one was this morning, and we (co-worker Jon Norris, geeky aunt, Connie Tubbs, and myself) shared the basics of setting up and using the Nintendo Wiimote as an interactive whiteboard. This afternoon, the session will be on Web 2.0. I did this session at TCEA last year, and it is one of my favorite topics. This year has given me a great deal of trouble, though, as I try to narrow down a list of several hundred of my favorite sites to about 25, in order to be able to let folks out in under 5 hours. Here is the list I have compiled, tentatively (I still have a couple of hours!), of the sites I will be sharing. Actually, the sites preceded by an asterisk are the first priority sites. The others may not make the cut, especially if time runs short. If I have neglected to include any of your favorite, new Web 2.0 sites, please share them with me!

Student/Organization Tools

*http://www.rememberthemilk.com/ (Tool for creating to-do lists, reminders, more; access via phone, work offline, use with Google calendar and iGoogle, and more.)

http://notestar.4teachers.org/ (Online note-taking tool from the creators of Rubistar; teacher and student features.)

http://www.mynoteit.com/ (Versatile, social note-taking and organization tool.)

*http://evernote.com/ (Very useful note-taking and organization tool; write notes, upload images, send text/pics from phones, clip websites, more.)

Filesharing/Collaboration

*http://drop.io/ (Very easy filesharing tool; share via web, email, phone, etc.)

http://collab.io/ (Simple tool for creating collaborative, online work spaces using participant emails.)

*http://www.remobo.com/ (Create private, virtual networks between computers.)

http://usend.io/ (Send files up to 100mb via email.)

http://www.fileshaker.com/ (Free online file storage up to 10 gigs.)

http://www.docstoc.com/ (Online document sharing with the ability to tag documents for search engine recognition and embed documents into websites.)

https://www.yugma.com/ (Free desktop sharing tool for up to 20 participants.)

Mind-mapping

*http://www.mindmeister.com/ (Create and share mind maps online.)

*http://www.mywebspiration.com (Online version of the popular Inspiration software; great tool for collaborative brainstorming, planning, more.)

Bookmarks

http://www.bookmarkg.com/ (Fairly simple and straightforward social bookmarking site.)

*http://www.diigo.com (Social bookmarking site with lots of great features, including ability to mark up sites, share with groups, friends, etc.)

Videoconferencing

http://www.palbee.com/index.aspx# (Free video-conferencing tool.)

*http://mebeam.com/ (Probably the easiest, most basic video-conference site on the web; create a room and invite friends.)

Video

*http://www.viddler.com/ (Shared videos plus ability to leave time-specific comments, tags.)

http://keepvid.com/ (Useful tool lets you download videos in multiple formats from a variety of sites.)

*http://www.selfcast.com (Create live streaming video channels; chat with viewers.)

*http://www.mogulus.com/ (Create live broadcasts with lots of extras, such as embedded images, text, etc.)

*http://qik.com/ (Live video streaming from a wide variety of phone models)

*http://www.stickam.com (Live video streaming, video chat for up to 12 participants, slideshow and music sharing, plus mobile streaming for some Nokia phones)

Images

*http://www.snapily.com/ (Create photo prints that are 3-dimensional or display motion.)

http://photosynth.net/Default.aspx (Cool tool from Microsoft creates fantastic panoramic images from multiple pictures.)

*http://animoto.com/ (Create beautifully animated slideshows, complete with musical accompaniment; free full version for educators.)

*http://pixelpipe.com/ (Allows users to upload images to many sites through one portal.)

http://280slides.com/ (Create/share multimedia slideshows, upload existing PowerPoint shows, search for images/videos while working in the site.)

Office Apps

*http://sliderocket.com/ (Flash-based, online slideshow creation tool.)

http://www.slideboom.com/ (Slideshow sharing site)

Website Creation/Wikis

*http://www.weebly.com/ (Great, free website creation tool; features standard and blog pages, drag-and-drop interface, more.)

RSS

*http://www.tabbloid.com/ (Use RSS feeds to create a printable, pdf newsletter.)

Miscellaneous

*http://www.verbalearn.com/ (Students create custom vocabulary study lists and mp3 files.)

http://www.weblin.com/index.php

*http://forvo.com/ (Site that is attempting to create audio files with pronunciations of all of the words in the world in their native tongues.)

http://www.popfly.com/ (Free online game and mashup creation tool from Microsoft.)

*http://cloudo.com/ (Cloud computing platform; access files from any web-connected computer.)

*http://tikatok.com/ (Student book writing and illustrating tool; students can order hard or soft copies for about $20.)

http://fo.reca.st/surveys/home (Create embeddable surveys, complete with multimedia elements.)

*http://mystudiyo.com/ (Create interactive, embeddable quizzes; include graphics, video, images.)

*http://www.flowgram.com/ (Exciting tool for creating interactive presentations incorporating images, audio, video, and PowerPoint.)

*http://www.thebroth.com (Collaboratively create works of art, chatting with collaborators as you work.)

*http://www.bookglutton.com/ (Site where users read shared materials and participate in discussions; users can upload own content, too.)

SMS/Microblogging

*http://www.yammer.com/ (Create private, corporate microblogging networks.)

*http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/socialmedia/edutwitter.html (List of educators using Twitter)

Blogs

http://www.backtype.com/

*http://posterous.com (Create a blog using email messages. Include images, video, links, more. Can also be used for groups, simply by adding members’ email addresses.)

Website Tools

http://embedit.in/ (Allows users to embed documents, videos, and text files in web pages.)

Dwight’s Google Apps Link

http://www.birdville.k12.tx.us/instruct_tech/googleapps.html (List of some great applications by Google.)

Presentation Video

Facilitating Lifelong Learning by Teachers: The PLN

We in education are fond of using the phrase “lifelong learners” as a primary goal for our students. Certainly, if such a goal is truly worthwhile for our students, it would logically be worthwhile for us, as well. Much of the learning that educators engage in is based upon traditionally presented staff development opportunities, usually selected by administrators. Much rarer is the self-initiated type of learning that might be characterized as the “teacher-scholar” model. I would assert that this type of learning is actually the most beneficial, as it will be focused on the educator’s own needs and those of his/her own students. The challenge is in the creation of an atmosphere that encourages such independence. Certainly, creating the time needed to practice such learning is difficult, and there is a need to provide guidance, showing teachers how to locate and evaluate resources, and how to critically apply new knowledge in their classroom practices.

Internet visualizationOne of the greatest benefits of social web technologies for me and thousands of other educators has been the ability to build powerful personal learning networks, or PLNs. These are groups of educators, consutants, researchers, and visionaries whose ideas and input help one another grow professionally by asking questions, prompting discussions, sharing resources, etc. Much of what I have learned and put into practice in terms of technology has come as a direct result of the interactions with my own PLN, accompanied with independent research and the input of my talented co-workers.

The question of how best to creat a PLN is certainly a wide-open one, and there are perhaps as many answers as there are individuals. However, I would suggest a few tools that facilitate connected learning as a means to begin.

  1. Blogs. Blogs are powerful tools for creating PLNs. As a tool for self-expression, they allow a user to share ideas or ask questions of a global audience. The types of responses a blog generates depends largely upon the types of questions or concepts shared. However, it also depends heavily on becoming an active member of the blogging community as a reader/responder. The new blogger should seek out blogs that address similar topics to their own, read as many as they can, and offer inciteful responses or ask questions that extend discussions. Blog response forms include the ability to link to a responder’s own blog. Very often, a thoughtful reply will cause a reader to click through to the linked blog, generating traffic and adding new members to the blogger’s PLN. To locate relevant blogs, a search tool such as Technorati or Google’s Blog Search can be used. Additionally, most blogs contain a blogroll, a list of recommended and related blogs, which can be very helpful in locating outstanding resources. Utilize RSS readers, such as Google Reader or Bloglines, to help keep readings manageable and organized.
  2. Professional networks. A wide variety of professional networks exist that focus on various educational subjects. Facebook, the social networking site, has many groups focused on education, and these groups can be easily found through a simple search. Facebook groups often engage in online discussions of topics or issues of interest, host online events, or arrange live meetings. Ning has numerous groups focused on educational issues. One of the largest is the Classroom 2.0 group, which has grown to over 15,000 members. Members share resources, blog posts, discussion forums, participate in online events, and more. If a Ning group does not exist that meets an educator’s needs, it is a very simple process to create one of their own, focused on their own goals, and to invite other professionals to participate in the PLN.
  3. SharingShared bookmarks. Participating in onling bookmarking communities has provided me with literally hundreds of useful sites, online articles, new blogs, and more. Two sites I have used are Delicious and Diigo. Diigo has become my personal favorite, as it has tools that easily facilitate the creation of and participation in groups. I have discovered and shared resources as a part of local, state, and global groups using Diigo.
  4. Twitter. I’ve certainly addressed the usefulness of Twitter before. Twitter is a microblogging platform that is used for everything from documenting/sharing the relatively insignificant details of daily life to finding answers to questions posed to broad audiences to sharing valuable resources. The usefulness of Twitter can be enhanced through the use of Tweetdeck on other, similar tools, which go beyond sharing or reading updates to the creation of groups, which allows messages or questions to be sent to specific Twitter followers.

George Siemens, the creator of the theory of learning called Connectivism, has identified several key trends in learning as it is occuring today that are important for teachers to consider, not only for their students, but for themselves:

  • Many learners will move into a variety of different, possibly unrelated fields over the course of their lifetime.
  • Informal learning is a significant aspect of our learning experience. Formal education no longer comprises the majority of our learning. Learning now occurs in a variety of ways – through communities of practice, personal networks, and through completion of work-related tasks.
  • Learning is a continual process, lasting for a lifetime. Learning and work related activities are no longer separate. In many situations, they are the same.
  • Technology is altering (rewiring) our brains. The tools we use define and shape our thinking.
  • The organization and the individual are both learning organisms. Increased attention to knowledge management highlights the need for a theory that attempts to explain the link between individual and organizational learning.
  • Many of the processes previously handled by learning theories (especially in cognitive information processing) can now be off-loaded to, or supported by, technology.
  • Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed).

Wired brainI highlighted terms that are particularly relevent to the use of technology tools to create PLNs. Siemens also proposes that learning involves making connections (networks), accessing a “diversity of opinions,” knowing where to find information, and being able to ensure that information is current. If, indeed, these ideas are the way of the present and immediate futures for our students, then they should also be the applied ideals for our own, professional learning. It does require a dramatic paradigm shift, from the traditional practice of absorbing knowledge that is force-fed by school administrators, knowledge that is often well-founded in research but not necessarily applicable to all recipients. It also requires a new level of personal responsibility and effort. Fortunately, technology offers many useful tools to facilitate this type of learning efficiently. By utilizing these tools, I would assert that the rewards for both the student and the educator are greater, and both will remain better-equipped for the future that is evolving before us.

What say ye?

Web 2.0, Meaningful Learning, and Student Achievement

I had the privilege of presenting at the Texas Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development’s annual convention in Galveston, Texas on Monday. I took the opportunity to broadcast my presentation live for the first time, too. I shared ways our district’s teachers are using blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other free tools to engage students and to apply skills that can be used across the curriculum. If you’re interested, you can view it below:

The slideshow is below with the links to the resources I shared.

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