Category: Online Office Tools (page 2 of 3)

Final BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge (#13) for the Year!

Lucky 13! The final installment of this semester’s 12 Second Tech Challenges focuses on a very useful tool, the Google Forms tool.


BISD 12 Second Tech Challenge #13 on 12seconds.tv

You will need to create a Google account, if you don’t already have one (and you really should). The video below shows you how it works. You could create a student or parent survey, an online test/quiz, or whatever. Be sure to share the link to the survey in your comment. (I will give you 2 credits for this if you actually administer it!)

Thank you guys for trying so many new tools! I will announce the winners of the big prizes next Wednesday!

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

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.

3 New Tools for a New Year

Some useful tools that are either new or at least that haven’t been mentioned here…

Diigo (http://www.diigo.com) –Social bookmarking site that puts greater emphasis on the social aspect than other, similar sites. Users can create friends lists or groups. Saved bookmarks can be shared with all, some, or none of the friends and groups. Additionally, sites can be customized with highlighting, sticky notes, and more. Envision creating a class group, then having student members studying a topic such as geology find and add resources to the class’s list of bookmarks, including notes telling how the resources are useful.

Diigo

Slideboom (http://www.slideboom.com/)–Finally! I have found a site that will support my PowerPoint 2007 presentations, INCLUDING ANIMATIONS! Slideboom is very similar to Slideshare, my old favorite. Users can add friends, mark favorites, leave comments, and more. This tool can be used to allow students to post and share PowerPoint presentations, then to have classmates make comments or ask questions on the site. The user agreement also prohibits pornographic images, which should keep content safer for children.

Slideboom

Weebly (http://www.weebly.com/)–I found Weebly a few months ago, but only yesterday actually began testing it. This is a fantastic site for creating free webpages. The site offers numerous page designs, uses a point and click method for adding page features, includes the ability to create blog pages, and more. Additionally, users can associate existing domain names.  The site very easy to use and allows children as young as 13 to join. Site traffic statistics are available, and users can choose the option of including Google Adsense, making it possible to profit from site traffic.

Weebly

Expand the Capabilities of Firefox with Extensions

Firefox is continuing to grow in user numbers, with over 8 million users downloading the 3rd version of the browser on its June 18th release day, a world record for a software download. The worldwide market share of Firefox topped 19% by the end of June (story). One of the biggest appeals of Firefox for me is the number of ways the browser can be customized, particularly with the use of add-ons, called extensions, which have been created by a worldwide collection of web-based companies, software designers, and Firefox users. I wanted to share a few of the extensions which I have found particularly useful, in no particular order.

  1. Del.icio.us Bookmarks–This extension includes a toolbar and browser buttons, which make adding new Del.icio.us links much faster, through a popup window that requests a site description and tags, then automatically adds a link to a Del.icio.us account. The toolbar lists recently added sites.
  2. Google Notebook–This very handy extension opens up a Google Notebook in a popup window, allowing easy note creation while browsing.
  3. Clipmarks–Another note-taking tool, this extension allows desired pieces of web pages to be highlighted and “clipped”, then saved to a Clipmarks account.
  4. Scribefire–A very handy extension, Scribefire allows users to create blog posts for a variety of sites. Posts can be published immediately or saved for later. The interface opens in the bottom half of the browser window, allowing other sites to be viewed simultaneously. Users can add most of the content which is possible in the standard blogging platform, such as hyperlinks, images, video, etc.
  5. Trailfire–This extension allows users to add custom notes to web pages and to create linked “trails” for visitors to follow. Marked pages are given a unique URL, which can be shared with students or others. Users must have a Trailfire account (free, of course!).
  6. WOT (Web of Trust)–I recently added this extension. WOT uses user-generated ratings to evaluate sites on categories including trustworthiness, privacy, vendor reliability, and child safety. Links of rated sites display a circular symbol ranging from green (very safe) to red (very unsafe).
  7. Zotero–This is a very useful tool for conducting online research and generating citations or bibliographies. Sites and offline resources can be added to users’ collections. The site supports all of the most common citation formats, as well, including MLA, APA, CMS, and more. Absolutely keeps me from running back to the manual as often!
  8. Adblock Plus–Adblock Plus is an extension which blocks most embedded advertising in web pages, which results in much faster download times. As a teacher who has dealt with inappropriate ads in surprising sites, it also offers a good deal of peace of mind in the classroom.
  9. PicLens–Interesting and fun add-on which allows users to view all of the images within a site in a 3-dimensional window.
  10. Stumblupon–Stumbleupon is another example of a social bookmarking site. The Stumbleupon extension allows quick access to users’ accounts, and offers the Stumble! button, as well. This will open a random site which is geared towards the interests of the user. While some are not of much use, I have been very surprised at the wide variety of useful sites I have found using this extension.
  11. HyperwordsHyperwords–Another extension I recently added, Hyperwords allows users to right click on any word on a website, then access reference information on the word, such as common search engines, online dictionary entries, wikipedia references, etc.

This is just a small taste of the many extensions available, of course. I use several more, including Forecastfox, Weblin, ReadItLater, and Me.dium, to name a few. One of my favorites, Gdocsbar, which allows drag-and-drop adding and retrieval of documents to Google Documents, has not been updated for Firefox 3, but users of previous versions should check it out. If you have other extensions you would like to share, please do so!

Educator Internet Use

I used the Google Documents survey tool to create a brief survey over the use of Internet tools by educators in our district. Seventy teachers responded. The survey turned out as expected, generally, with a few surprises. Some of the results:

Time spent online away from work:

  • 31% <2 hours
  • 37% 2-5 hours
  • 16% 5-10 hours
  • 16% >10 hours

(This was encouraging to me, as it is clear that they are spending quite a bit of time online, more than I would have guessed. The key is to be able to take advantage of this, by getting them interested in visiting and using sites that will enrich their instruction and help them grow as teachers.)

Types of sites being visited (percent of respondents who regularly visit each type of site):

  • News (84%)
  • Educational/Informational (76%)
  • Entertainment (41%)
  • Video (26%)
  • Medical (26%)
  • Blogs (26%)
  • Photo editing/sharing (23%)
  • Games (20%)
  • Wikis (17%)
  • Social networks (13%)
  • Other (40%)

(Teachers appear to primarily use the Internet for information gathering, rather than content creation or socializing, although it was a pleasant surprise that fully 1/4 of respondents spend regular time on Web 2.0 sites, such as blogs and social networks.)

Specific sites visited (percent of respondents who have visited each site at any time–top 10 listed only):

  • Google (91%)
  • Yahoo! (90%)
  • YouTube (76%)
  • Wikipedia (64%)
  • MySpace (50%)
  • Blogger (37%)
  • Facebook (33%)
  • Wikispaces (30%)
  • Edublogs (29%)
  • TeacherTube (24%)

(Again, there appears to be a heavy emphasis on locating/consuming information. Some sites that garnered almost no responses include Twitter (3%), Digg (3%), Bloglines (3%), and StumbleUpon (2%).)

Active participation (percent of users with active, contributing accounts at each site):

  • Yahoo! (49%)
  • Google (41%)
  • MySpace (20%)
  • Facebook (14%)
  • Blogger (11%)
  • Edublogs (10%)
  • YouTube (10%)
  • Wikipedia (6%)
  • Wikispaces (6%)
  • Wet Paint (6%)

(Assuming that the affirmative responses for the Google and Yahoo! accounts are primarily email or IM, the evidence again seems to show clearly that very few educators here are creating any content. It is encouraging to see as many social network users as the survey indicates. StumbleUpon, WordPress, and Twitter each were blanked in this category.)

The final question changed directions a bit, as I wanted to get a little feel for the resources being used in actual instruction. The percent of each tool that educators have at some point used in their instruction:

  • Photo/video sites (50%)
  • Online bookmarks (27%–I’m very dubious about this one, given the fact that 1% responded that they had a del.icio.us account. I believe the question was misunderstood.)
  • Blogs (24%)
  • Podcasts (24%)
  • Wikis (23%)
  • RSS/XML readers (9%)

I’d be interested in any feedback I could receive regarding the results of the survey and what they mean. My first reaction is that I need to be doing more to facilitate creative use of Internet tools. Far too little creative content is being created and shared by the students in our district. Any other thoughts?

5 Easy Ways to Dip Your Toes in the Web 2.0 Water

Come on in!For any educators out there who like the idea of Web 2.0 and recognize its importance, but are too intimidated or otherwise reluctant to dive right in, I offer the following list of 5 things to try first. I think these tools will give you an idea of how simple it is to create online content and to build an online community.

Blog

Just write. Write about your family, a hobby, your job (carefully, of course), politics, religion, entertainment, or anything that interests you. Start out by committing to blog once per week. Send emails to your friends and family, inviting them to read and join in the conversation. You may be surprised how easy it is to build a loyal following, as they respond to your ideas, expand on them, and argue with them. A very easy site to begin blogging with is Blogger. It’s account setup and user interface are very user-friendly. Others to look at are WordPress, Windows Live Spaces, Blog.com, or Blogster. There are also numerous blogging sites intended for particular audiences, such as Edublogs, of course. Try more than one–they are all free for basic memberships–and see which suits your preferences and needs best. The important thing is to just do it–write, invite, communicate. (You’ll also get more blog traffic if you frequent other blogs, leaving thoughtful or eye-catching comments and including your blog’s address.)

Create a Podcast

This is a very easy way to get content on the web and to get an audience, and it is especially appealing to those who aren’t as big on writing. To create an audio podcast, you need either a computer with a microphone and audio editing software or a cell phone. You can create a free online podcast account at numerous sites, including Podbean, Podomatic, MyPodcast, etc. You can go through the steps of getting your podcast listed in iTunes, if you wish, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. Next, create your first podcast. Use an audio editing program, such as GarageBand (Mac) or Audacity (PC). Record yourself talking about a topic which you are particularly knowledgeable or opinionated about. You might also record homework information or study tips for your students. Edit, if needed/desired, to eliminate unwanted noises, pauses, coughs, etc.. You can go so far as to add musical introductions/endings, but this isn’t a requirement. I found a nice selection at Incompetech.com that is all licensed under Creative Commons as requiring attribution only. If needed, convert your file to mp3 (This is an Export function in Audacity.). Upload your file to your podcast page, give it a description, and invite some friends to listen. They can leave comments and subscribe to your future podcasts. Again, you’re starting a conversation, only this time with your voice. If you want it to be an even easier process, sign up for a Gcast account, and start podcasting via cell phone. Either way, you will find it is a very easy, enjoyable, and efficient way to create content.

Broadcast a PowerPoint

One of the easiest ways there is to share information on the web is to simply upload content that already has been created. PowerPoints are a favorite in many classrooms. One thing that I believe leaves them lacking in terms of usefulness, however, is that they are designed as a one-way communication tool, and generally for a small audience (the teacher). A site that takes PowerPoint to the next level is Slideshare.net. With an account in Slideshare, PowerPoint presentations can be uploaded and converted to a Flash video format. Most formatting is preserved, including slides, illustrations, text, and links. Viewers can check out the show, leave comments on the entire thing or individual slides, embed the show into their blogs, or download it to their own computers. Imagine having a class upload all of their PowerPoint shows, then view classmates’ shows and leave questions/comments–takes PowerPoint from 1-way communication to multi-directional instantly.

Share a Document

The next time you have to create a word processing document, spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation with a group of people, try doing it online. Google Documents is a great place to begin (You can also use sites such as ThinkFree or Zoho, if you prefer.). You’ll need an account (free). Create your document, then click on the Share tab on the right of the screen. You will be able to send an invitation to other users to contribute their own ideas and content to the product you started. It is really amazingly exciting and powerful to watch as the screen automatically refreshes, and changes made by other users automatically appear as you work. You’ll gain a better understanding of the usefulness of this tool for student collaboration.

Stumble

This is the easiest way to discover and bookmark new pages on the web that I have found. You can also recommend sites to others. To sign up, go to StumbleUpon and register, including your interests. You’ll get a browser add-on with the company logo and the word Stumble! on it. When you have a spare second, click this button and a random site appears that is related to the profile you created when you registered. If you like it, click the I like it! button, and it is added to your online bookmarks. You can also recommend new sites using the same button, and they will be shared with other members. It is surprisingly addictive, especially during commercials in the evening, and you will discover parts of the Web you likely never knew existed.

These are just a few tools, but they are all easy to get started with, and they’ll give a good feel for the general idea, that the Internet is now about creating content and creating communities.

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