Bubbl.us is a mind-mapping program that lets you brainstorm online for free. It allows you to plan and sort ideas through the use of linked text bubbles. PC magazine identified bubbl.us as one of the top ten new or under the radar sites in 2007. Smashing magazine named it Best web.site of the month in February, 2007. It was created by Krill Edleman from Russia and Levon Amelyan from Kazachstan.

With bubbl.us you can:

  • Create colorful mind maps online
  • Share and work with friends
  • Embed your mind map in your blog or website
  • Save your mind map as an image
  • Print your mind map
  • Understands Chinese and Japanese character sets

Infrastructure and technical requirements:

  • Powered by Flash
  • Works on Opera
  • Server Media Temple – A blog entry dated May 12, 2008, stated that do to server troubles they are considering using Google AppEngine for Bubbl.us2
  • Technology
    • Flash
    • Ajax
    • Prototype
    • Script.aculo.us

Educational Uses:

  • Brainstorming
  • Create flow charts
  • Create lists
  • Idea Maps
  • Create Graphic Organizers
  • Assign and track student responsibilities and task completion
  • Ideas can be displayed online or through email


§ Create bubbles by clicking inside a bubble and pressing ENTER or TAB, by clicking on handy buttons that appear where you need them.

§ Undo buttons let you go back in time

§ Minimum number of buttons and unneeded options to maximize work space

§ Change bubble color

§ Automatically arranges bubbles as you type

§ Bubbles can be “unpinned” and positioned manually

§ Use mousewheel to zoom and click and drag in an empty space to pan around.

Limitations and cautions:

  • At current time bubbl.us does not have the ability for real-time collaboration but it is a long term goal.
  • Another long term goal is the ability to submit sheets to site-wide search to allow people to share ideas with anybody. Currently you need to email or enter you mind map as a blog in order for it to be shared.
  • Purpose is for prompt, on-the-spot organization
  • Unable to create a bulleted list.
  • Unable to resize bubbles to make them uniform in size.
  • Mind map can become too large to be able to print it in a readable form.
  • Unable to import visuals.
  • Is not as user friendly as Kidspiration/Inspiration which also have more options, i.e. importing of visuals.

Management Considerations:

  • Blocked by BCPS
  • An account is required to save mind maps on site but you can begin to create and save your own mind maps just by going to site bubbl.us.
  • For general questions, there is a FAQ and access to a mind-map which explains the features. If an answer is not found there, you need to email your question. No phone number is provided. However, a prompt response was received to questions.


June 30, 2008 at 5:31 pm Leave a comment



What is it?

Skrbl is a web based application. It is a simple and easy online multi use whiteboard. It can be your own private online clipboard which can save your data, or it can be used by a team as a “shared session” where you can collaborate with colleagues, friends, and family. You are able to access the clipboard and/or sessions from any computer connected to the internet because it is web based. There are no new tools to learn. There is nothing to install and nothing to download. It is free if used privately and $10.00 a month introductory price for a team.

What does it do?

Skrbl is capable of doing a variety of things. It has been described as a “Powerful Collaboration Made Simple.” You can sketch, text, share files, and upload pictures on a common shared space. You can co-browse the web, annotate shared documents, video phone and skype calls. Additionally, freehand drawings can be created; pictures can be uploaded from your desktop or the web. There are multiple languages to be used. It has also been described as the “next best thing to being in the same room.” The team can focus on work and skrbl takes care of syncing and saving.

You can use skrbl to brainstorm. You can use the whiteboard to write down whatever comes to mind. You can use it alone or with a team.

You can use skrbl for meeting notes, to record observations, delegate tasks and responsibilities. It is efficient in that all attendees to a meeting, if they were part of the team, could record their notes, make additions, corrections while saving time and resources. Using it for meetings could avoid miscommunications.

You can use skrbl as an online clipboard. It acts like “things to do” or “catch all” where you can write schedules, telephone numbers, doctor’s appointments or reminders. You can access it anytime or anywhere, where there is internet. It can be shared with a team or marked private.

You can use skrbl as a bulletin board. You can post announcements, notices, notes, deadlines, updates… for a team as they complete projects. Instead of using emails with a long list of to: or cc: the bulletin board can be used to announce certain things to a team.

What are the infrastructure and technical requirements for this tool?

Skrbl’s currently supported browsers include:

· Internet Explorer 6

· Internet Explorer 7

· Firefox 1.5 and 2

The team addition has a 250 MB file storage and can have 5 users with unlimited guests. The free addition has a file storage of 10 MB and can have one single user with unlimited guests.

How can you use it effectively in instruction?

In the blog, it shared that a teacher used skrbl in his classroom. He had invited 19 students to discuss Steinbeck. They were collaborating on the skrbl whiteboard. They read, responded and reacted by writing, commenting and discussing. Students described the experience as the opportunity to keep “our wheels rolling.”

I think it could be used by a teacher in the intermediate grades for the study of Junior Great Books, gifted and talented novels and challenge books. The teacher could act as the facilitator and teach the students to use the features of skrbl to react, respond and discuss the texts. I also think that teachers could use skrbl to teach and have students learn mathematics.

Teachers could teach students how to use the features of skrbl for them to complete group activities and projects. Some projects our students have completed where they can use skrbl include:

· The Multicultural Fair

· State Research

· Career Fair

· Safe Racer

What are other educational applications for this tool?

Since skrbl is a powerful collaboration tool, it could be used by teachers and staff members to accomplish many activities, including the following:

· Committee Work

· Grade level lesson study

· Preparation of a professional development

· Polishing and refining meeting notes as to eliminate miscommunication

· Share instructional strategies

· Posting of announcements for future meetings, deadlines, etc.

· Analyzing data and making instructional decisions by getting input from several educators

What are the limitations and cautions related to the use of this tool?

· The school system may filter out skrbl and not allow access

· There is a limit to the size of a file

· The team introductory price is $10.00 a month. However, you do not know what it will be in the future.

What are the management considerations for this tool?

· Users would probably need to have sophisticated technology skills and fluency to use skrbl

· Users would need to learn to use each feature of skrbl.

· There may be resistance to use skrbl.

June 30, 2008 at 5:30 pm 1 comment


Kidcast is a podcasting tool that is intended for kids to use; for kids, by kids. It’s purpose is to allow kids a place to post their podcasts or vodcasts. The files are submitted and reviewed by an adult before being posted. The website has a rating system that the webmasters compare to the rating system for video games. Uploads need to be in a universal format, MP3, MP4, .MOV, or M4V files. All uploaded files must be original intellectual property and must be at least one min. in length. To use the service, you must make an account. I am not sure what kind of spam you would get after signing up for this service. I think this would be difficult to manage, if each child had an account, it would be impossible to manage. Because of that, I doubt that the County would ever unblock this particular site. Although this seems like a nice site, I am not sure that it would be easily used as an instructional tool.

PS: Thanks Dorothy for your help with finding the correct site 🙂

June 22, 2008 at 11:51 pm 2 comments


  • What is it? What does it do?

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), is part of the U.S. Department of Education. It has a “Kids Zone”, filled with a variety of free games, challenges, and math activities. One of these activities is called CreateAGraph, which allows kids to create different types of graphs. It is extremely user-friendly; it includes a tutorial, but it is possible to learn what you need to know to create a graph just by experimenting with it.

  • What are the infrastructure and technical requirements for this tool?

This can be accessed using Windows; the site uses Macromedia Flash Player

  • How can you use it effectively in instruction?

This is a great opportunity to move kids away from pencil and paper graphs to computer-generated graphs. This is especially exciting for kids who have difficulty drawing a straight line, even with a ruler. It takes the emphasis away from merely creating the graph without error to focusing on the parts of the graph and understanding what it shows.

  • What are other education applications for this tool?

Students can use this during the math unit that focuses on creating and interpreting graphs. They will also be able to use it when working on their required STEM Fair project—a graph is one component of the final project.

What are the limitations and cautions related to use of this tool?

Students need a color printer to take full advantage of this website’s product.

  • What are the management considerations for this tool?

Students need to save their work via an email to themselves or by bookmarking it.

June 22, 2008 at 11:49 pm 4 comments


What is it? What does it do?

Diigo is a free, interactive, web-based method of highlighting and taking notes. It allows you to highlight passages within an on-line text, to post “sticky notes” to a page with your own comments, and to share your findings with your “friends” on Diigo. These notes and comments are saved for you on Diigo, so whenever you access that text, your notes and highlights return.

What are the infrastructure and technical requirements for this tool?

System requirements:

Windows XP/2000 SP4+, Red Hat Linux 9.0+, Mac OS X 10.2+

How can you use it effectively in instruction?

As my intermediate students complete the research project we assign, this will be a terrific way for them to match note-taking skills with technology skills. However, it will be vital that we first discuss “copying” versus “note-taking” so that they don’t learn to rely on highlighting as their primary method of taking notes for their paper.

What are other education applications for this tool?

We complete a research report with note-taking project in class so that students are prepared for the research report required in their STEM (Science) Fair project. Every one of our students has to complete this assignment, so they will be able to apply the on-line note-taking skills at home.

What are the limitations and cautions related to use of this tool?

It takes practice to learn how to read the information and then go back to highlight what is important. Each user also needs to set up an account on Diigo, which each student will need. Finally, it takes practice learning how to use Diigo, which will also take time.

What are the management considerations for this tool?

· time to set up accounts

· time to teach students how to use the website

· time to teach students how to take notes

· instruction on the difference between taking notes that are then put into your own words and highlighting / copying words that should not be just put into your text as if they were your own words (which is necessary regardless of the form of note-taking)

June 22, 2008 at 11:49 pm 1 comment


What is it? What does it do?

Furl is a social bookmarking tool. It allows you to store and access your favorite web sites from any computer. It also associates keywords from your search with each bookmark.

What are the infrastructure and technical requirements for this tool?

You only need a web browser to use furl. It is a free tool

How can you use it effectively in instruction?

Furl can be used to share websites with students for assignments.

What are the limitations and cautions related to use of this tool?

A caution for this tool is the possibility that it will not survive as an internet business and could disappear. It is hosted on another server so it is not secure. Furl is not filtered so it is not recommended for k-12 users.

What are other education applications for this tool?

Each bookmark can be tagged with keywords. The keywords are then available to be shared with those that share their bookmarks. The result is that you can share search results using the tagged keywords as well as the bookmarks. This will help people expand research they are doing.

What are the management considerations for this tool?

Sharing bookmarks may not be the way to go at the elementary level. So many sites are blocked by BCPS, creating this at home may be worthless at school, because of the sites being blocked.

My Opinion of Furl

I have set up a Furl account. While I like the idea of it I have not had an easy time figuring out how to use and access the saved bookmarks. For example, after spending literally hours trying to figure it all out, I save sites one evening and in the morning they were gone. I found my Firefox settings needed to be changed but found out after the fact. Also the fact that so much is blocked at school, I don’t see where it really would be worthwhile to bookmark sites on my home computer and not be able to get to them at school.

June 18, 2008 at 4:02 pm 2 comments

Web Resizer


  • What is it? What does it do?

Web Resizer is an easy to use, free online image resizer that helps you optimize photos for web or email. Web Resizer was made to convert and downscale common graphic format such as JPEG, PNG, WMF, TGA and so on… to standard web graphic formats i.e. JPEG and PNG for browsing friendly size. You can resize, add borders, add text, overlay images, crop, rotate, flip and convert photos to black and white. Web Resizer allows you to resize your digital images without the need to install any software on your computer. There is no registration and no fee.

  • What are the infrastructure and technical requirements for this tool?

Web Resizer recommends Firefox instead of Internet Explorer for faster surfing and better surfing experience. They have lots of extensions and plug-ins which can make your browsing a lot more productive.

  • How can you use it effectively in instruction?

Web Resizer is a tool that can be used to add photographs to projects( i.e., Science Fair Projects, Research projects, invitations to Back-to-School night, Invitations to American Education week, etc.). It can additionally be used to add photos to journal writing activities, produce picture/word vocabulary booklets, construct learning centers using photographs, craft a collage, generate Every-Pupil-Response cards, create visuals to support lesson content, etc.

  • What are the limitations and cautions related to use of this tool?

-When trying to save an image you get a .BMP file extension option. This is a small bug in Internet Explorer. It happens when your “Temporary Internet Folder” is full. Emptying it should fix the problem.

If cropping does not work, you will need a DHTML enabled browser to make it work.

-Linking the resized image from a server to a website is not possible. As soon as the resizing is done and the image is shown to you the image gets deleted.

-Web Resizer cannot resize more than one image at a time.

  • What are other education applications for this tool?

Web Resizer is a great tool for adding photographs to teacher created websites and resizing photographs to add to emails. It can additionally be used to crop photographs for school or class newsletters. Web Resizer would also be beneficial in creating activities that identify classmates, school staff members or as a picture schedule. At Summit Park we create a “Welcome to Summit Park” display for new students. Web Resizer could aid in making this display more appealing by cropping each student’s photograph and adding border to give it flair.

  • What are the management considerations for this tool?

Because the main venue for downloading your photographs will be from a digital camera, during a class lesson it may be time consuming and hectic to quickly download the photos to the appropriate computer for student use. However, having students save their photos on a thumb drive may be helpful with time management.

June 18, 2008 at 4:02 pm 3 comments

Older Posts


  • Blogroll

  • Feeds