Posts filed under ‘Access’

MediaMax/The Linkup

What is it? What does it do?

Media Max is now called The Linkup. The Linkup is a social network for file sharing. According to The Linkup homepage, it is a place to easily send and receive files with friends and store massive amounts of files. Uploaded files can be public or protected files. Basic accounts are free and uses can subscribe (starting at $5.95/month) for accounts with more storage.

What are the infrastructure and technical requirements for this tool?

Uploaded files can be public or protected files. Basic accounts are free and uses can subscribe (starting at $5.95/month) for accounts with more storage. I tried to set up a free account. It was easy to do – all that is needed is a user name, email address, and password. To activate the account, the user has to check her email and click the activation link. When I tried to do this, I got the following message:

We’re sorry but an error has occurred. This error has been logged and The Linkup support has been notified. Please go back and try again to see if the error still exists.

I continued to try, but received the same message each time. I set up a different account using my home email address instead of school address, but I received the same message. Perhaps a paid account would work better.

How can you use it effectively in instruction?

If this site was working properly, teachers could certainly use it to work on common projects and share lessons or resources with each other. At school, it would probably be easier for students to use the shared folder on the BCPS server. If students were working on group projects outside of school, they may be able to use this; however, I do not see it as practical at the elementary school level. Other tools are more readily available and easier to use. Also, we cannot assume at this point that every student has functioning internet access at home. The Linkup may be useful for our group project for this class; however, the site is not working properly at this time. It would be a good place to store videos and photographs because it has a lot of storage capacity.

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

Presently, the obvious limitation is that an error message occurs when trying to activate an account. I think this tool could be very useful for teachers and administrators more than for students.

What are the management considerations for this tool?

One consideration is that this tool requires users to pay monthly fees after the free trial period. The fees would have to come from the school budget unless it was district funded. Other free sites are available such as Write Board that seem more practical.

June 15, 2008 at 9:18 pm Leave a comment

voo2do

http://voo2do.com

Voo2do is a free advanced task and priority management tool. It tracks priority, due date, and time estimates for each task entered. Organization is the identified property of voo2do that claims to make it a step above other online to-do lists and, currently in the development phase, is the feature that allows multiple users to view and edit multiple projects together. It is designed for those who work on many different projects, constantly jot down ideas to work on later, have a need to prioritize and to know where projects stand and what needs attention next.

Members can:

  • Organize tasks by project
  • Track time spent and remaining
  • Add tasks by email
  • Publish task lists
  • Access on web 24×7
  • Work asynchronously
  • Improve personal productivity

Voo2do works on Internet Explorer 6+, Firefox 1+, and Opera 8+. It works imperfectly on Safari. There is nothing to install. It is implemented using Perl, Apache, the Apache::PageKit web framework, the PostgreSQL database server, and copious amounts of client-side Javascript. (The last part of this description is far over my level of understanding.)

I signed up and found voo2do relatively easy to navigate. For my trial run, I entered information associated with this course as far as organizing tasks. I then tried to imagine an effective use of voo2do in relation to instruction. This is where it seemed cumbersome to me. I use the calendar feature on Outlook as my tech source for reminders to supplement my old fashioned pencil to date book method. From a student point of view, I entered information from this course on my voo2do account, as well. That was even more cumbersome to me, perhaps because there was so much more to organize. Using the resources provided on CTE (especially the activities organizational grids) serve me well. I found the added time to use voo2do, even though it was easy to enter the data, seemed redundant, considering my current satisfactory organizational methods. Accessing it on line seemed to be yet another extra step to me.

While I can not believe I am expressing this next statement, perhaps I don’t have enough various things to make voo2do an asset for me! I know I feel that as far as using it in my capacity as a teacher. However, I had a thought of using it to allow parents to access time line requirements and reminders related to long term projects, homework, etc. Families would simply need a password and remember to check the site. Perhaps it could be an additional support to the traditional paper reminders and/or teacher web page reminders. My perspective as a student in this and future courses is different if all members were using it, but I still struggle with grasping the need if we are using CTE, D2L, Black Board, etc.

Allowing members of various groups to edit and revise projects is currently limited to just allowing online access to the original document with the use of a password. Changes would have to be made in a word document after copying and pasting the original and sending the revisions as an email attachment. However, consideration is being given to updating that feature if there is enough demand expressed. (Writeboard, which I reviewed earlier, is a perfect tool for that group document application.)

Perhaps those who use the computer more often than I would better appreciate the functions of voo2do in helping them organize responsibilities and timing in their personal and work lives, but I think voo2do may be better served in the business world.

June 15, 2008 at 9:17 pm 6 comments

WiZiQ

http://www.wiziq.com

What is it? What does it do?

WiZiQ (read Wiz IQ) is a FREE web-based platform for teachers and students. It contains a state-of-the-art virtual classroom, as well as the ability to create and share online educational content and tests, as well as make connections with others who have similar subject interests. Options within the virtual classroom include:

  • Ability to post images, PowerPoint presentations and documents
  • Audio and video sharing
  • Live chat
  • Control Privileges over the session

According to the WiZiQ website, “the Virtual Classroom allows the participants to communicate using video and audio with a headset or through text chat, and to share whiteboards, presentations, documents and images.”

WiZiQ has been compared to Elluminate, but prides itself in having additional features that make it a unique (and free) Web 2.0 tool.

All the synchronous sessions on WiZiQ are automatically recorded so users can revisit and also search for a certain topic at their convenience.

WiZiQ also lets the user create content online and then convert it to a sharable format.

On WiZiQ, users can enter a subject and locate other WiZiQ users who share similar interests. The site also allows individuals to contact other members to exchange knowledge, ideas and content. While I was exploring the site, I came across a user I knew and was able to send her an email, asking her thoughts about the WiZiQ platform.

What are the infrastructure and technical requirements for this tool?

Signing up for an account to WiZiQ is easy and, most importantly, free! Individuals are required to enter an email address, and a password, along with their name to activate an account. To get started, the user follows a set of simple directions:

  1. Invite contacts to join WiZiQ or search for members who share your subjects on WiZiQ and invite them to the virtual classroom.
  2. Schedule online sessions with your contacts or fellow members.
  3. Meet in the virtual classroom to share and exchange knowledge live and online.

How can you use it effectively in instruction?

WiZiQ houses a large collection of presentations for the teacher to access. These presentations are categorized by instructional levels as well as content/topics. Teachers can also find professional development presentations as well. Within the members section of WiZiQ, teachers can connect with hundreds of other members and browse content or questions about a variety of topics to expand their knowledge and understanding, while gleaning ideas and strategies from other educators around the world.

What are other education applications for this tool?

Using the virtual classroom features found within WiZiQ, a teacher may be able to conduct synchronous meetings with other teachers, parents, or students. These chats could be saved on the WiZiQ site and accessed by individuals at other times that are convenient for their own viewing purposes. WiZiQ does provide a privacy feature that can limit the viewing of recorded chats to only individuals invited to the presentation. Teachers could do a “Back to School Night” recording, showcase student work, or provide parent training regarding such topics as science fair projects, special education procedures, or volunteer training sessions.

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

In the near future, WiZiQ will be offering some advanced features for a monthly subscription fee, but the basic features on WiZiQ will continue be free.

Within the WiZiQ Terms of User Agreement, services are listed as not available to minors under the age of 14. If a teacher wanted to conduct an online synchronous chat with younger students, parent membership would be required, as well as adult supervision of the minor participating within the online experience or accessing recorded chats on the WiZiQ site.

What are the management considerations for this tool?

According to the WiZiQ website; “WiZiQ puts learners and teachers together regardless of the boundaries and enables live, online teaching for absolutely no cost to the teacher or the student.”

Scheduling online presentations for your students, colleagues, or students’ parents may require significant management and planning. It would also be important to address technology access for individuals attempting to access the information presented online. For individuals who lack technology at home or broadband internet connections, alternative access may need to be considered.

Teachers using the WiZiQ site for resources and collaboration with other members may want to explore several of the synchronous training presentations that have been recorded and stored on the site. These presentations will provide the viewer with additional information regarding the variety of features found within the WiZiQ platform and its virtual classroom.

June 15, 2008 at 9:17 pm 1 comment

Bloglines

· What is it?

o Bloglines is a free online service that helps you subscribe to and manage lots of web information, such as news feeds, weblogs and audio- such as podcastings.

· What does it do?

o Bloglines tracks the information you’re interested in, retrieves new stuff as it happens, and organizes everything for you on your own personal web news page. I believe it reads all the blogs out there on the web through a blog’s RSS feed and organizes and manages it all for you. Once you have logged in (subscribed for free)- you can complete a preference list of what you are interested in like cooking, health, sport, etc. Along with your general preferences, you can select from the top 10 blogs such as CNN, iTunes Top 25 songs, Librarians’ Internet Index- Websites you can trust, Quotes of the Day, etc. Plus you can import your own blog subscriptions (blogs you already visit).

o After you join Bloglines you simply search for the content you are interested in and identify the feeds you want to track. Once you “subscribe” to those feeds (a single-click maneuver in most cases), Bloglines will constantly check those feeds for changes or additions and direct new information onto your Bloglines personal page.

o Currently Bloglines searches and indexes more than 80 million live web articles.

o Bloglines allows you to be very choosy and only track the things you are interested in — then they do all the legwork for you. They find the latest news, collect it for you, and keep it on your Bloglines page until you’re ready to read it. You log in when you can, from any computer with a web browser.

o All-in-one Blog and news feed search, online subscriptions, news reader, blog publishing and social sharing tools

o Available in 10 languages

o Mobile version optimized for handheld computers and cell phones

o Email subscriptions help manage your e-newsletter traffic

o Package Tracking (UPS, USPS & FedEx)

o Custom weather forecasts

o Quick Pick Subscriptions get new users started quickly and easily

o Personalized recommendations to find new subscriptions

o Bookmarklet for single-click subscriptions to any source

o Notifiers for all browser types to remind you when new articles have arrived

o Bloglines Saved Searches deliver future articles matching your key words and phrases

o Most Popular lists show the days hot topics and which blogs are getting the most noticed

o Handy add-on tools for bloggers such as automated blogrolls, subscription buttons

o

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

o Must have access to the internet with a web browser

o Obtain an username password with an existing email account

· How can you use it effectively in instruction?

o Teacher could subscribe to Bloglines in order to avoid informa6tion overload. Bloglines will find the latest news, collect it for instructors, and keep it on their Bloglines page until they are ready to read it. I see Bloglines being used for a class who needs current information on a specific topic.

· What are other education applications for this tool?

o Educators can subscribe to educational blogs such as TechLearningBlog or podcasts in order to keep current of technology.

o Weather can be tracked for lessons using temperature, rainfall, etc.

o Locate trustworthy websites from the Librarians’ Internet Index

o Uses 10 languages, so could help ESOL teachers gather pertinent information for their students especially using foreign language podcasts

· What are the limitations and cautions related to use of this tool? And what are the management considerations for this tool?

o The teacher will need to subscribe since an existing email address is required to join.

o Not all information is appropriate for students, so the teacher still needs to “weed” through information gathered and organized by Bloglines.

June 12, 2008 at 3:11 pm 3 comments

Flickr

· Flickr (http://www.flickr.com) is the Web 2.0 tool that I chose. It is an online photo management tool. The site has the following capabilities;

1. Upload pictures from desktop

2. Organize pictures

3. Share Pictures (Collections/Set) – This has a privacy feature where you can limit who sees work. It also has a copyright feature.

4. Mapping – Put pictures on map

5. Make Stuff with pictures

6. Keep In Touch – Discussion capability

· Flickr can be run on either a MAC or PC. To upload pictures you have the following options;

1. Via the Flickr Uploader

2. Via IPhoto, Aperture, or Windows XP Plugins

3. Via e-mail

4. Via various free third party desk top programs

The site relies on standard HTML and HTTP features, allowing for wide compatibility among platforms and browsers

· The first thought that came to mind with the effective use in instruction was a high school photography class. I spoke with my son’s friend who is an art student at THS and he uses this program along with others in his home in order to research, learn, and share ideas about photography. At the elementary level, I immediately thought of our art teacher and the ability to photograph student work and file via the collections/set option in Flickr. A set could be the grade level and the collections could be based on topic. This appears to be a great way to keep track and share work with parents. I also thought the Make Stuff option might be a great fundraiser for the school. What parent doesn’t love pictures of their kids on stuff?

· After my initial thought involving the art department, I then went to the core curriculum. In fourth grade our students in Baltimore County are to know where all the states are on a map. An instructor could have students bring electronic pictures of places in states they’ve been and these pictures could be put on a map with the drag and drop feature. This would personalize the learning. This could also be used in fifth grade when the students take their field trip to Philadelphia. As a math teacher, I immediately thought of geometry in our world. The students could take pictures of various geometric shapes and angles in our world and it could be uploaded into a sharing page in order to give a real world application to geometry.

· A Yahoo ID is needed to use Flickr. The biggest limitation is our own limitation in Baltimore County. All students must sign a release for any works or pictures to be used on the Baltimore County Website or in any other form of publication. I am not sure how this would transcend into the use of a Web 2.0 tool like Flickr.

· If Baltimore County would allow the use of a tool like this, there would have to be several guidelines put in place. A list of allowable members would have to be established in each classroom and at the school level. It would only be able to be used in the school level unless permission was released by parents and BCPS. There are several layers of management that would have to be gone through for this type of tool to be used

· I think this tool would be wonderful to use in the classroom and at the school level. However, I do think that all the red tape that would have to be gone through might be too much for Baltimore County.

June 8, 2008 at 11:54 pm 5 comments

Backpack & Wizlite

Scott’s Web 2.0 tools

Web 2.0 Tools

Backpack

The first tool I researched was called Backpack. http://www.Backpack.com. The function of this tool is essentially as the name implies. Backpack is a place on the web where a user can keep information organized. All sorts of files can be stored and organized at the site. PDF files, documents, photos and spreadsheets just to name a few.

The strength of Backpack lies in its application
for collaboration among teams. All members of a team can have access to your Backpack page, just like a social networking site. There is also a group calendar so everyone can keep track of the schedules of the other members of your team. Reminders of important meetings
can be e-mailed or sent as text messages to your phone.

Three applications of Backpack listed on he site that I found interesting were gathering and reviewing research, meeting and prep notes, and keeping a page of frequently needed forms.

Research Page
This example had some brief notes to inform the user of the content of the page and links to .PDF files with full articles.

Meeting and Prep notes

This example had a list of reminders for the meeting, files needed and important reminders of key concept to be covered. This use of Backpack would have been helpful to have for a meeting I had just this past week!

Frequently Needed Forms

The last example shows a place to archive frequently needed forms. This gives you access to files anywhere you have an Internet connection. This could also be a great way to back up files in case a computer cashes.

Backpack Summary and Recommendations.

All in all I thought Backpack was a terrific tool with reasonable pricing if the cost was shared among members of the team. Plans range from $24/month for a basic plan, which includes up to 6 users, to the Pro level that is 99/month for up to 40 users. A solo plan can be purchased for $7 a month, but the opportunity for collaboration is one of the key strengths of Backpack so going solo doesn’t seem the way to go. A 30-day trial is available but it appears that if you forget to cancel at the end of the 30 days you would be charged for the month. The fact that it costs anything is a drawback for me. Having used a service similar to this before, I found uploading and downloading speeds to be very slow. I cannot speak to this feature of Backpack without trying it more thoroughly.

Wizlite

WizLite is an Internet highlighting tool that allows a user to select and highlight text on any page on the Internet. These pages can be shared among small groups that are created by the user. This makes the idea of WizLite a very appealing one for student collaboration.

In Practice

WizLite works as an extension for the Firefox web browser and as a bookmarklet. A bookmarklet is a small application that is supposed to work as a bookmark or hyperlink to add functionality to a web page. All you have to do is set up a free WizLite account and verify your e-mail address and BINGO! At least that’s what I thought. As of the time of this writing WizLite is not supported by he latest version of Firefox. The bookmarklet functioned as a bookmark that when accessed, worked with some pages and at times loaded very slowly if at all. As a classroom tool this could be problematic. Another downfall of WizLite is the fact that it only works with old versions of Firefox and is not supported by other browsers such as Internet Explorer and Safari. When the software worked a user can highlight text and add notes to highlighted portions of the page to be read later. It is important to note that in order to read highlighted text and notes a social group needs to bee created. You can download Wizlite, create groups and create an account at http://wizlite.com/

Wizlite Summary and Recommendations.
It your computer lab has Firefox installed and you are willing to take the time to have your students set up social groups then Wizlite offers some intriguing possibilities for collaborative learning. There may be issues with access privileges so you should check it out thoroughly before planning to use Wizlite. User names should be chosen carefully to endure student safety.


June 8, 2008 at 11:54 pm 3 comments

TeacherTube

www.teachertube.com

  • What is it? What does it do?

Teachertube is a free online community for sharing educationally focused instructional videos.

It can be accessed anytime, anywhere, by anyone.

The community keeps the site alive by submitting original videos, uploading support files, and collaborating by giving each other input.

Users are encouraged upload educationally relevant videos and to make constructive comments.

There is a rating system that can be employed to show appreciation for videos of value.

Members have the ability to safeguard the integrity of the site by flagging inappropriate videos.

The site contains a blog that provides a space for teachers to interact and share with each other.

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

Connection speed is an issue. Teachertube requires a broadband connection with at least 500+ Kbps for the best viewing and uploading experience.

TeacherTube servers can experience high traffic, which sometimes affects the speed.

  • How can you use it effectively in instruction?

Teachers create videos that are educationally relevant and can be used to enhance instruction. These pre-created materials are available for free use. If there is a content topic that you are trying to convey to your students and you need an idea or a resource, Teachertube covers a wide range of topics. The idea of using brief video clips is very engaging to students. They are more likely to remember what they see on a video clip.

Teachers who use the site benefit from the opportunity to see what other educators are doing in their classrooms, and students can have the opportunity to showcase their work.

The site is open to members worldwide, so teachers can use the videos to bring far away places into the classroom.

  • What are other education applications for this tool?

These videos can also be used to provide professional development or supplement the curriculum.

Students can be assigned videos to watch at home to reinforce concepts or to provide aid in with a particular subject.

Teachers can join and connect with people who have similar interests.

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

Some school systems filter out sites such as Teachertube.

Information is not checked for accuracy.

The videos can be viewed by anyone who registers for the site, so there is concern about using students in the videos. However, members have the option to make the videos public or private.

  • What are the management considerations for this tool?

Teachers must spend time viewing clips to see if they are actually relevant to their curriculum.

There are hundreds of videos to sort through.

June 8, 2008 at 6:51 pm 10 comments

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