Posts filed under ‘Connect’

Chatmaker

· What is it? What does it do?

o Chatmaker is a site that allows you to make your own chat rooms and easily invite others.

o Chatmaker’s chatroom is extremely easy and instantaneous, which means that people might use it for quick and private communications.

o Plus I really liked that it doesn’t require registration.

o Just type the title of your chatroom in the box on the homepage, and then send the link that is provided in the lower box to the people you want to join. My title was “JHU Cohort.” I then instant messaged my colleagues who looked like they were logged on to elc, but no one got back to me…So needless to say at that time of night, I was the only one in my chatroom, chatting to myself…so sad.

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

o As long as the site Chatmaker isn’t blocked and you can copy and paste a link, you can chat with anyone!

· How can you use it effectively in instruction?

o This could be so fun for the students to have mystery chatpals either in our own school, another local school, or a school in another state or country!

o I could see a chatroom for students who are all trying to perform the same type of science experiment for the bcps science fair. They could chat about failure, success, and etc.

· What are other education applications for this tool?

o Teachers could create a chatroom with parents, collegues from other schools in the same content area, or even cohort members to discuss numerous topics, concerns, etc.

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

o Not sure if this is blocked on bcps.

o Can’t find any cautions, since one has to be invited to come into the chatroom.

· What are the management considerations for this tool?

o Making sure all invitees can be online at a certain specific time.

o Teaching students proper language and manners when in a chatroom.

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June 18, 2008 at 4:01 pm 2 comments

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

Scrapblog

What is it? What does it do?

Scrapblog allows users to create scrapbooks by importing photos. The scrapbook pages look beautiful, just like regular scrapbook pages that someone might spend hours creating. On Scrapblog, you can simply drag and drop photographs into shapes and boarders. Users can choose a theme for each page or use blank pages. elements suchs as shapes, borders, transitions, and music can be added. It is very easy to use.

Wat are the infrastructure and technical requirements for this tool? An internet connection and your digital phots are all that is needed.

How can you use it effectively in instruction?

Scrapblog can be used in many of the same ways as PhotoStory. Students can create on-line scrapbooks of field trips, school projects, or special activities and send them to their parents or do class presentations. Students could also use Scrapblog to create scrapbooks of different periods in time, geographical regions, or settings from a story. Many classroom applications are possible.

What are the limitations and cautions related to use of this tool? Check the policy regarding posting students’ photographs. Make sure students did not opt-out.

What are the management considerations for this tool? It is very easy to use. Teachers will need to monitor students’ photographs, help them download photos on the computer, set up blog or projector for sharing.

June 13, 2008 at 11:38 am 6 comments

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

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

Letterpop

Letterpop

Letterpop (http://letterpop.com/ ) is a word-processing Web 2.0 tool that provides templates for quickly and easily creating online communications. Letterpop has templates for creating newsletters, birthday invitations, real estate listings, family updates, home-based business information (such as Pampered Chef Parties), club announcements, classroom news, online magazine articles, personalized photo collages, etc. The templates are provided and individuals may then insert their own text and pictures.

In order to use Letterpop, an individual must have access to the World Wide Web as well as all of the equipment necessary to access the World Wide Web (computer and modem, or other access device). It is also necessary to create an account by selecting a username and a password. There is a video on the letterpop site that explains step-by-step how to create an account.

Letterpop can be used by teachers not only for sharing information with students and parents, but it can also be used by students in instruction. For example, a teacher could add a class photo to the newsletter and have the students write about the photo. It is a fun and engaging way to integrate technology into writing. Additionally, it is very effective for education because it is similar to Microsoft Publisher, but simplified in that it does not have as many tools as Microsoft Publisher, making it less overwhelming for elementary students. Students could also use letterpop to write newspaper articles (summaries) about a particular story. For example, in the Baltimore County Grade 3 Curriculum, the students read “Dogzilla.” The students could use Letterpop to create a news article about the events that occurred in Mousopolis. Students could also use Letterpop to create a photo-collage. For example, students could use a digital camera to take pictures in the classroom or school of examples and non-examples of math concepts (examples of quadrilaterals and non-examples of quadrilaterals). They could then make a photo-collage of examples and non-examples for that particular topic.

Within education, letterpop could be used by students to create posters or presentations. In addition to integrating letterpop into the curriculum, other education applications of letterpop include teacher and/or student use for inviting parents to Back-to-School Night, American Education Week, or other class events. It could be used as a tool for quickly creating professional-looking class newsletters. An address book is available within letterpop, allowing teachers to easily create a mailing list of their students’ parents or anyone who may want to receive the newsletter. The newsletter may also be printed for those that do not have internet access. Letterpop’s easy-to-follow format and the minimal amount of time it takes to create a product within letterpop would be a benefit to faculty and staff members, perhaps making it a great Web 2.0 tool to share as part of a professional development session.

Letterpop, however, has some limitations. While it provides an easy way for teachers and students to design professional-looking newsletters, the template selection is very limited. You can’t edit the headline template or tweak image sizes. Students and teachers who are more creative thinkers may find it frustrating to be confined to these templates.

When using letterpop, it is best to have a well-developed plan in mind for the type of content one would like to integrate so that careful selections of templates may be made. Once a product within letterpop is created, a letterpop link is also created. Instead of e-mailing an attachment to others, the link can be shared. There is also a syndication feed (RSS) for published newsletters. RSS feeds are a way for readers to subscribe to newsletters and be automatically updated whenever a new one is created. This is a great alternative for members who don’t want to email out newsletters and for readers who don’t want to share their email address. There are also “profiles” on letterpop, allowing individuals to archive what they created so their work can be revisited by the teacher or students from other classes. Comments may be made by others regarding the newsletter, which may require the need for teachers to share some netiquette lessons with the students when posting comments about others’ newsletters. In general, letterpop serves as a great communication and collaboration tool.

References:

Broida, Rick (n.d). “Create Newsletters Online with Letterpop!” (Online). Available: http://lifehacker.com/software/design/create-newsletters-online-with-letterpop-226881.php

Bruno, D., Verner, C. and John Watson. Letterpop. Online: http://www.letterpop.com

TechLearning Blog (July 31, 2007). Available: http://www.techlearning.com/blog/2007/07/

TechnoTeach (August 15, 2007). Letterpop (Online). Available: http://tecnoteacher.blogspot.com/2007/08/letterpop.html

June 8, 2008 at 8:04 pm 8 comments


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