NetVibes

NetVibes is a page much like Page Flakes, which was the last Web 2.0 tool I researched.

NetVibes is a personlized homepage. It allows users to design the page to include many different key websites or email. The website information describes it as a way for users to “assemble their favorite widgets, websites, blogs, email accounts, search engines, instant messengers, photos, videos, podcasts, and everything else they enjoy on the web – in one place!” This truly sums up everything you can do on NetVibes. Users are able to organize their information using tabs, icons, and more. You are able to pick a theme and name your page. It’s truly your space! This application seems to offer a bit more variety than PageFlakes as far as the widgets that you can add to your page. For example, I was able to click news, then technology and find many links strictly pertaining to technology. I could really pick from a vast selection of information to include on my homepage.

It offers the social network aspect much like that of myspace or facebook by allowing you to set your page to private or public, allows you to connect with friends, and subscribe to other user pages.

Obviously the user would have sign up to design their own webpage and use this page. It would certainly make a great homepage with quick and easy access to the things we look at daily.

Again, just as with page flakes I am having a difficult time considering how you could use this in professional development. I think it would be a great place to get those who are hesistant involved with using Web 2.0 tools and features. It makes more sense to me that NetVibes and Page Flakes be used for teachers personal use rather than use in the classroom.

Teachers could potentially use this to design a class homepage that students could browse but it would take some time to find which tools and applications are allowed in school. I think it’s important that students view information from the web because it is where many adult rely upon for information. I rarely pick up a news paper but always check the headlines on the internet! Using this type of homepage could also help a teacher when designing their own page that can be viewed in school if this one is not available.

Does anyone else have any suggestions of how this could be used in professional development?

June 18, 2008 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

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.

June 18, 2008 at 4:01 pm 2 comments

Google Documents

· Google Docs (docs.google.com) is the second Web 2.0 tool that I chose. It is an online site where one can create and share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online . The site has the following capabilities:

1. Create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online –

Create basic documents from scratch.
This includes all the standard features for making documents and it is free.

Upload your existing files.
Google Docs accepts most popular file formats, including DOC, XLS, ODT, ODS, RTF, CSV, PPT, etc.

Familiar desktop feel makes editing a breeze.
Program has an easy toolbar feature in order to edit documents.

2. Share and collaborate real time –

Choose who can access your documents.
You invite people by entering their e-mail address.

Share instantly.
As soon as the people who are invited sign in, they can access the document.,

Edit and present with others in real time.
Many can make changes on the document at the same time. There is a chat feature attached to the document. Also, if someone joins a presentation late they can follow along through the chat.

3. Safely store and organize your work –

Edit and access from anywhere.
You don’t have to worry about saving your files to flashdrives, h-drives… You can access your files anywhere via the Internet.

Safely store your work.
Your work is stored online and there is an autosave feature.

Easily save and export copies.
You can save your documents and spreadsheets to your own computer in DOC, XLS, CSV, ODS, ODT, PDF, RTF and HTML formats.

Organize your documents
The program has a folder feature so you can organize your documents.

4. Control who can see your documents –

Publish your work as a web page.

Control who can see your pages.
You choose who to publish to and how many can view your materials.

Post your documents to your blog.

Publish within your company or group.
Use
Google Apps, in order to share documents with your group.

This is an example of how one member uses it. Although it is not a school, it shows the nice capability of sharing a spreadsheet. How many of us have printed or e-mailed the spreadsheet around to get people to sign up for things? Gee.. we just did it in this class for our blog choices.

From Frank, ardent member of Red Sox Nation (I too am a big BoSox Fan!!!! – Flo)

I am a Red Sox season ticket holder who moved to St. Louis. Although I can’t make it to Fenway more than a few times per year any more, I’ve kept my season tickets and let my family and friends buy them. Historically I created an Excel spreadsheet and e-mailed it to one person at a time, but it was always a hassle waiting for someone to pick their games before being able to send it on to the next person. I’d get calls from people demanding the spreadsheet, and I’d have to say “you’re third in line, be patient”. Or people would be miffed that they didn’t get the spreadsheet earlier (where are all the Yankee games? Why are all the Saturday games taken? How come you sent it to him before me?). With [Google Docs] the logistics are far simpler, now I can just e-mail everyone and let them pick whatever games are available. And instead of the process dragging out for months, I wouldn’t be surprised if this year it takes a week.

· The website for this 2.0 tool provided this very nice table to show system requirements.

Browsers we support*

Windows XP / NT

Windows Vista

Linux (Ubuntu)

MAC OSX 14 +

Mac OSX 13.9 and below**

Safari 3

X

X

Internet Explorer 6

X

Internet Explorer 7

X

X

Firefox 2.0

X

X

X

X

X

Firefox 3.0***

X

X

X

X

X

· The options for this system in a school setting seem endless to me. I keep thinking of all the gradebooks, tech plan meetings, grade level meetings, documents that are e-mailed around the building, content area meetings, and not to mention the countless presentations. This type of Web 2.0 tool allows for the efficient use of time, paper, and planning. A grade level team could determine their core class lists by working together on the same spreadsheet. Yes, we do this now but we have the spreadsheet in front of us at a table with a pen. The collaborative work among faculty could be done efficiently and expeditiously using this type of tool.

· Students could work in collaborative groups on presentations both during school hours and after school hours. I think about my high school boys and the countless text messaging and e-mailing of documents back and forth. This tool would allow these groups to work on the presentation/project at the same time and actually benefit from all of the feedback. I see use for this at the elementary level again with the group projects. If a teacher were willing they could even arrange for a time to be online and help students with writing assignments rather than waiting for the student to e-mail it or bring in a hard copy. This would allow for instant feedback. A caution here, teachers do not need to work after hours with students. Perhaps this could be done in an online workshop during school or with an extra curricular club – the newspaper club.

· This is an address for a YouTube video about the 2.0 too – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRqUE6IHTEA

· A free Google account is needed. I would be hopeful for this type of tool based on the new tech guidelines from BCPS. I would also hope that the main offices of the school system would look at this type of Web 2.0 tool for management purposes. How wonderful for principals to be able to go to a meeting without actually going. Too often our administration is pulled out of the schools for meetings.

· If Baltimore County would allow the use of a tool like this, there would have to be several guidelines put in place in order to use it with students. E-mail addresses would have to be available for students to be able to use it. Students/Parents would have to understand the guidelines of using such tools and the ethical use of sharing documents. There would definitely be education necessary for the users of this Web 2.0 tool.

· I am pretty excited about this Web 2.0 tool and the prospects for using it with faculty at our school. I am going to write curriculum for the next two weeks and we will all be sitting around a computer trying to read and edit the same document. With this tool, I could be doing it from my home, saving gas and drinking coffee. Wow!

June 16, 2008 at 2:17 am 4 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

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

Gliffy

What is it? What does it do?

Gliffy (http://www.gliffy.com/) is the world’s first net-native business software. Net-native means that the software was built specifically for the internet and is found only on the internet. It was founded by Chris Kohlhardt and Clint Dickson in San Francisco, California. Gliffy comes from the word “glyph,” meaning a symbol or character that displays information non-verbally. Therefore, Gliffy is an online diagramming service that helps users communicate with a combination of shapes, texts, and lines. Using Gliffy, users can create various flowcharts, floorplans, and diagrams. In an article on Edutopia, Gliffy was described as “a combination flow-chart and brainstorming tool mixed with a social, collaborative wiki” (O’Neal 2008).

What are the infrastructure and technical requirements for this tool?

In order to use Gliffy, an individual needs to have a web browser with Macromedia Flash 7 or better. However, according to Macromedia, 99% of U.S. web browsers are configured with Flash 7 so most individuals who are interested in using Gliffy already have the technical requirements to use the software. Gliffy works on Macs, Linux systems, and Microsoft Windows. Individuals may sign up for a one month free trial of Gliffy Basic, which includes the use of up to five public diagrams. A public diagram is a read-only version of the diagram that anyone on the internet may access. However, only those whom the individual invites may edit the document through the Gliffy Online Editor. An individual may also choose to sign up for Gliffy Premium, which is $5 a month for unlimited private and public access. That is, a diagram may be set to private and viewed only by the creator of the document and those whom the creator specifically invites. Those who are invited to view a private document may also forward or publish the document to others. Larger organizations and academic institutions and/or groups may receive Gliffy Premium for volume prices. For example, an academic group may pay $12.50 a month for 10 users. All pricing information is clearly stated on the gliffy website.

How can you use it effectively in instruction?

Gliffy is an excellent tool for differentiating the content, process, or product within a lesson. The variety of shapes and tools contained within the diagrams are also great for visual learners and they offer a way for content information to be organized for special needs students. It has rich text features, including various font sizes, styles, and colors. Gliffy may also be used for a teacher or student to take notes on during a lesson. Students may use it in the prewriting stage of a written composition. Since it is easy to use, requiring individuals only to drag and drop symbols to create the diagrams, it may also be used as part of a “Must Do” or “May Do” activity during reading / language arts independent work.

What are other education applications for this tool?

A huge benefit to Gliffy is that it can be used for collaboration. Once a Gliffy diagram is created, e-mail addresses of those whom an individual would like to share the diagrams with may be entered. An e-mail is then sent to those people, which contains a link for them to create a free basic account and a temporary password that can be used to allow them to login and see the diagram. The diagrams may also be placed on a wiki or a blog. If a Gliffy document is linked to a blog, the Gliffy document is a live one, allowing others to make changes and additions. Any changes to the original are reflected within the blog links so the most recent document is always the one being viewed. However, a copy of the original document is always maintained in case the creator wants to restore the diagram back to the original version. As a result of these features, students may use Gliffy to collaborate on ideas for projects. Teachers are easily able to track the changes made through the blog.

What are the limitations and cautions related to this tool?

Unlike Kidspiration and Inspiration, Gliffy does not require any software purchases and it is, therefore, more accessible to students, parents, and schools. However, there are some limitations to Gliffy. There are a limited number of projects that can be worked on without signing up for the Premium Service, which requires money. Also, when using Gliffy, it can be a bit challenging to align objects placed in diagrams.

What are the management considerations for this tool?

In order to effectively use Gliffy, students need to have an understanding of how to read and interpret a flow chart. Students are able to import their own images and backgrounds so teachers will need to monitor the appropriateness of the images. Teachers will also need to be aware of any changes made by students who are using the collaborative feature of Gliffy and make sure the changes are content-focused and productive.

References:

http://www.gliffy.com

O’Neal, C. (January 21, 2008). Get Graphic with Gliffy: Sharing Mind Maps Online. Edutopia (Online). Available: http://www.edutopia.org/gliffy-mind-maps (Retrieved: 2008, June 8).

You Tube Video. Gliffy: Create Great-Looking Drawings in a Snap. Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0UgI-FVIKo

June 15, 2008 at 9:16 pm 5 comments

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