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Monday, January 14, 2008

Online Classroom Programs


YacaPaca: Odd name- interesting program. YacaPaca is an online classroom application. It is packed with features for teachers and students including the capability to create webpages (rather cookie cutter looking) and create interactive, instant feedback quizzes. Watch a video tour of YacaPaca by clicking on the image on the left.










ChitCh.at: an odd url- an amazing application!
An amazing application is not just hyperbole. I spent a good amount of time with both Yacapaca and ChitCh.at over the last two days and I am sold on ChitChat. ChitCh.at does not have as many slick looking features as YacaPaca, but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in functionality. The user interface is very simple and intuitive for teachers and students. Much of the interface looks and operates like the most common email and blog applications. ChitChat uses the phrase "light and flexible" to describe its program. That is an accurate assessment of the program. Teachers have many choices in the level of use of the program. The choices range from only posting assignments and messages to running an entire course from ChitChat. I'm teaching an online course during the spring semester and I'm so won over by ChitChat that I will be using ChitChat.
ChitChat calls itself an educational network. The network allows teachers to share and collaborate assignments and ideas. The sharing feature is a great advantage over the other online classroom applications on the market.
Check out Chitch.at for yourself by clicking on the image or the word ChitChat. You may also want to watch the ChitChat promotional video posted below.

The advantage both of the programs discussed above is that they are free and web-based. As you may have noticed, this blog is all about free and web-based applications. Free is important for the obvious reason of cost. Web-based is important because being web-based means that users do not have to install or maintain software on their computer. Web-based is also important because the application can be run from any internet connected computer regardless of operating system. Read the article written last week about SaaS for more about the advantages of web-based applications.


Digg!


One Laptop Per Child- Available in the US


One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) has announced that they will make their low-cost, high durability computer available in the United States in 2008.
This is good news for many underfunded school districts across the United States. Teachers can utilize far more applications in a one to one computing environment than they can in a non-one to one environment.
Not only is the initial cost of the OLPC machine very low, approximately $188, the cost of updating software will be reduced to just the cost of labor. All the software running on the OLPC machines is open source.
Click on the image of OLPC machine to see a diagram and explanation of the computer's features.



Clicking on the image to the left will take you to an audio slide show about how the One Laptop Per Child computers are being used in Nigeria.

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