Friday, March 21, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Email Overload

Maybe it's the effects of the doldrums of March or maybe it's email overload, but lately I have had a difficult time reading all of my email. One of the ways I've started to deal with this is to set a up an automatic sorting system so that emails from student addresses, emails from parent addresses, and emails from administration get sent to different folders. Has it actually helped me get through my email any faster? Probably not, but it was worth trying.

Today, on Read Write Web, Sarah Perez has a good article about dealing with email overload. Her article, Five Methodologies to Deal with Email Overload, range from simple ideas, delete an email if you haven't acted on it in two days, to more extreme ideas like declaring "email bankruptcy." I'm not ready to declare email bankruptcy yet, but some days I would like to. How do you deal with email overload?

Slide Rocket - Web Based Presentation Creation

Update: In the time since I wrote this post, Slide Rocket has changed its pricing model and no longer has a free offering.

Update #2: Slide Rocket EDU is available for free through Google Apps for Education.

Slide Rocket is another new player in the web based software market. Slide Rocket is a web based presentation creator similar to Empressr which I reviewed earlier this week. Slide Rocket has some very nice features like 3D transitions and a collaboration feature for sharing the creation process with others. Slide Rocket's interface is user friendly and makes it easy to include videos, pictures, or third party plug-ins (like the podcast player I posted in yesterday's post about Tech Teacher Live). The quality and definition of images on Slide Rocket is far superior to PowerPoint.

Below is a Slide Rocket slide show introduction.

Applications for Educators
Slide Rocket and similar web based presentation creation programs are a great resource for students and teachers working in schools that have a hodge-podge of computers and software. If some of your school's computers are Mac and some are PC, but you want everyone creating slide shows, a web based program is the way to go. Slide Rocket works on any operating system including Linux because the work is done online not on a local computer. Slide Rocket and web based programs in general are great for schools that have limited money for software or hardware. (I think that statement applies to all public schools). Web based programs only require schools to have a current web browser installed on the computers.

For students that have to go to a public computer to get work done, web based applications are the way to go. The student doesn't have to carry a flash drive or disk to store their work because their work is saved on a user account on the web based application. Just like email, Slide Rocket, can be accessed from any computer connected to the Internet.

Free Technology For Teachers: Fynanz - Social Lending for Student Loans

Fynanz is a new social lending program designed for student loans. Students and parents can request a loan and lenders will make loan offers covering all or part of the loan request. Unlike a typical student loan from a bank, the money lent through Fynanz comes from private individuals.

One benefit of Fynanz for borrowers is that the typical loan received through Fynanz has an interest rate that is 1% to 1.5% lower than typical bank rates. Another benefit of Fynanz is that it rewards good students by offering lower interest rates to students with outstanding grades. Finally, Fynanz lowers the interest rate on your loan by 1%for every 10% of principal repaid.

For individuals interested in lending money through Fynanz, Fynanz provides loan guarantees up to 100% of the value of a loan. Fynanz's lender program should eliminate many of the typical worries associated with social lending.