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Friday, May 9, 2008

Make Multimedia Timelines With Dipity

Dipity is a great timeline creation tool that allows users to incorporate text, images, and videos into each entry on their timeline. Dipity also incorporates a mapping feature which allows users to place a Google Maps bookmark related to the topics the timeline covers. Like most good web tools, Dipity has a collaboration option and has multiple options for sharing products publicly or privately. Each entry to a Dipity timeline can include multiple types of media which allows users to add more detail and information than can be included in a traditional timeline.

Setting up a Dipity timeline is very quick and easy. Adding pictures is an easy browse and upload process. Adding videos is a simple matter of copying and pasting the url of the video to be added to a timeline event. Adding a map is again just a matter of copying and pasting the url of the map to be included in the timeline event. This makes the creation process a little easy for students than trying to copy and paste large sections of an embedding code.

Applications for Education
Dipity timelines add new valuable additions to the timeline creation process. Creating timelines with Dipity allows students who may struggle with writing create a multimedia product they can be proud of. Including appropriate videos can help students convey the significance of an item on their timelines.

The option of adding Google Map placemarks is a great tool for students building timelines of wars. For example, US History students could build a timeline of the Civil War and add a Google Map placemark for each battle of the war.

Below is a simple timeline I made using Dipity.


This is a timeline of the Civil Rights Movement created on Dipity.

Three Free Alternatives to Email for Large Files

If your school district's network is anything like mine, you're probably not given nearly as much space in your email box as you can get with a commercial email account. This is especially troublesome for teachers who either email large files regularly or collect a lot of student work electronically. One solution would be to create a commercial email account (Hotmail provides 1gb of storage), but unfortunately a lot of commercial email services are blocked by many school districts. Today, I'd like to share three file sharing and hosting services that I've used in the last year to work around this problem. All three of these file sharing and hosting services are very quick and easy to use.

Drop.io first caught my attention last fall when it launched with a very simple and clean user interface. Drop.io allows you to upload large files to the web and assign your "drop" or bundle of files a unique url. The feature of drop.io I like best is that once you've established a drop you can add or delete files from the drop at a later time. If you would like you can allow other people to add files or notes to your drop. Drop.io offers four methods of adding files to a drop, web, email, fax, or phone. Drop.io also offers an upload widget for your drop that you can embed into a blog or website. Back in March I started using the upload widget on my classroom blog and students quickly started using that to submit assignments rather than emailing me attachments.

File Dropper is a very simple file sharing system. There are only two steps to using File Dropper, upload your file then share your personal url with others. File Dropper is fast and it works, I used it a couple times this year for large files, but it is not nearly as feature rich as Drop.io. You cannot edit your uploaded files from your url and you cannot have other add files or notes to your url. The advantage of File Dropper over similar services is its large, 5GB, capacity.

Rapid Share
is a file sharing and hosting service that is very similar to File Dropper. Rapid Share claims to have some of the fastest upload times on the web. I uploaded some files to Rapid Share and it was a very quick upload, my large (1.1mb) pictured uploaded in 5-7 seconds. Using Rapid Share is a two step process just like the one File Dropper uses.

News and Games = NewsWare Arcade

MSNBC offers a new selection of online games related to the news. I'm not a person that spends much time playing video games, but these games have me hooked. The NewsBreaker game is a simple game in which players use the keyboard to keep a ball in play while breaking blocks that contain news headlines. Each broken brick reveals a headline which is linked to the actual news story. If there is a headline the player wants to investigate, simply hit the pause button and use the mouse to read the story.

Applications for Education
NewsBreaker and the other games in the NewsWare Arcade can be a fun way to get students to look at the news. During a study hall period yesterday, I had a couple students try NewsBreaker and they really enjoyed the game. If you have a group of reluctant students playing NewsBreaker for a few minutes may be a way to introduce them to news stories.

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