Thursday, October 2, 2008

Save Paper, Print What You Like

If you have ever watched as a student prints off a ream of paper after pushing print on a website they've found, you need to try Print What You Like. Print What You Like is a simple web tool that lets users select just a portion of a website. This is particularly useful for printing articles from websites or blogs that do not have a "printer friendly" option. Print What You Like is not simply a cropping tool, users can also remove images from the background or foreground of a website before printing.

Applications for Education
Print What You Like has the potential to save schools a lot of money on paper and printer ink. Teach students to use Print What You Like before printing content from a website.

Library of Congress at Work - Great Interview

If you, like me, find yourself wandering in libraries and bookstores for hours, you're probably going to enjoy this interview of Helena Zinkham conducted by Robert Scoble for Fast Company TV. Helena Zinkham runs the prints and photography division of the US Library of Congress. It's a long video (48 minutes) well worth watching if you're at all curious about the creation of the Flickr Commons collection or the preservation of prints and photographs.

One of the great resources that I learned about during this video is Picture Australia. Picture Australia is a collection of images curated by the National Library of Australia.

(If you're reading this in a RSS reader, you may have to visit the blog directly to view the video).

New Podcast - Web 2.0 that Works

In the newest edition of the Free Technology for Teachers podcast I share the Web 2.0 resources that I'm using with my students on a consistent basis. I also offer some brief explanations of how and why those resources are used by my students.

You can listen to the podcast using the player embedded below or by using the podcast widget embedded in the right hand column of Free Technology for Teachers.

(If you're reading this post in a RSS feeder, you may have to click on the blog post's title to view the podcast player).

If you enjoyed this podcast or any of the previous Free Technology for Teachers podcasts, please feel free to embed the podcast player on your website or blog.

Do Not Adjust Your Monitor

Readers who visit Free Technology For Teachers directly rather than in a RSS Reader may have noticed some cosmetic changes recently. It was pointed out to me by more than a few people that the color scheme I was using was, for some, a little too dark for easy reading. This afternoon I lightened the color scheme.

You will also notice that there is now a section of links dedicated to Social Studies which includes history, geography, and politics. For now that section is located below the blog archive. Over the next few days I plan to add five more categories, Math, Science, English/ Language Arts, Foreign Language, and General Technology Resources (blogging platforms, wikis, etc). Hopefully, by placing links in these categories visitors will be able to find the type of resources they're looking for without having to do an extensive search.

Finally, there is an updated policy and disclosure statement at the bottom of the blog page.

If you have suggestions or comments regarding the new color scheme, resource categories, or anything else please leave a comment, send me an email (rbyrnetech at hotmail), or send me a note on Twitter.

GeoCommons Map Maker - One Stop for Data and Building

GeoCommons Finder is a great place to find publicly shared data sets for use in KML files (Google Earth file format). This week GeoCommons launched GeoCommons Maker. GeoCommons Maker provides users a quick and easy way to take the datasets found in GeoCommons Finder and display those datasets on a map. Users can create multi-layered maps and customize the way those layers are displayed. Click here to see a two layer map displaying demographic data regarding single parent households in the United States.

A product similar to GeoCommons Maker that you may want to try is the Thematic Mapping Engine.

Applications for Education
GeoCommons Maker is as easy, if not easier, to use as Google Maps. The benefit of using GeoCommons Maker is that students can find datasets without having to search the Internet for them. This should save time when you're trying to complete a lesson plan in one sitting. GeoCommons has datasets that are relevant for use in Social Studies, Math, and Science.

The only drawback to GeoCommons Maker is that the maps students create aren't easily embedded into blogs or wikis.

New Blogging Platform OnSugar is Sweet

I sort through hundreds of RSS items and hundreds of Twitter messages everyday. Sometimes I come across something new that really stands out. The new blogging platform OnSugar is one new product that stands out above the crowd.

Some of the features that make OnSugar attractive are an integrated quiz program, a large selection of third party widgets (like a Flickr feed), and free access to a huge collection of images from Getty Images. Those features in addition to a very clear and intuitive user interface just might make OnSugar the perfect blogging platform for teachers and students new to blogging. In fact, if I had known about OnSugar before the school year started I probably would have used it for my classroom blog. You can see the test blog that I created here. Make sure you scroll down to the third entry to check out the quiz feature.

Applications for Education
OnSugar's integrated quiz feature makes it an attractive blogging platform for teachers. Teachers can post up to 20 questions in a multiple choice quiz. As a part of each quiz teachers can include an explanation of the answer choices. Posting a multiple choice quiz can provide students with a great opportunity to do a self-assessment of readiness for a test.

The free access to Getty Images makes OnSugar an attractive platform for use with students. Students can search the Getty Images collection without having to leave the OnSugar website. Being able to search and find images without leaving the OnSugar website should eliminate some of the "distractions" students run into when they're searching for images on the Internet.

OnSugar is the second new blogging platform that has impressed me in the last month. Earlier this month I tried out and was impressed by Snap Pages.

Update: As Jim Burke just pointed out, OnSugar has an import option that allows users to import content from the other blogs they own. Jim said it took five minutes to import the content from his blog Learning in Maine (hosted on blogger) to OnSugar. Click the last two links to compare Jim's blogs.