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Friday, October 10, 2008

Top Five Hits of the Week

In case you missed an item this week or you're just finding time to get caught up on your RSS items, here are the most popular items of the week.

1. The Best Video on Viddler
2. Free Educational DVD's
3. Save Paper, Print What You Like
4. No Time to Build a Slide Show? Check This Out
5. An Interview with OLPC

If you haven't subscribed yet in a RSS reader or email yet, please consider doing so. It just takes a minute and can actually save you a lot of time each week as the content of Free Technology for Teachers is brought to you rather than you having to go to the content. This video from Common Craft gives a great explanation of how a RSS reader can save you time.

Free Podcasting Solutions

Last month I released a short podcast about podcasting. In that episode I shared a US History lesson plan in which students create podcasts about their local community. In that podcast I only briefly mentioned a couple of podcasting tools. Today, I am going to share some more information about five free podcasting tools.

Drop.io offers a number of free services useful for educators. (Read my previous thoughts about Drop.io in education here or here). Drop.io offers a free voice recording service that you can use to create a podcast. With every "drop" you establish on Drop.io you are supplied with a unique phone number. Simply dial that number and begin recording at the beep. Your voice recording is then hosted and can be played back at your unique Drop.io url. While you cannot edit the recording or add any kind of music, it is a very simple way to record your voice. You can download the recording to use in another editing service. The vocals for my last three podcasts have been recorded using Drop.io and edited in Garage Band.

MyPodcast.com is the podcast service that the guys at Wicked Decent Learning use to share their awesome podcast with the world. MyPodcast.com provides free podcast hosting as well as free podcast recording software. (The software is available for PC only). I tested out the software in August and found it to be more than adequate for creating vocal podcasts. For schools that do not use Apple computers (Garage Band is standard on Apples) MyPodcast.com is a very good, free podcasting tool.


Pod Bean
is the free podcast hosting service that I am using to host all of my Free Technology For Teachers podcasts. Pod Bean is a hosting service, not a recording service so you will have to use a recording program and then upload to PodBean to share your episodes. What I like about Pod Bean is the speed of uploading and the ease of integration with blogging platforms.

Gabcast offers two free options for recording and sharing your vocal podcasts. You can record by calling in to a phone number in a similar manner to the Drop.io system. The other way to record is by using a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service. Gabcast does not offer free hosting, but it does offer free and easy integration with blogging platforms. You can buy hosting space from Gabcast or host your podcast on a free blogging platform like Blogger. Kevin Jarrett has written a good review, including a sample recording, of Gabcast which you should find useful.

Gcast is the service that Vicki Davis, author of Cool Cat Teacher, uses to share her voice recordings. Gcast, like Drop.io and Gabcast, records your voice over the phone. Your recordings can then be shared through the Gcast player which you embed in a blog or website. Just as with Gabcast and Drop.io if you want to add music or audio effects to your podcast, you will have to use a program like Garage Band or Audacity to do that.

Update
A couple of months after this post was published Gcast and Gabcast introduced paid plans and are no longer free.

Concharto - Atlas Meets Wiki

Concharto combines two easy-to-edit tools into one dynamic place to find geographic and historic information. Concharto is an atlas that can be edited by anyone just as Wikipedia can be edited by anyone. The basic layout of Concharto is a Google Map on each page and in the left margin is information about each placemark on the Google Map. If you find a map that you want to edit or information that you want to edit you can do so. If there are maps that you think need to be added, you can do that too. The policies of Concharto require that entries be written in an encyclopedic style, in other words, gossip/ tabloid stories are removed.

Embedded below is an example of a map from Concharto.

View A Larger Map

This screen shot captures what the Concharto atlas page looks like for the map above.












Applications for Education
Concharto is a good example of the type of collaborative projects that teachers and students can build together. To duplicate the same functions of Concharto simply create a wiki using your favorite wiki program (I like Wikispaces and PB Wiki) and embed a Google Map. If you have never tried to create a Google Map I recommend visiting the Google Maps User Guide.

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