Thursday, April 15, 2010

URL Fixer - Avoid URL Typos

URL Fixer is a handy little Firefox add-on that I just learned about from Tekzilla Daily. When installed and activated, URL Fixer launches a pop-up warning whenever it detects a typo in a url. The pop-up will ask you to confirm or change the url before proceeding to load a website. Learn more about URL Fixer in the video below.

Applications for Education
If you've ever tried to get a whole classroom full of students onto the same url at once, you probably know the frustration that can occur when students mistype urls. URL Fixer could be just the tool to fix that problem.

Video - WWII Map, Europe & North Africa

Next week my school is on spring break, but when my student return we'll be diving into our study of World War II. As I was planning and gathering the resources I'm going to use for those classes I came across a good, short video that I will probably use as a review item at the end of a lesson. World War Two: Europe and North Africa 1939-1945 Map is a narrated overview of the main events in those areas. What I like about this video is that it provides visual, geographic context for the events discussed by the narrator. Watch the video below.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
View WWII Imagery in Google Earth
Videos and Lessons About Pearl Harbor

EdCrowd - Teach With a Crowd

EdCrowd is a new network for teachers in which they can share ideas, lesson plans, and other resources. EdCrowd is essentially a public message board for educators. Teachers can ask questions to start a discussion or simply sift through existing conversations and weigh-in where they feel comfortable. EdCrowd has a community rating system for answers. The rating system is designed to help visitors quickly recognize good advice. I'm not sure how useful the rating system will actually be, but EdCrowd certainly has potential to be a useful resource for teachers.

Ning Ends Free Networks - Try These Alternatives

White label social network host Ning, announced today that they are discontinuing their free offerings. This will force the organizers of existing networks like The Educators PLN to upgrade to premium plans. For large networks the cost may not be prohibitive, but for small networks such as those organized around a school or small organization the cost may force them to search out some alternatives.

Here are some alternatives to Ning that you can use to organize your own social network.

CubeTree is a free service designed for companies that would like to build a social network of wikis, shared items, and microblogs for their employees. On CubeTree anyone can create a network and invite colleagues. All colleagues must have the same email domain. For example, if I wanted to create a network, only people with an domain could be in my network. Everyone in the network can create a profile (Facebook-like), post updates, share documents, collaborate on documents and spreadsheets, and share items from their RSS feeds. The video below offers an overview of CubeTree's offerings.

Jabbster is a free service that allows families and groups to create private online communication networks. Within your private network you can host discussion boards, share photos, post an event calendar, and share bookmarks. Setting up a Jabbster group is quick and easy. Simply register for an account, name your group, and send invitations to the people you want in the group. If you create the group, you are the group administrator and can delete any content or user from the group at any time.

ShoutEm allows you to make your own public or private network. As the administrator of your own network you can restrict access to only those people you invite. You can also exclude entire email domains in the adminstrative settings. Your ShoutEm network can be as simple as Twitter or as robust as FriendFeed. As the administrator of your ShoutEm network you can choose to allow users to post pictures, attachments, and have threaded conversations. The video below provides a quick overview of ShoutEm.

ShoutEm Demo from vikot on Vimeo.

Edmodo is a microblogging system designed specifically for teachers and students. Using Edmodo teachers can create a microblogging network for their classes. Edmodo allows teachers to create a group specifically for their students and exclude those not invited to the group. Edmodo provides teachers with a place to post assignment reminders, build an event calendar, and post messages to the group. Just as with any good microblogging service users can share links, videos, and images.

Learn more about Edmodo in the video below.

Thanks to Kevin Jarrett for the link to TechCrunch's article about Ning's changes.

Why April 15th is Tax Day in the US

By the time you read this you'll have less than 24 hours to postmark your tax return (note to self, stop at the post office today). Why is April 15th the day that tax returns are due? Watch today's episode of CNN Student News to find out.

Applications for Education
If you're a high school teacher, you may have students filing tax returns this year. In addition to this episode of CNN Student News, you may be interested the National Archives'
primary source documents and lesson plan suggestions about the federal income tax. The combination of these resources may help your high school students understand why they are filing tax returns.