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Friday, December 2, 2011

Hall.com - A Place to Chat and Collaborate

Hall.com is a new service for quickly creating and hosting online collaboration spaces. On Hall.com you can create your own space, quiet appropriately called Halls, in which you and your teammates chat, take notes, and manage to-do lists together. In your Hall you can also post polls and surveys to gather feedback from your group.

Creating a Hall on Hall.com takes just a few minutes. You can sign up with your Facebook credentials or you can register using your name and email address. Once your Hall is created you can invite others to join you via email, Twitter, or Facebook. Your Hall is assigned its own URL that you can direct people to to join you. As a registered Hall.com user you can make your Hall private and require a password for users to enter before joining your Hall.

Applications for Education
Hall.com could be a great service for teachers to create a place to post notes and for students. Students could join a teacher's Hall to ask questions and participate in group discussions. Teachers could also use the poll app in Hall.com to collect feedback from students on questions like, "do you feel prepared for next week's test?" or "how long did it take you to complete assignment x?"

I've seen Hall.com Tweeted by a bunch of people over the last 24 hours, but Larry Ferlazzo's blog was the first place I saw it. 

123s ABCs - A Handwriting Practice App for Android Devices

123s ABCs is a free Android app for handwriting practice. The app allows students to practice drawing uppercase and lowercase letters by tracing the template on the screen. The 123 aspect of the app has templates for tracing letters. The app also has basic shape templates to trace. Students can practice on each template as many times as they like. If the first attempt isn't to a student's liking, she can simply shake the phone or tablet to erase and try again. 123s ABCs also has an audio option that students can activate to hear each letter, number, or shape read to them.

Applications for Education
123s ABCs is a nice little app that young students could use to practice identifying and writing letters and numbers. I probably wouldn't have students use it on phones just because I think they would need more screen space to draw on. 123s ABCs is better suited to tablets than phones.

12 Hours Left to Make Edublog Awards Nominations

Nominations for the 2011 Edublog Awards are closing tonight at 11:59 ET. If you have a favorite blog, wiki, or podcast that you would like to see recognized by a global audience, please take a moment to make a nomination. I made my nominations a couple of weeks ago. You can read my nominations here.

Even if you don't make any nominations I encourage you to check out the list of nominees when it's published next week. The nominees list is a great place to find new blogs and people to follow and learn from.

Thank you to everyone that has nominated me and Free Technology for Teachers for 2011 Edublog Awards.

Disclosure: Edublogs has been an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers. 

Settings Every Blogger User Should Know

This is a post I had simmering in the back of my mind for a while until this morning when someone asked how I was able to publish posts so quickly. The truth is that while sometimes I do write a bunch of posts in quick succession, I often use the scheduling tool in Blogger to publish posts. I use the scheduling tool when I know I will be away from my computer or think that I won't have time to write on a particular day. For example, this coming weekend I'll be home but I have a lot of things to do that will keep me from writing new blog posts so I've already written and scheduled posts that will appear live on Sunday.

Click on the images below to view them in full size and see the details contained within them. 

How to schedule posts:
In the new Blogger interface.

In the old Blogger interface.

How to prevent publishing your email address in RSS feeds:
I often see Blogger users publishing their email addresses in RSS feeds. I even did it for a while when I started this blog. The problem with doing that is that you'll end up with spam of a quantity you never imagined was possible. Here's how to prevent publishing your email address.

How to insert an RSS feed footer message:
If you read this blog in RSS you may have noticed that I recently started publishing this line at the bottom of every post, This post originally appeared on Free Technology for Teachers. I started doing that because my RSS feed is often picked up and republished by other blogs (some well-meaning and some not so much). Posting that line provides a link back to me and provides attribution in the cases in which people don't give any attribution to me.

In the new Blogger interface.

In the old Blogger interface.

How to moderate comments:
Especially if you're using Blogger in your classroom you want to turn on comment moderation in order to prevent inappropriate comments from appearing on your blog.

In the new Blogger interface.

In the old Blogger interface.

How to add authors to your blog:
If you would like to have multiple authors on your blog, this is how to do it.

In the new Blogger interface.

In the old Blogger interface.

How to back-up your Blogger blog.
For the old Blogger interface I have directions for doing this here.

In the new Blogger interface, follow these two steps.

Pixlr - An Excellent Set of Image Editing Tools

Pixlr is a great set of image creation and editing tools that I recently discovered. Pixlr offers web-based image editing tools as well as image editing tools to use on Android phones and on iPhones. Pixlr also has Firefox and Chrome browser extensions for creating screen captures.

Pixlr Editor is Pixlr's most full-featured image creation and editing tool. You can create drawings from scratch using the pencil and coloring tools that they provide. Pixlr Editor also has options for uploading images or importing images from other places on the web. The selection of creation and editing tools is huge. There are options for making multiple layer images, dozens of filter settings, and of course tools for cropping and resizing images. Your images can be saved to your computer or you can send them to Flickr, Picassa, Facebook, or you can save them in a Pixlr account.
My Pixlr Editor drawing. Clearly, I'm not much of an artist.
Pixlr Express is a simple tool for quick resizing of images and color editing of images. If you already have an image on your computer or in an online album that you just want to touch-up a bit, Pixlr Express is the tool for you.

Pixlr Grabber is Pixlr's screen capture tool. You can install Pixlr Grabber in Chrome or Firefox. Using Pixlr Grabber you can capture your screen, crop the screen image, and print what you like. You can also send the image to Pixlr Editor for further editing options.

Pixlr-o-Matic is the Pixlr's mobile app for Android and iOS. With the app installed you can take a picture and apply a variety of neat effects to the image. I tested it out by adding some raindrops and a "retro" border to a picture of my dog that I then sent to Beth Still. You can also use Pixlr-o-Matic for simple cropping and resizing before sending your picture to a friend or to an online album.
Morrison loves posing for the camera.
Applications for Education
As I've written many times in the past, the best place for students to get images for multimedia projects is from themselves. Pixlr offers great tools for students to use to create and edit their own images for use in video projects, slideshows, online collages, and ebooks.

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