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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Meetings.io - Video Conferencing Without Registration

Hosting a Google+ Hangout can be good way to have a video conference with a small group, but only if everyone you want to join you has a Google account. Meetings.io doesn't require users to register at all which could make it a great alternative to Google+ Hangouts.

Meetings.io allows you to have up to five people in a room. You can start using Meetings.io by simply clicking on the blue "Get a Meeting Room" button. When you click that button Meetings.io will create your room and assign it a URL to share with the people you want to video conference with. Once the room is created just allow Meetings.io to access your webcam and you're in business. You can make your room public or private after it has been created.

If you do want to register on Meetings.io, you can. Registering on Meetings.io allows you to create a personalized room with a URL chosen by you. That room is yours to use as many times as you like.

Applications for Education
Meetings.io doesn't have screen sharing or file sharing, yet but it still could be a good way to host a small video conference with students, parents, and colleagues. I think that Meetings.io could be useful for hosting parent-teacher conferences with parents who cannot come into your school.

Google Adds Tab Synchronization for Chrome

Chrome is my preferred web browser and the one that I recommend to anyone who asks. I like it because of its speed, its support for WebGL, the Chrome web apps, its synchronization of bookmarks and extensions, and now I like its ability to synchronize all of my open tabs across multiple devices. Today, Google released version 19 of Chrome. The latest update allows you to sign-in with your Google account and sync all of your open tabs across all of the devices on which you are using Chrome. (You have to be using Ice Cream Sandwich for it to work on an Android device).



Applications for Education
Synchronizing tabs across computers could be very helpful for teachers and students who work on a different computer at home than they use at school. Now they can quickly switch between devices without missing a beat (provided you've signed-in with your Google account).

Tech Jobs and Internships for Teens

Summer will be here soon in the Northern Hemisphere and that means there will be high school students looking for summer jobs and internships. Teens in Tech knows this and is doing something to help high school students find jobs and internships with tech companies. The Teens in Tech Job Board is a place for tech companies to post opportunities and for students to find those opportunities.

The Teens in Tech Job Board just launched this week so the opportunities list is limited still short. The job board does have the potential to become a good place for high school students to find a company that will give them an experience that they probably won't find mowing lawns or flipping burgers during the summer.

H/T to TechCrunch

Search the Web Within Your Google Documents

This afternoon I discovered a new feature in Google Documents (now a part of Google Drive) that could prove to be handy for students to use while writing research papers. Google Docs now has a search function built-in. This feature allows users to search the web without having to leave the document they're viewing. To access the new feature open the "tools" menu then select "research" while you have a document open. The search box will appear on the righthand side of your screen. See my screenshots below for directions.


Once you have opened the search sidebar there are some great features to take advantage of. If you find a web result that you want to use in your writing, click on the "insert link" and "cite" buttons to have that link included in your document. Google Docs will automatically insert a footnote citation for that link. The same concept is applied to image searches. When you find an image that you want to use in your document, drag it into place and Google Docs will automatically include a citation for you. The only problem with the image search is that I couldn't tell if the images were Creative Commons licensed or not without going to the actual source in a new tab. Finally, there is a quotation search function that allows you search for famous quotes to include in your writing. Again the automatic citation function kicks-in if you find a quote that you want to you use.



Applications for Education
The new search-within-documents option could be useful for students who need to quickly double-check something that they are citing in a research paper. Students who are trying to include a quote that they've heard can take advantage of the "quote search" option that is included in the Google Docs search option.

The new search function doesn't appear to be available to Google Apps users (Google Apps for Edu, Google Apps for Business) yet so you'll have to be in a personal Google account to see the new feature.

To learn more about Google Documents and Google Drive, download my free 57 page guide to Google Drive and Docs for Teachers.

Create a Beautiful Website for Free With Zoho Sites

Last month I shared a list of 11 Free Tools for Creating Websites. Today, Zoho released a new website creation tool to bring that list up to twelve. Zoho Sites is a new addition Zoho's suite of services. Zoho Sites appears to be trying to address two frequently-noted shortcomings of Google Sites by offering visually impressive themes and by automatically making your sites mobile-friendly.

TechCrunch says that Google needs to watch out for Zoho Sites, but I don't think Google has too much to worry about because aside from the theme beauty and mobile readiness, creating a website on Zoho Sites is just like almost every other free website builder. To create a site on Zoho Sites you can sign-in using a Zoho account, Google account, or Facebook account. Once you've signed-in, select a theme and start arranging elements on your site by using the drag-and-drop menus. One of the nice elements that you might want to add to your site is the integrated blogging element. You can have a blog reside inside you site. In other words you can have the static content of a website combined with a section for chronologically organized blog posts. Like on any good website builder, you can preview your site before you publish it and you can edit it at any time.

The video below provides a short overview of Zoho Sites.



Applications for Education
If you're looking for a platform that your students can use to build visually-appealing digital portfolios, take a look at Zoho Sites. If your students already have Google accounts, signing into Zoho Sites won't require them to create a new user name and password.

If you're looking to build a new course website that is mobile friendly, Zoho Sites is worth giving a good look too.

If You Were President Lets Kids Be the President

If You Were President is a nice, short activity from Scholastic through which elementary school students can learn about budget balancing basics. In the activity students select a three member cabinet, set a five part budget, and answer questions from the Press. When they've finished answering questions from the Press, a short newspaper article is written about their budget and cabinet decisions.

Applications for Education
If You Were President could be used as part of an elementary school lesson about government budgetting. I like that students are asked to defend their choices in writing after creating their budgets.

H/T to Vicki Davis.

View A Cleaner YouTube Without Extensions

Ever since I discovered it last July, I've been promoting using A Cleaner Internet as a way to remove from YouTube unwanted "related" videos and advertisements. The only problem was that it required users to install the extension on Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. That left out anyone working in a school that doesn't allow them to install extensions and anyone forced to use Internet Explorer. That problem has been resolved.

If you point your browser to http://youtube.clea.nr you can search YouTube and watch YouTube videos without viewing any of the "related" videos or advertisements on YouTube.

Applications for Education
YouTube can be a great source of educational material to share in your classroom. Unfortunately, if you try to search YouTube in front of a class, you're open to the possibility that something inappropriate will pop-up. Use http://youtube.clea.nr or the Cleaner Internet browser extension to avoid that potential problem.

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