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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Follow Conference Hashtags to Glean Resources

Almost every education conference worth its salt today has a Twitter hashtag associated with it. The next time you're wishing you were at a conference that you couldn't attend, follow the Twitter hashtag.  I did this today to keep up with the Tweets from the Destination Innovation conference in Banff (#dest_2012). If you use TweetDeck, like I do, you can create a column just for the hashtag. While this isn't the same as being at the physical conference it does provide a good way to follow the ideas and resources shared by presenters and participants at the conference. For example, today I learned about some inexpensive robotics kits by just following #dest_2012 in Twitter.

Old School Presidential Campaign Videos

This afternoon my Uncle Bob shared with me this video of a campaign jingle for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. I then shared the video on Twitter with the comment, "what if political campaign ads were still like this?" To that Tony Amsler replied, "maybe we can run a contest for folks to create jingles." I think that could become a great classroom activity as the election approaches. Have students use tools like Animoto, WeVideo, or Pixorial to create "lighter" campaign commercials.



For more old campaign commercials and ideas for using them in your classroom, please check out The Living Room Candidate.

Using SoundCloud in a Language Course

SoundCloud is a free tool for creating and sharing sound tracks. On Monday I included it in my list of alternatives to Aviary. Today, I showed it to some teachers at the Bancroft School in Massachusetts. When I showed the option for inserting text comments into the sound tracks a teacher spoke up with an idea for using Sound Cloud in a world languages course.

The suggestion the teacher made was to have students record spoken tracks on Sound Cloud and share them with her. Then she could use the comment feature to provide feedback that is tied directly to each student's recording. The comments could be tied to the exact second at which a student pronounces something incorrectly, uses the wrong verb form, or to praise a student for pronouncing a new word particularly well.

SoundCloud allows you to have up to two hours of recordings stored in your account at one time. After that you need to either delete an old recording or upgrade to a paid plan.

Understoodit Is Not Really Free

On Monday I published a list of twelve free services for gathering informal feedback from students. In that list I included Understoodit. When I originally learned about Understoodit it was free. This morning I received an email from one of Understoodit's employees "introducing me" to the service. In that introductory email it was revealed that Understoodit is only free for a limited time. Here is an excerpt from the email.

Our product is FREE for a limited time, but will be extended those who sign up now with an extended free-trial period.

I don't know how long the extended period will be as that information was not in the email I received and it's not stated on the website except for the "30 day free trial" notice. After the free trial it appears to cost $3/month. Although I don't know if that is a flat fee or a "per user/ per seat" fee.

$3/month isn't unreasonable, but I did want to make sure that I corrected my earlier post about Understoodit to reflect the new information that I received today. If you're looking for some free tools for gathering feedback from students, you may want to try some of the other tools on this list. Of the tools on that list, my favorite is Socrative.

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