Thursday, May 1, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: It's RSS Awareness Day

RSS Awareness Day

Do you use RSS? Do you find yourself trying to explain to folks what RSS is and why it's great? Today is RSS awareness day. If you're already an RSS user spread the word!

Are you wondering what RSS is or why you should be using it? In short, RSS is a service that brings your favorite websites and blogs to you. Let's say you're trying to keep up on election news. Subscribe to your favorite news website in an RSS reader and you will get the latest news every time you log-in to your reader. In other words, RSS is an "easy button" for the Internet.

This short video from Common Craft explains what RSS is and what it does.

PhotoShow - Make and Share Great Presentations

Photo Show is a great service for making fantastic slide show and video presentations. Photo Show allows users to upload their photos or use photos from the Internet to make into slide show which can then be turned into a video. Photo Show users can add text and audio to accompany their presentation. There are a few options for sharing projects made on Photo Show. Users can download their projects as Quicktime movies, share via email, or share through embedding.

Below is a sample of a presentation created with Photo Show.

Applications for Education
Photo Show makes it very easy to create great looking projects through their step by step instructions. Photo Show is easy enough to use that students in the 4th or 5th grade (possibly younger) could make great presentations. The option to add text to the slides makes Photo Show a great tool with which students can create online collages.

Free Technology For Teachers: Delicious Update - New Add-on for FireFox 3

Delicious is a social bookmarking that is very popular with educators looking for resources on the web. Delicious has just released a beta version of its popular add-on for Firefox 3. This new add-on has a couple of slick features including a keyboard short-cut to jump to tags. The improved status bar feature that will appeal to people who do a lot of multi-tasking online. The new status bar will have indicators for new activity (new links, new tags) within your network.

If you're unfamiliar with social bookmarking and or wondering if you should start using a social bookmarking tool check out this short video from Common Craft.

Free Technology For Teachers: Content Meets Technology Sweepstakes

eInstruction is holding a sweepstakes in which teachers and students can win interactive whiteboards and LCD projectors for their classrooms. The sweepstakes is fairly easy to enter. To enter simply write with your students a 250 word blurb about how winning would improve learning, improve the school, and improve teaching. When your entry is submitted you have the option of submitting to a Google Map. Submitting your entry to the Google Map increases your chances of winning. Three winners will be selected one from K-5, one from 6-8, and one from 9-12. All entries must be received by 11:59 pm EST on May 13, 2008. Click here to enter.

Free Technology For Teachers: Keskidi - User Generated Subtitles

Keskidi is a website that makes it possible to subtitle online videos. Keskidi's content is user generated. Users upload a video from a website or computer and then using the Keskidi program type in subtitles for the video. The Keskidi program includes a timer which makes it easier to sync the subtitles to the audio. If you're having difficulty transcribing a portion of a video, don't worry because you can allow other users to contribute to the subtitling process.

Applications for Education
Keskidi could provide a great activity for foreign language teachers. Students could find a video online that they like and then practice their vocabulary skills by subtitling the video on Keskidi. Student engagement could be substantially increased if they are allowed to select videos on their own. Here's a short video that was popular last fall and would provide a good challenge for students to transcribe.

Free Technology For Teachers: Cloud Computing is Universal

New media blogger and podcast host, Amber Mac, posted this diagram on her blog this morning. Above the graph Amber asks the question what does this mean? Here's what I think the diagram means; cloud computing be it through Google, Zoho, or other service is universal.

Cloud Computing and Education
Cloud computing offers some great benefits for education. Cloud computing saves schools money. Google's and Zoho's productivity suites are free for students and teachers to use. Paying for the number of licensing agreements a school district needs to use proprietary productivity software can easily equal the cost of a teacher's salary.

Google's and Zoho's office suites are as intuitive to use as any proprietary word processing or presentation software.
In schools with a hodge-podge of computers and operating systems cloud computing is a great way to work around file compatibility issues. Cloud computing is a great way for students in schools without one-to-one computing to work on assignments from any Internet connected computer. There's no need for them to worry about carrying flash drives or using the same computer every time they visit a computer lab.

Free Technology For Teachers: Spread the Word

Last week I wrote a blog post about recognizing people in your school or school district that are trying to do good things with technology in the classroom. In that blog post I mentioned a couple people that deserve recognition.

Today, as I drove to school I was thinking about edu bloggers that are writing great stuff, but might not have a large audience. Now I could just link to those bloggers in this post and leave it at that, but I don't think listing a link is very effective in increases a blogger's engaged audience. What I have found to be effective is actually talking to someone face to face about a great blog. So today, try to tell someone about a great blog you're a fan of.

Here are a few blogs that I plan to tell people about today.
K-12 Geek Blog
Cooked on Education
Harold Shaw Jr.
Learning in Maine