Thursday, January 15, 2009

Choosing a Google Notebook Replacement

I have been using Google Notebook for roughly the last 18 months to clip and save all kinds of information that I find on the web. Today, all of the major tech blogs reported that Google is eliminating some of their services. One of the services that slated to be phased out is Google Notebook. I had some conversations with other teachers on Twitter about using other online notebook programs. It seems that some people will give Zoho Notebook a try. In response to those conversations I made a short screencast demonstrating how to move content from Google Notebook to Zoho Notebook, you can see that screencast here.

I have always like Google Notebook for its Firefox add-on that allows me to clip a website's url and add notes to my clipping without having to open a new tab or window. In addition to the Zoho Notebook add-on, the Firefox add-on has the potential to replace Google Notebook as my prefered bookmarking and notetaking tool. This afternoon I installed the add-on which allows me bookmark and write notes directly into one of my drops by simply clicking a little "+" icon my browser toolbar. In just a couple of hours of using the add-on I can safely say that I do prefer it over the Zoho add-on.

Mozilla has a library containing 278 Firefox add-ons designed for bookmarking websites in one way or another. Some of add-ons in the library, like the Delicious add-on, I have used in the past others I have never heard of before. Over the next few days I'll be trying out a bunch of the bookmarking add-ons in the Mozilla library and I'll let you know which ones I like.

What is your favorite bookmarking and notetaking tool?

An Example of Just How Connected We Really Are

This video, from MSNBC, is an example of just how much we are connected through wireless communications today. The video is an interview with Janis Krums, a Twitter user, who was on the first ferry boat to arrive at the US Airways plane that crashed in the Hudson River this afternoon. Krums posted this image of the plane on Twitter within minutes of the plane being in the water. Thankfully, all people on board survived.

Twitter User On MSNBC from AlleyInsider on Vimeo.

44 Presidents in 4 Minutes

Here is a short video depicting every US President from Washington to Obama. I found the video interesting from a visual standpoint as each President's image is morphed into the next President's image.

Thanks to Ted Leonsis for the video link.

Applications for Education
The end of the semester is approaching in my school so I'm in a "review" frame of mind. I thought that this video might be a quick way to introduce a timeline style review to my US History class tomorrow morning. Tomorrow morning, I will be showing them this short video and then breaking them into groups to work on identifying the key events, policies, and actions that took place during each President's term.

The South Pole Quest

I wrote about the South Pole Quest last month in a blog post that included a number of resources for teaching lessons about polar exploration. The South Pole Quest team reached their objective and the members are now on their way back to their respective homes. CNN recently interviewed one of the team's members, Ray Zahab, and posted the interview in an online video. The video (embedded below) provides a nice overview of the South Pole Quest team's adventure.

Thanks to Kraig Becker at the Adventure Blog for sharing the video.

Applications for Education
This video could be a nice, short introduction to a unit of study about polar exploration as well as a unit of study about climate change. The South Pole Quest website is a great source of audio podcasts and images from the expedition. The South Pole Quest website also features some great lesson plans about Antarctica.

Use ScreenToaster to Create a Video Lesson

ScreenToaster is a screencasting tool that I previously mentioned when it was still in its beta phase. This week ScreenToaster left beta, remained free, and added some more useful features. ScreenToaster is a completely web based application that allows you to record what is happening on your computer screen at any given time. The latest updates to ScreenToaster now allow you to record audio to accompany your screencasts. You can also now choose to record all of your screen or just a portion of your screen. When your recording is complete you can save your screencast to your computer, upload it to ScreenToaster, or upload it to YouTube.

ScreenToaster is completely free and quite easy to use. It is a great product although it doesn't have quite as many features as Jing. The trade-off between using ScreenToaster and Jing is that to use ScreenToaster you do not need to install any software.

Applications for Education
My uses for screencasting tools have always revolved around the idea of creating video tutorials for software that you are introducing to students. Today, I found a great example of another educational use for screencasting. ScreenToaster user JoeRobinson32, who appears to be a geography teacher, created and posted on ScreenToaster a video lesson about plate tectonics. In the video Mr. Robinson gives a brief introduction to plate tectonics then gives his students directions for an assignment about plate tectonics. I watched this video and thought that it was great example of how screencasting could be used to deliver a lesson to students online. If you're teaching a class completely online or teaching in a traditional setting screencast lessons are a great idea. For those people teaching in a traditional setting, creating a screencast lesson is a good way to provide students who miss class due to illness with a way to hear and see you explain material.