Friday, June 26, 2009

Week in Review - Most Popular Items

I would be remiss if I didn’t start this week’s week-in-review post by thanking everyone that donated to the NECC Newbie project coordinated by Beth Still. A huge thank you goes out to VoiceThread who chose to donate to $700 to send me to NECC rather than spending the money on exhibiting at NECC. If you’re not familiar with VoiceThread I highly recommend that you check it out. You can read some of my posts about it here, here, and here. As you read this I am in Washington, DC getting ready for EdubloggerCon tomorrow and NECC which starts on Sunday. Without all of your donations, your Tweets, and your social bookmarks I wouldn’t be here in DC right now.

Here are the seven most popular items of the last week:
1. 30+ Alternatives to YouTube
2. Five Ways to Visually Explore Wikipedia
3. Learning Beyond the Classroom
4. Ten by Ten - Visual Links to the World News
5. TubeChop - Clip a Section of a YouTube Video
6. Zoho Challenge - Conduct Tests Online
7. Netbook vs. Cheap Notebook Decision

If you’re a new subscriber this week, welcome. I hope you continue to find this blog useful. If you have any questions about this blog or anything that appears on this blog, please contact me at richardbyrne (at)

Thank you to all of the long-time subscribers who have contributed to the growth of this blog. Without all of your comments, Tweets, and mentions it would still be just myself and my mother reading this every week.

Netbook vs. Cheap Notebook - Part II

As many of you know I purchased an Acer Aspire One netbook earlier this week. To read about my decision to purchase the Acer, please click here.

After 2.5 days of using the Acer Aspire One, I can safely say that it is an excellent machine despite a few drawbacks.

The good stuff. The size and weight of the machine continue to please me. I can use it anywhere and I hardly noticed the weight in my carry-on bag. The size makes it possible to comfortably type and view while resting the Acer on the airplane tray table (in fact that’s where I’m typing now). The screen clarity is outstanding. The sound is adequate. The webcam offers clarity as good as that on my MacBook. (Now I know that some people will comment with technical specs about the screen and webcam, but I’m going with the naked-eye test).

The drawbacks. The screen is just a little too small to view all elements of Google Earth. If you install the Google Earth browser plug-in it’s less of an issue. To get the most out of my Acer Aspire One netbook, I stripped all of the unnecessary software that came loaded on it. By doing this I was able to run Google Earth faster and increase the available memory overall. I haven’t yet stripped MicroSoft works from the machine, but I plan to very soon.

Overall, I am very pleased with the purchase of the Acer Aspire One. If you do 97% of your work online, as I do, for less than $300 you could probably make the Acer a full-time computer.

My Brochure Maker - Create a Mailer

Even though we live in a digital age where most communication takes place online or over the phone, there is still an occasional time when you may want to send a mailing. Those times are when a simple template like My Brochure Maker is handy. My Brochure Maker offers users three categories of templates for making brochures and flyers. Each category contains ten templates. The templates are somewhat customizable as you can use your own images, but the layout stays the same. When you're done creating your brochure simply save it as a pdf and print it.

Applications for Education
My Brochure Maker could be a good little tool for creating parent newsletters. If you're leading a workshop, My Brochure Maker could be good for creating a good-looking handout for participants.

This Moment - Collages of Important Moments

I have a colleague that starts his school year by having his special education students create digital stories about the most important moments in their lives. His purpose is to introduce students to the concepts of story organization. Last year he had students copy and paste images from their Facebook and Myspace profiles to use in their stories. This fall he'll be able to use This Moment to have students build their stories.

This Moment allows users to create a digital collage of an important moment or moments in their lives. Using this moment you can use images and videos from your Facebook, Flickr, Picassa, and YouTube accounts to create your This Moment collage. This Moment also incorporates Google Maps so you can link to the location of where an event took place. Was there a story in the news about your chosen event? If so, you can include links to those news stories. When your collage is complete you can share it on a number of social networking services or embed it in your blog or website. You can see a sample that I made here.

Applications for Education
This Moment could be used by students to create digital collages of important moments in their lives. If your class goes on a field trip you could have students create This Moment collages of the trip. This Moment could also be used to create digital collage of current news stories.

I plan to use This Moment to share some of the sights and sounds of my trip to Washington, DC for NECC 2009.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
A Great Glogster Tutorial
Slide Magnet - Make Your Presentations Magnetic
World of Teaching - Slide Shows for All Subjects