Tuesday, August 24, 2010

iSearchNotes - Note Sharing for Students

iSearchNotes is a free service designed for college students to record and share notes in a searchable database. Students can take their notes directly in iSearchNotes using the integrated word processing platform. Notes can be tagged by subject area, course title, and or the course instructor's name.

Applications for Education
iSearchNotes was designed with college students in mind, but it could also be used by high school students. By sharing notes students get the benefit of other students' insights and interpretations of an instructor's lessons.

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Nine Tools for Collaboratively Creating Mind Maps

Building a Video Collage With Wallwisher
Spaaze - Online Sticky Notes and More

Are You and Your Students Getting Enough Sleep?

We all know that sleep is important and that there is a correlation between the amount of sleep students get and how the perform in the classroom, but what about us? Are we, as teachers, getting enough sleep? National Geographic has a quiz to help us answer that question. The Secrets of Sleep quiz asks ten questions related to your sleeping habits. The quiz uses your responses to tell you if you're getting enough sleep and, if necessary, what you can do to improve your sleeping habits.

Applications for Education
The Secrets of Sleep quiz could be used by teachers themselves and by students. Health teachers could have students take the quiz to see first-hand how much sleep they should be getting and how they can go about improving their sleeping habits.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Food Play - Resources About Food and Diet
Sugar Stacks - How Much Sugar is in Your Snack?

Cool Food Kidz Teaches Kids About Diet & Fitness

How Learn Boost Plans to be Here for the Long Run

Earlier this month I wrote a post containing my initial impressions of a new free online gradebook system called Learn Boost. Recently, one of Learn Boost's founders Rafael Corrales contacted me to share some more information about Learn Boost. His contact gave me the opportunity to ask this of Rafael: "What is the long-term business model for LearnBoost? I ask because there have been other free gradebook programs that shut-down without warning their users leaving teachers in a lurch without access to their data." Rafael quickly replied, on a Sunday morning no less, with these answers that he gave me permission to share with all of you:

First, we want to always have the teacher gradebook, with the current feature set, as free. We are committed to that, because our business model is building out full school systems (some call it student information systems) and applying a freemium model to that space. So for teachers, it's always free. For schools, it can always be free if they choose no additional services. If they choose extra support or training, then schools do pay us but still significantly less than big competitors like Pearson and Blackboard. Plus they get a fantastic product, as we're confirming from all the great feedback we're getting and by our rapid growth. So our business model is a free teacher gradebook, and a freemium student information system for schools saving them 80-100% of their administrative software costs.

Second, we are committed to giving teachers and schools choice and flexibility. For example, we allow the export of our gradebook data. As we continue to expand, we'll continue to support export options. So even though we have plenty of money raised and we'll be around for quite a while no matter what, if anything where to happen to us teachers and schools could always export their data from LearnBoost.

We also believe it's important that teachers can export data because it means we believe we're the best gradebook and lesson plan software on the market. Look at many of the gradebook options out there that don't let you export -- that basically means they're putting a lock on the exit because they know you'll want to leave. We think you'll want to stay with LearnBoost, which is why it's very easy to export data in the event that you 1) want to leave or 2) something happens to our business.

For me the most important part of Rafael's answer is the ability to export the data you store in Learn Boost. I think if you choose to use Learn Boost and you're worried about data loss, exporting your data every few weeks would be a good habit to get into.

7 Resources for Detecting and Preventing Plagiarism

1. The first thing I do when I want to check a student's work for plagiarism is to do a quick search on Google. If you notice that a student has strung together some phrases that you don't think they've written, put the suspected phrase inside quotation marks and search. You may want to search on Google as well as on Google Scholar. For more Internet search tools and strategies please see my free ebook Beyond Google - Improve Your Search Results.

2. The Plagiarism Checker, created as a project for the University of Maryland, is an easy-to-use tool for detecting plagiarism. Simply enter a chunk of text into the search box and the Plagiarism Checker will tell you if and from where something was plagiarized.

3. Doc Cop offers a free service for checking small documents and a free service for checking documents against each other. Doc Cop also offers a fee based service that will check large documents and do a more comprehensive check than that offered for free.

4. The Purdue OWL website is the number one place I refer students and parents to for questions not only about Plagiarism, but for questions about all parts of the writing process.

Paper Rater is a free service designed to help high school and college students improve their writing. Paper Rater does basic spelling and grammar checks, but the real value of Paper Rater is that it tells students if their papers have elements of plagiarism. Paper Rater scans students' papers then gives students an estimate of the likelihood that someone might think that their papers were plagiarized.

Plagiarism works just like many similar services. To use it, simply type or paste text into the search box and Plagiarism Checker will tell you if and from where something was copied. (Note: the name is similar to #2 above, but they are produced by different organizations).

7., produced by the same people that produce the commercial plagiarism detection software Turn It In, has a free learning center for students and teachers.'s learning center includes tips about avoiding plagiarism, definitions of plagiarism, and explanations of when you do or do not have to cite a reference. also hosts two recorded webinars addressing the topic of plagiarism in schools and how teachers can educate their students about plagiarism.

TimeRime Now Available In Spanish

TimeRime is a multimedia timeline creation tool that I've written about a couple of times in the past. TimeRime still offers all of the great features that it has in the past and now it also offers those features in Spanish. To use TimeRime in Spanish, just select Spanish from the language menu at the top any TimeRime page.

TimeRime allows you to have more than one type of media for each event on your timeline. TimeRime users can also select which media type they want as the feature piece of each event. You can embed your TimeRime timelines in a blog or share them via email.

Here is a related item that may be of interest to you:
Five Ways Students Can Build Multimedia Timelines