Thursday, December 23, 2010

11 Ed Tech Things I Got Excited About in 2010

It's that time of year when we take a look back at the last year. In 2010 I've written more than 1300 blog posts. Some of the things that I wrote about I got really excited about and couldn't type fast enough to share with all of you. Here are eleven ed tech things that I got excited about in 2010. (There are actually more than eleven, but I wanted to keep this post to a manageable length).

Mashpedia is an interesting service that matches reference articles from Wikipedia to materials from other sources like YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Digg, and the web in general. The purpose of drawing materials from multiple sources is to provide users with a comprehensive view of current news stories and reference topics.

Wikipedia, somewhat unfairly, too often gets bad-mouthed by educators that don't understand how the content on it is updated and edited by a community of users. Because of that lack of understanding some educators don't allow students to access Wikipedia at all and are therefore depriving students of a general reference. Common Craft has a video that those educators should watch. Wikipedia Explained by Common Craft uses Common Craft's In Plain English style to explain how Wikipedia works. The video explains how Wikipedia entries are written, updated, verified, and maintained. Watch the video on Common Craft.

ZooBurst is a new website that offers an exciting free service. ZooBurst allows users to create 3D pop-up books using nothing more than public domain clip art and ZooBurst's web-based editing tools. Users can view ZooBurst 3D books in augmented reality by enabling their webcams (click webcam mode) then clicking the ZB button present on each story.

Hoppala is an augmented reality layer creation service that launched late last week. Creating an augmented reality layer is a essentially a drag and drop process when using Hoppala. Watch the video here to learn more about creating augmented reality content using Hoppala.
Hoppala could be a great tool for students to use to develop augmented walking tours of their communities. Augmented reality layers could also be developed to complement the content of stories that students write. For example, if students write a story based in their communities they could then create a physical walk-through of that story supplemented with augmented reality layers.

Sweet Search is a search engine that searches only the sites that have been reviewed and approved by a team of librarians, teachers, and research experts. In all there are 35,000 websites that have been reviewed and approved by Sweet Search. In addition to the general search engine, Sweet Search offers five niche search engines. The niche search engines are for Social Studies, Biographies, SweetSites (organized by grade and subject area), School Librarians, and Sweet Search 4 Me (for elementary school students).

Wetoku is a free service for quickly conducting, recording, and sharing video interviews using your webcam. To conduct an interview just log-in to your account, click "start new interview," and send the invitation link to whomever you want to interview. Wetoku records the videos from both participants in the interview. When you embed the recording, the videos of both participants appear side by side. If you want to make your videos password protected, Wetoku gives you that option.

DROPitTOme is a free service that works with Drop Box to allow people to upload files to your Drop Box account without giving them access to the contents of your Drop Box account. For those not familiar with Drop Box it is a service that provides 2GB of free online file storage (by the way, that's way more than the 100mb offered). You can access your Drop Box from any computer and most mobile devices. You can also sync it across multiple computers.  Learn more about Drop Box in this videoDROPitTOme works by synchronizing with your Drop Box account. After connecting the two services DROPitTOme provides a url that you can give to others to upload files to your Drop Box account. You must specify a password that has to be entered before an upload can take place. Give the url and password to those people you want to be able to upload files to your Drop Box account. Learn more about DROPitTOme in this video.

In late spring 2010 Google announced that more features would be coming to Google Apps for Education. In November those features were finally made available. Now nearly all of Google's tools can now be integrated into your Google Apps for Education account. This means that if there is a Google tool that you want the users in your Google Apps for Education domain to use, you can add it in. Learn more in the video here.

App Inventor for Android makes it possible for people without any coding skills to develop applications for Android-powered phones. Initially available to a select group of early adopters, App Inventor for Android was opened to the world earlier this month. App Inventor for Android is a drag and drop program for developing Android applications. Even if you don't have an Android-powered phone, you can still develop an application using the emulator built into App Inventor for Android. App Inventor for Android provides detailed step-by-step directions for building your first application. Watch the video here to see the App Inventor in action.

In the spring of 2010 JayCut relaunched its free, online, video editing service. JayCut has elements of iMovie and Movie Maker in a free online application. JayCut is free to use and your final product can be downloaded to your local computer. Here are some of the highlights of the JayCut editor:
  • Every element of your video can be added through simple drag and drop motions. The play length of each element in your video can be shortened or lengthened by simply dragging the ruler tools.
  • JayCut's API is free and allows you to put the JayCut video editor on your own website. Using their API you can install JayCut's video editor on your PHP-based website. JayCut offers step-by-step directions for installing their video editor on your website.
  • JayCut has options for adding slow motion effects, direct recording from your webcam, a green screen, and color editing.

The Google Apps Marketplace opened to everyone in March. Thanks to Fred Delventhal, one of the first apps that I learned was in the Marketplace is Aviary. Aviary offers free, web-based, image editing services and sound editing services. By offering their services for free in the Google Apps Marketplace, Aviary is allowing anyone using Google Apps for Domains (either education or enterprise editions) to integrate Aviary services into the Google services they're already using. When added to your Apps, Aviary will appear in your list of Google Apps services just like Docs, Reader, and all of your other favorite Google tools. Please note, to install Aviary from the Google Apps Marketplace you must have administrative rights to your domain.
So what ed tech things did you get excited about in 2010?

A Great Way to Learn About National Parks

Fotopedia is a visual encyclopedia that matches high quality images to Wikipedia articles. Recently I received a press release about Fotopedia's new iPad app featuring US National Parks imagery. The iPad app is not free so I didn't pay much attention to it, but it did get me to explore the free National Parks images on the Fotopedia website.

US National Parks is a Fotopedia project containing more than 4000 quality images and 1200 articles about US National Parks. You can browse through the project or refine your browsing to a specific national park or to a state. Each image is accompanied by an article related to the national park and or feature of the national park in which the image was captured.

Applications for Education
US National Parks on Fotopedia could be a great resource for students to visually explore US National Parks. Some of the images in Fotopedia are Creative Commons licensed so your students could reuse them in their own multimedia projects about US National Parks.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
America's Wild Spaces
Create a National Parks Virtual Tour
The National Parks Digital Storytelling Modules

Build Your Own Year in Review Collage

It's that time of year again when the major media outlets begin to run "year in review" stories. One year in review that you might like to share with students comes from the Guardian. The Guardian's 2010 Year in Review is an interactive collage of images from the year. Click on any image in the collage to learn about the event(s) of that day.

You can also build your own year in review collage using the tools provided by the Guardian. Your 2010 allows you to build a collage of your own by selecting one story for each month of the year. You can then share your collage with others by sending them the unique url assigned to your collage.

H/T to Jeffrey Hill.

Applications for Education
The Guardian's Your 2010 could be a good tool to have students use to build their own year in review collages. Have students work through the stories from each month and select the one's they think are the most important. Then have them share their collages with you and each other or have them present their collages to the class with an explanation of why they picked each event.

For an entertaining year in review, check out Flocabulary's Year in Rap.