Thursday, March 24, 2011

Two Simple Tools To Help Teachers and Students

Image Credit: Chris Gebert
Think about the last time you tried to get all of the students in your classroom on the same webpage at the same time. How long did it take to make that happen? If the URL for that page was something like this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12845178 and you wrote it on the whiteboard in your room or you projected it on a screen, it probably took longer than you would have liked to get every student on that page. There is an easy-to-use tool to fix that problem and it is called Bit.ly.

Bit.ly is a url shortening service. Anytime you have a long, complicated url you can use Bit.ly to shorten it down to something much more manageable. And if you create a free Bit.ly account you can customize your shortened url to make it even more manageable. For example, it's far easier for me to direct people to bit.ly/byrnepd than it is to http://sites.google.com/site/richardbyrnepdsite/home. You can use Bit.ly by copying a url and pasting it into Bit.ly or you can try the Bit.ly browser bookmarklet. Try Bit.ly the next time you're setting up a lesson plan that requires having all of your students enter a long, complicated url.

The other simple tool that I frequently use in my classroom is ViewPure. ViewPure allows you to display YouTube videos without displaying the "related videos" and advertisements that appear next to each video. There are two ways that you can use ViewPure. You can copy the url of your chosen YouTube video and paste it into ViewPure where it will then strip away everything but the video. The other option is to install the ViewPure bookmarklet and click anytime you're viewing a YouTube video.