Monday, February 28, 2011

Come Work With Me This Summer

This summer on the campus of Harvard University on July 25 and 26 I will be co-teaching with Tom Daccord Best Web 2.0 Tools & Apps for Teachers. This will be two days of hands-on learning about Web 2.0 tools that you can leverage to transform learning. We will also be exploring mobile apps that you can leverage for learning. So bring your laptop and your favorite iOS or Android device and join us for hands-on learning. Graduate credit is available. Click here to read the full workshop description, schedule details, and to register.

Please note, while it is held on the Harvard campus, this is not a Harvard course.

Vyew - Host Online Conferences for Free

Last week I wrote about four ways to give short presentations online. This morning, through Kevin Jarrett's excellent blog, I learned of another service to add to that list. Vyew is an online presentation tool that does not require you to download anything and can be used for free with up to 20 participants.

Vyew offers tools for uploading slides and talking about them with other participants. You can also upload documents and annotate and discuss them with other participants in your Vyew room. Vyew provides you with a whiteboard on which you can type and draw. If you want to share your computer's screen with other people in your Vyew room you can do that too. Vyew users can talk to each other using voice and text chat.

Applications for Education
Vyew's collaborative whiteboard feature could make it a good tool for giving short mathematics lessons or lessons about any other topic in which a sequence of steps needs to be written or drawn out live.

Class Blogs - Blogs for Classrooms

There is no shortage of blogging services available for free to teachers and school administrators. Some free services offer more features than others. One newer blogging service that is offering a lot to teachers at no cost is Class Blogs.

Class Blogs is a blogging service based on the WordPress Multi User platform. The service isn't open to everyone yet, you have to register for an invitation, but for your consideration here is a run-down of what they offer. Users can create as many free, ad-free blogs as they like. This means that for someone like myself who teaches multiple sections of a course, each section could have its own blog. If you plan to have students blogging, you can batch register students to expedite the process of joining your blog. Class Blogs also aims to be a LMS by offering you the option to create, distribute, and grade student assignments online. Finally, Class Blogs has an option for giving live online presentations.

Applications for Education
If Class Blogs delivers on all that it promises in its features list, it could become a central location for all of the online materials you use in your classes. Not only will you be able to do all of the things that blogs are great for, like keeping a record of your lessons, students sharing insights, but you will also be able to give presentations online and keep track of grades. Those last two items are not something you can do within most blogging platforms.

If you're wondering why you should have a blog for your classroom, check out what the kids in the video below have to say.

Vocab Genii - Challenging Vocabulary Games

Vocab Genii is a new site offering challenging vocabulary games. The basic purpose of Vocab Genii is to offer games that require players to unscramble letters to create a word that matches the definition provided. Players can select the level of difficulty for each game that they play. I tried it out this morning and found that even some of the "easy" words were quite challenging. Vocab Genii can be played by registering directly on the site or connecting through your Facebook account.

Applications for Education
Vocab Genii could be a nice way for students to challenge themselves to test and expand their vocabularies. The option to connect to the game through Facebook makes it possible for students to start playing the games in a matter of seconds.

Snag Learning Film of the Week - Last Voyage of the Lusitania

The last US Veteran of WWI died yesterday at 110 years old. One of the events of WWI that is often included in lessons about WWI is the sinking of the luxury passenger ship Lusitania. The sinking heightened calls in the US for joining the war, but President Wilson resisted. None-the-less, the sinking of the Lusitania was significant in shaping public opinion about the war. In The Last Voyage of the Lusitania National Geographic examines why the ship was attacked by Germany and why it sank so fast (in just 18 minutes). Click here to watch the film and read discussion questions.
Watch more free documentaries

Study Boost - Study Through IM and Text

Students use instant messaging and text messaging to communicate with each other all day long. Study Boost knows this and is trying to leverage that student habit to make studying a part of students' text and IM habits.

Here's how it works; students sign-up on Study Boost and link their favorite IM service or SMS (mobile number) to their Study Boost accounts. Then students create batches of questions or find batches of questions made by others. After creating and or selecting batches of questions students "activate" those questions. Activating a batch of questions means that those questions will be sent via IM or SMS at intervals specified by the student. Students answer the questions and get feedback via IM or SMS.

Watch the video below to learn more about Study Boost.

Applications for Education
Study Boost could be a good service for students to use to study on the go. Using Study Boost students traveling for club or sports activities need to only take their mobile devices with them study. As a teacher you can register and submit batches of questions that your students can study. Or students can create their own sets of questions to study.