Thursday, October 6, 2011

Stay Focused - A Chrome Extension to Help You Stop Wasting Time

If you're like me, you're probably guilty of occasionally wasting time on Facebook and other social sites when you should be doing something more important. Stay Focused is a Chrome extension designed to help you stop wasting time on those sites and get your work done. With Stay Focused installed you can set a time limit for yourself on the sites that you tend to waste time on. Once you've used up your self-allotted time on those sites you won't be able to revisit them in that browser until the next day (or other time you select). Tekzilla has a nice overview of Stay Focused in the video below.

Applications for Education
Stay Focused could be a helpful extension for students who need a little help avoiding distractions and getting down to working on their homework or other assignments.

MacHeads, Welcome to Macintosh

Once a week I post a documentary video from Snag Learning. This week instead of a Snag Learning video I would like to share two videos hosted on Snag Learning's parent site Snag Films. MacHeads is a documentary about the "cult of Mac" or what makes some people so devoted to Apple's products. A preview is embedded below.

Welcome to Macintosh is an hour-long documentary about the innovations of Apple from the Apple-1 to the iPhone. A preview is embedded below.

Snaplr - Capture and Annotate Your Desktop

Vessenger, producers of a group messaging system, offers a free program for capturing and annotating images on your computer screen. The free program, called Snaplr, is available for Windows and Mac.

Snaplr reminds me a bit of Jing without the video option. With Snaplr installed you can capture all or part of your screen. Snaplr's annotation tools include text boxes, highlighting, and free-hand drawing tools. When you've finished creating your annotated screen capture you can save it as a PNG file or attach it to an email message in Outlook.

Applications for Education
Snaplr, like all screen capture tools, could be very helpful when you're introducing a new program to your students or colleagues. Offering annotated screen captures allows your students to progress at the pace that meets their needs and have your handy references along the way.

Simple Note - Sync Your Mobile Notes to Your Desktop

Simple Note is a service designed to help you sync the notes you take on your mobile device to your desktop. The basic Simple Note service is a free (with ads) iOS app that allows you to take notes and sync them to your computer. Simple Note also syncs with more than thirty other services developed by third parties. Among the list of services that Simple Note can work with is a Google Chrome App and a couple of free Android Apps. The video below offers an overview of Simple Note's basic iOS service.

Applications for Education
For students who work from multiple devices, Simple Note could be a handy app. By using Simple Note students can keep all of their notes in one place regardless of which device they take them on.

Class Parrot - Text Students and Parents for Free

Class Parrot is a new service that enables teachers to send text messages to groups of students and parents. Using Class Parrot teachers send text messages from their computers. Class Parrot keeps the students' and parents' phone numbers private.

Here's how Class Parrot works; teachers create a different group messaging program for each class that they teach. Each group that a teacher creates is assigned a unique opt-in code. Teachers give that code to students and parents. Then if a student or parent would like to receive messages from the teacher, they can simply opt-in by texting the opt-in code to Class Parrot.

Applications for Education
Class Parrot is still in beta so you do have to register and wait for an invitation. That said, Class Parrot could prove to be a great way to send reminders and other important information to students and parents. Class Parrot claims that recipients open 98% of text messages compared to 22% of emails, that alone is a good reason to give their text messaging service a try.