Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Assess Your Typing Skills in Realistic Scenarios

There are plenty of online programs that you can use to practice typing skills, test your typing speed, and test your typing accuracy. While some of those may be very good programs they don't evaluate your typing skills while you're going about your daily web browsing or word processing activities. Typing Speed Monitor, a Google Chrome extension, does just that.

Typing Speed Monitor is a Google Chrome extension that will track how fast you type and what keys you use most frequently. If you do a lot of writing online, Typing Speed Monitor is one way to get accurate feedback on your typing proficiency in real-world settings. The latest version of Typing Speed Monitor allows you to opt out of having it track your typing on domains you specify. For example, if you don't want it to track how fast you type on Facebook, you can exclude that domain.

Applications for Education
Typing Speed Monitor could be a good way to find out how well students actually type in realistic scenarios.

Astrid - A To-do List Service on the Web, iOS, and Android

Astrid is a to-do list management service that functions on the web, on Android devices, and on iOS devices. To get started using Astrid you can register with a Google account, Facebook account, or you can register for an Astrid account.

Once you're registered you can start creating lists of tasks to complete. Astrid provides four default list categories but you can add more if you like. Each task that you enter can be assigned a due date. Astrid can be used collaboratively. If so desire you can share your task lists with others in Astrid.

The video below provides a short overview of Astrid's features.

Applications for Education
Astrid has the potential to be a good to-do list management tool for students. The interface is easy to use which increases the likelihood that students will actually use the service.

Quickly Create a Music Video on Tracking Shot

Tracking Shot is a simple music video creation tool that apparently has been around for a while, but I just recently learned about it from Nathan Hall. Tracking Shot is kind of like a stripped-down version of Animoto.

To create a music video using Tracking Shot just upload some pictures, upload music, and let Tracking Shot mix the video. If you're not happy with the original mix, click the remix link and get a new version of the video. One of the limitations of Tracking Shot is that the only ways to share your videos is by email or by posting a link online. There doesn't appear to be an embed option available.

Applications for Education
Like Animoto, Tracking Shot isn't a tool that you would have students use for complex digital stories. For creating a short video book trailer or a for creating a short overview of a story, Tracking Shot could be a good tool to use.

Overlap Maps - Quickly Compare the Size of Countries

Overlap Maps is a free service that can be used to quickly compare the size of countries, states, provinces, and some bodies of water. To create a visual comparison of two countries select one country from the "overlap this" menu and select one country from the "onto this" menu. The comparisons you make are displayed on a map. You can make comparisons from different categories. For example, you can overlap Lake Erie onto New Hampshire. 

Applications for Education
Overlap Maps could be a good little tool to help students can perspective of the relative size of places that they study in their geography lessons.

H/T to Google Maps Mania

5 Free Tools for Curating Educational Videos from Across the Web

YouTube can be a great place to find educational videos to use in your classroom. But YouTube isn't the only place where you can find good educational video content. These services will allow you to organize playlists from multiple video sharing services. Please note that if YouTube is blocked in your school, the only tool in this list that will provide a work around for you is Miro. Click here for a list of alternatives to YouTube.

Miro is an open source media player available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. With Miro installed on your computer you can search for, watch, listen to, and download media. You can search multiple video sources including YouTube and Hulu within the Miro player. When you find a video that you like, you can download it and store it in the Miro player. If you choose to allow it, Miro can search your computer for existing media files to add to your Miro player. The Miro player can also be synced with your Android device. The latest version of Miro has the capability to stream between devices over a local network.

Squrl is a free service that allows you to create a playlist of videos from sources all over the web. Rather than creating playlists on individual video sites like YouTube and Vimeo, you can create playlists from multiple sources and save them in one place for sharing with others and viewing at your convenience.

The Squrl iPad app has the same basic purpose as the Squrl web service. You can discover and watch videos from many sources. Your playlists can be shared with your contacts in your favorite social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Yokto is a service that allows you to collect videos from multiple sources and display them in one player on your website. As you might expect you can gather videos from YouTube, but you can also gather videos from sources like Vimeo, Blip, UStream, and Slideshare. The videos that you gather can be played through the Yokto video player embedded into your website. Yokto operates on a freemium business model. That means that the basic Yokto functions of gather videos and displaying them through the Yokto player is free, but there are additional options you can purchase. Some of the additional options are customizable video players and hosting of your own videos.

Plizy is a service that allows you to browse for and save videos to playback later on your iPad or Android tablet. Plizy has many video channels to choose from. If the videos you see in default Plizy channels are not to your liking, you can create your own custom channels. Unlike some apps that only pull content from YouTube, Plizy pulls content from many  popular sources including TED, National Geographic, and CNET. To get started using Plizy you do need to install either the iPad app or the Android app. After installing the app you can register for Plizy through the app.

Chill is a free service for creating and sharing collections of your favorite videos from YouTube, Vimeo, VEVO, and Hulu. Chill is kind of like Pinterest for videos. Using Chill you can add videos with your comments to categories that you create. Your videos appear like sticky notes on a wall. Chill allows you to follow other Chill users to discover and share new videos.