Showing posts with label Social Networking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Social Networking. Show all posts

Friday, May 24, 2019

An Overview of Fishbowl - A Professional Discussion App for Teachers

Last week I published a post about Fishbowl that generated some good questions from readers about how the app works. Fishbowl is more than an app, it's a professional discussion network. Teachers can join Fishbowl to engage in discussions on issues important to educator community.

Fishbowl will let you participate in discussions anonymously, on the condition that you have first verified your identity. If that seems to be a contradiction, watch my video overview below to see how the app and the discussions work.

Disclosure: Fishbowl is currently an advertiser on

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How to Block an Instagram Account

Tweens and teens love Instagram. Common Sense Media recommends that teens and tweens use the privacy setting to restrict who can follow them on Instagram. I agree with that recommendation. But if you have teens who doesn't listen to you (who hasn't?) and lets anyone follow them, make sure that they and you know how to block unwanted followers. The following short video shows you how to block an Instagram account.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Double Your Productivity with Radical Co-location is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers. This is their sponsored post.

Ever wonder how software companies like Facebook and Twitter are so productive? One of the industry secrets is that teams work better and communicate more efficiently in a single, big, and open room.
Research at the University of Michigan teams found that teams experience a higher level of work satisfaction and are more productive when they can gather together in the same space, communicating in real-time without any barriers or delays. This type of working environment is called “Radical Co-location.” Members of a team that are not in the same location need a way to collaborate online. Products like Hall can help.

It’s Real-Time
Still using email to communicate and get things done? You’re probably reducing your productivity (and your team’s productivity) by about 40%. The solution is to move your team to group chat.  If you need to work with one person send an instant message (IM): Conversation with a single click of a button - no need to open emails or wait for a response.

It’s Convenient
Hall is one of the only group chat and instant messaging applications that is accessible on all platforms including web, desktop, mobile (iOS & Android). By choosing a product that works on all platforms, you’ll be able to get things done even faster, anytime and anywhere.

It’s Easy to Start
The most important thing to do is to get started. Join Hall and let people know this is your new virtual office where your team gets things done, collaborates, chats, and instant messages. You’ll find real-time collaboration solutions like Hall are a more productive and fun way to stay connected to your team.
Experience group chat and instant messaging at Hall.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Meritful - A Network Connecting Students with Mentors

Meritful is a new network that aims to help students connect with mentors. On Meritful students will be able to find mentors who can advise them on their resumes, applications, and portfolios. Students can also ask mentors questions about the career fields that they are interested in. Students and mentors gain merit points for expanding their networks and for answering questions.

Applications for Education
The concept behind Meritful is good, but I want to see some more privacy controls put in place before I can recommend it for use in high schools. I was able to create both student and mentor accounts without having to enter any questions about my status as a student or mentor. The only question that I had to answer as a mentor was, "are you affiliated with a school and which one?" There wasn't a requirement to have an email address issued by that school or any other affiliation verification.

College students may be interested in connecting with each other and with mentors to help them prepare for job interviews. Meritful is kind of like LinkedIn for college students.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Learnist Launches iPad and iPhone Apps

This service is no longer available.

Back in May I wrote about Learnist being "Pinterest for Learning." I still think that's a fair assessment of what Learnist offers to educators. It's a way to visually bookmark and share lesson plans and other educational resources. Today, Learnist released an iPad app and an iPhone app.
The Learnist iPad and iPhone apps allow you to create boards, browse boards, and share your favorite resources.

Watch the short video below to learn more about what Learnist offers.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Piazza - Not Just Another Message Board System

Over the years I've reviewed quite a few services that offer teachers the ability to create private message boards for use in their courses. Here's a handful of those services. Today, I learned about one that tops all of those services.

Piazza is a free service that teachers can use to create message boards for their courses. Piazza message boards offer more than just the standard question and answer format found in the old free Ning packages, but not quite as many features as a paid service like Blackboard. Some of the highlights of Piazza are tracking of student use, options for having multiple instructors and or teaching assistants in each course, and collaborative editing of messages. Piazza also offers the things that you might expect like basic announcement posting.

When students response to a question posted by a teacher they can work with other students to edit that response. So rather than having a bunch of similar responses to sort through students can work together to develop a cohesive response. Teachers can weigh-in directly on each student response with a simple thumbs-up or they can actually comment and edit student responses. And like any good message board system, responses to messages in Piazza can be threaded.

To help instructors keep track of unanswered questions from students, Piazza offers great filtering tools. When they sign into their courses, just like in email, they can click to instantly see the latest unread messages, latest replies, and latest unresolved questions.

Applications for Education
For educators that are looking for a little more than a bare-bones message board system, but don't have the resources for a system like Blackboard, Piazza could be the end of that quest. To help teachers and students stay connected from just about anywhere, Piazza offers free Android and iPhone apps.

I learned about Piazza through Jessica Cam Wong's excellent Make Use Of post about the service. She wrote about it from the perspective of a student. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Podio - Task Management, Collaboration, and More for Higher Ed

Podio is a service designed for businesses to use as a company intranet. Recently, Podio announced that they are making their services available for free to any college/ university student who registers with a school email account.

Podio provides an intranet framework that can be customized by users to suit their specific needs. Podio offers tools for task management, collaborative workspaces, file sharing, and messaging. Students can also choose to use survey tools and note sharing tools on Podio. Podio can be used on your computer or on your mobile device. Watch the introductory video below to learn more about Podio.

Applications for Education
My original title for this post was Podio - Edmodo for Higher Ed because I think that they both provide students with fundamental tools for private collaboration. The difference is that Podio groups can be created by students without instructors. Podio could be a great tool for university students to collaborate on both simple tasks like sharing notes or more in-depth tasks like collaborating on a research effort.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What I'm Doing With Google+ Now

Since I was asked earlier today about my Google+ postings, I think I should share with you how I'm currently using it and what I plan to do with it. When Google+ initially launched you could only sign-up as an individual using your real name. In fact, if you didn't use your real name Google could and did kick you off. I actually liked that element of Google+ because it eliminated the anonymous spamming that can happen on Twitter. I didn't use Google+ nearly as much as Twitter or Facebook at first. I slowly found myself building circles that I did find useful, but I have to admit that I didn't have a real system or plan as to how I was constructing circles. Everything changed this week when Google launched Google+ Pages.

Google+ Pages allows organizations and brands (like Free Technology for Teachers) to create a presence on Google+. Upon learning this news I immediately created a Google+ Page for Free Technology for Teachers. Moving forward, the Google+ Page for Free Technology for Teachers is where I will post links to the things I publish here. I will also use the Google+ Page to share, +1, and re-share interesting things related to education that are posted by others. Right now I am putting everyone that puts Free Technology for Teachers into their circles into my circle of followers so that I can see what you're publicly sharing too. One of the things that Google has done right with Google+ Pages is preventing Pages creators from adding people to their circles that have not been added by an individual. In other words, I can't put you into my Google+ Page circle unless you have put me in a circle. I think that's a good anti-spam measure on Google's part.

Because a lot of people have put me, Richard Byrne, into their circles I will continue to cross post between my personal Google+ account and the Free Technology for Teachers Google+ Page for a couple of more weeks. After that I will only use my personal Google+ account for interacting with friends without posts linking back to Free Technology for Teachers. So for those of you who have put me and Free Technology for Teachers in circles, I apologize for the double posting and promise that it will end at Thanksgiving (the US version of the holiday).

Hangouts are one of the neat features of Google+ that I've been using sporadically with some of my friends. Moving forward I would like to use Google+ Hangouts to connect with readers. I don't yet have firm plans for how I'll do that, but I'll let you know here and on the Google+ Page for Free Technology for Teachers.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Google+ Pages - Use Google+ to Connect With Your Community

Today, Google launched Google+ Pages. I created a Google+ Page for Free Technology for Teachers. If you're inclined to, I'd love to have you connect with me there. Now that I've gotten that bit of self-promotion out of the way, let's look at what Google+ Pages is.

Google+ Pages provides a way for businesses and organizations to connect with their audiences. Much like Facebook Pages, people can choose to follow a Google+ Page to receive updates from that organization and connect through conversations with that organization. Unlike a Facebook Page, on a Google+ Page you can host a public hangout to video chat with your community of followers. You can watch an overview of Google+ Pages in the video below or jump down to read my thoughts about using Google+ Pages in schools.

Applications for Education
My initial thought upon learning of the launch of Google+ Pages is that they could be a good tool for schools to use to connect with parents and other community members. Then I started to think about school-affiliated organizations like PTAs and booster's clubs that could use Google+ Pages to connect with their communities. Both types of groups could use the public hangout option to host small, live discussions with interested community members.

Down the road as more students start to use Google+, Google+ Pages could be used by teachers to create course pages through which students could ask questions in writing or in a hangout.

If you want to try to create a Google+ Page of your own right now, you can do so here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Are You On Google+

Earlier this week Google opened up Google+ to the world. I've been on it since late July but now that it's really open, I plan to spend more time on it. I like that it offers the option for conversations of a longer form than that which can be held on Twitter. So are you going to join? Are you already on it? If so, you can find me here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Convofy - A Private Social Network for Your Organization

Convofy is a new service that provides private social networks for organizations. The purpose of Convofy is to provide a centralized location for collaboration and communication within an organization. Convofy requires all users of a network to have the same email domain (@yourorganizationsname) in order to be in the network. Within a network you can create groups of users. Convofy offers free and premium (paid) plans. Learn more about Convofy in the video below.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a service that will streamline communication and collaboration within your organization, Convofy might be the service for you.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

YapTime - A Place to Share, Collaborate, and Organize

YapTime is a new entry into the "create your own social network" market. YapTime offers a free service for creating and hosting your own private network. The network you create on YapTime is private by default and only those people that you invite can join it. In YapTime you can exchange messages, share files, and host a group event calendar. Within your YapTime network you can create multiple rooms for conversations. Each member of your network can create a profile by which other members identify them.

Applications for Education
YapTime could be a good place to create a network for your classes. You can share updates about class, post files that students might need, and answer questions from students. If you teach multiple sections of the same course you can create a different room for each class within your network.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Everloop - A Monitored Social Network for Tweens

Everloop is a social networking site designed for use by tweens and their parents. Everloop provides tweens with a closed network in which they can interact with their chosen friends. Everloop gives parents the ability to monitor the interactions of their children with other children in their networks. Tweens cannot expand their networks without their parents' knowledge.

Much like the social networks designed for teens and adults, Everloop offers tweens the option to play games, design profile pages, chat, and talk about school-related events.

Applications for Education
Everloop could be a good, safe environment in which children can learn responsible social networking behaviors. In that regard, I see Everloop being the training wheels of social networking before tweens become teens and join Facebook or other social networks.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fridge - Create Cool Private Social Networks

In the past I've written about some good services teachers can use to create private social networks for their classrooms and schools. This afternoon I found another  service that makes it easy to set up your own private social network, it's called Fridge. Signing up and creating your first private social network on Fridge takes just a couple of minutes. Once you've created your account and network you can invite people to join your network. You can create multiple separate groups within your Fridge account. The video below explains the benefits of Fridge.

Applications for Education
The option to create and control multiple groups within your Fridge account could be useful for teachers like me that teach multiple sections of the same course. That feature enables us to monitor and participate in the online conversations taking place in each section without having to create and manage multiple log-ins.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Fake Wall - Create a Fake Facebook Wall

My Fakewall is no longer functioning.

Last summer I shared with you a Google Docs template for creating fake Facebook profiles. That template was designed by Derrick Waddell for his students to use to create Facebook profiles for historical figures. Today, I discovered My Fake Wall which is a tool for creating a fake Facebook wall for a fictitious or historical character.  To create a Fake Wall you do need to register for a My Fake Wall account. Then you can upload images, write wall posts, even create "likes" and comments on fake posts. Click here to see the beginning of the Fake Wall I created for my dog.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Toonti - Create Your Own Social Network

Toonti is a new free service for creating your own small social network. Using Toonti you can create a private or public social network. If you choose to make your network private, only the people you invite and approve can join and interact with the members of your network. A public group is open to anyone who stumbles upon it. In your Toonti network users can create profiles, interact with each other through message boards, share media, or create an online study group.

Creating your own social network with Toonti takes only a few minutes. Watch the video below to learn more about Toonti.

Toonti is still in beta so there are some quirks. Toonti works best in Firefox or Internet Explorer.

Applications for Education
Toonti and similar services can be used by teachers to create a small network in which their students can have online study/ homework help groups. Similarly, build your own social network tools can be used by school administrators to create networks in which they can interact with parents and parents can interact with each other around school-related issues. 

Edmodo Webinars for Parents & Teachers

Last week Edmodo, a service I've reviewed a few times since its launch,  introduced accounts for parents. This new option allows teachers to add parents to their Edmodo network in which the parents will be able to see what teachers post. It will also enable parents and teachers to exchange messages. You should note that parents will only be able to interact with the teacher and their children. Click here to read Edmodo's directions for creating parent accounts.

To help parents and teachers learn how to utilize the new parent accounts feature, Edmodo is hosting a series of instructional webinars beginning this Thursday, January 20th at 6pm.  From the Edmodo announcement here are the topics for the first webinar:

  • Create an account using the unique parent code provided by the teacher

  • Send a note to the teacher or their child

  • View Assignments and Due Dates

  • Share Content

  • Filter calendar views for multiple teachers and/or children in the family

  • Access Edmodo through the free mobile app

  • Applications for Education
    Edmodo is a great platform for communications between teachers and students, students and students, and now between teachers and parents. Edmodo allows you to post messages, files, and calendar dates important for your students' success in your courses.

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    7 Tools to Build a Social Network for Your School

    Yesterday, I wrote a post containing resources to help schools understand social media. Hopefully, you've passed that post along to the people at your school that need to read it (using the Add This button at the bottom of each post is an easy way to email the post). Hopefully, after reading and watching the resources in yesterday's post you will have administrators ask you about creating a social media presence for your school. One way to do that is to create a Facebook page for your school. The next step could be creating a social network and or message board forum for your school. Here are seven tools you can use to create your own social network or message board forum.

    Wall FM is a service that anyone can use to create a social network. Some of Wall FM's key features are message boards, customizable user profiles, private messaging between community members, and Facebook connect integration. Facebook connect integration means that people can sign in to their Wall FM accounts using their Facebook credentials. The free version of Wall FM does set a limit on monthly bandwidth usage, but for most classroom situations that limit shouldn't present an issue. If you have someone in your school willing to maintain a server for you, you can download and run the Wall FM software for free.
    Edmodo is a microblogging system designed specifically for teachers and students. Using Edmodo teachers can create a microblogging network for their classes. Edmodo allows teachers to create a group specifically for their students and exclude those not invited to the group. Edmodo provides teachers with a place to post assignment reminders, build an event calendar, and post messages to the group. Just as with any good microblogging service users can share links, videos, and images.

    ShoutEm allows you to make your own public or private network. As the administrator of your own network you can restrict access to only those people you invite. You can also exclude entire email domains in the adminstrative settings. Your ShoutEm network can be as simple as Twitter or as robust as FriendFeed. As the administrator of your ShoutEm network you can choose to allow users to post pictures, attachments, and have threaded conversations. Update: Since this post was written, Shoutem has changed business models and is now working on mobile app development instead of social networks.

    Jabbster is a free service that allows families and groups to create private online communication networks. Within your private network you can host discussion boards, share photos, post an event calendar, and share bookmarks. Setting up a Jabbster group is quick and easy. Simply register for an account, name your group, and send invitations to the people you want in the group. If you create the group, you are the group administrator and can delete any content or user from the group at any time.

    CubeTree is a free service designed for companies that would like to build a social network of wikis, shared items, and microblogs for their employees. On CubeTree anyone can create a network and invite colleagues. All colleagues must have the same email domain. For example, if I wanted to create a network, only people with an domain could be in my network. Everyone in the network can create a profile (Facebook-like), post updates, share documents, collaborate on documents and spreadsheets, and share items from their RSS feeds.

    Lefora allows anyone to create a public or private message board in three easy steps. To create a message board hosted by Lefora, click "create a forum," create a user name, then select the layout of your forum. Your forum will be hosted as a subdomain of Users of your forum can create profiles complete with avatars, biographies, and links to their blogs or other social networking profiles.

    The folks behind Lefora also run allows you to create a discussion forum and embed it into your blog or website in seconds.
    To add a discussion forum to your blog or website simply go to, copy the embed code and paste it into the code of your blog or website. You do not have to create an account to use nor do visitors to your embedded forum have to create a account. Users of login using their Facebook, Google, Yahoo, or Twitter accounts.

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Connect Safely - A Parents' Guide to Facebook

    Connect Safely, a resource reviewed last year on Free Technology for Teachers, has just released a new 32 page guide to Facebook for parents. A Parents' Guide to Facebook is a soup-to-nuts guide to Facebook privacy settings, profile settings, group settings, and more. For parents who "just don't get Facebook" the guide offers great explanations of the appeal of Facebook for teenagers and what teenagers do on Facebook.  The guide provides a run down of recommended settings for teenagers and explanations of what those settings mean.

    H/T to Sylvia Martinez for the news about this guide.

    Applications for Education
    If you occasionally find yourself fielding questions from parents about Facebook and social networking, A Parents' Guide to Facebook is a good resource to refer them too.

    Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
    Phishing Detection Education
    Zilladog - Kid Friendly, Parent Monitored Email
    Safe Computing Tools for Kids - Windows Based

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Twiducate - Social Networking for Schools

    Twiducate is a free platform for creating your own micro social network in a Twitter-like format. Twiducate allows you to create a private network for posting assignments and messages to your students or other people you invite into your network. As the creator of your network you create and administer the accounts of the students in your network. Students in your network can reply to your messages and to the messages of other students.

    Watch the short video to learn more about Twiducate.

    Applications for Education
    Twiducate could be a good tool for introducing to the concepts and methods of micro-blogging and social networks. Twiducate gives you the power to oversee your students' accounts. Students can post in a safe environment.

    Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:Back-channeling During a Class Viewing of Glory
    Try TodaysMeet for Back-channel Chat Without Distraction
    Neat Chat - Quickly Create an Ad-free Chatroom