Showing posts with label Show all posts
Showing posts with label Show all posts

Monday, December 13, 2010

Only Two Days Left to Get Your Files from!

One last reminder, is shutting down on Wednesday, December 15. That's two days from now! If you have important files saved with, make sure you get them before it's too late. After Wednesday they will be unavailable. I was a huge proponent of and am going to miss it, but I've come up with ten alternatives to that I'll use from now on.

Friday, December 3, 2010

10+ Alternatives to

Last month announced that they are shutting down on December 15. I just posted a reminder about that and promised to follow up with some alternatives to the services that offered. Here are ten alternatives to the ten things teachers could do with in the past.

1. Post documents and PDFs for others to view and download.
This can be done with many blog and website building platforms including Google Sites, Blogger, and Edublogs. But if you don't want to go that route you could use a service such as Issuu, DocStoc, or Scribd to host your PDFs and manage their downloads. All three of those services provide you with a few different formats for embedding your documents into a blog or website.

2. Post documents, links, videos, audio files for others to access and comment on.
Again, this is pretty much the purpose of a blog. I'm partial to Blogger, but WordPress, Edublogs, and Posterous are also excellent platforms. 

3. Create voice recordings in MP3 format.
Vocaroo is a free service that allows users to create audio recordings without the need to install any software. You don't even have to create an account to use Vocaroo. All you need to provide is a microphone. To create a recording just go to, click record, grant Vocaroo access to your mic, and start talking. After completing your recording, Vocaroo gives you the choice to publish it or to scrap it and try again. provides free podcast hosting as well as free podcast recording software. (The software is available for PC only). I tested out the software a while back and found it to be more than adequate for creating vocal podcasts. For schools that do not use Apple computers (Garage Band is standard on Mac) is a good, free podcasting tool.

4. Establish a voicemail box at no cost to you.
For readers in the US Google Voice provides you with a phone number that can ring all of your landline and mobile phones simultaneously. You can choose settings in your Google Voice account to send all calls to your Google Voice number directly to voicemail where you can then play them back or have them transcribed for reading. Google Voice also offers a slew of other features that you might find handy.

5. Host online presentations.
There is no shortage of services that allow you to host presentations online. Here are a couple that I like:

Vokle is a free service for hosting and recording live web conferences. Using Vokle you can host a live conference in which participants can chat with text while you broadcast yourself. You can also broadcast a conversation of yourself and another person who has their webcam enabled. The text chat room can be used to organize a line-up of people who would like to broadcast themselves to the other chat participants. is a free service offered by Log Me In. allows Mac and Windows users to quickly share their screens with each other and work together. To use you do need to download the client. Once you've downloaded the client you can start sharing your screen with anyone you like. Just give your nine digit access number to your collaborators to give them access to your screen and to converse with you. 

6. Chat with others accessing your page. 
Scribblar is a free, simple service designed for creative, real-time collaboration. Using Scribblar, users can collaborate on the creation and editing of images and drawings. If you have an image you can upload it to your whiteboard where you and others can edit it or comment on it. The commenting can take place directly on the whiteboard or in one of two side bar chat options. Users can chat in text or in voice. In the last few months Scribblar has added a mathematics equations editor and support for PPT files. 

7. Create an anonymous email account. 
There is no shortage of services offering "disposable" or "temporary" email addresses. If you're wondering why anyone would need a disposable email address, Wikipedia offers a decent explanation. Here are a couple to look at if you need a disposable or temporary email address: mailexpire and mailinator.

8. Create a "drop box" to collect work from students using the upload widget.
This is the feature that I thought I was going to miss the most because I was using to collect a lot of assignments from students. I have found a new service that I like even better than

DROPitTOme is a free service that works with Drop Box to allow people to upload files to your Drop Box account without giving them access to the contents of your Drop Box account. For those not familiar with Drop Box it is a service that provides 2GB of free online file storage (by the way, that's way more than the 100mb offered). You can access your Drop Box from any computer and most mobile devices. You can also sync it across multiple computers. The best part is you receive a notification every time someone adds a file to your Drop Box (you can disable this if you want).

9. Use bookmarklets to bookmark links and add them to your page.
Again, this is a function for which there is no shortage of replacements. I put together a list of seven good ones here. I've also been promoting Google Bookmarks for the last few months. Learn how to use Google Bookmarks in my free publication Google for Teachers II. If you're looking for a way to send bookmarks to multiple places, I recommend trying Shareaholic.

10. Offer RSS feed for updates to your page.
Any blog or website platform worth its salt will offer this as a standard option. If you want to track the number of people subscribing to your blog or website, give FeedBurner a try. 

Reminder - Is Shutting Down

Just a quick reminder for users. is shutting down on December 15. If you don't get your files before then, they will be gone. was a great service and one that I often promoted on Free Technology for Teachers and in workshops over the last three years. I have post scheduled that will highlight some alternatives to

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Try DROPitTOme to Collect Assignments Online

When announced that they had sold out to Facebook and would be shutting down effective on December 15th, I immediately shared that news with you. One of the services offered by that I'm really going to miss is their hidden upload tool which allowed you to have others submit files to your drop. For the last couple of years I used's hidden uploader to collect assignments from students. Since's shut down announcement I've looked for a replacement to their hidden uploader and I think I've found a good one. Actually, I didn't find it it was recommended by Bill Ferreirae in a comment he posted.

DROPitTOme is a free service that works with Drop Box to allow people to upload files to your Drop Box account without giving them access to the contents of your Drop Box account. For those not familiar with Drop Box it is a service that provides 2GB of free online file storage (by the way, that's way more than the 100mb offered). You can access your Drop Box from any computer and most mobile devices. You can also sync it across multiple computers.  Learn more about Drop Box in the video below.

DROPitTOme works by synchronizing with your Drop Box account. After connecting the two services DROPitTOme provides a url that you can give to others to upload files to your Drop Box account. You must specify a password that has to be entered before an upload can take place. Give the url and password to those people you want to be able to upload files to your Drop Box account.

Applications for Education
I've implemented DROPitToMe on my course blog by placing a link to my DROPitTOme url along with the password for uploading assignments.

Friday, October 29, 2010 Acquired by Facebook - Get Your Data

I've been a huge fan and advocate for since the first month of their launch (this blog and started about the same time). This evening Jerry Swiatek directed my attention to a TechCrunch post reporting that is shutting down. confirms it on their blog, they've been bought out by Facebook and will be shutting down on December 15. As of today is no longer allowing the creation of new drops. Existing users need to download all of their files before December 15 or lose them.

Over the last few months had stopped supporting a couple of the features, upload widgets and MP3 recording, that I really liked. That had me wondering what was going on. I guess I know now.

Applications for Education
Like a lot of other educators, I use to have students upload assignments rather than emailing attachments. This will send us on a search for other services that allow the upload of varied file types to one place. I plan to spend some time exploring alternatives this weekend and I'll be sure to post them.

And don't worry, Free Technology for Teachers isn't getting bought out by Facebook anytime soon.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wetoku - Conduct, Record, & Share Video Conferences

Wetoku is a free video conferencing system that was in a closed beta when I reviewed it last summer. Wetoku is now open to the public. Wetoku is a free service for quickly conducting, recording, and sharing video interviews using your webcam. To conduct an interview just log-in to your account, click "start new interview," and send the invitation link to whomever you want to interview. Wetoku records the videos from both participants in the interview. When you embed the recording, the videos of both participants appear side by side. If you want to make your videos password protected, Wetoku gives you that option.

Embedded below is an interview I did earlier today with Simple K12 using Wetoku.

Applications for Education
Wetoku is a simple video conferencing service that doesn't require you to install any software. This is an advantage if you work in a school that doesn't allow you to install conferencing software like Skype. The other potential advantage of Wetoku is that all calls are automatically recorded which is an advantage when compared to Skype.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Connecting Classrooms Through VoiceThread - Free Web Conferencing from
Vokle - Host an Online Show or Video Conference

Friday, July 23, 2010

How to Use for Free

Earlier today I posted a list of ten ways that teachers can use There was some confusion about whether or not is free. is completely free for anyone to use. I figured out why some people thought it was not free and the reason lies in the format of the homepage. Watch the screencast video below to learn how to use for free.

Click here if you cannot see the screencast video.

Ten Uses for in Education

More than two years after its initial launch, is still one of my favorite all-around web-based tools for teachers. Here are ten ways that teachers can use

Update: As of December 15, 2010 will no longer exist. 

Update for clarification: is completely free up to 100mb of storage. Beyond that, you can either pay a premium or simply create an additional drop. I just tested this a minute ago by creating a brand-new drop for free. Important: You DO NOT need to create an account to use In fact, if you try to create an account using the "sign-up" link you will be signing-up for Manager which is not what you want to do.

Update #2: See the screen capture below to see how to use for free.

1. Post documents and PDFs for others to view and download.
2. Post documents, links, videos, audio files for others to access and comment on.
3. Create voice recordings in MP3 format.
4. Establish a voicemail box at no cost to you.
5. Host online presentations.
6. Chat with others accessing your page.
7. Create an anonymous email account.
8. Create a "drop box" to collect work from students using the upload widget. No longer available, it has been replaced by a "hidden uploader" which is not embeddable.
9. Use bookmarklet to bookmark links and add them to your page.
10. Offer RSS feed for updates to your page.

(Click to enlarge) Important DO NOT try to sign-up using the account log-in and password field. Use only the steps to the left. You DO NOT need to create an account to use

Here's a video overview of

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Delivering Modern Substitute Teacher Lesson Plans

When I started to consider going back to school to become a teacher, I spent nearly a year substitute teaching in a wide array of high school classrooms. It was mostly a very positive experience, but there were a few days when I felt like this substitute teacher, overwhelmed and frustrated. Usually, the root causes of those feelings was not the students' behavior. Rather the causes were a lack of clarity of direction in the plans the left behind by the classroom teacher and a lack of clarity in expectations for the students (and there were a few times when no plans were left at all). There are two resources that I wish teachers had available and had used when I was substitute teaching, Viddler and I use these now when I'm absent from my classroom.

Viddler is a free video hosting and sharing service. Viddler, like YouTube, allows you to record and post videos directly to the site through your webcam. I use Viddler and my webcam to record short videos in which I explain to my students my expectations for what they are to accomplish while I am out of the classroom. I post the video to my course blog. My written plan for the substitute always starts with "have students watch the new video on the course blog." is a free service that allows you to host and share files online. also has a free podcast recording service called Using this service you can call into your drop ('s term for a page), record your message, and have it appear as an MP3 on your drop. Anyone visiting your drop can listen to your recording. also provides an embed code for your recording to put your recording on your blog or website.

Applications for Education
By using Viddler and I can directly deliver my plans and expectations to my students even when I'm out of my classroom. Doing this eliminates the possibility of a student saying "the sub didn't tell us to do that." It also helps out the substitute teacher who now has a clearer idea of my plan for the day.

I'm in the fortunate position of working in a 1:1 school. If your school is not 1:1 you can still use Viddler and You just need one computer in your classroom that the substitute or your students can access when you're not in your classroom.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Use's Upload Widget to Collect Student Work

If your students are in the habit of emailing essays, slideshows, and other creations to you, you know how quickly your inbox can get crowded. One way to resolve that problem is to get all of your students using Google Docs. But if Google Docs isn't an option for your students because of school policy (yes, some schools discourage the use of Google Docs) or other issues, offers a solution you might want to explore. offers a simple upload widget that you can embed into your course blog or website. Place the upload widget on your blog and your students can upload their work directly to your drop from your blog. You can then view your students' work on your page and keep your email inbox clutter free. Embedded below are directions for installing the upload widget on Blogger blogs and Edublogs blogs.

Here are some previous posts I've written about
How Saved My Morning - Free Web Conferencing from - Podcasting With

Friday, November 20, 2009

The How-to Series

Back in August I ran a series of five how-to posts. Those posts gave directions on how to use six Web 2.0 tools that can be used in any classroom. Because that series ran in the summer, a lot of teachers may have missed it. Therefore, I've put those posts in the list below.

1. Using Wikispaces
2. Setting Up a Blog (directions for Blogger, WordPress, and Edublogs)
3. - Easy Media Sharing (1o Things You Can Do With
4. Building a Classroom Website (Using Yola)
5. Using Animoto and VoiceThread

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How-to Week, Day 3 -, Easy Media Sharing

This is day 3 of how-to week on Free Technology for Teachers. On Monday we looked at getting started with Wikispaces. Yesterday, we looked at starting a blog using Blogger, Edublogs, and WordPress. Today, we will look at all of the things you can do with is a very simple platform for sharing and creating a wide variety of files, links, and media.

Here is a run-down of ten things that you can do with
1. Post documents and PDFs for others to view and download.
2. Post documents, links, videos, audio files for others to access and comment on.
3. Create voice recordings in MP3 format.
4. Establish a voicemail box at no cost to you.
5. Host online presentations.
6. Chat with others accessing your page.
7. Create an anonymous email account.
8. Create a "drop box" to collect work from students using the upload widget.
9. Use bookmarklet to bookmark links and add them to your page.
10. Offer RSS feed for updates to your page.

In the video below I demonstrate how quick and easy it is to get started with

The video below is an overview of all of's options.

This video is one of the many how-to videos available on

Here are some previous posts I've written about
How Saved My Morning - Free Web Conferencing from - Podcasting With

Thursday, May 14, 2009 - Free Web Conferencing from

The folks at have just released another great, free, service, called allows users to set up a free webinar or video conference with just two clicks.

Just like with there is no registration required to use the service and there is no software to install. To use simply create a drop and share the drop's unique url (and optional password) with whomever you would like to participate in the conference. When you're ready to start your conference click "start presentation." If you create the conference you are the administrator and have full access to show the other participants files, links, photos, and any other media you're using on your computer.

The video embedded below gives a great demonstration of in action.

Applications for Education could be a great, free, tool for conducting online courses and online tutoring sessions. Because is entirely web-based you can use any computer connected to the Internet to conduct your conference.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you: - Podcasting With

Using in my Classroom
My 12 Favorite Resources of 2008

Monday, April 6, 2009 - Podcasting With

I am a big fan of for its simple yet powerful file hosting and file sharing capabilities. I've been using for the last 18 months for all kinds of things including sharing presentations, posting outlines, collecting student work, and recording voice messages. Recently, I began using the bookmarklet to save my daily Twitter finds. Last week unveiled some new improvements to its voice recording options in the form of the applet.

The new applet makes it easier than it was with the original voice service to push your voice recordings to iTunes or embed your voice recording as an MP3 into blogs and websites. To record your voice message, simply set up a "drop" then call the phone number assigned to your drop. It's very simple, but for a visual explanation of watch this screencast. If you need a quick way to set up a conference call, does that too although it doesn't record the conference call.

Applications for Education
Since Gcast changed from a free model to a minimum $99 fee service, some teachers have been looking for new ways to record short podcasts. provides a simple, free platform for creating short podcasts. The storage limit is 100mb. I didn't come close to using up all 100mb even when I had 20 minutes of voice in one drop. If you do find you need more space, is giving a 15% discount on storage to people moving over from Gcast.

When all of my students had laptops - hopefully, they will again next year- I used to record my substitute teacher plans for the students to listen to. By doing that I was able to eliminate the excuse of "the sub didn't tell us to do that."

FREE National Geographic map with purchases $65+!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Google Voice - Voicemail to Text Conversion

All of the big tech news blogs are reporting today on Google's newest service Google Voice. Google Voice is not publicly available yet, but according to the Google Voice help center it will be available to all in a few weeks. One of the most promising features is automatic transcription of voicemail messages to text. To learn more about this new service check out Mashable's or Read Write Web's reviews with screen images of the new service. The short video embedded below gives a brief overview of Google Voice.

Applications for Education
Google Voice could be used to quickly dictate substitute teaching plans in a manner similar to the way in which I've used the voicemail service to dictate substitute teaching plans.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 Adds Live Collaboration

Today, unveiled another great utility, live chat.'s live chat will allow users to host conversations about documents, slideshows, or any other media that has been uploaded to The other improvement that has made lies in the stream or list of media that you upload. Newly uploaded media should now appear without the need refresh your page. Previously, you had to refresh your browser in order for the most recent uploads and edits to appear. The video embedded below gives a good overview of the latest enhancements. is one of my favorite free web resources. is where I host copies of documents and assignments for my students to access. And recently I began having my students use to create digital portfolios. In the past I've also used to create audio recordings. It is these utilities and more that justified including in the list of my 12 favorite resources of 2008.

The video below gives a great overview of's latest enhancements.
Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Applications for Education
The live chat option on could be very useful for those times when your students are at home looking at an assignment you've posted and need clarification. You could chat with them about the assignment or they could chat with one of their classmates about the assignment.

Friday, February 27, 2009

How My Students Used Today

I've written about a number of times in the past (here, here, and here) and I continue to find new ways to take advantage of all that has to offer. For those readers not familiar with, the basic purpose of is to provide a simple file, private sharing system. gives users the ability to create a page of documents, links, and audio files in a matter of seconds.

Today, I gave one of my classes an assignment about the transcontinental railroad, the settlement of the western United States, and the role that "the old west" played in forming the identity of America. The assignment required students to find 19th century images of the West that they thought symbolized characteristics and stereotypes of the West. After finding the images, the students had to write a short justification for the selection of each image. I could have had the students print each image they found, but our school only has black and white laser printers so the quality of image prints is not good. Here's where entered the picture; I had each student (there is only four in this class) create a page on which they added links to the images they found. Along with each image link the students had to write a short note justifying the selection of each image.

The students enjoyed creating these digital portfolios and they now have something that they can continue to add to for the rest of the year. Using to have students create digital portfolios for this assignment also cuts down on the pile of physical papers that I have to sort through and keep track of over the weekend.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Choosing a Google Notebook Replacement

I have been using Google Notebook for roughly the last 18 months to clip and save all kinds of information that I find on the web. Today, all of the major tech blogs reported that Google is eliminating some of their services. One of the services that slated to be phased out is Google Notebook. I had some conversations with other teachers on Twitter about using other online notebook programs. It seems that some people will give Zoho Notebook a try. In response to those conversations I made a short screencast demonstrating how to move content from Google Notebook to Zoho Notebook, you can see that screencast here.

I have always like Google Notebook for its Firefox add-on that allows me to clip a website's url and add notes to my clipping without having to open a new tab or window. In addition to the Zoho Notebook add-on, the Firefox add-on has the potential to replace Google Notebook as my prefered bookmarking and notetaking tool. This afternoon I installed the add-on which allows me bookmark and write notes directly into one of my drops by simply clicking a little "+" icon my browser toolbar. In just a couple of hours of using the add-on I can safely say that I do prefer it over the Zoho add-on.

Mozilla has a library containing 278 Firefox add-ons designed for bookmarking websites in one way or another. Some of add-ons in the library, like the Delicious add-on, I have used in the past others I have never heard of before. Over the next few days I'll be trying out a bunch of the bookmarking add-ons in the Mozilla library and I'll let you know which ones I like.

What is your favorite bookmarking and notetaking tool?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Using in my Classroom

Yesterday, someone in my Twitter network posted a link to an article on Make Use Of titled 8 Ways to Use I've mentioned eight times on this blog including How Saved My Morning and My 12 Favorite Resources of 2008. The article on Make Use Of outlines eight ways that the general population can use After reading the article I thought it would be appropriate to mention some ways that I have used in my classroom.

Applications for Education
Substitute Plans: Last year when my school decided to try to give old (8-9 years old) laptops to all 9th grade students, I took as full advantage of the opportunity as I could. One thing I did early on was to call my account and leave messages for my students on the days when I was going to be out of the classroom. The first step in all of my sub plans then became, "have students listen to voicemail message on their laptops." By doing this, the students could no longer say, "the sub didn't tell us to do that."

Outlines, slideshows, assignments, and rubrics: is a very simple way to post resources that your students and their parents may need. Students, especially 9th grade students, lose a lot of papers. Rather than giving students extra copies of materials, they can go online to view or print the materials they've lost. Posting materials on is also a great way to share information with parents, particularly PDF's of permission slips or other forms that parents may need to sign for their children.

Organize a webquest: Some of my special education students have difficulty transcribing or correctly entering long urls. One method I've used to help students get beyond urls and into the content of a webquest is to post on a list of hyperlinked urls for students to click in sequence.

Have you tried yet? How are you using in your classroom?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My 12 Favorite Resources of 2008 - Part I

1. - The first time I saw I knew that it would be a very useful tool for teachers. was launched in the fall of 2007 and continuously add new, free, features throughout 2008. Some of things that I've done with in the last year include recording podcasts, posting slide shows, posting lecture outlines, posting rubrics, posting links for my students, leaving voice messages for my students on the days that I'm out of the classroom, and collecting students' assignments without cluttering my inbox. Getting started with is extremely quick and easy. In fact, it's easier than setting up a blog. To read more about how can be used in the classroom click here, here, or here. To see just how useful can be when you're short on time read How Saved My Morning.

2. Google Docs - I used Google Docs off and on last year as a collaboration tool with my co-workers and administrators last year. Then my hard drive unexpectedly failed (it was less than six months old) in May taking a lot of files with it. That's when I decided that I trust Google's servers a lot more than my local hard drive or my school district's servers (which failed the prior year and took a lot of my files with it). Since May, every document that I have created has been created in my Google Docs account.

Many of my students are now using Google Docs for their word processing tasks. I encourage all of my students and colleagues to use Google Docs because it eliminates the "I forgot my flash drive" and "my printer is broken" excuses.

Here are a few previous posts about using Google Docs in education.
Eight Ways to Use Google Docs
Bibliography Templates for Google Docs
Projects Using Google Docs

3. Zoho Show - Zoho Show is part of a suite of free web based tools offered by Zoho. There are many free slide show creation tools available on the Internet and I've tried a lot of them, but every time I need to create a slide show, I find myself using Zoho Show. I find myself using Zoho Show because it offers more editing options and templates than those found on Google Presentation. Zoho Show presentations can easily be embedded in a blog or shared via email. I also like Zoho Show because my students can work collaboratively to create group presentations. Interestingly, when my students have to create a presentation I give them the choice of Google Presentation or Zoho Show and most end up using Zoho. Click here or here to see a couple of previous blog posts about Zoho Show.

4. Jing Project - Jing is a free screencasting tool available for Mac and Windows. Jing allows me to make short screencasts to explain to students and colleagues how to perform a function on the computer. I used Jing numerous times this year to produce screencasts for my colleagues that had to learn how to use Mac.

5. Google Maps & Google Earth - As a Social Studies teacher I teach and have taught history, geography, and economics. Google Maps and Google Earth can be used to teach all three of these topics. Google Maps and Google Earth can be used by students to create content like virtual tours or as research tools. A few of my favorite uses for Google Maps and Google Earth can be found here, here, or here.

6. Zamzar - Zamzar is a free resource that allows me to convert YouTube videos into a number of different formats to download, save, and playback on my local computer. This is a particularly useful tool if you're in a school district that doesn't allow access to YouTube. You can download videos at home, save them on your laptop, flash drive, or email them to yourself to use in the classroom. You can read about Zamzar and other ways to save YouTube videos in Can't Use YouTube? Try This.