Thursday, October 27, 2011

Whatfolio - Publish Your Digital Portfolio

Whatfolio is a free service for creating online displays of your digital works.   Whatfolio is essentially a homepage to show off what you have created or what you can do. Whatfolio pages are highly customizable for a variety of purposes. When you create your Whatfolio pages you can choose from thirty templates. You'll find templates for photographers, designers, personal websites, business websites, student work samples, and many other showcase purposes.

I gave Whatfolio a test run this afternoon and I have to that it really does offer a lot of options, but it doesn't have the most intuitive interface I've ever used. Once you figure out all of the options you have, the service is quite nice. You can watch an overview of the Whatfolio creation process in the video below.

Whatfolio has a mobile version for editing. You can see an overview of the mobile version in the video below.

Applications for Education
Whatfolio could be a good service for students in graphic design programs like the one at my school to show off their work for college admissions offices.

Google Good to Know - Tips for Online Safety and More

Have you ever wondered what Google and other websites do with the data they collect from visitors? Have you wondered how they collect data from users? Do you want to know the answer to these questions and others related to digital data collected from you? If so, check out Google Good to Know.

Google Good to Know explains how Google and other sites use the data that they collect from visitors. It also offers suggestions on how to manage your digital footprint. And for those who need reminders, the Stay Safe Online section of Good to Know offers some good advice even if it is very Google-heavy. The video from the Stay Safe Online section of Good to Know is embedded below.

Applications for Education
Managing digital footprints is something that we all should be teaching and reminding our students to do. Google Good to Know could be a good starting point for building your own lessons on managing digital footprints. After reviewing the Google materials you might ask students to create their own short videos like the one above, to inform others of simple things they can do to manage their digital data online.

Google Apps Status Dashboard

On Monday morning I was preparing to give a presentation using Google Docs, Google Docs went down. As my friend Greg Kulowiec noted, "teachers all over the East Coast were panicking." Fortunately for me an many others Google Docs came back within about twenty minutes. It was during Monday's Google Docs outage that I was reminded of the Google Apps Status Dashboard. The Google Apps Status Dashboard is a grid of Google Apps products and they're current status of service outages and service disruptions. The next time you're wondering if a Google Apps product is down for everyone or just you, check the Status Dashboard.

Virtual Keyboards for Typing Special Characters

This post was prompted by one of my colleagues who asked for help with typing special characters on his keyboard.

Type It is a free online program for typing accent marks and other special characters that are often required for languages other than English. Type It supports twenty-one languages and currency symbols. You can insert accents and characters by selecting them from the menu provided by Type It or by using their suggested keyboard shortcuts.

Lite Type is a virtual keyboard that allows you type and search the web in your choice of 53 different languages. To use Lite Type select a language and begin typing. Lite Type displays a keyboard that shows you what each key on your computer's keyboard will generate. The keyboard key is displayed directly below the box in which your typed text appears. Lite Type has some other convenient features like integrated search for images, videos, and websites. Lite Type also has an integrated multilingual dictionary.

One of the challenges foreign language students sometimes face when trying to complete assignments while using a standard English keyboard is learning the key combinations for creating accents and other special characters. For Windows users there is a solution to that problem and it is called AX. AX is a free open source program that will allow you to type accents using just the F8 key on your keyboard.

Learn more about AX in the episode of Tekzilla Daily embedded below.

If you're a Mac user and would like to know how to type special characters on your keyboard, here are three free PDFs from Go Squared that offer directions on how to type accents and symbols by using the correct combination of keys on your Mac's keyboard.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Being an American Essay Contest and Lesson Plan

The Bill of Rights Institute is currently hosting an essay contest for high school students. The contest asks students to write an essay (1000 words max) about the following question, "how does the Constitution establish and maintain a culture of liberty?" Cash prizes of up to $1000 will be awarded in five U.S. regions. You can find the contest rules here. Entries are due by December 15.

Applications for Education
Even if you don't have students write for the contest, you might want to take advantage of the free lesson plan designed around contest question. The lesson plan uses a mix of historical and current events to prompt thinking about the Constitution and civil liberties.