Thursday, January 24, 2013

Use Edcanvas in Edmodo for Visual Organization and Sharing of Resources

Edcanvas is a well-designed service for organizing and sharing digital materials with your colleagues and students. I was impressed by the service when I reviewed it earlier this month. This week Edcanvas launched an Edmodo app. Now you can use and share your Edcanvas content within your Edmodo community.

Take a look at what Edcanvas does in the 38 second video below.

Applications for Education
It was already easy to share your Edcanvas content with colleagues and students. The addition of the Edmodo app gives you another way to easily share with the students in your Edmodo community.

The Importance of Data Portability in Web Services

Image Credit: Thomas Hawk
All week I've been writing blog posts about downloading the content from your blogs in order to have an offline copy of your blog entries. Writing those posts reminded me of the importance of the importance of data portability when using web services.

I use a lot of web services in my daily life but all of the services that I use for important information have the option to download offline copies of my files and data. This option is something that I look for when considering using a service for important functions. My recommendation to anyone that uses online services for important work in their schools is to make sure you can take your data whenever you want. Using an online grade book? Make sure you can download those grades whenever you want to. Bookmarking your favorite online resources for your lessons? Check to be sure that you can export a copy of those bookmarks. Some services make this easier to find than others. For example, Google has Google Takeout that you can use to export content from all of your Google services at once. Evernote, which I used for a long time, has the option but you'll have to search their help pages to find it.

The bottom line is this, if you're using online services to host important information for you, get in the habit of backing it up to an offline file. That way if something happens to the service you will still have your important information available to you.

Update, planning for data rot:
I'm sure that many of you have had someone walk up to you with an old floppy disk and ask, "can you help me open this file?" Now that is happening with CDs too. Last weekend when I was ice fishing with a friend who teaches biology he complained that the publisher of his favorite biology interactive wasn't sending out updated CDs anymore because they were replacing the CDs with an online option requiring a login. This is indicative of a larger pattern that we're seeing and that is the end of CDs for software. Along with that we're starting to see fewer computers shipping with internal CD drives, particularly in the laptop market. If you're using CDs to store information that is important to you, you might want to start looking at other storage options either online, on an external hard drive, or a combination of both. I use Google Drive, Box, and Seagate external drives for my storage needs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Listen to Nearly 9,000 Bird Calls and See Where They Were Recorded

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology recently published more than 7,500 hours of bird calls from nearly 9,000 birds. The recordings are published on the Macaulay Library site. You can browse for recordings recommended by Macaulay Library or you can search for a bird by name. When you find a recording you can also see a Google Map of where the recording was made. While the recordings cannot be downloaded for free they can be heard for free. Click here for an example.

Applications for Education
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library's archive of bird calls could be a nice resource for science teachers. If you're looking for a spring project that your students can do outside consider having your students listen to some of the recordings of birds that could be found in your area. Then have students try to keep a log of when they hear a bird call that matches what they've heard in the recordings. Those of us in the north could have students document when they first hear a migratory bird that has returned from the south.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a YouTube channel that offers some nice mini documentaries about birds. I've embedded a video about Snowy Owls below.

H/T to Open Culture.

Sweet! Now You Can Use Google Slides Offline

Google Chrome users have been able to use Google Documents offline for quite a while now. Today, Google announced that you can now use Google Slides (Presentations) offline too. While using Google Slides offline you can create new slideshows, edit slideshows, comment on slideshows, and present your slides.

In you already have offline access to Google Documents enabled, you don't need to do anything to make Google Slides work offline. That will happen for you automatically. If you do not have offline access to Google Documents enabled, click here for directions on how to enable it.

Applications for Education
Google Slides offline is a great addition to Google Docs offline. If your students are using Chromebooks or just a Chrome browser, but they don't have Internet access they can still work on their presentations and documents for their classes.

How to Back-up Weebly Sites

On Monday I shared how to back-up Posterous Spaces blogs and yesterday I shared how to back-up Blogger, WordPress, and Edublogs blogs. This evening on Twitter there was a small discussion started by Ban Ryan about the possibility of backing-up a Weebly site. The answer is yes, you can back-up a Weebly site. In fact, we got our answer because someone from Weebly interjected with a direct link to the directions. Click here for the directions on how to back-up a Weebly website.

Click to view full size.