Friday, March 15, 2013

Free Courses On Copyright and Creative Commons for Educators

Next week P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University) is starting a few free online courses of interest to educators. On March 18, P2PU will offer Copyright for Educators (US law), Copyright for Educators (AUS law), and Creative Commons for K-12 Educators. Each course runs for seven weeks. You do need to register by March 17 to participate in the courses.

These are some of the key questions addressed in Copyright for Educators:
  • What is the public domain?
  • What does copyright law protect?
  • What is fair use?
  • What other exceptions are there in copyright law?
  • What are open access educational resources?
These are some of the learning objectives of Creative Commons for K-12 Educators:
  • Find educational resources that are open for sharing and remix
  • Remix open educational resources
  • Share remixes on the web
  • Attribute CC licensed materials
  • CC license your work
  • Explain CC licenses and how they work
  • Edit collaboratively
  • Work transparently
  • Advocate openness
 H/T to Open Culture.

Presefy - Let Your Audience Follow Your Slides Remotely

Presefy is a new service that you can use to share your presentations to your students' mobile devices. Through Presefy you can control your slides from your computer or from the browser in your iPad, iPhone, Android phone, or any other mobile device that has a web browser.  When you advance the slides in your presentation the slides also advance on your students' mobile devices. Your students can take notes as they follow along with your slides.

To share your presentations just create a Presefy account and upload a PPTX or PDF file. Your account is given a channel name and URL. Share that URL with your students, have them enter it into their browsers, and they can follow along as you advance your slides. Learn more about Presefy in the video below.


Presefy - Go Mobile with your Presentations from Presefy on Vimeo.


The free version of Presefy allows you to store two presentations at a time. You can delete and re-upload presentations as many times as you want in the free account.

How to Create a Custom Search Engine - Updated

A couple of weeks ago I shared directions on how to create a custom search engine. Shortly after I published those directions Google revamped the layout of the Custom Search Engine tool. This morning I sat down and created a new screencast about how to use Google.com/cse/ to create your own search engine. The video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
Creating a custom search engine is a good way to provide some gentle search assistance to students. You can create search engines that only include websites that are appropriate for your students' reading levels.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Three Tools Students Can Use to Create 3D Models Online

Your school might not have a 3D printer yet, but your students can still create 3D models online with these free online tools.

123D Design from Autodesk allows you to create models by dragging pieces together online then sending them to 123D Make where your models can be printed. From those print-outs your students can construct their models. Both 123D Design and 123D Make can be used online, on iPads, and on Mac and Windows desktops.


3DTin is a free web-based program for creating three dimensional models. 3DTin provides templates that you can use to develop models or you can build a model completely from scratch. The service is completely free to use as long as you allow your models to be labeled with a Creative Commons license and put in the 3DTin gallery. The gallery is a great place is to find examples of what can be created in 3DTin. Models that you create can be exported for use in other modeling software. Before you rush to try 3DTin you should know that you do have to be using a modern web browser that supports WebGL. For example, 3DTin will work with the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox but will not work with older versions of Firefox or Internet Explorer. 3DTin can be used as a Chrome Web App too.


Like 3D Tin, Tinkercad allows you to build 3D models within your web browser. Tinkercad provides pre-made pieces that you can assemble to build a model. You can also select a model from the public gallery and edit it in your Tinkercad account. If you create a free Tinkercad account you can save your work online. The video below provides a great introduction to Tinkercad.

Six Free Alternatives to PowerPoint and Keynote

Twice in the last week I've been asked for a list of free alternatives to either PowerPoint or Keynote. I've written a couple of these lists over the last five years, but some of the alternatives I've shared in the past have either gone out of business or started charging a fee. Here's my updated list of free alternatives to PowerPoint and Keynote.

Empressr is a fully functional, high quality, online slide show presentation creation and sharing service. Empressr has a couple of features differentiating it from its competitors. The first feature of note is the option of embedding video from multiple sources into your slide show. The second feature of note is Empressr's editor which allows users to draw, create, or edit images inside their slides. Empressr slideshows can be embedded anywhere.

Slide Rocket is a web based presentation creator similar to Empressr. Slide Rocket has some very nice features like 3D transitions and a collaboration feature for sharing the creation process with other users. Slide Rocket's interface is user friendly making it easy to include videos, pictures, or third party plug-ins. Slide Rocket also has a Google Drive app.

Prezi is a popular online tool for creating slideshows that don't have to appear in the linear format typically used in slideshows. This week Prezi introduced the option to include sound in your presentations. Check out the Prezi embedded below to learn about the new audio option.


Until Google Slides came along the slideshow tool in Open Office was the slideshow creation tool that I used instead of PowerPoint. Open Office's Impress's development is still supported and available to download for free.

Google Slides is the slideshow creation tool that I use to create roughly half of all of my slideshows (the other half I make in Keynote). I like using Google Slides for collaborating with colleagues and for commenting on students' slideshows. The publishing tool in Google Slides makes it very easy to embed your slideshows into your blog or website.

If your students have iPads, you have to try Haiku Deck. Haiku Deck is a fantastic free alternative to Keynote. The key feature of Haiku Deck that stands out is the integrated image search tool. When students type a word into Haiku Deck a set of Creative Commons licensed images will be shown to the students to use in their presentations.