Tuesday, December 26, 2006

My best "find" of 2006!

Ureka! For more than a year (well, not steadily, but off and on), I have been searching for a convenient and economical method for converting certain files (specifically created by Microsoft Works, Microsoft Publisher and Corel's Word Perfect) to PDF. Being a Mac user, I have had little, if any, success in viewing these -- until now.

While I was researching and preparing for several sessions I will be presenting at the NICE Mini-Conference on Jan. 27, and the IL-TCE (Illinois Technology Conference for Educators) at the end of Feb., I landed on the Technology & Learning's Podcast Archives -- which sadly seems to have halted production in Aug. 2006. Texas educator Miguel Guhlin's entry on Feb. 13, 2006, a PDF Primer, lists several web-based conversion programs, including a free Online PDF Converter from Neevia: http://convert.neevia.com. Miguel writes, "While this online PDF converter has a 1 megabyte limit per file--which may limit you if you have a document that has lots of images -- you can convert from a wide variety of formats (easily over 50) to PDF. Two nice features is that it allows you to add a watermark image of any text you enter on multiple pages. It also enables you to encrypt your PDF document."

Using the Neevia converter, I was able to view several student papers created using Works, and a club flyer created with Publisher. This is one helpful tool for those of us supporting educational technology!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Here's a little holiday "freeware" treat for Mac users called SantaSnaps, created by iClip developer John Casasanta for the Cocoa Duel charity programming competition, with graphics and program icon created by Adam Betts.

SantaSnaps a Photo Booth clone with a holiday twist, and works with your external iSight camera if you don't have one of the new Intel Macs with the built-in iSight. Launch SantaSnaps, select a Santa beard, glasses, and hat, then position yourself behind the props. (Requires OS 10.3 or higher). Cheers!
http://macheist.com/SantaSnaps/SantaSnaps.zip

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Get Firefox... how do they do it?

Firefox 2.0 is now available. Their website states this version is "now faster, more secure, and fully customizable to your online life. With Firefox 2, we’ve added powerful new features that make your online experience even better."

I updated my version last week and I am experimenting and enjoying some of the improved features. My favorite discovery happened yesterday when my computer was shut down unexpectedly. Once I restarted and launched Firefox, I was presented with a message asking whether I would like to resume browsing the page(s) that were open before the shut down.

This feature is called "Session Restore" and is explained on their "new features" website: "Session Restore: Losing your place while you’re doing things on the Web is a pain. Now, with Session Restore, if Firefox has to restart or closes when it comes back you’ll pick up exactly where you left off. The windows and tabs you were using, the text you typed into forms, and the in-progress downloads you had running will all be restored. You can even set Firefox 2 to always restore your previous session instead of loading a home page, so you’ll never lose your place again." What a concept! Read about other new features at: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/features.html#experience

There are also more than 1,000 add-ons for personalizing your web browsing experience. Check out: https://addons.mozilla.org/

Download your new version at: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/
Enjoy!

Monday, December 04, 2006

It's the little things...

A major portion of my day is answering questions about the "little things" that people are sometimes "stuck" on. Someone said I should publish a tip book, but I don't think anyone would actually read it... I'm sure I would still get calls. So, I thought I would do the next best thing and publish a few pearls of wisdom here.

Soft Paragraph Return
Many computer users are unaware of this common "Word Processing" feature. A soft return is explained on Wikipedia as: "one can manually enter a soft return by pushing shift and enter instead of simply enter." (On the Mac, that would be Shift + Return.) A major benefit of a soft return is to begin typing on a new line, without starting a new paragraph. In most cases, you would want a new paragraph, but if you were using the bullets and numbering feature in Word for example, sometimes you would like to itemize your thoughts without starting new bullets or numbers. Try it!!

Lost House, a.k.a. ... There's No Place Like Home!
(File this one under OSX tips). Someone recently explained how their "House" on the dock accidentally got "poofed" when attempting to move a file to the trash. Efforts to restore the House on the Dock by dragging it from the left shortcut pane in the Finder only made it "poof" from there as well. Where is your House when you need it?

Your "House" is your home directory in OSX's file structure. It can be located by opening (double-clicking) the Macintosh HD and then opening the "Users" folder. Every user who logs into the computer has his or her very own "house." Drag the House from the Users folder to the dock (to the right of the vertical line) for a new shortcut. You can drag it into the left window pane for an instant shortcut there too!


Your Window Doesn't Look Like My Window?

This is a tip for PC users who are unfamiliar with navigating on the Mac. The small "bubble" that is at the top right corner of every Mac "window" (technically called a widget -- but not the same as the Widgets available in Dashboard), when clicked, will hide all the tools or shortcut icons at the top and left panel of a window. Go ahead, click it now in your browser! When you want your tools to return, click it again. PC users intuitively click here to close a window and then wonder, "What happened?"

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Print Your Own Graph Paper -- free!

Credit to fellow ADE Lucy Gray for posting these to her blog!

* Free Online Graph Paper from Incompetech.com
Make PDFs of just about any kind of paper you might need in a school setting here. This site is not just about the graphing kind!
Visit: http://www.incompetech.com/beta/plainGraphPaper/

* PDF Pad
This is a fairly basic graph paper generator that allows you to specify type of paper and size.
Visit: http://www.pdfpad.com/graphpaper/

* Downloadable Graph Paper and Measurement Tools
Not only can you print graph paper at this math and science site, but you can also find printable measurement tools such as centimeter rulers and protractors. It looks like other math and science resources cited here might be worth browsing as well.
Visit: http://www.csun.edu/science/ref/measurement/data/graph_paper.html

* Graphing Worksheets from Teachnology
This site includes printable graph paper as well as graphing activities.
Visit: http://www.teach-nology.com/worksheets/math/graph/

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Keeping up with technology...

Do you ever feel that technology is advancing too quickly? Do you have a hard time keeping up with the latest trends?

Here are two websites you may want to check out.

ICT Leaders & Learners is a great place to visit for the latest in educational technology. You will discover tools for teachers and students, as well as "people to watch" and links to educational conference webcasts.
http://www.qesnrecit.qc.ca/leader/index.php

Also of interest from Alex Bosworth, is Live Marks. Not specifically for education, this website provides a "live" scrolling feed of websites that are being bookmarked in del.icio.us. It's amazing to watch.
http://sandbox.sourcelabs.com/livemarks/

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Information Overload?

Did you know...
• It's been said that a single issue of the Sunday New York Times contains more information than a person living in the 18th Century came across in their lifetime?!
In researching the source of this factoid I found several references, such as an article by Ian Jukes (http://ianjukes.com/infosavvy/education/handouts/fgtg.pdf ) who cited the Richard Wurman book, "Information Anxiety."


• There are more than 2.7 billion searches in Google each month, and a total of 6.4 billion searches asked of the top Internet search tools!?
(http://searchenginewatch.com/showPage.html?page=2156461)
To whom were these questions asked before the Internet?

If information about information is interesting to you, check out "Google Trends" (http://www.google.com/trends).
With Google Trends, you can compare the world's interest in your favorite topics. Enter up to five topics and see how often they've been searched for on Google over time. Google Trends also displays how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News stories, and which geographic regions have searched for them most often.





Sunday, October 15, 2006

Google for Educators!

In July I attended ISTE's National Education Computing Conference (NECC) in San Diego. There was a Google booth and some folks taking names and email addresses for a new "teacher" connection planned for Google. This week, I received my first "Google Teacher Newsletter" which stated, in part,
Visit us at: http://www.google.com/educators for a teacher's guide to 12 Google products. You'll find information about each tool, examples of how educators are using them, and lesson ideas. You'll also find lesson plans and videos from our partners at DiscoveryEducation focusing on two of our most popular teaching tools: Google Earth and Google SketchUp.

We think of the site as a basic platform of teaching resources -- for everything from blogging and videos to geographical search tools and 3-D modeling software -- and we want you to fill it in with your great ideas. You can explore a Google tool you've never tried before, then tell us what you think about it. Or road test our lesson ideas, then follow the links to submit your own. And if you'd like to share your expertise with fellow educators, we encourage you to send us your story -- we'd love to feature it in this newsletter or on the site.
Google Earth's direct education link is http://www.google.com/educators/p_earth.html. Visit this site for some exemplary education examples, including using resources from our subscription-based video on demand server, unitedstreaming, and an inspiring message from the Discovery Educator Network Directory, Hall Davidson, "Google Earth enables teachers and communities to easily create tremendous collections of work integrating video, 3D buildings, photos, podcasts, or NPR stories."



Monday, October 02, 2006

PLCs in Pinckney... they "get it!"

Many schools across the nation are either investigating or adopting the Professional Learning Community model, based on the works of DuFour and Eaker. As a regular listener of David Warlick's podcasts, I recently learned about one such school in Pinckney, Michigan (Episode 70, David Gets Geek!ed!). I followed the show links and discovered a wonderful posting by Tom McCurdy and Michael Partridge on "Podcasting and Professional Learning Communities" -- which details their work on adopting the PLC model at an administrative retreat:
"This summer (2006) we were able to apply podcasting to Professional Learning Communities at a leadership workshop in Pinckney, Michigan. We had small groups of school leaders collaborate on questions that challenge PLC’s. We started by using traditional group strategies. Groups discussed a PLC question, recorded their responses on a flip chart, and reported their result to the bigger group. Then we turned on the tech! We gave each group brief instructions in the use of recording software and clustered each group around a microphone and laptop. We let them know that they had twenty minutes to discuss the next PLC question…and the resulting audio file would be posted for the world to subscribe to! The results were stunning. When the groups shared their reactions to being recorded, they unanimously responded that the quality of the conversations increased. The groups were more focused. They were not burdened with trying to record on paper what was being recorded for them. They also felt that they had to rise to a more professional place in these conversations. They reported that they were less likely to verbalize 'stream of thought.' Instead, they more carefully constructed their thinking before speaking. They also reported that they listened to each other more carefully. After the activity, when it was announced that each school would receive a microphone, there was an audible expression of excitement from them. Imagine that."
Thanks for sharing Pinckney! Yours is a great model for demonstrating how technology can enhance the learning of our students (or our adults). Podcasting (and blogging) allow students to experience truly authentic learning by providing them with a "real" audience -- not to mention that it's a global one. Students will be challenged to be more focused, concentrate on a higher standard of conversation, and enhance their listening skills. Why would you NOT want to try this in your classroom?

Also, worth a listen: Geek!ed! Podcast Episode 034:
http://coverpage.pcs.k12.mi.us/geeked/?page_id=76

Friday, September 15, 2006

Update on "Unleashing the Potential" -- First Annual K12 Online Conference

Here'a an update on the Online Conference...

There is now a website (http://k12onlineconference.org/) with conference FAQs, profiles of the conference presenters and a link to submit a proposal to present. Proposals are due 9/30/06!

Some great keynoters are lined up... David Warlick, Bud Hunt, Alan Levine, Ewan McIntosh and Anne Davis!

Some "Fireside Chats" will also be available via Elluminate
* Oct 16th at 6 pm Eastern - David Warlick and 4 Conveners
* Oct 26th at 7 pm Eastern: Bud and Allan, Conveners and any Week 1 Presenters
* Oct 28th For Ewan and Ann, and any Week 2 presenters: 11 am Eastern
* Closing Event: The 24 hour continuous K-12 Online Skypecast! (sign-ups will be on an upcoming wiki)

Thanks to organizers Darren Kuropatwa, Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach, Will Richardson and Wesley Fryer!

If you have any questions about any part of this, please feel free to email one of them:
* Darren Kuropatwa: dkuropatwa {at} gmail {dot} com
* Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach: snbeach {at} cox {dot} net
* Will Richardson: weblogged {at} gmail {dot} com
* Wesley Fryer: wesfryer {at} pobox {dot} com

Please duplicate this post and distribute it far and wide across the blogosphere. Feel free to republish it on your own blog.

Conference Tags: ,

Monday, September 04, 2006

"Unleashing the Potential" at the first annual K12 Online convention!

Announcing the first annual "K12 Online 2006" convention for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice. This year's conference is scheduled to be held over two weeks, Oct. 23-27 and Oct. 30- Nov. 3 with the theme "Unleashing the Potential." There will be four "conference strands"-- two each week. Two presentations will be published in each strand each day, Monday - Friday, so four new presentations will be available each day over the course of the two-weeks. Each presentation will be given in podcast or screencast format and released via the conference blog (URL: TBA).

THE FOUR STRANDS ARE:

Week 1
Strand A: A Week In The Classroom

These presentations will focus on the practical pedagogical uses of online social tools (Web 2.0) giving concrete examples of how teachers are using the tools in their classes. They will also show how teachers plan for using these tools in the delivery of their curricular objectives.

Strand B: Basic/Advanced Training (one of each per day)
Basic training is "how to" information on tool use in an educational setting, especially for newcomers.
Advanced training is for teachers who have already started using Web 2.0 tools in their classes and are looking for: (a) advanced technology training (eg. how to write your own blog template or hack existing ones), (b) new tools they can make use of in their classes, (c) teaching ideas on how to mash tools together to create "something new," (d) a pedagogical understanding of how technologies such as Weblogs, wikis, podcasts, social bookmarking sites, RSS feeds and others can deepen learning and increase student achievement, or (e) use of assessment tools to measure the effectiveness of Read/Write Web technologies in their personal practice and with their students.

Week 2
Strand A: Personal Professional Development

Tips, ideas and resources on how to orchestrate your own professional development online; the tools that support Professional Learning Environments (PLEs); how to create opportunities to bring these technologies to the larger school community; how to effectively incorporate the tools into your personal or professional practice; or how to create a supportive, reflective virtual professional community around school-based goals.

Strand B: Overcoming Obstacles
Tips, ideas and resources on how to deal with issues like: lack of access to tools/computers, filtering, parental/district concerns for online safety, and other IT concerns while trying to focus on best practice in the use of Web 2.0 tools.

Stay tuned for further details.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Today.. a tale of technology woes...

I love technology... when it works. Technology is not always reliable... after all, it's just a bunch of ones and zeros that have been manipulated in a variety of ways by programmers so that I can create and edit movies, download and edit digital photographs, create documents, and communicate through a variety of methods (voice, email, web, chat, etc).

The past 2 days have been a bit challenging. In the midst of backing up my files to a portable hard drive early Monday morning (after working through the weekend on a variety of back to school tasks) ... the hard drive on my Powerbook stopped responding when I tried to stop the copying process since it was taking longer than I had expected. When I couldn't stop the process, I chose to "force quit" and relaunch the Finder to get out of the "copying" mode. The computer would not cooperate and I needed to leave for work, so I chose to simply "shut down" the computer.

And now, so sad to report, I have not been able to start it back up. I haven't had a great deal of time to try the various utilities (such as Disk Warrior), but preliminary measures (booting in "target" mode and Safe booting) have been fruitless. I am becoming less confident that I will actually be able to get my data back. I am pretty diligent about backing up at least monthly, and usually archive important files as I create them (to a server or some portable device), just in case of a technolgy failure, so I only stand to lose a few weeks worth of work.

We were also plagued by network glitches today. Our well-planned roll out of Tiger, and Open Directory services has taught us a thing or two. Teachers and staff are becoming restless, it's amazing how much we actually depend on this stuff.

To top it off, I created a nifty movie to present to our back to school celebration this evening, and when playing in full screen mode from iMovie, through a data projector, the soundtrack would simply not keep up with the video... what's with that!? I was presenting from a brand new MacBook with nothing else running, and having almost 30 GBs of free hard drive space. How disappointing and a tad embarassing, since I "am" the technology person.

Oh well, unless you're dead, you can recover from the worst that happens. I hope tomorrow is less problematic.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Videogrunt and Podgrunt --

From the Silicon Valley in California, comes the "grunt" series. I learned about this in the periodic "Apple news" email that I receive. These short episodes are creatively presented in plain English! Whether you are a new or seasoned user of video, this is a great series.

"Videogrunt is an innovative, free video podcast--illustrates the basics of digital video, delivered in short snippets. The informative 'grunt' clips are produced in high-definition video and then scaled down to size for viewing on the gruntmedia website, your personal computer or a video-capable iPod."

http://gruntmedia.com/videogrunt_main.html

Learn something new about video by watching the first four "videogrunt" podcasts.
http://gruntmedia.com/videogrunt_directory.html

And, if you follow the links on this page, you will be able also subscribe to the "podgrunt" series.
http://gruntmedia.com/videogrunt_directory.html

What a great introductory series on the basics of video and audio to share with teachers and students!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Classroom collaboration online

Last Friday I presented a workshop for the ICE summer series on Classroom Collaboration Tools. Our focus was primarily the use of blogs and wikis, although we briefly looked at the social bookmarking and photo sharing sites (mentioned here previously).

I am particularly fond of wikis as a classroom tool. Teachers can easily create a wiki page for their classrooms and assign student (individually or in teams) to the task of being the "scribe" or notetakers for the day. The wiki environment allows teachers and other students to make corrections, or add to the work of the scribe.

Students can visit the wiki to review the class notes, or answer questions that may need to be clarified. At the end of the course, there is a day to day, or week to week record of what was covered. Wikis can be password protected, editors can elect to have changes emailed to them, and the history of changes and additions make it easy to manage.

Two online sources for creating wikis are pbwiki.com and wikispaces.com. For the summer workshop, I created a pbwiki page at: http://summer-ice.pbwiki.com -- when you visit the pbwiki site, you will discover that it literally takes only 10 seconds to create a wiki page! The other source I would recommend is wikispaces.com, which allows the wiki owner to password protect the information, plus limit who can view the wiki. Check out this Georgia teacher's wikispace for ideas on how wikis can catapult your classroom into the 21st century!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What are your favorite websites?

I was recently asked to list my ten most favorite websites. Narrowing the list to 10 is no easy task, since I am always on the lookout for new sites, especially those that may be helpful for educators.

Some of my favorites have been listed in this blog, and a majority are "Web 2.0-based" -- social sites used for collaborating, such as Bloglines, del.icio.us, Furl, Flickr, pbwiki, Wikispaces, and Writeboard.

A great site for educators is USA Today Education Online
which advertises across the banner head, "Improving student performance through relevant, timely, real-world resources." The "Daily Lesson Plan" link (published Tuesdays and Thursdays over the summer) provides a printable 2-page handout for your classroom.

Another site I have recently discovered is NoodleTools. Created by teacher-librarian Debbie Abilock and her son, Damon, NoodleTools provides subscription-based services for schools, although many resources are available on their public website. Send your students to Information Literacy: Search Strategies or NoodleQuest to help them gather resources for their academic research. NoodleQuest is a "Search Strategy Wizard" containing a short form of 9 questions to help students get started.

What are some of your favorite sites?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

In over my head... but determined...

I've spent a good deal of time in unfamiliar territory ... "Terminal" land. The quest began earlier today when several teachers in the lab were in search of a calendar template for their classroom planning. We have several "calendar" tools on hand: iCal, Now Up-to-Date, Palm, and Entourage. Each of these are great calendar programs in their own right. And, all seem to require creating and defining "events" which then become listed in the corresponding dates of the calendar.

In the past, teachers have used the nifty "Calendar Assistant" in AppleWorks which creates an AppleWorks Drawing document containing a table with the dates of the specific Month and Year entered when stepping through the assistant. Once the assistant has created the document, in a few clicks, you can change the page set-up to landscape, and drag the corner of the table to fill the page. Text and graphics are easily added by typing in the "dated" cells and inserting clip art from the clippings menu. When finished, the file can be printed to paper, or pdf, or saved as a .jpg file which is suitable for posting to the web (See http://www6.district125.k12.il.us/staffdev/train.html for the summer calendar). Alas, we are standardizing on the "Office" apps and moving away from AppleWorks, since it is being phased out by Apple. I will dearly miss this simple, and elegant application!

So, after a quick review of the templates included with Office, and not finding any calendars, we searched the Microsoft website and located the "Calendars, Labels, Planners, and Stationery" link. The selection looked promising, as there were several "2006-07 academic year" calendar templates among the 28 templates available in the "2007 Calendars" category. The templates are provided for a variety of Microsoft file formats; Visio and Publisher (PC-only), and Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

After locating several that looked good, I clicked the "Download" button only to end up on a page that stated "Your operating system does not meet system requirements. This template could not be downloaded automatically because your operating system does not meet the requirements for downloading Office Online templates." (The files are compressed in the .CAB format, which is not supported on Macintosh.) At the bottom of the page however states, "If you are using a Macintosh operating system, you can find templates at Mactopia Tools on the Web." Ok, so off to Mactopia Tools where we found 437 templates available, but not ONE calendar file for teachers or students (there was one meal planner calendar, but that was it).

So, returning to the "Calendars, Labels, Planners, and Stationery" link, I proceeding to download several of the .cab files. A Google search of "extract CAB files on Macintosh" led me to FileJuicer a program that could decompress the .cab files and also provides several other helpful conversion and extraction tools. FileJuicer is a shareware program, and for $12, seems like a good basic "tool" to own.

Further "Googling" pointed me to an open source (="free") file named "cabextract" that would run as a package for Fink. (The Fink project is an effort to port popular Unix programs to Mac OS X).

So, I proceeded to download and install Fink, and Fink Commander (GUI menu interface) to be able to use cabextract. This is where the scary part comes in. I have used the Terminal application in a few instances, but I am not a UNIX geek by any means, so I basically crossed my fingers and clicked through a series of prompts and was able to get cabextract installed. (I am not sure it's in the best place, but it is working).

In the end, I was able to open Terminal and enter the commands (as listed in the "--help" page) to extract the .cab files into their Word, PowerPoint and Excel templates, which I have re-saved as non-template Office files.

May I whine?! H-E-L-L-O! I think that Microsoft could at least provide these Office templates in a format that can be read and used by Macintosh users. All in all, I suppose that since I learned a little more about UNIX commands and using Terminal, it was worth the time and effort -- and now I have some calendar samples to share with everyone!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

NECC-ing in San Diego


Lori, Judy and me at NECC

From July 5-7, I spent a whirlwind 3 days at NECC. You too can "attend virtually!"

Listen and learn...
Take a few moments to search the iTunes "Podcast" channel for "NECC" and you will find 19 podcast episodes from sessions at the conference including the keynote address by Nicholas Negroponte who talked about the $100 laptop initiative. View additional pictures on the OLPC wiki page: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Home



There are additional podcast selections as well, such as "NECC Live" from Kidz Online, "NECC 2006 Poster Sessions from WestEd" and "In the NECC of Time" from Instructional Technology Specialists in update western New York.

Watch and learn...
Be sure to check out the Webcasts from WestEd, available on the NECC website:
http://web.uoregon.edu/ISTE/NECC2006/program/video_on_demand.php

Read and learn...
Many presenters have posted handouts from their sessions online. Browse or search through the NECC Presenters Handouts and Research Papers web page to view the many presentation topics.

And, finally, many NECC-ers have posted their pictures on Flickr... more than 700 (tagged as NECC06) are at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/necc06/ and about 600+ (tagged NECC2006) are at

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/necc2006/

What a great way to virtually attend NECC! Enjoy!
Thanks to ISTE!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

NECC 2006 - First Impressions....

This week I am attending NECC -- the National Education Computing Conference -- in San Diego, and I will be taking notes and gathering my ideas in this space. I am sitting in the ISTE-SIGTC (Special Interest Group for Tech. Coord). meeting, "The Role of Technology Leadership in a Changing Educational Landscape"

The Panel consists of David Warlick, Will Richardson, Tony Vincent, Thor Prichard, and John Hendron. Thor and John are new names for me -- I am not yet familiar with their work.

Tony shared his use of a "common" del.icio.us account that all teachers can subscribe to, and post links of interest, and then subscribe using an RSS catcher.

The discussion is revolving around the next "wave" of technology for education. Tony thinks it's the availability of online "applications" such as Google spreadsheet and Writely. Students and teachers who are limited by the "locked down" computers that have been placed in their hands, are finding online resources to do their work. Will says to check out http://techcrunch.com to learn about the apps that are coming out each week.

Tony shared a site called "secondlife" -- http://secondlife.com/ -- where you can create a character and "live" in a virtual world.

Thor says, We all love technology... why? He believes it can make our lives easier. It's about change... it's fundamentally less painful to do it the new way, instead of doing it the old way.

Will says that "everyday you have a professional development opportunity when you work with kids." There are a lot of opportunities to learn from our kids.

How do we convince parents that blogging and podcasting is safe? At Willowdale, Tony hosts a parent night to educate parents on the information. David says with the technology available, there can be parent nights every night.

Questions/commnets from the audience...
If teachers are expected to use these sites on their own time, when is their down time? Are we expecting too much of teachers? David mentioned that we are losing teachers because of the current "story" about what it is to be a teacher. Is the expectation that teachers spend their free time grading papers and working with these tools? He says we need to start talking about "Telling a Brand New Story" (BTW... his session is at 2 pm).

A quick summation from the panel...
David: told a story about a session in which he was live blogging during the presentation, and had several comments and conversations that were being carried on, one person was from Tasmania. Think of the possibilities for global communication in our classrooms.

Will: we are in a very disruptive moment now. Our classrooms will need to look and act differently. If we don't, we will become more irrelevant. It's going to get ugly, before it gets better. And, even with all that is available, there is still a digital divide.

John:
We should not be engaging in the web 2.0 technologies because they exist. Think about the "sound" ways in which we know are ways to educate students. Then, look at how these tools can enhance or support these.

Part 2...
Thor: we are moving to an activity now to work with some of the online tools. He is taking us through del.icio.us. Bookmarks can be imported and tagged with popular terms. He demonstrated completing the registration process and how to add tags to websites that you bookmark. SIGTC is the tag that we can all use for websites we feel will be helpful to tech coordinators.

There is also a SIGTC "knowledge wiki" for notes, such as these from this morning's info:
http://sigtc.ciservers.net/wiki/index.php/SIGTC_Breakfast_Summary

Onto more learning ...

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Power of Ideas: Stories from Students

I have had the great honor this week of participating in the Discovery Education Network's First Annual Summer Institute held in downtown Chicago. We have participated in awesome presentations by Hall Davidson and Will Richardson. We have learned how teachers and students are blogging, podcasting and telling digital stories, and are sharing and exchanging our ideas for integrating these technologies in the classroom.

One such example of exemplary student work comes from the Mabry school in Georgia. Principal Dr. Tim Tyson runs an annual "movie" festival, and the projects are outstanding. I recommend that you take time to watch this year's award winning "presentation."
http://mabryonline.org/archives/2006/04/2006_film_festi.html

I was most inspired by the student interviews. Students shared their impressions about the process of creating their projects, such as the planning and productions, and the questions they still had as a result of telling their stories. The student learning is clearly evident. This learning will not be easily forgotten. Thank you Dr. Tyson for sharing these student perspectives!

Another project in the works at Mabry is the Global Learning Collaborative, advertised as: "An international collaboration to nurture ambitious, creative, independent problem-solvers who will make the world a better place." Visit http://mabryonline.org/ - and begin thinking about how you can use these ideas with your students -- let's all work to make the world a better place!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Summer time.... and the living is easy ... or maybe not?

It's summer time in the Staff Development Lab, and we've already hosted several "re-imaging events" in preparation for the coming year. I truly appreciate teachers taking time out of their summer vacations to spend a few hours updating their software. One benefit of updating over the summer, is that teachers get time to explore changes and improvements in preparation for the fall. And, often the question is asked, "Will there ever be a year that we won't have to do this?"

Technology changes rapidly. As new features are written to make software "do more," and improvements are made to hardware, it seems that this is not likely to happen. The computers purchased five years ago, can still compute... but are limited to computing with 5-year-old technology tools. An example would be the recent decision from Microsoft to no longer support the development of Internet Explorer for the Macintosh operating system. If you have used IE to visit websites recently, you may have noticed some unexpected results when trying to retrieve information from some sites, since websites seem to be getting more "sophisticated" and require features available in only newer web browsers.

Overall, most update sessions have gone very smoothly, while others have been a bit "bumpy" as extra time is needed for those who haven't yet backed up their data, or are challenged by hardware glitches. Summer is often more laid back and a perhaps a tad more flexible for most teachers coming in, so having the time to work through the challenges and glitches now, rather than in the fall, certainly helps.

All in all, my favorite part of the process is hearing the stories... what vacations are planned or were taken, family "happenings" or events that have taken place (weddings, births, graduations, engagements, etc.), as well as technology triumphs or challenges that occurred during the year. I also love the time that is spent connecting... "Where/what do you teach?" "How long have you been at Stevenson?" etc.

So, for the most part, the living is easy in the lab these days, and when not particularly easy, I appreciate the opportunity to spend time catching up.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What is your global IQ?

Just over a year ago Thomas L. Friedman wrote "The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century". Friedman talks about how the Indians and Chinese are "racing us to the top" in innovation, and there is nothing that guarantees Americans or Western Europeans will continue leading the way in technology and business. He encourages us as a nation "to work harder, get smarter, attract more young women and men to science and engineering and build the broadband infrastructure, portable pensions and health care that will help every American become more employable in an age in which no one can guarantee you lifetime employment."

According to a recent geographic literacy study by the National Geographic Society and Roper Public Affairs, it would appear that we need to work on more than science and engineering skills. This survey of more than 500 18- to 24-year-olds across the U.S. showed that many young Americans have a limited understanding of our world.

  • While outsourcing of jobs to India has been a major U.S. business story, almost half those surveyed (47 percent) cannot find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.
  • Only 37% of young Americans can find Iraq on a map—though U.S. troops have been there since 2003.
  • 6 in 10 young Americans don't speak a foreign language fluently.
  • 20% of young Americans think Sudan is in Asia. (It's the largest country in Africa.)
  • 48% of young Americans believe the majority population in India is Muslim. (It's Hindu—by a landslide.)
  • Half of young Americans can't find New York on a map.
  • More than half significantly over-estimate the population of the United States.
  • Two-thirds don’t know that the catastrophic earthquake of October 2005 that killed 70,000 people struck in Pakistan.

How much do you know about the world? Can you name the world's most spoken primary language? The largest consumer of oil? The most heavily fortified border on the planet? The current population of the U.S.? Could you locate the Cambrian Mountains on a map? Twelve-year-old Bonny Jain, from Moline, IL, could, and his knowledge made him the winner of the recent 2006 National Geographic Bee, that aired on Channel 11 (our local Public Television station) last week. Alex Trebek (of Jeopardy fame) was the moderator of this national competition of 55 fifth to eighth grade participants. While it was inspiring to witness the knowledge of these young folks, it would appear they are the "exception" rather than the rule.

Recently National Geographic and leaders from the business, nonprofit and education communities unveiled a public-engagement campaign designed to give U.S. students tools to become more informed global citizens. The goal of the five-year, multimedia campaign — My Wonderful World — is to improve the geographic literacy of young people ages 8-17 by motivating parents and educators to expand geographic offerings in school, at home and in their communities.

The Web site at the heart of the campaign, MyWonderfulWorld.org, provides resources for parents to help kids be more geo-savvy. It includes suggestions for simple, outdoor family activities and ways that parents can work to get more geography into the classroom, links to geography games and online adventures for kids and teens, classroom materials for educators, and ways for young and old to test their global IQs.

Try this 20-question quiz from the folks at National Geographic.

(Oh, and the Cambrian Mountains? Those are the ones that extend across much of Wales, from the Irish Sea to the Bristol Channel.) If you haven't yet discovered (the free) Google Earth http://earth.google.com/, download a copy today and "fly" on over to Wales to have a look.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Gone Phishing? and SPAM

Planning your Summer Break recreation? From the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) comes this informative "e-card" on phishing -- although, if you haven't yet heard this term, here's a clue -- it doesn't involve water. (Available en espaƱol too!)
Visit: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/ecards/phishing/index.html

Also from the FTC are some very good tips on combatting SPAM (unsolicited and annoying email).

From the "FTC Consumer Feature," Putting a Lid on Deceptive Spam, published July 2002 and available at:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/features/spam.pdf

The FTC’s advice to consumers who want to reduce the amount of spam they get is:
  • Avoid displaying your email address in public spaces, including newsgroup postings or chat rooms, on websites, or in an online service’s membership directory.
  • Check a website’s privacy policy before submitting your email address. Make sure the website doesn’t plan to sell your address. If possible, “opt out” of any such plans.
  • Read and understand website forms before you transmit personal information. If possible, select the “opt-out” choice if the website plans to share your information.
  • Create two email addresses – one for personal messages and the other for public use, such as in newsgroups or chat rooms. Or, consider a disposable email address service; it creates a separate email address that forwards your email to your permanent address. If the disposable address begins to receive spam, you can shut if off without affecting the permanent address. **(see Spamino information below!)
  • Create a unique email address. Spammers often use “dictionary attacks” to sort through possible name combinations at large Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or email services to find valid addresses. So a common name, like “jdoe,” may get more spam than a unique name, like “jd51x02oe.”
  • Use an email filter. Some email accounts provide a tool to filter out potential spam or channel it to a bulk email folder. You may want to ask whether this option is available when choosing an ISP.
  • Report the spam to the ISP – yours and the sender’s. Often the email address is “abuse@[your ISP’s name].com” or postmaster@[your ISP’s name].com. The ISP may be able to stop further spam.
  • Report the problem to the FTC. Send the actual spam item to spam@uce.gov. Be sure to include the full email header so that your complaint can be followed up. If your complaint has to do with “remove me” or “unsubscribe” offers not working, complete and submit the FTC’s complaint form at www.ftc.gov.
  • For more on spam and how to avoid it, visit www.ftc.gov/spam.

** For a "disposable" email address, check out "Spamino"! From their website: "Spamino is like a firewall for email. Spamino receives email for you and forwards only qualified email to an email account you choose. Illegitimate email is held at Spamino for a few weeks and deleted if it remains unclaimed. When you sign up with Spamino, you get one fixed personal email address, such as "jimmy@spamino.com". Give this email address to anybody, and you will be protected from spam, because every new sender to this address has to first pass a simple security challenge. Spammers are highly automated and are not able to pass this challenge. Spamino is a free service!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

21st Century Censorship? Your Tax Dollar$ at Work...

Hopping on the bandwagon...

Last week, Representative Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced: "H.R. 5319: To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to require recipients of universal
service support for schools and libraries to protect minors from commer-
cial social networking websites and chat rooms." (See the Library of Congress website)

This legislation proposes that anyone under 18 be prohibited from using school or library computers to access Web sites that create public "Web pages or profiles" and also offer a discussion board, chat room, or e-mail service.

While it seems that the target is websites like MySpace or Facebook, if passed, this could also prevent students from accessing blogging websites such as Blogger, LiveJournal and Xanga. At Stevenson, I know of several teachers and students that actively discuss educational topics outside of the classroom in this forum.

For instance, recently our AP Government teachers broadcasted an AP exam review "event" on Stevenson's local radio station. Students also "tuned into" the teachers' blog site, CitizenU.org, to post questions and discussions during the live radio show.

Can social networks be dangerous for students?
What are our responsibilities as educators?

There are several websites interested in your feedback, such as Technology & Learning magazine's TechLearning.com "Question of the Week" at:
http://news.techlearning.com/cgi-bin4/DM/y/ewXU0FQcUI0E2V0B7Kk0Ed


Also Mobilize.org (Mobilizing America's Youth) has launched an "SOS" campaign: "Save Our Social Networks" -- see details at: http://www.mobilize.org/SOS

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Imagination ^3


In June of 2002 I was delighted to learn that Figment, Disney's playful purple dragon, would be returning to EPCOT to once again demonstrate the power of imagination. The revamped "Journey to the Imagination" attraction also saw the return of "One Little Spark," an uplifting song written by legendary Disney composers Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman for the attraction’s original opening in March 1983.


Ok, enough reminiscing ... fast-forward to present-day Web 2.0 collaborative tools, and check out General Electric's ImaginationCubed.com website! Not only can you write and draw on this free online electronic whiteboard, you can invite your friends to collaborate with you either by email or Chat (AIM), and then save it, print it or email the finished piece. Then when you return to the board, you can watch it redraw before your very eyes!

Come and stretch your imagination with me...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Create Your Own Motivational Posters!

With "Motivator," one of "fd's Flickr toys" (from FlagrantDisregard.com) you "have the power to turn a simple photograph into an inspirational message that will burn forever in the hearts and minds of dozens." You can use any digital image, add a motivational word and some proverbial wisdom, and click to create your own printable poster. Of course, fd is willing to sell you the full poster size print for a mere $12.99 as well.


Fellow educator John Blake posted these ideas for using Motivator to help students with literary terms, http://theedublog.blogspot.com/2006/04/friday-symposiums-at-nwa.html

Just look beyond the adlinks....

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Copyright -- Fair Use vs. Creative Commons

At last week's PowerRanger meeting we reviewed "copyright." In the USA, original work (also referred to as intellectual property) created since March 1, 1989 is assumed to be copyrighted, whether or not it has a notice attached.

Copyright infringement can occur by using or reproducing someone's creative work without their permission. However, section 107 of copyright law provides guidelines for the "fair use" of intellectual property "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching… or research." Teachers and students need to be aware of these guidelines, and of the "four factors" used to determine the "educational" fair use of intellectual property.

We discussed two scenarios and debated whether or not the teacher or student in our "examples" was in violation of copyright infringement. My disclaimer in these discussions continues to be that, "I am not an attorney." I can only share my understanding of copyright infringement, and let you know that lawsuits are determined on a case-by-case basis.

I also shared information about the "Creative Commons," a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 to help "people dedicate their creative works to the public domain -- or retain their copyright while licensing them as free for certain uses, on certain conditions.... Creative Commons' first project, in December 2002, was the release of a set of copyright licenses free for public use... this will enable people to ... find, for example, photographs that are free to use provided that the original photographer is credited, or songs that may be copied, distributed, or sampled with no restrictions whatsoever."

This organization is gaining momentum, as you will notice the "Creative Commons" badge displayed on a number of websites, including this blog. Students and teachers also have the ability to search the internet using Google and Yahoo, to locate digital resources tagged with a Creative Commons license. What a great way to promote responsible "digital" citizens!
For more information, visit the http://creativecommons.org website, or the creativecommons.org search page at: http://creativecommons.org/find/

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Your Tax Dollar$ at Work!

Since our federal taxes were due yesterday, I thought it might be fitting to share this FREE website, made possible by Uncle Sam:

What is FREE?
FREE = Federal Resources for Educational Excellence

More than 30 Federal agencies formed a working group in 1997 to make hundreds of Federally supported teaching and learning resources easier to find. The result of that work is the FREE web site.
Visit: http://www.ed.gov/free

You will find resources for a variety of subjects: Arts, Educational technology, Foreign languages, Health, Language Arts, Mathematics, Physical Education, Science, Social studies, and Vocational education. Subscribe to the RSS feed for "New Resources," or browse the resources by Subject, Archives, or use the Site Search tool.

Check out the "Special Collections" page with topics such as "Financial Literacy: Learn the basics about getting the most out of your money—saving, investing, banking, buying a home, balancing your checkbook, and more. Find out about mutual funds and the Federal Reserve. Try an online retirement calculator. Test your 'financial smarts.'"

There is also a page organized just for students.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ajax -- stronger than dirt?

If you grew up in the '60s, you may remember having back yards filled with clothing hung out to dry on lines stretched between poles, porches, fences or buildings. Remember, too, the Ajax white knight, who rode through neighborhoods "zapping" laundry to magically transform dingy whites into sparkling whites? The peer pressure among homemakers was intense. After all, everyone in the neighborhood could critique your laundering prowess. These are the images that come to mind when I hear the word "Ajax."

Fast forward to the 21st Century!! Although the laundry detergent and household cleanser from my youth are still available, in this day and age, Ajax has a totally new meaning. It is an acronym for "Asynchronous JavaScript And XML" which, according to "Wikipedia," is a web development technique for creating interactive web applications, such as ajaxWrite: http://ajaxwrite.com.

Free to use, no sign up required, and nothing to install, ajaxWrite is a "streamlined word processor, comparable to Microsoft Word with ... functions you use most often, right where you'd expect them to be. You can import and export documents in all popular formats, including documents with graphics. The save function lets you save your work to a drive on your computer. Also, since you run ajaxWrite from your web browser, it is platform independent and can therefore be used with any operating system." Note: ajaxWrite only works in Firefox.

What intrigued me the most was the statement regarding the "ability to import documents in all popular formats." I have been looking long and hard for an easy way to convert Microsoft Works files, for editing on the Macintosh. Although there is a "Works to Word" converter for Windows, no such utility exists for the Mac. Word on the Mac can open Works files, but only as text, and so formatting and structure is not preserved.

Well, I was excited to test some sample student papers I've been holding onto. Unfortunately, when I tried to upload a document, my browser froze and I had to force quit. So, it seems there are a few bugs yet to be ironed out.

I am hopeful that perhaps in the near future, ajaxWrite will provide the solution for working with Microsoft Works files that students have brought to school to print out, or to finish up, but neglected to "Save as ..." Microsoft Word before they left home. Perhaps ajaxWrite will be our "knight in shining armor" very soon!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Teaching and Learning through video

With the popularity of "videos-to-go" (ala iPod), educators have the potential to grab students' attention beyond the classroom. Of course, competing with flashy music videos may be challenging, educational videos are certainly worth exploring! Our subscription to UnitedStreaming provides an excellent foundation for extending learning beyond the classroom. And, many of the videos have editing "rights," allowing subscribers to edit the content, such as providing custom narration (why not have the students rewrite these). If you don't have a login yet, visit my Patriot public folder for access information.

And, for further exploration, check out Google Video. Advertised as "the world's first open online video marketplace, where you can search for, watch and even buy an ever-growing collection of TV shows, movies, music videos, documentaries, personal productions and more." Search for your favorite topic and watch brief previews on the search results page."Clicking on a thumbnail image will take you to a playback page, where you can watch the preview or, for free content, the video itself. In addition to viewing free content, you can also purchase or rent premium content at the Google Video store using your Google Account."

Thanks to Google Video and the National Archives, visit NARA on Google Video for links to old NASA footage, United newsreels, and Department of the Interior films.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Spring Break at E^2 -- Tune up those minds!

Well it's Spring Break at Stevenson, and hopefully teachers and students are being energized for the end of the year learning. I recently read that many exciting and memorable projects often take place at this time in the school year. Right now, the push is for testing... so, here's a resource that appeared in the Six Pack two years ago, and unlike many web resources, has survived the test of time, and remains a valuable learning tool.

Quiddler Student Worksheet
-----------------------------------------
Looking for a simple way to introduce brain boosters and critical thinking into your everyday activities? Try this daily Quiddler worksheet to get your students thinking about words in a whole new light. Visit: http://www.setgame.com/puzzle/quiddler_work_sheet.htm or http://www.setgame.com/quiddler (either print it out or "play" online).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Revisting an old favorite: HPR*TEC

HPR*TEC stands for High Plains Regional Technology in Education Consortium.
http://www.hprtec.org/

While I am hooked into learning about emerging technologies, I sometimes forget about resources that have survived beyond the commercialization of the web, and the "dot.bomb" age and still provide access to wonderful (and still free) resources for education.

Some of the HPR*TEC resources include solutions such as ...

4Teachers:
4Teachers.org works to help you integrate technology into your classroom by with tools and resources such as RubiStar, QuizStar, TrackStar, NoteStar, Project Poster, and more! This site helps teachers locate and create ready-to-use Web lessons, quizzes, rubrics and classroom calendars. There are also tools for student use. Discover valuable professional development resources addressing issues such as equity, ELL, technology planning, and at-risk or special-needs students.
http://www.4teachers.org

and...
Casa Notes:
Designed to allow teachers to quickly make, and customize, typical notes that are sent home to parents or given to the students. This is done by using templates and allowing the teachers to customize some of the content, choose a color scheme and add a graphic. The notes can be printed in English or in Spanish.
http://casanotes.4teachers.org/

View the complete list at: http://www.hprtec.org/solutions/

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Listen to some Poetry !!

I have recently discovered the Poetry Archive (http://www.poetryarchive.org) -- the largest online collection of recording of poets reading their own work. You can listen to writers such Langston Hughes, Rudyard Kipling, Alfred Tennyson, William Butler Yeats, plus dozens of contemporary English-language poets. There’s a special area for children’s poetry, plus resources for teachers. Oh, and it's free!!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

IL-TCE Presentation -- Online!

Last Thursday and Friday (3/2 & 3/3/2006) I presented two sessions at the Illinois Technology Conference for Educators in St. Charles, IL. This year, more than 1700 attended (and that was just the Thursday count)! My session on Thursday was titled, "Social Technologies for the Classroom?" in which I shared a number of web resources that can be used for collaborating between teachers and students.

Please feel free to check out my "online handout" which includes an audio file of the presentation, so you can listen and follow along by clicking the webpage links with me.

We are truly living in an "information age" -- more than ever before, teachers and students have access to an abundance of resources that make it easy to contribute to the "education conversation" as producers and publishers of knowledge!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

M-m-m-m-m-m del.icio.us!!

Here's something to whet your appetite! del.icio.us is a free online "Social bookmarking" site. Perhaps some of you may have heard of other online bookmarking services such as Backflip or Furl. What makes del.icio.us especially yummy? Anyone can browse del.icio.us and see what others find interesting.

del.icio.us will:
* Keep links to your favorite articles, blogs, music, restaurant reviews, and more on del.icio.us and access them from any computer on the web.
* Share favorites with friends, family, and colleagues.
* Discover new things. Everything on del.icio.us is someone's favorite - they've already done the work of finding it. Explore and enjoy.

From the website:
Joshua Schachter created del.icio.us in 2003 as a hobby and an informal way to tag and share Web pages between friends. From that point on, del.icio.us rapidly grew into the social bookmarking service it is today, and in 2005 officially became a company - del.icio.us, Inc.

In December of 2005, Yahoo! acquired del.icio.us and pledged to provide the company with the resources, support, and room it needs to continue growing the service and community.

Visit: http://del.icio.us/ to sign up. I have added some of my del.icio.us links along the bottom left corner of this blog page, or visit directly at: http://del.icio.us/cchausis

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New! Google Scholar - on the shoulders of giants...

Here is a new tool that we can send our students (and ourselves to) - Google Scholar!

From the website: What is Google Scholar?
"Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations. Google Scholar helps you identify the most relevant research across the world of scholarly research. ... It's our acknowledgement that much of scholarly research involves building on what others have already discovered. This invitation is taken from Sir Isaac Newton's famous quote, 'If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.'"

For optimum results, visit: http://scholar.google.com and be sure to click the link to "Advanced Scholar Search" to fine-tune your criteria!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Collaborating with a Wiki?

One of the reasons that this "blog" exists is because "Blogger.com" freely provides space on the web for me to publish my thoughts, ideas and inspirations. Blogs are a wonderful part of the "Web 2.0" -- social technology!

Blogs can....
1. give you and/or your students a "voice" in global conversations
2. be tracked or "subscribed" to using RSS technology (RSS = Really Simple Syndication). (look for my RSS icon on the left)

Your thoughts and ideas can be "viewed at will" using a subscription manager (an aggregator) such as Bloglines.com which can be used to view all of your favorite blogs on one page. Imagine students publishing their thoughts and ideas, which you then "subscribe to" and view all of their entries in one "organized" space. (Click the Bloglines icon on the left to add this blog to your subscriptions!)

Another feature of a blog is that, often, your subscribers or visitors are able to provide feedback by leaving a comment about what you have written. So, a blog is much more than a webpage -- it becomes a tool for "conversation."

Hmmm.... let's think about ways to extend this conversation. Suppose your visitors could go beyond commenting on the thoughts in your blog, and re-write what you have written! Enter the world of wikis!

A wiki could be thought of as a virtual sandbox on the web. I draw in the sand, and you come along and add to my creation, enhancing my work with your talents! You can experiment or launch a wiki page using PBwiki. Their tagline is, “PBwiki makes creating a wiki as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich”.

Visit PBwiki.com to set up a PBwiki -- it's free and takes only 10 seconds.

Go forth and play in the sand!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

PowerPoint as a Countdown Timer?

Think about using PowerPoint as a "countdown timer" for tests, or discussion timers, speech timers, and more. Add some free music or clock sounds to make it more interesting.

1. Create a series of slides with text containing: "5 minutes" - "4 minutes" - "3 minutes" - "2 minutes" - "1 minute" --- and onto the 10 second increments.
2. Set the "timing" in the side transition menu accordingly.

But wait, why recreate the wheel? I'll just bet there are some already out on the web....

Try this: From the Google search page, click the "Advanced search" options. Enter "Timer" in the Find results "all of the words" field, then from the "File Format" options, drop down to select "Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt).

After you have downloaded the "gems" of others, why not consider posting your favorite PowerPoint files on the web to share?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Furl it and forget it!

Furl.net is a nifty Internet tool that enables you to save a copy of any page on the Web. Even if the link goes dead, you can still access the full text of the page, from any computer. Once saved, find any page again instantly using Furl's powerful full-text search. It's like having your own Personal Web or memory tool. Furl it and forget it. You can find all those important websites you've saved and share the sites with anyone else. Visit: http://www.furl.net to subscribe.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

At last... Google Earth for the Mac!

It's almost as good as being there.
Google Earth was release for the Mac on January 10, 2006 -

What is it?
A place to virtually explore, search and discover... Google Earth combines satellite imagery and maps -- putting the world's geographic information at your fingertips. "Fly" from space to your neighborhood. Type in an address and "zoom" right in. Search for schools, parks, restaurants, and hotels. Get driving directions. Tilt and rotate the view to see 3D terrain and buildings. Save and share your searches and favorites. Even add your own annotations.

Drawback? You need OS 10.4 (Tiger) -- coming soon to a desktop or laptop near you (next year's OS).

Download your copy today at: http://earth.google.com/

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Finally, WMV plays on Mac!

Thanks to the good folks at Flip4Mac,
Since Microsoft's Windows Media Player for Mac is going the way of IE for Mac, this great plug-in for QuickTime allows Macs to play WMV files with QuickTime. it works REALLY well, and even Microsoft is recommending it for Mac users. It actually works better than Microsoft's own product. It is available here for free at:
http://www.flip4mac.com/

Also, for a very reasonable cost from Flip4Mac: a WMV to QT converter! Bring your WMV files into iMovie for editing!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

iSquint from Tyler Loch

Did you get a Video iPod for the holidays? Check out iSquint for converting movies for your iPod!

This easy to use and FREE app was written by Tyler Loch, who if the name sounds vaguely familiar, happens to be the son of Stevenson teacher Tom Loch. Tyler is brilliant, and was an Apple employee (Genius bar) but had to leave his job due to a conflict of interest as a result of his work on this application. Donations are encouraged!

http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/ipod_itunes/isquint.html

You can download from the Apple page, Version Tracker, or from the iSquint website:
http://www.isquint.org/