Thursday, February 26, 2009

Web Quests (Zunal)

A WebQuest is defined by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University as "an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that students interact with comes from resources on the Internet."

One of the best ways to use technology/internet w/ students is to send them on a "web quest". While there are a ton of quests out there for students to go on, ideally it would be better to have them go on one which "you" created. Doing this, hasn't always been easy w/ the amount of planning time and then having to incorporate all the different resources that goes into a web quest.

However, a new resource is available for free which lets teacher's create their very own web quest online, and then either post it online, or download it as a PDF/print to use in their class. Plus, w/ it being online you can track statistics almost like Google Analytics.

I highly recommend checking out their home page and clicking on view demo...

For more info click here

Remix America

A few weeks back I came across this great site from Larry Ferlazzo's blog. Now that I had the chance to explore it and watch some tutorials I've decided to post about it. Remix America is simply one of the best online resources for history teachers/students.

RA, is a tool which lets you take any video from America History (from their own, online resources, or your own) and then mash them together anyway you see fit. You can combine the videos, upload audio, and add transitions all from their web interface. Once it is done, you can either upload your video to their site, download it to your computer, or get the html code to embed. However, while RA is a very good at what it does, it is limited to only American History. Also, keep in mind since it is a Web 2.0 resource that you have to be careful when sticking to CIPA compliance. I've contacted RA to get more information on that in detail.

Below is a "tutorial on how-to make a remix".

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsfree video player
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Alice Storytelling

Alice Storytelling is a spin-off of Alice is a user friendly application for Mac/Linux/Windows used to create 3D-animations/games. Think of it as a more advanced version of Scratch. They both need to be downloaded to use and both teach programming skills. However, w/ Scratch you can actually upload your game to their site to share w/ others.

Alice Storytelling is a bit different. It is designed specifically for Middle School and does not have any of the game components. It is for creating a digital-3D story and either printing out a story-board by creating screen-shots, or by creating an actual movie.

Below is a short example of a story...

For more info on Alice Storytelling click here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Parallel/Collaborative Word Processing

Parallel Word Processing is a term used for collaborating on the same document in "real time". Now, there are applications that do something very similar the most popular being Google Doc's, but in reality that is not done in "real time". The two I'm very excited about our Text Flow and Ether Pad.

Text Flow - This is true Parallel Word Processing. Upload as many documents as you like and then collaborate to get your desired result. It really is a time saver and helps eliminate mistakes. View the demo here.

Ether Pad - is great due to it's simplicity in use. All you have to do is click on Create New Pad, share the URL, and then start collaborating. While it may not have as many "bells & whistles" as some other apps it certainly gets the job done. For a demo click here.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009


At heart, Gaggle is a semi-free filtered email solution for students. Free being in the sense that the unpaid version includes banners/adds and really slows down a network. However, after using the purchased version of Gaggle in our district for the last few months, I can say Gaggle is so much more then just an eMail system.

Gaggle has a variety of components that makes it appealing for education such as: blogging, discussion boards, chatting, digital lockers, and email. Since all of this is "housed" in Gaggle it is all filtered.

Another nice feature is the admin user interface which lets you tweak settings to your hearts desire. You can set it to email yourself for blog comments, blocked messages, etc etc etc. Like any filtering system you can set it to as high/little as you like and include any keywords that might not be in the system.

Finally, one other great selling point is that it works w/ Google Apps. You can have Gaggle "house" a GMail account which is great if you like to par take in the Google universe or Googleverse. For more info on Gaggle/Google interaction click here.

If you are strictly looking for a blogging solution for education which is free, take a look at Edmodo. Edmodo is a microblogging solution for education which is very user friendly; think Twitter for education.
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lovely Charts

There are plenty of online diagramming applications, but Lovely Charts is one of the better ones to come along in a long time.

The first thing you'll notice after signing up (free, but paid to unlock everything) is the polished look/feel to it. This is one of the nicer looking online applications. Also, it is very user friendly and simple to use. Anybody who has had experience w/ Inspiration will be able to pick this up in no time.

One of my favorite features of Lovely Charts are all the different styles of diagrams you have to choose from: Flowcharts, Sitemaps, Network Diagrams, Wireframes, etc. Plus, it's very easy to save/download. I highly recommend checking this out and see no reason why it can't be used in education. The paid version unlocks all the web 2.0/collaboration features.

For more info click here.

Below is an example of a Home Network Diagram...
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Top Ten OSX/Leopard features

I thought I would compile a list of my favorite OSX features. Keep in mind this is not strictly regulated to Leopard, some of these features have been
around since the induction of Cheetah (10.0)

1. Target Disk Mode - Far and away the best feature of any OSX Mac. By simply restarting a computer and holding down the t key, the computer will boot into Target Disk Mode. This mode is ideal for transferring large amounts of data via a Firewire cable to another computer, or troubleshooting computers, especially those that won't boot. Easily, the main feature for techs that seperates Mac's over PC's.

2. Single User Mode - Another excellent feature to help troubleshoot computers that are not behaving correctly or won't even boot up. Restart the computer and hold down command/apple + s, and it will boot into single user mode. From the command line you can type in any number of commands to try and fix the computer, the most popular is File System Check fsck -fy.

3. Force Quit - When an applications freezes or you get the spinning beech ball of death, usually a force quit will rectify the situation. By simply holding down option+apple/command+esc at the same time you will bring up the force quit option (for PC control+alt+delete).

4. Screen Shot - Something I do on nearly a daily basis is take screen shots to either make tutorials, for error messages, or to grab images that I need. On a Mac this is a built in feature. Simply hold down shift+apple/command+4, the cursor will turn into a plus sign, and then create a "box" around what you want to take a picture of. You will hear a camera go off and it will put a .png file on your desktop.

5. Preview - When I first started using Leopard one of the first thing I noticed are all the changes that were made to it. Before, Preview was Apple's way to open up images/PDF's. In 10.5 not only can you view images/PDF's but you can: crop them, resize them, add effects, etc. With the new features of Preview you can edit a picture w/out ever having to launch iPhoto which will save you a bunch of time.

6. PDF - Another useful feature which I use a lot is to create PDF's. On a PC you would need to have Acrobat Distiller or something like that installed. In OSX, all you need to do is a File-Print, click on the PDF and choose the option you want!!

7. Archive/Compress - If you need to compress large files for either emailing, storage, or some other need, OSX makes it a synch. All you have to do is click on the file/folder, select File-Compress and it will make a zip right on your desktop.

8. Disk Utility - Disk Utility is a built in feature to OS X which got a bunch of new features in Leopard. In here you can do basic trouble shoot by repairing permissions/disk, partition a drive, erase/zero a drive, or create a disk image.

9. Zoom In/Out - A nice little feature to have especially if you are doing a presentation and want to focus on a specific area on your desktop is the zoom feature. To do this enable it in System Pref/Universal Access, and then do the following command, shift+command/apple+minus or shift+apple+plus.

10. Spotlight - Spotlight is a great way to search for anything on a Mac. It also has a bunch of plugins and other features that you can find by clicking on the link. I like that not only does it search the computer, but it will search any document, PDF, or email for words that you are looking for.
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Monday, February 9, 2009


PhotoPeach is a Web 2.0 app, similar to Animoto, w/ some very cool features. Let me start out by saying, if I had to choose one over the other I would go w/ Animoto. Animoto has been around longer, has a much bigger selection of music to choose from, and has a digital storytelling component specifically for education. For more info on that click here.

However, there are some aspects to PhotoPeach which make it appealing as well and even offers some functions that I approve over Animoto. Peach is super easy to use, making adding text and emoticons a breeze. This is ideal if you want to tell a story w/ a photo. PhotoPeach has a button upon completion of the slideshow, where you can select either Story Mode or Spiral, which switches on how it will be displayed on the web. While the Spiral mode is cool, I doubt I would use it in education, the Story Mode is definitely the way to go.

All in all it doesn't really matter which application you choose to go w/. They both are super easy to use, while Animoto has more features, it also isn't free (only for 30 seconds), while Peach is.

Below is an example of PhotoPeach...

The Boys on PhotoPeach

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Technology Integration - Technology Integration

Technology Integration - Technology Integration: "NOTA - Technology%20Integration%20-%20Technology%20Integration"
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I've always been interested in video (probably stemming from my love of movies), but really in particular in the editing process. I guess you can say my "proverbial itch" was first scratched when I started to use iMovie. It then grew when I had the chance to mess w/ eZedia. From there I dabbled w/ Avid learning from the great Mr Pine; who in turn introduced me to Wirecast.

Wirecast is the ideal and affordable (if you consider $449.00 affordable) way to do professional quality webcasts/broadcasts in your school. Also, it is cross platform, very user friendly, and can handle HD, mutiple cameras, does backdrops w/ chroma-key, and titles/transitions on the fly. I used this to do morning announcements and have found it to be one of the greatest applications for video out there.

For more info on Wirecast and all it's features click here.
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CIPA Compliance

I'm curious to find out how other district's handle the "delicate" nature of this issue. CIPA compliance is vital to maintain when using online resources in school. However, this does create some roadblocks when trying to introduce these educational/collaboration tools into the educational environment.

Ideally, it would be great if every online resource had some sort of moderation before it gets posted. For example, in Gaggle (filtered email/blogging/chatting) you can set any post to have to be approved before it goes up online. Also, WikiSpaces is nice where you can set your wiki to private so only members can view, and any time a change is made to the wiki the "administrator" would get notified. While this doesn't totally eliminate bad things from happening (bullying/swearing etc) it does help.

There are so many great resources out that I'd like to push but it is a matter of finding the right way to introduce it while still following CIPA compliance guidelines.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Google Earth 5.0

When speaking of innovation and cutting edge technology, it’s hard to find a company that comes to mind before Google. Ok, maybe Apple, but that’s about it ;-)

Google has just released their new version of Google Earth which is in beta. You can download a copy and view the virtual tour by clicking here.

So, what’s new in this version, and makes it perhaps the greatest update GE has ever seen? How about these 3 new features: historical images (think Time Machine, the movie not the Apple App), Ocean Floor (just a matter of time for this one, make sure to check out the Jacque Cousteau tour), and touring w/ audio/voice recording!!!

These new features among the current ones, make Google Earth a unique experience and a great resource to use in education. To view some other things that you can do in GE such as virtual ROME (gladiator days), Disney World, etc check out my Google page by clicking here.
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Screen Casting

Creating screen casts or online tutorials are such a great way to use technology in your classroom. It can be used to show a student “how to” do something, or used to record what is actually happening on a users desktop.

For example, if you wanted to show what a student is doing in Google Earth, you can use a screen recording application to do just that. Basically, anything that is happening on your screen can be recorded and then turned into a video to post anywhere (blog, website, etc)

Below is a list of my favorite screen recording apps:

1. Screen Flow - Far and away my favorite screen recording app. It can create spotlights, add sound effects, and zoom in/out. It is worth it’s hefty price tag due to the amazing things it can do!!

2. SnapZpro - Snapz is probably the most popular of the screen recording apps and very affordable. While it doesn’t have some of the robust features of Screen Flow, it is very user friendly and the easiest app to use.

3. Jing - What is so great about Jing is that it is open source and free. It has a very nice GUI to it and is rather easy to use, after the long install.

4. Screen Mimic - This is another great app w/ a lot of cool features such as audio dubbing and mouse control. It’s shareware so can be downloaded to test out before buying.

5. Flow Gram - By definition Flow Gram is not a true screen casting application. However, it does have some very unique features which make this one of the best Web 2.0 applications around.

6. Screenium - What I like about Screenium is that you can animate your screen casts, and even do movie in movie captures!!

7. Screen Flick - Nice app for $25.00.

8. Dream Capture - A nice little app for $9.95.

9. Sequence - Great app for $25.07

10. Screen Castle - free and easy to use just one click of a button
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Great Blogs

Here are some of the great blogs in Education:

1. Cliotech - Jennifer Dorman’s amazing blog. She is one of the most influential people in integrating technology in the industry, and a huge inspiration for me. Her track record in the online community is second to none and her cutting edge ideas/work ethic make her a great resource for teachers.

2. Larry Ferlazzo - Larry is an ESL high school teacher who has a wonderful blog. His blog has many accolades and has been nominated for the coveted EduBlogs award two years running. His links and his ideas on how to use these resources in education are second to none.

3. Brian McKee - a very well written, thought provoking, witty blog that covers instructional technology. His experience in education as well as his travels help make this one of the more useful/entertaining reads around.

4. Always Learning - Kim Cofino’s blog is a great read for educators, she is the 21st Century Literacy Specialist at an International School in Bangkok and shares some great ideas on how to use technology in education.

5. Geeky Bird - Matt Monjan’s innovative blog on the Discovery Education Network (DEN). This is a great resource for up and coming technologies in the classrooms.

6. iLearn Technology - Great blog which I learned about after I originally posted this list. Kelly Tenkely, is a K-5 technology teacher who shares simple ways on how to integrate technology into the classroom.

7. Free Technology 4 Teachers - Award winning blog that has some of the best resources for education out there. Nicely written and has a very nice "blurb" at the bottom of each post which suggests how to use in the classroom.

Smart Technologies - Blog written by Smart Technologies on all their products. Great read to learn how to use Smart Resources and to find out about upcoming technologies.
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Mac or PC

In working w/ computers everyday for the last ten years I get asked all the time what do I prefer Macs or PC’s...Well, my opinion of course is biased based on strictly using Mac’s but I do have some major reasons why I feel Mac’s are better for education.

Top 5 Reasons Mac’s are better for education:

1. Mac’s are more user friendly - for those users who are not familiar w/ either platform it is a lot easier to show somebody how to use a Mac.

2. Mac’s are lot less likely to get a virus - PC’s are not as secure on a “root” level and most viruses are built to attack PC’s.

3. Mac’s are a lot better value for your buck - while they are more expensive then PC’s, iLife alone makes it worth the value, plus it is a lot less likely to have to go in for repairs (unless of course you plan to run Linux)

4. You can run Windows on a Mac using Boot Camp, Parallel’s, Fusion, or any other number of Virtual Box.

5. Target Disk Mode - this is far away one of the most used features for a tech to troubleshoot user issues and can not be done on a PC.
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Semantic Web (Web 3.0)

With the evolving of the internet and Web 2.0 technologies, it’s only a matter of time before the term Web 3.0 becomes a main-stay in our lexicon.

Web 3.0 is the next step in the evolution of the internet. The “semantic web” is a term that is tossed around a lot which means that the internet basically works w/ you and not for you.

Click here for more info.

I also see more virtual environments such as Second Life or Virtual Reality as the next phase of the Web.

For a great example of what the Semantic Web could be click the link below.
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iWorks vs Google Docs

Here is an article that compares Google Docs vs iWorks 09. I think it will be interesting to see how Apple jumps into the whole online “collaborating” scene.

From what I can tell is great if you want to share what you’ve created in iWorks w/ others. However, this can not be used as a collaboration, say as Google Docs, other users can not have write access to what you’ve posted on
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Web 2.0 Links

*Dave's Favorites
Prezi - zooming presentations, quite unique and easy to use*
280 slides - great PP like site*
Slide - upload pics, add transitions/effects
Slideshare - share PP online
Voice Thread - educations most popular Web 2.0 app!!!*
Animoto - make great looking slideshows and embed them in your site, very popular*
Adam - advanced dynamic presentations
Flowgram - great multi-media site
Jog the Web - new way to surf the web

Zoho - similar to Google Apps
Vyew - free live conferencing
Ustream - great site for creating video conferencing w/ built in chat
Etherpad - great site, similar to Google Doc's but in real time*
Text Flow - parallel word processing*
Lucid Chart - online flow charts
Write With - similar to Google Doc's
Buzzword - Adobe's flash based answer to Google Doc's
WikiSpaces - simply the best wiki site around for educators!!!*

Drawing Boards
Dabble Board - digital whiteboard*
Scriblink - online whiteboard

Photo Editing
Sumo Paint - online image editor
Aviary - online app similar to Photoshop
Pixlr - online image editor
LunaPic - make animated gifs

Mapanno - great site to mash images, texts, maps together*
Nota - mash all types of media here!!*

Wordle - word clouds/tags*
Diigo - social bookmarking at it's best, great site for educators!!!*
Cool Tools for Schools - great list of Web 2.0 links
Kerpoof - make a drawing, pic, story, etc
Scratch - make online games and share
Time Glider - the best timeline app for education!!*

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