Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thing 15 - Screencasting; Easier than Ever

Way back if you wanted to capture something you did on the computer, then you would get out your video camera and record it. But now things are much different. I know I am sounding like a broken record but I am continually amazed at how much easier tech things are now.

Screencasting is one of those things that have gotten so easy and inexpensive. I remember when Camtasia was really the only screencasting tool. And it cost a bundle and often times it didn't work. Now we have Screencast-o-matic along with others that make it an easily used tool that is cost effective. It's so easy you can almost just figure it out for yourself how to use it. And it's cost effective because its FREE!

[*Note - one problem I did experience was when I copied and pasted the "tiny" size embedded code into the html it wouldn't play. I had to change the code from np=1 to np=0.]

I can immediately see a use for this as a teacher. For example doing chemistry, physics or math problems for students that were absent, didn't get understand it the first time or just need a refresher. This then can be posted to the teachers website or they can be saved as an MP4, flash, or posted on YouTube whatever. They can even be put on the last "Thing" we did - "VoiceThread" so students can comment on it and ask questions.

Thing 14 - Voice coming in loud and clear

I have to say how wowed I am with VoiceThread. I think it is pretty awesome. It is yet another thing I have never heard of. And another thing that can be used in many aspects of life, let alone class. My head is spinning with all the possibilities. Some examples that I saw on VoiceThread were where a teacher created a lesson that students commented on. One where a student did a lesson where others commented on. I saw examples where people from across the globe came together.

It would be cool if we could do it on a smaller scale at ASH by participating in a lesson with other Sacred Heart Network Schools.

This is another tool I would love to use, but like with many of the previous tools I have been shown in this "23 Things" journey, I would need to really sit down and spend a good deal of time reviewing everything we did and then seeing what I can do with them.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Thing 13 - YouTube

I watch YouTube all the time, but usually for the music videos. The kinds we used to see on MTV when the M stood for music, not moronic. I usually try to avoid the amateur videos. But I have to say that there are some great amateur videos put on YouTube for educational purposes. I really liked the chemistry demos for a variety of reasons.
1. I can get ideas for class.
2. I can see how these demos are done. If there is only written instructions for a demo I can't always picture what is going on.
3. I can show these things to the class if I don't have the equipment, supplies or if it is too dangerous to do in class, such as dropping a chunk of cesium in a bucket of water.

One video I like and which is applicable is the following on creating Hydrogen gas and coincidentally it is called "Chemistry Experiment 13 - Hydrogen Balloon" which is quite appropriate since this is "Thing 13".

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Thing 12 - Web 2.0 Tools

I really enjoyed Thing 12. I got to see many of the wild and crazy things out there. Most I have never heard of. I took my picture and put it in a BeFunky Impressionist view. You can see the results on the left. BeFunky Impressionist
With many of these Web 2.0 tools you can accomplish the same thing if you are a master of photoshop, but why spend the time if you don't have to? It's much easier and faster to just go to these sites and plug your picture in and - viola'- you have a master piece. Using these tools you can become much more productive as you don't have to spend time trying to figure out how to do something in a program such as photoshop, as mentioned before. In the mid-90's I used a program called Fractal Painter that would take me hours and hours to do something like this. I should have waited 15 years and then I could have just done the same thing in seconds with BeFunky and the other mentioned web tools.
Students and teachers both could beneifit with using these. They could really give a kick and snaz up their presentations/ lessions/projects with these tools. And with today's Lady Ga Ga generation a lot of it is about the visual presentation. And importantly they could spend most of their time on research and information.

Thing 11 - Social Bookmarking and Tagging

Tagging isn't what it used to be. 20 years ago if I said "I'm going tagging", the fuzz would be on me before I could say "krylon". Nowadays it takes on a totally different connotation. Tags are, as of now, I think the best way to organize information about websites out there. I can't tell you how many times I have favorited something, only to do the following:
1. Completely forget about them.
2. Lose them in a myraid of other bookmarks.
3. Don't know what the heck they are for
4. Be overwhelmed by all of them
5. Waste time by all of their confusion.
Even if I organized them into folders, they just seemed like such a pain to find and figure out. I pretty much gave up on bookmarking and would only put the absolute "required" on my menu bar. But even then I don't use them. I am almost "afraid" to do it for fear of "going into the abyss of the bookmarks". With tagging and Deliscious, I am excited because now I can use the web as it should be used - as a resource of immense information.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thing 10 - Mashups should be on your Radar

Mashups should definitely be on your radar, especially if you are doing research. Mashups are a way to look at different ideas by combining them. It's a great way to bring together API's such as google, youtube, flickr, twitter, etc.

Here is a neat example where you can map all your friends using the API's of facebook, google maps and amazon - . With this mashup I am able to see how close Thag's cave is to mine and how many days walk it is to Trog's place without separately typing in their addresses.

There's a great site in which you can look at almost 5000 mashups out there, you can submit your own and even learn how to do one yourself (provided you know some coding). You can search mashup's by topic and if you chose one they will also give you some related ones. It's fun to check this site out. There are some of the pretty cool mashups out there. Lots of ingenuity and creativity. You can seriously spend eons going from one mashup to the next.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thing 9 - Say Cheese

Now everyone can have their pictures seen by the public, not just press photograhpers. With Flicker et al you have ways in which to share photos with everyone you want (and complete strangers) for eras to come without spending a cent. And you can have these same people (and complete strangers) critic your pictures and you can do the same.

In education students and teachers can search these sites for different pictures needed for a report/project/lesson, etc. I can also see a whole class uploading pictures using a common account. Then each student can upload some photos and the whole class can comment on them. For example, an art class can contrast and compare the cave paintings of Spain with that of France.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Thing 8 - Flakes are Good Things to Have

I never would have thought having flakes would be a good thing. But it is. Pageflakes that is. Pageflake is a way to build a customized start page. There are others of these out there, but I think Pageflakes are head and shoulders above the rest.

With Pageflakes I can have all the important information that I like all on one page - news headlines, weather, wikipedia, calculator, calendar, word of the day, travel, maps, to-do lists, local news feeds, unit converters. All of these things are the flakes. They come in a little box that I can put anywhere I want on the web page.

There are hundreds of these flakes that I can put on my page. I didn't have time to browse through all of the choices. But once I do, I can really see a nice repertoire of items. So when time permits I plan on getting more and more flakes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Thing 7 - Settling Down for Serious Reading

With RSS/Google Reader one can do some serious continuous reading and do it with absolutely minimal effort. Instead of going out into the cold world of the internet and hunting down a blog, that blog now can come into the comfort of our very own home page. And we can read multiple blogs while on one web page, never having to venture out to another page.

It's like instead of going out to the store and buying Time, Newsweek, Christian Science Monitor, these magazines are all delivered to your house as one book. You just have to turn the pages. It's so easy.

I do see some negatives with the RSS/Google Reader.

1. I just can't help feeling that RSS/Google Reader is helping us evolve toward being an even lazier species. We used to have to expend serious energy searching the internet for all the blogs we wanted to read. Now they are all at our doorstep. It makes things too easy for us.

2. With a reader you can't see each individual webpage. You don't get to see the overall presentation of it, thus the character of the person behind it. You just get words. It's like the old record albums had the character of the band you were listening to. Now you just have music on an ipod that you never get to "hold"in your hands.

3. Now there is more and more stuff to read. Blog information overload.

HOWEVER. I must say as I came to my home page today, I have to admit it was very nice just to scroll down and look at all of the updates to the blogs I have subscriptions to.

I guess I have mixed feelings about it. I'll just have to read up on it some more.