Gotta Be An Easier Way

Using technology to make your life easier!

Archive for March, 2009

Eduslide is a tool where you can create your own e-learning modules. Basically it is like a do it yourself LMS where you can add as much or as little content in the form of your choice (mostly multimedia content). All of this can be password protected and only available to people who you invite.

“Eduslide allows anyone to create educational content and deliver it online, free of charge. Within the system we offer different ways of presenting information, using testing modules, wikis, chat, blogs, slideshows, and more. We welcome requests to produce more lesson types “

Not only that but you have access to much of the content that other people put up. Of course that is only if the owner wants everyone to see it.

How can Eduslide be used for education?

  • Eduslide is a delivery system for your dynamic content. It can be a good supplement to you current LMS (Learning Management System).
  • It’s great place to get ideas from and even use some of the material if you so please.

What do you think would be a good use for it?

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  • Filed under: LMS
  • Compfight + Flicker

    Compfight is a simple tool/website that allows you to do a topic search of flicker images or if you want to be more specific you can search using tags. It has a very handy Creative Commons filter/switch that you can turn on to immediate filter out only those images that have an open use or some sort of Creative Commons licensing.

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  • Filed under: Search
  • Etherpad: Realtime Collaborative Text Editing

    About the only limiting factor to Google Apps/Docs for collaboration on documents is that one still needs to have a Google account to access and collaborate on a document, spreadsheet or presentation. If your intended users/audience are not comfortable with creating a Google account or just do not want to, but you still need to collaborate on a document then Etherpad is the best way to go.

    You don’t need an account to start and Etherpad and anyone who you send or give the document URL to can start editing the document in real time. Users can identify their edits by color and name so it is very easy to see who has written what.

    Educational Applications:

    • This is one web-based app that you just need to “click and see” just how easy it is to use and what it can do for you.
    • Collaboration, engagement, brainstorming, mind mapping and so on….One is only limited by their own imagination.
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  • Filed under: Collaborative, Editors, Learning, Mind Mapping, Networking
  • Voxli: Instant Voice Chat

    voxli
    Likely we have all at one point or another used voice chat over the computer. Sometimes it can be difficult and sometimes fairly easy. Most of the time it requires downloading an application and on rare occasions it will exist on the net but still requires sign-up.

    Enter Voxli, an online voice chat application that doesn’t require any sign-up or registration and allows up to 200 people to chat at once. To set it up you simply go to their main website and complete a url of your own choosing. Send that url to whomever you want to chat with. It will prompt you to install a plug-in for Firefox and that is it. Extremely simple. The interface is very minimal and will take only seconds to figure out how it works.

    I have never ran across a voice chat application that is this easy to use let alone with good quality audio and the ability to “push” your chat outside of your browser to various other devices like video game systems.

    Although it doesn’t offer anything new to the arena of voice chat it does make the whole process much easier for admin and end users and that is the kind of power I gravitate to.

    How can Voxli be used in Education?

    1. Easily set up chat groups for distance students
    2. Make yourself available to students after hours via a chat room for them to ask questions while still having the open classroom concept
    3. Have distance students use it for collaborative projects

    How would/do you use it in your course?

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  • Filed under: Collaborative, Conferencing
  • Pidgin Wins – For Now…

    pidginIn the Meebo, Adium, and Pidgin three communication tools with strange names post Tyler pointed to the three top instant Message (IM) aggregators, Meebo, Adium and Pidgin and also explained how these tools could enhance the learning environment.

    While I have yet to find a web-based tool that works as good as Meebo, I have made the move from Adium to Pidgin as my primary application based IM aggregator for the following reasons:

    • Simplest and most efficient interface
    • Adding IM accounts is almost foolproof
    • Supports more services
    • Cross platform (Mac PC, Linux/Unix)
    • Supports 3rd party plugins

    Educational uses:

    • Connect, engage and communicate with students using a tool that they all use.
    • Collaborate with peers in real time.
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  • Filed under: Collaborative, Instant Messaging (IM), Social Networking
  • Post to Diigo & Much More…

    In the Can You Diigo it? post Tyler offered a plethora of reason why one should use Diigo and also offered several educational uses for this excellent social bookmarking tool. I would like to further enhance  Tyler’s post by pointing to 3 powerful Diigo tools that can be added directly to your browser that make it very simple to add and access Diigo bookmarks.

    Post to Diigo is a button you add to your bookmarks toolbar by simply dragging and dropping. It allows you to bookmark the page you are on by simply clicking the button. Once you add the description, tags, privacy setting you just click the Add New Bookmark button and your bookmark is saved and Diigo then returns you to the page you were originally on.

    Diigolet is very similar to the Post to Diigo Button in that it can be set-up by simple drag-and-drop – no download or installation needed, and it works for all major browsers. In addition to simple bookmarking it also allows you to highlight and add sticky-notes.

    The Diigo Toolbar is a power tool that can enhance your online browsing and interaction experiences by providing a full sidebar listing of your bookmarks, URLs and friends. It also provides a full featured toolbar that gives you the ability to bookmark, highlight, send, read later and view recent and unread bookmarks as well as enabling advanced searching and filtering. Despite all the power and control the toolbar is very easy to install, configure and use

    Post to Diigo, Digolet and the Diigo Toolbar are just the first 3 tools listed on the Diigo Tools page so we are really still just scratching the surface when it comes to using Diigo.

    P.S. from Tyler

    When I first started using Diigo these tools that Dwayne has mentioned were invaluable, but I always disliked how much room it took up in my taskbar. For many this may not be a problem but I have many other tools that I use in my task bar as well. I happened upon a solution (by accident) to this though, I discovered that right clicking on a page you wish to bookmark, text that you wish to highlight, or both at the same time would bring up a context sensitive menu allowing almost all of the functionality right at your fingertips without having to have the other tools in the toolbar (Diigo still needs to be installed as a plugin however). I find that this solution is faster and more convenient than using the Diigolet and Diigo button. Below I attached some screenshots of the context sensitive menus.

    diigo_menudiigo_menu2

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  • Filed under: Browsers, Collaborative, Social Networking
  • Mind Maps: The Conclusion

    myWebspiration is very robust and the most fully featured of the three mind mapping applications. The list of it’s capabilities is impressive and includes the ability to:

    • add hyperlinks
    • images
    • color changing
    • clip art (although I am against such things, but I am a graphic guy which makes me very picky)
    • converting lists to mind maps
    • line customization
    • collapsible maps
    • collaboration
    • notes for specific bubbles
    • etc.

    So what’s not to like with this fantastic application that seems to do everything? Although it may seem like everything to everyone and has all the functionality of the first two I reviewed and more, all the functionality comes at a big cost, usability. It is, by far, the hardest application to use of the three and surprisingly doesn’t have a very robust export or embed feature. If you are OK with an extra 10 minutes of learning time though you can unlock much of the power of myWebspiration and create great mind maps.

    My pick for best Mind Map tool is (drum roll can be heard in background) Bubbl.us! Why? It is the best blend of incredible ease of use and its collaborative nature. There may not be all the bells and whistle but it looks good and when I invite someone to come and use it I know they will be able to figure it out with little to no instruction.

    How can mind maps be used in education?

    1. quickly mapping out complex plans like websites, marketing plans, business plans,
    2. A more visual way of representing a idea
    3. Give an overview of a plot line of a story
    4. show relationships between groups or individuals
    5. show relationships between almost anything i.e. (galaxies, solar systems, planets, moons, asteroids) or (the food chain).
    6. show a business hierarchy or any hierarchy for that matter.
    7. Mind maps can increase creativity for any area (even mathematics) by helping you think outside the box and make associations that you may not have thought about before.

    What are your ideas for how to use mind maps?

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  • Filed under: Mind Mapping
  • text2mindmap

    Text2MindMap

    In part 2 of my mind-mapping tour I have chosen Text2MindMap. This is by far the easiest app to use as it is based purely on creating outlines. This online app takes your outline tree and creates a mind-map from the content therein. It also features the ability to paste an already created list in a handy text field so go ahead and use a different app like Word to create the list, copy it and paste it into the text field. It is that simple.

    Of course there are the obligatory options that you can change like the colors but at it’s core it is just a pretty list. And that is also a downside of Text2MindMap it is a bit too sparse in its features. There is no collaborative aspect, you can’t embed it and the only exporting you are able to do is to a Jpeg format.

    All in all it is the simplest tool I will review and that is it’s strength. If all you need is to visualize your outline then this is the fastest and easiest tool by far to use.

    How can it be used in education?

    Stay tuned to the 3rd part of my article trilogy to see how Mind mapping in general can be used in education.

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  • Filed under: Mind Mapping
  • Mind-Mapping: a trilogy of visual thinking

    Part 1: Bubbl.us

    This is part one of 3 articles based around online mind-mapping applications. These 3 articles will end with me giving my pick for the one I like best and why.

    Part 1: Bubbl.us

    This mind mapping application is the probably the easiest to use and to enable the collaborative aspect right away. All you need to do is sign up and make friends with a colleague or student that has an account with Bubbl.us and give them editing access. Of course you can also only give them viewing access in case you don’t want them to muck about in your hard work

    It works very much like any other mind mapping application but doesn’t have the functionality of putting links, documents or other items like that into any of the bubbles but that is the charm in my mind the utmost of simplicity.

    Bubble.us has very much a web 2.0 look with glossy bubbles that contain your content.The creation of the whole map doesn’t even require using the mouse very much as all the functions for creating new bubbles can be done with the keyboard.

    It also has the functionality of being able to export to an HTML page, embed directly in a website or print to an image.

    All in all Bubbl.us is the tool that I tend to use the most because of its ease of use, collaborative aspects, control over group access, and the export functionality.

    How can Bubbl.us be used in education?

    Stay tuned to the 3rd part of my article trilogy to see how Mind mapping in general can be used in education.

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  • Filed under: Mind Mapping
  • Evernote – Your External Brain

    evernote-logoThe often discussed notion of an external brain or place to keep all sorts of information in an easy to access format is no longer just an idea it is reality with Evernote.

    Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. This free tools works on Windows and OSX, any smartphone and on the Web. Information input into Evernote is automatically synced across all devices.

    Watch the following video, then go to the Evernote website and view the What is Evernote Page and I will guarantee that you will start using this free web-based tool.

    If you want even more power and control you can download and install the Windows or OSX client and your information from the web will automatically be synced to your system.

    One of my favorite ways to use Evernote is as a digital voice recorder. On a recent trip to Calgary I had several good ideas that i didn’t want to loose so I simply fired up Evernote in my iPhone and recorded my thoughts.

    evernote-newnote

    The New Note screen on the Evernote iPhone App gives you four options so capturing information in any format is just a single click away.

    Educational Applications

    • Evernote is the consummate research tool I wish I had in when I was doing my graduate studies–the ability to capture, store and index all forms in information in almost any format makes it so easy to get at the information at a later date.
    • Evernote will also do OCR and is able to capturing and indexing text from images so capturing notes from a whiteboard, signs, product information sheets, business cards, etc. save you valuable time.
    • Because Evernote syncs across all devices I will create my meeting agenda or lecture notes in Evenote on my laptop and then access them via my iPhone.
    • The indexing and search functionality make is very easy to access the valuable tidbit of information that you stored in just in case you needed it someday.

    There is a premium version of Evernote that costs $5 per month or $45 per year but to date I have not had the need for the added security and additional storage space that this account offers.

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  • Filed under: Blogging, Search, Synchronization