Gotta Be An Easier Way

Using technology to make your life easier!

Archive for the ‘Conferencing’ Category

I know everyone probably has some sort of Google account and if you don’t you have probably have heard about it. But I wanted to make sure that I wrote something about it because it is one of those fundamental online tools that you must tap into and I didn’t want to take it for granted, that and there are so many tools that people haven’t tapped into that add so much to the experience.

Google pretty much owns my life and there is a good reason for that. It’s easy, free, integrated and unified. On top of it I can gather all the Google tools that I use onto one page, my Google Homepage . This is where I have my Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Reader, and many other tools that aren’t even Google tools like the weather, or alternative search engines.

So how do you get a google Homepage? If you have a Gmail account then you already have access to the Google Homepage and ALL of the tools I have listed here and MORE you simply need to login with your Gmail account to access it and it is all FREE!

Let me elaborate on some of the tools that Google offers:

  • Google Docs: Word Processing, Spreadsheet creation, online forms/surveys, presentation/slideshow creation. All of which can be fully private or fully collaborative with several people working on the same document at the same time from the same room or thousands of miles away.
  • Gmail: Email that offers over 5 GB of storage space (It’s space is ever growing as well depending how long you have had it for, I’m up to nearly 8GB), to-do lists, contact lists, Instant messaging, video chat, and many plugins that increase it’s functionality like GTD inbox, Boxbe, and Google Calendar. And because it is all integrated you send some emails right to your calendar like Entourage and Outlook.
  • Google Calendar: Create multiple calendars that you can share with family, friends collegues, co-workers or the entire world if you want. Tap into co-workers (if they are sharing) calendars to help you schedule meetings or events. Break it down into months days or hours. Reminders help you keep track of your life as well.
  • Picasa: An online photo storage site like Flickr. Easily organize, find, and share your photos. (Stay tuned for a more in depth look at Picasa and Flickr coming very soon)
  • Google Reader: A RSS feed reader that allows for sharing and works really good.
  • Blogger: A easy to use blog that integrates into all your other tools, grab photos from Picasa, documents from Docs and populate your blog so others can keep up to date with what you are doing.
  • Google Sites: A no code required web builder that utilizes drag and drop modular design. Easily have a website up and running in minutes.
  • Youtube: yup your Google account automatically gives you a youtube account.
  • Google Maps: A map of everywhere. Get directions and save them to your account so you always have them for accessibility. And check out street view which lets you go down to street level in most major cities in the world and look around as if you are in a car.
  • Google Translate: Translate from language to language. Very Handy. 43 languages supported and counting.
  • iGoogle: Your personalized Homepage of widgets/nuggets/gadgets. Can house most of the Google tools along with thousands of other tools that enhance productivity or just supply fun.
  • and many more like Finance, Scholar, Books, News etc. And they are constantly adding more.

The best part of it all is that it all exists online (but you can have it run off your desktop too if you want) and is accessible from any computer in the world that have computer access.

How can I use this for education?

  • Increase productivity.
  • Almost everything you do can be online and is sharable.
  • Reduce desktop clutter with fewer applications.
  • Give students a free alternative to pricey desktop applications.
  • Most of your tools can be accessible on one web page. It’s your desktop online.
  • It lives online so you have access everywhere and are not tethered to one computer.
  • Collaborate synchronously or a-synchronously online whenever or wherever with students, course co-writers, colleagues or whoever.
  • Set students up to collaborate online, this works especially good with distance courses.
  • View Microsoft Office documents without Microsoft Office.
  • and there is so much more but so little space

So what do /would you use the Google products for?

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  • Filed under: Calendar/PIM, Collaborative, Conferencing, Editors, File Viewers, Office, RSS Readers, Search, Social Networking, Tools
  • Voxli: Instant Voice Chat

    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
  • The Hype around Skype

    Skype is an internet phone, a video phone and a screen sharing app (with beta version) that sits on your computer and is free. Now technically it is not a Web 2.0 app because you have to download it but it is the tool that is most entrenched in the market.

    With Skype you can phone any other computer that is running it and talk as long as you want for free. Video chat is also included when you call computer to computer. Skype also allows you to to call a land line but it will cost you (pre-paid) a very minor fee (2.4 cents a minute). And of course that means you can make calls worldwide for that price.

    An added bonus with Skype is the ability to make conference calls via voice or video. And to round out the features Skype also includes an instant messaging service with the added bonus of being able to text message someone’s cell phone from your computer.

    For the brave you can also get a cell phone that is Skype enabled which will let you use it on your cell phone to save money.

    How can Skype help in Education?

    • Set up a conference call with distance students
    • leave your Skype enabled for times when you want to be at home but available to your students
    • Record your calls/interviews (yes Skype does that too and remember to get the interviewees permission as well) with important people and play it back for students

    As always you can voice your ideas as a comment on this post at the top and keep an eye out here for more information on tools like Skype that are fully fledged Web 2.0 (all online) and are just as good as Skype.

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  • Filed under: Conferencing, Video