Using technology to make your life easier!
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:
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?
So what do /would you use the Google products for?
My last article focused on the compression side of image editors (Dwayne also threw a good tool in one of his posts) and I tried to focus on the easiest to use options for that specific purpose. While writing that article I felt that I needed to focus on image editors that act more like a full featured photo and image manipulation program like Photoshop. So here is a list of a few online editors in order of what I would be most likely to use.
online painting/photo manipulation program. One of the most robust in its field with a focus on illustration and painting. It’s editing features are in the top of the online field and my choice as the best of the best.
A stripped down photoshop that is all online and free (limited). If you create an account you will get access to a few more options and it still remains free. It’s focus is on photo manipulation in a basic way.
Online image editor that works really well but could be considered on the difficult side if you have never worked with image editors before. It also boasts easy sharing to popular picture sharing sites like flickr, facebook, and picasa. No registration is required to start drawing but to really draw the power of it you should sign up.
Online image editor that works really well and is very easy. No registration is required to start editing but to fully realize the application requires a paid registration. This one has the most fun filters of them all but lacks some of the other features that make the others really great.
Synfig is an open source vector animation application very much like Flash. It works on a PC but not Mac as of now and will be a very difficult program to get into for novice and pro alike.
Pencil has no image manipulation or fancy filters, its purpose is for frame by frame animation. It’s very old school but still a very fun, easy application and gives you instant gratification.
How can you use these applications for education?
What are your ideas for useful ways these types of applications can be used in education?
Visuwords™ is an online graphical dictionary where you can look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. The tool enables you to produce diagrams and learn how words associate.
Because Visuword functions like both a dictionary and thesaurus it is ideal for writers, journalists, students, teachers or anyone else who has an interest in words.
Photoface allows you to upload an image of your face (or someone elses–assuming you have permission) and then modify that image by changing the age, weight, caricature and emotion. The instructions are built right into the site–the most challenging part may simply be the uploading of your image.
While I don’t really see any pure academic or educational purposes for the site I still want to recommend the site for its pure entertainment value.
I copied the following How to use it instructions directly from the Photo Resizer 3.5 site:
In addition to editing the name of the image you can adjust the pixel size and compression, sharpen the image and much more. Whether you are resizing 1 or 100 (or more images) this FREE tool makes the job quick and easy.
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.
In a recent conversation with a colleague I was reminded just how troublesome it can be to cut and past content from a Word document into a Blog, Content Management System (CMS), an HTML page or any other type of document or system is unable to deal with Word’s excessive formatting. Since I do most of my work online or in the Cloud I seldom use Word but instead use text editors like TextEdit, Text Wrangler, BBEdit, PFEdit and many more. Because I do most of my writing in a text editor I am not faced with dealing with Word until I inevitably have to open Word documents that come from other people. If I have to use content from a Word document the text editors that I use all have the built in ability to strip out formatting and return the document to a basic text format.
The issue of pasting content from word into a CMS or Blog can also easily be dealt with if you have JCE or similar type web-based text editor installed in your CMS or Blog. JCE gives you the option of stripping out all formatting from Word or similar documents by giving you a special Text Paste key that does all the work. Instead of doing a direct paste into the edit screen you use the Text Past key and paste the content into the past window and JCE does the rest. If you want to save some of the formatting from Word JCE also allows you to paste using the Word Paste key which preserves paragraphs, ordered and unordered lists and other basic formatting. Be forewarned you still need to tweak the content to deal with some of the excessive spacing Word sticks into it’s’ formatting.
If you do not use a text editor as your primary writing tool and do not have JCE or similar editor installed in your Blog or CMS, then you need to use a special tool that will strip out Word’s formatting from your clipboard when you cut and paste. Perhaps one the best tools for stripping out Word formatting in Windows is PureText. This FREE program runs from the task bar and all that you have to do to remove the formatting from the text that you have in your cllpboard is click on the PT. You can also right click on the PT for more options. PureText can also be configured to run as a hotkey so spend a bit of time on the PureText site to find the best way to configure PureText to solve your Word formatting problems.
If you are using OSX then you will find Plain Clip 2.0 just as powerful and perhaps even easier to use than PureText–it too is FREE. Plain Clip runs as a “faceless” application which means that it has no user interface (windows, menus etc.) at all and when you doubleclick it. You know it is working by fact that all the formatting will be stripped out of the content from the clipboard. Its just that easy!