Gotta Be An Easier Way

Using technology to make your life easier!

Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category


The Internet Archive was founded to build an Internet library, with the purpose of offering permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format. Want to see what a website looked like 2, 3, 4 or more years ago–just use the Internet Archives WayBackMaching and type in the URL and see what it looked like.

Educational application:

Great source for a historical persepective on just how far the Internet has come.

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  • Filed under: Browsers, Networking, Research, Search
  • Useful Social Networks for Students

    Everyone knows that social networks like Facebook are really popular with college age students but there are many other web 2.0 apps that can add to a students experience at college. Here is an article from Mashable that describes 10 of these applications. Enjoy.

    10 Must-Try Social Media Sites for College Students

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  • Filed under: Collaborative, Networking, Social Networking
  • iCue – Immerse, Connect, Understand & Excel

    The following is a cross post from and it is being re-posted to the easierway site because this clearly represents an easier or more effective way to learn history, civics and current events and should be considered a glimpse of what the future of learning may hold.

    iCue, which stands for “Immerse”, “Connect”, “Understand”, and “Excel”,  is a free, online, collaborative learning environment for students and lifelong learners ages 13 and up that includes discussion forums, games and activities, and hundreds of current and historic videos from NBC News.

    iCue was originally designed with Advanced Placement students in mind by NBC and the MIT Education Arcade who are conducting research study to find out how iCue can help students learn. Originally designed with Advanced Placement students in mind, students in high school through college and lifelong learners of all ages will enjoy watching the NBC videos, playing the games, joining discussion forums and trading Cue Cards while they learn.

    The system can be used by a wide assortment of learners at many levels but does offer the following courses as a starting point:

    • U.S. History,
    • U.S. Government and Politics, and
    • English Language and Composition.
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  • Filed under: Collaborative, Learning, Networking, Research, Social Networking, Video
  • Part 3: Search Engine Throwdown

    True Knowledge is a “question answering” search engine. You ask a question the way you do to any other person and it will give you an answer and the results (webpages) from which it drew that conclusion. So if you type in “How tall is the Eiffel tower?” I get a simple answer of “324 meters” I also get the specific article it got that information from, a list of other webpages that are relevant to the search and also an option as to if I agree or disagree with the answer.

    True Knowledge is still in beta (like the other 2 I reviewed) so not everything has an answer and on top of that you still need to sign up to be able to use it something that can take days before your account can be set up. That is not very good when you are just wanting to do a simple search. If you are very interested in this concept and feel you want to contribute you sure can add to the knowledge base.

    How can you use True knowledge in education?

    Really because it is in beta, and has been for over a year, it really isn’t suitable to use in education but is definitely one to watch out for and should be followed.

    So who is the winner of this throwdown? My choice as best search engine alternative is Hakai, and for these reasons:

    • Smoothest and fastest interface
    • verified search results
    • direct comparison with other search engines

    This isn’t to say that the other search engines are not good, they are good but I just prefer Hakia at this point.

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  • Filed under: Collaborative, Networking, Research, Search
  • Part 2: Search Engine Throwdown.

    hakia via kwout

    Hakai is a self proclaimed semantic search engine that spits out results based on web sites that are suggested by librarians. Because most search engines bring search results based on popular websites the results may not be credible but Hakai is trying to change that.

    Most search engines bring popular results based on what statistical ranking algorithms, the problem with this is that the popular results are not always credible. Enter Hakai, the self proclaimed semantic search engine that brings quality results based on 3 criteria:

    1. credible websites recommended by librarians
    2. relevance to the query
    3. up to date information

    Hakai takes it a step further by allowing you to compare ( your search to Google, Yahoo and MSN to see how effective it is as well letting you see if you find the search to be as effective as they say.

    No sign up required, no commitment of any kind is needed to use this tools so feel free to try it risk free.

    So how can this tool be used in education.

    • If you are tired of Wikipedia, Google and the like then you can test drive Hakai and it’s librarian approved search result out and perhaps only allow your students to use it when doing research.
    • It is another search engine option for yourself or anyone for that matter.
    • Use it to show your students how different search engines can offer different results, thus it becomes a teaching tool to demonstrate why extra research is usually needed.

    How would you use Hakai?

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  • Filed under: Collaborative, Networking, Research, 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
  • About a year ago I was looking for a good solution to share large files that email couldn’t handle (20+mb), I also needed a few other things that I wanted it to do like:

    1. Sync files automatically across multiple computers.
    2. Have access to my files regardless of the computer that I am using i.e. read a PDF from an internet cafe computer.
    3. Collaborate with people via sharing large files.
    4. Store files online.

    Luckily I found a tool to help with all of that and more, Dropbox. Here is a highlight reel of what Dropbox offers:

    1. 2 GB free storage space online
    2. File syncing across multiple computers
    3. OS independent
    4. Large and small file sharing via public folders
    5. Photo sharing via photos folder (includes a web interface web gallery)
    6. Public folder sharing where multiple Dropbox accounts can have access to specified folders and all accounts gain syncing power to constantly be updated with new files in that folder.
    7. Invisible syncing and through the web interface you can see Dropbox activity.
    8. Web interface to access your files while away from your computer
    9. A public folder that allows you to put up files, grab a url from the file, and give the link to whomever and they can download the file without downloading Dropbox. Try it out for yourself by clicking here. and here . as you can see it allows you to link right to html documents and flash files.

    To use Dropbox you just download the software install it and it will create a folder in your computer called, you guessed it, Dropbox. It runs in the background and only syncs when you add a file or take one out of the folder. Install Dropbox on any computer you want to sync files across and it will run in the background making sure that the Dropbox folder is synced.Watch this video to better understand what Dropbox has to offer and go here for a tour of dropbox .

    So how could you as an educator use it?

    1. Well how about posting important files for download into your public Dropbox folder and sending the link to all your students so they can download it?
    2. What if you are working with another instructor or content expert, you could set up a collaborative folder so you both would be up to date with what the other has done.
    3. Leave your work computer at work and know that those files will be on your home computer for you to work on later.
    4. Have your students all get dropbox accounts and you could set up a folder where they can send put up their assignments like an assignment dropbox.
    5. With an account your students could have group collaboration and you would be able to see their progress (as long as you are invited into their group folders) and who is most active and it keeps track of versions and if a file has been deleted which would reduce the odds of cheating.
    6. Use it to archive important files (you can undelete deleted items and even restore different versions of the same file)
    7. Whatever you want!

    So how do I (Tyler Wall) use Dropbox? Well I have a fellow comic aficionado back in my home town and we are creating a web comic together so I created a new folder in Dropbox and invited him to it. We now both have access to the folder (and no one else) and if I put up a new drawing it syncs to his computer and it is like sharing a folder on the web. I also use it to backup important files, all in folders that no one else has access to.

    It has revolutionized the way I collaborate on a large scale project. I haven’t seen my friend in over a year but I feel like we haven’t missed a beat with thanks to Dropbox.(and a few other online tools). Without Dropbox collaboration would be much more difficult.

    So if you have Dropbox and use it regularly or have ideas of how to use it for education by all means post a comment and let me and everyone else know your great idea.

    StumbleUpon is a personalized discovery engine…say what? It is a tool that helps you discover web sites that you care about. It does this first by you telling it what you are interested in and second by you rating what it finds for you . The more you stumble and rate the more accurate it gets. It chooses websites based on what other people rate as good all according to your interests.  And of course like all good web 2.0 tools there are social aspects like sharing with other stumblers.

    Although this could be considered more a distraction than something actually useful but you would have no idea of how many quality website resources from this service.

    Check out the product demo here.

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  • Filed under: Networking, Research, Search