Gotta Be An Easier Way

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Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Mind Mapping on Steroids

The folks at Webdesigner Depot have posted 50 Great Examples of Data Visualization. These tools enable one to view large amounts of data in a visual spacial fashion that helps to reveal patters, trends and groups that are not easily observed in the traditional format. Unfortunately, this site lists 50 tools and while I have used several, but not all, I cannot make a recommendation on which tools is the best. Furthermore, the tool you choose or will need will also depend on the type of data that you need to view.

Educational Application:

Being able to present data in a visual spacial format will help most, if not all, learners get better grasp of what the data can reveal.

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  • Filed under: Graphics, Learning, Mind Mapping, Presentation, Research, Tools
  • Stamping Plagiarism out with Plagium

    Plagiarism can be a big problem in academic institutions and confirming something has been plagiarized can be just as difficult. Plaguim is a tool that seeks to help expedite that search process.
    Paste some text suspected of plagiarism into Plagiums text field and it spits out a nice timeline graph of all instances that it has been used along with a percentage which shows how accurate the two content chunks are to one another.

    How can Plagium be used in education?

    I think it is fairly obvious that the main purpose of Plagium is to see if any students are plagiarizing content. As an extension you could use it to check to see if your own works have been plagiarized when and by how much.

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  • Filed under: Research
  • WayBackMachine

    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
  • Visuwords™

    Visuword

    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.

    Visuword combines a web 2.0 type visualization tool with Princeton University’s opensource WordNet database to create an interactive click and drag type tool that is free for everyone to use.

    Educational Applications

    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.

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  • Filed under: Editors, Graphics, Learning, Research, Tools
  • Byline Google Reader

    I have been using the Byline Google Reader from Phantom Fish for the past six months and over the last few months I come to realize just how much I rely on this exceptional tool. Google Reader is my RSS tool of choice and I monitor a wide assortment of blogs and sites dealing with Learning, Educational Technology, Web 2.0, Social Media and much more. So my primary criteria in selecting an iPhone reader is that is must sync seamlessly with my Google Reader–and Byline does that and much more.

    Having access to my RSS feeds on my iPhone means I can use spare moments anytime and anywhere to keep up with my reading. Whether I am in a doctors or dentist office waiting room or waiting to pick up my kids from an activity I can take those spare moments and keep up to date.

    Byline Start Screen

    Byline Start Screen

    The Byline interface is elegantly simple and effective. I get a list of my RSS categories that I have created in Google Reader and a number indicating how many new entries there are.

    Byline Headlines

    Byline Headlines

    A single touch of the folder gives me a list of headlines and the site or blog title where they are from.

    Byline Content

    Byline Content

    One more touch of the headline gives me access to the full article or post. If it something that I want to refer to later I can simply click on the star at the bottom of the screen and I can check my starred items either in Byline or in Google Reader when I am back at my laptop. I used the star functionality often because I prefer to add notes or explore a topic further when I have access to my full system. As much as I like the iPhone typing on any device this small is simply not as convenient as it is on a full keyboard.

    Byline is not free but at $4.99 it can hardly be considered expensive and 5 bucks is a very small price to pay for the mobility and flexibility that this tool provides.

    Education Applications

    While I would be hard pressed to use Byline itself in the classroom or in an online course this tool and RSS readers in general are extremely valuable to instructors who are continually required to stay up to date on their area of expertise.

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  • Filed under: Research, RSS Readers, Social Networking
  • iCue – Immerse, Connect, Understand & Excel

    The following is a cross post from learn.lethbridecollege.net 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.

    http://www.hakia.com/

    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 (http://club.hakia.com/challenge/default2.aspx?q=is+sleep+deprivation+dangerous?) 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
  • It’s a Search Engine Throwdown!

    Middlespot

    Once again I am pitting three similar tools against each other to see who comes out as the victor. Three tools enter, one tool leaves. This go around is focused on search engines and ever since Google came in, stole the spotlight and made search engines cool everyone has been wanting their piece of the pie. The 3 tools I will be spotlighting are Middlespot, Hakai, and True Knowledge.

    The first tool up is Middlespot and though this tool doesn’t offer any complex search algorithms but this search engine boasts the added functionality of a thumbnail picture for every search result that shows up. These images can be zoomed in and out and are all laid out on a basic workspace and to the left is another workspace with all the text present.

    Another cool aspect of of Middlespot is that you get a thing called a workpad which enables you to:

    • save multiple pages to
    • change names
    • give it a unique url
    • add comments
    • email to people
    • it remembers your searches
    • it makes suggestions for other searches.
    • embed your workpad to your website or blog as I have done here

    Middlespot also allows you to search twitter, amazon and images for a bit more variety. It also boasts the ability to add (if you want, no requirement here) Middlespot to you firefox search engine list and of course the obligatory bookmarklet. And if you don’t like the algorythm that Middlespot uses you can save google searches to your workpad and look at them there.

    All of this is offered with no signup, plugins, logins, or kitchen sinks required so no passwords to remember, if you don’t want.

    All sounds pretty good but there must be a downside, right? Well there is, bringing up 25-50 thumbnail images of websites can be pretty taxing on your internet connection and things tend to slow down, something that can cripple a search engine because people want their search results like they like their coffee…fast.

    So how can Middlespot be used in education?

    • You can post links via the workpad
    • use it as a personal search engine
    • use the comment tool to document separate workpads, like an overview
    • and you can use it like any other search engine

    Stay tuned for part 2 of the search engine throw-down coming early next week.

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  • Filed under: Research, Search
  • Listio – Web 2.0 Directory

    listio-logoOne of the advantages of Web 2.0 is that there are hundreds or thousands of tools, sites, mashups being developed for a myriad of uses. This presents a significant challenge–how do you find the right to for the right job. Sites the like Mashable are my first stop when looking for specific Web 2.0 tools but as excellent as Mashable is, I often find myself looking for a tool that is just a little bit more or is better at…, and fall back to a Google search entry like “Compfight vs” to see what reviews have been written on a particular app or site and more specifically to search out similar tools and explore my options.

    This is where Listio comes in and makes my search for the perfect tool much easier. Listio is a community directory of Web 2.0 tools, sites and services. The site allows you to browse Web 2.0 apps by their tags, search existing and new Web 2.0 apps and read and write reviews. Perhaps the most useful aspects of the site is the list of related applications which can be accessed from an application review page.

    This feature has made my life much easier by giving me the option of viewing a wide selection of applications that are similar to the one that I may currently be testing or reviewing.

    Educational Application:

    • Finding the right tool, site, services that gives your students the right experience, or augments the learning environment is invaluable.
    • The related applications section of the site may also expose you to tools or services that you many not have considered but could be used or provide an alternative experience for the learner.
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  • Filed under: Graphics, Research, Search