Using technology to make your life easier!
Ember is a free service that lets anyone create a custom playlist of videos from the top video sites like YouTube, Vimeo etc. on the web. These compilations are do not alter or change the original video in any way nor do they make a copy–the system works by linking existing videos together in viewer that allows the user to scroll through and select all or specific videos to view.
A picture or in this instance a video is worth a thousand words so take a few moments to view the Embedr compilation on 21st Century Learning that I put together in just a few minutes.
VoiceThread is an interactive environment that facilitates collaboration on creating dynamic slideshows by allowing users to post comments, which are publicly viewable if needed, in a variety of formats including text, audio and video all delivered from either a computer or phone. In addition to this it allows viewers to comment by drawing pictures directly on the slides.
Although that is a fairly good shot at describing VoiceThread they do a much better job of it by showing what it can do which you can see here.( http://voicethread.com/#q.b409.i848804 and here http://voicethread.com/about/).
My description of VoiceThread is drastically condensed but it is a good base. When you watch a VoiceThread you are faced with a slide and pictures all along the sides, these pictures are the comments that people have left in either text, audio or video, a timeline plays along the bottom and is segmented for each person who left a comment. If you want you can skip all the comments and go to the next slide by clicking the large arrow on the bottom right.
So how could you use VoiceThread in Education? Well this is one of those tools that could be used for so many different purposes that I won’t touch on even a fraction of what can be done but I will try so here we go:
If you are interested in more I suggest you go to VoiceThread and browse ( http://voicethread.com/#q ) some of the ones that have already been created. Many of them are very creatively using the tool to fill gaps and really engage students in an open and non-threatening dialog.
One downside to VoiceThread is that for a student to use it they do need to have an account and although it is free it is another step they will need to go through to be able to use it.
Jing is one of the easiest tools to use to create screen captures and record and add voice overs to any onscreen activity. One can easily share what they have captured or recorded over the web, via IM or email.
The program works on both Windows XP/Vista and the Mac OSX. The free version offers all the features of the Pro – the Pro version just makes it even easier to share your videos at a higher resolution and allows you to export to the .mp4 format which enables you to edit the video in any video editing tool. Jing is made by TechSmith, the same folks who make Camtasia, and the videos are shared through screencast.com.
Up until recently I have only used the free version but decided to upgrade ($14.95 US) to get access to the higher quality video and the ability to export to .mp4. The following is an example of the video capture I created in just a few minutes:
Setting up Google Forwarding – View in “Full Size” for best quality
A few educational applications for this tool would include:
I have been using email or a form of email going back to the BBS days in the late 80’s the Kermit based access to the University of Alberta in the early 90’s and then through dial-& and then ISDN access through commercial ISP’s in the mid 90’s up to the broadband access of today. There are very few email servers (Sendmail & Exchange), systems (PINE & ELM) and clients (Eudora, Pegasus, Outlook, Thunderbird) that I have not used on all platforms (Windows, Mac, UNIX and Linux) so this perspective is not coming from a “Johnny come lately” nor does it come from someone who is “religiously” tied to a particular OS or platform.
I started using Google mail (Gmail) back in 2005 after receiving an invite from a colleague in Silicon Valley. Gmail as introduced in early 2004 and up until 2005 it was being tested by a relatively small group of beta testers. In 2005 you had to recieve and invite from a current Gmail user to get access to the system. It wasn’t until early 2006 when Google introduced an integrated calendar that I decided to give up all my other email system ties and rely exclusively on Gmail. Until a better system comes along I will continue to use Gmail because it is simply the easiest and best system available. Gmails advantages include:
As the resident computer guru in my family and circle of friends I am often called upon to help diagnose and help people solve their problems. This means that I am often called upon to help people out with there Internet problems which are more often than not related to the sending and receiving of email. The sooner I get people off of their POP/SMTP based email and onto Gmail the sooner their (and my) problems go away.
Gmail just works and is the simplest (you don’t need any training to use it) and most effective email system we have yet. I say yet because I am still looking for something that will be even easier to use and when that comes along I will be using it.
Just go to http://www.gmail.com and give it a go.
Have you ever been at someone’s house, office, or even using a second computer and you want to bring up a website that you have bookmarked on your main machine and can’t remember the URL? Social bookmarking has set out to eliminate this problem and there are several tools to help you in a situation like this but 2 in particular stand out, Diigo and Del.icio.us.
The big dog on the block is Del.iciou.us which allows you to put all your bookmarks up on the web and accessible wherever you are in the world all you need is an internet connection. It has great functionality and is a great tool for collecting your bookmarks, it even has plugins for Firefox, IE, and Safari that allow for easy bookmarking and access to bookmarks.
My pick for best social bookmarking tool is the young upstart is Diigo (even though I use both). Diigo is a Research tool, a knowledge sharing community, a social annotation tool; you can highlight text (with comments) on a website, add sticky-notes to any page all visible to everyone (if you choose) who has Diigo installed in their browser. It can even create lists of bookmarks that can then be presented as a slideshow that can be accessible to anyone in the world if you so choose. These interactive browsing slideshows take you through a list of urls at predetermined intervals all the while still allowing the user to look through the webpage and be in control of the experience clicking links and using the webpage. Use it to bundle important websites together for students or co-workers. Try out the slideshow for yourself no download required (http://slides.diigo.com/list/tylerwall/web20_applications) and here is an example of how to use it (http://wslides.blogspot.com/2007/09/emmbed.html)
Like Facebook you can check out how your friends are bookmarking, send messages to them, share bookmarks with them and create groups (like “web 2.0” or “good recipes”) to facilitate the whole process.
Both Diigo and Del.icio.us are very well integrated into your browser and use a tagging organizational structure so you can easily find 1 bookmark within thousands very fast and very easily. So long story short Del.icio.us focus is more on strictly the bookmarking functionality whereas Diigo has that functionality and adds to it many different social aspects and annotation tools. If you already have a Del.icio.us account Diigo even makes the transition easier by allowing an easy import and bookmarking to both services through Diigo.