Gotta Be An Easier Way

Using technology to make your life easier!

Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ 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?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
  • Comments Off on The all powerful Google! One Homepage to Rule Them All.
  • Filed under: Calendar/PIM, Collaborative, Conferencing, Editors, File Viewers, Office, RSS Readers, Search, Social Networking, 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.

  • Comments Off on Byline Google Reader
  • Filed under: Research, RSS Readers, Social Networking
  • 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

  • Comments Off on Useful Social Networks for Students
  • 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.
  • Comments Off on iCue – Immerse, Connect, Understand & Excel
  • Filed under: Collaborative, Learning, Networking, Research, Social Networking, Video
  • Embeder-Makes Videos Play Nice

    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.

    Educational Applications:

    • Combine videos with a similar theme or purpose from a variety of sites into a single location and share the single link or embed the video player into your site or LMS.
    Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
  • Comments Off on Embeder-Makes Videos Play Nice
  • Filed under: Slideshow, Social Networking, Video
  • Pidgin Wins – For Now…

    pidginIn the Meebo, Adium, and Pidgin three communication tools with strange names post Tyler pointed to the three top instant Message (IM) aggregators, Meebo, Adium and Pidgin and also explained how these tools could enhance the learning environment.

    While I have yet to find a web-based tool that works as good as Meebo, I have made the move from Adium to Pidgin as my primary application based IM aggregator for the following reasons:

    • Simplest and most efficient interface
    • Adding IM accounts is almost foolproof
    • Supports more services
    • Cross platform (Mac PC, Linux/Unix)
    • Supports 3rd party plugins

    Educational uses:

    • Connect, engage and communicate with students using a tool that they all use.
    • Collaborate with peers in real time.
    Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
  • Comments Off on Pidgin Wins – For Now…
  • Filed under: Collaborative, Instant Messaging (IM), Social Networking
  • Post to Diigo & Much More…

    In the Can You Diigo it? post Tyler offered a plethora of reason why one should use Diigo and also offered several educational uses for this excellent social bookmarking tool. I would like to further enhance  Tyler’s post by pointing to 3 powerful Diigo tools that can be added directly to your browser that make it very simple to add and access Diigo bookmarks.

    Post to Diigo is a button you add to your bookmarks toolbar by simply dragging and dropping. It allows you to bookmark the page you are on by simply clicking the button. Once you add the description, tags, privacy setting you just click the Add New Bookmark button and your bookmark is saved and Diigo then returns you to the page you were originally on.

    Diigolet is very similar to the Post to Diigo Button in that it can be set-up by simple drag-and-drop – no download or installation needed, and it works for all major browsers. In addition to simple bookmarking it also allows you to highlight and add sticky-notes.

    The Diigo Toolbar is a power tool that can enhance your online browsing and interaction experiences by providing a full sidebar listing of your bookmarks, URLs and friends. It also provides a full featured toolbar that gives you the ability to bookmark, highlight, send, read later and view recent and unread bookmarks as well as enabling advanced searching and filtering. Despite all the power and control the toolbar is very easy to install, configure and use

    Post to Diigo, Digolet and the Diigo Toolbar are just the first 3 tools listed on the Diigo Tools page so we are really still just scratching the surface when it comes to using Diigo.

    P.S. from Tyler

    When I first started using Diigo these tools that Dwayne has mentioned were invaluable, but I always disliked how much room it took up in my taskbar. For many this may not be a problem but I have many other tools that I use in my task bar as well. I happened upon a solution (by accident) to this though, I discovered that right clicking on a page you wish to bookmark, text that you wish to highlight, or both at the same time would bring up a context sensitive menu allowing almost all of the functionality right at your fingertips without having to have the other tools in the toolbar (Diigo still needs to be installed as a plugin however). I find that this solution is faster and more convenient than using the Diigolet and Diigo button. Below I attached some screenshots of the context sensitive menus.


  • Comments Off on Post to Diigo & Much More…
  • Filed under: Browsers, Collaborative, Social Networking