Archive for January, 2008

Showbeyond is a multimedia slidecast creator, online publishing platform, and story sharing community. It lets you create, share, search for, and embed multimedia presentations. I think Showbeyond is quite easy to use and you can create a decent multimedia slideshow with Showbeyond. To create your multimedia slideshow, you first upload your images from your computer or via URL. Also, you can import a batch of images directly from Flickr or Picasa. You can rearrange your images in any way you like. Then, you can add text captions for each image, add background music, or even a narration. When you complete your multimedia slideshow, Showbeyond gives you several options for sharing your slideshow with your colleagues, students, or anyone. You can make it public or keep it private. Also, you can embed your slideshow on your blog or social networking sites. The community on ShowBeyond is much like what you’ll find on YouTube or Slideshare. Slideshows can be tagged, commented upon, added to your favorites, and shared with others.

Here is a sample of slideshow created on Showbeyond.


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MECA 2008 Conference

I am now attending the MECA (Mississippi Educational Computing Association ) 2008 Conference in Jackson, Mississippi. MECA celebrates the silver anniversary this year with a recorded participants over 1,100. I have been attending the MECA conference since 1995 and have made presentations each year for the past 13 years. This year is no exception. I am the lead presenter of 3 presentations. You can view my presentations in this post if you who can’t attend the conference this year.

Software for Starving Students

Developing Data Literacy with InspireData

Top 20 Free Web Applications for Teachers and Librarians

Also, an opening keynote presentation “Literacy & Learning in the 21st Century” delivered by David Warlick is embedded here as well.

Literacy & Learning in the 21st Century

Second Life A Teacher Primer by David Warlick

I will add other MECA 2008 conference presentations when become available. Stay tune!

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The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is a very popular free alternative to Photoshop. However, Photoshop users have a hard time to switch to GIMP because of the difficulty to locate Photoshop’s features in the GIMP. Fortunately, the GIMPshop developed by Scott Moschella can help these Photoshop users. GIMPshop is a fork of the free/open source GIMP, which changes the layout of the user interface to mimic Adobe Photoshop. Its primary purpose is to make Photoshop users feel comfortable using GIMP. GIMPShop was originally developed for Mac OS X, but has been ported to Windows, Linux, and Solaris.

GIMPshop is a powerful Photoshop look-alike. It modifies the menu structure and adjusts the program’s terminology to closely match Photoshop’s. Though GIMPshop does not support Photoshop plugins, all GIMP’s own plugins, effects, filters, brushes, etc. are supported. If you are looking to do basic photo-retouching, or something far more sophisticated, like work in multiple layers, I think GIMPshop has the tools you need.

Besides the GIMPshop site, you can find some tips and tutorials of using GIMPshop at the GIMPshop.net and the UpState Forums.

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I was recently invited by Jane Hart, Head of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies in UK, to share my Top 10 Tools for Learning with her. Jane has done an excellent job of compiling the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2007 which provides a very useful information for learning professionals. Currently, she is updating the list by inviting the learning professionals worldwide to submit their Top 10 Tools to help her compile the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2008. Below are my Top 10 Tools for Learning 2008 submitted to Jane today.

1. Firefox. My favorite browser. It is customizable with a great collection of extensions, plug-ins and add-ons. It is fast and more secure way to surf the Web.

2. WordPress. A great open-source software for creating blogs. I use WordPress for my blog which is hosted by WordPress.com for free. WordPress provides a variety of attractive themes, plug-ins, and widgets.

3. Slideshare. A fantastic Web 2.0 tool that lets students and instructors to upload their presentations and share them online through a YouTube-like interface. Also, it is a good place to discover presentations and slideshows from others.

4. Ning. An excellent online service where I create and customize my own Social Network for students in my classes. Ning has customizable themes and templates. Also, it offers a public or private option.

5. Wetpaint. A great place to create a free wiki that can be a private or public site. Wetpaint Education Wikis are Ad-free for teachers and students.

6. Google Docs. A web-based word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation program that makes collaboration more efficient. It is a free online creation tool which is great for teachers and students. Also, Google Docs allows mobile access.

7. del.icio.us. A social bookmarking site that allows me to store bookmarks on the Web instead of inside my Web browser. Also, I use del.icio.us to share bookmarks with students, colleagues, friends, family, and the del.icio.us community.

8. Camtasia. A powerful screencasting software that I use frequently to create instructional videos for my students. Camtasia allows screen recordings, audio, voice narration, PowerPoint, Picture-in-Picture and webcam video. Also, I can edit and enhance my video with callouts, titles, credits, zooming, panning, quizzes and additional audio tracks.

9. VoiceThread. A Web-based digital-storytelling application that enables me to share my stories or slideshows through audio, images, videos, or text with others online. VoiceThread allows visitors to make comments on my stories or slideshows in: voice with a microphone, voice with telephone, text, audio file, and video with a webcam. I have used the VoiceThread as an online discussion tool in my class and it works quite well.

10. Skype. A great telecommunication tool that lets me use my own PC to make free voice-over-Internet and video calls to my students and colleagues (who are the Skype users as well) anywhere in the world.

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YouTube College

YouTube offers a new service called YouTube College where students can join their college and share videos only with students from their college. This is an interesting move by YouTube. YouTube College allows students to post videos and create groups that are only available to others in the same college. You can experience everything that is going on (from party videos to commencement clips) at your college. This is fun for the college students. However, I think YouTube College has educational potentials in teaching and learning. It is likely that more students and teachers will take advantage of the YouTube College by posting their educational videos, lectures, and projects clips for their classes. Unfortunately, YouTube does not offer an educational category that makes it difficult for users to find educational content. To join your YouTube College, all you need to get in is an email address from your college. However, if you signed up on YouTube with a different email address, you can change it when you join.

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PDF Hammer

I came across the PDF Hammer site that allows you to edit PDF documents online. It is free, extremely easy-to-use and runs directly from any Web browser. I thought it might be a useful tool for teachers and students so I gave it a try. Despite it is a simple PDF editor, PDF Hammer works as it claims in its Website. You don’t have to register either, just upload a PDF file and then rearrange the pages or delete some pages and finally export as a new PDF document. You can also upload multiple PDF files into your project and PDF Hammer can reorder, delete, and combine the files into a PDF file. PDF Hammer is worth a bookmark. Currently, it is in beta with promises of adding some more features like rotating the pages, adding watermarks and stamps to pages in the near future.

PDF Hammer

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The term “School 2.0” started appearing in several articles, blogs, and wikis since last year. So, what is School 2.0? According to School2-0.org, School 2.0 is about the ‘next generation of school’ that can be supported by an integrated technology infrastructure. It is a concept that helps transform schools in order to meet the multiple challenges of the 21st century — accountability, student engagement and achievement, and economic competitiveness. However, how do we create schools that can realize that vision of School 2.0? What is the link between pedagogy and technology? How do we build schools with a pedagogical framework that allows all stakeholders (students, parents, teachers, and administrators) to harness the power of information technologies to change the way we think about schools and create a transformative experience for all involved?

School2-0.org offers an interesting brainstorming tool for schools and communities to help envision the future of education. The tool is a School 2.0 Map showing various possible scenarios or visions of the future with example student, teacher, and parent conversations, classroom activities and technologies, and more. School2-0.org states, “While School 2.0 depicts a variety of educational and management scenarios that utilize technology, the examples, information and ideas included are designed to serve as prompts for discussion and should not be construed as a recommendation of any particular technology or scenario.”

School 2.0 Map

A full size of this School 2.0 Map (30″x17″) can be downloaded at http://www.school2-0.org/downloads/school20.pdf. In addition, you can order your free School 2.0 Map by sending your request to: feedback@school2-0.org.

In addition to the School2-0.org site, School 2.0 (a social network created Steve Hargadon) provides helpful info, resources, and forums on school 2.0. Also, a wiki associated with this site is available at http://school20.wikispaces.com/.

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