Friday, August 31, 2007

TechTip 8/30 - del.icio.ous

Here is the tip I promised you on del.icio.us.

Besides having an incredibly cool name del.icio.us is an awesome tool. It is a social bookmarking service. "A What" you say...

Here is the skinny:
You can create an account at http://del.icio.us
You can then start saving your bookmarks there
You can then retrieve your bookmarks anywhere in the world
Big deal - right? Wait there is more:

Once you have your bookmarks you can choose ones to share with your friends - like mine http://del.icio.us/hthiele
You can also search other's bookmarks for good stuff - instead of trying to find the best sites on your own

For example - lets say I wanted to find the best sites on literacy. I could go and search for literacy on google and sift through the 45,700,000 results that are found. Or, I can go to del.icio.us and do the same search and find the sites that other people have deemed good enough to bookmark.

They key to all of this is tags. Tagging is a term you should be familiar with in 2007. When you tag something you give it a label. I know we are against this in education, but it is really helpful on the web. When you create a bookmark in your del.icio.us account you will have the opportunity to tag it as well. So, lets say you bookmarked the ESPN site. Instead of it just being ESPN it would be cross referenced as sports, scores, news, teams, and boo-yah!. Tags give a lot of quick simple descriptions to something and make cross-referencing much easier on the net.

If you go to my blog you will see that each entry gets a tag. You can then click on the tags and see all of the posts that are similar. Eventually everything you make electronically you will tag. When you make a word document you will save it with a name and tag it with descriptions. This way when you search you won't have to remember the exact name - you will look for tags.

For example: You have a document called 8-31-07techtip.doc Great, what does that file name mean to you 3 years from now? Nothing. However, if you tagged it with the descriptions del.ico.us, tag, techtip, and social bookmarking you would know immediately what was in that document.

A neat visual that is generated from tags are tag clouds. Tag clouds are graphical representations of words that show up commonly as tags. I will be showing you a really cool educational use of tag clouds next week.

Try out del.icio.us and get an idea of what social bookmarking is all about. It can really be a time saver for finding great sites. There are also a couple of people out there that I really respect in the educational field where I just go and see what they are bookmarking. I figure if they are bookmarking it then it must be worth a visit. I stumble upon great stuff that way.
You can see the people who I follow here: http://del.icio.us/network/hthiele

That is it for now - have a great safe weekend!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

TechTip 8/30 - Top 100 Tech Tools

It has been a busy day, so this one is going out late. David Jakes turned me on to this site through his del.ico.us account. If that last sentence made no sense - don't worry - I'll describe del.ico.us tomorrow morning.

Anyway, the site I want to tell you about is http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/top100.html

This list has been compiled from the Top 10 Tools lists of over 100 learning professionals (consultants, analysts, developers, practitioners, academics, etc).

This is a great spot to go to and look for things you don't know about in technology. Take a minute to click on the link of something you aren't familiar with and peruse it for a little while.
Don't worry you won't wast your time - they are the top 100 after all!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

TechTip 8/29 - Finding Photos without Breaking Copyright Laws

So, you want to use great photos in your presentations, powerpoints, movies, whatever. You could also crawl through flickr - but the quality there isn't always the best. Sure, you could just steal stuff off of google images, but you don't want to break copyright laws. Plus you would like to teach your students how to be responsible when you have them do similar projects.

Where can you find this stuff?
Well, you want to look for sites that offer royalty free stock photos. Stock photos tend to be of a better quality and resolution. There are a bunch sites out there that sell stock photos and carry free ones like:
But you don't want to spend all day bouncing between sites looking for good free stuff. So where do you go?
Yotophoto is now indexing well over a quarter million Creative Commons, Public Domain, GNU FDL, and various other 'copyleft' images.
It does it all - it will go grab pics from flickr and from other stock photo companies. One stop searching!
Here is a sample of what you will get:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

TechTip 8/28 - Timelines

Today's TechTip is by request. I have had several teachers of the past couple of days asking for the best way to do a timeline on-line.
The best site I have found for a truly graphical timeline is http://xtimeline.com/
Here are a couple good examples of what you can do with this technology
There are some great sites out there that have text-based timelines that would be great ti integrate in the xtimeline format. You can find some great information at these sites:

Monday, August 27, 2007

Unlocked iPhone

I don't know if you have been following this story - but it is pretty interesting and gives us a clear idea of what our kids are able to do when we let them use their talents...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

TechTip 8/23 - The Educators Reference Desk

The Educator's Desk Reference: http://www.eduref.org/index.shtml - here is what they say about it:
The Educator's Reference Desk builds on over a quarter century of experience providing high-quality resources and services to the education community. From the Information Institute of Syracuse, the people who created AskERIC, the Gateway to Educational Materials, and the Virtual Reference Desk, the Educator's Reference Desk brings you the resources you have come to depend on. 2,000+ lesson plans, 3,000+ links to online education information, and 200+ question archive responses.
In other words one-stop shopping for great stuff on-line for integrating technology and information into your classroom.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tech Tip 8/22 - Using the Net as Your Calculator

My Grandfather always used to joke that a computer was nothing more than an oversized calculator (in a way he was right).
Did you know that there are a bunch of awesome calculators on-line and you probably type words into one quite often?
Here are 3 cool calculator tools:
Yes that is right - Google! If you type something in the search bar as a calculation and click search - the first results back will be your answer. You can do this for just about any math - including conversions (sorry factor-label method lovers). Here are directions.
Very Cool. Does calculations, conversions, and keeps a history of your calculations. Real nice for teaching students to follow their steps in calculations without carrying around rolls of calculator tape.

Those TI's are pretty expensive. Get your graph groove on for free!


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tech Tip 8/21

Happy 1st day of school! As we go into this year I will be sending out Technology Tips on a pretty regular basis (a few times a week). Some of these will be cool websites or tools you can use. Most will be helpers or ideas for the classroom. Every so often they may just be good stuff to know. Either way you can be assured that I will be delivering a daily dose of geekiness. Past tech tips will be available at my blog.
Here is your first installment...
I want to introduce you to a couple of concept-mapping sites. Both of these sites allow you and your students to build mind-maps which take large difficult concepts and break them down into smaller manageable pieces. Here are some websites that have great examples or discussion:
Anyway back to the cool tools...
The 2 most popular sites for concept mapping are
Here are my reviews:
If the incredibly unique URL didn't tip you off, this site is oozing with creativity.
You can do these things with it (from their site):
  • Create colorful mind maps online
  • Share and work with friends
  • Embed your mind map in your blog or website
  • Email and print your mind map
  • Save your mind map as an image
So, you can quickly outline a concept and share it with your class as an image on your website, or project it up in the class, or even print it out. Even better, you can have students working real time on different computers collaborating on a concept-map. It even supports 207's new language courses and recognizes Chinese character sets.
Mindmeister isn't as artsy - but don't let that burst your bubble (he-he). Here is their pitch:

Users can create, manage and share mind maps online and access them anytime, from anywhere. In brainstorming mode, fellow MindMeister's from around the world (or just in different rooms) can simultaneously work on the same mind map - and see each other's changes as they happen. Using integrated Skype calls, they can throw around new ideas and put them down on "paper" at the same time.

It is very similar to bubbl.us except it also integrates Skype. Which is an on-line Voice-over-IP (VOIP) service. So people creating a mind map can discuss it as they create it. Very cool if students leave and go separate directions while working on a map together (or if you are teaming up with a class somewhere in South Africa)!

Well there you go - first tip. Look for more to come. Hopefully somewhere down the line I will offer up something you can use.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

David Jakes del.icio.us account turned me on to this awesome website within TED (I can't believe I didn't stuble on it myself with my TED crush lately) - Top 100 websites you gotta see and will probably be using.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Free Federal Resources for Educators

I stumbled upon this today:

http://free.ed.gov/

Some great free resources and has a rss feed so you can keep up with the changes.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Meraki

I read about this company this morning - they have developed a wireless product that creates a wireless mesh from access point to access point. They can communicate up to 150 feet indoors and 750 feet outdoors. They are small and the company provides software updates for the life of the product.

Big Deal for Schools?

Yes -

Here is why -

Each access point can be set up to offer a secure and open internet connection. What if...schools worked with local businesses and homeowners to create a wireless grid? The school provides the bandwidth - the business buys the access point and agrees to host it on top of their building. The community works together to provide free wireless to their students everywhere in the school boundaries.

Talk about eliminating the digital divide.

Mange your network over the web with Dashboard, the simple control panel for the Meraki system. Keep track of dozens or hundreds of network users, set bandwidth limits, brand your network, or optionally charge for access.

Here is the payoff for the business owners - free (or cheap) internet to them! Using Meraki's software you can provide internet to users for free - or for a charge. So you can get as creative as you want. A school could charge a small fee for non-student users and use it to pay for additional bandwidth. Bandwidth can also be regulated all the way down to the user level.


Think about the power of equally offering internet access to your entire student body...