An article in the Insight section of The Toronto Star today talks about professors who are creating fake virtual identities to join the class online. Some of the profs claim that it helps them connect with their students. Students feel shocked and deceived.
Probably most people have heard of and seen clickers in the classroom.
With the proliferation of cell phones and smart mobile devices everywhere, it seems logical that one shouldn't need any other device to take part in an interactive presentation. What Poll Everywhere offers is audience response technology without the hardware. It can be used to poll an audience, for group brainstorming or to allow the audience to add twitter comments to a presentation. Messages can be sent as a text message or online free from any web enabled device.
The basic free service for education in higher ed includes an account with a maximum class size of 32 but an unlimited number of classes. For class sizes up to 400 with mulit-poll reporting, response moderation, and student rosters it's $399 US per semester or $699 US per year.
I read about a site called Funnelbrain a day or so ago. That day I tried to access their video demos and got nowhere but decided to try again today.
I'm a mac user and when I'm on email the default browser is Safari.
Here's the message I got from funnel brain while using Safari: "We're sorry, FunnelBrain.com only supports FireFox 3.0+ and Internet Explorer 7.0+ due technical limitations of older browsers. For the best experience please download FireFox 3"
OK, so they aren't that interested in Mac users. Strike One! But that's not going to stop me. They bill themselves - "FunnelBrain is an academic question-and-answer site that provides an environment for team based learning and multi-media flashcards. Create FunnelBrain Flashcards with videos photos, audio, text and math equations! " This sounds kind of interesting and since I just blooged about Cobocards, it's worth a look.
So I click Video #1 Working with FunnelBrain Groups..a whole lotta spinning and never reaching anywhere. Strike 2!
OK. What about Video #2- creating Funnelbrain Flashcards- click--spin spin spin.
Strike 3! Somehow I find the name "FunnelBrain" most interesting.
Once upon a time it was all free. Only a couple of weeks ago Scribd was just the most popular free online document sharing service; today it's also an online store that will sell your educational texts.
From their site, "In the Scribd Store you can buy exclusive books, research reports, never-before-released chapters of Lonely Planet city travel guides...for less."
What's the deal? Scribd will take 20% of each sale and give the rest to the copyright owner. According to eSchool News, Scribd's advantage is that their documents will be able to be read on any type of device. The New York Times says they are turning themselves into a kind of "vanity publisher."
From Scribd's website About Us, "Scribd’s vision is to liberate the written word — to turn everyone into a publisher and create the best possible reading experience on the web and mobile platforms."
I have to admit it-- I often go to Wikipedia for information but I generally check the sources at the bottom of the page to either find more information or verify the information.
Early this month as part of a social experiment involving globalization, Irish student Shane Fitzgerald added a fake quote to the Wikipedia entry for composer Maurice Jarre.
Here's the quote, " One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head that only I can hear."
Jarre had just died. Quickly the quote was included in obituaries around the world - in major newspapers. Fitzgerald waited a few weeks before he reported that the quote was inaccurate. What surprised him was that it so quickly appeared in major print media. He had thought it might make blogs and websites. Corrections were printed in some papers and it was removed by Wikipedia but it remains out there uncorrected in printed and online form.
So why was this quote so quickly picked up and passed around? Here's my take. First, it's timing. The quote appeared right after the death. It was convenient and easy to find and use. Second, it was a great quote- the kind of quote you wish you had said if you had been a musician. Third, it's a great romantic notion that one will dance on to beautiful music in some ethereal space.
In a recent blog post, I talked about TeacherTube's MySite, a paid place to create a site for your videos.
There are sites besides YouTube where you can create a site that includes your own videos and videos hosted elsewhere.
Once such place is Fliggo. On Fliggo you choose between a Community blog where members can contribute by uploading videos and adding comments or create a Video Blog where you are the only one who adds videos, but others can comment. Your site can be open, moderated (you have to approve their membership) or closed (by invitation only.) You can customize the look and feel of your site too and there are no ads.
Their site promises that it is "grandma friendly." Not sure I approve of that language!
What's the catch? The add on features will be extra. For the extras there's an introductory price of $14.95 a month. It includes a custom domain, no fliggo logo and an increased video length limit.
Fliggo looks like it could be useful for a class video community or for a group project. It could also be useful for teachers who are looking for a channel on one particular subject. Here's one example of a compilation of videos with a georgraphy theme GeoTube
This looks like something I'll recommend to my students for group projects.
Well Prezi may be your answer. With Prezi you can create a mind map that takes your viewer through ideas, images and videos. You can zoom in and flip and zoom out again all through the use of a simple navigation path.
The basic version of Prezi allows you to create and download your presentation. If you want your hamburger with the works, you'll have to sign up and pay 39£ for 500MB space, no logo and an offline player; or the Pro version that includes more space and an offline editor for 119£ a year.
The site contains a couple of basic tutorials that teach you how to place objects zoom in and out and create a path. I have to say though that after a couple of views I did feel like I was on a bit of an acid trip.
Still, it looks like it could be a cool little tool. Here are a couple of videos
Learn Prezi Tricks
Prezi Editing: Ice Cream for everyone
Yes Prezi looks cool, but I think you really need to have a solid plan and really think out what you intend to do. Zooming and flipping are lots of fun, but do you remember the PowerPointers who used every zip and zap and zoom and zip..they kind of made you crazy. With Prezi, I could see some going a bit wild. So consider those of us who have visual issues. My imitrex is at the ready!
You can now create your own site to post videos, audio or documents, customize the look and feel of the site, decide who is allowed to upload, and customize privacy.
The site can be updated by one person or a collaborative team. It looks like you can create a specific site for a class for them to upload their work. And- No ads!
On the down side, for 20 members it's $99 US per year and the cost increases by number of members.
This sounded great until the cost. I'm not sure that you couldn't do all of the above for free on YouTube. Except maybe you'd have to put up with the small ads. Check out their TeacherTube's pitch here http://www.teachertube.com/mysite/
TeacherTube is a nice place to find other educational videos, but I've found that sometimes the videos are very slow to load. I like their MySite concept, but I think it would have been better to offer it free with small educational type ads.
Jean Anieu Fernandez, a self-confessed computer geek in Guatemala, has been arrested and had his computer confiscated for posting this tweet on Twitter, "First concrete action should be remove cash from Banrural and bankrupt the bank of the corrupt."
His tweet was in response to the murder of a Guatemalan lawyer. The lawyer had left a recorded video statement explaining that if he were to turn up dead, it would be under the direction of current president Alvaro Colom.
Fernandez is being held in jail for inciting financial panic He must pay a $6,500 fine and await trail under house arrest.
Twitterer's are collecting funds to pay the fine and of course resending the same message themselves.
The internet is a buzz with talk of the latest so called Google Killer-WolframAlpha.
Based on the software program Mathematica and created by Stephen Wolfram, the computational knowledge engine is expected to launch this week.
What's different about WolframAlpha? Well, what it tries to do is allow you to ask questions about data.
For example, you might want to compare the yearly weather of one city to that of another city. WolframAlpha will compile that data and create a chart where you can easily see the differences. It will also solve calculus equations and show the steps to solve them.
According to Laurie Sullivan of MediaPost, "Despite its potential, the WolframAlpha has challenges. Unlike Google, the search engine does not index Web pages...but rather draws information from databases packed with information. It relies on humans to update data and algorithms to keep the information current. It can't find stores that sell Jimmy Choos or Canon cameras, but quickly computes and spits out facts to questions such as how many Nobel Laureates were born on a full moon or the magnitude and location of earthquakes worldwide within the past 24 hours."
You can view a 10 minute video introducing Wolfram Alpha on YouTube or view what others who have access to the beta version are saying about it.
It sounds interesting, but I'd have to agree with the creator that it's not meant to be a Google Killer. The search for a product is different from the search for the method to solve a quadratic equation.
"It has the potential to be the smartest search engine on the web, if only the people using it are smart enough to know how." Rafe Needleman, Editor CNET.
Most colleges and universities have policies that require multimedia to be accessible to all. The more multimedia you use, the more this means you'll have to get help getting videos captioned or caption them yourself. If you decide to do some captioning yourself, there are a few free and inexpensive programs that make the process easy.
Before you begin, you should decide how you would like your captioning to appear. You have two choices: open or closed captioning. Open captioning means that the captions are burned into your movie file for every viewer to see; whereas, closed captioning means they are embedded within the movie and can be made accessible on demand.
Personally, I prefer closed captions especially if the materials are online. Let the viewer make the decision! You may have noticed that YouTube now has a closed captioning option. See a short video here Explanation of Captioning in YouTube
If you have YouTube videos posted, you can also try CaptionTube . To use CaptionTube you need a Google email address to log on. Once logged on, select the upload personal video (from YouTube) and then select edit. It's a fairly straight forward process from there on. When you are happy with your captions, select Export Captions. There are several choices here. You can export captions as a file or export your captions as either a "sub" or "srt" file. For YouTube select "sub" and download it to your computer. While on the same screen now select the link "Captions and Subtitles page." This takes you to your video at YouTube. Now you can just upload the file and add it to your video. Presto! Your video is closed captioned.
If you are of the Mac persuasion, there's another simple program that captions Quicktime movies at a reasonable price -MovCaptioner. You can download a demo at synchrimedia.com. There are several nice features in MovCaptioner. You can import a text file or caption as you watch. As well as your captioned video, you can download different types of files and a transcript of your video.
To view an 8 minute tutorial on MovCaptioner see
I have to warn you that the demo version doesn't last long, so if you want MovCaptioner, you'll have to pay the $25 US. The simplicity and options made it well worth the price.
I've been experimenting with Animoto a simple online program that will take your images and music and create an interesting little movie.
The free version limits you to a 30 second clip, but just the same it gives you a unique way to present a topic. If you aren't happy with the way they put it together, just press remix and they'll give you another version. Since 30 seconds didn't seem to be enough for me. I created a few animoto clips, put them together in Quicktime Pro, then imported them into iMovie to tweak my little movie on the 50s.
Here's the result
You can sign up for an educational account and use it for classes, sign up and pay for the professional account, or just use it to create 30 sec clips for free. To learn more see their 60 second video here Learn More Animoto
Would you like to send only the important parts of an online article to someone or save parts of an article you find interesting? Maybe you want to send someone a web page with selected parts highlighted? If you have ever wanted to do this, The Awesome Highlighter makes it pretty easy.
Below is a screen capture of the site.
All you have to do is plug the URL of the web page you want to highlight into their browser bar. Highlight the parts of the page you want. Click done and then you have two options. You can either send the highlighted sections in an email to someone else or yourself, or just copy the URL that AwesomeHighlighter has created. When you plug the URL into your browser you'll see the exact page as it has been highlighted.
Do you need to capture what you are doing on your computer screen, maybe demonstrate how to use some software?
Well if you don't want to spend money on something like Camtasia, or you don't want to download an application then Screentoaster may be your answer. It's free and you can use it on any computer (Mac or PC), anytime. It uses a simple Java applet to capture your screen. You can record audio that plays during the capture or you can do a voice over with your internal mic.
The file can be saved as either a swf or a mov file. If you have joined Screentoaster you can download the file right from their website. Within minutes you can download a zip file of your capture.
You can import that file into other programs and edit it or edit it directly with Quicktime Pro. In my previous post, I used Screentoaster for the introduction to Twiddla. The only downside I can see is that it makes a rather large file, but the resolution is great. You might want to compress the file a bit if you are going to post it anywhere.
The basic unpaid version of Jing is also kind of cool. To use the program you have to download the application and sign up. It has some interesting features but it does have limitations.
The first problem is it will only create a swf file which makes editing more difficult. You are also limited to a 5 minute recording. It seems to me that they really want you to sign up and pay for the bells and whistles of Camtasia. So if you want something free that you can use anywhere anytime then Screentoaster is the way to go.
Twiddla is an online easy to use web-based meeting application. There's no download involved. You can create a meeting space and invite people by either an email invitation or just share the URL. You can upload images, documents, Powerpoint or browse the web. You can draw on or markup whatever you place on your whiteboard. If you allow it, your participants can draw on, type or erase anything on the board. Here's my mini movie on Twiddla.