Storyz

Storyz is a Web 2.0 tool that enables users to create and share their own stories. The fun part is that you can add text, images and video and invite friends (or colleagues or in the case of students, class mates) to view and even add to your story. Students could use Storyz to create their own e-book.

Storyz homepage

Storyz homepage

Your stories can be kept totally private, or shared with whoever you wish. Once shared with specific people, your story can be added to. This could be an interesting way to write a class story, or for students to collaborate with each other. Storyz can be accessed online or through mobile phones.

Storyz could be a great tool for developing writers to upload their multimedia stories and seek feedback from selected sources.

Another look at Flickr

Most of you have probably checked out Flickr, the photo sharing website that has thousands of photo uploads per minute.

Flickr home

Flickr home

Some school libraries, like Sacred Heart College, Geelong have Flickr accounts (as featured in our photo gallery).

Having a school Flickr account to document and publicise events, displays, speakers and renovations is a great idea. Not only can you show propespective parents what a wonderful library and library staff you have, but you can share images with library staff around the world. Sharing ideas, concepts and ways of doing things has always been the strength of libraries and Flickr gives us a chance to extend that.

Have a look at some Australian school libraries featured on Flickr. A search for ‘school library’ returns almost 30,000 photos. As long as school administration is agreeable to a Flickr account and that students’ faces are not featured, a library Flickr account is a great way to share your library with the world.

Teachers TV

Internationally renowned educator Professor Stephen Heppell presented an enlightening lecture at the State Library of Victoria on the evening of Monday 10th November.  The topic of 21st Century learning and how we as educators address and change not only our practice, but mindset, is just one of the things that consumes Stephen.

One tool that Stephen discussed was Teachers TV (not to be confused with TeacherTube). UK in origin, it provides thousands of educational programmes on television and the Internet. Many of the programmes available are made by teachers for other teachers; they discuss new ideas that have worked well in their classroom. Teachers TV provides a subject guide to programmes, recommended videos and more. You can keep up-to-date with RSS feeds and if you register, you can download programmes to view later on, comment on programmes and access sneak previews.

Thousands of education programmes on TV and online

Thousands of education programmes on TV and online

Teachers TV is highly recommended as a free, reliable and credible source of educational videos freely available through the Internet. Teachers TV also provides links to educational websites that may be of interest.

More on Stephen Heppell soon.

Plurk

Plurk is a tool that enables members to have an online social conversation with multiple friends. You can join conversations by topic, or use the micro blogging tool to send ‘plurks’ which use a maximum of 140 characters (like Twitter). Updates from friends are shown on your page as a timeline in chronological order.

Homepage

Homepage

Plurk’s aim is to introduce a balance between blogs and wikis, instant messaging and email. Users of the micro blogging tool use verbs to explain how they are feeling.

Example

Example

There is a great wiki that lists schools and other educational institutions that are using Plurk. The wiki provides links to the projects that the schools are undertaking, and currently there are at least seven Australian schools, with three of those from Victoria. Many of the projects linked to the wiki are outstanding and definitely worth investigating. If you like the sound of Plurk and you’d like to learn more about how it works, click here.

MahShelf

Graphic novel lovers of the world unite! MahShelf is a social network that allows users not only to create their own graphic novel library, but also to publish their own graphic novels to the site.

MahShelf home
MahShelf home

It is heartening to see that MahShelf has a strict copyright policy, which is designed to protect authors, illustrators and creators. Uploaded books can be designated as private, shared with a few or shared with all members.

MahShelf provides all books uploaded with an external reader that allows books to be embedded into other websites, such as blogs. Members can subscribe to the bookshelves of others, add comments and add friends. There is also unlimited storage space for users.

Books with mature content are meant to be set as ‘not suitable for everyone’. Before members can access these titles, a warning message and a request for confirmation appears on the screen. Not all ‘mature’ books or images have been set to ‘not suitable for everyone’, so it’s best to have a look at MahShelf yourself before you recommend it to students. As with YouTube, there will always be people who upload questionable content.

Designed by three Finnish students, and still in its early stages, MahShelf needs a lot more content development. MahShelf is a great idea and hopefully it will be applicable to students interested in and/or studying graphic novels.

Zotero

A new way to research? Zotero is a revolutionary Mozilla Firefox  (an alternative web browser to Internet Explorer) extension that helps users ‘collect, manage and cite’ research sources.

With the results of a recent survey where 49% of Cambridge students admitted plagiarism, that sounds fantastic. How  does it work?

The Zotero website says that it:

  • ‘automatically captures citation of information from web pages
  • has a playlist like library that keeps a record of saved searches
  • saves records and notes in many languages
  • integrates with Microsoft Office, WordPress and other blogging software
  • has formatted citation export
  • stores web pages, PDFs, files, images, links and other attachments.’

Like Diigo, you can create ‘sticky note’ annotations that ‘stick’ onto the webpage you are using. The Zotero website explains how to create bibliographies; ‘For example, you can drag and drop references into any text field as either HTMLor plain text. You can also print bibliographies directly from Zotero or copy them to your clipboard. In addition, MS Word and OpenOffice plugins offer more precise control for integrating bibliographic information in your writing projects.’

Zotero provides a lot of information about how to use it as a research tool. There are screencasts that give demonstrations of how to use Zotero, as well as lots of links that explain just about everything you’ll need to know. Once downloaded, the Zotero icon lives in the bottom right-hand corner of the Firefox window. Just click on the Zotero icon when you want to use it. With the click of the mouse, Zotero saves the bibliographic information of a website to file.

Zotero in action

Zotero in action

Zotero can also be used with Netscape Navigator (no link as Netscape are no longer developing their product) and Flock web browsers as well as Firefox. Zotero 1.0 is the current version, but when version 2.0 is released, it will allows users to share collections, notes and documents, allowing better collaboration. Although Zotero is downloaded to a particular computer rather than generating a user login, it can be used on multiple computers. Version 2 should enable user logins for better portability.

Zotero really is an amazing tool for those who want to organise their research, searches or topics. It could be the new way to take notes and to teach students how to notetake online! Also a wonderful tool for anyone doing graduate or post graduate studies.

Web-based Microsoft Office announced

This week the New York Times reported that Microsoft would finally launch a web-based version of Office. After years of Google docs and Zoho providing this for free, Microsoft announced an ‘Office-lite’ for the web. Pricing and release date has not been announced.

In the article, Janice Kapner, senior director of Microsoft’s Information Worker Group said the web-based versions of Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint would be available.

Zoho Notebook

If you create a lot of documents, or want to collaborate with colleagues, Zoho has a fabulous tool called Zoho Notebook.  The idea behind it is that Notebook acts as your complete online record of tasks; you can embed content of any type from multiple applications and share the whole Notebook or just a page or two with others (or not, if you don’t want to). Users are able to create content as well, including text, audio, images and video. Amongst other things, you can clip webpages (and then continue to use the webpages interactively, not just see a screenshot), draw flowcharts and import Powerpoint presentations and other documents. Zoho Chat is embedded into Notebook for quick communication with collaborators. Zoho Notebook is your one stop shop for creating records that embed multiple applications. You can even sign into Zoho Notebook with your Google or Yahoo ID. Here’s a notebook I prepared earlier…

Zoho Notebook example

Zoho Notebook example

Google has a similar product, Google Notebook. If you use iGoogle, Google Notebook may be your best bet. But comparing the two, it seems that Google Notebook has far less functionality that that of Zoho Notebook, which is unusual knowing how well Google does most things. Have a look at both to see which application suits your needs best.

Uses of Zoho Notebook could include digital portfolios for students and even a personal portfolio for teachers for annual reviews.

Zoho Notebook has to be one of the most exciting Web 2.0 tools around. Have a look at the demonstration video for yourself. Zoho have a number of tools in their suite, most are free but some business applications only allow limited numbers of users before you must pay a subscription fee. However, the tools are definitely worth investigating!

Note: You may have Microsoft’s OneNote as part of your Office 2007 suite. OneNote is similar to both Zoho Notebook and Google Notebook and definitely worth a play if you have a few minutes.

CMap tools

CMap tools is a free Web 2.0 tool that helps users create, navigate, share and critique concept/mind maps. The Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) have developed this program and encourage users involved in education to download to as many computers as they wish (for free).  A university affiliated research institute, IHMC is a not for profit organisation administered by Florida University System and is affiliated with several Florida universities.

CMap tools home
CMap tools home

Concept or mind maps have been popular for a while now, and being able to work collaboratively on them is a bonus. The ability to access the saved maps of others is a terrific teaching and learning tool. Students can critique completed maps and understand what is required of a great map before they begin.

Information on the IHMC website says:

  • IHMC faculty and staff collaborate extensively with industry and government to develop science and technology that can be enabling with respect to society’s broader goals. IHMC researchers receive funding (current funding in force exceeds $22,000,000) from a wide range of government and private sources. IHMC research partners have included: DARPA, NSF, NASA, Army, Navy, Air Force, NIMA, NIH, DOT, IDEO, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, Fujitsu, Procter & Gamble, Boeing, Lockheed, SAIC, and IBM among others.

Sounds impressive. You do have to download the program, which takes about 50 minutes. That is a problem for schools, but if your IT people can download it to a server and install an icon on desktops, that solves a few problems.

HTC library

HTC library

When trying to find maps that have been uploaded by other users, rather than use the ‘Shared CMaps in Places’, it is easier to go to ‘tools’ then ‘search’ and type in what you are looking for. Refine your search by selecting ‘Select resource types to return’ and click on concept maps. Otherwise a list of other resources will appear.

Some people may remember the program entitled Inspiration that came on CD Rom. CMap tools seems to be the Web 2.0 version of that. Why don’t you have a play and when you feel confident, give it a go with your students? There are a number of Youtube videos to show you how to use CMap tools, Creating concepts and propositionsIntroduction to the views window  and Adding resources are just a few. They are great visual aids to assist you (and your students) when starting to use CMap tools.

Please submit comments if you do use CMap tools.

Diigo

Diigo (pronounced Deego) is a Web 2.0 tool that lets users bookmark, highlight  and add sticky notes to web pages. You can add and share (or not share if you don’t want to) annotations and get recommendations from other users. You are able to publish easily from Diigo to your blog or email and all references will automatically appear. That’s a huge bonus in this day of plagiarism. Diigo even call their tools ‘the best companion for online research’ and that’s a big call. Is it warranted?

Diigo

Diigo

The Diigo blog states ‘We are happy to announce the release of Diigo Educator Accounts, a suite of features that makes it incredibly easy for teachers to get their entire class of students or their peers started on collaborative research using Diigo’s powerful web annotation and social bookmarking technology.’ You do have to apply to Diigo for an educator account upgrade and it can take up to 48 hours for them to process your application (you have to fill out how/why you want to use Diigo in your school).

Diigo has to be downloaded to your toolbar, but it is a very quick process. Diigo says, ‘Once approved for a Diigo Educator Account:

  • A teacher can create student accounts for an entire class with just a few clicks (and student email addresses are optional for account creation)
  • Students of the same class are automatically set up as a Diigo group so they can start using all the benefits that a Diigo group provides, such as group bookmarks and annotations, and group forums.
  • To protect the privacy of students, student accounts have special settings which only allow their teachers and classmates to contact them and access their personal profile information.
  • Ads presented to student account users are limited to education-related sponsors.’

Sounds like it’s worth a look and a trial with a class. Anything that helps students research and acknowledge sources is worth pursuing. Have a look at the video that explains how Diigo works: How to use Diigo. And thanks to John Pearce of Salty Solutions for this guide to Diigo.