Friday, January 29, 2010

Weekly Tech Tip: Beginners Guide - Social Networking for Educators

While Myspace & Facebook are still largely taboo in k-12 schools social networking has recently made a huge splash for Educators. There are many social networks that have been created in the past three years designed specifically for teacher professional development and educational research. This week's tech tip introduces you to a few popular networks for teachers.

Weekly Tech Tip:

Related links:

Want to build your own social network, try these platforms:

Link Stew:

Blog Carnival

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Social Media & the Production Gap

This is for a short 10 min presentation I will be giving tomorrow on the power of networks, web 2.0, social media, and the "production gap."

Friday, January 22, 2010

PLN Integration #edtech

This makes so much sense for marrying the CMS AND PLN (but the question is, will the traditional institute of learning be expendable/replaceable under this model?):

Slide from

Featured Session: The Genius of "And": Reconciling the Enterprise and Personal Learning Network

Jon Mott, Asst. to the Academic VP - Academic Technology, Brigham Young University

New Additions to the Digital Backpack

converts an outline into a word tree
- ebook search engine
- create automated phone surveys
Free online storage for large files
- Search photos being shared on Twitter
- Search photos being shared on Twitter
- Twitter Analytics
- Browser-based dashboard for Twitter
- helps you identify spammers and remove them from your follow list
- YouTube search engine
- Online tool that generates citations for you in many formats for bibliography or work cited pages
- build your own app for the iPhone or iPod TouchStudents under 13 must have parent permission to use this tool.
- Make an interactive online bulletin board.
- real-time text collaboration (Etherpad replacement)
- Slide show search engine
- movie clip search engine
- Customize a Google Map with your own markers then drive your map on Google Earth
- Write and edit your own sheet music online.
- real-time collaborative diagram creation tool
- free online group SMS service, ringtone maker, phone syncronizer, image editor, and video editor
- Online Video Editor
- record 3 minute screencasts and share them via Twitter, email, or Facebook.

Weekly Tech Tip - Terms of Service and Age Restrictions

The new online tools are great and can have exponential application for teaching and learning. However, one thing we need to be aware of when using online tools and services with students (especially those under 13 years old) are age restrictions found in the terms of service. Federal COPPA law requires us to gain parental permission to use many of the tools I have in the Digital Backpack with students. Many tools, however, do not have any age restrictions, do not collect any student information, and are completely safe and appropriate for students of any age. I have added a new feature to the Digital Backpack that indicates these age restrictions found in web service TOS agreements. This week's tech tip walks you through this new feature of the Digital Backpack. For a list of tools from the Backpack that don't have any age restrictions click here.

Weekly Tech Tip:

Link Stew:

Blog Carnival:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Modernization & Fear

I just love this clip. It is from an old instructional video that telephone companies used to introduce the dial phone to consumers. The whole video is centered around one grandfather's fear of change and frustration with technological progress. Does this scenario sound familiar?

Inherit the Wind and Schools Today

"He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind."

Last night I watched the 1960 classic film Inherit the Wind starring Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly, and Dick York. I can't believe I never watched this fantastic film before. It easily makes my top 25 favorite films of all time (not sure who just got bumped). I also think this film should be required viewing for preservice teachers as a catalyst for discussion regarding school politics, policy, and the ethics (which are topics I don't remember being discussed in great enough depth in my own teacher training).

Inherit the Wind is a dramatization of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial where a public school teacher was arrested for teaching Darwin's Origin of Species. While the story was built around this well known evolution vs. creationism debate the topic is not the core issue in this film. What is at issue is the conflict that often arises between truth and righteousness and what it means for employees, public servants, teachers, etc. This theme has broad application and is timeless in its levity. This issue has been with us for at least as long as we have a recorded history. It is the perfect parallel to the story of Socrates "corrupting the youth." It is also a story I feel has just as much relevance to today and today's issues regarding social media, alternative ed, the production gap, the achievement gap, or any other issue that threatens to upset the status quo.

The following are five clips from the film that I feel have particular relevance today for education and the teaching profession:

On Disrupting the Status Quo:

On Policy & Politics:

On Social Media, Other Technologies, and Human Progress:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Digital Backpack Tools Safe for Elementary School Students

I have been on a mission the past month to review the terms of service for each and every tool I have included in the Digital Backpack. The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) requires websites that collect personal information from its users be required to gain parental permission before allowing children under 13 years old from joining their service. Additionally, many services self-restrict users in their TOS to those over the age of eighteen.

A lot of web apps and web 2.0 services have "Jump right in" access that allows users to use the service without creating an account. In most of these cases no age restriction is necessary. A web service may have an age restriction for member users but guests can be of any age.

The following tools have no age restriction, do not require students to create accounts and may be used by anyone without violating COPPA:

  • Online version of Notepad.
  • - quick and easy online document editor
  • - real-time text collaboration (Etherpad goes on the "Dead List" in March of 2010)
  • - Free online PDF editor
  • - Merges multiple versions of the same document and shows you where differences exist.
  • - publish email as a web page
  • - Online Spreadsheet Calculator
  • - "[C]reate eye-popping newsletters, actionable presentations, irresistible invitations, beautiful product features, sizzling event summaries, informative club updates, lovely picture collages, and a whole lot more."

  • - "Create and print a brochure or flyer in minutes."
  • - Flash based image editor that looks and feels like a slimmed down version of Adobe Photoshop.
  • - Flash based image editor that looks and feels like a slimmed down version of Adobe Photoshop.
  • - Flash based image editor that looks and feels like a slimmed down version of Adobe Photoshop.
  • - Online photo editor.
  • - Online photo editor
  • - Online vector drawing program similar to AutoDesk.
  • - Draw sketches and diagrams together with someone online. The interface of the site is easy to use and there is no registration process. Just invite your friends and start drawing.
  • - automatically optimize images for websites
  • - Online photo editor that allows you to create animated gif files.
  • - Online application that lets you create your own animated gif files.
  • - animated gif maker
  • - Fun and interesting photo effects.
  • Warholizer: Turn digital photos of you and your friends into pop art!
  • - Fun image effect generator.
  • - Fun image effect generator.

  • - Upload photos and add goofy stuff to them.
  • - Manipulate photos of real scenes to make them look like miniatures.
  • - Online application that allows you to create custom police portrait sketches
  • - Upload a photo and this tool will render it like a David Hockney collage.
  • Take any picture online and render it with words.
  • - Generates graffiti style text
  • - make your digital photos look like Polaroid™-style images
  • - Create digital photo collages.
  • - Takes screenshots of any website.
  • - Great collection of tools that includes an audio editor, video editor, cartoon creator, and mindmapping tool.
  • - Cut small segments out of YouTube Videos. Curriculum ideas!
  • - create music videos with your own clips and pictures online
  • - Simple web-based animation creation tool.
  • - Create your own music. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Free online audio recorder and audio publishing. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Free online audio recorder and audio publishing. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Extract audio from a YouTube video as an MP3 file. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Create embeddable audio recordings using a mic, telephone call, audio file upload, or text to speech.
  • - Online music creation program. This one is hard to explain, you just have to try it for yourself.
  • - Make your own beatbox music online
  • - Free online interactive whiteboard
  • - Free online interactive whiteboard
  • - Free online interactive whiteboard
  • - Free online meeting space that includes an interactive whiteboard, document sharing, and a shared web browser
  • - is a simple and free web application that lets you brainstorm online. Curriculum ideas!
  • - See what websites looked like on previous dates. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Need to print only portions of a web page? This service allows you to pick and choose. Curriculum ideas!
  • - make free calls to telephones from your web browser (no downloads)
  • - make still pictures talk with comical moving mouths. Take any picture online and render it with words. Curriculum ideas!
  • Text visualization tool.Curriculum ideas!
  • Autodesk Project Dragonfly - Free online room designer.
  • - free tool that lets you create your own cell phone ringtones
  • - Simple web publishing tool: copy and paste content then click publish
  • Couchit - Very simple wiki development tool.
  • Create your own custom home page.Curriculum ideas!
  • - Search for RSS feeds. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Convert an RSS feed to a PDF newsletter.
  • - Combine multiple RSS feeds into one.
  • - combine multiple RSS feeds into one.
  • - combine multiple RSS feeds into one
  • - Create an RSS widget for your website, wiki, or profile.
  • - Record video screenshots online Curriculum ideas!
  • - Record video screenshots online Curriculum ideas!
  • - Free online screencasting tool.
  • - Twitter screencasting mashup tool
  • - Record video with your webcam. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Safe & Secure P2P video chat without registering for a service, downloading software, or paying a subscription fee. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Detects motion on your webcam, records what is happening, and allows you to watch online.
  • - Convert any file into a website
  • - publish html code as a live website by copying and pasting into the pasteHTML editor or just type your code right in the browser.
  • - Convert any file into a website
  • - Allows you to send messages to the administrator of any website.
  • - Taggify is a web widget that allows bloggers and publishers enhance their sites by adding image tooltips linked to certain image regions. Image regions become clickable and tagged with some title, description or link. When a visitor moves mouse over the image, Taggify widget shows a tooltip with related content provided by the publisher.
  • - Put part of another website on your website or blog (with active links).
  • - Generates links to individual passages within webpages. Useful for linking to the middle of a large document.
  • - Turns spreadsheet data into HTML tables
  • - Turn your document files into an online books & magazines. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Collaborative storytelling for families and friends (perfect for creative writing)
  • converts an outline into a word tree
  • - real-time text collaboration (Etherpad replacement)
  • - Write and edit your own sheet music online.

The following sites require an adult to create an initial group site but kids can be allowed to post information and use it without signing them up for the service with private information:
  • - Blogging for elementary and middle school. Gives teachers a lot of control.
  • - Free video hosting for schools. (like YouTube but specifically for student projects.)
  • - Record audio files with your cell phone Curriculum ideas! - Upload audio files and create an embeddable and shareable playlist.

Many services don't specify an age limit on their TOS but do require a login. It is likely that these sites do fall under the COPPA restriction:

  • - Quick and easy to way to collaborate online with others. YourDraft creates an online document similar to Microsoft Word and gives you a URL of that document. Others you share the URL with can edit the document too without a password. Curriculum ideas!
  • Online database application. Curriculum ideas!
  • - online collaboration space where you can run team projects with document collaboration and task management
  • Upload, share, and collaborate on notes, photos, and documents on one page.
  • - Flash-based online presentation program that rivals PowerPoint.
  • - Upload PowerPoint presentations to share and embed on your website. Keeps all animations from original file.
  • - Free online video editor.
  • - is like an online 1gig flash drive. Curriculum ideas!
  • - 10gig of online storage. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Email large files ? Curriculum ideas!
  • Free, online concept mapping tool similar to Gliffy. Online version of Inspiration.Curriculum ideas!
  • - Create and share your mindmaps. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Create and share your mindmaps. Curriculum ideas!
  • - organic online mind mapping tool
  • - Powerful online collaborative mind mapping tool
  • - online flowchart creation tool
  • - online flowchart creation tool
  • - SlickPlan is a web-based sitemap/flowchart generator
  • - flash-based mindmapping and flowchart maker
  • - Online meeting tool. Share your webcam, voice, chat, desktop, or PowerPoint presentations with others online. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Create online quizzes and surveys ? Curriculum ideas!
  • - Create online quizzes and surveys (lets you embed your survey on your webpage) Curriculum ideas!
  • - Makes images interactive by allowing users to assign "hotspots" that when moused over or clicked open up pop-up windows displaying other information. Curriculum ideas!
  • whspr! - Need to receive a message by email, but can't (or don't want to) give out your email address? whspr! gives you a URL to share instead.
  • - Free online photo and video sharing

  • - Blog host designed for educational use. Curriculum ideas!
  • Simple but visually attractive blog hosting platform. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Create your free online forum.
  • - Social Bookmarking. Keep your bookmarks online so they are with you at any computer. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Search your bookmarks with Google algorithms. Can be used to create your own custom search engine. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Social Bookmarking tool that lets you annotate the sites you bookmark. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Annotate websites and share your annotations with other A.nnotate users.
  • - Social book reading site.
  • - Free project management site similar to social networking platforms like Ning.
  • - Microblogging - for messages 140 characters or less. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Edmodo is a private microblogging platform that teachers and students can use to send notes, links, files, alerts, assignments, and events to each other. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Twitter-like private microblogging platform for schools.
  • - Simple RSS reader. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Like YouTube but for school lectures.
  • - watch free online technology training videos
  • - Create and send quick video messages Curriculum ideas!
  • - The State of Minnesota funds and hosts this site where residents are all entitled to a space to create their own websites. Great for digital resumes. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Create a free website & blog with an easy drag and drop interface.
  • - free online portfolio/efolio
  • - test your website on multiple browsers from one site.
  • - Turn your document files into an online books & magazines. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Turn your document files into an online magazine that you can embed.
  • - Self publish books, set your own price, they print as many as are purchased. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Create timelines, share them on the web. Curriculum idea
  • - Social cartoon dictionary that lets you view and/or create short animated videos that teach the meaning of uncommon words.
  • - Create online flashcards to help you study.
  • Unit converter that converts most forms of measurement.
  • - Virtual keyboard where users can type in more than 50 foreign languages. Furthermore, users can search for the typed text on Google, Wikipedia, and other resources without leaving the site.
  • - Make any web page print friendly
  • - Add your own subtitles to clips from Chinese movies. Curriculum ideas!
  • Add subtitles to foreign language films (like Chinese Movie Creator).Curriculum ideas!
  • - Free wiki host. Allows you to create web pages that anyone with a password can quickly and easily edit. Great for community knowledge construction and information gathering. Curriculum ideas!
  • - Free wiki host. Allows you to create web pages that anyone with a password can quickly and easily edit. Great for community knowledge construction and information gathering. Curriculum ideas!
  • - record 3 minute screencasts and share them via Twitter, email, or Facebook.
  • - Online Video Editor
  • - real-time collaborative diagram creation tool
  • - Make an interactive online bulletin board
  • Free online storage for large files

Note: Many teachers use other services such as Google Docs and Blogger with students. These age restrictions do not mean students cannot use these tools. It does mean that teachers need to obtain permission from a child's parent or guardian to let the student have an account. It also doesn't prevent a teacher for posting information on a student's behalf (ex: podcasting a story, publishing a drawing, etc.).

There is a distinct possibility that I missed the important language when reviewing these TOS. Many of these sites I found none regarding age. If you notice any errors in this assessment of web service TOS please let me know.