Just in time tech . . .

Google spreadsheets now lets you share editing by sending out a custom form. This is a huge deal. No, really. Huge. It solves so many problems I see happening all the time in schools. This is such a great way to get large amounts of information from all sorts of people of varying technical skill levels so you have it one place to manipulate. No need for the hassle of Adobe PDF and the complications of those forms or the need to create custom web forms of various types. It’s free and dead simple. I’m going to use it to collect testing information on programs for our upcoming Vista move. Previously, I was going to use cforms ii (awesome WordPress plug in by the way- especially if you need to fully customize the CSS- see an example I did for the NSDC here– it is real so don’t fill out fake info please). But there’s no real easy way to share that information. You could give people the password to the blog but that’s no always a good thing and the information that’s there is really just for looking at or exporting. I wanted something more dynamic. I think you could write some custom php pages and pull the info out but that’s a hassle and it takes time. I […]


Asterpix – Part Deux – The Review

Through the magic of the Internet I got a comment from Nat Kausik who works for Asterpix (update 2015 – asterpix is now spammy). It still amazes me when this happens (and ups my faith that they’ll stick around because they are listening and responding to the user). Nat requested a little more detail regarding what I’d like to see improved in Asterpix. I’m not really sure why he needs more information. I think “it’s not quite as slick as I’d like” is a pretty detailed and useful feedback. Here is what I’d really like to be able to do with Asterpix in my dream world. Please note- I find Asterpix to be very useful right now and I intend to use it. I encourage others to use it. I really feel they’re providing something that no one else is and I’m very grateful for that. That being said, here’s what they could do that would result in my getting a “I Heart Asterpix” tattoo. I’d like much more control over my notes. I want to be able to control their shape, fill opacity/color, line thickness/color/opacity. In a really perfect world I’d be able to use a tool something like the polygon creator in Google Maps to plot points to make irregular objects. I’d like to know what html elements […]


Free Screencast From Your Browser!

Screencast-O-Matic Amazing and free! This ought to make a lot of people happy and I like the social aspect of free hosting/sharing of screencast. The whole deal is a pretty neat trick using Java. Screencast-O-Matic is the free and easy way to create a video recording of your screen (aka screencast) and upload it for free hosting all from your browser with no install! The length is limited to 15 minutes but really that’s a good thing. I’d keep it way under 15 if at all possible. Link via Kevin J. Amboe

“My Maps” from Google (an actual example)

I figured after being so gushy about the My Maps option from Google I ought to make a good example. So here is a good start on a territorial acquisition map of the United States of America. I did it free hand based on a number of different maps I found on wikipedia and a few other places- so it’s not perfect and it still needs some work but I think it shows what you can do with little effort. Yes, I promise the writing will improve :). The map took about 45 minutes or so to make. Most of that time was spent looking at various maps. I also increased my speed after I figured out I could move points in polygons after I finished rather than having to start all over. I also made a quick screencast covering the basics of the My Maps tools.

Hey!Watch Is A Seriously Cool Online Video Converter

Tom posted on a great webapp VIXY that captures flash-based video. I have used this app a dozen times since he showed it to me. I found a variation the theme with Hey!Watch. Hey!Watch lets users upload video and encode it for devices that range from iPods and Zunes to NintendoDS and PocketPCs. It also has a list of formats that will accommodate most of your needs. You are free to transfer video from flash-based sites like YouTube, as well. They provide additional options if you subscribe, but the free service seems worth exploring. If I am reading the site info correctly, they will even let you automatically transfer video from an established podcast. The interface is simple enough that your average tech-minded teacher could upload raw video and have it converted to a format for display/distribution with ease. via techcrunch


VIXY- Convert YouTube Videos to Many Formats

Jim and myself have often found great clips on YouTube or other online video sites but that site is blocked by our school filter. It was a pain to capture these videos and covert them but no longer. . . Vixy will allow you to freely convert the flash video into a number of other formats including video iPod compatible. Just throw in the URL and presto chango. Another neat option is the ability to choose an audio only version as an export. I have done this in the past the hard way with TED talks (highly recommended if you don’t checked them out) since I am too poor to afford a new video iPod. Via Net@Night -Edit 12-19 Another option to get YouTube videos Like most teachers, I have to contend with the filtering of You Tube at work. The solution is fairly simple, just follow the download link at the top of the You Tube page to get the video, and rename the downloaded file with a .flv extension. Next, get the free FLV Player from here and be grateful to Martijn de Visser for this great little application (which you obviously need to install secretly in school!) from Digital Geography

Calc5 and iJot: Online Utilities with Classroom Potential

I remember the expectation in my high school pre-calculus class was a graphing calculator–which cost more than I was willing (or able) to spend. Enter calc5: a free and online graphing calculator. Simply punch in your equation and hit “OK”. calc5 delivers a graphic representation of that equation. Have your students take a screen shot of it as part of a set of notes, or encourage them to tape it to their lockers (Hey, I’m a geek and proud of it). Honestly, I can’t remember what I would use this for, but I do remember feeling second class for not having a “state of the art” calculator in class. This is yet another example of using technology to level the playing field. Gives me warm fuzzies! via Lifehacker iJot lets you enter notes and then organize them into an outline. These notes can then be saved and/or shared with others. Might be a useful tool for the organization-challenged student, or could be used in a groupwork/collaborative setting. via Lifehacker

Using Bollywood Clips to Illustrate Conflict

I used BombayTV last year to get students to illustrate the major and minor conflicts in Richard III. It could be applied to any story you are working with–whether literature or history. Actually, I imagine you could use this for math and science with a little creativity. The student’s loved it.