Holy Productivity Tools Batman!

Evernote. Drop.io. Dropbox. Remember the Milk. Delicious. Diigo. Jog the Web. Heard of one or more of these? I’m guessing you have. Does anyone else have an almost obsession to use (or at least try) all these great web-apps? I do! Hello my name is Kyle and I have a web-app addiction!

However, it begs the question: Can one have too many tools in their “web” utility belt? I feel like there’s too many good ones but I want to try them all. Sure, I use some way more than others. There are some that don’t even make it past the initial sign-up process for me. There are 3 things I hope to identify as quickly as possible when I learn about a new tool:

1. A clearly defined purpose – What does it do?
2. Is it user-friendly?
3. Does it show educational use? (see my last post on the 3Cs)

Web-based tools that help me be more productive in my personal and professional life are really appealing. Should we as teachers and lifelong learners try to keep ourselves “in the know” as best we can about these tools? Do you rely on your PLN to try to keep up as best as you can? Do you share these tools with your students?

I welcome your comments as always. Thank you for reading.

Collaborative Document Tools for the 3Cs

I recently came across three document collaboration/publishing tools that I want to share. Both of these tools would be great for students to use inside and outside of the classroom. I think these tools represent what I refer to as the 3C’s of digital literacy: Communicative, Collaborative, and Creative.

EtherPad
EtherPad markets themselves as the “only web-based word processor that allows people to work together in really real-time.” I was introduced to EtherPad by David Jakes (@djakes) at the METC 2010 Conference. What I think is a great feature about EtherPad is that there is no sign-up required by the teacher or students. A public pad is created and students can start a collaborative writing project instantly. The pad has an exclusive link to be shared right away. An EtherPad document is limited to a maximum of 17 users, so if you have more than 17 students you might want to divide students up into groups to work on their documents. What I like it that each user can be easily identified by name and also by a specific text color. Multiple document types can be imported directly into EtherPad and the document can be exported in multiple formats. Be sure and check out the Saved Revisions and the Time Slider to see the evolution of the document and student participation levels.

Import/Export Options, Saved Revisions, and the Time Slider


CrocoDoc

CrocoDoc is a little different from EtherPad in a couple of ways. First, documents cannot be created directly from within the web app. They have to be imported from the computer or on the web somewhere else on the web. Second, not only can you collaborate and edit PDFs and Word documents, but CrocoDoc will also take PowerPoint presentations. The markup tools used are stickie notes, a highlighter, strikeout text, and add additional text. Specific pages can be shared via an exclusive link. Those you share the link with can not only view but also edit by default. A pro account is required ($36 per year) for added security features and support. Be sure to check out their demo document to get a feel for the interface before signing up.

A great document publishing web app

Issuu is a great document publishing application that gives a classy, professional look to existing documents. It gives your documents a “magazine” style look as you flip through your document’s pages. Your Issuu document is also very easy to share by email or by embedding it into your blog, wiki, or learning management system. A member of my PLN, Kelly Tenkely, used Issuu to publish a great guide to using Pages ’09 for Mac. Be sure to check it out so you can see what an Issuu document looks like.

It is my hope you find at least one of these resources beneficial to you and your students. I welcome your comments.

YouTube Resources and Tools

It wasn’t up until recently that I discovered many great resources available on YouTube for K-12 education. YouTube was blocked in my district, then it was unblocked, and now it’s blocked again. It’s not my intent in this post to determine whether or not YouTube should be blocked. If you’d like to comment to that via this post you’re more than welcome to. I wanted to share a couple of the really good ones and some YouTube tools. I hope you find them beneficial.

If you have any others to share please feel free.

A great new resource (well it’s new to me)

The Khan Academy
I came across this resource literally hours before I wrote this post. If this resource isn’t a great example of YouTube’s impact on K-12 education I don’t know what is. It’s over 1000 video tutorials created by Salman Khan on everything from basic math to biology to personal finance. Be sure and check it out. He also has a YouTube channel to subscribe to as well.

Here’s Sal’s video on the parts of a cell –

If you’re looking for a great literacy resource for the primary grades be sure to check out the Hooked on Phonics channel.

Some cool YouTube Tools

Dirpy – YouTube to mp3 converter

TubeChop – Chop any section from a YouTube video and share it

SafeShare.TV – Crop videos and also remove offensive or distracting content from around them before sharing

SyncTube – watch videos with friends in real-time..paste in the link and create a room

KeepVid – easy tool for downloading YouTube videos….great if YouTube is blocked in your district