Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Google "Complex"

I often wonder the impact that search engines are having on education.  I also wonder about text message services like "Cha Cha" that allows students (and many of my students have talked about using) to text their question and someone will do the research for them and then provide them the answer.  Is the Internet creating a generation of learners that will rely to much on someone (or an algorithm) doing the research for them and not understanding the value or importance of self discovery?

In recent studies and experiences it is becoming more evident that students are relying to much on someone or something getting the answer for them or giving them the answer.  I wonder if this comes from the impact of search engines and websites like Yahoo! Answers.  Part of me is glad that students are learning to use resources available to them to get the "help" they need.  Another part of me worries that we are "teaching" students to GET the answers instead of FIND the answers.

I have often referred to this as "Learned Helplessness."  Students are abusing the services that have been provided with little education on understanding how this will impact them.  They are learning to rely on resources for the answers instead of researching the answers for themselves.  They are waiting for something, or in many cases when technology is not available, someone to tell them the answer....because that is what these services do and it is what they have grown up doing.  I know "cheating" and "copying" have existed for years, but you had to have someone GIVE it to you first for you to be able to do that.

Is using Google to find answers to questions "cheating" for this generation?  Are search engines, Yahoo! Answers, and other services now the friend that would let students copy their work that students during our generation had?

What are your thoughts?  Would be interesting to see what other people think?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Wiki Wiki Wiki

Remember when you were younger and you or someone would imitate the sound of a turn table and that sound was similar to "wiki wiki?"  Well, that has nothing to do with this post; I just happened to think of that when I created the title.

Most of us know about Wikipedia and Wikispaces, but there are tons of other Wiki's out there that could be utilized in the classroom when utilized correctly. 
Wikiquote is a wiki dedicated to providing quotations from famous people and from throughout history.  Looking for a quote for students to interpret or share each day?  This might be a good starting point.  I like most Wiki sites, it is available in multiple languages

Wiktionary is dedicated to providing dictionary definitions.  Although there are tons of sources to use for definitions, there is a wiki as well.  On the main page you will find a "Word of the Day" and each entry provides lots of facts and information about each word.

Wikispecies is for you science teachers out there.  A valuable resource that provides lots of information about the species of our planet.  On the main page you will find a "Species of the Week and a Distinguished Author."

Wikiversity is a wiki dedicated to providing an open learning community.  On the main page you will find a "Featured Product of the Day" and a "Picture of the Day."  This source is dedicated to all levels of education and research related to education.

WikiBooks is a wiki dedicated to open content textbooks.  Each book has a various range in ages and subject matter.  On the main page you will find a Featured Book and a Featured Children's Book. 

Wikinews is a wiki dedicated to sharing the news that allows visitors to right.  Needless to say, you can expect opinionated and one-sided news stories, but a good way for students to see differing opinions on issues.  However, this is a good way to get news that is not part of a "corporation" news story. 

Now you just might be all "wikied" out, but remember to remind students that all information and resources found on a wiki should be double checked from a reliable source.


Superflashcard is another option in a long list of websites that allow you to create your own flashcards online for the purpose of studying.  It has a lot of the same features as some other sites, and although its main focus is generating income, they do allow their educators access to a paid account with more features for free. 

The one main difference I have seen so far is the users ability to auto-schedule reviews to optimize and enhance memorization.  There is also a feature to allow users to import/export your flashcards with comma delimited text file.  There are also games and multiple study modes for users as well.  And because it is like other flashcard sites, Superflashcard allows networking and you can search the public database for flashcards that users have already created.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


TourWrist is a website dedicated to providing elegant and high quality 360 degree panorama pictures from places around the world.  Most of these have been user submitted, but the concept is great for showcasing places around the globe in great detail.  This one for the Grand Canyon is pretty sweet. You can browse other uploaded panoramas as well.  There are not that many now, but over time, and the app being free, this could really take off with how high quality the images are.

Tourwrist uses a free iPhone/iPad app and you can upload them from there.  Students could use these for a project, or it might be a neat way to share your school campus with visitors to your school website. Would be a great way to share your town with everyone you know or even for a local community project.  I could see this app taking off for Geography classes as well.

Here is their introduction video


HelloSlide allows users to upload their Power Point Presentation (as a PDF File) and then type additional text to each slide and then HelloSlide will convert that text into audio text.  This is a great option for visually impaired or lower reading ability students, or students who are absent and miss your class, therefore missing the extra conversation you might give with your presentations.  You could also use this for translating language in presentations if needed. 

For a lot of teachers when they have a substitute they go with alternative plans because of the subs inability to give a lecture or "teach" the lesson.  HelloSlide would provide teachers a way to allow a substitute to teach the lesson still.

Also, I don't necessarily like hearing my own voice (when recorded) so I can use this site to still provide audio to my presentation without having to record myself and then fix any mistakes.  To create an account for HelloSlide, all you would need is an email and a password.  It does require email verification which could prove to be difficult for student use.  Also, the voice for the service does not have as much "computer" voice in it, and sounds more "natural."

The service is free and there are pay options available.  The Free option provides users the opportunity to upload up to 50 presentations.  The pay features provide exporting to video and auto translation if needed.  Without export you do have to show the presentation through the website.  Animations you use are limited, so that might determine how you add those to a presentation.  You can decide to make your presentation public or private as well, meaning that you can search through Public presentations.

For more information, I recommend viewing the FAQ Page.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Solvr is a service that allows users to privately or publicly get help solving problems step by step.  No need to create an account and the service is completely free.  You can share your URL with friends or colleagues and collaborate on your problem in real time. 

Once you submit your problem users can provide feedback by commenting or providing an idea.  Users can also vote on a topic or idea and give it popularity.  At the same time, any feedback to a problem can also be responded to create ultimate collaboration.

Teachers could use this to ask students for ideas on how to answer a word math problem, provide what if scenarios in science and social students.  English teachers could provide students a poem and they could interpret its mean and then students could comment on those interpretations.  Solvr reminds me of another option to a backchannel but with a specific concept.

Check it out and see what you think.  Here is a short example of how a school used the service to gather ideas on an issue they were having.  It can give you an idea of how the service works. - URL Shortener is another website in a long line of URL shorteners.  For each URL that you shorten you can provide a "note" with up to 500 characters and a custom ID.  When you create your short URL it does not automatically take you to the website.  What it does is take you to the "homepage" for your shortened link within  At this point, you are able to easily click on the link to the website or comment on the link as well.  You are also able to see statistics and the title of the website you shortened as well.  In a way, this service provides more of a social aspect for link shortening.  There is also a bookmarklet available as well.  You can create an account as well so that you can track the URL's that you are shortening. 

Routine Tap

Students have trouble developing and maintaining short and long term goals for themselves.  Sometimes a little reminder can go a long way in helping a student achieve those goals.  Routine Tap is a web software that allows users to track their goals online.  The service works by allowing users to set their own questions/goals and then answer/respond to them on a regular basis (I guess one goal would be to make sure you check on your goals!).  As time goes on, you will see the data/patterns to your goal achievement.

Students could easily create goals related to school work, athletics, professional work, personal life, etc.  Anything to help students track their goals and get them thinking about the short term and long term aspects of their life outside of school.  Using the service is free and signing up is as simple as a name, email, and password.

To learn more about Routine Tap and how you might share it with your students, read more about it HERE.

Save and Search

Save and Search is an easy way to save and sort through websites that are interesting to you.  This would be a valuable tool for researching several different topics.  I like Diigo for saving websites and other research I do, but have always been looking for other ways to save favorite and personal websites in order to separate professional and personal aspects of surfing the Internet.  Save and Search provides you that opportunity. 

To Learn more, watch the video below.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Prezi U

Prezi has come around to the importance and use of Prezi in education.  The have announced the opening of Prezi U, an educational community to learn and discuss best practices for using Prezi in education.  You can also read articles and case studies about how top universities are using Prezi.  There is now one place to download content and more that is related to Prezi in education. If you have a Prezi account, you will need to sign up for a Prezi U account as well.

Prezi has also introduced some new features as well.  The + Plus button which allows the easy creation of a Prezi in just a few clicks.  See video below.

A Day Made of Glass - Part Deux

Let me start off by saying that Corning has wowed me again.  Glad that the video takes it into the classroom this time....of course, by the time I am done teaching I believe that this is how education will be beginning to look with interactive classrooms and walls, etc. If this is what hospitals will be in the future as well, then I feel confident about the future of medicine and the discovery of cures.  Watch for yourself.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Listsearch is a website that allows users to copy and paste or type in a list of searches that they would like to perform and then provides a link to all the searches in one place.  You can also click the option to open all the searches at the same time.  The searches will use Google in case you were wondering.

Other features allow you to change domains as well for those in foreign countries.  Another feature is a Cross Lists which will search for the best possible combination separately on Google.  It is like putting a "+" between two searches in Google and getting multiple searches in one place.  You can also copy the search link if necessary.

Students could use to complete large searches over multiple topics or aspects of a topic.  It creates all those list in one place helping the student to stay organized while doing searches on the web.

In the end, the goal is to help you conduct multiple searches faster.