Jane Hart’s 100 Tools for Learning list 2010

Jane Hart compiles this list yearly. It’s based on 545 contributor’s top 10 lists of their favourite learning tools. I really like the way Jane has produced the list as a slideshare presentation. It makes it far more interesting than just a wordy list of names, and very useful for use with staff who may be very unfamiliar with a large number of these tools. Check out the rise of the juggernaut Google – their products seem to be ranking highly in people’s lists. What’s also interesting is the the majority of the top 20 tools are cloud based applications, and not software downloads. We are placing quite a bit of our trust in others to host our content it seems.

Thanks Jane for continuing to produce a list that always opens my eyes to something new.

Screentoaster – screencasts made easy.

Tonight I’ve been practising with Screentoaster, a screencast application that is still in beta. I had to apply for an invitation but that was no hassle. It came through within 15 minutes. It is very easy to use. I watched the demo video and had it sorted pretty quickly.

You press start recording and Screentoaster will load. You can record either full screen or a specific part of the screen by following simple instructions. It doesn’t record voice in the initial capture but you can add audio or text in the preview stage. Your screencast is stored on their server and you can share the url or embed the screencast into your site. I’m hoping it will load here. I’m having to use wordpress’ post video to your blog’ option using vodpod to get it in here. I’m not good with html code embeds so I do hope this option works as it would be great for you to see what it looks like.

Jane Hart listed Screentoast as one of her predictions for Top Tools in 2009. Check out her list; it’s well worth the look.

Vodpod videos no longer available.  

more about “Screentoast – screencasts made easy. “, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

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RefSeek – what is the future for subscription databases?

I was finally doing a bit of reading via my Google Reader, when I came across RefSeek, written up by Jane Hart on her very handy blog.

 Ref Seek is a website for students and researchers that accesses articles from web pages, books, encyclopedias, journals, and newspapers. The idea behind the site is to make academic information easily accessible to everyone. I did a couple of searches on topics for Australian audiences (Ned Kelly and Kevin Rudd) and it didn’t come up with really brilliant results, but it did source a couple of more specialised sites that were useful. Below is a screenshot of what you see when you click on directory at the top right hand side of the screen.

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Click on the links to the available sources of information and you will get an idea of the types of resources they are searching.  Below is a screenshot of some of the encylopedias used in the searches conducted.

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RefSeek is an interesting alternative for our students and makes me think about what the future may hold. I’m wondering how long subscription databases will continue as resources that schools pay for. Will they eventually become free resources and rely on advertising to generate income? At my school we subscribe to databases like eLibrary, World Book and Newsbank. We’ve made decisions in the last year to cut some of our subscriptions because we didn’t feel usage warranted the outlay of money required to sustain them. As we see the net evolve and semantic search engines like Mahalo generate pages of rich relevant results, we may see subscription database services feel the pinch. Already Brittanica offers bloggers access to widgets that can be embedded allowing your readers full access to articles on topics you write about. I have a feeling that we will see scholarly articles become more accessible as knowledge becomes more widely available.

Maybe I’m wrong. I’d be interested in hearing what others think.    

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Printer Share – interesting concept.

Now I’ve downloaded this but haven’t used it as yet so can’t report whether or not it works. It’s called PrinterShare, and according to the site you can print your documents on any printer anywhere, or you can share your printer with other people connected to the internet and enable them to print documents to your printer.  Here’s what they say;

With PrinterShare® you can print documents and photos on other people’s printers as easily as on the local one connected to your machine. No special technical knowledge is required from both – printer owner and user. It just works!

With our software you can print directly from your application such as Microsoft Word, Outlook, Photo Editor or any other program you work with to a printer connected to another computer next door or ten thousand miles away (anywhere!).

It sounds kind of amazing to me that you’d be able to do this, and like I said, I haven’t yet given it a go. I can imagine some possibilities however. You could be collaborating with a teacher in another location who has documents they want you to access. Presumably you could share the printer you have access to and enable them to print the document at your end. You could also just get them to send it to you, or better still, have them upload it to Google Docs so that you can both edit the document in real time.

Can you imagine if kids got a hold of this and got their friends to do all their printing through your school network computers? Budgets could go through the roof even quicker than they already do.

Sounds like an interesting idea and one I’ll have to try out. Be interested in hearing if anyone has used it and found that it works. Thanks very much to Jane Hart for alerting me to this.

100+ (E-)Learning Professionals to follow on Twitter

Do you ever have days when you waiver? Days when you wonder if the time you are investing is worth it. Days when you wonder where you are going in life.  Days when you think that maybe it’s just not worth it.

These days cross my path every now and then. What I have found is that when I feel like this, invariably something happens that strengthens my resolve and keeps me ploughing onwards.

Today was one of those days. When you spend a considerable amount of time learning about how we transform learning with the use of new tools you find yourself online a lot. Most of this effort happens outside of my working day which impacts on sleep, family time and time spent with friends. It’s the same for all of us I suspect. I was contemplating this today when Alec Couras put up a link on Twitter to 100+ELearning Professionals to follow on Twitter.  

Scrolling through the list I could see names of people I follow. People like Alec, John Connell, Britt Watwood, Judy O’Connell, Sheryl Nussbaum Beach, Joe Dale, Sue Waters, Doug Belshaw, Jeff Utecht, Lee Lefever and quite a few others. No. 50 on the list was me!! Me. Gotta tell you this was unexpected. Don’t know how it came about but it has stopped me wavering. 

  

If you’re not familiar with Twitter you should be. It’s a fantastic tool for networking and learning about others who have an interest in educational technology. You find yourself discovering new things all the time. But it’s not just that. It’s also about the human face of the network. Just the other day Andy Carvin put out a tweet about how he and his wife were heading to the hospital for the birth of their second child. The next day he posted the link to the Flickr photos of the birth of Sean Carvin. Andy Carvin doesn’t know me from Adam, but I’m happy to share with his good news and pass on my congratulations. You find yourself connecting on many levels, not just professionally but personally as well. And that’s what makes it work – it’s the human network forming once again with humanity linking us.  

There are people who are not on that list who should be. People like Julie Lindsay, Kim CofinoChris Betcher, Tom Barrett, Dean GroomChrissy Hellyer, Jo McLeay and Sue Tapp and many others. So that’s my next job. Time to send an email recommending others for inclusion on the list so that we all can benefit from the human network.

*I hope this doesn’t sound like a ‘Look at me’ post. I know it could be interpreted that way. I am genuinely surprised at my inclusion on that list.

New search engines

I’ve mentioned it before on more that one occasion, but it’s worth saying again. Phil Bradley writes an informative blog and is a valuable source of information for Teacher- Librarians. He created the above  picture for a presentation he gave and made it Creative Commons for others to use. Great sharing Phil – I love the picture as it encompasses the newer search engines now available. I (and I’d have to say the majority of students at my school) continue to default to Google as do the vast majority of the population. I was pleased to hear a staff member say today that she gets her students to use Mooter after I introduced it to her last year. She thinks the students can make greater sense of the results with the clustering technology it employs.

I’ve read about a couple of new search engines via my google reader that may be useful. Phil highlighted Green Maven – the green search engine for people interested in looking for websites focusing on green issues – sustainability and the like. I searched for light globes and my return focused on the energy efficient kind. Phil’s take on it was this;

It works well if what you want is in that subject area – if you do rather more general searches the results start to get a little bit flaky.  

Jane Hart highlighted another quirky offering aimed at the K-12 audience. It’s called Boolify and uses a drop and drag of pieces that resemble a jigsaw to teach kids the importance of boolean logic in their searches. I can see the appeal for younger kids but think secondary students would get frustrated with the time it takes to formulate a search. It could be good to use when teaching kids explicitly about boolean operators however, particularly in the junior end of secondary schools. It’s worth having a bit of a play with. It’s creator, Dave Crusoe, has said this about it;

“So, we’ve worked with a team of librarians and others to develop something called Boolify, a graphical search tool meant for K12 use.   It pulls results from Google’s SafeSearch (Strict), so it’s reasonably classroom-safe, and we get the best of both worlds: a great way to understand and build searches, as well as great results provided by Google.”

Jane’s 25 tools – now a professional development opportunity

A couple of week’s ago I posted about Jane Hart and an excellent article she had written about 25 Tools every Learning Professional should have in their Toolbox – and all for FREE! which is due to be published in elearning age magazine in April. Jane’s post generated much interest so she decided to take things further and has now offered a Professional Development program;

 “intended for those working in education, workplace learning or professional development who want to broaden their horizons in terms of the wide range of technologies and tools available for learning and performance support in a very practical way by getting to grips with 25 key tools. “

All of the tools that Jane has included are free and she has provided activities to help with an understanding of each tool. They include Skype, Jing, Delicious, Voicethread, Google Docs, Twitter, Slideshare and many others. You need to have a user name and password to access these activities and can sign in at Jane’s site. This is a great opportunity for educators to introduce this to their workplaces to help bring along staff who have little knowledge of Web 2.0 tools and how they can be used to support learning. I’ve applied for a user name and password as there are a couple of tools there that I haven’t used before. Jane has also set up a 25tools community where, “users can share thoughts, experiences and resources well as get help and advice from other Community members.” A great idea – one of the stumbling blocks I think people have when trying new things is not having someone to help them out when they need it. If you want to get a number of staff involved and have your own secure discussion area for your staff to use this can be done for a small fee (not disclosed at this stage). 

Jane Hart is doing wonderful things to support the introduction of Web 2.0 tools to the wider community. She is currently collating a list of the 100 top tools for learning. To do this she has asked educators to submit their top 10 lists with some explanation as to why they they find these tools useful. I’ve contributed my Top 10, as have 146 others.  Take a read of people’s top 10 tools – I’ve scanned quite a few and have discovered new and useful tools as a result.