Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Furl.net is one of the several social bookmarking tools available on the Web. I have been using it for about a year now and find it very easy to use, useful and it is free. The features I like about it is that when you save a Web-based document or site to your furl archive, it saves a snap shot of the web-page. This is great for articles and news items that may go off-line later on and I still want to be able to access it.

Furl.net has some great plug-ins that place quick save and access buttons in your favourite browser. It also lets you know if any other furl users have archived the resources you have. If anyone has you can look at their archive. Yes, you can make your archive public and share it with colleagues or students. There are tools to help you embed your listings into other web-pages. I have managed to embed portions of my list into my Blackboard courses.

Furl.net also have a full suite of tagging and labelling tools for your items, including a tool for converting your referencing into common citation formats like APA and Chicago. Check it out at http://www.furl.net/

Feel free to browse my furl.net archive at http://www.furl.net/members/rodcorbett

ScreenHunter 4.0 Free

One of the most useful utilities that I have been using for a couple year is ScreenHunter 4.0 Free. This tool installs easily and doesn’t require admin privileges to install. ScreenHunter is very easy to use and it allows to you create image files from any portion of your computer screen. I find it most useful for capturing regions of the screen and saving them directly to the clipboard to my choice of file formats.

Go to http://www.wisdom-soft.com/products/screenhunter_free.htm

Although it is free, watch out as you follow the links to download it. You don’t need to subscribe to the newsletter or give any information. If you have trouble getting to the Download site click here to go to it directly. Scroll down past the versions that cost to the free version.

In Defense of Cheating

In Defense of Cheating by Don Norman

Don Norman’s essay on “cheating” is actually a very thought provoking reflection on our learning assessment practices and why cheating shouldn’t matter. Essentially, the message I took away from reading this is that we need to make our learning assessments more collaborative because those of the skills required in today’s workplace. If we design our assessment to be more project based, personalizable and collaborative then cheating becomes a non-issue.

In courses that I teach for the University of Calgary, I have design all of my assessments to be project based that require the students to complete projects to solve needs from their own life contexts. I encourage them to collaborate and even have them post their assignments to the class for peer feedback before I grade them. I also give a large portion of the grade to their own analysis and reflection about their work and conclusions.

I feel this gives them a stronger learning experience as they need to look at how their peers have applied the concepts and principles under study to a variety of different contexts and they most critic their own work, demonstrating their own thoughts and abilities of perform the objectives I hope their are learning. This is especially true in my online classes where I never meet my students face-to-face.

Read the essay and leave comments.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


YouTube is not just a website that allows video makers to share their programs with the world but as teachers we can find serveral very useful video clips that we can use in our classes, legally, but just linking to them on this site or using the Embedded HTML codes available.

You can find the famous Herding Cats clip, 5 minute University, Clips from the Movie “Ferrus Beuller’s Day Off” and many move.

You can also set up an account and create a list of favourites. Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/

And since Google just bought them, you should see a convergence between Google Video and YouTube.

I also like to use the funny clips as reward easter eggs in my online classes but you need to watch out for offensive materials here.

Google Reader

Google has a new RSS Feed Reader in its toolbox. It has many of the features of other Feed Readers but it is Web based so you can access it from multiple computers. I use it at work and at home and that way I can track what I have read. It can also be a gadget in my personlized Google home page so I can track it along with my Google mail. I can also make readings with stars like in Google mail as well as share items with others.
You can find it at http://www.google.com/reader/

The New version of Wink

Wink 2 is the latest version of Wink. This version is much more useful because you can now add audio and voice narrations to your slide shows. And it can publish to SWF format for online delivery. Oh, and it is free.

Wink can capture screen shots and actions to create flash based tutorials, without Flash or Captivate. And the presentations are editable.

Download it from http://www.debugmode.com/wink/

Teachers can use this for building online flash movie tutorials or virtual tours. Students could use it for building online presentations, or to build virtual tours of they project work.

And it is very easy to use.


I found this tool a month or so ago and have been using it all the time to create PDF files of all kinds of things, including preparing a postcard for a print shop and posters for a plotter.

It is free and legal to download. It installs easily and doesn’t need admin privileges. It installs itself as a printer so you can use it from any Windows application by using the print command and selecting PDFCreator as the printer and tell it where to save the PDF file. You will have some options to tweak if you wish but it works great with all of the defaults.

Download this tool from http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/

The $100 Laptop

There is a great initiative taking place in the world that plans to create$100 laptop millions of specially design laptop computers for the children of the world. The computer is designed to cost $100 each. The mandate is to put one of these laptops into the hands of each child to enable them to get an enhanced education.

For all of the details about these units go to www.laptop.org.

Unfortunately, these units will not be available to purchase in our favourite computer stores but I believe the break-through design strategies will put more pressure on all laptop vendors to design more cost-effective units.