Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Useful Web - Bonus Edition! by Russ Wilde

Russ Wilde publishes a TechNotesRuss Wilde newsletter for Bow Valley College and has generously giving me permission to share highlights of it. Below is an exerts that I think you will find very interesting about more new tools. Some of which I have already reviewed here.

The Useful Web—Bonus Edition!
The past six weeks has seen an absolute blizzard of new and innovative tools released on the Web. I’ve been collecting links and trying to decide which ones to share with you, but there are just so many and they are all so good—I couldn’t handle the pressure of these weighty decisions anymore! So, dear readers, I present here a special, giant-sized bonus issue of “The Useful Web.”
A quick note: Web tools are great, but remem­ber that some people use them to create content that can be objectionable to other users. Be sure to think critically when you evaluate any Web tool or resource for use in your practice.
Tools for Collaborating and Sharing
The best part of Web 2.0 for educators is the em­phasis on sharing and collaborating. Everything from documents, spreadsheet, presentation slides, music, video, and lecture notes can be created, ed­ited, and shared by online groups. The sites pre­sented below are some of my favorites, but there are many more available.
Zoho Show - The site’s home page says it all, “Create presentations from anywhere, present it remotely. Export it offline - it’s simple & free.” This tool works well and lets you import existing Power­Point presentations. Also check out Zoho Writer and Zoho Sheet for more document collaboration fun.
Google Documents and Spreadsheets - Office-style documents right on the Web and integrated with your existing Google account. Hard not to like this one.
Thumbstacks - A lot like Zoho Show, this tool lets you create and present PowerPoint-style shows right on the Web without any additional software. Check out the demo presentation.
Slideshare - OK, this is another Web presentation tool, much like Zoho and Thumbstacks. But it has a great interface and really deserves a look before you choose the service you want to start a relation­ship with.
NoteMesh - This site is designed to allow students to share their class notes. From the site:
“NoteMesh is a free service that allows college students in the same classes to share notes with each other. It works by creating a wiki for individual classes that users can edit. Users are free to post their own lecture notes or contribute to existing lecture notes. The idea is that users in the same class can collaboratively create a de­finitive source for lecture notes.”
I know this might make some people cringe as it seems to make it easier to skip classes. But I see it as a great tool for our busy learners to help each other succeed by working together, despite the many other responsibilities that fill their lives.
NoteCentric - Similar to NoteMesh, but with a bit more emphasis on storing personal class notes rather than sharing. It includes great WYSIWYG test editing tools and I suspect this could be a nice tool for instructor’s and students alike.
Tools for Creating Media
Splice - Need to record some audio or even mix music and commentary for a presentation? This tool allows you to make custom mixes right on the Web using either live or pre-recorded audio. The emphasis is definitely on creating and shar­ing music, but the tools will work for any audio project.
Jumpcut - Hey, if we’re going to edit our audio online, why not do video as well? This service—now part of the Yahoo! family—allows you to up­load and modify video clips, then mix them with audio to make movies. Amazingly easy to use.
MapLib - This is a bit primitive looking but could be quite useful. It allows you to upload any pic­ture and then use the tools from Google Maps to explore by moving around and zooming in and out. This would be a great way to present a large or highly detailed diagram that can’t be properly viewed when reduced to fit on the screen.

Russ is a member of ADETA and can be emailed at

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