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Saved by John Pearce
on May 22, 2008 at 10:01:51 pm
 

Welcome to the Salty Solutions Wiki. This wiki is designed to support presentations by John Pearce related to educational uses of Web 2.0 apps.

  

One of the biggest issues that should concern schools surrounds the kind of software that is used throughout the school. Paradoxically though too often this isn’t the case. Because most schools are provided with education licensed versions of Microsoft Office one can understand why these applications are still the most commonly used in schools. Even today experience suggests that the four main components of this suite are the focus of many school programs. Indeed they are also the primary basis for support programs such as the Intel program.

Often the Office suite is supported by other applications such as concept mapping and drawing and other presentation software. Managing the use of these programs however can be problem especially with the on-going costs associated with site licences and software maintenance. The advent of Office 2008 has also bought with it the problem of versioning and opening work sent from school to home.

Fortunately a range of alternatives to these applications are becoming increasingly available. Perhaps more importantly many of these alternatives are free and/or web based. In some cases the costs of providing the service are covered by website advertising. In other cases the free version of the software is an inducement to lead you into purchasing enhanced versions or options.

So What Can You Expect To See Out There?

The two standout online alternatives to Microsoft Office are

 

  • Google Docs

 

Whilst Google Docs, http://docs.google.com/, doesn’t have all of the options that Zoho has, it presently offers a word processing, spreadsheet and presentation modules, in many ways the ones that it does have are more appealing. Among the neat features of Google Spreadsheets is the ability to embed an active graph in your blog so that changes as you change the underlying data. You can also use the spreadsheet option to create and collate surveys.

Other Tools

Survey Tools

 

Another option for collecting data is to open a free SurveyMonkey account, http://www.surveymonkey.com/. The surveys range from multiple-choice to essay-type format though with the basic free service there are some restrictions on the range of surveys you can create, and you can view the results only on screen.

 

Concept Mapping Tools

 

If you can’t afford licences for concept mapping software, then you should consider introducing your students to Gliffy, http://www.gliffy.com/, or Bubbl.us, http://bubbl.us/,. Both are on-line concept mapping applications. As with all the better Web 2.0 applications, you can use Gliffy and Bubbl.us to collaborate in constructing concept diagrams and other visual organisers.

 

Online Albums

VoiceThread, http://voicethread.com/,is a great site for creating “talking” photo albums. You and if you wish, your viewers can also add text to your VoiceThread. Alternatively, you can choose to keep your VoiceThread private and to turn comment moderation on or off.

 

SlideShare, http://www.slideshare.net/, is an on-line repository for Microsoft PowerPoint or Mac-based Keynote presentations. A presentation created in either of these off-line applications can be easily uploaded to SlideShare, after which it can be embedded directly into your blog.

SplashCast, http://www.splashcastmedia.com/, enables you to mix, slice and dice images, audio, movies and PowerPoint presentations to create your own production that you can save into your personal channel.

 

Flickr Toys, http://www.pimpampum.net/toys/, are a great set of Flickr tools that enable you to create cartoons, slideshows and puzzles from images stored in Flickr.

 

Cartoons

 

If you want to spice up your blog with cartoons, then ToonDoo is a great tool. You can select from a range of characters, backgrounds and other offerings to add to your cartoon. With Toondoo you can also create cartoon books. ToonDoo is at http://www.toondoo.com/

 

Avatars

 

One of the most appealing add-ons to a student’s blog is the animated avatar Voki, http://www.voki.com/. Once you have signed up you can create any number of Vokis using a basic character that can be manipulated in a range of ways. Best of all you can use a microphone to record up to sixty seconds of your own voice or key in some text and have the computer generated voice ‘speak’ your personal message.

These are just a few of the options that are out available at present, if you want to attempt to keep up with the ever expanding range of options the you should look in at http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/e-learning_20_all_you_need_to_know.php or Go2Web at http://www.go2web20.net/. Another great spot to go to check out lists and reviews of Web 2.0 apps is Mashable (http://mashable.com/). Be warned though, Mashable post numerous posts each day and serves the general Web2.0 audience. As such a visit may be a bit daunting for novices though it is a great spot to visit to get a feeling for the scope of all of things Web2.0. You could also look in at Alan Levine’s CoDogRoo wiki at http://cogdogroo.wikispaces.com/StoryTools.

 

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