Web 2.0 Tools

I have chosen to integrate the Web 2.0 tool infogr.am into my Big Kahuna site. My plan for this integration can be found here.

Tool #1: Blendspace

Blendspace (www.blendspace.com) is a Web 2.0 tool advertised as “the easiest way to blend your classroom with digital content” (Chrome Web Store). This short “Getting Started” video gives a great overview of what the tool is about.

Blendspace can be used by educators in many ways:

  1. Create your own lessons by easily dragging and dropping content onto a “canvas.” Invite students to participate in the course.

  2. View and join lessons shared by other educators.

  3. Use lessons shared by other educators as inspiration for new lessons or ways to integrate technology into current lessons or units.

Affordances:

  • Simple URL for students to remember and type

  • Options to create a new account or sign up with Google or Facebook

  • Connection with Google Drive for easy uploading

  • Drag-and-drop capabilities from YouTube, Google, OpenEd, Flickr, Educreations, and Gooru

  • Ability to upload files from computer

  • Quiz creation

  • Lesson gallery is broken down by subject area and includes a search bar

Constraints:

  • Collaborating with others on a lesson requires a premium membership (free 7-day trial, then $4/month)

  • Not updated often ($4/month price is an “exclusive summer sale” and is still up in February.)

  • Learning curve for the lessons; Which links should be clicked and in what order? When taken to an external site, what do I do there?

  • By browsing the gallery, it appears that many teachers are blending technology into their lessons only by integrating YouTube videos.

An example of a lesson I found to be fairly well-designed on Blendspace is a Musical Style lesson. It moves sequentially through a lesson using text to guide the reader through the activities and contains many types of media, including presentations that appear to be created by students.

There is also a Blendspace for Schools, which offers “better drag-and-drop, improved organization, and more question types.” A free 30-minute demo is available, but the site states that Blendspace for Schools is available at no cost to teachers.

A thorough review of Blendspace has been created by YouTube user Rwhite3787 as a screencast. In six minutes, you can see how to use the site and get an overview of several affordances and constraints.

Tool #2: Prezi

Prezi (prezi.com) is a cloud based, web 2.0 tool used for presentations. Prezi will allow the user to make interactive, engaging presentation for the classroom, or the office. It also allows for collaboration, so that students or colleagues can work together remotely and build a presentation.

Affordances:

  • Prezi allows for interactive presentations.

  • The technology will allow students to work in groups to build presentations.

  • Prezi allows for easy importing of charts, pictures, and diagrams.
    It allows for importing from Powerpoint (an alternate presentation program)

  • It allows you to build interactive presentations that are more engaging and memorable.

  • The initial access is free and discounted prices for teachers/students for better memberships.

  • Because it web based students can access presentations from home through the links  available.

Constraints:

  • You need to purchase a membership in order to have access offline, which would be important for many students.

  • There is not a convenient way to print presentations.

  • There is a limitation, because you cannot add audio to the presentation

Prezi strongly promotes itself for use in education. For this reason they offer better deals to student and teachers on rates, if you would like to purchase a higher package. It is a great tool for teachers to use for classroom instruction. It can also be used among the student because it allows for collaboration. However, another interesting way for prezi to be used among students is for portfolios and resume building. Prezi refers to this as a presume. It is an interactive way for student to build a resume and a creative way for them to present themselves to future employers. More is available on Prezi for educational purposes, at the link below:

http://prezi.com/prezi-for-education/

BBC Present some excellent reasons as to why Prezi is beneficial in the classroom. The link below will show both a video and a list of reasons Prezi can be an effective classroom tool.

http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/UsingPreziInEducation.aspx

Prezi vs Powerpoint:

Prezi is designed for building presentations. Because of its nature it is often compared to Microsoft Powerpoint, which will allow for slideshow presentations. A strong benefit to Powerpoint is that it will allow for plugins, so that audio can be added to the presentation and it will also allow for the presentation to become more interactive. Teachers or instructors can added quizzes into a presentation so that students can take a quiz and then continue with their slideshow video, among other things. Prezi will not allow for audio capabilities. However, Prezi has a very smooth transitional quality which allows for teaching to follow a metaphoric story. The teacher can take a lesson and allow it to follow an interactive storyline which allows the student to better comprehend and remember the material. See more on the difference of Prezi and Powerpoint below: http://classroom201x.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/prezi-vs-powerpoint/

Tool #3: Infogr.am

Infogr.am (infogr.am) is an online wysiwyg service that allows the user to input data and create professional looking infographics that are interactive. For information on how to use infogr.am, look no further than this video.

Affordances:

  • Chart options available include “traditional” charts, like bar, column, or pie charts, as well as “non-traditional” charts, such as word clouds, tree maps, and progress gauges.

  • Many of the charts are interactive through use of toggling and the use of hovering over the data. An example of “toggling” can be seen to the right. In this example, one chart shows different data when you click on different years, making it easier to see the change than having the two charts side-by-side.

  • Other possible media types that can be embedded in the infographic include maps, photos, videos, and text.

Constraints:

  • While there are limited preset styles (i.e. background color and typography choices), color options are limitless

  • In the free version, there is no capability for downloading the chart as a pdf or png, to privately share with a non-public url, or password protect infographics.

  • There are limits on the kinds of charts offered and how much room they take up on the page.

  • Extremely complicated data takes a long time to upload and can appear jumbled.

Infogr.am is primarily used to make infographics that are numerically based. For an example of infogr.am charts, feel free to peruse the Featured page. The most creative way to use infogr.am is to integrate the charts with meaningful text, images or video. In the near future, infogr.am will also be offering a capability to make video infographics.

Infogr.am has been used to create over a million infographics and has recieved numerous awards for being a start-up and (more importantly) being innovative. If facebook and twitter posts are to be believed, people find infogr.am to be easy to use and enjoyable. For more information about infogr.am, a link to their press page is here.

While infogr.am is not directly used on educational websites, the service it provides is inherently educational (provided the original data is accurate) as the purpose of infographics is to educate an audience about data in a visually appealing way. For example, this infographic educates the audience in response to the question “Is YouTube Good for Learning?” by using different kinds of interactive charts that are integrated with images and text. This chart shows a comparison between the capacity of different arenas. While at first glance you can see which arena has the largest capacity versus the smallest, if you hover over the sections, you can see the actual, numerical capacity for each arena. Not only is is showing data, but it has layers of information embedded in its interactive structure. Similarly, this word map is intended to educate the viewer about the difference between normal stress and anxiety disorder using a combination of toggling and hovering over the information.

Tool #4: TED-Ed

We no longer live in a world where resources and information are hard to find. Information and education is at our fingertips. One of my favorite educational resources is TED Talks. Constantly providing me with that ah-ha moment. My favorite informational resources is YouTube. Learn nearly any skill or about any topic in roughly 5 minutes or less. How often do we use YouTube videos in the classroom or training? TED-Ed is a really cool tool that lets you create a lesson around a YouTube video. “You can adapt and edit any lesson featured on TED-Ed, or create lessons from scratch around any YouTube video.”

Affordances:

  • FREE!

  • Can create an account using an email or Facebook Account. Or can use both by linking accounts.

  • Extremely easy and simple to use.

  • Built in YouTube search engine.

  • Option to package your lesson: title & introduction/expectations.

  • Can watch video and view lesson at the same time.

  • Time coded video hints.

  • Can add multiple choice or short answer questions for the student.

  • Provide extra resources.

  • Can hyperlink to external resources such as a blog.

  • Group discussions.

  • Flipped Lesson; take a previously created lesson and adapt it for your own use.

  • Tracked learning for the learners.  Teachers can check progress of students.

  • Can share lesson via email,url, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.

  • Lesson can be unlisted or public.

Constraints:

  • Unlisted lesson is not exactly private. It is just not going to show up in searches.

  • Once you are done taking a lesson and no longer wish to receive updates or discussions you must inactivate yourself from the lesson.

An example lesson I found useful was Let’s use video to reinvent education – Salman Khan. Being that all of these lessons are created by anyone with any video the learner is going to pick a lesson by its content focus. Most of the lesson utilize the featured tools so many of them progress the same.

TED-Ed or TED Talks the brand is a big fan of lean learning. The concept in which YouTube created accidently. In a way the internet, perhaps YouTube alone changed the way we like to learn. Modern learners like their information quickly and high quality. TED-Ed actually provides a 2.5 minute tour of the features of the tool. Once you dive in you realize how intuitive they have made the tool. Really great design in my opinion.

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