Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Webbing online

I like the ability to use productivity tools that don't require a software download to work. Webbing is one such example. How many times have I wanted to create a mindmap, but found that Kidspiration hadn't been installed on my PC! The folks at Inspiration have come to the rescue and created a web-based version of their popular program:

While it does require the user to create an account, the functionality is great. It works very much like the software-based version: lots of options and graphics.

Want a complete freebie? Try There's no sign-up to try, but then you can't save and come back to your mindmap (unless you create an account, of course!) There are fewer options than webspiration, but for a quick webbing exercise, it does the trick.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The ultimate photo mashup - Photosynth

You know when you are on holidays and you take a hundred photos of essentially the same thing? "What a waste of time!" you might say. Or if friends at an event take basically the same pictures you have, but from a slightly different angle? What if you could somehow assemble them all into one big "mega-picture" that would give you a panoramic, scrollable, zoomable, stitched together view?

Photosynth is the answer. A great test of this technology was the inauguration speech. Using Photosynth, multiple users were able to upload their pictures to create a sweeping vista of the event, up and down the Mall, with the ability to zoom in and out, and even look left to right, up and down. All it takes is someone to upload a pic and it gets added to the mix.

Unfortunately, there is no uploader for Macs, and the full-view is a PC only interface. If you download Silverlight, macophiles can get a taste of the full effect. I'm looking forward to a Mac version so I can start uploading my holiday clips!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Virtual Books with Scribd

I mentioned Scribd in an earlier post as a great way to get pdfs on-line. Students can easily view and download teacher-created workbooks, brochures, criteria sheets etc.

Here's one more way to use this service: virtual books. Just like Issuu, you can upload student productions and have them appear as flippable e-books. The interface is clean-looking and easy to use.

Hint: You may want to edit the embed html to remove the tags and references to other material on Scribd. For visibility, you might also need to adjust the window size (to 400x350) in order to paste into a blog.

Friday, January 9, 2009

CommonCraft: "What blogging is all about."

CommonCraft is one of those sites that is so simple, yet so useful. The creators use an easy-to-follow "felt-board-like" video montage to explain tricky Web 2.0 concepts. The one featured below explains "in plain English" how blogs work. It would be a good way to introduce the application to students or interested teachers.

The site also has a number of other easy-to-follow explanations as well.

Video: Web Search Strategies in Plain English
Video: Social Media in Plain English
Video: Podcasting in Plain English
Video: Twitter in Plain English
Video: Online Photo Sharing in Plain English
Video: Social Bookmarking in Plain English
Video: Social Networking in Plain English
Video: Wikis in Plain English
Video: RSS in Plain English