These are my favorite apps, software, and sites for managing my life, home, classroom, and more. Hope you enjoy and hope you share yours in the comments.
1. Google Calendar
Google Calendar is now and has been my calendar of choice for about a year and a half. I have a personal calendar for me that is set up to send me a text message at certain times before I have to be somewhere because I always forget what time it is!
My family and each child has a calendar (I set the kids appointments to automatically show up on the family calendar), and I use Google cal for my classes. Each class and major project such as netgened has a calendar and I embed these calendars in all of the Nings, blogs, and wikis as needed to keep people apprised of what is happening. I print these calendars out for my classes and for the refrigerator!
The greatest addition to the calendar is that now I keep my 5 most important calendars on my Apple iPod touch 16 GB (2nd Generation). Itouch will now sync with Google calendar! So, now, when I put something on my NetGenEd calendar, it appears immediately on our wiki for the other teachers to see.
Related Posts: Fab Five of Time and Life Management
Kicking the School Year Off Right: Web 2.0 Style
As part of calendaring, I use TimeBridge to set appointments. Timebridge often throws the time zone warriors off because they don’t realize that it converts time zones FOR YOU! We set up a Timebridge group for our projects with everyone’s email and invite them to the group. Once they join, they get invitations to meetings. TimeBridge lets you select five potential meeting times AND interfaces with your google calendar if you set up the link, so you can see the best time to pick those meeting times. While you’re deciding which meeting time to use, all five slots are marked as tentative on your Google Calendar. Once there is a best time for everyone, if Timebridge can do it, it schedules the appointment, puts it on your Google Calendar and sends out automated reminders. It is like an appointment secretary.
For larger groups with time zones scattered around the planet, sometimes you have to go in and pick the best time, then it confirms and lets you know who is coming. Since we’ve started using this handy tool we have more people at our meetings and it is just great. My good friend, Julie Lindsay, has shared her availability with me, and I have with her so I don’t try to schedule meetings with her when she’s busy! Handy handy tool which also interfaces with Outlook and other calendar services.
Related Posts: Fab Five of Time and Life Management
Managing Group Communications
3. Google Groups
Google Groups is a phenomenal way to share and keep up with people. When people subscribe to the group, they may set up the group to send to them as they wish. I set active projects to send me an email immediately. When I reply to the email it is automatically posted to the group and sent to the others.
We handle all of our private teacher communication in this way. And if you accidentally delete an important email, you can just go to the group website and the message is still there! So useful! This is used for our project groups, Google Teacher Academy Members, and for my homeroom class.
Twitter is a fun and useful tool for connecting to others. So many teachers and educators have joined in the Flat Classroom Projects (FCP’s) such as Digiteen, FCP, and NetGenEd through twitter. But how do you manage when you start building a large network?
Related Posts: Twitter Tips from the #1 Tweeterboarder
I have two favorite tools for power tweeting:
TweetDeck is my twitter tool of choice on my computer. I have the large twitterstream on the left followed by my replies in the next column. Then, I have my direct messages. My “cool columns” are my Hotlist – these are some closer friends who I connect with on a personal basis. I check these to make sure I keep up with these friends. There is also a column searching for the word “teach” which gleans for me many educators who emerge into twitter who I want to learn from.
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On my itouch I use TwitterFon and enjoy the features it has including the ability to look at conversations. Although many of my friends swear by Tweetie as their iPhone/iTouch app of choice, I love TwitterFon and after the initial month of use, it has become very stable for me.
URL: http://twitterfon.net/ or Downloadable from iTunes Apps store
I still enjoy using Plurk and try to get over there. The thing that is more attractive about Plurk for many of us is the ability to privately microblog. On twitter, you get many people following you — Friends, enemies – whoever. Now, on plurk, you can more carefully control who you are talking to and have little microconversations with smaller groups of people. I’m still not a pro at plurk and after getting over the thing about Karma – I usually just plurk on my itouch. I could care less about Plurk Karma.
Related Posts: A photographic trip into plurk: See for yourself before you jump the twittership
I still like blippr for sharing books, etc. and it is one of those places I check every so often. People write mini reviews on books, music, and movies – just a neat way to share.
I get over to facebook far less than it appears. I usually use the Facebook App on my itouch to keep up with things and perhaps log onto facebook about 3-4 times a month. It is becoming increasingly useful for finding old friends and this is one reason I still get over there! I need to somehow I need to take the time to go through and make groups. Facebook seems noisy to me now and I just don’t have a lot of time while online on my computer to go there. Twitter is set to auto update Facebook, although I’ve been working on figuring out how to only have it post tweets and not replies. I may just have to disable the app and let Tweetdeck post to facebook when I ask it to. Of course, on my igoogle page, sometimes I use Ping.fm to update my statuses in many places as well.
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Facebook is Different From that of Educational Networking
LinkedIn is the place for professional networking. Very often, I’ve found that professionals check each other out based upon the references and information in here. There are also spammers and the groups I’ve joined including the Edublogger group that Josie Fraser and I try to keep up with, and the ISTE group sometimes have troll behaviors that we have to sort of avoid.
Related Posts: Meet the New Linked In
This is what we use to build educational networks, although I have to say many of us in the edublogosphere are watching Ning closely to see if they are going to turn away from the previously education friendly stances. They have traditionally taken the ads off of K12 Nings, although I’ve emailed them three times about my schools Flint River project and they have yet to take the ads off. The biggest mistake Ning made in this area, in my opinion, was in not keeping the services of Steve Hargadon, founder of Classroom 2.0, who I think advised them well while he was there. So, we’re going to have to watch Ning for now. You can still pay to take the ads off, but for those of us who administer multiple networks with little budget, we’ll have to see.
That being said, they are still the coolest, most robust way to set up an educational network, although when working with kids, we typically disable the apps. More trolls have been popping up here as well and you just have to keep an eye on things. When you have students involved, you always have to watch!
Cost: Free, supposed to be ad free for K12, $19.95/month to remove ads
Related Posts: How the Flat Classroom Project Almost Died
Why on earth would I stay on blogger? I’ve had so many people offer to move me, host me, put me somewhere else and bemoan that it is blocked at their school. Really, the best reason has to do with the fact that it is Google and they are the search engine of choice, still. When you move your blog, you lose momentum. I know many people who have moved it, but still, you do lose momentum and somehow become disjointed. I’m the type of person who moves furniture just to move it, but this is one thing you do not want to move, for many reasons, but mainly just because it lets you focus on the main thing. I hand code a lot of things on blogger, but still enjoy it. My FAVORITE book about blogger that has helped me a lot is Blogger: Beyond the Basics.
It is interesting how many people are starting to blog. Although many bloggers may feel like this is old news, the critical masses of people are just now finding blogging and loving it! Don’t discount blogging and remember that if your blog isn’t being found by search engines, then you’re missing out on getting your message out – if you have a message to share.
Related Posts: 10 Habits of Bloggers that Win
I like Feedburner for burning my feeds, just in case I ever have to move, it makes it easy to at least move your subscribers. Feedburner also allows you to use feedflare in your posts (at the end of these posts) and set up automated post to email, and convert your blog to HTML (which is how my school website is updated with our newsblog.) There are some who do not care for feedburner, particularly after their merger with Google.
Related posts: Save time Webmaster Use RSS Feeds
15. Stat Counter
Although I’ve enabled Google Analytics, StatCounter is so much more reliable for keeping up with statistics on this blog, and I often follow links to my blog here to see what people are saying.
Related Posts: 10 Habits of Bloggers That Win
Although I follow the backlinks through Technorati, I have found that over the past year that many people are not pinging technorati and I am not finding or keeping up with blogs from others that I’d like to respond to. So, although it is important for power bloggers to register on technorati and follow themselves here, it is not the ONLY way any more. The authority means far less than it used to, but it is still something you can look at. I check Technorati backlinks at least 3-4 times a week and have subscribed to the RSS for those who link to my blog through Technorati as they are brutal about pulling out splog links (spam blog links from fake blogs) and the links are pretty good that come through.
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17. Show Yourself Widget
The ShowMe Widget is a cool way to add links on the side of your blog to all of the places that you share.
Related Posts: Cool Tool #1 Show Yourself Widget
Although I actually allow two types of commenting on my blog (Blogger and Disqus), my preferred method is disqus. Disqus sends me an email when someone responds and I can send an email back — I send “approve” or “reject” and it does it — or, if I want to reply, I reply to the email and it posts the person’s comment along with my response immediately. It also has powerful spam filters, etc. I left blogger open just because some people say that they will not sign up for another commenting account and the more ways that people can communicate and share, the better. It is not perfect, but what is.
There are some handy tools that save me time while blogging. I enjoy using the Zemanta plug in for firefox as it helps me find photos (although you have to watch the copyright) and related articles to what I’m posting from both my friends and from my own past blog posts. It finds links that I mention and allows me to quickly link to the sites. It is so very useful.
Cost: Free, make sure it works with your blog platform
Scribefire is also a great tool for powerbloggers and allows you to produce rich blogs with links by opening a small window for blogging at the bottom of the pages as you surf and research a subject. It keeps you from having to go to multiple windows.
Having your blog found is very often about “pinging” or letting engines know that you’re there. Pingomatic, once enabled, is a silent angel that lets everyone know that you’re there.
Related Posts: 10 Habits of Bloggers that Win
Also, when you blog or share, you’ll want to tell others about it. I know many people that no longer have RSS readers but instead just use things like Twitter. So, to handle this, I use twitterfeed to automatically post to Twitter the several blogs I always want to share –this includes Cool Cat Teacher Blog (here), my student Digiteen Dream Team blog, my Blip.tv video channel and the Advocates for Digital Citizenship Safety & Success (a loosely formed group of us who share links and other resources on this topic.)
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Diigo is an incredible tool for powerful bookmarking, annotation, and yes, blogging. Every day as I go through my day, I am always bookmarking and annotating things. Everything that I tag “education” is autoposted here to Cool Cat Teacher as my Daily Spotlight on Education. I’m able to put my mini-bookmark blog as the description/ comment on the bookmark. (Additionally I can send it to my students, wikis, and other cool places just based on the tag and the RSS feeds built off of that.)
Diigo lets me send to all kinds of blogs all over the place – if you’re a blogger, setting up the autopost feature here is one of the best things you can do to share painlessly. It posts every morning at 5:45 am for me — and although I am up at that time, I’m not online – Diigo is. So, Diigo autoposts to Blogger and Feedburner rips the RSS and sends it out; Tweetdeck picks up the tweet and sends it to twitter and twitter updates facebook and all of these other places. If you want to share remember to automate automate automate – this will do it for you! (remember if you still love Delicious, Diigo imports all of the bookmarks from Delicious and will daily export them to that account also!)
Diigo has powerful annotation features and a class group system that is incredible. Interestinly, Diigo is one of the few tools you CAN use with kids under 13 as you can set up a teacher account and use the teacher console to set up email-less accounts for your students that you can disable profiles for and they can share bookmarks with your class. We use Diigo for Digiteen and for Flat Classroom.
One of the biggest reasons for Diigo is that they have tag dictionaries. Tag dictionaries allow the special tags you specify to pop up when someone sends a bookmark to the group using the Diigo bookmark tool. They can still add tags of their own, it lets you use the tags to filter through and force the results to come through in the way you choose.
For example, on Digiteen, we have nine aspects of digital citizenship and have set up nine tags (plus a few extras) — when a student uses the tag digital_safety it not only goes to Diigo but to the wiki page on that topic. By far, Diigo has been one of the most responsive companies to educators that I’ve ever worked with. Maggie Tsai from Diigo is a hard working, silent genius and I love working with her. She’s always quietly chatting to me asking thoughts, opinions, and responding. Wow! She’s great! Maggie, Julie, Anne Bubnic, and I have an NECC session on this tool and we have a lot to share!
Related Posts: I Dig my Diigo Classroom
Webinar on Diigo Educator Accounts
Do not underestimate the power of the handheld. While I still keep an maintain a youtube channel, blip.tv DOES IT ALL and I have a channel and love it. This is one of those services that I pay for. When I upload a video to blip.tv, I can set it to convert the video to all kinds of formats, including iphone/itouch compatible formats AND send it to my vodcast at itunes for me. Also, it automatically posts the video to my blog AND to Archive.org as well as tweets it (although I’ve disabled it so I don’t double tweet because of twitterfeed.)
Chris Walsh first tipped me onto this gem at CUE (see the CUE channel) and I’d seen quite a few power users like Leon Cych from the BBC use this tool. When I got my itouch and started enjoying the video podcasts there (some call them vodcasts) the light bulb went on. Oh, blip.tv – it is a great tool. For those sharing content, you need it. It also lets you privately publish and share with password only access. You do have to pay for the pro account to have conversion for itunes, but it is well worth it to me. I think that handhelds are in hyper-growth stage in terms of media and content access and you’ll want to make sure your content is available there.
Cost: Free, $8/ month for Pro to convert to a format playable on most handhelds and send to itunes
Mom was researching a health issue yesterday and she told me she went to YOUTUBE. It struck me – YOUTUBE? But yes, youtube.
Youtube is here, it is often where people go to read the news and learn about things happening around the world and yes, even down their own street. It is odd to me how many local people here have learned about the work at our tiny school just down the road from them on youtube or through our blog and NOT from the local newspaper. With newspapers now looking at filing for nonprofit status, they’ve really missed out on some easy online ways to connect people.
Schools should have public youtube channels for many reasons – if only to protect what is said about their school. If you don’t say something about your school on youtube, someone will. And often, those who do will share a message you may not like. Yes, this requires release forms, and some production capabilities, but if you want a positive message to be spread about your school or organization, it is up to you to spread it.
URL: http://www.youtube.com and Youtube edu – http://www.youtube.com/edu
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This is my life streaming tool of choice for workshops, conferences, and the like. We used this for our Flat Classroom Conference in Qatar. With a host of useful features, live chat, and interaction with Twitter, this tool gets better and better. Additionally, you can password protect your show and allow parents to watch events live that they cannot attend in person.
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This tool hasn’t been one I’ve used a lot myself… yet. But it will be. Mogulus gives you the ability to set up 24/7 video programming – like your own Cable Channel. As the Internet increasingly serves up our media content, I predict this website will increase in importance and I want to know how to do better with it.
29. Discovery Education Streaming
This is by far the favorite technology tool of our teachers at Westwood. In addition to being able to show clips of movies, the lesson plans, quizzes, and information in here are something that our teachers love. I get more compliments on Discovery Education Streaming than any new technology we’ve implemented on a school wide basis in the last two years — TIED with Skype and Gmail!
I use the AFI curriculum and pull from here all of the time. To me, a 20 minute movie is too long, so being able to show 4-5 minutes gives enough of a pace change to help students move their minds ahead to do more.
Cost: Contact Discovery for Pricing, which varies by the Number of Students
Related Post: 2007 Best of the Web: My Most Useful Tools
30. Atomic Learning
Chock full of video tutorials of all kinds, our students and teachers have access to this valuable service. As full disclosure, I did do two courses for them: Introduction to Web 2.0 and 7 Steps to Flatten Your Classroom.
Cost: Contact Atomic Learning for pricing which varies by number of students.
Related Post: 7 Steps to Flatten Your Classroom
31. Pinnacle Studio
I love this movie program. Although I downloaded and tried Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, I think I’m too dense to get that program. Windows Movie Maker (which comes free with Windows) is a good entry-level program that I use for the students in eigth grade, but to be able to greenscreen (called chroma key) and insert royalty free music, this tool is GREAT. We used this to create the 53 minute keynote Julie and I delivered for K12 online this past year.
Although the first version of Pinnacle Studio I used (version 8) was HORRIBLY unstable, I have Version 12 on this laptop and it rarely crashes. I did have to take it offline and disable all antivirus to render the 53 minute movie for k12 online, but it is a gem. I make a family movie for Christmas every year and oh, what great things this program does. The automovie feature is wonderful and takes pictures and a song and makes professional quality music videos. I’m still learning the features on this tool, but LOVE IT!
URL: Pinnacle Studio Ultimate Version 12
Related Posts: Best of the Web 2007
32. PhotoStory 3
For simple, elegant slideshows, this is where I start beginners. One of my fellow teachers, Betsy, came to me and wanted to make a tribute for her Dad’s birthday and this was where I sent her. She made a flawless DVD that brought tears to everyone’s eyes and it was so easy. It comes Free with Windows.
Cost: Free with Microsoft Windows
Digital Photography Fun Pack to use with PhotoStory 3: http://www.microsoft.com/indonesia/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/photo_ie.aspx
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Jing is great for screen captures that you will embed and share on blogs, like those done by my students in OpenSim on the Digiteen blog. But beware, exporting is a bear, if not impossible.
Cost: Free, Pro Version – for Advanced Features like posting directly to youtube $14.95 per year
Related Post: Web 3D: Students Reflect on the Pressing Issues We All Ask Ourselves About Virtual Worlds
Camtasia is the high end screen capture program of choice for me. The screen captures are flawless, and audio is great. This is a powerful tool and I used this to help with making the video series I did for Atomic Learning. I wish I had a copy on every computer in my classroom and I hear these are GREAT with tablet pc’s and screen casting like my friend Eric Marcos does with mathtrain.tv.
URL: Camtasia Studio Version 6/SnagIt Version 9 Bundle
Related Post: Math Videos and Math Cast Movies in 6th grade
35. Quicktime Pro
If you want to convert and even edit, QuickTime Pro hides some deceptively cool tools behind the simple interface. It coverts from anything to just about anything and was worth the money to put this on all of my student computers. The biggest issue with digital storytelling is that students film on their cell phones, cameras, and all types of things – QuickTime Pro can grab and convert a lot of it for you. Actually, when you buy it, you enter the key code in the version of Quicktime you already have, and the pro versions are activated.
Related Posts: Get Past Teaching Apps: Build and Use a Student Technology Toolbelt
“Zam-zar – you make my heart sing! Oh yeah!” Zamzar rips videos from youtube (just check the copyright) and converts in a million ways. From turning a google Doc into a PDF or a music file into another format – or just a movie file from one format to another, it is a great tool. This coupled with Download Helper is how we convert and share videos for our FCP’s. (See our tutorial on outsourcing video.)
Cost: Free, just check the license of the work you want to use.
Related Posts: Youtube: Everywhere But the Classroom
If you are catching the online watching bug and are in the US, you can watch full length movies here as well as clips or current television shows. This is one reason it is worth hooking up your television to a computer. You can also embed these in your blog, just be aware that many people cannot access this site.
Cost: Free, have to watch ads
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38. TV Shack
While it is apparent that this site is serving up some content that they DO NOT have the copyright for, many people watch here. If you’re going to use this site, make sure you have antivirus and firewall software as when I went to it today, my Avast antivirus went crazy.
Cost: Free, Will you get a virus? Not sure.
My Trusty Classroom Standbys
These are some of my favorite tools that I use in the classroom quite a bit:
Whether my students are making video games to study with, graphic organizers, timelines, or preproject organizers for their writing – Classtools.net is one of my favorite tools to use with wikis.
Related Post: Really Cool Teaching Tools: Classtools.net
Cartoon maker of choice. If you require the cartoons to teach or convey the summative meaning of a lesson, this is deceivingly challenging.
Related Post: Using Comic Books to Teach
This is a fun, easy tool to use with students that mixes and makes cool movies. Good when you want to focus on the content and not spend a lot of time editing the movie.
Cost: Free for 30 second clips; $3 for a single; $30 for a full individual license – Check site for pricing. Full accounts are supposed to be free for educators, but I’ve never been able to get them to activate my account, let me know if they give it to you for free.
Related Post: See Student Inventions
A great tool for giving tribute to retiring teachers or to document work of younger children. I love this tool, particularly for elementary kids.
Cost: Although you can create an account for free if you are an educator, class options are available for creating profile-less accounts for students (which means you can use it with kids under 12.) Pricing options also are available for highered and business.
Related Post: What a Great Way to Honor Someone Who is “Retiring”
43. Spelling City
What has saved my son’s first grade year – from C’s to A’s this is a GREAT tool to help kids learn their spelling. Teachers can make spelling lists and parents can share them.
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Why this isn’t yet an app for the iTouch is beyond me. When we are discussing cultures, we go here to compare the leading news stories in various countries. When students need to search for current events, I send them here. When we are preparing for state literary, they go here to see the emerging news. This meta analysis of the news leaves the students and I more well versed in more topics and it is often where they go, in addition to wikipedia, to START their research, although we do not quote Newsmap or Wikipedia in our work.
Related Post: I am Thankful for These Websites
This is the site I love for younger kids as it promotes digital citizenship. Our digiteens used this with our fourth grade and planned lessons for them as well. I do recommend disabling the chat unless you’re going to log into your parent account and monitor the chat. You can also enable it so that teachers can interact with your child if you wish.
Cost: Free, although parents can purchase additional incentives for children, although I didn’t do this for my own children.
Related Posts: Virtual Worlds Loved by Elementary Kids: Woogi World
A Look into virtual Worlds Teaching with Children: Woogi World
46. TimeLiner XE
This is a great program which a particularly robust engine to allow for research, clip grabbing, and URL linking. For prewriting or content creation, this for-fee software is a great addition to my computer lab.
Cost: $75 per license or group licenses available
47. Microsoft OneNote
Though I am loaded with software for my Polyvision board, my favorite tool for teaching on my IWB is Microsoft One Note. It is easy for my students and I – allows all kinds of screengrabs and URL pasting from the Internet and is very easy to print, post, and share. It is my favorite tool for the IWB, hands down.
Cost: $72.49 on Amazon
URL: Microsoft OneNote 2007
Related Posts: How Wikis. Blogs, and Podcasts Help Children with Learning Disabilities
This is a great way to share graphics. We use this to share the student summit files and graphics after we have online presentations.
BubbleShare: Share photos – Easy Photo Sharing
51. Google Docs
This is the favorite collaborative tool of my students. From taking notes, to working together, the first thing they do to collaborate and write together is Google Docs. I think every student should know how to do it, although many schools have a 1,000 reasons why they block this handy tool. This is the kissing cousin to the wiki in that it tracks all revisions.
Related Posts : Google Docs: Pushing the Limits and Limitations
52. Google Spreadsheets
The cool, live charts and add ins on spreadsheets are a must see and a great tool for teachers.
This is my wiki of choice just because it holds up to having hundreds of editors on it. We use a private label wiki (which you have to purchase) for our flat classroom projects now, but I still rely heavily on the wiki as it is part of my Wiki-centric classroom. (See my class wiki.) Teachers should learn how to use templates to sort of fill out the pages with their assignment ahead of time and also tagging so they know when something is “turned in” (I have my students tag the page turnin and it goes to my igoogle page via rss feed.)
Cost: Free; Private Label Wikis $1000 per year; Ad-Free for k12 educators
Related Post: Wiki Wiki Teaching: Using Wikipages to Teach
54. Microsoft Word
This is still the defacto standard of word processing but has some collaborative features that make it the tool of choice for the magazine and online editors that have been my privalege to work with. After talking with them and college professors, collaborative authoring in Word have been added into my curriculum this year. Looking forward to testing Office Live with it to see what it does to extend the usefulness of this great tool.
Cost: $93.99 for Home and Student Office 2007
URL: Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007
Office Live – http://www.officelive.com/
55. Microsoft Excel
Great spreadsheets and charts have always been in Excel, but the most useful new thing in here are the ability to filter tables and manipulate them in ways that make Excel even more closely related to Access than perhaps the developers are willing to admit publicly. My students now track things like class dues, prom fundraising, and all sorts of things in Excel and do neat things with it that teach me about the new uses of Excel that I wasn’t aware of.
Cost: $93.99 for Home and Student Office 2007
URL: Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007
Office Live – http://www.officelive.com/
In the first week of class my students set up or revise their igoogle page, which we call a Personal Learning Network (PLN.) At the start of each global collaborative project, they set up a new tab. I use my igoogle page as my virtual inbox and life management and many of the tools listed here are embedded as widgets into my iGoogle page including my Google Calendar, Ping.fm, and Remember the Milk. I blogged on this over at Edutopia a while back, Personal Learning Networks are Virtual Lockers for Schoolkids. Knowing how to build an RSS reader is an essential skill.
Related Posts: Personal Learning Networks are Virtual Lockers for Schoolkids
Fab Five of Time and Life Management
If I need to build an RSS page to serve as a portal for others, I use Netvibes (although I have many friends who use PageFlakes and love it as well.) This lets you publish and share the pages to others, like we’ve done for Advocates for Digital Citizenship Safety and Success.
Related Posts: Following NECC: Here is my RSS Page
58. Google Reader
Google reader is my power RSS reader – it has great new features that lets me share and receive clippings from others and add clippings to my own blog. I link my Google Reader to my iGoogle page and feed my “Hotlist” of blogs/ links to my own blog/ and custom searches. Love Google reader.
Related Posts: New Way to Share: google Reader Links
Personal Productivity and Communications
59. Remember the Milk
This is my list service of choice. I use it on my itouch, igoogle pace, and even embedded in my Gmail. (I have a gmail app that makes it so when I star things it adds them to my RTM list – more on that in a moment.) I have found, however, that I DO NOT like to put my routine checklists in here. Also, I’ve enabled sending to RTM via email, so I can email my secret remember the milk email address and it puts the subject as an item on my list and attaches the email in the notes. This saves SOOOOO much time!
Cost: Free, or $25 a year for pro account if you want to sync with itouch/iPhone or Blackberry – This is one I do pay for happily.
Related Post: The Fab Five of Time and Life Management
60 and 61 Gmail and GTD Inbox
Gmail is the interface of choice for me and Inbox Zero is my Goal! All of my accounts go here – although we have Google Domain services for schools which is great. My four primary email addresses all go into ONE inbox. ONE. It has to be that way.
Gmail has become much more useful for me since I added GTD Inbox, which uses the Getting Things Done principles to my inbox. When I tag things with Next Action, it automatically is set to star the email, AND sends it to my Remember the Milk List. AHHHH. That way, when I am working in my email and getting down to inbox zero, I don’t lose it all.
GTD inbox also takes my gmail tags and makes them powerfully useful! I have context sensitive tags, so that, for example, when I sit down to work in timebridge, I can go ahead and pull out of my email all meetings that should be set up, or when I am ready to blog, I can click and pull everything out that I want to blog (or at least attempt to blog.)
Remember the Milk appears through an add on to the Right of my email box, making it a simple place to do everything. I also love the Google Labs features in Gmail such as youtube previews (which lets you watch youtube videos from within emails), Canned Responses (a must for people who get a lot of email as it lets you have standard responses you can pull up and then customize for the person), Forgotten Attachment Detector (which reminds you if you said you attached something and didn’t), and a Google Calendar Gadget. It is also great that I can use Gmail offline as well as access it on my itouch!
Cost: Free for both, Domain services can cost for businesses, but not schools.
URL: Gmail – http://www.gmail.com
GTD Inbox – http://www.gtdgmail.com/
Related Post: Cool Tool #2: Kill the Tyranny of the Urgent USE Inbox Zero Strategies
Where would we be without skype? What a tool! In addition to enabling all kinds of amazing podcasting, webcasting, and audio recordings, for each project we now create a Skype group and keep up a backchannel chat so we can communicate with one another quickly and easily through Skype. I have some friends in North Carolina that have a group chat to help one another and EdTechTalk uses this feature as well. Skype groups is a great tool as well and Skype video is my preferred way to bring in a person to my classroom for an interview. We bring up the video and can see one another – it looks like “real” video conferencing and really, it is. Skype video is a wonderful tool. At school, this is how the front office sends messages to the staff – we are all asked to keep up our skype during the day. It has helped me a lot for troubleshooting as teachers can just skype me and I’ll answer their question rather than coming and interrupting my class.
Cost: Free, Can pay for Skype Out Services to call phones in certain countries
Related Post: Using Skype in the Classroom (Or Just Learning How to Use It)
63. Ipevo SpeakerPhone
I use this all of the time to skype people into my classroom. It comes with a recorder, but also a speaker so that I get no feedback (a problem when you set up with skype.) This really turns skype into a video conferencer for smaller classrooms. They have louder speaker phones for large ones.
URL: iPevo TR-10 Speakerphone for iChat
Related Post: The Inexpensive Divas of Skype from October 2008.
64. Gchat (Google Talk)
This just ends up being the way I communicate with my sister, Sarah, and my friend Julie. It is there and I see that they are online. When I send an email and see the green button that that person is online, I’ll often opt to chat instead, and Gmail saves the chat like an email message, which allows me to search it as well! (You can make phone calls and the times I’ve tried it, it has worked pretty well.)
Our projects have literally accellerated just because of this tool. We typically have weekly teachers meetings for all projects in elluminate and leave private rooms open 24/7 as a virtual teachers lounge for teachers to use and work together on the projects. We record it and then send it to those who are asleep through our Google Group. At the end of projects, we meeting in elluminate to reflect and share with a global audience. Elluminate is a GREAT tool that is becoming dominant in the education markets I circulate in. They give back and support projects such as the k12 online conference.
Cost: Free for groups of 3; Call for pricing
Related Post: This is the Edge and It Rocks!
This is another tool I pay for. $9 lets me remove the ads from this room for a year. I change the room names and reuse the rooms over and over after archiving the chat. We use this with students to take notes and kept the Chatzy up for the entire Flat Classroom Conference, it was a hit with everyone!
Cost: Free or remove ads for $9 a year
Related Post: Backchannels and Microblogging Streams
This is our survey tool of choice for all FCP’s (Flat Classroom Projects.) It has methods to authenticate users, send to specific lists and I appreciate Dr. Curtis Bonk putting me onto this tool.
Cost: See website for pricing, 30 day trial
Related Post: Survey About Youtube
For fun cell phone polls both in the classroom and conferences, this is a great tool. It is amazing, I had an uber-technical person in California who came up to me and said this tool actually made him send his first text message. I use this in class because I don’t have the voting systems many use, and it is doubtful I will ever have those tools.
Cost: Free for up to 30 responses, Free for k12 classroom teachers with up to 32 in class, various pricing methods
69. Google Forms
Although technically, this is a part of Google spreadsheets, Google forms allows you to collect data painlessly from others around the world. This is a good, simple tool to use for quick data collection, although for research studies and the sort, I recommend surveyshare because of the validation mechanisms in place in that tool that will help your research pass muster with the review committees.
Related Posts: Turn Google Spreadsheets Into a Self Grading Quiz
I have a student who literally has no antivirus software. While I don’t recommend it, I asked him his secret on Friday. He said, “I watch where I go. I watch what I do and what I click on. And I always use Firefox.” The add ins and plug ins are scattered throughout this blog post. As awful as it sounds, I tell my students if they want to use IE, they’re on their own, because it is so hard for me to remember the plug ins etc, that are in Firefox and which is actually part of the browser!
Download URL: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/personal.html
Be careful not to download firefox from places that insert spyware into it.
Photography and Presentations
The Fireshot plug in for firefox is great for doing screen grabs and annotation. While the lines between photography and Digital video blur, this really could belong in either. I use this all of the time for this blog and for helping my students. Every student should know how to do a manual screen grab, and then also to use this plug in. It is a life skill.
Cost: Free for basic use where you save the images on your website
Download URL: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5648
This cool Firefox plug is a great way to browse and find photographs. Again, watch for licenses.
Download URL: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5579
73. iStock Photo
I pay for this, although if you use iStock photo on your blog or presentation, you have to understand that it limits your ability to give away the presentation. Great pictures and wonderful for speakers who want to be memorable and follow Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen: approach. If you’re a photographer, this is a popular place to make money selling your photos.
Cost: Depends on the Number and file size of what you Download
74. Microsoft PowerPoint
Although this is great presentation software, it is also one of the best ways to create jpg files for presentations, videos, virtual worlds, tshirts for virtual worlds. Yes, it is my presentation software of choice, but we use this for so much more than presentations and jpg photographs from here end up in movies all of the time. There is a handy app on the itouch called iClickr that actually lets you load and see the PowerPoint on your itouch and advance the slides. Last time I tested it, it wasn’t stable yet, but I’ve heard people liking it since that time.
Cost: $93.99 for Home and Student Office 2007
URL: Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007
Office Live – http://www.officelive.com/
This is a great place to upload your photo presentations. Although they made a big snafu this past April fools by spamming the email of their customers telling them they had 100’s of thousands of views, I still like this service. The groups feature is great for conferences and groups of people who want to share presentations. Slidecasting lets you add audio to the presentation.
Related Posts: Slideshare Group for Your NECC Presentations
Slidecasting on Slideshare
76. Adobe PhotoShop
The Powerhouse of photoediting, I use this program a lot and make sure my students come in here multiple times a year. Worth every penny but a steep learning curve. Schools can get the whole Adobe Package at a steep discount, although still pricey and students should buy this while they are still in college and can get the academic license.
URL: Adobe Photoshop CS4
77. Google Picasa
This is a tool that Google has totally done right, to the point that I order photos through it and use the Google Web Albums for our website instead of the Flickr Albums I used to use. It has some great photo management features, tagging, favorites, and some really neat tools to mashup photos into mosaics and such for all kinds of purposes. The students love this one and usually go home and install it there too. If you cannot afford photoshop, this is a good, free, entry level software.
78. Creative Commons
This is a great place to search for photographs and all other types of digital media that you can use. It is much better at photo search – the OWL music search is difficult to use and understand.
For the photographer who loves to look at new things, this is a great tool for inspiration as it maps items uploaded to Flickr with a GPS tag on it with Google Maps.
This allows the very private sharing of photos and videos. Students who don’t want to use youtube or ning often post videos here to post to private web pages. This is an excellent stable service to serve up photos.
The original photosharing service. Flickr groups are a great way to share photos and put them up onto websites as well.
Related Post: Fascinating Flickr Assignment and Math Lesson from Darrent Kuropatwa
82. Big Huge Labs for Flickr
This cool website lets you make magazine covers, posters, buttons, and all kinds of things with photographs. This is a fun one to use with students.
Cost: Free unless you order items with photos from their website
Related Post: Best of the Web
83. OpenSim on ReactionGrid
I list this first on my virtual world list because there are some issues with Second Life Teen public grid that make it unacceptable for my school use. Additionally, Second Life islands are too big for my tiny budget. Lots of information on this on my student Digiteen blog, I’ll let them speak for the merits of it, they sold me!
Cost: None to sign up for an account, Sims start at $25 a month
Related Post: SecondLife and Opensim for Newbies (Like Me!)
84. Second Life Adult Grid
In the places apart from R/X rated areas, are fascinating, neat places to learn. The toughest thing is that you never really appreciate what SL can do unless you have your own place to create. For this reason, you may want to learn with a local installtion of Opensim or exploring in a place like ReactionGrid.
Cost: Free for an account, check pricing for islands
Related Post: SecondLife and Opensim for Newbies (Like Me!)
Student Information and Testing Systems
We host our SIS server with Pearson on their ASP system. The parents, students, and teachers love it for the most part. We use PowerGrade which can be glitchy sending files up to the server and I am testing the PowerTeacher interface which seems to glitch every time a Java update is released. But overall, I’m very happy with this system, and look forward to our guidance counselor attending PowerSchool University this summer.
Cost: ASP version costs in the thousands a year depending on your school size.
Related Post: Moving from Manual Systems to Automation in Six Weeks: How We are Doing It
86. Triumph SAT Software
This is what I use and love to help our students. We have a method and custom curriculum that I’ve developed to prep the students in about 2 week but we’ve improved our overall school score by over 150 points over the past four years — again, it is not just this system, we have a way to do this that I guess will have to remain secret, but this software is certainly a big part of it.
Cost: fee per student
Music / Audio
Even if you do not use an iPod, you’ll want to use iTunes. If you buy a movie in this tool, the quality is GREAT! The playlists organize your music, and the podcast subscription set up is the best. Since most podcasts are still listened to via computer, you can stock up on your morning listening with things like the Wall Street Journal morning report sent to you each morning. If you have an iTouch and want to use itunes in your room, get the Remote app and you can control it.
Download URL: http://www.apple.com/downloads/
88. Pandora Internet Radio
This is a great place to listen to music as it compiles your own radio station. The iPhone/ iTouch app is great.
89. Songbird (Open Source Music Player)
This firefox browser plug in lets you search and find music in a iTunes like way. Neat tool.
Cost: Free, just make sure you only get legal music
Related Post: Cool Tool: Songbird Music Browser
Great place to find creative commons music for remixing and video.
Cost: Free, just make sure to give proper attribution for Music.
I couldn’t live without Audible. I happily pay for my credits each month and keep my iTouch full of books like Pillars of the Earth, Game of Thrones, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Get Out of that Pit!, Brisingr, The Shack, and The Last Lion.
Cost: $24.95 / month (some plans are less)
My favorite music editor is free and open source. Learn to use it and you’ll havea powerful tool to make and record podcasts.
LAME Encoder (you’ll need this to make mp3’s) – http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/faq?s=install&item=lame-mp3
Related Post: Podcasting: What Will It Take for the 1% to Grow?
93. iTouch 16GB
The Single Best “Gadget” I have ever owned is my iTouch, bar none. I’ve lost weight, got my house cleaner, more supper on the table, answered my email faster, and organized my life in ways I couldn’t understand 5 months a go.
URL: Apple iPod touch 16 GB (2nd Generation)
Favorite Apps for ITouch/ iPhone
These are my favorite Apps: (just numbered the new ones I have not mentioned previously)
Remember the Milk – my list of unique items to do Cost: App free but sync requires Pro Version of RTM
94. Calendar – comes with the iPhone and syncs with google cal Cost: Free
97. Lists Free – This is used for my goals, packing lists, cleaning lists, etc. Cost: Free
98. LoseIt! – 15 pounds and only 25 more to go! Cost: Free
99. PageOnce Assistant – Pulls in all of my accounts and credit cards – just a great app Cost: Free
100. GroceryIQ – the Best grocery shopping program out – love it! Cost: $.99
101. PocketMoney Lite Checkbook – My checkbooks Cost: Free
102. My Diary – How I keep up and journal things – will email it to me, I journal prayer requests and answered prayers and such. Cost $.99
103. TouchGoal – Where I keep my goals for the day (There is a free version.) Cost: $3.99 for full
104. Bon Appetit – Planning my menus, it is great Cost: $2.99
105. TWC – The Weather Channel App – my favorite one for tracking weather and alerts. When we were having tornadoes, I had this in the closet with us – it is the most reliable weather app. Cost: Free
106. USA Today Great news site reading for the itouch. Cost: Free
107. NYTimes – Another great way to read the news. Cost: Free
108. Bible – Have 5 offline translations on this one and carry it to church – love it Cost: Free
109. All Recipes Dinner Spinner – Love this cookbook from my favorite cooking site Cost: Free
110. Betty Crocker Mobile Cookbook – Another great cookbook Cost: Free
111. Amazon Mobile App – how I shop and keep up with things I want Cost: Free
Skype – It works! Yes, with the proper microphone you can make phonecalls on your iTouch Cost: Free App, may want to purchase skypeout to call landline phones
TwitterFon – the way to interact with Twitter Cost: Free
Facebook – Great way to keep up with friends on iTouch/ iPhone Cost: Free
112. Nimbuzz– interacts with all of your chat clients in one place using wifi on your itouch. Cost: Free
113. LockBox – For keeping all of the details that need to stay private Cost: Free or Pro version with stronger encryption for $1.99
114. What’s On TV? My favorite TV guide that is personalized for what I like. Cost: Free
Pandora – A great way to tlisten to music but will not work like itunes when I have to go in and out of the app. Can drain the battery. Cost: Free
115. Family Time Fun Restaurant Game – Fun family game that we play when going out to eat. We love it and laugh so much, even my teenage son! Great app. Cost: $.99 (regularly $2.99)
116. WhiteNoise Light – Delightful way to sleep Cost: Free or can pay $1.99 for full app
117. Movies by Flixster – How I keep up with movies that are coming out in the theater and DVD. Have it located beside my PhoneFlix and Fandango so it is quick access to the theater for tickets or to Netflix to add it to my queue. Cost: Free
118. PhoneFlix – Adding and removing items on Netflix Cost: Free
119. Bejeweled 2 – my favorite game – have had an endless game going since February with over 1.5 million points. Play when I’m in line or waiting for kids to get out of practice! Cost: Free
In addition to the apps above, here are some of my favorites for home management. My itouch has helped me tremendously with managing my three kids, two cats, and wonderful hubby.
120. All Recipes
The best recipe site on the Internet without exception. I’ve been using this almost as long as it has been out!
121. Advantage Cooking Software from the 30 Day Gourmet
I love to do freezer cooking by cooking ahead for the next 30 days and this software lets me type in my recipes and do this easily.
122. Mary Hunt Debt Proof Living
The beauty behind this site is underneath in the subscription side. The Rapid Debt Repaymnet Calculator is a beauty and her newsletter is wonderful. Mary Hunt has dramatically improved our financial situations since we found it in the early 2000’s. We lost everything in 1995 when our pecan grove went under water and continue to follow these principles to get financially sound.
Cost: Site free; Subscription for RDRP, $29 a year
Why I wrote this post:
Notorious for not knowing how old I am (last year I blogged that I was turning 38 , I was really turning 39!) – this year there is no escaping that I am 40 wonderful, incredible, struggling, up and down years of life on this day!
This post is dedicated to you. All of you out there who read this blog, teach me, encourage me, and just push forward to use technology in new ways. I’m going through all of the tools and things I use frequently in the hopes that they’ll help some of you as they’ve helped me and this post, my friends, has taken the single longest amount of time of any post I’ve ever written.
It is not meant to be a comprehensive list of sites available in the world, they just happen to be the ones I personally use at this time. If your favorite app, software, or site isn’t listed, please feel free to share and tell me about what I’m missing!
This my birthday gift to you. Thank you for stopping by and enriching my life in so many ways!
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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