Clif Mims and I will be sharing and discussing with Grades 6–8 teachers at Memphis' newest charter school Power Center Academy.  We'll be spending two days with the teachers and staff discovering how best to leverage their high technology environment and Web 2.0 tools.  Below are some of the tools and resources we'll be exploring.

:: Our Resource Sites
     :: http://www.clifmims.com
     :: http://clifmims.wetpaint.com
     :: http://www.diigo.com/user/Clifsnotes
     :: http://viralnotebook.weebly.com
     :: http://www.jumptags.com/msquareg


:: Viral Videos
     YouTube videos that make a point.


:: Social Bookmarking Sites
     Diigo :: http://www.diigo.com
     Delicious :: http://delicious.com
     Jumptags :: http://www.jumptags.com
     Pillfish :: http://www.pillfish.net
     Trailfire :: http://www.trailfire.com

:: Web Presence Tools
     Weebly :: http://www.weebly.com
     Edublogs :: http://edublogs.org/
     Wikispaces :: http://www.wikispaces.com/


:: Trailfire is for More than Bookmarking
     Here's a post that describes how to use Trailfire to create self-instructional units and Webquests.

:: How to Weebly in 10
     Tutorial

:: Search & Retrieve
     An activity to explore different search engines, metasearches and directories.

 
 

FlyInside.com is a virtual tour site specifically geared toward real estate.  About a year ago when I discovered FlyInside, it was obvious to me that this was the type of Web 2.0 tool that was created for one purpose but could be usurped for another.  So, I hijacked it for learning.  I believe this is one of the strong characteristics of Web 2.0 for learning, or as some folks are referring to Pedagogy 2.0 or eLearning 2.0.  The design characteristics that are indicative of Web 2.0 tools, I believe, also make them easy targets for repurposing…and I feel like I was right (see below).

In a nutshell.  At its bones, FlyInside is a slideshow maker, not unlike Bubbleshare or Scrapblog.  It even comes built in with the somewhat “cheesy” background music.  However, FlyInside does offer some easy navigation and some legitimate “less cheesy” looking titling/captions.  The other element that FlyInside does really well is focus on the image.  It doesn’t let you as a creator become distracted by the backgrounds and templates.  (In real estate, you care about what the living room and kitchen look like, not what nice slide background was chosen.)  So, the photo fills the screen.  So, I find this incredibly appealing, specifically where learner might best represent their learning with a digital camera.

Here are a couple of examples of preservice teacher projects of using FlyInside for curricular content.  I’d like to hear if you’ve used FlyInside or if you have hijacked other tools for your purposes.
    • Architecture of Columns by Katie Fineup
    • World War I statue photo essay by David Mars


 
 

Turned onto Trailfire by Dr. Kevin Oliver at NC State University, I have come to really like Trailfire as more than just bookmarking.  Intended to be used as a social bookmarking site, Trailfire allows you to collect bookmarks into a category, or "trail."  The trail is then linked linearly with navigation buttons.  You can include comments or annotation on each of the Web pages that are part of your trail. 

For me, this was a great opportunity for preservice teachers to create a self-instructional unit for students to follow.  A teacher collect a series of Web sites to be included in her trail.  Then the annotations are instruction and directions to the student.  These annotations may include critical thinking questions, notes to pay particular attention to a diagram or animation or directions to perform a task as a result of visiting the page, such as create a list or summarize a statement.

Another reason I really like Trailfire is its ease.  Students have real success with using Trailfire, and I don't have to spend a lot of time teaching them how to use it.  The support on the site is straightforward and well done. I find "it just works."  I also find because it just works, the emphasis then becomes on locating the best sources of information possible and not on learning the tool.  Another emphasis is placed on creating instruction that is meaningful and age appropriate. 

At my Jumptags, I have bookmarked a number of examples of student products created with Trailfire.  I've also located a great trail about how to use Trailfire that was created by aprilpc as part of her presentation for the K12 Online Conference.  Here's a few for you to peruse:
    • Magnetic Materials by George Richardson
    • Native Americans by Kimberly Boyd
    • World Religions by Lauren Weber

Have you used Trailfire?  If so, how?  What do you like about it?  What would you like to see improved? Here's a short tutorial on how to use Trailfire.


 
 

What are your favorite Web 2.0 tools and why?  Maybe you really like Slideshare or SlideRocket (one of my new friends) or Zoho or Google Apps or PollDaddy.  These tools are small and powerful and can be a hoot to use.  I certainly look for tools that are easy to use and make my life easier.  In another post, I told you about Zoho Creator and Weebly.  These are certainly two of my favorites.  So much so that I regularly recommend them to others, particularly to classroom teachers.

Here's another of my favorites:  Jumptags.  Jumptags is a social bookmarking site, like Delicious and Diigo.  But it also allows you to create bookmarks for videos, RSS feeds and photos.  The bookmark for videos is both as a link and using the embed code, so you can keep up with the embed code easily.  I also have been able to hijack the video bookmark for presentations, like on Slideshare.  The RSS feeds are presented like they would in a reader/aggregator, so this is a real nice feature.  I've only used the photos a little.  Two other features that Jumptags allows are for bookmarking your own notes and any HTML code.  So if you happen to run along some Javascript code that you'd like to keep, there you go.

One other thing that I really, really like about Jumptags is the option to keep some things private.  I can keep some bookmarks private.  I can also keep some tags semi-private.  These semi-private tags although still publicly searchable are meaningful only to me.  For example, in the private tags, I use my course numbers to tag.  Regular folks won't appreciate that, but it does make it super easy for me to find my course bookmarks.


 
 

Last Friday, I presented a keynote address to the Tennessee Board of Regents eLearning Summer Institute on Web 2.0.  These ideas were collaboratively generated with Clif Mims, who happens to be at NECC in San Antonio right now.  In any case, some of the characteristics that I discussed with teaching and learning were:
    • low threshold applications, i.e., easy to learn and use
    • variety of tools and models
    • access to tools and knowledge, i.e., free tools and access to expertise and knowledge.

Some of the challenges I discussed were:
    • longevity, i.e., the short life span of the tools
    • uncertainty, i.e., whether the tools will  last
    • unconsolidated services, unlike the office suites that are all in one
    • student security and ethics, i.e., protecting student information and encouraging academic honesty
    • large numbers of applications.

What characteristics of Web 2.0 tools do you think make them attractive to teaching and learning?  As a corollary, what challenges do you feel exist to using the types of tools in our classrooms?

Download the presentation and presenter's notes below:

web2_teach_learn.pdf
File Size: 3626 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

 
 

Two of my favorite Web 2.0 tools of all time just went to the dark side.  Okay, that's a little dramatic.  They both just instituted new business models.  Zoho Creator, the online database and Web interface tool all in one, just added a business plan.  This, of course, placed limits on the free plan, including the number of applications and the amount of storage total.  Apparently, everyone else also loved this tool and the folks at Zoho decided they needed to cash in on that.  Well, I can't blame them.  It's really an awesome tool for what it does.  OgasaWalrus recommended that they might offer a lower priced personal or business plan.  I've done the ASP programming and I've done the PHP programming, and I hate programming.  So, to have a tool that will allow you to create a form and it generate the database connectivity behind the scenes is pretty spectacular.  I will certainly miss unlimited use of Zoho Creator.  I've recommended it (and the other Zoho brand of tools) to so many colleagues and teachers across the country I can't count them all.  I sort of wish there was a way to get a little reward for inviting people to use Zoho.  Hmmm?  There's another business model for them.


Weebly, another of my all-time faves and the host of this here blog, also just added a "Pro" plan.  This, too, generated a ceiling for the number of sites you can generate with the free plan.  I have encouraged double digits at least of individual teachers to use Weebly for their classroom sites and blogs.  Weebly is certainly unique, which is why I love it so much.  Weebly not only has a drag-and-drop interface but it will allow you to create a Web site and include a blog or multiple blog pages within your site.  Weebly was certainly doing this long before Wordpress added the features of menus and and static pages.  I believe that they may be experiencing some heavy volume and not enough support.  In a recent support email to Weebly, it took about 2 weeks for them to respond and they indicated the difficulties they were having.  So, maybe the Pro plan is a revenue generating method to help support the current users.  In any case, I will continue to use Weebly and recommend it...particularly to teachers.  It hasn't been blocked by school districts yet, and the drag and drop certainly make it easy enough to use with little to no instruction for the teachers.  Wonder if Weebly would institute the invite rewards too?