Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm a big fan of Stixy ... but recently came across Wallwisher which offers a solid alternative. Both are great noticeboard apps ... essentially, you can put up pictures and text (and docs with Stixy) ... and have them displayed on a 'wall' ... accessible to your audience via a simple url.

I've found these tools useful if I'm presenting, and want a simple static reminder for my audience to refer to after the show is over. A list of URL's they might have missed noting down for example. It's quick to setup or make changes and simple to navigate.

In the classroom, they're great for mid to late primary students perhaps using the web for the first time. I've also used them for simple storyboarding with students.

Stixy has more features and enables you upload documents, larger images, and allows you to manipulate font sizes, styles and more. I find the Stixy menu can be fiddly, and their html link tool can be a little hit and miss (though Stixy assure me that this will be resolved in future bug fixes).

Wallwisher on the other hand may be light on features, but has the edge on usability, with straightforward tools and menus ... and it allows RSS feeds for changes to the wall if you leave it open for comments which is pretty handy!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Though I've been aware of, and a huge fan of Wordle for a while now, I'd not come across Tag Cloud before ... a straightforward alternative. While very similar to Wordle, it has a few distinct differences.

The most significant of these is that it presents, in simple language, the criteria for adjusting word frequency, and tools for adjusting the results - all on the front page. Wordle is great, and my tool of choice particularly because you can manipulate fonts and text sizes, shape etc. Tag Cloud has an attractive simplicity however ... oh, and it also offers html code to copy your cloud to ... well ... wherever you like.
I've updated the Teaching Method resources with an entry for Penzu. This wonderful little application is, like all Digital Narrative resources, browser based and easy to use.

Penzu is essentially a diary online, as private or public as you wish. Its features are intuitive and the UI well designed. Not only that, but using a diary regularly will improve your writing, is a great format for storytelling ... and according to Penzu ... may even help you live longer?!

Diary writing is also great for exploring an existing class text (like the class novel), wonderful for developing a writing habbit and a fantastic way of introducing perspective to students. You can also include images, allowing you to explore juxtaposition with students.

The site does require registration, but only when you are ready to save your first entry. This means you can get started with a class quickly, and have them writing in minutes if you wish. The downside is that you'll need to maintain a list of passwords and usernames ... but this seems to be part of life in the modern age :-)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lifesnaps is a unique approach to the concept of photo sharing online. There are dozens ... and dozens ... of online photo repositories, and Lifesnaps even says in its introduction that they are 'similar to popular photo sharing sites like Flickr and Picasa.' ... in fact, you can fairly easily move pictures from both these services over to Lifesnaps.

They stands appart from the competition however because of they use timelines to organise your pictures. Great idea. The site help features are text heavy which is never a good sign, but the UI was fairly straight forward to use ... though it took me longer than it should to find out how to upload my pictures. The concept however is strong, and it will be one to watch as they further refine their service.

It's story building possabilities are evident ... with linear storylines and perhaps images with embedded text. Looking forward to digging into Lifesnaps a little further.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tumbarumba - a Firefox extension that hides stories in your daily searches!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I've been building up the Media Library. New to the list is Write With. Not as simple to use as Etherpad, but worth a look. Great for comparing revisions and has a cool deadline feature.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Just found Wridea, a wonderful little app for organising your thoughts. It's much like Loose Stitch which I've previously posted about. These tools are ALSO wonderful for mapping out a story. They enable collaboration ... and are perfect for classroom use. The only drawback of both tools, is that they require registration. While that's not a huge impediment ... registration neccesarily involves passwords and usernames (lost and found).
For reasons of perpetual stickyiness ... I am posting about Many Eyes.

Stickyness, for those that are not aware of the expression, is what web developers refer to when a website keeps its visitors on a page for longer, or keeps them coming back. Many Eyes has had me back a number of times to delve into their data sets, and look through the many variations of data visualisation that they have on display.

I love that the developers built this tool not only 'to enable a new social kind of data analysis' ... but 'to encourage sharing and conversation around visualizations' ... to start conversations, to encourage stories and debate. Principles I heartily endorse.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This year, ISTE is putting on a contest for educators to submit videos that tell stories of student or educational transformation through technology.

All eligible submissions will be featured on ISTE’s new video portal and will be entered into monthly drawings for prizes such as mini notebooks, ipods, flip cameras, and ISTE books. The grand prize will be selected by the live audience at the Member Welcome and Conference Overview on Sunday afternoon and will win an all-expense paid trip to NECC 2010 in Denver!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Australian Publishing industry needs your support.

'Limiting territorial copyright to 12 months would be very destructive. [It] would destroy the investment security that allows Australian publishers to invest in and develop Australian authors, illustrators and editors'

If want to show your support against the current proposed changes ... you can do so here. I'd encourage you to sign your name to the petition. Cultural erosion is not a thing to be taken lightly.

Friday, April 3, 2009

When I was eight, my aunt returned from traveling through Asia with a bag of slides. She came over one night and put on a slide show for us, accompanied by a tape she had recorded as she walked through the streets of remote parts of some amazing countries.

Sounds filled our lounge room of streetside sellers, car horns and busses and poeple chattering in languages foreign to me. Arresting images were brought to life with these sounds, and I still remember the sense of wonder that was created in me.

Jonas Bendiksens digital story exploring urban slums reminded me of that night. It's a compelling exploration of fragments of urban slum living. It's fascinating, beautiful and heart breaking all at once. The images are stunning, the people resilient and their stories absorbing.

I strongly suggest taking a look inside this impressive digital story.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

In my rapidly growing toolkit of must have applications for building stories, and general classroom usefulness ... Loose Stitch becoming a bit of a favorite. It allows you to quickly and easily create an outline for ... well ... anything really.

Of course, in my humble opinion, it's best use is for drafting story outlines, but I'm hardly biased ... well ... maybe just a little.

One of its best features is that it allows collaboration. Now there are many tools that have emerged over the last year or two built for collaborative work, but few that have the simplicity and usefulness of Loose Stitch when it comes to outlines.

Oh, and it's free, that's also a pretty good feature :-)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Prezi is going live, and that's exciting. I've been playing with it for a few months now while it remained locked in closed Beta, and it's a wonderfully fresh approach to displaying information. Simply put, it's like a free flowing slide show application, but rather than moving steadily through a series of slides, you flip and twist around a large display, hopping from preloaded video to text to zoom into an image, then onto a web link.

The Prezi release is " April 5, at 04:00 am New York time, 01:00 am Los Angeles time, 10:00 am CET" and I'd suggest you take it for a trial run upon it's release.

My only concern is what restrictions will be in place when Prezi moves out of Beta and into a live "trial' mode. The release notes report that users will be able to "do 3 more Prezi displays before you will have to choose between a free or two paid licenses.". I presume that means you will only be able to build 3 free Prezi displays that are saved at any one time, or pay for a subscription? We'll have to wait and see.