Do you Swipe? If you own a tablet or a smartphone, you are probably thinking that you do it several times a day. However, what I’m really talking about is a new online startup called Swipe. It’s an innovative, multi-platform presentation tool that works in any browser and on any screen size. Here’s how it works.
Do you remember the first time you saw Nearpod, and your jaw dropped as everybody’s screen simultaneously advanced to the next slide when the presenter told you it would? Well, Swipe works in very much the same way, but there is no app, just a solid HTML5 platform that works seamlessly.
You start by creating an account, and uploading your content to your first presentation deck. Swipe supports PDFs, Keynote files, JPEGS, PNGs, RAW files and more. (See a full list of compatible file types here). Next, name your deck, and rearrange the slides as you see fit by dragging and dropping. Want to add a video? Vimeo and YouTube videos can be interspersed among your slides simply by adding the URL to the video you want to show.
Everybody needs to convert a file from one format to another at some point in time, and there are countless online websites that will do that for you. However, most specialize in just a few formats. Zamzar used to be one of my favorites, but, thanks to a tweet by Steve Katz on Twitter, CloudConvert.org is my new belle. Here’s why.
To begin with, the service is free, at least for now, but it also lets you link up your Dropbox and/or Google Drive accounts to convert files that you store in the cloud, wherever you are. It can convert up to 139 different file formats, and can save your files locally, or to your cloud account.
You can convert the same file multiple times to multiple formats, and choose to download a QR code so that you can scan it and save to a mobile device. Only need the first 30 seconds of a video? No problem. Click the wrench for advanced options that let you set the length of time to convert. There are advanced eBook reader options that let you specify which device you want your ebook file to be most compatible with, and there is even a handy Chrome app.
In my own testing, I found the results to be very promising. It wasn’t perfect, but everything converted pretty much the way I expected it to. For teachers, there is not yet any option to convert SMART Notebook or ActivInspire files, but most other formats that educators use are there, and you can even do nice things like strip the audio from an MP4 video file and convert it into an MP3 audio file.
The service is still in Beta, but if you find yourself doing a lot of file conversions, or dealing with formats that you would rather not work with, you should definitely try it out at CloudConvert.org.
If you are looking to create a classroom website with a free website builder, take a look at Weebly. It’s ad-free, full of customization options, and has a dedicated education arm at Weebly for Education. Its easy to use drop and drop interface is ideal for busy teachers, and you can even create student accounts that you moderate from a central dashboard.
I first used Weebly for Education several years ago when I was still teaching 4th grade. I had a classroom website with Weebly and several student websites, but it didn’t quite have everything that I wanted. I soon became immersed in Google Apps, so I switched a lot of my web building efforts towards Google Sites. However, at a recent workshop, led by Ramsey Musallam, I had the chance to take another look at Weebly, and I liked what I saw! It is a great option for teachers who want their own classroom website.
There are over 70 great looking themes to choose from, each of which can be customized to your liking. You can add photo galleries of student work, slideshows, YouTube videos, Google Maps, or anything else with an embed code via the custom HTML element. Your website is free of advertising, and you can choose between a Weebly URL (yoursite.weebly.com) or a custom domain (mrwylie.com) which you can buy from Weebly or someone like GoDaddy, and add it to your site for free.
Best of all, the education arm of Weebly has some exclusive features just for teachers. For instance, you can add an assignment form to your site that allows students the ability to upload their assignments and submit them to you via your website. You also have the option to create student accounts so that your students can create their own Weebly websites. Teachers get 40 free student websites with the Weebly for Education account. These websites can be public or private, you can moderated comments submitted to student websites, and choose whether you want to enable or disable a Flickr search for images.
All of the above features are free, but if you decide to upgrade to the Pro account ($39.99 a year) you can get an additional 10 student sites, unlimited pages, a 250Mb file upload allowance, a custom audio and HTML5 video player, as well as the ability to embed documents you upload to the site. You can also password protect pages, remove Weebly branding and and get access to premium support. If you just need the extra student accounts, they can be bought in blocks of 10 for $10.
Weebly for Education also has a great referral program. If you click one of the sign up links in this post and publish your own site, Weebly will credit your account, (and mine), with $10 that you can use towards the pro account. So, if you try it, and you like it, share your experiences with others to earn more credit for an upgrade.
Of course, Weebly is just one of the many website builder options out there for teachers looking to create a classroom website. There are other free options like Wix, Google Sites, WordPress, Kidblog, Yola and more. My advice would be to find the one that works best for you. For a lot of teachers that I have been working with recently, that has been Weebly, so give it a go if you haven’t played with it for a while. The latest improvements are there for all to see, and it remains as easy as ever to quickly build a free, high quality website you can be proud of.
I’m big into to-do lists. As such, I have tried a whole plethora of apps to try and organize the chaos that is my life most days, but only one has truly met my specific criteria. I need something that works on every platform, something that syncs seamlessly, and something that is quick and easy to use. It has to be easy on the eye, offer sub-tasks, and give me the option of setting reminders and repeating events. Oh, and it had to be free. Enter Wunderlist.
I’m a fan of Getting Things Done, so I have a lot of lists. These lists keep me productive and stop me going insane over the little things that I fret and worry about on a daily basis. However, once it is on my list, I can relax because I know I will get to it. Yesterday, Wunderlist released a new browser extension that will increase my productivity even more, and it could be a great tool for the classroom.
Add to Wunderlist is a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox and Safari that lets you add a whole lot more to your Wunderlists quickly and easily, just like you can with Evernote, Diigo and sites like that. Need to bookmark a website to read it later? No problem. Once installed you simply click the Wunderlist icon in your toolbar and add it to a list of your choice. Tired of using your email as your to-do list? Click the custom “Add to Wunderlist” button inside Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or Outlook and you can add an email to your task list so that you can streamline your workflow, clean up your inbox, and barrel headlong towards inbox zero. You can see more of these custom buttons at Amazon, Etsy, YouTube and even Wikipedia, but the toolbar button is always there for adding almost any other site to your Wunderlist.
At school I can see a lot of creative uses for Wunderlist. Teachers can use it to help organize the multitude of tasks they complete on a daily basis. Ideas for lessons, interesting articles, and a list of things that have to get done can all be put into Wunderlist. Teaching in a team? No problem. Lists can be shared with other Wunderlist users, or emailed to anyone. You can also set a recurring reminder to yourself about that team meeting you always forget every second Wednesday. Smart Lists can show you what is due today, or reveal all the starred tasks across all of your lists.
If you use Wunderlist on a mobile device you don’t have access to the Add to Wunderlist extension yet, but you can get close to the same functionality You can email URLs or forward emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, and it will quickly arrive in your Wunderlist inbox for sorting, so long as you email it from the same account you use for your Wunderlist account. Clever, eh?
Students can use Wunderlist as a homework planner because tasks can have a due date, and reminders can be set for upcoming assignments. They can even have lists for every class that they attend so that they can keep track of all that they want to get done. Students can gather research for school projects by sending links to articles or YouTube videos to pre-defined lists in Wunderlist, and again share these lists with others if they need to. The built-in Activity Monitor will notify you if someone has added something to a shared list, or completed a shared task. Planning a project? Wunderlist lets you have up to 25 sub tasks, so it is easy to plan a step-by-step action plan.
There are lots of task list managers out there, but if you haven’t tried Wunderlist, you should. It might look simple, but it can do a lot for you if you take advantage of all the features it has. In my opinion, there really are very few free options that compare as favorably. Do you have a favorite task manager? Feel free to add it to the comments below and tell us why you like it so much.
Been to Wallwisher.com recently? If so, you may have noticed a change. The site has re-branded itself as Padlet. For now, the site can still be accessed at http://wallwisher.com, but Padlet is the future, so http://padlet.com will soon be the new URL of this popular collaborative workspace.
So, why Padlet? The developers say it is a nod to tablets as the future of computing, but also an almagamation of the words paper, wood and tablet– the ancestors of the original Wallwisher concept. Although the new name might take a little while to get used to, it does make sense, especially after the site’s last big overhaul to make it compatible with iPads and other mobile devices.
If you already have links to existing Wallwisher wall, or have some embedded on websites, they will continue to work as normal, even once they get renamed with Padlet.com branding. Otherwise the site looks just the same as it did a week ago with all the usual features you have come to expect.
While there are similar sites like Lino.it, Corkboard.me, and Murally, Wallwisher, or Padlet as it now is, has probably been around the longest, and there is good reason for that. Its evolution over a five year existence has kept it at the forefront in terms of features and ease of use for educators.
So, if you haven’t paid it a visit for a while, you should. There is a lot to like about this multi-platform collaboration tool, and the future looks bright.
Evernote announced today that they are updating their terms and conditions. The new changes will take place on December 4th, 2012, and there are some concessions made to educators among the new terms.
We’re thrilled with the number of educators and administrators around the world who have shown interest in using Evernote in their schools, so we have modified our contracts with respect to use by underage individuals who might not be old enough to enter into a contract on their own, including specific guidance for schools in the US where we want to ensure that the requirements of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act are satisfied.
In the United States, if you are the sponsor of a Sponsored Group (the “Sponsor”), including an Evernote for Schools group, that includes children under the age of 13, you (or your school) assumes the responsibility for complying with the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) and, to the extent applicable, The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”). This means that the Sponsor must notify parents/guardians of the information to be collected and obtain parental/guardian consent before collecting and sharing with the Service the personal information of children under the age of 13 in order to establish an account or use the Service. Schools may under appropriate circumstances provide such consent on behalf of parents/guardians. For more information on complying with COPPA, see the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.ftc.gov/COPPA.
If you are outside of the United States, please ensure that you are complying with any laws applicable to you before submitting any child’s personal information or permitting any child to submit personal information to us. If a school outside the United States wants to enable its students to use Evernote for Schools, Evernote will work with such schools on case by case basis to ensure compliance with any applicable laws regarding the collection of information from minors.
I’m not a lawyer, so I am not going to make any further interpretation of the terms as they stand, but I think it is a positive move to attempt to address the use of Evernote in schools, and any possible confusion or misinterpretations of the previous terms and conditions that were not specifically aimed at the use of Evernote in schools.
I am sure that there are already teachers out there that are already using Evernote with students under 13 because they have had parents set up the accounts in their names for students to use, or parents have signed off on generic school created accounts, but with these new guidelines, educators have a clearer vision of what is and is not acceptable in order to comply with legal requirements and Evernote’s own terms and conditions.
So, what do you think about the new guidelines for using Evernote in Schools with those under 13? Does your school use Evernote with students who are under 13? How do you get around the legal implications of such a move, and would you be willing to share any of the documentation you send out to parents about this? Please share any feedback below.
ClassBadges is a new way to help reward student achievement in the classroom. The idea is simple. Teachers sign up for a free account with ClassBadges.com, create a class and add their students. Whenever a student achieves a noteworthy landmark in their learning, the teacher can award that student a badge to recognize their success and help track their progress. Students have a unique class code that lets them log in to the site and view their latest badges. No more sticker charts on the wall!
Creating a badge is easy. Click on the Add Badge button and give your badge a title and a description. Then choose an image to associate with your badge from the wide variety of built-in icons. Once created, you can award it to the students you want to assign it to in your class, and even remove it at a later date if necessary.
As a concept, it certainly looks to have some similarities with other motivational tools like ClassDojo, but it seems to focus less on behavior and more on academic milestones or achievements. It won’t replace a teacher’s gradebook, but it could be a nice way to keep track of what stage students are at on a project, or as a motivational tool for a book club or homework chart.
Right now, ClassBadges is so new that you have to sign up to request an invite, but because I am already a member, I can expedite your application if necessary. Simply sign up at ClassBadges.com and then leave your details in a comment below, or send me a message via my contact form, and I will email the site owners with your info. You you can get a better idea of what this site has to offer by watching the video below.