Tag Archives: web 2.0 tools

Web Apps for a BYOD Environment

Having different devices can present a challenge when planning lessons, designing activities, and assessing learning. At some point, a teacher needs consistency. Web apps allow everyone to use a different device to access the same online application.

There are many web apps to choose. Some web apps are free, whereas others have user fees. Some web apps are accessible to any user, whereas others require registration using an email address. The status of web apps tends to change frequently, so it is a good idea for teachers to verify their accessibility prior to using them as part of a lesson.

Finding high quality web apps can be time consuming. Refer to the list of popular web apps. For each there is a description, URL, suggestions for use, fee structure, and registration requirements. Please note, the range of web apps is extensive and this is just a tiny snapshot of the possibilities.


Blogging – Kidblog.org

blog web app

Description: Create a web-based publication consisting of short articles posted in reverse chronological order.

URL: http://kidblog.org

Activities: Aside from blogging about a topic of interest, students can use their blog to write reading responses, record a digital reading log, produce a school/class newspaper, discuss current events, engage in joint serial writing, solve brainteasers, post video tutorials, reflect upon learning, maintain a science fair diary, write a research series, or communicate with e-pals.

Fee: Free for a trial period, then an annual fee.

Registration: The teacher must register for an account. They can then create a class of students and set the username and passwords for each user.


Digital Storage

Description: Store files online for easy access. Popular services include Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive.

URL: http://www.dropbox.com, https://onedrive.live.com, or http://drive.google.com

Activities: Use online digital storage to store and share files such as photos, videos, forms, presentations, policy documents, assignments, or other handouts.

Fee: It is free!

Registration: Users require an email address.


Google Web Apps

Description: Create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, forms, drawings, and more using free online productivity tools.

URL: http://drive.google.com

Fee: It is free!

Registration: Users require a Gmail account.



OneDrive in Education

Share files with your students using OneDrive.

OneDrive Office Web Apps

Description: Create documents, presentations, and spreadsheets using free online productivity tools.

URL: https://onedrive.live.com

Fee: It is free!

Registration: Users require a Microsoft account.


Edmodo

Description: Create an online community by setting up a class and then using digital tools to post messages, alerts, assignments, quizzes, polls, and library resources to members.

URL: http://www.edmodo.com/

Activities: Manage your classroom by having all students become members of the community. Use the tool to schedule activities in the calendar, share files or bookmarked websites using the library, post assignments, tally survey results, and automatically grade quizzes.

Fee: It is free!

Registration: The teacher needs to get an account. Once registered students are provided with a code, they can use to create their own accounts. Parents can also be invited into the community using a parent code.

BYOD for schools


Prezi

Description: Present information using a zoomable canvas that allows viewers to navigate from one idea to the next in a non-linear fashion. Presentations can be accessed online, embedded into a blog or website, or downloaded as a pdf or as a portable viewer.

URL: http://prezi.com

Activities: So many options, so little time. Here are a few: insert a picture (human body, map, solar system, diagram) and place frames over top of the parts to describe each element; design a timeline with frames to explain each historic event; or create a mind map to illustrate a concept.

Fee: Education licenses are free. The paid versions provide users with additional features such as more storage space, capacity to work offline, support, etc.

Registration: The free version requires an email address and students must click on a link to activate their account. The form is simple and only requires name, email, and password.


Evernote

Description: Create, organize, and store notes, photos, audio reminders, web content, and more in notebooks and make them accessible from any device.

App: You can install Evernote on any device.

Activities: Create a notebook of files and bookmarked websites and share it with students. Have students organize their research easily by taking whiteboard shots, writing text notes, clipping web pages, or bookmarking websites in a notebook.

Fee: It is free!

Registration: Requires an email address.



BYOD and school

Word Clouds

Description: Generate a word cloud, which is a visual representation of text, with commonly used words appearing prominently in a larger font. You can print, share it as a link, embed it into a blog or web page, or screen capture it.

URL:
http://www.wordclouds.com/, http://www.abcya.com/word_clouds.htm, https://tagul.com/, http://www.wordle.net, or http://www.tagxedo.com/

Activities: Here are some popular uses of word clouds: illustrate a famous speech, visually portray character traits from a character in a novel, highlight the important parts of a report, or produce a word graph of survey results.

Word clouds can be used as pictures on title pages, presentation slides, posters, or bulletin boards to represent a concept visually.

Word clouds can also be used as a tool to introduce a new unit using word association, for example, “We are going to do a unit on medieval times. What do we already know about this topic?” It is great to repeat this activity at the end of the unit to see if students can generate more words.

Fee: It is free!

Registration: No registration required.


Votes.io

Description: Conduct a quick poll by typing in a question, setting the choices, and then sharing the URL with students. Watch the results instantly tally. Since the identity of the respondent remains private, it offers an effective method for gathering honest feedback, especially in a situation where a student might be reluctant to raise their hand.

URL: http://votes.io

Activities: Use this tool to gauge student opinion, monitor progress, gather ideas for upcoming events, or quickly test understanding of a concept. It is also a great way for a student to end a presentation or speech with a quiz for the audience.

Fee: It is free!

Registration: No registration required.


Quick Response (QR) Code

Description: Produce a bar code that when photographed by a device with a QR code app will display information such as a web page, online video, contact details, or text.

URL: http://goqr.me or http://www.qrstuff.com

Activities: QR codes are a great way to have students engage in scavenger hunts or orienteering activities. Consider using them when going on a field trip to encourage students to pay attention. As well, they are a fast way to provide parents with contact information. Another idea is to post them as part of a school art exhibit, science fair, or open house to have visitors access more information about a topic.

Fee: It is free!

Registration: No registration required.


Todays Meet

TodaysMeet

Description: Promote audience participation by creating a digital meeting room and then have students ask questions or post comments that appear as a live stream.

URL: http://todaysmeet.com

Activities: Engage learners. During a speech or presentation, have audience members post questions about the topic. At the end, the presenter can select a few to answer. When introducing a new topic, have each student ask a question or identify an area of interest. Save the list as a transcript to use as a guide to shape the unit.

Fee: It is free!

Registration: No registration required.


Voki

voki web app

Description: Create talking animated characters by customizing their appearance, producing a one-minute audio file, and then sharing it by email, social media, blog, or a website.

URL: http://www.voki.com

Activities: The options are limited only by your imagination. To get you started here are some ideas: write a poem and have Voki recite it; create a Voki of a character as part of a novel study unit; or give a speech by portraying a Voki as a historical figure.

Fee: The free version requires each student to register. The subscription version, which offers class management tools, is $29.95/ year.

Registration: The free version requires an email address and students must click on a link to activate their account. The form is simple and only requires name, email, password, and birthday.


Chrome Web Apps

Description: Install applications using the Chrome web browser. The type of apps vary. Choose from e-books, creative tools, interactive information, flashcards, or drill and practice games.

URL: http://chrome.google.com/webstore

Apps: There are so many apps to use. Here are a few options:

  • MeeGenuis! Children’s Book: A bookshelf of audio books for children.
  • Pixlr Editor : Photo editing software that is similar to Photoshop. Apply filters, adjust color, clone, remove red eye, and more!
  • 3D Solar System Web: Zoom through the solar system to learn about the planets
  • Useful Periodic Table: Click the interactive periodic table to learn about the elements. Take a quiz of the names, symbols, and atomic numbers.
  • Brain Pop Featured Movie: Watch the animated movie daily about a historical event and then test your knowledge with an interactive quiz.
  • Learn Dolch Sight Words: Beginner readers can practice their sight words with flashcards that provide audio feedback.

Fee: Many apps are free, some offer free trials, others give you partial access, and still others have a subscription fee.

Registration: To use Chrome Web Apps a user needs to have the Chrome browser installed and a Gmail account. Each app has different registration requirements.

Students Need to be Proficient Microsoft Office Users

People sometimes ask me, “Why does TechnoKids write for Microsoft Office? Why don’t you create materials for Open Office or Google Apps?”

I always reply, “Because that is what is used in the workplace and schools are designed to prepare students for their future careers.”

Of course the next statement that they say is “But Open Office and Google Apps are free, so lots of schools use them”.

I recognize that there are budget restraints. I think people should be more honest about their loyalty to Open Office or Google Apps. It is liked because it is FREE, not because it is the ideal Office Suite.

I then go back to my first statement, “Schools are designed to prepare students for the workplace. TechnoKids will create materials for other Office Suites when the principal, vice principal, secretary, and teachers at the majority of schools agree that Google Apps has everything they need and Microsoft Office is no longer required for them to efficiently do their job”.

Schools will often give students FREE software such as Open Office and Google Apps but provide their administrators, faculty, and other support staff, with Microsoft Office. I think that if a person requires Microsoft Office to do their job efficiently, it is likely the students need it too!

Does that mean I don’t like Open Office or Google Apps?

Nope. I like them. In fact, I think that Google Apps has improved significantly. However, it does not erase the reality that Microsoft Office is prominent in the workplace.

Perhaps over time that will change. However, I have to tell you that based on my job duties there is no free Office Suite available that can offer the productivity tools I require. I am sure that there are many other professionals in the workplace that feel the same.

It is my opinion that students need to know how to use Microsoft Office proficiently as it is likely they will need to use it in the future. Do you agree? I invite you to post your politely phrased comments to tell me what you think.

PowerPoint Scrapbook

PowerPoint Scrapbook Page

PowerPoint was used to create scrapbook pages.

My Grade 6 students just completed their digital scrapbooks. They were made using Microsoft PowerPoint. I loved the activity so much that I am thinking about writing a TechnoKids technology project for the activity. Let me tell you more about it!

It was the final computer class of the school year. We had just finished TechnoClue and I was interested in a quick review activity to fill the last class period. I knew whatever we did, had to be FUN!

I had explored using Web 2.0 tools to create an online photo album but the school network prohibited using online apps. This resulted in my backup plan or PLAN B – to use PowerPoint. At first, I was so disappointed…that was until I experienced the students’ enthusiasm for the task. They LOVED it!

To prepare for class, I had gathered photos taken throughout the school year and placed them into a shared folder. I had also created a sample digital scrapbook.

When the students came into class I wasted no time. I introduced the task, showed the sample, and then offered design and layout suggestions. That was it! They were to use all the skills they had learned throughout the year to complete the task by the END OF CLASS. It was the perfect review activity.

Why PowerPoint was the Right Choice

At first I wanted to use the Web 2.0 Tools such as Smilebox and MyScrapNook. Now I am glad I didn’t. Why?

I now realize the power of a blank PowerPoint slide. It gives students an empty canvas that they can pour all of their creativity onto to transform it from something white and bland, to something colorful and interesting. A template from an online app can’t do that!

The online apps I experimented with were very fun, but the design choices had already been made. This can be limiting.

My students astounded me with their original ideas. For example, one students use a textured background that looked like a corkboard. She then applied a picture style to each picture to make it look like a Polaroid picture. Each image was stuck to the board using a clip art push pin. It looked fantastic!

Another student used an AutoShape to list all of her classmates beside a class photo. She could not have done that with a preset template. I can go on and on about students amazing design and layout choices. I was really impressed by their skillset and the quality of the final product.

Sometimes Plan B turns out to be way better than Plan A.

Technology Skills

As a teacher, it is very rewarding to see my students apply their learning by transferring their skills to a new task. My students were able to design four or sometimes even more slides in only about 35 minutes. Their skillset was impressive! They were able to:

  • adjust View settings to preview images in a folder
  • toggle between open windows
  • insert a new slide and select a suitable layout
  • create a title slide
  • decorate a publication with clip art
  • insert a picture from file
  • scale, position, rotate, and flip objects
  • apply picture styles to clip art and images
  • insert and format WordArt
  • draw and format shapes
  • add text to shapes
  • format text to make it eye catching and easy to read
  • apply a slide design and customize the color scheme
  • format a slide background and apply it to only one slide
  • hide the background graphics on only one slide
  • adjust object order
  • print a presentation as a handout and adjust the print settings

Making scrapbook pages using PowerPoint was a fun activity and it would definitely be one I would do again.

Two Hours Wasted Trying to Find a Web 2.0 Tool to Use at School

PowerPoint Scrapbook Page

Unable to use Web 2.0 Tools - Used PowerPoint Instead

Most people write about their successes. I am going to tell you about my failure. The failure to find a Web 2.0 tool that would work in my school setting. Web 2.0 tools are online apps that can be used for creating, collaborating, and sharing. I thought my students would love to use them!

It is getting near the end of the school year and I wanted the final class to be FUN! I decided that I would use an online scrapbook to have students create a personalized yearbook that had photos of special moments from the school year. I knew this would be an activity that would engage students.

I began my search for Web 2.0 tools based on recommendations from various education sites and bloggers. The recommendations included Smilebox and MyScrapNook.

I had so much fun using the tools. I loved the colorful templates and I could easily create fun scrapbook pages by dragging and dropping pictures, adding notes, inserting music, and then exporting the scrapbook as a digital flip book. COOL!

Unfortunately, my students cannot do the same thing. There are two main reasons – network restrictions and too much traffic.

Students cannot download files. Many of the online tools had templates or music files that required downloading…making them unusable.

A greater issue was the network traffic. If one person uploads ten pictures it can take a few minutes. If 30 students upload 10 pictures each it can take so long that the students would have nothing to do for a quarter of the class while images are posting to the Internet.

Frustrated, I switched from online Web 2.0 tools to free scrapbook software I could download and install. This also turned out to be a waste of time because most free options, would only allow you to export the final product if you purchased the full version.

I spent hours experimenting with various tools trying to find one suitable. When I glanced at the clock I realized…my class was only 45 minutes long, I had already spent more than 120 minutes trying to find a suitable Web 2.0 tool, and I could not afford to waste any more time.

In the end, I decided students would use PowerPoint. I gathered photos from the school year and placed them into a shared folder where all students have access. Next week, my students are going to create mini scrapbooks. The publication will have a title slide, and three other slides with pictures. Students are to apply their knowledge to customize the slide background, insert shapes, wordart, and clip art to create colorful personalized pages. We will then print the file as a landscaped handout with 4 slides per page, which will be folded, cut, and stapled to form a booklet.

I am really disappointed. I love Web 2.0 tools but I cannot get around the realities of the school network.

Do you have an online scrapbook tool you would recommend? Have you used it with a full class of students?

Please let me know, as I would love to try one next year with my students!