Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pollmo - A Free and Interactive Polling Tool

Pollmo is a free and extremely easy to use on-line polling tool.  The unique feature of Pollmo is the visibility of a poll on any website.  To see how it works, try the poll below:

In these three simple steps, an interactive poll can be created.
1.  Visit the Pollmo website and complete the form.
2.  When ready, click on "Add to my website"
3.  Copy and paste either the embed code or URL onto your website or blog.  You are now ready to collect results!

Sample Classroom Activities:

1. Introductory Unit Activity - teachers can use a Pollmo poll to gather information about what students already know about a topic.

2.  Formative Assessment tool - teachers can use a Pollmo poll to determine whether or not students are understanding new material.

3.  Students can create a Pollmo poll to research a particular topic.  E.g. a Psychology class can determine patterns of behavior from among their classmates to see if they are similar to published results.

4.  Professional Development - to better cater to the needs of the attendees, workshop presenters can use a Pollmo poll to gather necessary information to potentially adapt their presentation.

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Most Popular "De-tech-tive" Posts

The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers logo - a work in progress
It has been a little over two months since I started "The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers" blog and wow has it been an experience!  I have had the opportunity to connect with some fantastic educators from around the world.  It makes me wonder why I didn't start this technology blog long ago.  Better late than never, I guess.  

I would like to thank everyone who has visited my blog and I look forward to having you visit again very soon.  Also, I hope you have found "The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers" blog informative and useful.  My ultimate goal is to share my knowledge and expertise so that others can successfully incorporate the use of technology into their teaching practice.

Zazu - my best friend
To improve "The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers" blog, I am hoping to get some feedback from you on two items:

1.  Quality, style & content of the posts.  I would appreciate any suggestions on how I can improve these things so that you the reader gain the most benefit.

2.  Image above. I want to create a logo that epitomizes the goals I have for this technology blog.  What do you think?  Again any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Remember, you can send feedback via text or voice mail.

Lastly, I now have enough posts to collate a list of the most popular posts so far.  If you haven't had a chance yet, please feel free to click on the any of the links below.  The most popular posts are as follows:

1.  The PDF Tool Kit
2. Twitter - An Educator's Dream PLN
3. Quizlet - An Excellent Study Tool

4.  QR Codes - A Wealth of Information Stored in a Little Square
5.  Skype for Education - Connecting Students with the Rest of the World
6. Wiffiti - The Interactive Message Board

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Creative Commons, Copyright & You

Understanding copyright laws can be very difficult especially for students.  In a nutshell, creators of such content as images, videos, literary works and music automatically own the copyright to their creations and as a result, have the right to manage and sell the product as they wish.  In other words, in order to make use of someone else's work, one must be granted permission from the original artist; otherwise, it is illegal to use it.  

Consequently, the purpose of copyright protection law is to guarantee creators the right to profit from their work.  However, this can be problematic as most photographers, artists, writers and musicians want to publicize samples of their creations for the purpose of increasing sales.  Unfortunately in this technological age, once a piece of work is released, it is difficult to control who has access to it and what it will be used for.  The good news is Creative Commons offers a simple solution to understanding and making use of the sometimes confusing copyright laws.

Creative Commons licenses allow creators to communicate which rights they reserve and which rights they waive in an easy to understand format.  It should be noted that Creative Commons licenses do not replace copyright but rather replace the individual negotiations needed for each request as required under the "all rights reserved" criteria. 

For a further explanation of copyright and Creative Commons, click on the link below:     
Video: Commoncraft Copyright and Creative Commons

Recently, there have been two developments educators should be aware of:

1.  Creative Commons has further simplified their license selection web page to offer users additional assistance in selecting the right license.  Users just need to answer a few questions and the appropriate license will be chosen.  To notify visitors of the specific copyright details, web page designers can copy and paste the embed code to display the appropriate Creative Commons logo on their website.  Click here to access the Creative Commons licensing web page directly.

2. Within the last several weeks, the Supreme Court of Canada has made several landmark decisions which have drastically changed the country's copyright laws. Please visit the following link for more details:
Video: What the Supreme Court 's copyright rulings mean for you

In summary, if you are unsure as to whether or not a creative piece is copyrighted, it is always a good idea to ask the originator of the work first before using it.

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.


license, licensing specific photos with a Creative Commons. "Copyright and Creative Commons | Common Craft."Useful Handcrafted Videos | Common Craft.   
     N.p., n.d. Web. 25 July 2012.
Nowak, Peter. "What the Supreme Court's copyright rulings mean for you - Technology & Science - CBC News." CBC.ca - Canadian News Sports 
     Entertainment Kids Docs Radio TV. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 12 July 2012. Web. 25 July 2012.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterleth/4616626262/">Peter Leth</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photo pin</a> <a
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/carnivillain/2827287540/">mr. nightshade</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photo pin</a> <a 
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterleth/4616625552/">Peter Leth</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photo pin</a> <a 
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/31246066@N04/4845025885/">Ian Sane</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photo pin</a> <a 
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/imuttoo/2628589070/">Ian Muttoo</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photo pin</a> <a 
     href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc- sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Sunday, July 22, 2012

SpeakPipe - A Voice Mail Service for Bloggers

The most incredible thing happened to me today - I received my first voicemail!  Now you are probably thinking, Lynda, where have you been?   Voicemail technology has been around for years!  Of course, receiving voicemails from a phone is not what I am referring to.  The voicemail I received was from my blog.  Before I explain how this works, I would like to thank Craig Martin from Boston for sending me my very first voicemail.  :)

SpeakPipe is an easy to use voicemail service that allows bloggers to connect with their readers verbally.  Once an account has been created, users can customize their widget by selecting what text appears on the button, as well as the color and location of the widget.  It only takes a few minutes to set up and then users are ready to receive voice messages.

Other nice features of SpeakPipe include:
1.  No need to learn HTML code, as SpeakPipe generates the code for you.  All you need to do is copy and paste it into your blog platform settings.  

2.  The SpeakPipe button sits discreetly on your blog and when a visitor scrolls up and down, the button is still visible.

While in beta, SpeakPipe is free but once the site is officially launched, users will be charged for the service. In the meantime, I encourage you to give it a try!

Below is a quick tutorial with screen shots on how to send a voice message using SpeakPipe.

Step 1: Locate and click the "Send Voicemail" button.

Step 2: A smaller window will appear. When ready, click on the green "Start Recording" button.

Step 3: Another small window may appear requesting access to the computer's camera and microphone. Click on "Allow" and record your message. Messages can be a maximum of 10 minutes in length.

Step 4: Once the message is complete, click on "Stop". Next, you will be prompted to type in your name and email. This is optional. Before sending the message, it is wise to listen to it first. Click on "Play" to do so. When ready, click on the "Send" button to send your message.

When a reader sends a message, an email is sent to the blog author to notify them of the new message.  Messages can be played from the SpeakPipe Inbox where they can either be deleted or downloaded to your personal computer.

SpeakPipe is a great way to receive verbal feedback from your blog readers. This verbal connection may have more of an impact than plain text. To get started, visit the SpeakPipe website here.

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The PDF Tool Kit

The PDF (Portable Document Format) file format is extremely useful for educators as documents can be viewed across all computing platforms.  This is particularly helpful as the on-line access for parents and students will vary from computer to mobile operating systems.   

There was a time when PDF files could not be manipulated unless an Adobe software product was purchased. Times have certainly changed as there are now several products available to support your PDF needs - most of which are on-line and require no registration. Included below are 10 tools that educators should add to their PDF tool kit:

1. PDF Online Reader
With this tool, users can annotate, highlight and add hyperlinks to a PDF file.

2. I Love PDF

I Love PDF allows users to split or merge up to 10 PDF files at once.

3. PDF Convertor
Create editable Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents in 3 easy steps: 1. Upload PDF file. 2. Submit an email address. 3. File will be converted and sent to the email address provided.

4. PDF to Word Online Convertor
Large PDF files can be simply converted to MS Word documents by selecting a file and converting it. No email address is required.

5. PDF to HTML Online Convertor
Converts PDF documents to HTML code which can be later embedded into a blog, website, etc.

6. Web2PDF Online
To quickly save on-line information, this tool converts any web page to a PDF document.

7. PDF Aid
Images in PDF files are extracted and saved in their original resolution and true color. The images are saved - a variety of file formats are available - in a logical order for easy re-insertion.

8. PDF Scissors
 In a nutshell, this cropping tool can crop multiple PDF pages with the drawing of a single area! 

9. Booklet Creator
This tool re-orders the pages of a PDF file in such a way that once the document has been printed, it can be folded into a booklet.

10.  PageFlip-Flap
PDF or MS Word files can be converted into a flipping book.  A nice feature is that the final product can be shared via Twitter, Facebook or on a website or blog.

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nano/34003923/">Nano Taboada</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photo pin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Twitter - An Educator's Dream PLN

In recent weeks there have been numerous commentaries championing the benefits of Twitter for educators. I would like to take the opportunity to personally echo those sentiments based on my own experiences.

It has been two years now since I opened a Twitter account.  However, I did not take full advantage of the opportunities Twitter offered until recently.  The turning point was last December when I received a smartphone as a Christmas gift.  Since then, it has been an absolutely amazing experience.  The difference?  Having a smartphone has allowed me to 'check in' on a more regular basis which has made my connections on Twitter more personal and as a result, more rewarding.  The sense of community with like-minded individuals who share the same passion for education as I do is incredibly powerful and motivating.  In fact, not only do I feel more valued, but more importantly, I feel empowered.  As each day goes by, my confidence continues to grow to the point where I am much more willing to share with others my ideas and opinions on a wide range of educational topics.  Believe it or not, aside from the aforementioned benefits, Twitter has actually given me something of even greater value.

The single greatest thing Twitter has given me is another opportunity to continue my love for learning.  

Honestly, I can not express enough, how much I love to learn.  I know it may sound corny, but I absolutely love the challenge of learning something new.  In fact, my students have embraced this idea and have taken great pride in teaching me new things.  If that is not a win-win situation, I do not know what is!

As a result of my Twitter connections, I have been introduced to some fantastic people and resources.  Below are links for a small sampling of the educational resources I find incredibly helpful:

http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.ca/ - Lisa Nielsen
http://tomwhitby.wordpress.com/ - Tom Whitby
http://cybraryman.com/ - Jerry Blumengarten

In addition to learning new things, Twitter has presented me with some special opportunities.  Please click on the links below to view a few examples of the opportunities I have enjoyed in recent weeks.

1.  Guest writer for 'Free Technology for Teachers' - Richard Byrne
2.  Feature writer for 'TeacherCast' - Jeffery Bradbury
3.  Interview for 'GlogsterEDU'

Another awesome feature of Twitter that I have taken full advantage of is to participate in chats.  To be able to discuss in real time current educational issues with others from around the world is invigorating.  The exchanging of, reflecting on and challenging of ideas for the purpose of improving the educational system and our own teaching practices is very energizing.  The Twitter Chats I like to participate in are as follows:

#sschat - Monday 7 pm EST
#engchat - Monday 7 pm EST
#edchat - Tuesday Noon and 7 pm EST
#ptchat - Wednesday 9 pm EST
#edblogs - Thursday 8 pm EST

For a complete directory of all educational chats on Twitter visit http://cybraryman.com/chats.html#edchat

Needless to say, the advantages Twitter offers educators are enormous.  However, to maximize the full benefit of any social media application, one must create and share their own content.  It is important to take an active part in the sharing of content, ideas and opinions because in order to truly feel a part of the educational community and thus expand our pedagogical practices and philosophies, one must put themselves out there.  It can be intimidating but you just have to do it!  'The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers' blog is my contribution to the already vast wealth of educational resources available on the internet.  I certainly hope that you find as much value in the content found here as I find in the information I find via Twitter.

As a result of the new connections and resources I have come in contact with via Twitter, I have embarked on an incredible journey the past few months.  It is absolutely amazing the opportunities that have been directed my way.  If you have not already, I strongly encourage you to sign up for a Twitter account.  I am confident that your experience will be a rewarding one. 

This post originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.

Photo Credit: "Twitter-Cartoon-Bird." Cartoon. E-StrategyBlog. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2012. 
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/3478186431/">Ed Yourdon</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photo pin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Screencasting Made Easy With CamStudio

Being able to create a screencast has become so much more important since the flipped classroom concept has taken education by storm in recent years. The basic premise behind the flipped classroom is for students to learn new information via screencast at home while completing assignments at school where teacher assistance is readily available. To make the flipped classroom concept work, it is necessary to create screencasts or digital video recordings of the required lessons. In most cases, instructors need to record the content and associated images directly from their computer screen. Screencasts also often include audio that provide a verbal explanation of the material.

An excellent screencasting program is CamStudio. CamStudio is a free open source screencasting program that allows users to record all screen and audio activity on the computer. The AVI video files along with the built-in SWF 
Producer creates a high quality screencast which can be easily streamed to various sources such as YouTube.

One feature I really like about CamStudio is the ability to record and sync audio information with previously recorded video.  This feature is particularly helpful to new users as it 
can be difficult to coordinate verbal instructions simultaneously with visual images while recording.

How to Get Started:

The link below provides excellent tutorials on many of the features CamStudio offers:


Sample Classroom Activities:

1. Students can create a screencast on any topic. Some ideas include:

          a. Grammar lessons such as Parts of Speech or
              Sentence Errors

          b. Biography on a historical figure, famous athlete,
               notable scientist or writer

          c. Current Event

2. Teachers can created lessons like the one below:

CamStudio is an easy to use screencasting tool that creates high quality videos. Check it out here!

This post originally appeared on "The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers"

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/labanex/6134408226/">labanex</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photo pin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Sunday, July 1, 2012

What are Twitter Hashtags?

Twitter hashtags can be very confusing especially for people who are new to Twitter. In a nutshell, a hashtag is any string of characters excluding spaces that follow a number sign (e.g. #cool or #whataretheytalkingabout). 

Additional questions about Twitter hashtags include:

Who creates them? Anyone can create a hashtag.

What is the purpose of hashtags?  To categorize key words or phrases which can be easily found in a Twitter Search.

What do they mean?  Clicking on a hashtagged word displays all other Tweets marked with that keyword.  A popular hashtagged word usually becomes a Trending Topic. 

How do you create a hashtag?  Compose a tweet.  Select a keyword(s) or phrase.  Insert a # in front of the selected keywords.  Viola!  You have a Twitter hashtag.

What is the hashtag etiquette?  
 - hashtags included in Tweets from public accounts allows anyone to search for that hashtag and subsequently view your Tweet.
 - Don't spam with hashtags.  Don't over-tag a single Tweet. It is suggested using no more than 2 hashtags per Tweet.
 - Use hashtags only on Tweets relevant to the topic.

Now that you have a better sense of what a Twitter hashtag is, I encourage you to try creating a hashtag with your next Tweet!

This blog originally appeared on The De-tech-tive 4 Teachers.