Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Don't fail me now!


It had to happen sooner or later. Right when I needed the one web-based tool that I absolutely use more than any other, it dies on me. I sent a tweet asking who killed, but apparently I was the only one affected by this lovely error 999.

Yahoo, if you're reading this, please, please fix it and soon!
FireShot capture #19 - 'Yahoo! - 999 Unable to process request at this time -- error 999' - del_icio_us_techintegrate
Originally uploaded by cobannon71

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My new toy! Adobe Connect

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to begin facilitating a course called Web 2.0 Tools for Educators. I knew that offering the course face-to-face wouldn't garner a lot of interest because they would have to drive, so I set out to find a web-based conferencing option. There are many to choose from, but none of them would do exactly what I needed.

Then my own networking guys came to the rescue with Adobe Connect. I knew we owned it, but our guys are stretched so thin that getting it up and running has taken a long, long time. But the next thing I know, it's there, it's up, and I'm in!! My only complaint is that it's set up within our network so I can't bring in anyone from the outside. If there is anyone else with the same problem that has overcome it or found a workaround, I'd love to hear about it.

In the meantime, I'm thrilled to have this great tool - my new toy to deliver professional learning and "on-demand" help when needed. Keeping my fingers crossed that there aren't any (or many) technical glitches tomorrow. After our first session I'll post how it went.

Photo credit:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Redzee - And if one new search engine wasn't enough...

Redzee was brought to my attention by jdblack64 in a Tweet. When you first reach the site, you're greeted by a cute animated zebra, a red and white one, thus the name Redzee for the site. He's fun to watch for a few seconds and the younger kids will surely enjoy him. But the "wow" of the site begins when you enter in your search. Instead of the traditional listing of sites appearing, you get an arc of screen shots from sites that have matched your search criteria. To navigate through the results, you use your mouse to drag them to the left or right.


After the "wow" effect wore off, I began thinking about filtering for our students and wondering if this method of searching would result in our students being able to bypass it to show front pages of pornographic websites. I performed a few basic searches using keywords like pornography, sex, and porn, and all of them failed to produce results. Even sites that are blocked under normal search conditions remained blocked.

I won't be giving up Google at any time, but it is a very different way to navigate the net. What I would really love to see is a mashup of this site and all of my links.

Kart00 - Sweet little search engine

Originally uploaded by cobannon71
Kart00 is a search engine that gives you your results in a "mind map" type format. What I found very interesting about the results window is that the pages it finds are presented as small icon screen shots and are attached to blob-like bubbles that represent categories within your search.

In addition to the results in the main window, to the left you'll find other related categories. If you hover your mouse over them the links in the main window pulse, for lack of a better word. As you click through some of the categories, new ones appear. It's worth taking a look at and would be very interesting to show students the related categories their search comes up with that they may not have thought of themselves.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Survey Says!

Want a quick, simple way to gather and share data? Then you need to take a look at Google Docs' newest feature!

In Excel, you can create a very flexible survey on the fly and have it up and running within minutes with a link to a web-based questionnaire. Participants fill it out and the results are automatically added to the spreadsheet.

What did I love most? The fact that I didn't have to do anything to set up the spreadsheet! After you created it, you save it, click the share tab, and then select the form creation option and it walks you through the rest. As for distribution, you have the option of emailing the form or distributing the link to the form. I tried both and didn't have luck with the email form sending back the results, but the web-based form worked like a charm. I also embedded the results into my wiki, which is updated every five minutes with new incoming data. Feel free to give it a try and check the results. Oh, almost forgot! Participants do NOT need an account or to sign in to Google Docs in order to complete the survey or poll that was created.

The downside? You can't control who responds to your survey if the link gets emailed outside of the circle it was sent to and there is nothing to stop participants from responding more than once to the survey. However, if you just need to gather some quick data, it's a snap to use!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reality Check - Faceless!

Am I a name that just floats out there in my school district without a face to go with it? Apparently I am. I recently was faced with this humbling not to mention discouraging fact the other day when I was working with a pair of teachers. One of them I had never met, but the other I had taught before and she concurred that I was this mysterious entity that emailed without a face attached.


But after reflecting on this, I realized they were right. In a rapidly growing district with 12,000 students, it's difficult for one person to make an impact. I try to reach as many as I can, one or two teachers at a time. A pebble in a large body of water, I know, but I'm hoping for ripples. Lots of them. Until then, I do what I can to support those who have a spark already. Maybe I'll get lucky and there will be a fire? Anyone in the same situation out there with advice, I'd welcome it.

Flickr Photo credit: kevsunblush