I just discovered a new, free online tool from Suzie Vesper’s wikispace that I’m very excited about. It is called AuthorStream (http://www.authorstream.com). It allows you to upload a PowerPoint presentation that maintains the original settings (such as text that loads one line at a time). The hyperlinks are clickable and the slides easily advance. The bonus is that you can choose the option to “Present Live” and it provides you with a discussion window where you can invite people to join you to discussion the presentation via an invite URL. It provides a fantastic alternative for making a PowerPoint presentation interactive and collaborative. I have been using SlideShare (http://www.slideshare.net) and while it has some wonderful features including the ability to add audio to your slides and make it a self-running presentation in a Slidecast, it also has some limitations. I had been frustrated by trying to get the hyperlinks in Slideshare presentations to actually work and easily move back and forth between the presentation and the link and this problem seems to be solved with AuthorStream. While I am continuing to explore the features on AuthorStream, I am very excited by the potential of the application. There are a few places where the alignment of the text changed with the uploaded presentation so that is a minor issue for me to explore. Give it a try and let me know what you think of it.
Many edubloggers and people in the Twittersphere have been buzzing about Wordle. I have spent some time exploring it and can see what the excitement is about. It has amazing potential for inspiring critical thinking both for classrooms and in adult professional development sessions. Wordle is a very simple tool (online and free) that allows you to create word clouds from text or tagged bookmarks. Of course, I had to play with it a bit, and created several different Wordles with my tagged bookmarks in Diigo and Del.icio.us.
You just copy text in any language, paste it into Wordle and it will analyze it and create clouds from the most commonly occurring words in the text. You can then edit the shape, the colors and the font in the cloud to make it more visually appealing, and even remove words you don’t like by right-clicking on them (command-click for Macs). Try it out on some text and see what you discover. You could copy/paste text from your school newsletter or a memo from your principal and see if there are any words that emerge as larger images in your Wordle. The more frequently you use a word, the more emphasis it is getting. You could paste an article you’ve written or even a section from your resume to see if you’re over-using certain words or if key words are missing. It was very revealing in my bookmark tags to see what I considered important by what I chose to bookmark. It was amazingly accurate! It is a powerful way to visually analyze information and use it for conversation with others by asking them to share and interpret what they see. Ask a few of your colleagues to create a Wordle of their bookmark tags, print them out and then have a conversation comparing the results. 🙂
I read a fantastic blog post by José Picardo, a high school teacher at Nottingham HS in the UK entitled: Wordle: Using Word Clouds in a Lesson. He provides an excellent example for a lesson using two online newspaper articles to create and print Wordles. He asked his students to use the Wordles to try to determine what the article was about (just from the key words). He said it provides a great way for students to analyze text, vocabulary, and language in detail. It ws also a great tool for elicit speaking and creative writing. You can read the details on his blog post. (Box of Tricks: ICT and Education)
Try it out and share your results in a comment. I’d love to see more examples. 🙂
I found a great tutorial on YouTube created by a student who expains how to add a Wordle to your blog. He makes is sound very easy–and it is!
Information from the Mixwit website:
Mixwit is primarily a media mash-up platform.
Where does the music come from?
Currently we’re using two music search services, Seeqpod and Skreemr, to allow users to discover mp3 files that are publicly available on the internet. Our Mixmaker application allows people to save a list of bookmarks to those tracks. The files stay in their original location.
It’s your mix, so make something unique. Add pictures, photos, artwork, drawings… Anything you want. Make a mix of your favorite songs and artists. Post your mixtape to MySpace, Facebook, Blogger, and others. You can post it on a blog, wiki or website too.
I decided to try it out just to see how easy it was to use and to search for some of my favorite “oldies but goodies” to see if they were available for my mixwit. It was both easy and fun to create and post to my blog and now I can enjoy my mini-playlist whenever I want. Give it a try. 🙂