Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cloudlet - Not Just Another Cloud on the Web

When I came across this tool, all I could say was WOW!  Teachers have spent years trying to get students to refine their Internet searches, use Boolean techniques and yet have continued to watch them try to go through massive amounts of information or just grab the first thing they see when researching a topic.  Now there is Cloudlet, which is a free Firefox add on that works with Google to create a tag cloud to help researchers refine their searches easily and quickly!  You can see in the picture here to the right that I was searching on the War of 1812.  Cloudlet automatically pops up a tag cloud that helps me refine my search.  Watch this video to see it in action.  You will be impressed.
http://www.getcloudlet.com/swm.php?page=video

Try it out today at:  http://www.getcloudlet.com

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Widgetbox - Lets You Make an App for That!

A colleague showed me Widgetbox yesterday and explained how her husband was using it within his school system to create a widget that could be shared on a website or as a phone application for parents to use for quick access to school information.

Of course, I had to go home and play with it and create a widget of my own!  I also created a mobile app for my iPhone that links to my blog, tweets and YouTube channel.  It looks just like a tiny little icon on my phone and when pressed looks like this picture and users can choose where they want to go.  Whatever they choose automatically comes up on the screen to read or watch videos.  It is pretty darn cool!  Once you create the mobile widget, you simply take the permalink and go to it from your phone and save it to your home screen to make it an app!  Here is the link to my mobile widget to try it out:  http://m.wbx.me/mobile-site-iteachtechnologynow  Just go to the link from your iPhone and then touch the + sign and choose Add to Home Screen.  It then becomes an app on your iPhone!   You also have the choice of embedding the widget on your website.

So, how can we educators use this?  A few things come to mind:
  • quick reference links for community (news, maps, school website)
  • use widget on teacher websites so students have access to the links you wish them to see
  • allows students to create widgets of their own for their website and/or phone for quick reference
  • use other shared widgets that give you access to all kinds of educational information
Drawbacks are that it doesn't work with all sites, but the site says they are working on that!  I would definitely check it out and think about how you can use it with your students and share your ideas by commenting please.

www.widgetbox.com