I’m always anxious to find great new Web 2.0 tools that enable my students to display their learning in new and different ways that engage them in the learning process more than traditional research papers. My latest fun tool is Xtranormal.
Xtranormal is nothing like normal. It’s a supercool way to create quick and easy animations. Sure the voices are computer-generated, but you can make your characters say anything you want superfast, supereasy! Just set up a free account at Xtranormal, select a cast, decide how many characters your movie will need–one or two–and get started writing your movie.
There are nine basic scenes, and you can change camera angles within each character’s script. All you do to start a new character’s conversation is click on the plus sign.
You can drag all sorts of cool stuff into each character’s script. Try animations, looks, expressions, points, pauses, and sound effects. There are even different camera angles to keep your animation from being so boring. No one wants to keep looking at the same scene throughout the entire movie! Whenever you drag something into the script, you can try it out on your character inside the script bubble to see what it looks like.
Once you’re finished, you just click on the action button and your animation starts rendering and all that cool movie talk. Give it a few seconds, and then your movie will be ready to preview. Not satisfied? No problem! Editing is a breeze. Then you just save again.
When you’re finally thrilled with your results, you can share your video with the world! But, please, WordPress, get into the twenty-first century so we can embed Flash videos in our blogs!
This Saturday, August 22nd, Kim Caise, Lorna Costantini and Peggy George will be hosting another Classroom 2.0 LIVE show. As an extension to the Classroom 2.0 community, Classroom 2.0 “LIVE” shows are opportunities to gather with other educators in real-time events, complete with audio, chat, desktop sharing, and sometimes even video. A Google calendar of upcoming shows is available at http://live.classroom20.com/calendar.html. If you haven’t used Elluminate before, we encourage you to view this tutorial to prepare for the Elluminate session: Elluminate tutorial video.
The topic this Saturday will be “Web 2.0 Start Pages as RSS Readers and other Ramblings” with special guest Shamblesguru aka Chris Smith. Please join us as Shamblesguru shares examples of start pages, how to create and ways to use them as RSS readers. More information and session details are at http://live.classroom20.com. If you’ve never participated in a live webinar, don’t be afraid to come and observe. ‘Dip your toes in’ the conversations until you feel comfortable enough to “jump into the conversations with both feet”! We want to encourage “experienced Web 2.0 users” to join us by contributing and extending the conversation by sharing real-life examples and tips/suggestions.
On the Classroom 2.0 LIVE! site (http://live.classroom20.com) you’ll find the recordings for our recent “Exploring AllaboutExplorers.com” show with special guests Gerald Aungst and Lauren Zucker. Click on the “Archive” tab to view recordings.
Special thanks to our sponsor, Elluminate, for providing the forum that allows us to do this!
Oh, happy day! The Library of Congress YouTube Channel is officially open!
Timeless treasures and contemporary presentations from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. As the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, we are the steward of millions of recordings dating from the earliest Edison films to the present. In addition, we sponsor events, lectures and concerts that are free and open to the public. More about the Library: http://www.loc.gov/about
These wonderful widgets have been around for sometime, but if you haven’t discovered the fabulous “Browse Inside” widgets from Harper Collins, you need to surf over and browse the selections! These widgets, which can be embedded on MySpace, a blog, a regular web page, or wiki, allow your patrons to preview and browse a book for free! How cool is that?
To download the code, simply scroll to the bottom of the page for the book you have selected from the search.
As events were occurring during the recent Mumbai, India attacks, it was difficult for news-hungry readers to keep up with events as quickly as they needed to through regular news outlets. As a result, the inspiration for TweetNews was born. Now thanks to TweetNews, as news is breaking, Twitter users can search for tweets on a specific topic and simultaneously be directed to news articles as well. In the future, all news could be delivered this way, but for now it’s available thanks to a collaboration between Yahoo and Twitter. Yahoo engineer Vik Singh developed TweetNews to combine Yahoo news results with the hot topics that are hitting Twitter. This is different from the way search engines like Google News and other major news websites work; they use complicated algorithms to rank stories, and breaking news item might not make it to the top of the heap. Yahoo News topics are organized around popular Twitter topics, resulting in a search engine that tracks breaking news using Twitter search results. Twitter users will then have access to more valid sources of information in addition to first-hand reports from Twitter users on the scene. You can click here for a link to TweetNews or click here for a link to an article in TGDaily with more information. You can just go to the TweetNews site and type in you own search term, for example today you might try “inauguration.”
A RSS feed from the official Presidential Inauguration Committee’s blog
An embedded widget that will carry UStream TV’s live coverage of the inauguration ceremonies.
A RSS feed with the latest entries from Change.gov
An “Inauguration 2009 Countdown” widget
A widget with my media center’s favorite bookmarks related to all things Inauguration 2009 via delicious
A widget with the latest videos from the official Presidential Inauguration Committee’s YouTube channel
A Flickr widget with photos from the official Presidential Inauguration Committee’s Flickr account (includes great photos of Lincoln’s Bible!); there is also an additional photo widget for a Flickr group for “Inauguration 2009″ photos that is tied into the Smithsonian’s “Click! Photography Changes Everything!” project.
A widget with the latest headlines via Google News related to Inauguration 2009
A widget from the Washington Post called “Inauguration Watch 2009″
A Time magazine widget that will carry live blog posts from the ceremonies on January 20.
Widgets with the latest Tweets from the official Presidential Inauguration Committee’s Twitter account as well as the Inauguration_DC Twitter account.
What makes this pagecast so cool and relevant? The content is live and dynamic—as feeds and content are added to each of these mediums, the updates are automatically reflected on the pagecast widgets. The pagecast is the perfect medium for the organic information feeding into the information portal. A pagecast also allows you to incorporate new media into your resource portal—much more exciting and informative than a static flat list of links on a traditional 1.0 web page.
If you have not tried using an information portal such as Pageflakes or NetVibes, I’d like to encourage you to consider giving it a try! You can check out some of my favorite resources for learning about Pageflakes, examples of pagecasts, and how libraries are using information portals at http://delicious.com/theunquietlibrary/pageflakes .
If you like the pagecast, please feel free to link to it from your own media center blog, website, or wiki!
This resource allows you to see which representatives in Congress are using Twitter to update their constituents about their legislative work. A “Tweetstream” allows you to see the latest updates from all Congress reps who are Tweeting; you can also explore who is tweeting from Congress by state as well as political party. If you use Twitter, this is a great way to keep up with your representatives; if no one is Tweeting from your state like mine, Georgia, then take this opportunity to let your reps know you want more transparent government and would like to have your state represented in the Twittersphere.
I may have some kind of fixation with mind mapping Web 2.0 tools. I have blogged previously about bubbl.us and Mindmeister, which are great brainstorming applications, and you may be fortunate enough to be able to purchase Inspiration, or to have a system which buys it for your school as ours does. But variety, as they say, is the spice of life. Mind42 is another great tool you can use to keep up with all of your brilliant ideas, either alone or with your colleagues. Your students can use it to collaborate on assignments and group projects. Because Mind42 is browser-based, you no longer need to download and install programs, so its use is hassle-free. Mind42 supports keyboard shortcuts, drag and drop, zooming, and other features with true WYSIWYG capability. There’s a Vimeo screencast to teach you the ropes, but if Vimeo is blocked at your school (as it is at mine), you may have to watch it at home to find out all the state secrets!
OK, I know I am supposed to post about Web 2.0, but I also need to comment on this week’s National Book Award’s Ceremony. The 2008 National Book Awards were presented on Wednesday and author Judy Blundell was the winner in the children’s literature category for her novel What I Saw and How I Lied. Ms. Blundell won out over other teen authors Laurie Halse Anderson for Chains; Kathi Appelt for The Underneath; E. Lockhart for The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks; and Tim Tharp for The Spectacular Now. Other YA authors judging the event included former winners Holly Black, Lemony Snicket (also known as Daniel Handler), Angela Johnson, Carolyn Mackler, and Cynthia Voigt. What I Saw and How I Lied is about a teenage girl who falls in love with a handsome young ex-soldier from her stepfather’s company and finds herself in a complicated web of lies. At the awards ceremony Blundell told the audience of around 650 people that she has written over 100 books as a ghost writer and romance novelist, but that this is the first written under her own name. Your collection may have some of her Star Wars books which she wrote under the pen name of Jude Watson. She thanked her editor, fellow author David Levithan, for giving her her voice and for encouraging her to write something of her own. As a recipient of the National Book Award, Ms. Blundell will receive a check for $10,000. Prizes were also awarded in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. You can read an article in School Library Journal for more information.
This is the time of year that media specialists celebrate the year’s accomplishments and look ahead to promotional strategies for the upcoming year.A free and fun Web 2.0 resource that can help you create eye-catching and visually appealing creations from your digital photos for these promotions is Big Huge Labs, Home of fd’s Flickr Toys.You can upload your own photos or use Flickr photos (observing copyright, of course!) with this free Web 2.0 suite of applications. If you choose to upload your own photos, you will need to sign up for a free account with Big Huge Labs, but you do not have to sign up for a Flickr account; if you already have a Flickr account, you have the option of linking your Big Huge Labs account to your Flickr account.
This resource features a multitude of games, toys, and utilities to help you create catchy and memorable image-based creations.Here are a few of my favorite applications:
MapMaker:create a map of where you have been or where you are going!
Matte:add a touch of class with a museum style matte frame to your favorite photos.
Jigsaw:create a custom jigsaw style image from your own photos.You also have the option to order and purchase a real jigsaw puzzle from your creation!If your budget permits, this would be a great way to promote library activities!
Badgemaker:Use this tool to create nametags, ID badges, or any type of identification document.
Mosaic Maker: This is my favorite “toy”! You can create many kinds of mosaics using your own photos or Flickr photos. What a wonderful way to highlight library activities!
Last summer, I registered for a Twitter account, but drifted away it from it quickly as I thought it was more of a “fun” social networking tool that did not have any real meaningful application.
Was I WRONG!
I reconnected with Twitter last week thanks to my friend Stephen Rahn at the Kennesaw State Ed Tech Center. In the last week, here is what I have found and/or accomplished thanks to my connections on Twitter:
I am following the Tweets of great leaders in my field like Doug Johnson, Joyce Valenza, “Cool Cat” teacher Vicki Davis, and Will Richardson! Doug Johnson is now one of my “followers”! It is something akin to rubbing elbows with Hollywood stars at an Oscar party!
Discovered and have been listening to some amazing educational podcasts at http://edtechtalk.com/live, an amazing resource! I haven’t had a chance yet to listen to a live broadcast although I hope to catch one today at 10:00 A.M.
As you can see, Twitter can be a great resource for networking with other people and sharing resources in real time. You can Twitter me at http://twitter.com/buffyjhamilton! Come join in this fun way of learning and networking with others!