Friday, July 24, 2009


As a stage IV patient, I may not see new health plan, but I would like my kids to have the benefits. Ask your Congressman to vote "YES" now!

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Tracking Hits on My Blog

Did you ever wonder who was reading your blog and where they live?

FeedJit will provide you with the answers. It's a free widget you can get at that provides you with data on visitors to your blog in any of four formats: Live Traffic Feed; Recommended Reading; Page Popularity; and Live Traffic Map, an example of which you can see in here in the sidebar.

Widgets for Blogger and many other blogs and social networks are available and install as Javascripts in one or two clicks. The newest widget works with Twitter. All the modes except Live Traffic Maps include live links back to the visitor's site.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Try it , You'll Like It

If you haven't tried Bing, the new Microsoft search engine, you're missing a valuable new tool. The user interface and the compiled search results differ substantially in format from those of Google in several ways, mostly positive. It works well with Firefox, too, and you can drag a Bing search box into the Firefox tool bar providing you with direct access to searches on either or both Bing and Google.

Why use two search engines? Because their results ranking schemes are different and you will get two different lists by relevancy. Try it and see which results you find the most useful.

Based on your pattern of selected search results, Bing will pull up new results automatically, making it possible to narrow your search on the fly without adding terms. You can achieve similar results with Google by using the Firefox Surf Canyon add-on, but if you are uncomfortable downloading add-ons, Bing's all-in-one approach is the better choice.

When I use Bing, since I already have the Surf Canyon add-on installed in Firefox, I get suggested hits from both Bing and Surf Canyon with some overlap, but not enough to get rid of one in favor of the other.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Apologies ...

I apologize for not having posted on educational technology for several weeks. After finding out that I have had a recurrence of melanoma, I've transferred my energy and efforts toward: (a) survival; and (b) sharing information about my efforts in the hope that they may be of use to others.

You can find me now on my new blog -

Actually, there is some pretty high tech stuff there!

I hope to get back to blogging about edtech and to finish the book manuscript now on hold as soon as possible. Thanks for you patience.


Friday, May 22, 2009


New postings on The influence of pets on health and healing.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

EdWeb 2.0 - A Teacher's Digital Swiss Army Knife

Did you ever want a free web site for your class that includes all thise digital bells-and-whistles, such as podcasts, blogs, calendars, FAQs, scrolling news, hot links, polls, dynamic pages, groups, folders, public and private access control, a showcase for student work, student logins you create, private messaging, and more - all free? No kidding, and no special technical skills are required. EdWeb 2.0 offers all of this. Click the image for a more readable version.

Free sites are available to teachers willing to offer the sale of mousepads created from images used on their sites to parents and others. To learn more about this innovative approach to making Web 2.0 tools readily accessible to teachers and students at a cost that can't be beat, view the same pages on their web site. School-wide versions available at a reasonable cost, too, with or withought the mouspad sale feature which schools can use as a fund raiser.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Social Networks and the "Porridge Pot"

You all know the folk tale about the porridge pot that perpetually refilled itself until it bubbled over and nearly destroyed the house. I'm coming to believe that social networks are like the porridge pot, perpetually refilling themselves faster than one can keep up until we finally drowned in information.

While developing my manuscript on Web 2.0 tools, I've browsed over 100 "social networks" and joined about ten of the more popular ones as part of the research. I've learned four things: (1) a tighter definition for the essential characteristics of a social network is needed; (2) there are is a lot of redundancy, especially in micro-blogs; (3) you will see the same post on multiple networks, thanks to programs like; and (4) tags and filters help, but there is still too much info coming across my screen.

Is there answer? Well, sort of. The obvious one is don't join so many, be less catholic in my choices, and don't feel obliged to answer every post of interest. Yea, but I might miss something really interesting or important - help I've become an info addict, my cup runneth over and this is not necessarily a blessing in this context.

So, I'm now restricting my intake to posts that can be consolidated through a "social aggregator" of which I have found 21, from the oldest, Profilactic, to the newest (?), Bebo. Oops, too much info again.

Which one is right for me. I found some help at Dan Taylor's weblog - Fabric of Folly, where he reviews 15 social aggregators and includes a useful chart of which social networks each aggregator covers.

I haven't figured out which one is right for me, but I'm leaning toward combo.

More on this this topic later. What's your favorite social aggregator and why?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


@lhome preparing for a week of golf w/ John Shaw and Craiig Mudge

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Voki Brings Voice to Your Web Pages

Check out my Voki avatar in the right sidebar. Really a bit weird, but fun. While it may have applications for the classroom, even tho' it's free and simple to use, the investment in time to set it up may not produce equivalent value. If you want to provide your student with a visual web presence, SitePal, tho' pricey, may be a better choice.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Seesmic - exhibitismo?

Seesmic is a video blog (vblog) with a Twitter-like format – video posts by members arrayed in a list format. After registering your login information, fill out a form to create and save a profile. You will be sent an email activation link; click it to open your account. Go to the home page and click “Everyone” to see all posted videos.

As you can see from the above menu which appears on the left of the page, networking options are limited, the absence of a Groups option is an obvious omission.

Video posts, which appear in the center of the page, are mainly unscripted. Here’s a typical post:

Clicking on the image launches the video in the thumbnail window; selecting “Go to video” opens a new page and starts the video in a larger window. Selecting “reply” offers the options of recording an immediate video response, uploading a pre-recorded file, or posting a link to a video file at You Tube or another video server.

Lists of thumbnails for "Active Conversations" and" Featured Videos" appear on the right-hand side of the page. You can learn more about the origin and features of Seesmic at its blog, Also, there are some funky how-to videos at

There does not appear to be any way to create a private group, which makes Seesmic of dubious value for teaching and learning, because of privacy issues. This is unfortunate since its ease of use and integration with Twitter would make it useful for low production value how-to videos, messages to students and parents, and “homework,” especially in language arts.

Seesmic (

Cross-Posting to Blogger

I just posted a review of Utterli on my blog at, added a cross-posting badge to the blog, and now I'm testing it by cross-posting this utter with a pic.

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Utterli - Variation on a Theme (Twitter-like)

Tired of Twitter? Looking for a Different look and feel? Try Utterli.

Post an “utter” from your computer or mobile phone; include text, images, audio and video, and have it automatically cross-posted to your Blogger, Twitter, or other of your networking sites.

Registration is easy and, of course, free. When you create a profile, you can also choose the sites to which cross-posts should be sent, either automatically or at your choice. Select “Apps & Widgets” on the top tabs, then choose one of three widget formats for inclusion on your website, blog, and anytime mobile blogging. You can add friends from other networking sites or “Find & Follow” current Utterli members. Join a special interest group; there are over 800 to choose from.

The site layout is clean, attractive, and easy to read; the user interface is “intuitively obvious” with plenty of help options available, including “how-to” videos. The membership appears to consist chiefly of young professionals, including an international contingent posting in French and Spanish. The site is ad supported with a limited number of relatively unobtrusive featured offers visible on the page.

Utterli (http;//

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Plurking on the Web

If Twitterers send "tweets," do Plurkers send "urks?"

Now that Congress seems to have found Twitter, it may be time to move on. If you an get past the name, Plurk ( is a spiffy alternative to Twitter for graphically-inclined users. About the only thing they share in common is the 140 character limit on text posts. If you regard Twitter as "business-like," Plurk is definitely fun-kee, with a slick graphic interface - a horizontally scrolling time line with annotation tools, like these predefined action verbs which allow different functions within the post:

The scrolling time line appears at the bottom (the annotation in this image was created using
Jing). You may use a nickname, mine is k24x7 here. Comments and responses are appended to the original post. A one-click widget is available to be embedded in your blog or website (see the sidebar on this blog) and plurks can be automatically distributed to Twitter, Friendster, and Facebook.

At present, there are (only) 55,000+ users and the orientation is primarily toward social networking; when you sign up you are asked for your birth date and then offered a choice of plurker age-related plurker friends. All-in-all Plurk is presently more interesting for its fun interface than for its content, but has enough privacy tools so it could be used in an educational context. The Bandstand generation would say, "I'd give it an 8, it's got a good beat, you can dance to it."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Oldie but Goodie - EyeJot

Sometimes old (by Web 2.0 standards) is good. Originally introduced in 2007, Eyejot is a slick little applet that runs from a browser tool bar button; no software installation required. Just go to, register (it's free), login, and drag the provided link button to your browser's tool bar. On Firefox, it looks like this:

You can also find an EyeJot widget on their site, which can be installed on any site that will accept HTML. For several sites, including this one, Eyejot can be installed with a single click; look in the right sidebar and try it out (if you have a web cam).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

And Yet Another (basic) Collaboration Tool...

If you want a very simple approach to documenting collaborative learning consider ClassChatter The user interface is primitive by current standards, but the tools are easy to use, secure, and private. It comes with a free edition, which “… offers free blogging and web tools for teachers at all levels of education.” Personal blogs created by students in ClassChatter are “… viewable to the entire class or just the teacher (at your option), and visitors can make posts or leave comments as well.” There is also a space for group work “… where students and teachers can share ideas while discussing a common topic.”

Assignment Blogs allow:
….teachers to post assignments for the class and later grade them in a private secure setting. Students can work on assignments over multiple online sessions and then submit them when they are finished. Teachers can subsequently grade the assignment, offer guidance or comments, or return the assignment to the student for further work.

cMail is an e-mail-like option which provides an internal means of exchanging messages without the need for e-mail addresses, similar to features in PBWiki and Wikispaces. While the creator of ClassChatter characterizes it as a site for protected blogging, it seems to me to be more similar to use of a private wiki, offering the same basic features and the advantage of being easier to setup a class workspace.

ClassChatterLive ( is a considerably more sophisticated version, with upgraded features, such as the ability to upload and distributed podcasts, electronic drop boxes, and permanent archiving. ClassChatterLive is available for use by all teachers in a school for a single price, $150/year; an individual account can be purchased for a fee of $30/year.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Another Collaboration Tool

Ive been working on a manuscript for several weeks and have reached a point where I need to find an easy and free way for contributors to share there stories and/or case studies about using free Web 2.0 tools to support teaching and learning online. Show Document, mentioned here previously, works pretty well for synchronous editing, and allows edited files to be downloaded in PDF format, using a GUI similar to WiZiQ's tools, but doesn't support file storage for distributing documents for asynch operations. After a short search, I found, a file storage operation, that has a free "lite" version, which allows file storage for asynchronous use by invited "editors and" "viewers." The file owner sets the access privilege when collaborators are invited. This seems to fit my needs rather well. During the file upload process I can capture the embed code for a widget that allows readers to access the file in any application that accepts the HTML code (see below). offers some additional collaborative features, including a disucssion board.

Rollover the file icon to see the upload date, capture a file link, download , or preview the file contents, or use the Menu tab for other options. Try it and give me your feedback as comments to this post. The sample file contains a list of Web 2.0 tools that are discussed in my manuscript. If you use any of these tools and would like to contribute a vignette or case study about how you are using them to support classroom instruction or eLearning, please contact me through

Monday, February 2, 2009

3-D a Reality?

An early effort at making 3-D web sites ubiquitous is now available from ExitReality ( The premise is simple, the implementation is difficult – create an interface that allows every web page to be viewed in 3-D. Try if for yourself. Download the free ExitReality plugin “…that allows anyone to view every web page in 3D”
View the introductory video and try it out using the “Visit any website in 3D” URL box or the “Web 3D Search.” Some sites clearly site work very well, others poorly. Try launching the 3-D version at; sign in, choose an avatar and take a stroll around the Plaza. Navigation is simple compared to Second Life; use the arrow keys or hold down the right mouse button. Download the plug-in; installation is simple by following the instructions. When installation is complete, the ExitReality icon will appear in your browser tool bar.

At the time I was writing this, ExitReality was still in beta, so there was little to see and few users to meet at the site.It does allow you to include audio files, as I learned on a visit to “Hades.”I suspect it will follow Second Life in supporting live voice chats, possibly using a third-party multi-voice application, such as Ventrilo (

Will the Smart Phone Take Over the (Virtual) World?

Many Web 2.0 applications and gadgets originally written for computers have been, or are being adapted, to run on smart phones. As the cost continues to drop, more and more applications useful for teaching and learning will, if the iPhone experience is any indication of trends, be integrated into smart phones, with video podcasts , social networking , internet searching, and blogging leading the way.

The small form factor limits their utility, but can be remedied with the addition of a Bluetooth laser virtual keyboard and a pair of video goggles for a large screen viewing experience; a pricey solution, but already available and almost certainly the precursor of more effective add-ons to make smart phones an all-in-one solution for entering the virtual world. When you search the web for video goggles, you will find that there are already models available for a 3-D viewing experience on the iPhone.

Formerly relegated to scary movies and Massively Multi-player Online Games (MMOGs), 3-D is becoming increasingly popular for television and the Internet, where Linden Lab’s Second Life ( leads the way. JoKay and Sean FitzGerald’s wiki page, “Second Life in Education,” ( is a great place to start your own investigation into a 3-D version of a classroom.

If you are a Moodle user, most of the work has already been done. On its web site ( Sloodle describes itself as " Open Source project which integrates the multi-user virtual environment of Second Life® with the Moodle ® learning-management system. Sloodle provides a range of tools for supporting learning and teaching to the immersive virtual world; tools which are integrated with a tried and tested leading web-based learning management system.” The illustration from Sloodle ( shows how it works:

Sloodle has a growing user base, but it’s too new to have generated a substantial research base, so its effectiveness as a teaching tool is untested. Students (and geeky adults like me) will love it, administrators and parents will be more skeptical nd probably resist it, so tread lightly. It’s close integration with Moodle, for which there already is a large community of users, suggests Sloodle will set the standard for the entry of 3-D Web applications supporting teaching and learning in the virtual world

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A (semi-)Random Walk on the Web

If you are not sure what you are looking for in the Web World, SimilarWeb ( is a Firefox Add-on that can be very helpful. After download and installation, a SimilarWeb icon appears in your main toolbar.

When clicked, it opens a sidebar on the left side of your browser screen, in which sites similar to your open page are automatically displayed in one of three formats: a thumbnail; list, or small icon. For example, if you were looking for a web analytics package other than
Google Analytics ( and had found Woopra (, the SimilarWeb sidebar List View will show a list of similar sites, as shown in the illustration below.

Try using
SimilarWeb in conjunction with StumbleUpon ( for a really wild trip through the Web World.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ning-ing a New Social Network

This called learning by doing -- to learn about Ning, I used it to set up a social network - "A place for all educators to share do's and don'ts, notes, tips, and tricks about technology applications for teaching and learning." It has the same name as this blog - visit it at

If the topic interests you, please join.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Speech-enabled Blogging

Today, I received a comment to my last post about Talkr suggesting ReadSpeaker as an alternative. As you may infer from the new "Listen" button under the title of each post, I'm giving it a try. To visit the ReadSpeaker site, you can use the above page link or the ad link which appears when you click Listen button.

In keeping with my "Free is Good" theme, I'm using a "free" edition, the price of which is the ad buttons. ReadSpeaker is available in three other ad-free editions with varying features; costs range between 39 and 149 Euros with ad buttons, significantly more costly without.This an excellent solution for bloggers who want a "barrier free" site. Intended for individuals and small businesses and currently in Beta, ReadSpeaker appears to be a scaled down version of WebReader from VoiceCorp International BV.

After registration, installation was simple: Fill in a short form, choose a male or female voice, and click a couple of buttons.
In my case, using
ReadSpeaker's Blogger widget made editing a gadget in the Blogger Layout--Page Elements quick and simple, no HTML coding required. Saving the gadget put a Title in my sidebar and a Listen button for each post. Installation is much easier and more goof-proof than for Talkr. No feed reader is required, only a sound card with speakers or a headset; three of four minutes of button clicking, a bit of text entry, and you're in business.

The conversion from text to voice is reasonably good, still recognizable as a computer, but understandable without difficulty. The only thing that I don't like about it is that it reads my entire page header text before each post. Obviously, I could shorten this text or eliminate it entirely -- but I don't want to. I suspect I will be hearing from the ReadSpeaker folks shortly with instructions about how to limit the audio output to posts only.

ReadSpeaker supports four languages, with more promised in the near future. With the Listen button clicked, you can both listen to a post or click a link to download the audio file. Since Quicktime is currently my default player, I was given the option of saving it as Quicktime movie. In effect, I can use this feature as an on demand, quasi-podcast or convert and re-publish the file as a true podcast through iTunes.

Since this is considerably more diffucult than the Talkr approach, unless I missed something, for the blowner ReadSpeaker and Talkr serve different needs and listening styles. For the moment, I'll keep both as blog enhancements, at least until someone comes up with a version that seamlessly combines the features of both.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Podcasts Now Available

If you are tired of reading, try listening to podcasts of the blog posts here at Use the below link to open a podcast created in, which converts the text RSS feed from this site into podcast audio files. Try it out and give me your comments, please.

Listen to this Post as a Podcast

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

C4K - Partnering for Success

In 2001 to 2006, I was involved in creating a non-profit organization to reduce the digital divide in Colorado's Roaring Fork Valley - the Computers for Kids Foundation. Although I am no longer directly involved, I want to share with you how a community-based, volunteer organization has gone from a borrowed garage to a community institution. Go to for more information.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Quiz: Sample Quiz - not for public use

If you are interested in posting polls, surveys, and quizzes on your blog or social networking site, using Quibblo is an easy way to do it.If you want to share this quiz from this blog post, just click the Share tab and choose your destination. Quizzes can be placed in a sidebar, too.

Surf Canyon

I first read about Surf Canyon (, a new meta search engine, in the NY Times (Wednesday, January 14, 2009, Section D page 6) groups results based on semantic similarities determined by user preferences. To use it, you must first download it and install it as a browser extension. At the moment, it only works with Firefox and MSIE. The default source settings include Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft (MSN Live Search), Craigslist and LexisWeb.

When a search term is entered Surf Canyon returns a list of results, some of which are marked with a bull’s-eye icon, which denotes other related links which are opened by clicking the bull’s-eye. The new list may also display bull’s eyes, and so on. Surf Canyon is installed as an extension to your browser. The results from any search engine launched from you browser will then show the Surf Canyon bull's next to any search result for which SC has found related links.

Each choice you make modifies the search criteria to limit results to the preferences you’ve shown in choosing a bull’s-eye. As you successively click bull's-eye marked entries, Surf Canyon "learns" from your sequence of selections, and narrows the search result. Successive search results are indented like a subject outline. In other words, Surf Canyon is building you a “concept map,” of web based resources, a process familiar to most teachers.

The second way in which to tailor your version of Surf Canyon is by specifying the sources on which you want your searches made and to blacklist ones to avoid. This feature is likely to be of special interest to educators. You may do this a by selecting sites from a checklist at
Making sources subject specific and blocking popular social networking and gaming sites will will help keep students on topic when using the Internet in your classroom. Parents take note, too -- ah gee, Dad., you're no fun.

For more information about so-called semantic processors, check out Search Done Right.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pageflake Transfer

Talk about the ultimate tool for integrating apps - Pageflakes makes it easy to peel off and move one of its flakes to any web page that accepts HTML. Three clicks and one cut-and-paste and I've got a functional search tool on my blog for any reader to use. Enjoy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Exit Reality - Nifty but NQRFPT

Out in Beta, Exit Reality promises to display every web site in 3D. If you are familiar with Second Life, the user interface will look very familiar. After downloading and installing the ER plugin, which takes about 3 minutes in Windows, you can launch the ER site, choose an avatar, and begin your investigation. The interface is simple. Use arrow icons or point and drag your mouse icon to walk your avatar around the space. There is a text chat function, bit I did not find an audio button for voice chat. The available gestures, such as shout and cheers seem to suggest voice my be a future option. ER seems to work pretty much as advertised with the available social networking sites - just walk your avatar into one of the networking labeled "buildings" to experience the site in 3D. If you have your own page in My Space, Facebook, etcetera, you can access it in 3D from the ER button which will appear on your toolbar after installation. So far so good. After this it was pretty much all down hill. When I tried to some of the member created 3D pages, I had less success, slow loads and occasional hangups. When I tried to access my own blog page, I got repeated error messages prompting debugging. Eventually, it sort of worked, but was unusable. Converting my iGoogle home page to 3D worked slightly better, but since I have 20+ gadgets (I'm writing this blog entry from one now) the 3D result produces a forest of sign boards, one for each link on the page - not very useful. View a video of Exit Reality in action here.

My conclusion is that this is a slick application with a huge potential for instructional use, but its not quite ready for prime time. It would make a great platform for a virtual charter school. Anyone interested?