Saturday, April 28, 2012


I am on a quest! A quest to find Web 2.0 tools that are better than those offered in Google Docs. If you remember from my last post, my students (and myself) were fairly disappointed with quality and usefulness of the productivity tools offered in Google Docs portion of Apps for Education. So, here we to with SlideRocket. Cue the informational video!

When student's do presentations today, they are robust. They are connected to sound or video on the Web. I really enjoy Prezi and the ease that it incorporated the Web into my presentations, but had trouble with it when it came to my iPad. SlideRocket offers an iPad App, but I have yet to try it. Another feature that looks promising is the feature where your viewers can rate your presentation. I like that feature in the classroom because it will add some feedback to students as they present. You can even see which slide is viewed the longest or most. Fun! My freshmen class has been working on their Hero Project for a few weeks, and I have given them the choice of using SlideRocket or Prezi
So far, the results have been good. About a third of my students have used SlideRocket and have liked it. It has a slight learning curve, but my students caught on quickly. One of the requirements was to include a video in the presentation and SlideRocket made that very easy. It was great for publishing and sharing online also. For those wondering about SlideRocket in an educational setting, wonder no longer. SlideRocket EDU. I will definitely be exploring this collaboration with SlideRocket and Google Apps for Education. It looks promising.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Alternatives to Google Apps for Education

I have been pushing my school districts for the past few years to adopt Google Apps for Education as an alternative (not a replacement) to Microsoft Office. It is also a great way to give students space to store and share documents online. The Gmail package, calendar, and Google Sites are also impressive. Finally, around the holidays, our Sparta Area Schools was set up to use Google Apps for Education. I was pumped. My freshman classes were studying careers, so I set up a project utilizing Google Apps with career exploration. Here is what I found. Google Apps is not very good and my students hated it. There was a huge uproar as students begged to use their Office products. Be careful for what you ask for I guess.

However, this raised a question in my mind. I had heard so much about Google Apps for Education and districts adopting it and using it all over the nation. But, was there something out there in the cloud that was better? That has been my quest lately. To find alternatives to Google Apps for Education. I don't know that I can find the total package the Google offers of Email, calendar, productivity tools, Website builder, Forms, etc. But, I feel that I can find alternatives to some of these tools that are easy to use and offer more robust features.

Check back in the coming weeks to see what I can find. Thanks!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Big Campus: CMS Products Finale

Here we are again talking about Course Management Systems (CMS) and this time we are delving into a product called My Big Campus. I first became aware of My Big Campus when I saw my daughter logging into it in 6th grade to do a bonus math problem that her teacher had posted there. How cool is that I thought! Not only that my daughter is going online at home to do a math problem, but the platform being used. Here is the promo video:

Once again, as we have seen with Edmodo and Schoology. My Big Campus feels like Facebook. A lot of chances for colaboration between students. Calendar feature, quiz feature, etc. Very good product. Can't go wrong using it. Give it a try.

[Edit: I got the video wrong above. The promo video from Lightspeed Systems can be found here. The above video was made by Matthew Kitchens. Thanks for the heads up!]

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Schoology: CMS products Part 3

This week we are continuing our discussions about Course Management Systems (CMS) and more specifically, one such product name Schoology. Here is their promo video.

Hmmmm, deja vu? Looks like Facebook, feels like social media. Yes, Schoology is very similar to Edmodo. From what I have seen, the two are almost too similar to tell the difference. Schoology does offer a blogging feature, attendance, and folders where students can turn in work. The latter would seem more important to me as a teacher since most schools already have a SMS. I came away very impressed with Schoology as a CMS that I would definitely try for my classes.