Greenshot - Screenshots Made Easy

It seems that I take a screenshot of something almost every day. I mean, the power to literally take a snapshot of what you can see on your computer screen is invaluable when you need to share something* (that whole "picture is worth a 1000 words thing).  I typically use SnagIt when on the PC (Skitch when on the Mac) to take my screenshots and it is a fantastic and powerful program... but it is expensive too.  Enter "Greenshot", a stripped down, no frills screenshot program that works very well.

(best viewed fullscreen)

Since Greenshot is free, students can install this on their computers and take advantage of the functionality when they are at home.  This opens up the door for them to make tutorials for each other!

* tech support people love it when you screenshot the error message you are getting and then sent that to them.

Digital Documents, Part 1

For me publishing my documents (tutorials, rubrics, study sheets, etc.) on the Internet solves many problems.  It saves paper, saves time (no more class time to hand out), allows me to easily share the documents with students and teachers (even if they are 1,000 miles away from me!), it gives me a place to store and organize my files where I can access them anywhere/anytime (such a bonus) and it doesn't require a user to download the file, they can view it right from their browser.   There are quite a few places online you can go to create and share your documents.  I spent some time playing around with three FREE popular possibilities and compared them for you.  So, take a look and try them out, getting your "stuff" online has never been easier.

Below is a quick summary of the pros/cons of each and my personal verdict :-)  If you want to see my more "in-depth" info, check this out or this one.

Examples of what documents look like "embedded" are here.

scribd (
Pros: easy upload, intuitive - big buttons, great organization features, can download, unique URL for sharing all documents (mine).
Cons: ads, can't upload images (unless they are in a document)
Verdict: I really like this one.  Fast and easy to use.  Embed is simple and functional.

issuu (
Pros: no ads, can download, very visual, simple URL for sharing all documents (see mine)
Cons: no excel, no images (except in document), navigation is a bit clumsy until you get used to it, more required fields on upload.
Verdict: I like the visual aspects of issuu, but I wish it were a bit simpler.

Google Docs (
Pros: allows you to create & edit documents, RSS feed available on documents, users can collaborate on documents
Cons: only presentations can be embedded, sharing is complicated
Verdict: Not really a document sharing application, more of a replacement for MS Word. It rocks but not so much for this...

We need to share what we create, these applications make this easy and a "no-brainer"... share with students, colleagues, parents, whomever, it will help you reach your teaching objectives.

Don't forget... students can get their own accounts (ask your parents first, kids) and then they can share their work with teachers and other students... dare I say build an online portfolio... :-)

One final thought, a Fujitsu ScanSnap (I've got the S510... new version is S1500) will allow you to quickly get your non-digital documents (i.e. paper) converted to PDF and capable of being uploaded and shared.  Additionally, with a scanner like this you can put all your hand drawn scribbles online too.

Cellphone U

The Deputy Head was blogging about cellphones in schools the other day and it got me thinking.... The Japanese love their cellphones and, historically, have pushed the limits of what they can do with them. Well, how about getting your degree, in part, due to your phone.

Cyber University, the nation's only university to offer all classes only on the Internet, began offering a class on mobile phones Wednesday on the mysteries of the pyramids.... The cellphone version, which pops up as streaming video on the handset's tiny screen, plays just the Power Point images as a professor's voice played from the handset speakers.

So, it is not really a full course but it is pretty clear where this kind of thing is headed. As cellphones become more powerful, more like tiny computers, what sorts of academic potential might they represent (do they already represent)? Of course, this assumes that school districts allow their students to have them at all.


I know I'm like a broken record here, but how many of these could be met with students and teachers using blogs? Another question, how many of these are not really 21st century skills but simply skills that all students (and adults) should have?

• Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
• Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
• Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
• Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
• Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
• Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments


Identity 2.0 Keynote

I'm a big fan of the presentation. I think it is a gift to be adept at being able to convey information to people. I mean, what a powerful ability. As teachers, we are required to conduct presentations every day. I think that there are some great technology applications out there that can help you be a better presenter but without a healthy dose of creativity, the presentation will still fall short. This YouTube clip shows a fascinating presentation about Identity. Two things occurred to me when I watch it. 1) What a great use of PowerPoint (Keynote, really - what, you have not bought a Mac!?); and, 2) Students could easily do something like this during the school year a a way to work on their presentation skills, master some technology skills and maybe teach us something that we don't know. Really inspiring stuff.

It's a Tool

PPT slideSo I was teaching some 6th graders today and we were discussing PowerPoint. I asked the students "what is PowerPoint?" The responses I received were about what I expected. "PowerPoint is a bunch of slides", "PowerPoint is used in meetings?" (I chuckled at this one), etc. One student, however, gave me the answer I was looking for. She said, "PowerPoint is a tool". I had previously talked to this class about technology being a tool that can be used to solve problems so I asked her what problems can be solved with this tool. She said that PowerPoint could be used to help "people communicate and share ideas". I was thrilled. "Yes," I said, "remember, an effective use of PowerPoint helps you get your ideas and messages across... but it is those ideas that should take center stage, not the tool". Good class, they are getting it!

A Vision of Students Today

One day, maybe I'll make cool videos like this that actually have a message. This is an interesting and new way to get actual research across to a wider audience (not that they conducted valid research for this - who knows). But really, how many more people will watch this video clip than will read a peer-reviewed, academic journal manuscript? Marshall McLuhan would be proud... the medium is the message (even if it is a poor quality YouTube video).