Back to School with the Class of Web 2.0
Part 1 of 3: Original Source
With the start of the new school year, many teachers and students are seeking new products and technologies to help them through their upcoming academics. With the increase of teachers using blogs and wikis, and students networking and utilizing online tools, the demand for easier and more efficient ways of learning is on the rise. To me, the growing interest for web-based learning is amazing, which brought me to thinking; what if I were to consolodate some of the helpful online products and services that can help students, teachers and administrators alike? Well, I convinced myself. The following is a compilation of Web 2.0 products that I’ve personally researched and tested. These services are grouped into two main categories: “Tools”; and “Office Applications”. Some more specific services include: organizers, gradebooks, research tools, document managers, diagrams, and more.
There are going to be three parts to the “Back to School with the Class of Web 2.0″ series: part one covering tools; part two covering office applications; and in part three, real cases of Web 2.0 used in classrooms around the world. I hope that this series becomes a valuable resource for students, teachers, and school administrators alike. On a last note, part two is almost complete and I expect to publish it within a day or two followed by part three shortly after.
- Stu.dicio.us: Student organizer and social notetaking tool where students can create a schedule, track their grades, manage a to do list, store files for classes, and write public notes in an outline-like format. Stu.dicio.us also allows students to connect with friends and soon will include Facebook integration. More on Stu.dicio.us.
- Gradefix: Best described by Gradefix, “Gradefix intelligently organizes and prioritizes all of your homework so you are always on top of it.” Students that use Gradefix create a study schedule used to best spreadout and prioritize homework throughout the week in hopes to decrease stress and improve grades.
- Chalksite (Teachers): Chalksite is a system built for teachers, students, and parents providing teachers with an easy to use central point where they can communicate with students and parents, post assignments and grades, send messages, and manage a website for their courses. More on Chalksite.
- Engrade (Teachers): Similar to Chalksite, Engrade allows teachers to create an account and have direct communication with students and their parents. Teachers can manage student grades, track attendance, schedule upcoming homework, and provide students and parents progress reports.
- mynoteIT: (New release came out the other day) An online note taking tool for students including a WYSIWYG note editor, assignment reminders, grade management, to do lists, and more. Students can also share notes with friends and receive feedback through commenting on notes.
- Haiku LMS (Teachers): Haiku has yet to launch, but its feature set sounds promising making it worth mentioning. Haiku provides a system for teachers where they can create a public website for their classes, manage content, list assignments and announcements, track grades, and more. Sounds like a similar application to Chalksite.
- CollegeRuled: Academic organizer, class scheduler, and message board area for students. Students can either create a schedule or connect to their Facebook schedule with CollegeRuled and take notes and manage a to do list for each class. Note: I have not been able to test CollegeRuled as it requires an .edu email address.
- Backpack: Backpack is an all around great organizer including note taking, file storage, to do lists, a calendar, and more. An example use could be that students can create pages in their organizer for each class and manage notes on class discussions as well as upload related files and class documents.
- PocketMod: This isn’t really a “Web 2.0″ product, but I felt it’s worth mentioning. Pocketmod is a small tool for creating disposable paper organizers using print out templates covering just about anything from note paper to reference sheets. It’s perfect for students that prefer keeping organized on paper. Also, it’s just helpful to carry around with you for whenever you may need to jot some things down.
- JotSpot: JotSpot is a free wiki allowing users to create and share documents, spreadsheets, calendars, and more. It is my top pick for a wiki and provides a great set of features. Users can even install other applications from an application gallery to extend their wiki with project managers, to do lists, photo galleries, and other applications. It may be a little on the advanced side for students and teachers, but if your tech savvy, have at it.
- Teacher! (Teachers): Teacher, formerly known as Teacherly, is an online grading tool for teachers where they can create classes, add students, and track grades for all assignments and test scores. I would imagine it would work out fine for students as well wanting to track their own grades in classes. Unfortunately, Teacher is not accepting new users at this time but you can signup to be notified when they do and check out a demo in the meantime.
- Stu.dicio.us: Built into the Stu.dicio.us organizer comes a very simple grade manager allowing students to assign grade categories (homework, quiz, tests, etc.) and grades to each of their classes.
- mynoteIT: Students with an mynoteIT account can login and access their classes where they can add grade sections and grades. What’s nice too is that unlike Stu.dicio.us, mynoteIT gives the student a clear look with letter grades rather then just percentages and averages.
- Chalksite (Teachers): Designed for teacher, student, and parent communication, Chalksite provides teachers with online gradebooks where they select their class and simply fill in grades for each assignment that they have sent to their students. Students and parents can then login to their account to view their grades.
- Engrade (Teachers): The Engrade online gradebook is built to be flexible to a teachers needs where they can add assignments, create weighted grading categories, customize grading scales (A, B, C, Pass, Fail, etc.), and more. Students and parents can also login and view their grade report.
For Teachers, Clubs, and Management
- Groupvine: A service designed to help bring group members together to keep track of events, tasks, and news. Great for students in clubs, professors teaching specific topics, and campus management. For a screencast, view Screeniac.
- Nuvvo: Teachers wanting to teach online can use Nuvvo providing them with their own online learning portal. Teachers can can add courses that anyone can find and enroll in as well as charge for the online courses. They can manage students, class curriculum, quizzes, and more importantly, learn pages (allowing for headings, text, files, images, and video) that their students will be reading throughout the course.
- Schoopy: Built to strengthen community communication, Schoopy provides a system in which teachers can manage participating teachers, students, and parents and send messages, ask questions, keep up with assignments and even take quizes. Communities/Schools also can create a public website making it easy for students and parents to keep up with recent updates.
- Tuggle: Tuggle, launching Fall 2006, is a web-based organization tool for student leaders to manage groups, online payments, bulk email and texting, and more.
- Chalksite: A web package developed for teachers to help create a class website and a central point of communication with students and parents. Manage class assignments, student grades, and even a public blog.
- Engrade: “Engrade is a free online gradebook that allows teachers to manage their classes online as well as post grades, assignments, attendance, and upcoming homework online for students and parents to see.”
- Haiku LMS: Haiku has yet to launch, but its feature set sounds promising making it worth mentioning. Haiku provides a system for teachers where they can create a public website for their classes, manage content, list assignments and announcements, track grades, and more. Sounds like a similar application to Chalksite.
- Zoho Challenge: Online test tool where you can easily create tests, send tests to candidates (students, in this case), and view results with visual reports and straight forward grading (pass or fail).
- Calcoolate: Calcoolate provides users with a simple calculator with advanced expression support, mathematic functions, and history for viewing past calculations.
- Calcr: Similar to Calcoolate, Calcr is a web-based calculator with mathematic expression and function support as well as history logging in a very minimalist design.
- Create a Graph: Create a Graph is a free tool by Students’ Classroom that aims to make it easy for students to create bar graphs, line graphs, area graphs, pie charts, and point graphs. Navigate through its easy to understand visual interface to add data and customize graphs.
- e-Tutor Graphing Calculator: Advanced web-based graphing calculator allowing students to enter one or more equations and view them with position/intersection indicators and zooming functionality.
- Emurse: Great service built for job hunters that want to create, send, and share a professional resume. Users can view their resume’s statistics, send out their resume via fax and ground mail, and receive a public or private web address. One of my favorite applications of the year. More on Emurse.
- hResume Creator: Helpful tool for the tech savvy crowd that want to create a Microformat compatible resume for their website. Simply fill out the hResume form covering basic resume information and retrieve an HTML file which you can use to copy-n-paste into your website. You can then style the resume as you wish with basic CSS if your not thrilled with the default appearance.
- Amiko: Amiko does not appear to work or be officially launched yet, but I have been keeping an eye on it for the last month or so and hope to try it out soon. It appears to be a service that allows users to create and manage an online resume although it’s feature set does not look all that promising compared to Emurse. Note: The signup form doesn’t seem to work for me and I’ve tried reporting it as a bug, but the bug form did not work either. I’ll keep my eye on it.
To Do’s and Note Taking
Note: I did not list all of the note taking solutions I am aware of as I’ve already made a roundup of 50 notetaking tools here at Solution Watch, but I will add a few new student specific ones that I have recently come across.
- 25 To Do Lists to Stay Productive: Solution Watch roundup of 25 web-based task managers that can be helpful for students wanting to keep track of homework and upcoming quizzes. Be sure to check visitor comments for more.
- Fifty Ways to Take Notes: Another Solution Watch roundup including over 50 ways to take notes using various web-based tools in seven categories.
- NoteMesh: Best described by NoteMesh, “There are plenty of notes services out there; NoteMesh is a different way of thinking about your notes. Collaborate with your classmates to create a unified set of notes for your class. It’s like Wikipedia for your notes.” Note: School email address required when registering.
- Notecentric: Notecentric is a new notetaking site designed to help university students have their notes wherever they are and easily share them with fellow classmates. You can add multiple classes to your account and save notes to them using a WYSIWYG editor. Note: School email address required when registering.
- NoteTango: Free and collaborative note sharing site, launched just days ago, that allows students to create and share notes online and search notes created by other students.
Learning and Research
- EasyBib: An “automatic bibliography composer” that lets users enter sources and fill out a simple forms to be given MLA style bibliographies. I’ve used this multiple times in the past for research papers.
- Ottobib: Similar to EasyBib, Ottobib is a simple bibliography tool that allows users to enter multiple ISBN numbers for books at a time and retrieve the bibliographies in MLA, APA, AMA, or Chicago/Turabian format.
- Nuvvo: Nuvvo offers a service where students can search for courses to enroll in online on any just about any topic. It’s a fun and easy way for students to learn and they can select from free or paid courses.
- Diigo: Social annotation and bookmarking service where users can bookmark sites and add highlights and notes to them. Great for research. In fact, I used Diigo to help organize bookmarks and notes for this post.
- Wizlite: “Wizlite allows you to highlight text (like on real paper) on any page on the Internet and share it with everybody (or just your friends).”
- Mindpicnic: Similar to Nuvvo, Mindpicnic offers a service where users can create courses and find and study interesting courses full of media, links, flash cards, and more.
- Answers.com: Excellent site for researching anything at all. Make a search and receive results from dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other information sources.
- Wikipedia: Wikipedia is a collaborative encyclopedia under a Wiki platform that is written and maintained by volunteers. It has possibly grown to be todays largest reference site and encyclopedia on the Internet.
- Del.icio.us: Social bookmarking site where users can save bookmarks and organize them with tags. Users can also take advantage of their del.icio.us network allowing them to add friends to their account and keep track of bookmarks left by each friend.
- Zotero: Next-generation research tool for Firefox that is currently in private beta. With Zotero, users can capture citation information, store media and websites, take notes, and more all within their browser. Note: Zotero is in private beta and I have not had the chance to try it out and will keep my eye on it.
- Newsvine: I could have picked any ol’ news site for this post, but Newsvine is, in my opinion, the best news source for students. It’s a clean and friendly social news site containing articles from the Associated Press, ESPN, and New Scientist as well as user contributions. Students can browse the site comfortably, rate news articles, participate in article discussion, and even start their own news column where they can write and publish articles. More on Newsvine.
- Youtube: YouTube has quickly grown to be one of the most popular websites on the Internet. I personally use it for entertainment, although you can find a great deal of educational videos as well as create an account to upload your own videos for free. Students can research the site (may come across inappropriate content here and there) and even create projects with video and share them on the web.
- Google Video: Similar to YouTube, Google Video allows users to search, upload, and share videos online for free. I’m a fan of YouTube, but Google comes on top when it comes to quality educational videos. Google Video even has an educational category providing hour long videos and caption/subtitled videos (new).
- Flickr: Explore, upload, and share photos online. Includes commenting and neat note functionality where users can add blocks of notes on the photos themselves for others to see.
- Eyespot: Neat site where users can actually create video mixes online and share them with others. You can add up to 100 clips or photos to a movie as well as add transition effects and video effects. Reminds me of videos I had to create back in High School for Graphic Communications class. More on Eyespot.
That about does it for part one of the series. If there are any services that you feel should be on this list, please comment and let us know about them! If you are interested in more services in any of the above categories, feel free to contact me as I have only mentioned ones that I personally felt were best for educational use. Also, I just want to make a last note that red arrows throughout the article indicate personal favorites of mine but do not mean they are the best options for you. I recommend looking at a category that you need improvement on and find what product will best fit your needs, then go from there. Hang tight for part two of the series and enjoy!