Sue Waters Blog

November 10, 2007
by Sue Waters
15 Comments

These Are My Favourite Tools! What Are Yours?

starVicki Davis (Cool Cat Teacher Blog) did an absolutely amazing post titled Best of the Web: My Most Useful Tools where she shares her most useful websites/tools with her readers — READ IT — I found gems in her post that I had not tried [image by marie-ll]

Vicki also encourages us all to take the time to share our most useful tools because we should be welcoming people new to using the Internet by sharing our tools — so here is my post — hopefully it will be of help for other educators wanting to get involved with elearning.

Blog

Yes I am a bit addicted to blogging because it helps me reflect on my thoughts and interaction with others helps this process in amazing ways.

I like both blogger (easy to use) and edublogs for blogging. If I have interpreted what Vicki is saying regarding Google Blog Search and Blogger I disagree — both Technorati and Google Blog Search look for keywords within the text of the post — I subscribed to tag feeds (e.g. mlearning and mobile learning) from Google Blog Search and my posts always appeared with the feeds (and this blog is not hosted by Google).

Here is my information for those new to blogging and for those more advanced bloggers. Towards the bottom of each page there are some tasks that you can work through to improve your blogging skills — let me know if you decide to work through them so I can drop past your blog and give you encouragement.

If you are using blogs with students I strongly recommend that you check out Clay Burell’s (Beyond School) Blogging Parent’s Letter — fantastic work Clay.

Comics

Why? Because for no other reason than it is fun!!!! I like to use ToonDoo because it is really easy to use (as they made it easy for kids to use) and they have lots of great characters, backgrounds and props that you can use. These are my instructions on how to embed ToonDoo comics into an edublog blog.

Other comic tools I use are Comeeko and Picnik which both allow you to create comics from your own photos. Please note that Picnik is an online photo editing tool that allows you to do a lot more than just create comics.

Del.icio.us

I use del.icio.us to bookmark websites online so that I can refer back to these bookmarked sites from any computer — which for me is a life saver because I use lots of different computers. It also means on any computer I can add bookmarks to my del.icio.us account. Here is my information on how to get more out of using del.ici.ous.

Feed Reader

I use Google reader to subscribe to blogs and RSS feeds. It is really easy to use, and I have a Google Reader gadget on my iGoogle homepage that shows me latest feed. Understanding what is RSS and how to use a feed reader is the most important skill that new people to using online tools need to learn — here is my information on what this is all about if you are not currently using a Feed reader.

Instant Messaging and VOIP

I use Google Talk and Skype for instant messaging (chatting with others) and talking to people (VOIP) using the Internet. If you don’t have a VOIP application, like Google Talk or Skype, on your computer this is a definitely a must – you can talk or chat to anyone, anywhere, using the Internet, at no cost. The benefit of Google Talk is you can search gmail and chat messages for previous conversations — check this out for more explanation.

Ning

Ning is good for those less tech savy, for encouraging discussions, it allows easily embed videos and pictures, and is a place for people to feel comfortable to start out with blogging. etools community is a Ning site I set up for educators to share their etools and tips with each other. Here are my tips for using Ning. Please feel free to join us at etools community.

Online Video

My advice to people on creating videos is it can be time consuming and with so much video content already available on the Internet it may be more effective to use other peoples videos. My favourite sites to search are Google Video, YouTube and VideoJug (VideoJug has lots of great how-to-do videos with written transcripts of each video — thanks Philip Nichols yet again for telling me about this site :) ) Please note even though Google owns YouTube you will get different search results from Google Video and YouTube which is why I search both. Here are my instructions on embedding videos into wikis and into Ning.

Most of my online videos are created using MovieMaker (here is how) and mostly uploaded to Googlevideo. My rule for video is less than 10 minutes whenever possible.

JumpCut is definitely worth using if you need an online video editor – it is like having MovieMaker or iMovie online! You can add titles and effects. Very easy to use (says she who makes movies all the time).

SlideCast and MyPlick are both excellent for syncing audio with powerpoints. Linking audio to the Slidecast from Internet Archives is the hardest aspect — here are my notes on how to do this.

Photos

I use Flickr to share my photos online and to locate photos that I can legally use on my websites (I use flickr creative commons photos which allows me to use the photos provided I acknowledge the original source). fd’s Flickr toys is my favourite tool for doing fun stuff with photos from Flickr — of these toys I use mosaic maker the most because it makes it simple to put together a set of photos.

Podcasting

I host my podcasts at Podomatic but if I need a site for hosting audio that I can link to I use the Internet Archive (I explain here how to link to the audio from the Internet Archive).

My audio podcasts are edited using Audacity (here is how) — I do have a Mac now and Garageband is really good but I still find if you have lots of edits then Audacity is still better.

Most of my video podcasts are edited using MovieMaker (here is how) then converted to .mp4 format using Super C (great for converting from any video format to another video format — here is how) and occasionally use iMovie on my Mac.

Screen capture

I use SnagIt on a daily basis – this is my favourite tool! Yes I know there are free tools like Jing that do similar but SnagIt is definitely better. Don’t care that it costs money – was worth every cent – they let you download and trial this software for a month – give it a go. Thanks Evil Sue for putting me onto this great screen capture software. This is how I create all the great “How-to-do” images for my web sites

Screencasting

A screencast is a digital recording of a computer screen and use these to show how to use online tools. My personal favourite screencast tool is CamStudio — yes I have used Jing but feel Camstudio is better (note I could use SnagIT) — here are my instructions on how to use CamStudio.

Slides

I do use Slideshare to host my powerpoints online but Alan Levine’s use of Slideflickr.com is way more powerful — if you click on the photo in his slide show it displays the notes that he has written under each photo at Flickr and you can read these notes as you watch the slides — if a URL interests you then you can click on the link to open it.

To create slides like Alan has done — instead of saving your powerpoint as a powerpoint you save it as jpeg. Upload the photos to Flickr, add notes to each slide, organise them into a set at Flickr and then use Slideflickr.com to create the slide.

Twitter

Twitter is absolutely my favourite tool for personal learning and social networking — check out this podcast on why (thanks to Alan Levine, Simon Brown, Graham Wegner, Michael Coghlan and Kristin Hokanson for helping me create it — apologies for not thanking sooner but it came out while I was away on the busy conference circuit) and watch Chris Betcher’s video on understanding how twitter works.

Web Browser

My favourite web browser is Firefoxhate having to use Internet Explorer (also use it on my Mac as well). Best aspect is there are lots of cool add ons like a del.icio.us add on that makes my life easier.

Wiki

I love using wikis for my personal learning because I find it a great place to pull all the information together concisely and they are also excellent for encouraging collaborative learning between students. Wikipaces is my favourite because their wiki is very easy to use and they provide excellent customer service. Here is my information on getting more out of using wikis.

FINAL NOTE

Long post — sorry! Blame Vicki :) but it is not the type of post that suits being broken up. Also I encourage all my readers to take up Vicki advice and share your tips (remember to tag with bestoftheweb).

July 20, 2007
by Sue Waters
4 Comments

My Everyday Tools

In the last couple of days I have noticed people blogging on tools that I have been using for quite awhile – I assumed that everyone knew about them – wrong assumption. So I thought today I would post about tools that I use all the time:

1. SnagIt snagit2

Don’t care that it costs money – was worth every cent – they let you download and trial this software for a month – give it a go. Thanks Evil Sue for putting me onto this great screen capture software. This is how I create all the great “How-to-do” images for my web sites (check out “how to create instructional videos” must transfer this to Mobile Technology in TAFE wiki).

2. Microsoft LiveWriter live

All my blog posts are written using LiveWriter. Definitely much quicker and easy than using my blog dashboard. Thanks Frances for getting me to try it. If you have not tried LiveWriter – TRY IT

3. Flickr Creative Commons photos, Lynetter’s Interesting Snippets, Flickr Storm

I use these to locate photos that I can legally use. Lynetter’s Interesting Snippets contains great images with excellent quotes that I have been using for some of my different web sites. These snippets have inspired me to create some of my own. [Snippet by Lynetter].

If you do not have your own Flickr account (online photosharing website), I recommend you get one – here are some of the reasons why I have a Flickr account.

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4. fd’s Flickr Toys

This site has so many excellent toys that you can use to create posters, badges , mosaics etc from Flickr photos. Thanks Robyn for putting me onto Flickr toys and Storm.

This is a magazine cover that I created using Flickr Toys. Yes – we can all agree that I am not that creative – so I shall not be leaving my day job yet – tip if you want the photo to work it needs to be 619 pixels wide by 800 pixels high.

5. Audacity, MovieMaker and SuperC

I use Audacity for creating audio podcasts, MovieMaker for my video podcast (would like to use a Mac for video – but that is a really long story) and SuperC for converting my videos from .wmv to .mp4 format (less problems when I upload to my podcast site). Here are my instructions on “how to create audio podcasts“, “how to create video podcasts” and “how to convert .wmv to .mp4“.

If you have time, please give me your opinion on which tool to use – screencasting software, Photostory or MovieMaker (definitely worth time to read this post and the comments because of the differing in opinion by my readers).

6. Managing my online World

I use Skype, Google Talk, Twitter, iGoogle, Google Reader and del.icio.us to manage my world online. My preferred method of communication is now through chat – have to admit Google Talk is now my favorite because you can search gmail and chat history to easy locate information you discussed.

I am really into my Personalised Google Home page because the homepage makes it easier to manage my online world. Also there are so many Gadgets (Widgets) you can add to your Google Homepage (just click on add more stuff).

If you liked this post on My Everyday Tools then I suggest you read my post on Tools of the Trade (about Web 2.0 tools such as wikis, delicious, blogs that I recommend every lecturer should use and why. I also suggests ways they can use these tools with students).

Read my detailed tips for managing your World online if you want to know more.

June 5, 2007
by Sue Waters
11 Comments

Tools of the Trade

tool2.jpgDarren at Drape’s Take did an excellent post today on Why Every Teacher Should Have A Google Account. This is a list of basic tools that I recommend to lecturers:

Bookmarking

Definitely a bookmarking site is a must. It is so great to be able to bookmark a website online that you can then view from any computer. I just love the fact that where ever I am I can go yes I remember reading an article on a particular topic and pull up my del.icio.us site and locate the articles I want to read without having to relocate the article again (and normally I fail to locate the original article). You can also set up del.icio.us sites with students so that they can collaboratively bookmark sites to select the top sites for information on topics.

However if you are going to bookmark using del.icio.us I suggest you:

  1. Use tags that have meaning e.g podcasting, PodcastingEquipment (if you put a space between Podcasting and Equipment you will have two separate tags and Equipment to me may also mean aquaculture equipment. Alternatively you could separate with an underscore Podcasting_Equipment)
  2. Sort your tags by setting up bundles and put your tags into the correct bundles – this way you can located the articles you want to read easier)
  3. If you are using Firefox as your browser there is a new cool Add-on for del.icio.us. If you are not using Firefox then think about installing it because it is a great Browser, I now use it more than Internet Explorer.

If you want to know more about using del.icio.us check out my information on getting more out of del.ici.ous.

Wiki

I like using wikis as a quick and easy web site to share information with others. They are also excellent for encouraging collaborative learning between students. Personally I like using Wikipaces because their wiki is very easy to use and they have excellent customer service. If you want to know more about using wikis check out my information on getting more out of wiki.

Blog

I like both blogger (easy to use) and edublogs for blogging. I strongly recommend that you download and use Microsoft Livewriter which makes writing blog posts so much easier; and what a fanastic program. I had a hard time getting into blogging until I watched the following videos on blogging: Video: Blog History – shorten version and Long Video : Blogumentary – (1 hour) Thanks to Kate from Waxlyrical blog for recommending these videos. Check out Vicki Davis’s at Cool Cat Teacher’s blog tips on how to be an incredible blogger. While I agree with Darren about the value of teacher’s blogging I do think that Derek’s thoughts on online participation that for new people starting by commenting on blogs may be a good starting point.

Podcasting

I use Podomatic for podcasting however occasionally use Odeo. I prefer podomatic because it gives me a great podcast page which Odeo doesn’t. There are things about podomatic that I don’t like. For ideas for setting up a podcast page check out my podcast site aquaculturepda.podomatic.com

Comics

I have used two different free comic makers ToonDoo and Comeeko. No reason other than it is fun!!!!

ToonDoo is really easy to use (as they made it easy for kids to use) and they have lots of great characters, backgrounds and props that you can use. Basically anyone can easily create nice comics using ToonDoo – great fun for all ages – my 8 year old really enjoyed using ToonDoo as do I. The only issue I have had with ToonDoo is embedding my comics into my blog posts, these are my instructions on how to embed ToonDoo comics into an edublog blog.

The difference between ToonDoo and Comeeko is that with Comeeko you can use your own photos to make the comic. Comeeko is considerably harder to use than ToonDoo however a lot of fun because you use your own photos (which is very appealing).

Photosharing

Finally started to appreciate the value of photosharing and now am using Flickr.

Google

I am definitely a Google addict. Here is my list of Google MUSTS:

1. Personalized google homepage

I have set up my own personalized google homepage. If you haven’t give it a try. All you need to do is set up a Google account and then click on “Personalize this page” at the top of Google. You can add lots of little cool gadgets to the page (e.g. “to do list”, news feeds, Weather information, world clock, Google video) and whatever computer you are on you can sign into your personalized Google and access the items on the page (if you become too addicted you can add extra tabs – yes I know I need a life).

2. Google Reader

I use Google reader to subscribe to blogs and podcasts feeds. It is really easy to use, and I can put a gadget for it on my Personalized google homepage that shows me the latest 9 blogs and podcasts. Also I love how people are embedding Google Reader in their blogs and sharing their items that they like from their reader. I was totally unable to get into blogging until I started appreciating the value of blogs by subscribing to blogs using Google Reader

3. Google Talk

I use Google Talk for chatting with others but prefer Skype for VOIP. OOPS occassionally with Google Talk I have sent the wrong chat to the wrong person. If you don’t have a VOIP application on your computer. Definitely a must – you can talk or chat to anyone, anywhere, using the Internet, at no cost.

4. Google Video

I prefer to upload videos to google video if I want to embed them in wikis or blogs.

BTW I keep failing Vicki Davis’s 3 Rule of 10 habits of bloggers that winRULE 3 Write and then cut in half! :) There is no hope for me? :D