4 Itty-Bitty Content Tools
- By Dian Schaffhauser
McGlasson has found that her faculty at Chandler-Gilbert Community College prefer little “bite-sized niche tools instead of something that’s going to be a cure-all for everything.” Tools related to teaching content are a good place to start. “We also like free,” she says. McGlasson and her colleague Julie Magadan at Phoenix College (AZ) developed a series of workshops to teach faculty about their favorite free and simple tools to liven up course content. Here are just a few of their recommendations for educators:
Wiki Course Content
Faculty in McGlasson’s workshops learn to use simple wiki technology to enable peer revisions in student projects; maintain critical course information in the event that the learning management system (LMS) goes down; post class content such as videos, links, and images; and let students easily add content to course discussions. She likes PBworks (pbworks.com) “for ease of use and integration with other web 2.0 tools.” The basic account provides one workspace, access for 100 users, and 2 GB of storage.
You Too Can YouTube
Short videos are perfect tools to illustrate concepts and motivate reflection (in or outside of class), or even use as part of an online quiz or discussion board. Instructors can find many pertinent videos on YouTube (youtube.com) or get students to record one as part of a class assignment. The URLs can be stored in the school LMS or posted on a wiki. McGlasson advises faculty to set up a YouTube account so that students can subscribe to a course’s “channel.”
Use Creative Commons images from Flickr (flickr.com/creativecommons) to add visuals to PowerPoint presentations. “It’s a big social solution for hunting for copyright-free photographs,” says McGlasson. Set up your Flickr account, and then log in. Choose “Explore Creative Commons.” McGlasson prefers items licensed under “Attribution,” because that’s the least restrictive. You can modify the image as long as the original photographer is credited.
Become an Image Editor
Once you’ve downloaded images to use on your slides, McGlasson suggests getting creative with them. She opts for Pixenate (pixenate.com) to edit images online. To use Pixenate, click “Choose your image to edit.” Click “Browse” to find the image from your disk, and then select “Upload” to bring the image into the application. Next, scroll past the standard set of icons for editing (hovering over each tells you what it does), and choose “Show fun effects.” Try the “Add Text” option (with the “ABC” in the box) to annotate your image. Remember to save to disk when you’re done!
Other photo editing tools McGlasson recommends include Wet Floor Maker (wetfloormaker.com), Mypictr (mypictr.com), RoundPic (roundpic.com), Resizr (resizr.com), and Google’s Picasa (picasa.google.com).
Want more ideas? Visit marymac.pbworks.com and choose “Web 2.0 Workshop Series!” in the right sidebar.
Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at email@example.com.