Twitter Assignments

We find that a lot of instructors want to incorporate new technologies into their curricula as a way to engage students with tools that they’re comfortable with and would understand but aren’t always sure how to do that, particularly for tools the instructors themselves may not use on a regular basis.  Take Twitter.  When Twitter launched, people jumped out of their chairs, pointed at it and exlaimed, “That’s it! The next big thing!”  It clearly had potential.  The only problem was…no one knew for what. That’s still a problem for many people.  “Sure,” they think, “I could use Twitter…but I don’t know what I’d use it for. Especially not in the classroom.”

And while there are reports here and there of faculty using Twitter as a way to send messages to their students, or to receive questions or feedback from their students, actually using Twitter itself as a model for a class lesson is much less common.  However, it can be done and it can be done very well.

While surfing comments on the news aggregator community Reddit, I came across a link someone posted, a screenshot of an assignment that (supposedly, anyway) their History professor had given them.  I thought it was such an interesting and fun assignment that I had to post it.  Click here to read the assignment.

What will instructors think of next?  No, really–I’d like to know!

iDevice Bookmarklets

If you’re a fan of bookmarklets (as I am) and also have an iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch (which I do), this may interest you!

First, what exactly are bookmarklets?

A bookmarklet is a small JavaScript program that can be stored as a URL within a bookmark in most popular web browsers, or within hyperlinks on a web page. Because Microsoft Internet Explorer uses the term favorites instead of bookmarks, bookmarklets are also less commonly called favlets or favelets.

Bookmarklets can be saved and used like normal web page bookmarks. Therefore, they are simple “one-click” tools that can add substantial functionality to the browser. For example, they can:
▪ Modify the way a web page is displayed within the browser (i.e., change the font size, background color, etc.).
▪ Extract data from a web page (i.e., hyperlinks, images, text, etc.).
▪ Jump directly to a search engine, with the search term(s) input either from a new dialog box, or from a selection already made on a web page.
▪ Submit the page to a validation service. [via wordiQ]

If you sync your bookmarks from Safari onto your iDevice, you can simply add the bookmarklets that way.  For those of us who do not sync Safari bookmarks, technologist Chris Bray has a solution.  From his site:
I took a few minutes to copy the Javascript from all my bookmarklets and made this iPhone/iPad formatted page with all the Javascript in a selectable textarea for each bookmarklet. This way I could open up the page on my gadgets, and in about 5 minutes have all of my important bookmarklets loaded into Safari on both my iPad and my iPhone.

I know this is far from ideal, and even further from anything resembling a solution, but until some smart person comes up with a way around this, or until Apple adds some better bookmark management or add-on capabilities to mobile Safari this will have to do for now.

To access the javascript and read the step-by-step instructions, visit his webpage using Safari on your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch:

They are relatively easy to add and will always be available until you delete them.  This way, you have an incredibly easy way to share a page on Facebook, add a note to Evernote, or shorten a URL with bit.ly!

New Google Docs

I don’t know how we missed this update, but on April 15th, Google debuted an updated Google Docs editor with real-time collaboration!  One of the biggest issues people have had with Google Docs is that it takes a little while for the edits to show up on the collaborators’ screens.  Not anymore!  It now updates in real-time, similar to Google Wave.

Check out Google’s blog for more information and instructions on how to enable this and other new features: A rebuilt, more real time Google documents

Readability

As we browse the internet, often pages come up that are cluttered with advertisements, links, and other unnecessary items.  This can make it difficult and distracting to read the content you wanted in the first place.

This is where Readability comes in.  Readability is a web site that will let you easily strip down the information on any web page to just show the basic content.  You first choose the options you prefer: style, size, and margin.  It then creates a custom bookmarklet that you can easily add to your bookmarks or bookmarks toolbar.  Once the bookmarklet has been installed, just click it on any web page.  It will get rid of the clutter and allow easier reading.  Those with poor eye sight can also use this tool to enlarge the displayed text.

It’s free of charge so I recommend checking it out!

Google Buzz

How to Manage a Group Project in Google Wave

The mere promise of Google Wave inspired a rainbow of potential use cases, but Wave’s best real-world use boils down to this: it helps a group get things done together. Here’s how to manage a group project in Wave. Continue reading

Google Wave Explained in 2 Minutes

Have you heard about the latest and greatest thing from Google, Google Wave?  Many people have but don’t really understand what it does.  The demonstration videos are rather lengthy, so I decided to post this unofficial YouTube video some fans created.  It’s a brief explanation of what Google Wave is and why you will want to use it (presented in a rather funny way).