Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tech Wednesday: Pixlr.com

It's been a while since my last post. We have been in the middle of our state standardized testing over the last month and that coupled with a few other things has zapped my energy. I am back now with another free online picture editing tool called pixlr.com

Pixlr.com is an online picture editing tool similar to Adobe Photoshop, Paint, and many others with one major difference it is free and no account is needed as all images are saved to your computer. Pixlr.come joins the ranks of gimp, Picasa, and others except that you don't need to download it to your computer which can be an added benefit. I especially like this site for those districts out there that are funning on a shoe string budget or no budget at all. It may not have all the bells and whistles of the others that are out there but for the price it comes with most of what one needs to do some pretty darn cool editing. Another potential drawback depending on your point of view is that you are limited to saving to one of three formats (jpg, bmp, png) although these three formats are pretty standard. Another thing I like about pixlr.com is that it will run multiple platforms just as long as you have a flash plug in installed (which you can download from their site).

For the demo I will run though some of the basic features of pixlr.com but I invite you to log on and share your thoughts and idea as well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tech Wednesday: Microsoft Groove 2007

This Week I am showing MS Groove 2007. This is an instant messaging program on steroids. It gives you the ability to not only chat, but also to share voice recordings, send files instantly, as well as create a simple easy document workspace. It is a nice program that can be used to foster collaboration both locally and around the world and is fairly inexpensive. It is a great tool to use in the classroom as well to foster communication/collaboration between students, classes, and schools. This collaboration/communication tool is a great alternative for those that can't afford or don't want all the bells and whistles of a portal like MS SharePoint. If you are looking for a simple way to share files, and chat with others along with a few collaboration tools then groove is your program.

There are a few issues to keep in mind. Unless you set up and maintain a groove server within your district/school then you are forced to use the Microsoft groove server space so confidentially may be an issue. I have used this with both staff and students with mixed results. When using it with staff it worked great with those who would use it and were willing to take on the learning curve and approached it as a collaboration tool. It didn't' work for those who went in to it as a cool little chat tool. With students it is a slightly different story.

The students in my class found the program by accident and set it up by themselves. I am letting this go to see how their learning of the program evolves through their use. Currently I am watching them us it as a way to share files and talk to each other both in and outside of class. I know some are grimacing at students chatting online versus face to face, I did too, but once I took a step back and watched I found it works, especially for those that find it hard to chat face to face. I also see this as how they are used to collaborating as well as how they will need to collaborate in the real world. The one thing I am keeping tabs on the managing is the use of groove for chatting. So far it is working out quite well with the group who is using it as intended. It is allowing a rather strong willed group of boys to work together and get things done without the posturing and arguing that can happen with a group like that. If you are curious as to how it turns out let me know and I will do a follow up blog post on that issue.

I would like to hear some of your ways you can see this program being used in the classroom, please share your thoughts.