Have you ever been at school and wanted to share a great site you’ve found but realised the link is saved on your computer at home? Or had a computer “meltdown” and lost all your bookmarks? Or remembered that you’ve saved something but can’t remember anything specific to help you locate it in your enormous list of bookmarks? Are your bookmarks out of control?
Social Bookmarking might just be the answer – it will help you get in control of bookmarks and access them anywhere on any computer or device.
So how does social bookmarking work? Basically when you find a webpage you’d like to save you use a button that’s been added to your browser to save it, adding tags (words or short phrases that describe the site used to help organise and find your bookmarks later), a description or other comments and then save. That’s it, the bookmarked site will now be available to you from anywhere where you are logged into the bookmarking service, including on apps for phones and tablets. A useful feature of most social bookmarking sites is the ability to import your existing bookmarks from your browser to get you started.
Diigo is one social bookmarking service. There are others but a few of Diigo’s features make it stand out.
This video gives a good overview of setting up a Diigo account and bookmarking a site.
When saving a site Diigo also allows you to organise it further into a list or to share to a group. Even better, Diigo allows you to highlight text on a website and add comments (in the form of “sticky notes”) on the page itself. These highlights and comments will be on the page on any computer so long as you are logged into Diigo as well. You can choose to make your comments private or share them with other Diigo users and you can choose whether or not you want to see comments from other Diigo users on sites. These features open up some interesting possibilities for using Diigo as a teaching and learning tool.
This video shows more about highlighting and sticky notes:
This video explains the Group feature.
Here’s another from a teacher librarian who is “addicted” to Diigo!
I’ve used Diigo for years and I can’t imagine how I could keep organised without it. You can check out my Diigo library here.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up to Diigo now!
Google recently introduced add-ons for Docs and Sheets. Add-ons give you extra functionality to make Docs and/or Sheets even better. You can access add-ons by opening a new Doc or Sheet and from the Add-ons menu select Get add-ons. A new window will open up with a range of different add-ons to browse; you can install the add-on directly from here or click the item to learn more.
One of the most useful add-ons available is Easybib bibliography creator – copy and paste in a URL or search for a book or journal and EasyBib will gather up the bibliographic details ready to create a reference list in one of three styles to insert into a document – it couldn’t be easier! I have successfully used EasyBib in creating a reference list for for a university assignment. If we encourage our students to use a tool like this then there is no excuse for not referencing properly.
Other useful add-ons for teachers and students alike include:
- Open Clipart – choose from more than 50,000 free clipart images to add to documents
- Thesaurus (Docs)
- Gliffy diagrams (Docs)
- VexTab Music notation (Docs): Add music notation, drum notation, and guitar tab to your documents using the VexTab language.
- g(Math) (Docs)- Create graphs and write complex math directly in your Google Doc
- Template gallery (Sheets) – Save time by using professionally designed spreadsheet templates
- Doctopus (Sheets) – this one deserves a Bytes post of its own (coming soon!) – An octopus for docs! Teacher-built tool for scaffolding, managing, organizing, and assessing student projects in Google Drive
- Styles (Sheets) – Now you can quickly add style to your spreadsheet by highlighting cells and choosing a style from the style viewer
Add-ons are relatively new so no doubt the clever people at Google and other third-party developers are working on more – stay tuned!
I promised to share more about Evernote, the truly awesome free tool that you can use on any computer, tablet or smartphone to “remember everything”. Used extensively by teachers and students around the world, there are many educational applications for Evernote
This video is from Melbourne’s very own Evernote Education Ambassador, primary teacher Rebecca Spink. The video gives you an overview of some of the ways she uses Evernote both as a personal productivity assistant and in managing her classroom and students. If you are interested in making videos and wonder how she did this, I can see that the video was made using Haiku Deck and iMovie, two of the apps we have installed on our class iPads.
Bec writes extensively about using Evernote in education on her blog Miss Spink on Tech. If you are at all interested in giving Evernote a go, whether on an iPad, phone, PC or Mac I highly recommend a browse through her articles. She also curates a Flipboard magazine about Evernote in Education where you’ll find many of her blog posts plus articles from other sources.
Have you tried Evernote yet?
Type in your password at How secure is my password and see how quickly an average desktop PC could crack it. The results might surprise you. Play around by adding extra digits or different character types and you’ll soon see that a strong password is characterised by a variety of character types (upper and lower case, numbers, special characters) and most importantly by length.
I’m reliably informed that this site is not in fact harvesting passwords for malicious purposes. It’s own disclaimer says:
This site is for educational use. Due to limitations of the technology involved, its results cannot always be accurate. Your password will not be transferred over the internet.
The site is sponsored by Roboform, a free online password manager. I guess they’re hoping you’ll sign up.
This would be a great activity with students allowing them to see how easily simple passwords can be cracked and perhaps providing a competitive note to password selection.
Did you know…
Part of being a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school means that, in addition to our email accounts and calendars, every staff member and student at KDS has access to Google Drive. We each have 30Gb of storage available compared to an individual’s allowance of 15Gb.
Google Drive includes tools like word processing (Word), spreadsheet (Excel), presentations (Powerpoint), forms and storage for all types of files – PDFs, images, audio, video and so on. If you upload an MS Office file you can even choose whether to convert it to the equivalent Drive format or leave it as an Office file.
Because Google Drive is a cloud service you have access to your files from any PC or mobile device that can access the internet and you can set up offline access on your PC. The Google Drive App is available for any smartphone or tablet.
But Google Drive is more than just an alternative word processor or file storage system, there’s a whole world of clever things you can do including:
- save email attachments directly to your Drive
- share a document so it can be viewed or edited by multiple people simultaneously
- collaborate on a presentation
- add comments to another person’s document – for example to a student’s work during the drafting process
- gather information using forms
and much, much more.
This video from Google gives a brief overview of some of the possibilities:
and their Getting started with Google Drive pages will help you do just that.
If you want to know more about how Google Apps can be used in education, Chris Betcher, a Google Certified teacher from Sydney, has developed this presentation (using Google presentations of course!) about why he loves Google Apps. In it you will find lots of great ideas that might just inspire you to give something a go.
Are you using Google Drive? Have you found ways it makes your life easier in the classroom? Do you have ideas for creating engaging classroom activities using Google Drive? Please share in the comments.