Del.icio.us Gets a Tasty New Look

If you’re a Del.icio.us user who hasn’t done much tagging lately, you’ll pleased to know that the venerable social bookmarking site has updated its look as well as its amusing URL. These days users can get to the site by surfing over to delicious.com where they’ll find familiar and new features.

For those who’ve never used it, Delicious allows registered users to quickly bookmark websites. “So what? I can already do that!” you say. True enough. However, if you’re bookmarking/saving to favorites on your computer, you’re in for trouble. Sooner or later your computer will let you down. It’s not a matter of if. It’s only a matter of when. That’s why Delicious and other web-based (social) bookmarking tools are so useful…*ahem* necessary these days. Delicious and its counterparts (i.e., services like Google Notebook) allow you to save, annotate, and organize web-based resources. Doing so allows you to access those resources anywhere there’s an internet connection.

Think about that for a second.

If you save your favorite bookmarked sites to the web where they can be accessed, edited, and used, you’re not at the mercy of one computer. That’s liberating, very liberating. Having that kind of immediate access is also a time and life saver. Just ask anyone who’s been called upon to share web-based resources only to discover the pc being used has crashed or otherwise been incapacitated. Being able to get to bookmarked sites (not to mention files–check out eSnips, Divshare, Secondbrain) and rapidly share them with others is a prerequisite for administrators, educators, media specialist, students, parents, and uh…really, all citizens.

Why not register for a Delicious account? It’s pretty simple. Go to the site and click on the green, Join Now button.
Enter the requested details. Make sure to check the “I have read and agree to the Terms of Service” checkbox and click on the Register button when you’ve accomplished the task.

Afterward, you’ll need to install add the Delicious buttons to your computer.
The buttons make Delicious easy to use so installing them is necessary. If you’re a Firefox user, you need to click on the Add Buttons icon like so.
Don’t be surprised if Firefox prevents you from immediately installing the buttons. You’ll need to look at the top of the page and click the “Edit Options” (or Allow) button.

After allowing the buttons to load, you may seen a message like this:

Just continue. Click the Install Now button. You’ll need to restart Firefox. When you do, you’ll see this in your browser.
I won’t go into all the specifics here because Delicious has a fabulous introduction to its bookmark buttons for Firefox. Internet Explorer fans needn’t fear. There are buttons for IE users as well. Suffice it to say, these buttons will help you master your use and collection of websites. Once you’ve registered for a Delicious account, installed the buttons, and explored the bookmarking buttons, you’ll never go back to saving websites the old-fashioned way.

Go on…take a bite and savor the flavor of efficiency and effectiveness. It’s positively Delicious!

Snooze News You Can Use: Kuku Klok

Much to the dismay of educators and students everywhere who’ve grown accustomed to staying up late, school is about to begin. That means it’s time to start getting up early again. *Yawn* For those die hard night owls who’re prone to falling asleep over a laptop, there’s a useful online tool designed to rouse even the heaviest sleeper from the most indolent slumber. Swiss made Kuku Klok is an online alarm clock that’s designed to wake anyone up. With a choice of four alarm sounds–cockerel, classic alarm clock, electronic beep, and slayer guitar–all sleepy heads inthe vincinty will be alert in seconds. Worried that a disruption in internet service might pull the plug on this 21st Century rooster? Don’t fret. Once this resource is loaded, the alarm will work even if a user’s internet connection goes kaput!

Kuku Klok is also be helpful for those who have no trouble getting up in the morning. This web-accessible clock is perfect for educators who want to remind students when it’s time to move along from one learning station to another. As a free, auditory prompt, Kuku Klok is worth crowing about.

Color Me Excited: Interactive Whiteboards and Bomomo

I’m in Albany, Georgia this week attending SMART Notebook 10 certification training. Although I already know a great deal about a number of slates and interactive whiteboards–eInstruction’s Interwrite Pad, Mimio, Promethean’s Activclassroom materials, as well as SMART products to name a few–I’ve picked up a few, novel tricks and enjoyed catching up with a few old (and new) friends. During some of the intermissions between the training, a few of my friends disucussed ways to get reluctant educators to warm up to the idea of integrating interactive whiteboards and slates within their instructional practices. I’ve got an idea that I think will help to foster teacher and student use of IWBs. My ideas is based on this premise: people are more inclined to do something that is enjoyable.

In this case, fun comes in the form of Bomomo, an addictive Flash-based art application that runs in a browser such as Firefox. I’m willing to bet that once technophobic educators play around with Bomomo and create some lovely digital images, their fear of IWBs and similar tools will eventually dissipate. Why? That’s easy: Bomomo is fun and offers users to create something beautiful.
Using Bomomo with a traditional mouse is relatively simple. One merely clicks on a tool and drags it around, generating beautiful random swirls or spots of color. The tools look like this:


When combined with an IWB such as the SMARTBoard, it’s even easier and even more engaging. I believe educators and students would like employing Bomomo as a kind of “warm up” exercise before going on to more refined uses of an IWB. Even if instructors and pupils only play around with Bomomo and want to keep their works of art, they. Users need only click on the disk icon and to save the finished products as jpg image files.


They also have the option of saving their Bomomo masterpieces as a high quality png image files.


What do you think? Is this just a silly diversion or a resource worthy of use in the classroom? How might teachers or students make use of Bomomo in an instructional manner? Anyone care to offer an opinion?

Related links:
Still feeling artistic? Get in touch with your inner Jackson Pollock.

Keeping an Eye on Politics: Watchdog.net


Here’s a resource for educators who’ll soon be guiding students through the wondrous world of Political Science. Watchdog.net is diligently building an impressive internet hub for information related to elections. The site’s creators are persistently collecting useful data about district demographics, votes, lobbying records, campaign finance reports, and making the information available in one location that’s a godsend for teachers and students (not to mention interested voters).

Using the site is very easy. Simply supply the zip code of an area and click the GO button.
Afterward, the site returns pertinent information about the district and its representative.

Note that the data is also accompanied by graphs. Having students review the graphs along with investigations of the information at sites such as the Census Bureau and StateMaster is a great way to facilitate a better understanding of the forces that drive national, state, and local government. After reviewing and discussing what they’ve discovered, pupils could generate their own graphs, make predictions about voter choice, political outcomes and decisions, as well as how future policies will be shaped.

Watchdog.net offers visitors an opportunity to carefully examine political factors that come into play during elections. By giving citizens, educators, and students access to information that is often ignored, the site promotes a more thoughtful approach to civic responsibility. Thank goodness!

Sand Sans Sand

Whether you teach Art or Geology, you’ll find thisissand.com worth a visit. It’s a site that is artistically cerebral. Why? It allows visitors to engage in cyber-sand painting. Don’t be surprised if all you see is an apparent blank, grey screen when you visit the site. Just press and hold your left-mouse button for a little while and watch what happens. Click on the tiny square in the upper left-hand corner and access these instructions:

A glimpse at the gallery that accompanies the site is likely to whet anyone’s appetite for playing with this intriguing tool for self-expression. How could this site be used in a classroom? Teachers and students studying Art could combine thisissand.com with a traditional lesson related to sand painting, thereby allowing learners to demonstrate synthesis (from Dr. Benjamin Bloom‘s well-known Taxonomy of Educational Objectives) in a surprising pleasing manner.

For pupils in a Science or Social Studies classroom, thisissand.com would be useful for exploring sedimentary rocks, earth science, geology and similar topics. Paired with Landcraft and other resources, thisissand.com would wow students and open up a rich discussion about how the face of our planet is changed by natural forces.

Time (is Running) Out

Students in different countries all over the globe are equal in one respect–they spend a great deal of their time in high school. They have to do that. That said, what do they gain for their efforts? Do these young people end up with the same prospects? What will they eventually contribute to the global economy, industry, and society?

Strong American Schools, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a nonpartisan campaign supported by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation investigates these and other, related questions over at ED in ’08. Parents who want their kids to live a good life will want to visit the site. I don’t expect many high schools to even know about this. Why? Considering that many of the schools I serve regularly block blogs. I doubt that this resource is even on their radar.

What are your thoughts? Are the schools that our children attend meeting their needs? Are our children prepared to make the world a better place? Will they have the skills to succeed and survive?