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#diffimooc Tools in the Cloud

February 13, 2013

#diffimooc How can I use tool in “the cloud” to easily manage and deliver feedback to my students?

This week as I pondered this question, it seemed to lead me to more questions such as: What is a cloud? Where is the cloud? What are the tools in the cloud? As I was reading Ashley’s post, I found this helpful article: http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/32016/what-is-cloud-computing-and-what-does-this-stupid-buzzword-mean/

The article explains how different servers are linked together to form a network. This makes it easy to access your information from any computer. So using tools “in the cloud” just means that the tools can be accessed from any computer and the information may be accessible to multiple users. This makes communication and collaboration easier. I think “cloud” is a good term, because I can imagine all the bits of information moving around in cyberspace and touching down to individual computers, just as water molecules move around the earth.

In answering the question about how I use the cloud to manage and deliver feedback to my students, it seemed to make sense to start with what I already have. I already have an online grade book compliments of my school district, but since the Engrade was free, I decided to get an account just to check it out. There seems to be some features that could be useful. For example, I learned that I can create flashcards. Students may be motivated to practice sight words or spelling words this way at home. There are ways to communicate with parents,  ways for me as a teacher to give online assignments and for students to turn homework in online. I am curious about the online features because I so often have students who are absent due to vacations. It seems worth exploring.

I also have a class website, again compliments of my district. I try to use this page to post homework assignments, what we are studying and post pictures of the class. I am still learning about the many features of the webpage. I’m sure I could do much more with it. Other options for creating blogs and wikis with my class would be more appealing if I taught older kids. Also, if I did not already have the webpage, I might be inspired to create a space to share information about my class with parents.

I did put Evernote, Skitch, CloudOn and Dropbox on my ipad. I have used evernote for collecting photos of my student’s work and for making notes about them. Conferences are coming up next week, so this is timely. It will be a nice way for me to keep a copy or a photo of those projects students want to take home. I can have a digital portfolio of every student on my ipad. I love the fact that you can write and draw all over the photos using stitch and that it automatically synchronizes with the Evernote account. CloudOn is awesome, as it allows me to create and read word documents on my ipad. It works in conjunction with dropbox which is a storage space in the “cloud.” Dropbox will also sync. to all your devices if you want it to. So far I have only used it on my ipad and then retrieved things from the web version. Once I gave the dropbox access to my photos and it automatically began uploading hundreds of photos – Yikes! I was able to stop it after only 3 photos. There is a limit to the amount of free space you can use, but at least it allows you some free space to try it out. I can see how it could be handy for sharing documents. It would also do away with the need to email yourself documents or use a flash drive.

As I was reading the mrcromer blog I learned about Good Reader. It is an app. that allows you to highlight and mark on pdf  documents. There is also an audio feature. I found this site helpful in describing the use of the Good Reader App. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/how-i-use-goodreader.html  It sounded so cool, that I just had to have it. I downloaded it, but have yet to figure out how to get the pdfs into the app. It is going to take more time than I expected to learn to use it.

We were challenged to make a tutorial for others in our class, but I realize that I need to watch the tutorial for how to make a tutorial. I actually found one. It was called How to make a screen cast/video tutorial on a Mac using QuickTime Player. In two minutes I learned how to make a video tutorial. I was successful in creating a short video as an experiment, but then got an error message when I tried to post it here in this blog. I got an error message when I tried to upload it. So… I went to YouTube and uploaded it there. Here is my first try:

So, it seems that my quest for cloud tools has turned me into a lurker. I have been searching through the posted resources on the class website, the internet, other peoples blogs and even found a few on twitter. I have not done a great deal of sharing thus far. Now that I have created my very first YouTube video, I guess I could share that. I have really felt like I have been blundering around this week with not so much to share. So my goal for next week is to share more.

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6 Comments
  1. You obviously did a ton of research! I also looked at Google Apps for a few resources, and love to use the Google Drive, as I mention to great detail in this weeks blog. I am going to check out the reader as well. I haven’t played with that one yet, but did find a bunch of cool ones as well. Great minds, right?

  2. I, too, created a tutorial for the first time. I found Jing and made my video through it. I then wanted to upload it to my blog but had problems. I wanted it to be a screen shot but the best I could do was an URL. I looked into youtube a bit, but didn’t have success. Making the tutorial was much easier than making it available. Nice work!

  3. Gosh, Lori, so impressed with your blog and VIDEO! Am checking out all your links now. Thanks for sharing. I am too chicken to make a video!

    • Ha, ha! I am still a big chicken, but sometimes curiosity gets the best of me. I feel like I do a lot of bumbling around. It is fun when I can get things to work, but also frustrating when I don’t. Learning lots though.

  4. Nice job! I appreciated your tutorial, thanks for accepting the challenge. You have found some great resources. I am doing a lot of lurking as well, but I think that is part of the process. For me this is all so new I’m still a little overwhelmed, but I know that will change and I will have more to offer soon.

    • Thanks. Nice to know I’m not alone in this journey. It does take time to sort it all out.

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