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Technology Software
 

Animoto

Animoto is a great tool for creating trailers on nearly every subject, from bios to travelogues to books. There are several pricing levels, but the lite plan allows you to create a 30 second video for free. Other pricing plans range from $2.50 to $20.75 per month. Choose from a variety of backgrounds and songs. Add your own pictures, video, and text with tools that are easy to use. Add, delete, rotate, duplicate, spotlight, and shuffle your slides until the trailer is perfect. Then preview, save, produce, and play. This is an impressive program that is student- and teacher-friendly. Sign up and give the lite version a try. I did and in a matter of minutes made a short biography with a background and soundtrack. Upgarde for more time and features.

Any Converter

Cyberbee is always on the look out for software programs that are easy to use, free, and help teachers with technology projects. Video file formats can be daunting at times because they cannot be universally played in other programs or on different computer platforms. Any Converter is a free program that allows you to convert an array of files such as AVI, FLV, MOV, MP4, MPG, M2TS, MTS, RM, RMVB, QT, WMV, and more. It supports video merging and trimming of clips. You can also download and convert online videos from YouTube, Google and NicoVideo. It's a great program available for Windows or Mac.

Anybody Can Learn Code

Solve Angry Bird and Zombie puzzles with drag and drop programming with the help of Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science education. There are 20 tutorials on the website that help students learn repeat-loops, conditionals, and basic algorithms. Technology gurus like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates introduce each new concept in an easy-to-understand way. Several additional pathways are available for learning more advanced coding once students complete the tutorials. Code.org is available in over 20 languages! This is a great tool for teaching problem solving and encouraging students to think. Kudos for Code.Org.

Glogster

Sign up for a free account at Glogster EDU and evaluate this interactive poster tool. Then, decide if it will fit into your curriculum. Several pricing tiers are available, starting at $29 per year for a teacher and 30 students. Teachers are provided with a dashboard for adding students and monitoring their progress. For students, designing and making a Glog--an online media poster--is a snap. They can choose from an array of poster templates, add text, and upload images, video, and music. After they have crafted their masterpiece, their Glog can be shared with other students via social media as well as presentation programs.

iBooks Author

Take your lessons to a whole new level with the free iBooks Author app for Mac.Create dynamic content for your students, including text, photo galleries,interactive visuals, movies, and chapter reviews. You can even add flash by using Google's Swiffy <https://www.google.com/doubleclick/studio/swiffy/> converter program. There are several ways to publish your free iBook: Submit it to iBookstore, export it to iTunes University, or post it on your webpage. If you want to sell your iBook, then you must obtain an ISBN number and submit it to iBookstore. Once you have created and published your content, your students can download the iBook to their iPad and begin the learning process. As an alternative, you can project the content to a smartboard for the entire class. This is a really cool tool for Mac lovers. 

Moodle

If you are looking for a course or learning management system for your school, consider this free open source tool called Moodle.  It is relatively easy to set up on your server. I installed it on one of my Cyberbee domains over a weekend to see how difficult it would be get it up and running. It was a snap, so your IT team should have no problem. Basically you have an empty shell that needs your content.

Here is an example of how an elementary science teacher used Moodle with her classes: She posted all of her lessons throughout the school year. While students were studying land forms, there were images of them on her Moodle site that students could review at home. When they learned about electricity, videos were a click away. She also posted lots of photographs of her students engaged in investigations such as creating electrical circuits, banding trees for a Smithsonian project, and experimenting with a stream table. The students were so excited about their learning that they had their parents looking at the site as well. This use of Moodle is considered a blended method. You can also add discussion groups, create quizzes, and import commercially designed courses.

Symbaloo

Select, organize, and share your Webmix (a group of websites) with students using this handy tool from SymbalooEdu. Access it anytime anywhere on a computer or mobile device. All of the information is saved and stored in the cloud. It will be easier and less time consuming for students when researching and completing projects on specific topics. In addition, they will have a safer searching experience by focusing on the chosen sites.

Be sure to view the video tutorials when you evaluate the site. There are three price levels, a basic level that is free and limited to one Webmix, a teacher package with a custom url,  multiple Webmixes, filtering, control panel, and up to 250 users, and a school/district premium package with all of the features of the teacher package plus unlimited users. Prices vary for the premium account. Teachers at a local school use this tool and think it is great way to offer safe sites and grade appropriate material to their students.

Voki

dd pizzazz to your online lessons with the free voiceover tool Voki. Create a character and customize it with clothes, bling, and background. Then, via phone, text to speech, or microphone, add your message of up to 60 seconds' length. Publish the code for posting the avatar to your webpage, blog, or other social media site. For a fee educators can subscribe to Voki Classroom and use their site with additional features and interactive postings.

Weebly

Technology teachers who teach students how to build webpages should visit Weebly, a free tool that is intuitive and easy to use. No knowledge of html is necessary. Simply create a login and begin building pages. Choose from a variety of backgrounds. Then select the type of content you want to add such as image, text and image, slide show, video, etc. and drag it from the dashboard to your page. The dashboard contains your editing choices.  Next, upload images, add text, save, and publish your page. It takes a newcomer about 15 minutes to login and create one simple page with an image, text, and link. Children at one school are using it to create a Website to share with their parents. They are very excited that they are learning how to design their very own website.

Wordle

Have some fun creating "word clouds" in Wordle. Begin by typing a bunch of text into the java based tool. Next play around with fonts, style of layout, and color. When you have the design completed, you can print it out or publish it to the gallery. In the advanced version, you can create a variety of sizes using weighted words such as watermelons:150, apples:50, and peaches:75. A troubleshooting page and forum offer plenty of support when you run into technical glitches. This is a great tool for students both inside and outside of the classroom. 

 

Updated March 20, 2015
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