Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thing 17 - My Choice

I looked at about 9 different sites from the Webware 100 list, and I think I'll add Webware 100 to my Delicious account. This will be a great resource to return to if I want to "up my skills" in new technologies. The ones I chose to tell you all about are listed below, with brief descriptions:

  • Good Guide This site is a good one for consumers wanting to preview products in order to select items that are environmentally friendly, safe, and healthy. You can search for something, let's say a soup. The results will rank by rating in each category (Health, Environment, and Social), as well as an average rating on all three criteria. Then you can sort the results by price or by ranking -- and you can filter them by other criteria. For example, you might wish to see highly-ranked soups that are low in saturated fats, or low in salt. You might wish to see floor cleaners that are fragrance-free, or that weren't tested on animals. Reportedly this site will soon be available in an app for an iPhone -- irrelevant to me, but a great idea because of its portability.
  • Aviary I love this one -- it's a replacement for Adobe's expensive suite of programs like PhotoShop, Illustrator, etc. With this free web tool, people can not only edit photos, but also edit vector images, adjust colors, apply visual effects, and more. People can also collaborate on a project. I think that a background knowledge of what's possible to do with these tools would help -- or else plan on a steep learning curve and a significant amount of time devoted to learning how to use Aviary. But this is definitely one I plan to use - and would maybe offer a workshop on this in the future.
  • Hulu My son had already told me about this one, and I had a hard time imagining that producers of movies or TV shows would voluntarily post their products for people to watch on line -- for free! But here it is. When I learned that there is a valid business-plan reason for them to share their content, it made more sense. They believe that viewing shows boosts DVD sales -- and the stuff is only posted for a limited time online. So if people want to see a show, they'll need to buy it for future viewing. I can tell that this is true, because I looked for the last episode of "Monk," and all I could find were clips and interviews. Bah. -- But I COULD watch this week's episode of "NCIS." Yea!

And now, for the one I will promote, dig into more deeply, etc. etc.:

  • diigo This is a content sharing and bookmarking tool -- but I like its uses for research. In our big6 lessons we emphasize students' interactions with the written word -- the reading, paraphrasing, summarizing, synthesizing, etc. Students are taught how to identify the main idea(s) in an article, highlight (or underline) the main words, summarize them in an annotation along the side, and then paraphrase the idea or fact into their own words on a Notes Page graphic organizer. Diigo would help with the highlighting and annotating (they call this 'adding sticky notes') part of it, allowing students to save paper, to use a cool Web 2.0 tool, and yet still accomplish the goals of reading, writing, and thinking. (One reason we've focused on these skills is past observation of students doing too much copy-and-paste when "doing research." They would capture words without really reading or understanding them, and then would regurgitate them in some kind of pseudo-written product -- really more of a plagiarized collage of words taken from various articles they'd found online.
  • The bookmarking and tagging features are like Delicious (hey, does this mean I can eliminate ONE of the many useful sites on my list, to consolidate features under one useful window? Yea!)
  • One possible disadvantage to diigo is that you have to download a free toolbar -- which subsequently allows you to bookmark, highlight, save for later, send, or do other things with webpages that you're viewing. I was able to download the toolbar -- but haven't yet rebooted my computer to see if it's still there. On your home computer, this should not be any problem at all. And diigo is FREE!

Here is a video which shows what diigo is, and how to use it:

Diigo V4: Research ~ annotate, archive, organize from diigobuzz on Vimeo.

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