Tozzl – A simple, registration-free pinboard

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 5.34.10 PMI am giving a presentation at REALIZE 2015 on the use of collaborative bookmarking and I stumbled upon this neat little online pinboard that is free and registration-free as well! I think it could be a really great curation tool for the classroom. The teacher or the students could create boards that they share with others and invite others to add to as well. The content can be files, texts, links, videos, and even Twitter hashtags. Here is how it works:

  • Go to tozzl.com and click on ‘Create a new tozzl’.

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  • Type in a name for your board, a short description, a password to edit and add content to the board, a different password to allow you delete the board, the ‘captcha’, and then click on ‘Create a new tozzl’.

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  • You will be presented with two main boxes: one that shows the title and description, and another with a chat box. You can hide the title/description box by clicking on ‘hide’ link in the bottom-left corner of the box.

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  • To add content to your board, click on the little pencil icon in the top right of the blue bar running along the top of the screen. Enter your password and click on the ‘Enable’ button.

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  • You now have a series of icons appear on the left side of the blue bar along the top of the screen. These allow you add all sorts of content:

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Text: You can enter rich text along with lists, images, and links within a box.

Tasks: You can create a task list with check boxes.

Picture: You can upload an image from your computer or phone.

File: You can upload any file up to 10MB in size.

Links: You can post web links (you can add more than one by clicking on the plus button in the bottom left) with a description and short text.

YouTube: You can paste in a YouTube link and it will be embedded in a box on your board.

Twitter: You can add a Twitter hashtag and it will show you a live feed of the last 15 tweets with that hashtag.

Information: If you have hidden the title/description box, you can bring it back by clicking on the last icon.

  • To share your tozzl with others, simply copy the URL from the top of your browser. Remember, anyone with the link can view it, but to edit it, they will need the edit password as well.

Notes:

  • You can edit and delete most of the boxes you have added, but you can’t delete or add or new chat box. You can hide the chat box by click on the down arrow at the top left of the chat box and choosing ‘hide’.
  • You can move the boxes around by clicking and dragging the title of each box. The exception to this is the chat and information boxes.
  • You can make the boxes different sizes by resize button in the bottom left of the screen. It will toggle through the different sizes as you click on it.
  • There is no way to password protect the viewing of the board, so be careful when sharing the link.

Application:

  • Group projects
  • Listening and reading labs (the subject of my session coming up)
  • Presentations
  • E-portfolios
  • Blogging
  • Brainstorming
  • Sharing content with students (flipped classes)

Let me know what you think of tozzl! You can post a comment below or share with me on Twitter (@nathanghall). Thank you!

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Nkwiry: A Free Collaborative Bookmarking Tool For Schools

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A little while ago, I wrote a short overview of collaborative writing tools and amongst them was Scrawlar. What I didn’t know at the time was that Scrawlar was created by Brian Aspinall, a teacher in Ontario, Canada. I found this out when he followed me on Twitter and I started poking around his website. I was initially led to Scrawlar by Doug Peterson, another Ontarian educator and technology consultant. All of this eventually led to another tool that Brian created called Nkwiry, a tool for teachers and students where they can share resources they have found on the internet, a sort of collaborative bookmarking, but private and secure. Teachers create an account and then share the class code with their students. Best of all, this is completely free. Here is an overview:

Creating an account and a class:

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  • Go to Nkwiry and click on ‘Teacher Signup’ at the top of the page. You will be taken to this dialog box where you enter in your email address, password, and class code. The password is just for you since you will create individual student passwords later on. The class code needs a number in it and must be in all lower case letters.
  • Click on ‘I agree to the Terms and Service’ and then ‘Sign up’. You will get access immediately, so you don’t need to verify through your email. That means you can use a fake or disposable email address to sign up, but you won’t get any access if you forget your password. It is better to use your email address if you are comfortable doing that.

Getting started:

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  • Once you have registered, you will be taken to this screen. This is the default topic setup which can be easily modified. You will notice the  Add and Remove buttons located amongst the topics. This is for adding or removing topics. At this time, there doesn’t seem to be a way to edit a topic title, so make sure you choose wisely since you will be adding bookmarks to this area and you don’t want to delete those to change to a new topic name. I suspect this is something that may come in later updates.

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  • When you click on the ‘Add’ button, you will see this dialog box. Just enter a topic name and a description so participants will know what to add. Once you are done, simply click on ‘Add Topic’.

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  • When you click on the delete button, the topic buttons change to what you see above. You simply click on the ‘Delete’ link in the box you wish to remove to delete it. Be careful, once it is gone, it is gone.

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  • Another function found along the top of the page is something called ‘Class Feed’. This is where students and teachers can post questions or comments for the whole class to read and reply. Simply type in the message and click on ‘Post’.

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  • When you go to the Class Feed, you also can see this message on the righthand side. Clicking on this message will delete the entire message feed, so choose wisely. This could be helpful for when you use this with a different class.

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  • If you would like to change your password, click on ‘Settings’ at the top of the page and you will see this dialog box appear. Enter your old password and then your new one twice before clicking ‘Save’.

Adding students:

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  • Once you have set up the topics and are ready for students to join, you will need to add them first and give them each a password for them to login in. Click on ‘Manage Students’ at the top of the page and you will see a page similar to the one above.
  • Type in a student name into the ‘Name’ field and hit ‘Add New’. You will then see them show up below with a password appearing beside it. You can keep this password or change it to something else that they will remember. Make sure to give each student a unique password since this is how Nkwiry keeps track of who is adding what on the forum or in the bookmarks.
  • Once you are done, click on ‘Save Changes’ to save all of the settings.
  • To remove a student, simply click on the red X to the far right of their name.

Logging In:

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  • When you would like students to join, simply give them the class code and the password you set up for them and tell them to go the main Nkwiry page. From there, they click on ‘Login’ and they are taken to the page shown above. They click on ‘Select’ and choose ‘Student’. From there, they enter the class code and password before clicking on ‘Login!’.
  • For you, just choose ‘Teacher’ and enter your email and password before clicking on ‘Login!’.

Adding bookmarks:

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  • For both students and teachers, it is the same for adding bookmarks. Click on any of the topics where you would like to add a bookmark. Type in or paste in the URL, add a short title, and then type of a short description of what it is before clicking on ‘Add Bookmark’.

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  • Once you have added a bookmark, it will look similar to the link above. Click on the image or the URL button to go to the page in a new window or tab.
  • Students and teachers can also give it a ‘thumbs up’ by clicking on the green thumb button. A number will appear beside it showing how popular it is.
  • Click on the red X on the far right to remove the link.

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  • You don’t have to leave Nkwiry to search for links, you can also use the ‘Explore’ function at the top of the page. It is a custom Google search that is safe for students.

That is a general overview of Nkwiry. It isn’t the most comprehensive tool out there, but I think that is what makes it good for most classrooms. Keeping it simple will make is more manageable for students and teachers to use. I think there are some things I would like to see added such as creating different classes for each teacher, but that may come in future updates.

I hope you find it helpful. Share your thoughts in the comment section below or send me a tweet at @nathanghall. Thank you!

10 Timesaving Bookmarklets for Teachers

Bookmark

Photo courtesy of Katia Grimmer-Laversanne. Used by permission.

For anyone like myself that spends a good deal of time online, you know how important it is to find ways to streamline certain repetitive tasks. One way to do that is to make use of bookmarklets. A bookmarklet is a bookmark that automates a certain task such as finding the definition of a highlighted word, downloading all images, or posting a link to a favourite social bookmarking site. Here is a list of my current favourites and what they do:

  1. Print Friendly: Clicking on this bookmarklet will create a clean, printable version of the website you are on.
  2. Citebite: Select text on any webpage and click on this bookmarklet. You will be taken to a page where you can share your annotated page with a unique web address.
  3. Kwout: Clip out a portion of a webpage by using this bookmarklet. Embed this image in a webpage and it is linked to the webpage you cut it from.
  4. Dotepub: This bookmarklet creates an epub document from the webpage you are visiting and downloads it to your computer.
  5. Textise: Create a text only version of the website you are on. Great for copying text from a page to paste into a document.
  6. Stichit: This bookmarklet will pull all of the links from a page or a selection on a page and allows you to create a single link to share with others.
  7. Edmodo: For those that use Edmodo, this bookmarklet adds the website you are on into your Library. Social bookmarking meets LMS.
  8. SavePublishing: This is for all of those who want to find a quotable text on a webpage that they can share on Twitter. This bookmarklet highlights all of the text on the page that is below the character limits of Twitter. Click on any of them and it creates a Twitter message you can edit and send.
  9. SplashQRCode: Create a QR code of a webpage by clicking on this bookmarklet. Great for sharing a page from your projector such as in a presentation or class.
  10. Google Translate: This is actually a series of bookmarklets that allow you to translate a webpage into any of the Google Translate languages.

There are a number of great bookmarklets that could have been added to this list such as Hootlet (for Hootsuite) and Diigolet (for Diigo), but maybe that will best be left for another blog post.

Feel free to add your comments below, send me a tweet at @nathanghall, or email me using the contact page on this website. Thank you!

6 Registration Free Websites For Creating and Using QR Codes for Learning

Quick response codes, more often known as QR codes, are becoming a common way of bridging the gap between printed material and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. By scanning the code, a user will be redirected to the appropriate place online or a set task will be undertaken by the device such as adding someone to a contact list or sending an email. Uses for QR codes in the English language classroom include:

  • direct links to websites for mobile learning. Students can use their cell phone or tablet to access supplementary material, dictionaries, videos, audio recordings, etc.
  • sending emails or text messages to the instructor.
  • scavenger hunts.

The main purpose for using QR codes is to make the material easier to access. Students are more likely to scan a QR code than to attempt to type in a long URL, especially if there are language issues such as with lower levels. Give handouts that have QR codes that lead them to videos or pictures to enhance the learning experience. Have students create a visual dictionary that uses QR codes to see what a word means. Extend learning by combining news articles with Ted videos and Google Maps. Imagine reading about the boy who built a windmill and then scan a code to see his Ted talk or see his village on Google Earth or through a Flickr album. This could all be done online, but in a classroom that has limited access to computers, putting QR codes on the reading handout so students could use their iPod Touch or Blackberry to watch the video extends the learning and builds interest in the subject.

I hope this gives you a few ideas on how to take advantage of such a simple technology. In most situations, it is as simple as creating the code, downloading it to your computer, and then inserting it into a Word document. If you have ever inserted an image into a document before, you can certainly do this. Give it try, you might actually find this is a simple way of integrating technology into the learning process without having to make a big leap in learning it yourself. Let me know how it works out for you.

 

http://quikqr.com/

  • QuikQR : Create QR codes from text or website address (URL). Choose from three sizes of image and then download as a PNG (image) file which can be put into any document or website.
  • http://www.tagmydoc.com/

    • TagMyDoc : Upload a PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OpenDocument, or image  (max 5MB) and the site automatically puts a QR code in the bottom right corner of the first page of the file [Note: it will cover over whatever is in the corner, so prepare your documents accordingly]. You can then download and print or share the document electronically. If someone scans the code, he or she is taken to the online, cloud hosted version of the document which then can view or download online. The unregistered version will only host the document for 14 days 

    http://www.morovia.com/free-online-barcode-generator/qrcode-businesscard-maker.html

    • QR code business cards : Type in your information, choose an online image, and the site will create online business cards that you can download as a PDF file to print on Avery business card paper. People who scan the card will have your information downloaded automatically to their contacts list. 

    http://qrickit.com/index.php

    • QRickit QR Codes : Create QR codes that will perform up to 18 different tasks including add a contact, sending an email or SMS message, go to a Google map location, or even send a Tweet! You have the option of choosing the code and background colours and including an image in the code. Download the image as a JPEG or PNG file.

    http://zxing.org/w/decode.jspx

    • ZXing Decoder Online : Decode QR codes online without a dedicated app. The QR code can be uploaded or found online.

     

    http://kl1p.com/
    • Kl1p : Create or upload documents or images to your Kl1p (folder of items) and share via a custom QR code. Here is a QR code to a sample document created on Kl1p of this article: 
      Qrcodes

    Feel free to add links or ideas in the comment field below or send me a tweet @nathanghall. I always enjoy hearing from others. It helps me know if I am providing a valued service. My main purpose for doing this is to help others integrate technology tools into the classroom. If you have any thoughts or ideas that can help me help others, let me know. I don’t make a cent doing this and I plan on doing that as long as I can, but only if it is needed. Thanks!