Tag Archives: EdTech

Announcing EasyBib’s Chrome Toolbar Extension

Really big news: we’ve added a browser extension for Google Chrome! It’s available for free download in the Chrome Web Store right now. You should go check it out.

It’s really simple to use. Just visit the store and download the extension.

Once it’s installed, you can cite anything on any website you’re browsing. Just click on the red EasyBib book in your toolbar and you’ll see a drop down menu.

If you click “Cite on EasyBib” you’ll get a pop up window that has all of the citation information formatted and filled out for you. From there you can browse to EasyBib or hit the “View Bibliography” button to see all of your citations!

 
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EasyBib’s Library Corner: Meebo’s Closing… Now What?

Emily Gover is an information literacy specialist and in-house librarian for EasyBib. Her professional interests lie in web services and design, usability, information literacy, instructional services and reference work. She continues to work part-time at the Hendrick Hudson Free Library, and has previous work experience at Berry College, Reader’s Digest and the University at Albany.

Hi, all! Sorry for skipping a post last week, things have been quite busy here at The Bib. It is a sweltering 97 degrees right now in New York, so my best tactic at keeping cool is staying in the A/C and blogging to you lovely folks.

If you haven’t heard the news, Google acquired instant messaging platform and popular virtual reference service Meebo last week for a cool $100 million. Unfortunately, along with the acquisition came a shut down of nearly all Meebo services, including the Meebo Me widget, which was a popular (and free) virtual reference option for libraries.

I frequented the virtual reference service while I was in library school. If I was buried in the basement of the library with a disorganized pile of textbooks, journal articles and notepads, the last thing I wanted to do was either 1) pack up all my stuff and scour the upper levels to find a librarian or 2) risk having my stuff stolen if I opted to dart upstairs to ask a quick question. Having the ability to just log on to the library web site, type in my question, and get an answer right away was an amazing and invaluable service for me and my classmates. While I worked at Berry College, one of the top priorities I had for our redesign of the library’s web site was to add a virtual reference widget.

It’s less than a month until Meebo’s services are shut down for good, so what other options are out there for libraries to use?

In no particular order, here are some other free and paid alternatives. As with most library services, your best option will depend on the size of your institution and the volume of virtual reference questions you receive. It’s different for everyone, but hopefully one of these will fit your needs!

Service Cost
Chatwing Free
Question Point (OCLC) Paid – Request a price quote
Chatango Free
LibraryH3lp Paid – View pricing
Plugoo Free (still in beta)
Olark Paid – View pricing
Zoho Chat Free
LibChat (Springshare) Will debut at ALA Annual, contact them for more information or watch a video.

EasyBib is “Teacher Approved”

Teaching Blog Addict, the #1 teaching blog on the web, has given EasyBib its stamp of approval and recognized us as a “Teacher Approved Site.”

They are a great resource for lesson plans, advice, and all things education – so check ’em out! You can also read their review of EasyBib here.

EasyBib’s Library Corner: Mobile Technology in the Classroom

Emily Gover is an information literacy specialist and in-house librarian for EasyBib. Her professional interests lie in web services and design, usability, information literacy, instructional services and reference work. She continues to work part-time at the Hendrick Hudson Free Library, and has previous work experience at Berry College, Reader’s Digest and the University at Albany.

Project Tomorrow came out with a new study this week about how educators and administrators use technology in their personal and professional lives. Turns out, technology use is on the up and up! Check it out: more than half of educators polled own a smartphone, close to half of principals and administrators have tablet computers–and, surprise!–librarians are most likely to own a digital reader.

When asked, educators and administrators who are more likely to use mobile technology agree that some of the best outcomes of using mobile technology in the classroom are:

  1. Increasing student engagement
  2. Providing access to online textbooks
  3. Providing personalized instruction to students
  4. Extending learning beyond the school day

Finally, take a look at this chart, it shows important factors to consider when consuming online content compared between librarians who do and do not use digital content. Librarians who do use digital content (such as podcasts, videos, animations and electronic databases) are more likely to recommend consideration of these factors over librarians who do not.

What are some other benefits students can gain from having mobile technology in the classroom?

Sources:
Project Tomorrow report
Personalizing the Classroom Experience summary

Using the EasyBib Notebook to Teach Paraphrasing

Mary Beth Hertz is a certified Instructional Technology Specialist and K-7 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA. She has presented at a number of conferences and is a blogger and avid user of social media. She is also a co-organizer of Edcamp Philly and sits on the Edcamp Foundation Board. She was also named an ISTE Emerging Leader in 2010. She is passionate about making school meaningful and about all things edtech.

 

One of the most common problems that teachers report when facilitating research projects with their students is that students often copy directly from websites without quoting the author or by handing in work that comes directly from a source, word for word.

It is imperative that we explicitly teach our students how to paraphrase the information they find and how to differentiate between paraphrasing and direct quotations. The Internet has made everything seem easy and free for the taking. There are so many sources out there, that knowing whether a student has plagiarized has become so difficult that teachers have to use special tools like TurnItIn to make sure that student writing is their own. There are other reasons aside from academic honesty to make sure that young people know how to synthesize ideas into their own words. As more and more information is put out on the Internet, more and more of our students are creators of this content. They are the future keepers of ideas and knowledge, so we must teach them to be responsible creators and consumers of content.

One thing I’m excited to use with my students to teach these skills is EasyBib’s Notebook. Each time my students add a new note, they have the option to directly quote the resource, paraphrase some of the information they want to use from a resource, or to write their own thoughts on the information. In the copy/paste world we live in, the Notebook allows my students to visualize the difference between copying information word-for-word and putting information in your own words. This tool will also give my students a chance to compare the three ways of thinking about the information they are reading. It will also help them digest the information by forcing them to separate the author’s ideas, their interpretation of the author’s ideas and to find the author’s words that support their own opinions.

Before introducing my students to the Notebook, however, I will need to break the process down, allowing my students to practice paraphrasing as a class and on their own. Even as an adult, paraphrasing is difficult, so I don’t expect them to ‘get it’ the first time. However, I am thrilled to have the Notebook tool to make teaching the differences between paraphrasing and taking direct quotations from the resources my students use.

Update to Website Evaluation

Good news for every educator who needs ways to teach information literacy skills: EasyBib’s Website Evaluation tool just got even better!

We’ve made the explanation of our criteria more robust than ever. Now when students need to understand what questions they should be asking themselves about the credibility of a source they can get concise answers. We’ve also included helpful links in many places that will aid them in asking the right questions. For instance, when a student should be investigating a publisher further, we’ve included a direct link to a Google search for that publisher. That’s smart!

EasyBib Reaches 1/2 a Billion Citations Created!


 

That’s right, in the past 10 years our 34+ million users have created more than a half billion citations with us! We’re super excited to get so much love from our users, but more so to know that we’re helping and encouraging students to cite their works and prevent plagiarism. Plus, we love saving you time and headaches!

To mark the event The Next Web has written up an article about us and why our users love EasyBib! You can check it out here

Engaging students by giving them a voice in the classroom using free web tools

Adam Bellow, founder of eduTecher.net, was recognized in 2011 as the Outstanding Young Educator of the Year by ISTE. Adam has been sharing his vision for education reform by harnessing the power of technology with thousands of educators from around the country for the past several years. Considered an expert in the area of Web Tools. Adam lives in New York with his wonderful wife and two terrific boys. For more information about Adam please visit www.eduTecher.net

 

Educational Technology has certainly changed over the past decade. With roots in software and hardware, the “software” has mainly evaporated into the cloud and students and teachers can leverage free web tools to enhance their classroom learning experience and engage students to provide feedback, create conversation, and allow learning opportunities for the many different types of learner you are likely to have in a class.

Socrative hails itself as a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. That is the real beauty of many web tools, Socrative included, the simple concept that the tool is hardware agnostic since it makes use of the web interface that can be accessed from any device with access. For many years companies have been quite successfully selling single-use devices to school districts at a high-cost that have limited uses. Specifically, these “Student Response Systems” are often 1000s of dollars and have one purpose – collecting data from multiple choice-style questions. While some newer (more expensive) units allow students to text answers and do more than simple choose A, B, or C, they are still not as powerful as most cell phones or a web-based app such as Socrative.

Socrative is easy for teacher to set up a free account and also is easy for students to access the activities and content prepared for them by entering the teacher’s “room number”. I have successfully used this during presentations with a room full of adults and it really works quite well. Participants can take the traditional multiple choice quiz, write in answers for an open-ended response, take a quiz, and even partake in a simple Exit Ticket exercise that asks the students what they learned and what they still need help understanding or wish to further explore. If teachers do use the assessment functionality of Socrative, the data can be exported to Google Forms or Excel. Tools like Socrative prove that schools no longer need to rely on expensive hardware to leverage these tools. They are easily accessible from pretty much any device with web access.

SynchTube is a wonderful platform that allows educators to leverage the power of YouTube videos and combine it with some educator guidance and collaboration. SynchTube lets teachers set up their own free channel (a dedicated private URL) that they can share with their students or colleagues. Users join the channel as observers and are able to watch a playlist of content prepared by the teacher. Students can also chat with the teacher and other viewers on the site and use webcams if they have access to them. The playlist can have content added by the teacher or suggested by the students. The content can come from YouTube, Vimeo, and many other popular streaming media formats. This is a great tool for having students interact during what can sometimes be seen as a passive media viewing experience. This tool is free and very easy to set up and use in the classroom. Note: You will need access to YouTube in your school to access those videos. If YouTube is blocked by your schools’ filter, you should definitely check out YouTube for Schools which allows schools to access a growing curated library of school-friendly content that can be accessed even if schools choose to block general YouTube access.

Today’s Meet is a powerful tool that teachers can use in and out of the classroom. This free web tool allows teachers to instantly set up a backchannel in their classroom. For those unfamiliar with the concept of a backchannel, this is a way to have a conversation in the background during a lecture, watching a film, at a conference, and more. Today’s Meet gives users a simple platform which takes literally seconds to get started with and allows for all students’ voices to be heard in the classroom, from the shy student who never speaks up, to the student who is scared they will be chastised for a question they have, this is an excellent way to engage all students in your class. Simply going to the website and entering the name of an event (which becomes the URL) and selecting how long you want the conversation to be available online for others to participate in (ranging from 1 hour to 1 year) the students simply go to the address, enter their name, and join the conversation. Some ways teachers can use the tool includes asking students a series of questions before screening a film and having them dialogue through the screening. This is always a great way to engage students to question and expand the conversations that may occur during any in-class lectures or discussions in which they might not all have the opportunity to speak. While some teachers may fear what students may say in a backchannel, this is a wonderful opportunity to model and show appropriate use of a social and collaborative tool. Today’s Meet extends the conversation beyond the class or conference and can really be a great springboard of ideas and other learning opportunities.

Giving students a voice in the classroom is easier and more important than ever before. As more and more institutions adopt a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy to meet with the ever-increasing financial limitations, these free offerings will prove to be even more powerful and important as part of a teachers’ toolkit. There is a world of web tools out there that aim to make your classroom a stronger place to learn in and from. To find out about more exciting web tools check out www.eduTecher.net.

An Introduction to Pearltrees

Kyle Pace is a District Instructional Technology Specialist and Google Certified Teacher in the Lee’s Summit, Missouri School District. Kyle, a former elementary teacher, provides professional development for teachers and works with students on educational technology topics such as Google tools, social media, mobile learning, and more. Kyle has presented multiple times at conferences such as ISTE and FETC. Kyle is also the founder of EdcampKC, an annual “unconference” in the Midwest. twitter.com/kylepace and kylepace.com.

 

I’ve written and spoken before about the essential skill (a literacy according to Howard Rheingold) of not only being able to collect content from their network(s), but to curate what’s collected. Just like a museum curator pours over artifacts to find the very best to display, we should also do the same not just for our own professional resources, but see it as an obligation to model it for our students.

I came across a new resource recently (I believe the hat tip goes to Alec Couros for this find) called Pearltrees. After you sign up for your account, you can start building your own Pearltrees. Pearltrees are made up of “pearls”, or sites you want to curate into particular the Pearltrees (topics) you’ve created. Give this 40-second video a watch from the Pearltrees site called “Why Pearltrees?”

Once you’ve signed up for your account, you will already have your “root” Pearltree created for you with your username. You will also see a couple of Pearltrees waiting for you. One is called Getting Started and another is called Pearltree Videos. You can see them in my main Pearltree page here.

You will also see there that I have created a Pearltree called Digital Citizenship. I added “pearls” to the Digital Citizenship Pearltree by using the “Pearler” tool, which is a browser extension that’s available for both Google Chrome and Firefox. When I came to a site I wanted to add to a Pearltree, I clicked the Pearltree extension (I was using Chrome) clicked on the Pearltree I wanted to add it to, and it was instantly there. Easy enough.

As you noticed above you can share links to specific Pearltrees in your account and also embed any Pearltree you’d like on your own website, blog, LMS, etc. It’s also easy to share directly to Twitter and Facebook.

I also like the emphasis on sharing of your Pearltrees. They call themselves a social curation community. You can even give it a try by importing your Delicious bookmarks (I’m a Diigo user so I did not try this feature). So not only does this site give you an easy way to curate great content, but it also recognizes the importance of being social about it by making Pearltrees easy to share and they can also be built collaboratively.

Here are a few of the more important features that I believe Pearltrees offers:

  1. Easy to use interface
  2. The browser extension works nicely for quickly adding content to different Pearltrees
  3. They are easy to share
  4. Pearltrees can be created collaboratively
  5. It’s a web-based application, allowing students to access content from anywhere, including the free iPad app

Think of Pearltrees as a content curation meets concept-mapping tool. I had a great time learning how to use it and I think it would be great for students as they curate content they need for various classes. I look forward to watching it improve. Have fun!

Steve Anderson: How do you curate content in your classroom?

Steven W. Anderson is a recognized expert in using social media in education. Steven regularly consults with schools and districts around the country on how they can use social media to break down barriers and extend learning beyond the classroom walls.
A regular presenter at ASCD, ISTE and various other state/local conferences, Steven speaks on technology integration, leadership and education reform. In his home district he works with school administrators, helping them to build their capacity for change and leadership with technology. Steven resides in North Carolina with his wife Melissa and their daughter Reaghan.

I do a whole lot of research. Whether I am preparing a workshop or writing a keynote I am constantly looking up information and trying to figure out the best ways to organize it all so I can not only recall what I am saving but to make sure I have it, no matter where I am working.

I have three, go-to apps and programs I use on a daily basis for just that:

Hands down, my favorite app for organizing. Not only do I have it installed on every computer I have but on my mobile devices as well. With it I can organize everything I am doing into notebooks and notes. On the web I have the Clipper installed so I can snip quotes, references or parts of blog posts that I want to come back to. Best part? All the annotations come with it so it makes the citation later much easier. From my phone I can add to or edit my notes, insert photos or audio. No matter where I am or what I come across I can add it to my notes and notebooks in Evernote. (I wrote some posts recently about how I am using and ways others are using it as well. You can see them here and here.)

This is another app/program that I have everywhere. Believe it or not I do a lot of my researching on Twitter. Either following a hashtag or asking people to send me stuff. Often times I don’t have time to look at everything as it is coming in so that is when I can ReadItLater. With this browser extension I can, with the click of a button mark the site as something to read later. I can search by tag or key word and since I have it installed on my mobile devices I can read my saves when I have a moment or save something to my list when I am out and about.

This is another place I save web resources. Again with a browser extension I can take the items I am ready to permanently save and add them to my Diigo list. Oh and I can use the various tools there to annotate and mark up the pages and add any notes. I add tags to organize them and I can share all my saves with a link or two. If you are an educator you get even more perks like the ability to create accounts for your students, sharing lists of sites easily and creating groups so students can share resources.

Of course there are lots of other ways to curate content. Even using something simple like a Google Form or Doc could work. I believe the thing to consider when curating content is how are you going to have access to it. I like to be able to access my content anywhere and from any type of device, easily. That’s why Evernote, ReadItLater and Diigo are my go-to apps and programs for curating digital content.

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