Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Connected Learning

Hi everyone and welcome back to week 8 of my blog.  You can find me on twitter @barlottn.  Last week was a really busy week for me.  I had two presentations on the same day last week which was kind of nerve racking.  It definitely was not easy trying to put together two presentations and practice for the presentation.  One presentation went well while the other not so good.  I had to dress formally for my presentation in my Business Law class.  That presentation did not go well because my group ran out of time while presenting and I got cut off due to time.  My other presentation went pretty well.  This presentation was for my Exploring Your Digital Toolbox class.  I did a presentation on Larry Johnson the former Kansas City Chiefs running back.  I took a public speaking class at OCC which has really helped me with presentations.  I did my best to use bullet points to remind of what I needed to talk about.  You never want to read directly from the slides because your not connecting with your audience at all.  Sometimes I get nervous and forget important information that I want to say about my topic but for this presentation I did not forget anything at all.  So overall I felt like the presentation went pretty well for me.  Its always a great feeling to the presentation out of the way without embarrassing yourself.  I also used a Haiku Deck to create my presentation.  Haiku Deck is something that I have been using and its great for presentations.  It keeps your slides short and simple so that you don't just read off them.  Heres the link to my presentation, feel free to check it out.

This week we read chapter 5 from The Connected Educator.  The chapter started off by discussing social bookmarking.  Social bookmarking is a great way to organize your favorite and most used websites.  There are millions of webpages out there so its important that you can organize and share articles and different websites with friend or co-workers.  Delicious is one of the most popular social bookmarking sites out there.  When researching you can just throw the links into your Delicious account so that you can sort through them later and gather the best information possible.  You can also connect with other users or educators on Delicious and share different sites with each other.  Diigo is another social bookmarking site thats rather similar to Delicious but it has some cooler features.  There is a feature called My Groups where you share documents and sites with people in your local professional community or global community.

Twitter is a great place to communicate, express your feelings, and share information.  You can use it professionally or personally.  Twitter is considered to be a microblogging service because it allows you to share information quickly and efficiently with your personal learning network.  With Twitter you can also direct message a person which is like an email and is more private so its not out there for everyone to see.  Twitter is great for networking because there a tons of people in the Twitterverse that share the same field or career as you.

Google Docs is tool a great tool to use in place of Microsoft Office especially if you don't have the money to pay for Microsoft Office.  For a group project Google Docs is awesome because it allows you and your group members to work on a paper or slideshow simultaneously.  Google Docs is used online instead of having software saved to your computer.  You can also work from different computers since your work is saved on the web.  You no longer have to worry about losing or forgetting that pesky usb drive.

Thats another week of my blog in the books.  See you all next week.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Apps and Chrome extensions that will make your life easier

Hi everybody welcome back to my blog.  I know I took last week off but hopefully this week will make up for it.  You can find me on twitter @barlottn.  Last week I learned about iPad apps and Chrome extensions.  Our professor Kyle Calderwood set us up with some great guest speakers on google hangout last week.  The guest speakers were @dwmalone, @geekyteach, and @teachintechgal.  It was awesome having them as guest speakers and I really learned a lot.  They showed us a ton of Chrome extensions and iPad apps that I had never heard before.  Even if you don't have an iPad like me, you can still learn about some great chrome extensions that you can use for your home computer or laptop.

What exactly is a Chrome extension?  A chrome extension is an application that runs inside your Google Chrome browser.  It allows you to customize your browser with helpful everyday tools that will provide you more functionality.  These extensions can also be shortcuts to websites so you don't have to waste extra time browsing.  There are a lot of great extensions out there but you have to be careful not to download too many.  Having too many Chrome extensions can slow down your browser.  You can have as many extensions as you want but always keep in mind that your memory, your computer speed, and your wifi speed can be effected by how many extensions you have.  So just keep an eye on those three things as you add new extensions.  A couple of cool Chrome extensions are Quizlet which can you study for test and quizzes, Readability will clear up all the clutter like adds and such so you can read articles without being distracted, and EasyBib which can help students created citations, reference pages, and find credible sources so they don't plagiarize.  To find more great extensions click on the link that I have embedded in the beginning of the paragraph.

The Chrome extension I am about to talk about is great for when you don't have enough time to read a long article but you have to read it.  Too LongDidn't Read (TLDR) is a fantastic extension that summarizes an article of your choose.  It condenses the article down and gives you the main points which are the most important.  In less than a minute you have synopsis of an article that your either needed to read or just wanted it to be condensed.  Most people like myself don't have the time or just don't feel like reading an entire article.  Theres only 24 hours in a day and they go by pretty fast so don't waste them reading an entire article that you don't want to read.  It also has some good reviews from other customers in the Chrome Web store.  It's always important to check the reviews of an app or extension before downloading so you know that it's legit and you don't waste your precious time.

This next app is for iPads.  It's called ZooKazam and its a really fun app especially for kids.  You print off different targets that the app gives you and the app will bring that piece of paper to life.  You can take pictures and videos of the animal with the app.  It also allows you to change the weather and the light effects around the animal to make it even more realistic.  You can even change the scene that the animal is in to make it more realistic or to teach students what environments these animals live in.  There are 40 different animals including 10 dinosaurs.  This is a great tool for a elementary or science teacher who wants to bring animals to life in their classrooms for the kids.  The app is free but you only get limited animals.  For just .99 cents you can unlock all the animals.  This app also has great reviews in the app store.

 That's it for this week.  I hope you enjoyed my blog and I will be back next week.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Alternatives to Powerpoint

Hello everybody welcome to my blog.  My name is Nick Barlotta and you can find me on twitter @barlottn.  In this week of my blog I will be talking mostly about presentation tools and alternatives to powerpoint.  It seems like everyone uses powerpoint designed by Microsoft for their presentations.  Its time to branch out and explore some alternatives that are more interesting and possible even better than powerpoint.  The first alternative is Haiku deck which is somewhat similar to powerpoint but differs in some areas.  Haiku deck has styles and formats already made up for you to chose from for your slides.  You can also incorporate your own pictures from your library into your slides.  Haiku Deck is all about whipping together attractive slides without having to spend an eternity on them.  Haiku Deck can also be shared via Facebook, Twitter, or email.  The next alternative is Kingsoft Presentation Free 2013.  This alternative is extremely similar to powerpoint.  This program runs in Windows and emulates the standard slideshow building process.  You can add backgrounds, music, sounds, and animations to your slides.  They also have templates to give you ideas for your slides.  The final alternative I will talk about is Prezi.  With Prezi, you can develop eye catching presentations that stray from the traditional slideshow presentations.  Instead of going from one slide to the next Prezi flies from one slide to the next.  You can add videos, music, and any info you need.

Im going to continue along with the idea of using alternatives to powerpoint.  Next up is Google Slides.    This article gave me five reasons to use Google Slides over powerpoint.  Reason #1 is collaboration.  Being able to easily share and simultaneously edit your Google Drive documents is a great feature.  Reason #2 is Simple UI Encourages Simpler Presentations.  Google Slides has less features but this allows for a cleaner presentation.  Sometimes powerpoint presentations have too much going on which can be distracting and annoying.  Reason #3 is Offline access for Editing and Presenting.  You can now download a Google Slides app from the Chrome Web Store which allows you to access Google Slides offline.  Reason #4 is Access Presentation from any device.  You can access Google Drive from any browser.  Reason #5 is Easy Web Publishing and Sharing.  Google slides makes it easy to share a presentation on the web.  Google Slides has many advantages which powerpoint does not.

Powerpoint can be complicated and distracting with its multitude of features.  Haiku Deck is great for making a simple yet elegant presentation.  Haiku Deck makes it difficult to make a cluttered slideshow which is great so your viewers can focus on whats important.  This application restricts you to just two lines of text and five bullet points.  This makes the presenter learn information about the topic he/she is presenting.  No one likes when a presenter just reads off the slides.  One of the problems with Haiku Deck is that you cannot deviate from the default setting for layout and style but that can also be a good thing.  All in all Haiku Deck is great for making presentations.

The final thing I will be talking about in my blog is chapter 3 of Untangling the Web.  This chapter gives us some alternatives to boring powerpoint slides in which the presenter just reads the info off the slides.  SlideShare is a social hub that allows you to upload your presentations and share them with other educators across the globe.  They are also integrated with Facebook and LinkedIn.  They have tons of information and not just presentations like powerpoint.  Word documents and PDFs can also be shared through SlideShare.  Poll Everywhere is a mobile based student response system.  Poll Everywhere can be simple but the deeper you explore the more features you will find.  All you have to do is enter in questions and add answers to create polls for free.  Poll Everywhere is great for the classroom.  Its a great way to get valuable feedback for Teachers and even parents.  Prezi is another great alternative to powerpoint.  Its a different interesting way to create a presentation.   Prezi doesn't have slides.  Prezi basically takes you on a tour of the presentation taking you to the next bit of information, video, or picture.  Prezi is one of the first two display that there is so much more to a presentation than the traditional powerpoint with slides.  Prezi is a great tool for presenters.  I hope you enjoyed my blog and I will be back next week. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The many uses of Evernote

Hi, my name is Nick Barlotta and this my blog.  You can follow me at @barlottn on twitter.  This week I got to watch a google hangout video that previously recorded by Professor Calderwood and uploaded to youtube.  The video had some interesting information about how teachers can use twitter to find other professionals in their field and connect with them.  Adam Taylor who is a science teacher, used twitter to connect with scientists and later have them interact with him and his students. He has created his own hashtag and chat on twitter.  He has hundreds of people that interact in the chat.  He found out that twitter is a great tool to connect and interact with people who can further your knowledge and share experiences with each other.  Twitter is a fantastic tool when its used properly.  Finding hashtags on twitter that are related to your field is a great way to connect with people and learn more about your major.  Twitter could even get you a job if your able to connect with the right people.  Creating a personal learning network on twitter is a great way to help jump-start your career and meet new people.


Evernote is a wonderful web tool that allows users to bookmark, record voicemails, take text and voice notes, upload pictures, docs, PDFs and files, and capture images and information on the web.  There are also applications that you can use on your phone to access Evernote and do different things.  Evernote is really great for keeping notes and organizing them.  For people who have trouble keeping notes and different things organized don't worry cause Evernote is their for you just sign up.  Evernote allows you to make different folders so you can keep your notes separated.  You can also search documents and key words in Evernote to find specific information in your notes that you were trying to find.  Evernote also allows users to share notes via email or social media.  One of the best and most important reasons for using Evernote is that you can access it on the web or download its software to your computer.  Anyway you slice it Evernote is a fantastic tool.  

Ever forget you had something important to do but it just slipped your mind.  Thats pretty much me everyday of my life,  always forgetting something.  For someone like me that can barely remember what I had for breakfast that morning Evernote is awesome.  Evernote has a reminder feature that the user can set to for anytime of the day to keep them on track.  For students this feature is fantastic because we have busy schedules and its not easy balancing work, school work, and class.  The reminder feature is also a great tool for teachers.  They can use it to download documents and remind their students when its due.  If can also get reminder notifications to your phone which is the best way to keep yourself up to date with what you need to do that day.  The Evernote reminder feature is even great for people who have graduated from school and have careers.  Need to remember that you have a meeting in the afternoon just set your reminder and have a notification sent right to your phone. 

Even a New York Times bestseller like Michael Hyatt uses Evernote.  He uses Evernote for public speaking.  Hyatt has setup his Evernote into four different notebooks: Illustrations, Jokes, Quotes, and Statistics.  He goes through his notes or web articles and takes information he likes and copies into it notebooks for later use.  He can highlight things from digital books and just copy and paste them right into his Evernote.  Even with Traditional books Hyatt can take pictures of what he has highlighted and put them into his Evernote.  In general, Evernote is a great way to manage time and set reminders, organize and take notes, and share great information with other users.  Thank you for reading my week 5 blog.  I hope you enjoyed it and have a great week.