Google Series – Part 1: Wonder wheel

May 21, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Education | Leave a comment
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I’m going to start my series on Google looking at one of their new search features. This new feature is called Wonder wheel.

If you do a general search using Google for the topic “Birds” you will get a list of websites (as you would expect). But perhaps you want to be a bit more specific in your search. To do this you could use an advanced search, or you could use Wonder wheel.

wonder_wheel

The Wonder wheel option can be found in the new left sidebar. Click on this and a ‘mind map’ style picture will come up with options that are related to your search topic.wonder_wheel_2

Your search option will be found in the centre of the wonder wheel with links around it that you can click to refine your search. By clicking on one of the links it will expand the wonder wheel.

wonder_wheel_3

On the right hand side of the page, the websites found for the search will change according to the links you choose in the wonder wheel.

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Wonder wheel could be a great tool for helping students in their research. It would be great for helping them to refine topics/questions before they begin their research. Try it out – it is very easy to use!

Google – the series…

May 14, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’m shortly going to start a series on Google. I will start with doing a search using Google along with the advanced/extra features that they offer – including Wonder wheel and Timeline. From there I will see where we go.

So if you have any suggestions, or want to know how to do something, post a comment below and I’ll look into it. I’m not sure how regularly the posts will go up (hopefully at least one a week). This will depend on how busy I am.

Next up: The basics of doing a Google search.

iEtherpad

May 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Posted in Education | 2 Comments
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I was just invited to observe/join in with a colleague using iEtherpad with an online class. Here are a few thoughts about it’s use.

iEtherpad is the latest take on Etherpad. Actually, only in the internet address is the ‘i’ used – I’m not sure why. Etherpad is a great free collaborative tool for working on a document. It is similar to Google docs, however the synchronous interface seems to work much better in Etherpad.

This was the first time my colleague had used in collaboratively with a class (and the first time I had seen it used properly). I would say the first important thing to remember if you want to use it with a class is to make sure you have already set up some key questions for students to answer on the page. This way they can work in groups and put together a document.

It could be used as a sort of ‘chat’ or question/answer area, but it does have it’s own chat function off to the side (which works well).

iEtherpad assigns colours to each person that is online, however it only has a few colours to choose from and these can easily be used up in which case doubleing-up of colours occurs. When in the main document the text is highlighted by the colour of the person typing it. This is fine unless there are 2 or more people with the same colour. It does not show the name of the person typing it in the document. One clever student actually suggested including their name with what they were writing.

Another issue with Etherpad is that as the number of users increases, the number of people dropping off also increases. Hopefully this issue will be able to be resolved.

The timeline function in Etherpad allows you to see everything that has happened on the document over time. You can go back to a certain point and work on it from there or just see the changes that have been made.

The document can currently be exported as txt or html, however this is not always great. It loses the colours of who has had what input. One way around this is to go into the timeline function and print to PDF. Of course not everyone is able to do this.

Overall iEtherpad is a great tool for collobarative work – and very good for students. It is well worth a look and a play.

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