Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Free Blog Platforms

If you would like to try blogging, is free. It's what I use for my blog. In future posts I'll explore some educational uses of blogs, but for now here's a way to play in the blog sandbox. If you want your students to blog, you should try it out first. Blogger offers ready-made templates that you can customize to your liking. No HTML knowledge is required. You can choose to limit who sees or comments on your blog, useful if you are just testing the waters.

Some bloggers prefer platforms on social networking sites (SCN), for example MSN Spaces or Yahoo! 360. These give you your own web page with a blogging feature built in. However, you also get some of the problems inherent to SCNs.

Some free blog platforms are designed for education. WordPress is one but it requires that you already have a hosting provider or website. Another option is Class Blogmeister, which requires you to log in with your school's code. If you know of other free blog platforms, please share them in the comments.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Digital Libraries

A digital library is a library where collections are stored in a digital format rather than print or microfiche formats and which are accessed by computer. They are libraries in cyberspace that can be used by anyone at anytime and anywhere. Some digital libraries are designed specifically for educators, providing teaching and learning materials. The educational virtual libraries are credible sources for educators because they have staff that reviews, selects and structures resources.

There are digital libraries that cover all teaching subjects, such as MERLOT. Others focus on a particular subject, such as the science specific NSDL. This blog provides links to some of these on its home page menu.

What about students? Your school district will have a digital library accessible to them. Virtual libraries for students or the general public not associated with an educational or public institution are just beginning to emerge. One fine example is The International Children's Digital Library (ICDL) where youngsters can read books in their preferred language and save books to their personal bookshelf.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Copyright & Ed Tech

It's been a while since I've posted on my blog. I completed my UFL course on educational technology since my last post and I've started a new one -- about distance education. I've learned something new about copyright as it applies to education. Section 110(1) of the American copyright law has always provided educators with the right to display or play the materials of others in a formal classroom above and beyond fair use. The educator's world has changed since the act was introduced. Learning online through class wikis, blogs, and the like, is a big part of teaching today. To address how and what can be used for online transmission, section 110(2), or the TEACH Act, was created. I developed a PPT presentation about the TEACH act for my course and I'd like to share it with you: