Web 2.0

It’s 2007, a year many analysts predict the proliferation of videos on the Internet while blogging is expected to hit a plateau (something I find hard to agree with). Whether it’s blogging, podcasting or vidcasting – today, your students have an audience. An audience that comprises of, well … let’s just say the entire planet. It’s a global audience they can voice their opinions to, tell their story to, or just plant a seed of change that could alter the course of history forever. I’m not over-dramatizing the potential effects of what a student with an opinion can achieve because the reality of the power to make a difference, is already amidst us.

Here’s an excellent example of how one child is making such a difference:

Screenshot 1

The above screenshot was taken off BL Ochman’s post (highlighting was mine, though) and if I could suggest that you read the rest of her post here.

This is just one of many ways how children or students, in their own endearing, innocent and honest struggle to stop the wrong and make things right, can leverage Internet technology to get their message out. Martina is a brilliant illustration of this and a fine inspiration to many other children who I know have something to get off their chest.

You could help them do this. There’s no better time than now and no easier way than using the Internet to accomplish this – with a global audience to boot. You could incorporate vidcasting into your projects, asking your students to share their story for everyone to view on YouTube, for instance.

Share some of your ideas here with us on ChalkTalk, or even point us to links of your students’ projects. I’m sure we can all benefit from these exchanges and help spread their message.

Have a great 2007 then and I’m looking forward to exploring the world of technology and how it applies to education throughout the year with you.


So now that Web 2.0 is firmly entrenched in your lexicon, we can move on to bigger and better things. Bigger in terms of what makes Web 2.0 tick. Better because you’re about to find out how Web 2.0 applications can be juxtaposed with your current methods of engaging learners. Learning is more effective when it’s subversive, isn’t it? So my hope is that the applications I discuss with you throughout our journey on ChalkTalk will run parallel to this thought.

I’m going to introduce you to one such application today; Time’s best invention of the year – YouTube. You must have heard of it. Or are you already on it? For those who aren’t familiar with this site, don’t despair.

I’ve just blogged about it over at Technopreneur. I hope you would read that post to understand the raw power that YouTube yields. Return here after reading it because what I’m about to share, is a follow-up to that post – exclusively for you.

In November last year, the Pew Internet and American Life reported this:

Screenshot 1

You should read this free report to grasp the online behavioural trends of today’s youth. But let me just encapsulate it for you in a few bullet points:

  • Online teens enjoy new opportunities to create, remix, and share digital content
  • More than half of online teens are Content Creators
  • Urban, highly wired teens are more likely to share original artistic content
  • Like adults, some teens use content they find online as a palette for personal expression
  • One in five online teens keeps a blog and 38% read them
  • Teens surpass adults in blog keeping and reading
  • Teens are twice as likely as adults to report video downloading
  • Most who download video share files, too

I want to turn your attention to the last two points for the purpose of this post. From the PEW report:

Teens are twice as likely as adults to report video downloading

teens currently outpace adults in video downloading by two to one. Nearly one-third (31%) of online teens say they download video files to their computer so they can play them at any time, while just 14% of online adults reported the same in a separate November survey.”

Most who download video share files, too

The majority of teens who download video, 61%, also say that they share files (such as music, video, picture files, or computer games) from their computer with others online.

Among music downloading teens, 52% report some type of file-sharing. Overall, 37% of online teens report sharing files with others online, compared with 24% of online adults.

Teens who have a high-speed connection at home share files in greater numbers than teens who use a dial-up connection; 40% of broadband teens share files, while 30% of dial-up teens do so.

It’s close to 2007 and though I’ve yet to check on the latest statistics, I believe the figures would have increased exponentially. This proves one thing quite clearly. Videos are very popular with youth. And with tools like YouTube, you can observe this youthful creativity seething through. What’s more, social-networking sites like MySpace and Facebook are hotbeds for YouTube videos, usually shared and virally spread by enthusiastic teens. Leveraging such creativity to engage your students then, seems only sensible.

Of course, before adding such a powerful application to your teaching toolbox, understanding the innards of YouTube in order to get the best out of it is ideal. One of the simplest ways to achieve this is to get one of your students to just explain it to you. But why not just surprise them with your ‘hip-ness’ and ‘cool-ness’ by getting the inside scoop here instead. You’ll not only win over the admiration of your students, but attract a whole new legion of fans.

Screenshot 2

So here’s the first thing you’ve got to do. Stop using phrases like, “video taping,” “video recording” or “creating videos” when referring to online videos. Instead, use “vodcast” or “vidcast.” To quote Paris Hilton (I never thought I would do this), “That’s hot.”

Next, know that YouTube is a streaming video-sharing site. You can’t download videos for purposes of viewing it offline or for creative remixing. But of course, there’s a way around this.

So what you’re going to discover below is a kind of cheat-sheet for all things YouTube. By the end of which, you’re going to discover more about YouTube than you’d actually care to. So …

Your YouTube Cheat-Sheet

Basics of Recording A Video : This is a ten minute introductory video that covers the basics of shooting a film good enough to pass you off as a semi-professional videographer. But really, all you need to shoot a clip is a cellphone with video-capture capabilities.

Update: YouTube has a new feature called, ‘Quick Capture‘. If you’ve a webcam handy, use YouTube’s Quick Capture to immediately record yourself and … that’s it! No uploading involved at all. Just make sure your hair is where it should be and no food particles are stuck between your teeth as there are no editing capabilities with this new feature.

Alternatively, you could use Hipcast, which works like YouTube’s Quick Capture. But, Hipcast gives you the option of downloading your video file, something YouTube, as I mentioned earlier, doesn’t offer.

Simple Online Video-Editing Applications : Here are few online applications that you’re going to find useful once you’ve shot your videos.

· Jumpcut

· Motionbox

· Eyespot

How to Subscribe to YouTube Videos : This is a simple way of staying up-to-date with your favourites. YouTube has more feeds on its site, so check that page too. You might find this tip handy if the Dave Letterman show or Desperate Housewives are the antidote to your ‘back to school’ anxiety attacks.

How to add YouTube Videos To MySpace : I guarantee this is something your students are going to be extremely impressed with when you actually demonstrate this without referring to a guide. I’m guessing most of them are already capable of doing this. But for those who aren’t, you’re already a legend in their eyes.

How To Automatically Loop a YouTube Video : Nothing particularly important about this, but because ‘looping’ is a word most often associated with the hottest DJs, your legendary status is now taken up a notch.

Screenshot 3

How to Download YouTube Videos : Ok, I’m leading you into hacking territory. I don’t mean to be a bad influence on you or anything, nor am I advocating breaking any of YouTube’s Terms & Conditions, but, in case you find a pressing need to present a video to your students for educational purposes *wink wink*, here’s how you do it.

1. Go to KeepVid and enter the url of the YouTube video. And follow through.

2. Because YouTube videos are in Flash Video file format, you’ll need a flv player to watch it. You can download one for free from the KeepVid site.

3. You’re now ready to watch it offline.

If want to watch it on your video iPod, then simply take the rss feed of the YouTube show, head over to the YouTube podcaster, paste the feed there, choose ‘podcast feed for iTunes & iPod‘ and you’re done. Or, just read this.

YouTube has spawned a cottage industry of tool makers. And this site lists most of these tools. So don’t fret if you’re missing something from your YouTube experience. You’ll probably find it on that site.

Other Video-Sharing Services: And just when you thought your world was about to revolve around YouTube, here are a dozen or more video-sharing sites that I think are worthy of your attention. It’s nice to have choices, so have a look:

Now, here’s where the educational part of it comes in. Tap into your students’ creativity with videos. Digital storytelling immediately springs to mind. Remixing tools offered online provide so many options for storytelling. Hand over these tools to them and just watch their creativity at work.

For higher education, ideas are aplenty. Instead of just blogging a school event, vlog (hip for video logging) it as well. Get your students to vlog events, fairs, concerts, projects, or lectures. Get them to play the role of producer, director and journalist by documenting global events from a youth’s point of view. Upload them to YouTube to share their creations and start a blog or a forum to invite students from other parts of the world to discuss their videos.

There are some video-sharing sites like Break and Current TV that even pay content producers for such videos. Thus, holding a contest for the best documentary or short video can make things a little more interesting for students.

Creativity and learning knows no boundaries. The day will come when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will have to acknowledge the vast repository of creative works found on YouTube and other such similar sites. A 11-year old could be nominated for an Oscar for a clip he did on the effects of global warming. A 11-year old you supported through creative outlets like YouTube.

One other very useful aspect of YouTube; though not really having anything to do with education, is the fact that you can dispel myths, enforce facts, squelch rumours and clear lingering doubts which can so very often, wreck happy marriages.

One such doubt which plagued the minds of fans of the hit show, American Idol, was that of judge Randy Jackson. You see, Randy Jackson claimed many a times during different seasons of the show that he was a member of rock band, Journey (an awesome, awesome band, btw). This was something that many people could not wrap their minds around. I even heard it through the grapevine that Simon Cowell tried to ‘sweet talk’ Randy out of spreading such vicious rumours.

Well, I’m proud to say, I’ve finally obtained video evidence to settle this problem once and for all. And it’s all thanks to YouTube. So, here’s Randy in all his glory (you might wanna turn up the volume on this one if you’re a Journey fan). You won’t miss him. He’s the one in spandex.



As an educational professional, it is a given that collaboration has a very important role to play in your everyday activities. Whether it be between colleagues, your students or even across schools and institutions, having the right collaboration software can make your tasks a whole lot easier, speeding up mundane processes and allocating your time for more important tasks at hand.

So see if my post over at the Technopreneur blog, can relate to you and your institution. If your institution has yet to implement some form of collaboration software, why not? Try proposing this to the management team to streamline your institution’s collaboration process. You could be doing them a favour.

Read this at The Office 2.0: Trading Cubicles For Smarter Collaboration.

P.S. if you’d like to share your thoughts or questions on this topic, please do so in this post, in the comments section, so that other like-minded educational professionals can benefit from your feedback within this blog. Thanks.

 Memories of stained toilet seats and grimy kitchen cabinets come flooding back when I mention Ajax to friends.

 Ajax Cleaning Solutions

“I would have lost my sanity if it wasn’t for Ajax,” Sheila whimpered to my wife, struggling to hold back a tear. “No other cleaning solution worked for me. Ajax is all I think about when it’s time to clean.”

Goodness gracious, you’d think that there would be more to life than Ajax for some folks, but apparently not. At least not until it became the buzzword for today’s trendy Internet community. You see, the Ajax I tried telling my friends about, was about the hottest Web development technique right now. How hot is it? Well, let’s just say, it gets more buzz than Paris Hilton’s debut album (which I won’t even bother linking to).

Some pundits have attributed the Web’s Second Coming to the rising popularity of Ajax. Ajax type Web applications are blooming so fast all across the Internet that it has become far easier to sit through another moth-eaten episode of ‘Fear Factor( do I really need to know another recipe for a milkshake?) than trying to keep up with the latest Ajax app. Thank God for TechCrunch.

But isn’t such applications meant to make our lives a little more significant, you ask? Well, I don’t know about significant, but this new generation of Web apps are worth keeping a look out for. And one such app, is what may be termed as, personalized start pages or Ajax desktops. Does My Yahoo ring any bells? Let me explain.   

My Yahoo Homepage

You don’t hook up to the Internet today to send out an e-mail or two anymore. I’m sure of that. If you’re like most Internet users, you’re probably digesting dollops of information, sometimes frustrated by the fact that you can’t find what you’re looking for. It’s not because it’s not there, it’s just the niggling problems of having to sift through the digital ocean of content. Then comes the organization and management of files and content that litters your hard drive. That could explain why your PC keeps crashing. You may need to upgrade your hard drive to keep up with your burgeoning content, clear out the spam from your e-mail client, ensure your software are up-to-date with the latest patches, and to top it all off, your home PC suddenly forgets how to read your office files. Day in a life of an Internet user.   

But I am obliged to remind you, that on the Web, you’re boss. You dictate how to consume the content you prefer. A good example of this is iTunes. Hardly anyone visits iTunes to download an entire CD. It’s most likely a song they’d heard on radio and then downloading that particularly song from iTunes. It’s the same with blogs. No one has the time to read an entire blog of an inspired blogger. I’m sure you’re only prepared to allocate your time for a particular post, instead of an entire blog. It’s funny isn’t it; as the range of choices expands, the less attention it gets out of you. The economics of attention, you say?

But that’s where the Ajax desktop offers to help. Think your PC’s desktop, but its online and more efficient. Features of different Ajax desktops may vary, but Scott Vine does a fantastic job of detailing the most popular Ajax desktops that are attracting legions of fans ( I would recommend you hop on over there right now to see what’s on offer and come right back after)

Okay Kevin, Sounds Interesting, But Will It Really Get My Sanity Back?

Let me put it to you this way. Does having all your content and information packaged in one centralized location appeal to you? If it does, then yes. Think about it, dumping all your data in one place and having instant access to it from any location on earth with an Internet connection. I would sign up for that. It makes more sense if you are an avid traveler. You’ll enjoy an evolving platform, one which encourages add-ons for a more interactive user experience (not every Ajax desktop supports this though). You’re bound to witness more integration with Web 2.0 type applications from word processors to widgets, inevitably creating enhanced functionalities.

This process of choosing content that appeals to you and organizing it in one location is only a sample of what lies ahead in a shift towards microchunking (more on this in a future post).

Its early days yet though, in the world of Ajax desktops. Using one now could label you a pioneer. But I reckon once you’ve tried one, you’ll never look back.

Possibilities of using Ajax desktops for businesses? I don’t see why not and as I mentioned earlier, these personalized start pages have not hit the mainstream market as yet. Only time will tell how practical incorporating these start pages into your business model can be. But, with the proliferation of social networking sites like MySpace and judging by the popularity of Netvibes, a marriage of both models can fuse a profitable explosion. The BIG THREE (Windows Live, Google IG & My Yahoo) are already in the game. It’s obvious they’ve sniffed out a money pit.

Watch this space for updates.