This three-times a year news letter is published by the Renton Technical College Library. It is intended to spotlight RTC Library media resources, and issues regarding the use of educational media—the internet, videos, DVDs, audiotapes, software, and other electronic resources.
If you have any questions or suggestions for topics, please call the library at (425) 235-2331, or email Laura Staley at lstaley@RTC.edu.
In this issue of Educational Media we look at web tools that will make your life easier. One, called RSS, will scan many of your favorite websites to see what’s new, and deliver it all to one place for you to view. See “What’s an RSS Feed?” page 2.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a major corporation send you free magazines, newspaper articles, websites, and blog postings on your favorite topics? You can have that! See “Let Google Be Your Clipping Service” on page 3.
We also take a look at Google features designed specifically for the educator. See “The Teacher’s Own Google”, page 2. Google tools are a major focus in this issue, because Google works hard to create user friendly interfaces, and because they are almost always web-based.
(I have mostly limited this list to web-based tools. You will not have to download anything onto your computer to use them. At most, you may have to make sure that you have updated Java applets.)
Google also wants to help students and researchers find journal articles, conference papers, and more. See “Google Research” on page 3.
Google gets most of the attention when it comes to web searching—after all, it does billions of searches a year. But there are some other web searching engines that offer much smaller, but higher quality, results. See “Research Beyond Google” on page 4.
More classrooms today are creating Wikis, encyclopedias of useful subject knowledge written and updated by the students. For more information (and a library sample) see “Collaborate on a Classroom Wiki”, below.
Did you know you can edit photographs online? Take a look at some free, web-based tools in “Edit Pictures Online” on page 2.
Finally, in “Something Extra”, page 4, we take a look at a site that offers free tools for the teacher, teAchnology.com.
A wiki is a website that allows users to edit it. Wikipedia—the collaborative web encyclopedia—is probably the best known example.
You can build a wiki too, and have your students create a dictionary of professional terms, compile procedures for important tasks, share study and test notes, or upload abstracts of their papers or class projects. You can add a variety of resources to a wiki , including exceptional papers, pictures, charts and diagrams. This is one way to save that excellent paper your student did last year, and share it with this years class.
There are several free wiki providers. Wikispaces.com is one web-based wiki site.
You can choose a free, protected space, which will allow you to publish a wiki and—this is the meaning of “protected”—limit who is allowed to edit those pages. Anyone will be able to view the site, but only the people you designate will be able to contribute. In this free version, a discreet strip of ads will appear along the left side of the page.
Wikispaces.com offers excellent tutorials on using the site, and an editing interface strongly based on Word. It took me less than an hour to sign up, create a three page site, and invite two people to edit it.
To see the site that I created, please take a look at the RTC Library Wiki. You will find it at http://rtc-library.wikispaces.com/
Wikispaces.com offers some very useful tools to the wiki manager. You can immediately find out which pages have been edited recently, and by whom. You can even have this information sent to you as an RSS feed.
One piece of advice for new wiki managers: Keep a text copy of important pages. The editing interface is easy for those familiar with Word, but not all of your students may have that training.
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