Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Get Yourself Organized With Webjets!

As an educator and the mother of a child with special needs, I never fully understood the value of visual learning.  A number of years after I started teaching elementary school, I revamped my instructional materials and saw the positive impact that visual learning had on my students' retention of content. Studies have shown that we rely heavily on our senses to process information when learning, and engaging more than one sense when teaching can help information processing.  Using multiple senses allows more cognitive connections and associations to be made with a concept.  According to the Association for Talent Development, multisensory learning can improve employee's retention of information.  The FREE* cloud-based tool Webjets is great for visual learning, and also will benefit anyone who is looking to organize his/her knowledge and thoughts.  Too often when conducting research or surfing the web,  I have countless browser tabs open, many of them with important information.  The problem is that they are just too distracting and cause me to lose focus on my tasks.  Enter Webjets.io.

So what exactly is Webjets.io?  Webjets is your very own adaptable desktop that you can customize to meet your very own needs.  It allows you to collect and manage any kind of information from the web using cards.  These can be used for creating bookmarks, mind maps, moodboards, documents, tables, interactive presentations, and more.  Write notes and note ideas. Set goals and remember tasks. No matter if it's YouTube, Wikipedia or Instagram - drag anything into Webjets.


So how does Webjets work?  Use drag and drop from your web browser's address bar, a bookmarklet, or even IFTTT to push your data into Webjets. Any content collected from the web automagically turns into an interactive card.   Webjets allows you to manage any kind of information with ease.  Place cards freely, or group them at the speed of thought.


Are you or your students conducting research?  Webjets can be an invaluable tool in so many ways.  First of all, you can use Webjets to keep track of all your sources (websites) for your bibliography by managing bookmarks in a fun and visual way.  Second, you can use Webjets to brainstorm information by creating a mindmap.  You will be organizing your information in a visual and relaxing way as you structure the information in the way that you think.  As you add more information to the Webjets desktop, your board will expand.  You will be able to keep all of your information in one place.  Third, when doing a research project, it's a process that requires a number of tasks.  Webjets allows you to manage your tasks by organizing them in a visual way, helping you stay focused and productive.  You can organize clusters of information using lists, which are the most simple type of presentation.  Use tables to make Kanban boards or visualize two-dimensional structures.  Webjets allows visual collaboration, enabling you to be more effective by applying visual thinking, like color-coding, pattern recognition, or clustering techniques.  It does the job the way you want it to be done.  You will allow your students to curate content by enabling them to learn the way that they think.  

A hot topic in today's world of education is collaboration; individuals work together as a team in order to accomplish a goal.  Each member of the team is responsible for a different task to complete.  Webjets allows you to collaborate better by sharing learning materials - or anything for that matter - with your friends or teammates, and enjoy all your changes instantly synchronized between users.  Set due dates to manage your team's workflow.  The only way that one can improve his skill of teamwork is by working together with others on an assignment.  This cannot be taught; rather it needs to be modeled and practiced hands on.  

Speaking of synchronization, it's important that the apps and/or tools that we use in and out of the classroom are "device agnostic," which means they will be compatible with any device; whether it's a computer, tablet, or phone.  Webjets will work on any device, as long as there is an active Internet connection.  When you login to Webjets, you will see all changes synchronized between your devices, providing consistent access to your own digital environment from anywhere in the world.

When using digital tools in the classroom, we also want to make sure that they are interactive and engaging for our students; but we also want to make sure that they are not distracting or too much stimulation.  Webjets is exactly that.  Make students an active part of the lesson 

by allowing them to engage and interact with your presentation.  Take into account what your students' needs are and choose the best presentation to collect your information.  Structure and present your libraries of knowledge with countless different ways. Invent your own approach to productivity on top of your favorite web services, such as YouTube or Google Docs.  

When our students are curating digital content, we want them to be proud of themselves and allow them to publish their content online in order to share with others.  With Webjets you can publish anything ranging from a simple note to advanced research efforts. You can share it on your favorite social network and let your friends admire your thoughtful work.

Webjets is continuing to add new features.  One upcoming feature is the "Search" feature.  You will be able to get instant results from your data inside Webjets or any other connected web services using Webjets' powerful search engine.  I am looking forward to seeing this implemented.  

I am so happy that I have learned about Webjets.  I have already shared it with teachers and they were amazed by what they are able to do using the tool.  I am looking forward to seeing the products that they and their students create!

*Education plans are free for people in education or non-profit organizations.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

eMaze your audience! It's PowerPoint + Prezi + Google Slides on Steroids!

I was fortunate several months ago to learn about emaze, a powerful FREE* tool that can be used in the classroom.  Initially, I thought that it was merely a presentation tool, but in all actuality, it's so much more.  Not only can you create amazing presentations in minutes, but you can also use emaze to create websites, e-cards, blogs, photo albums, and more.  Teachers can engage their class with interactive presentations that make learning more accessible, stimulating, and effective. In fact, I know of an eighth grade class that is using emaze to create its own digital yearbook!


So you ask, "A presentation tool?  Why do I need ANOTHER presentation tool?  I have Microsoft PowerPoint, Prezi, Google Slides, etc.  Isn't that enough?"  But that's just it.  Emaze is not just another presentation tool; it's much more powerful than the presentation tools listed above.  Think of emaze as Microsoft PowerPoint + Prezi + Google Slides together on steroids.  And THAT is what emaze is all about.  Click the link below to learn how emaze compares to other presentation tools.

Creating beautiful content in emaze is very easy as the interface is user-friendly.  There are many templates using various themes available on the website.  Make your presentation stand out of this world with designs, gorgeous animations and 3D and video effects. In addition, there are many finished projects created by educators that are readily available for duplication and each user can edit it to his/her liking.  The possibilities are endless.

And if you ask, "But I created something in Microsoft PowerPoint already.... I don't want to reinvent the wheel.  What do I do?"  Great question!  You can import PowerPoint files directly into emaze and with very little effort. And if you created a Google Slides presentation, all you need to do is download and save the Google Slides file as a PowerPoint (.ppt) file and then import that file directly into eMaze.  It's that simple!  You can add video by uploading the file from your computer and/or mobile device.  Another option is you can add the video's link on YouTube.  In my experience, I have found that the video playback was better after I uploaded the file directly from my computer.  Audio files work the same way; they can be uploaded or you can provide the link from YouTube.

Emaze is a device agnostic, cloud based tool.  It can be used on all devices and in all places, as long as there is a high speed internet connection.  Work and continue presentation projects at school, home, and on-the-go from laptops, tablets, and even mobile phones.  Emaze is currently optimizing its software to be fully compatible with iPhones and smartphones.  Personally, I feel that content creation is easier on a computer than on a mobile device.  Projects can be downloaded in order to present offline in a variety of file formats, including but not limited to: .pdf, .mp4, and .html.

It is very easy to share presentations (and other projects) with students, teachers, and everyone else by email, Facebook, Twitter, websites, and blogs.  Looking for ways to collaborate?  More than one person can edit the same presentation or project file.  However, the current setting for FREE and EDU (Premium) users is that ONLY ONE user can edit a file at a time.  The collaboration feature is only available for business member accounts at this time.  I have mentioned to emaze staff the importance of educators and students being able to collaborate on the same project simultaneously.  I hope that they will add the collaboration feature for EDU users in the near future.

You can learn more about emaze by taking a gallery walk through the following presentation.  (The video within the presentation can be accessed directly at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-9nHq9ld6Q&feature=youtu.be.  Have fun creating your "emaze-ing" projects and hoping to see them on the emaze Explore page soon!