sábado, agosto 01, 2009

A 2.0 Toolkit: A hand-picked set of free Web programs to take to school this fall

A hand-picked set of free Web programs to take to school this fall

By Shonda Brisco -- School Library Journal, 8/1/2009

Regardless of the subscription databases that are available in your library, there's always a sense of professional satisfaction when you're able to access and utilize free software programs to create an entirely new way to engage your users or fulfill a need. For some librarians, 2.0 tools have become a major component of their instructional day, virtually a "must-have" within their professional toolkit. But if you haven't tried some of the most popular 2.0 tools, here is our list (in alphabetical order) of the hottest ones being used by school librarians this year.


Animoto is a free video program that allows you to create a 30-second music video using your favorite photos or other images. After uploading your files, Animoto provides the music to match the images and then renders a music video that can be shared or linked to Web sites.

Animoto became a hip, new resource used by librarians for creating quick library book trailers or attention-getting announcements. However, most of us quickly discovered that our hard work was often blocked by school filtering systems. Now, the service has helped us to solve the accessibility problem by providing their Animoto for Educator's site, which allows K-12 educators the ability to use the software to create exceptional clips for use in the classroom without the fear of unwanted content being accessed by students.

By completing the online application indicating that the product will be used in a K-12 classroom or library, educators can easily access the new version of this software. As one of the first really awesome tools to help librarians showcase authors, books, and even the library itself, Animoto is not only hot, it's on fire! Be sure to check out thecase studies that show how others are using Animoto in education.


Free, cross-platform sound editor Audacity (available for download ataudacity.sourceforge.net) has become a mainstay for those involved in podcasting. The software allows you to record and edit programs quickly without the need for prior experience in sound editing. For those who want more information about using this software, there's an online tutorial/user's manual. Tech-savvy librarians who are more experienced with the program might check out Audacity Portable program, which you can download to your USB drive and take with you for impromptu podcast editing even while on the road.


Delicious, a popular social bookmarking service, allows users to tag, save, manage, and share Web pages from a centralized source. For educators, librarians, and students, this tool provides immediate access to its bookmarks, regardless of their physical location. The power of Delicious lies not only in making your bookmarks accessible to you, but in making everyone else's bookmarks available also. By tagging your Web pages with brief one- to two-word descriptors, you enable a search to be conducted across the entire site for bookmarks with similar labels.

As a professional resource, Delicious provides immediate access to a wide-range of subject-related (or tagged) Web sites that have been discovered, bookmarked, and shared by others. So, for example, rather than spend hours searching for bogus sites to teach media literacy, librarians can search Delicious using the tags "bogus_websites" (176 results), "web_evaluation" (932 results), or "hoax" (1514 results) to locate possible sources. Delicious also allows users to search by more than one tag (a variation of the Boolean search) to locate more specific results. So by adding the aforementioned tags, the results show approximately 160 results, which match exactly what is needed. Mmm, delicious, indeed.

Google Applications

Google Applications—including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Sites—is perhaps one of the best free office suites available for classroom use. Students, teachers, librarians, administrators, and parents can easily create, collaborate, access, and share information resources, assignments, projects, calendars, and even Web pages, all using Google Apps.

Librarians can use Google Calendar to set up library scheduling online for access by teachers and parents. Students and teachers can utilize the Google Doc programs for everything from word processing to presentation software, while busy librarians can quickly add titles for an online "wish list" that others can see and share through the Google Spreadsheet application.

Find lesson plans for utilizing these resources here. For additional information on how Google Apps can work within your school, be sure to visit this page.

On the topic of Google, there's another powerful tool that's gaining momentum in school libraries. With iGoogle, students can create a personalized Web site that can be easily designed and accessed within most classrooms and libraries. Aside from the ability to add unique and fun resource links to an iGoogle site, students can also create links to the library's databases, allowing them the ability to locate and use those critical resources without moving in and out of sites.

Promoted extensively by information literacy experts such as David Loertscher, a professor at San Jose State University, iGoogle Web pages can function as a student's personalized workspace, allowing them to create the perfect site for storing their links for learning (and entertainment) in one place. Visit here to learn more about Loertscher's insights on the use of this hot 2.0 tool. This tutorial will show you how to set up your own iGoogle page.


Glogster lets users create an online interactive poster, which can be shared or uploaded to wikis and other sites. By uploading photos, images, and even videos, Glogster transforms a static online Web page into a visually exciting and interactive online presentation.

Like most other popular 2.0 software sought after by educators, Glogster now provides an educational version of their program. Within this site are tutorials, lesson plans, and examples of how educators are using Glogster in the classroom and library.

As a unique visual literacy tool that's all about creativity and ease of use, Glogster is a must-have tool for school librarians.


The largest presentation-sharing community online, SlideShare has found its way into education rather quickly. In fact, SlideShare has an entire area devoted to educational presentations contributed by other members. Users can upload and retrieve presentations and embed selected ones into their Web page within minutes. Aside from the practical use of sharing information, SlideShare offers teachers and librarians who might be intimidated by 2.0 tools the ability to utilize more familiar software programs (such as PowerPoint or Word) and create an entirely new presentation online for their students to access.

A search on SlideShare using the term "school libraries" garnered over 5,000 presentations, including ones on collection development, information literacy, 2.0 tools in the school library, marketing the school library, and thousands more.


VoiceThread is enormously popular in the K-12 community. Enabling the creation of collaborative, multimedia slideshows, VoiceThread accommodates images, documents, and videos, and allows users to navigate pages and comment in five ways: using voice (via microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Students can share VoiceThreads with teachers, friends, and others and allow them to respond with their own recorded comments. VoiceThreads can even be embedded to show and receive comments on other sites and can be exported to MP3 or DVD format.

Students and teachers will discover how easily this program can be used to promote presentation skills, digital design, or collaborative interaction within the classroom—or across the globe. Librarians can use VoiceThread to create presentations on information literacy. One of my library science students, Lisa Kennedy, presented story time using VoiceThread.


Wikispaces has created its own educational following by providing K-12 educators with two highly desirable features: a free upgrade in available space and "advertisement-free" wikis upon request. Now educators can have all of the features normally available in the regular $50 subscription package, free of charge. Educators and librarians also have the option of making their wiki 1) available for public access (everyone can view and edit the page), 2) protected (everyone can view the pages, but only wiki members—your students—can edit them) or 3) private (only wiki members can view and edit the pages).

Depending upon the ages and grade levels of the students involved, Wikispaces provides a "just right" solution to the problem of introducing students (and teachers) to the world of wikis by offering options in privacy settings. Don't wait! Those free subscriptions are limited to 250,000 this year—you'll soon discover why they're going fast.


Zamzar has taught us to enjoy the weekends once again. Rather than spending hours trying to locate the correct software to convert a video file from WMA to AVI for a Monday morning presentation, consider Zamzar, which converts a wide range of audio, video, document, and compressed files into useable formats. Available for five free conversions a month, this software makes converting files a snap! To learn more about this product and how it can be used, visit www.zamzar.com/conversionTypes.phpand www.zamzar.com/url/overview.php.

Be sure to check out Donna Baumbach's wiki WebTools4U2Use or Joyce Valenza's wikito find even more resources and 2.0 tools to use in your library this fall.

Author Information
Shonda Brisco (sbrisco@gmail.com) is assistant professor/curriculum materials librarian, Mary L. Williams Curriculum Materials Library, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater.

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