Posts Tagged ‘free’

PostHeaderIcon VSee vs. Skype

I am a great fan of Skype and have used it several times this year for truly rewarding projects. However, if you want to share your screen it can be hit or miss with it functioning the way you want it to. Case and point, I was doing a presentation with 2nd graders and their PowerPoint did not show up at the correct time. Then I was fiddling with it during class. VSee changes all that.

I think VSee might be a good solution for education because it uses half the bandwidth of Skype. Bandwidth and having it are the real struggles with using technology in education. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your perspective it is a download. This can be challenging when trying to have things downloaded onto machines. I prefer cloud computing because it is then not computer specific. I then have to think… this the machine I have it loaded on? I think that these devices can and should be utilized in the cloud. I have yet to see a solution that I’m particularly happy with thus far though Blue Jeans network is an interesting site to ponder. There is always the future though.

Though one item of note is that Skype can be credited for creating a community. I do not think we can forget about the incredible resource that is Skype education.  Skype not only has provided connections, but hosts ideas that have inspired me to take part in new and exciting projects.

Do not count VSee out as they do use less bandwidth and are HD…this will improve call quality and clarity. I do wonder if this is dependent on the video capture device you are using.  However, you can easily pick up a Blue Eye HD for around $40.00.  The camera is small, but I have been very happy with the picture quality.  There are many other options of course.  Check it out!

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PostHeaderIcon 150 Free e-Textbooks

So sorry for the lack of updates.  It is spring break this week and I have been a cleaning fool.  However, in one of my moments of rest I discovered a website filled with eTextbooks.  They are all free and in numerous categories including math, earth science, biology, art history, education, history, business, physics, and many more.  The author of the post will be including more as they are discovered.  So keep this link in your delicious or bookmark.

For more information on eTextbooks check out this post.

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PostHeaderIcon Learning Commons & Music

During the fall, I was lucky enough to be a part of a 3-day Learning Commons workshop (with David Loertscher and Allison Zmuda).  I learned a lot about integrating a Learning Commons model into our school library.  One of things that I was doing and did not realize it was the use of music.  When students are working and/or looking for books I will put on music that they enjoy.  We have bean bag chairs for students to use to “get comfortable” in the learning commons (library).  Even though I am at the elementary level,  it is quite easy to try to use the principles of a Learning Commons model.  Inquiry and experiential learning work perfectly with my goals for student learning and success.

So today, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite sites for streaming music.  These can be used for you or for your students.  I know that when I am working on papers, lesson plans, blogs, and many other things I am an avid music listener.

GrooveShark – this is an online streaming site that allows users to create playlists, favorites, and uploading music.  The user can then play playlists which allow shuffling songs and looping songs.  The only play feature not free is cross-fading songs.  The user can also access GrooveShark on digital devices such as blackberry and iphone.  However, it has been removed from Andriod apps due to complaints by record companies.  We shall see how record companies deal with such sites. (Note: It uses Flash)

Pandora this is another online streaming site that allows users to create playlists and favorites.  However, unlike GrooveShark, there are advertisements.  This could be a problem in schools depending on the commercials’ content.  You do need an account to use the service (without an account you can listen for a finite amount of time and then it prompts you to create an account).  Lack of clutter on the main page is a plus.  Although there is audio add, there is a lack of visual adds much like grooveShark.  The interface is very easy to use.  The service uses songs added to create a channel.  The user cannot choose a playlist like grooveshark and listen to any song at any time (with the free version).  The user can skip songs but there is a limit of times one can do this.  Pandora works on all major Smartphones.  iDevice App; Android App

TuneFort is a web app that lets you search, download and listen to songs for free. In a way, it can be described as “Grooveshark Lite”. Users can search for songs and add them to a playlist for online streaming. It’s nowhere near as robust as Grooveshark, but it’s fast, streamlined and does its job well.(Source)  Users do not create accounts, therefore no information is saved for future use (you must create a new playlist each time you go to the site) Note: Tunefort does not host any of the songs on its server. All songs are uploaded to by 4shared’s users. Tunefort is merely a simple web interface for 4shared’s massive database of songs. 4shared, much like many other filesharing sites, is operating under Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Jango (according to them) is free because of advertising.  This streaming music site is full of advertising.  It is everywhere in audio and visually.  There are popups frequently.  This is probably my least favorite in terms of functionality.  It is cluttered, however, you can create an account and save your playlists.  Much like Pandora, you cannot actually play a specific song.  You can add songs to your playlist which will increase the likelihood that said song will play on your station. is a free music playlist and streaming service. It is completely legal and free to use to the general public. With Audiolizer, you can create, save and share music playlists, allowing you to listen to music anywhere you have internet access.  One of the coolest facets of audiolizer is that you can upload your iTunes library into the cloud in order to listen to it anywhere with an internet connection.  I did find that when I upload it did not seem to upload all songs and this could be because the site uses Youtube to access the music, making it legal.  No music is hosted on the site.  So any less mainstream songs would not be added to the site.  You can create playlists and save them after creating an account.  I do wish in the future you could also upload your iTunes playlists.




PostHeaderIcon Free Webinars

TL Virtual Cafe:  Free Webinars

I recently found (@Gwyneth Jones) an excellent resource for webinars for Teacher Librarians and anyone interesting in educational technology.  It is called the TL Virtual Cafe and it has a host of information within webinars.

From the website: The TL Virtual Cafe is committed to creating transformative conversations about teacher-librarians, educational technology, and collaborative connections to facilitate meaningful and lifelong learning skills.

I have come across several webinars that I will be attending.  It is important to take advantage of such opportunities.  As professional development funds dwindle, we have to use the resources among us to learn and grow.  The webinars do require a small download (Elluminate) so keep that in mind if you want to participate during the webinar (Visit the website for more information).  Information is available on the site at the conclusion of the event.  Not to mention all past webinars are included on the site.

Some of the upcoming webinars:

A previous Webinar of interest for TLs:

Changed but Still Critical:
Brick and Mortar School Libraries in the Digital Age

October 4th – 8pm EST
Guest: Doug Johnson
Host: Ernie Cox

Technology has really given educators the ability to share learning with ease.  Travel is not an issue and we can get on with the exchange of ideas.  Finding free webinars give educators the opportunity to grow and learn without having to be outside the classroom.  Kudos to creators of such amazing content.

PostHeaderIcon Open Source Music

So, I discovered two more sites where you can download sound effects and music for free.  Users have created these sites and one only needs to give credit when using their creations.


Discover the true value of free music.  One can use the music on this site for education  and personal projects.  They only ask that credit be given.  The user can use their facebook login, which can be useful.  Many of the video creation sites have some music, but it is rather limited.  It is so important to have such websites available to us.

  • 300,442 tracks of all genres
  • Stream and download for free
  • Unlimited and legal sharing

Check here for more open source options: Free Music

Sound Bible

Now another type of audio necessary when creating digital content is good sound effects.  The Sound Bible is an excellent source for sound effects that do not fall into the category of music.  It is free and has a request-a- sound portion of the website, which is great.  A user can request a sound that is not yet in the collection and the creators will contact you with the sound.

“ offers thousands of free sound effects, sound clips, and straight up sounds. These sounds can be used in a variety of sound projects including Video Sound Scores, Movie Scoring, Game Design, Powerpoint Presentations, Prank Calls, Sound Boards, and the list goes on. is a great source for copyright free sounds “

  • Our project benefits teachers, students, faculty, and starving artists. They couldn’t afford to buy them, so we are forced to give them away for free. :)
  • The Royalty Free Sounds section consists of Creative Commons and Public Domain works


PostHeaderIcon Glogster EDU

I have to admit that I am a bit late on the Glogster wagon.  I have not used it as I had not yet had projects in my elementary library classes to use it.  I am also not in a 1-to-1 situation yet so sharing computers is challenging.  Well today I decided to bite the bullet and do a little playing around the Edu version of Glogster.  I have to say I am loving it.  The interactivity and visuals are great.

I would love to introduce my teachers to an alternative to the poster and any number of mobiles and such.  A glog is so much more engaging for students because they can add the media they enjoy such as videos and animated graphics.  I think glogster alows students to be creative in a new medium.

I am currently using it as a site map of sorts for my library homepage.  I have bitten the bullet and decided to create modern pathfinders to aid teachers and students to great multimedia resources.  It is a great site map and quite a bit easier to create than those of the past.  I do wonder how compatible they are with screen readers for the blind.  If anyone is aware of the status on that please let me know.

Uploading is not a problem in Glogster.  Multimedia files, images, videos, audio are all supported.  You can even pull in videos by recording them in realtime while in glogster (video, image, and audio).  There are selections of graphics, text, image, video, sound, data, draw, and wall (wallpaper/background).  However, the draw feature is a premium feature that one must pay for.  I did not miss it while creating my pathfinder.  One could just use paint or another website to create hand-drawn items and then upload the image file.

Here is the one that I am in the middle of creating:

PostHeaderIcon Kerpoof


Kerpoof is a unique little tool that does a lot of things.  I really like the fact that there is an educational account freely available and you can manage student accounts.  Creating a teacher account is very simple.  You actually create a regular account and then link that account to a teacher account releasing the Teacher tools here.  This is ideal because many sites do not understand the management aspect of using these sites with classes.

According to the website, “What is Kerpoof? The answer to that is not so simple. Kerpoof is all about having fun, discovering things, and being creative. Here are just a few ways that you can use Kerpoof:”

  • Make artwork (even if you aren’t good at drawing!)
  • Make an animated movie (really! it’s easy!)
  • Earn Koins which you can trade for fun things in the Kerpoof Store
  • Make a printed card, t-shirt, or mug
  • Tell a story
  • Make a drawing
  • Vote on the movies, stories, and drawings that other people have made

Another great part of Kerpoof is that younger students as well as older students can use it.  The buttons and such are easy to use yet are very powerful for older students.  The animation is unique and a bit easier than Xtranormal and Scratch.  The environment is safe and welcoming to students.  The pen under the picture creator is a bit more forgiving than many paint-type programs.  Interestingly, when choosing colors it works a bit like paint.  So you cannot go directly from brown to yellow.  Each click will lighten the brown until the user achieves the color and shade the user desires.  Undo is unlimited which is nice when trying to create an art piece.

Educational Link:  Overall, I like this program and it could be used for digital storytelling and any number of tasks that included artwork.

April 2014
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