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Hi! I am currently in CEP 810, Fall 2011 course and we just finished looking at cloud computing. Although I have been aware of google docs and sites like dropbox, I did not fully understand the capabilities of saving "to the cloud". Today, I rely on these cloud services daily to do lesson plans, work on projects for home and school without the hassle of a flash drive, and change section of my classroom blog by simply changing the google doc. The use of google doc is amazing for collaboration. I love the way several people can work on a document at the same time and you can see the changes in real time.
Dropbox is now one of my favorite ways to share information. Two examples of this, we recently had a new teacher start in our building. Within a few clicks, I was able to share all 100+ SMART Board lessons I had created to go along with the reading program the students were involved in. Also recently, dropbox worked out well to share photos of the grandkids with grandparents so they can easily download a multitude of pictures and I don't' have to upload and email each of them! The one negative that I experience with dropbox is trying to share a document that is a "work in progress". My SIG group and I were frustrated on the multiple "conflicting copies" of the presentation we would get because we working on it at the same time. We were all fairly new to dropbox so if there is a trick to working on the document together without that issue, please share!
I think the most prudent first step is to take sufficient time to plan your approach. How will you use applications that interact with, or are entirely part of, the Cloud? Are you using a particular cloud application, or a suite of different products that interact with the Cloud?
If you plan to use Cloud applications from different providers, will you need to integrate information across them? If yes, you need to make sure there are no interoperability issues between the applications (data created in one application can be access and used in another one).
While there are a growing number of free applications that operate in or save data to the Cloud, "free" doesn't always mean "best." Plan for contingencies that might occur with "free" cloud applications, such as network outages on the Cloud site that prevents saving/retrieving information. Also recognize that as the amount of useful "free" cloud applications rise, those companies that charge for cloud application access/storage will be forced to compete, and competition generally leads to new ideas, processes, and low (or no) costs to use them.
I believe we will continue to see Cloud Computing and all that is related to it continue to grow and evolve. Microsoft has started hosting their Office 365 (which is their Office applications, plus SharePoint, Exchange (email and calendaring) and Lynx (Instant Messaging, Video Conferencing) through the Cloud, and their next Operating System (Windows 8) will be fully "cloud-compatible" where the entire operating system will support new Web technologies used to access and integrate with the Cloud (thus eliminating the need to use a browser to connect to the Cloud). There are other applications like Cloudo (beta.cloudo.com) and Cloudme (os.cloudme.com) that provide a "virtual computer" operating system within the Cloud itself.
Today, I was at a professional development session about "Amazing New Web 2.0 Technologies" by Corinne Hoisington of Central Virginia Community College that was hosted by the Charlevoix-Emmet County ISD at Boyne City High School. Some of you may already be familiar with this site, but I had to share it so others could find out about it. The site is called XtraNormal.com. It is a free web 2.0 movie maker site. On the site you can make movies with thousands of animated characters. You can add in settings, background noises, pick your characters, and write the script.
I have 2 particular ideas for using this site in my classroom. I am planning to a have students make movies of particular scenes from stories that we are reading. For example, I am going to have my freshmen translate Romeo and Juliet into modern English and to make movies of the scenes. Next, I am planning to use the site with my Junior and Senior English classes to have the students create debates between characters. In Junior English this will go along with teaching the persuasive essay, and in Senior English it will go along with our required speech curriculum.
I am very excited about this technology and wanted to make sure others had heard about it!
XtraNormal.com is a very cool site! I too can think of some cool things to create with this web site. It would definitely get immediate student attention when presenting information, and the students would also enjoy being able to choose the characters, settings, backgrounds, etc. I can see this being a bigger hit in elementary schools than high schools, but I bet even they would enjoy it. What I was a little disappointed in was the monthly charge for the service. I bet there will be a free version of something similar to this in the very near future!
Just checked out XtraNormal.com and I agree with Bob in that it may be a bigger hit with elementary aged kids but I also think secondary aged kids will find it fun to work with as well. Teachers could use the sight to find a creative way to present unexciting material and studentscan use it in a variety of ways, one of which would be for struggling readers who could type dialogue from their text and listen to the program read it back to them. They could also use it to present history and science as well. There is also another site: GoAnimate, unfortunately this is also a pay site but hopefully, like Bob said, there is a similar free site out there somewhere in internet for us to play with in our classrooms.
I've been hearing a lot about Evernote lately. I just read a blog post (which I can't find at the moment) by a teacher who creates almost all of his lesson plans in Evernote and uploads any additional resources to the folders he creates. It seems like a great tool for organizing and storing. I'm going to definitely check it out.
Cloud computing is the next dotcom. They have been saying that for years now. With
much resistance to the "who owns my data" problem, I think that cloud
computing is gaining ground! There are so many benefits to using cloud
computing. For starters the cost savings of using cloud computing can be extraordinary!
Companies can save large amounts of money by not having to buy licenses for
each computer or user. A few ways I have personally found cloud computing to be
helpful is with cost savings, document sharing and collaboration. I have been
able to share documents with classmates and coworkers eliminating the process
of saving and sending documents via email. We can then collaborate on projects
and see a working history of changes made to the documents. I have been using
Google docs to do this over the last few years.
I have also found that the cost savings of not buying software has been
extremely helpful. I am able to edit a photo anywhere by using an online product
such as SplashUp and I don’t have to worry about having the product installed
on the computer I am using.
We learned about cloud computing this week in my CEP 810 class at MSU. I have become familiar with Google Docs and Microsoft Office web apps and I think it is really cool that I can have access to web based word processors from any device that is connected to the Internet. Then, just this week I came across another cloud offering, this time from Apple. Apple’s iCloud isn’t web-based applications, instead it looks like the applications on my Mac and my iPod use the cloud to share data between these devices. Once set up, iCloud stores your content from one Apple device and pushes it to all of your other apple devices. Your contacts, calendar, documents, music, photos, etc. can be accessed from all of your apple devices. iCloud documentation uses the example of buying a song with iTunes on your computer and it will appear on your iPod touch and iPad. It also claims that photos taken on your iPhone will automatically be sent to your iPad. I don’t have a Mac in my classroom, but for those who have Macs and school and at home, I can see where you could create lesson plans at home and then have them automatically available to you at work.
I absolutely love Dropbox! It allows me to create lessons at home, on the go, wherever; then I can access them at school with my login. When I originally used the program, I thought it had to be installed on my desktop at school. I've recently learned that you can access Dropbox on the web! It's great; I log on in my browser and I can download any worksheets, lessons, anything I've created and I don't need a flash drive. I had no idea the program was so versatile!
I'm in CEP 810, Fall 2011