Book Review: Smart Social Media – Your Guide to Becoming a Highly Paid Social Media Manager

Just getting my new business off the ground, I thought I could benefit from all the advice I could get.  Lasse Rouhiainen’s book, Smart Social Media: Your Guide To Becoming A Highly Paid Social Media Manager*, proved to have some gems hidden in it. I will capitalize on his advice as I develop a business to help others figure out how to leverage social media. Read more

Tool Review: Sizer

This will be my first tool review as part of Jane Hart’s 10 Tool Challenge. This tool is called Sizer.

Very simply, Sizer resizes a computer window to the dimensions that you previously specify. This is important if you are doing screencasts or screen captures, and you want all windows to be the same size.

Yesterday, I wrote a little bit about the importance of setting your screen for 16:9 dimensions. 16:9 is the video size that YouTube prefers.

Sizer is a Windows program and can be downloaded from http://www.brianapps.net/sizer/. Once you install the program and run it, it will sit in your toolbar.

Sizer in toolbar
Sizer in toolbar

Configure Sizer

If you have specific screen sizes that you wish to use, you will want to configure those dimensions into Sizer before using it. Adding dimensions is pretty straight forward, here are the steps.

1. Right click on the Sizer icon in the tool bar.

2. Select Configure Sizer…

Configure Sizer
Configure Sizer

3. Click on the Add button, select the new configuration and edit its parameters.

Sizer Configuration Window
Sizer Configuration Window

In this example, I will set the window to 200X300.

Sizer Configuration Window
Sizer Configuration Window

You have a number of options to set, and the Sizer User Guide can better explain the settings.

4. Once new configuration has been added, close the window by selecting the OK button.

You are now ready to use Sizer. If you want to set a screen size for screencasting, you will want to create a dimension for 960X540.

Using Sizer

Sizer is tremendously easy to use. First, it must be running, and this can be verified by an icon in the tool bar. Here are the steps:

1. Open a program, and right click on the lower right corner of the program when the cursor changes to a double arrow. Basically, you are in a condition to resize your window manually.

Resizing a window
Resizing a window

2. Select your desired dimensions.

Select Sizer Dimensions
Select Sizer Dimensions

The window will now resize to the dimensions that you have chosen, and you can begin your screencast or image capture. Important note: the program itself must allow for the specific dimensions. In the example above, the program Skitch will not allow for resizing to 200X300.

If you are looking for consistency, this is a nice program to add to your arsenal. Does anyone know about a good resizing tool for Macs?

This tool will do wonders for my screencasting in the future. I hope it is useful for you.

 

Optimizing your videos and screencasts for YouTube

Over the past couple of days, I finished reading a a series of booklets from Partha Bhattacharya, founder of HubSkills. This series included:

  1. Step-by-Step Guide To Start E-Learning Website In WordPress With Free Tools
  2. How To Boost YouTube Video Views Dramatically With Free Tools
  3. Create Amazing Clip Art Animation Video In PowerPoint
  4. How to Create Crisp-n-Clear Training Video In Simple Steps

Bhattacharya provides a lot of great tips through this series. Here are some of the takeaways I had regarding creating better training videos for YouTube:

1. Create all elements with a 16:9 setting. For example, when creating a screencast, set the window size to 960X540 pixels. Bhattacharya recommends a great little tool called Sizer to do this.You can pick up Sizer at http://www.brianapps.net/sizer/. This tip was certainly worth picking up his book.

2. The next great piece of advice was to record PowerPoint presentations at 16:9. Here is a short video for doing that:

When all elements are set to 16:9, they can be packaged together in a more professional manner. I will certainly be following his advice for my upcoming productions.

Build your own library: What we can learn from Jefferson and Franklin

LibraryToday was the start of the third part of a six part series on informal learning. Today’s session focused on building your own knowledge library. I believe we can learn a lot from Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. Each of these gentlemen were avid readers and prolific writers. The personal library that Jefferson donated to the Library of Congress had 6,487 volumes. Franklin was the father of the public library. But more importantly were the writings of these two gentlemen. Jefferson has approximately 27,000 documents he wrote on file at the Library of Congress. Yale University has forty volumes of 30,000 papers from Franklin.

I think reading and writing made these founding fathers who they were. They found the written word to a powerful method for conveying ideas and sharing knowledge. Franklin was not a fan of intellectual property and believe in the free sharing of information. I feel as Extension educators and instructional technologists, we have almost a duty to share what we know with others through blogs, wikis, image and video libraries. We should capture what we know and continuously build upon it, just as Jefferson and Franklin did in their time.

  • Blogs are great tools for capturing personal ideas reflective of the moment.
  • Wikis are powerful tools for amassing information that can be searched by others. More importantly it can be created through the cooperation of others.
  • Video libraries created on tools like YouTube can capture processes and history. Playlists can be created to share knowledge on a topic.
  • Image libraries can be created to capture change over time or simply a snapshot of a time and place.

These are tools available for you to build your own library. Take time to capture your personal reflections in a blog. Create an image wing in your library along with a video wing. Use a wiki to build a knowledge base available to you and others. It is a not a quick or easy project, but over time it will prove to be valuable; perhaps as valuable as the Jefferson and Franklin libraries.

Preparing for my next informal learning Webinar

Right now, I am working on supporting content for the third Webinar of a six part series. This installment is on creating content to support informal learning.

The upcoming Webinar will focus on four tools that I believe support informal learning in different ways. These tools are blogs, wikis, Flickr, and YouTube.

Presently, I have finished working on three of them, and I am starting to work on the fourth.

Here is are the pages completed:

If you have time, please take a look and let me know what you would like to see. The idea of these pages is to have additional support content for viewers of the Webinar.

21st Century Tools Through the Lens of Bloom’s Taxonomy

Over this past weekend, I attended the 1st Annual Wyoming TEC Conference. TEC stands for Technology in the Evolving Classroom. During this conference, I had the fortunate opportunity to sit in on Angie Spann‘s session on 21st Century Tools. Angie is a Librarian and Media Specialist at Sweetwater School District #1. Here is the session’s abstract, “Our students need several skills to help them learn and become productive in the 21st Century. This session will explore web 2.0 tools to help students learn/practice these skills that they will need. Skills discussed will focus on Bloom’s Taxonomy and well as 21st Century Literacies.”

During the presentation, Angie introduced recommended technologies to use based on Bloom’s Taxonomy, or more correctly the digital Bloom’s Taxonomy. Starting with the lower order thinking skills as outlined in the revised digital Bloom’s Taxonomy, she also highlighted the digital skills associated with each level.

Bloom's Taxonomy
Comparison of Bloom’s new and Old Taxonomies

Remembering

Here are tools that Angie highlighted to help students engage with the Remembering level:

  • Quizlet – “Quizlet is the largest flash cards and study games website with over 11 million free sets of flashcards covering every possible subject. It’s the best place to play educational games, memorize vocabulary and study online.”
  • Quizstar – “Use QuizStar to create online quizzes for your students, disseminate quizzes to students, automatically grade quizzes and view the quiz results online.”
  • Mindmeister – A mind mapping tool.
  • Diigo – Social bookmarking tool making it easy to collect, annotate, and share references.
  • Evernote – A tool for capturing all of your digital content with the additional benefit of accessing it anywhere.
  • Google docs – A tool set that will allow you to create and share your work online. The tool set includes applications that allow you to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms.

Understanding

Here are tools that Angie highlighted to help students engage with the Understanding level:

  • Google docs – A tool set that will allow you to create and share your work online. The tool set includes applications that allow you to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms.
  • Popplet – Popplet is a tool for developing ideas in the form of a mind map
  • Pinterest – “Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”
  • Pearltrees – “Pearltrees is a place to collect, organize and share everything you like on the web.” It is another method for collecting and organize resources and ideas.

Applying

Here are tools that Angie highlighted to help students engage with the Applying level:

  • Scribble maps – This tool allows you to draw on maps and share them with your friends.
  • Gliffy – With Gliffy you can easily create professional-quality flowcharts, diagrams, floor plans, technical drawings, and more!
  • Evernote – A tool for capturing all of your digital content with the additional benefit of accessing it anywhere.
  • Jing – With Jing, you can capture 5-minute screencasts.
  • WordPress – WordPress is a blogging tool that will also enable you to create a fully functional Web site.
  • Google docs – A tool set that will allow you to create and share your work online. The tool set includes applications that allow you to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms.
  • Pixton – Pixton is a comic creation tool.
  • Slide rocket – SlideRocket is an online presentation tool. You can create presentations in SlideRocket as well as upload and enhance presentations.

Analyzing

Here are tools that Angie highlighted to help students engage with the Analyzing level:

  • Google docs – A tool set that will allow you to create and share your work online. The tool set includes applications that allow you to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms.
  • Kids zone: Create a graph – Kids Zone: Create a graph is a youngster friendly site where students can build their own graphs and charts.
  • Exploratree – “Exploratree is a free web resource where you can access a library of ready-made interactive thinking guides, print them, edit them or make your own.”
  • Many eyes – This is an IBM experiment. It is a collection of data visualizations.
  • Google earth – “Google Earth allows you to travel the world through a virtual globe and view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, and much more.”

Evaluating

Here are tools that Angie highlighted to help students engage with the Evaluating level:

  • Twitter – Twitter is a micro-blogging tool. “Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news about what you find interesting.”
  • Storify – “Storify helps its users tell stories by curating social media.”
  • Rubistar – “RubiStar is a free tool to help teachers create quality rubrics.”
  • Protagonize – Protagonize allows you write original stories.
  • Edmodo – “Edmodo provides teachers and students a secure place to connect and collaborate, share content and educational applications, and access homework, grades, class discussions and notifications.”
  • Google docs – A tool set that will allow you to create and share your work online. The tool set includes applications that allow you to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms.
  • WordPress – WordPress is a blogging tool that will also enable you to create a fully functional Web site.
  • YouTube – YouTube is the most popular video viewing site. They display over 2 billion videos per day.

Creating

Here are tools that Angie highlighted to help students engage with the Creating level:

  • Google docs – A tool set that will allow you to create and share your work online. The tool set includes applications that allow you to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms.
  • Wikispaces – Wikispaces is a secure environment where students can collaborate using text, video, audio, and imagery.
  • Glogster – “Glogster debuted in 2007 as a unique social network based on the creation and sharing of Glogs – interactive posters loaded with text, graphics, music, videos, and more.”
  • Vuvox – “VUVOX is an easy to use production and instant sharing service that allows you to mix, create and blend your personal media – video, photos and music into rich personal expressions.”
  • Storybird – “Storybirds are short, art-inspired stories you make to share, read, and print.”
  • Animoto -“Turn your photos, video clips, and music into stunning video masterpieces to share with everyone.”
  • Voice thread – “A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam).”

Angie Spann did a great job exposing the participants to these tools. Now it is a matter to explore them at greater depth. I look forward to attending the next Wyoming TEC conference to see what else Angie has to offer.