I didn’t get to go to NECC this year due to finances so I have been attending (and moderating) NECCunplugged sessions virtually. Today at the WoW2 session Cheri Toledo shared that she had attended a session on Spinscape and was impressed with its features so I decided to check it out.
I hadn’t heard of Spinscape and was pleasantly surprised to find that Spinscape is a collaborative suite of online products. According to the website,
What is Spinscape™ ?
Spinscape™ is a tool users (people like you and me) can fire up to brainstorm, collaborate, annotate, and autodiscover new bits of digital information.
Spinscape’s Autodiscovery Plug-In feature gives you the capability to research information from resources such as Google, Wikipedia, Delicious including IMAGES, VIDEOS, TEXT
Once you’ve found the information you were looking for you can easily drop it into a node within a map
Even create your own plugins or have a 3rd party write the plugins to accomplish your business goals.
Currently, Spinscape allows teams or groups to collaborate on a project in real time anywhere in
the world. New features are added each month. One of the more recent features includes the ability to add music (.mid) files to the mind mapping document created when collaborating with colleagues or team members.
Registration at Spinscape.com is quick and simple. When you first sign up, you receive access to a premium account for the first 30 days. You can continue with the premium account for $9.99 a month or $100 a year. Premimum account features include,
Premium users enjoy all of the features included with a free account–and MORE. You can add attachments, access additional plugins and utilize enhanced collaboration features such as shared editing and real-time chat! See the chart below for more details. Then get the full functionality of Premium for a low monthly price or an even lower annual price!
I thought Spinscape was going to be an exciting new tool but the collaborative piece and chat features are only available as part of the premium subscription and not accessible with the free account. With Google documents and the upcoming Google Wave chat feature available soon within Google docs, I can’t see paying for services when there are quality alternatives available for free. Spinscape isn’t so free after all – bummer.
Those who know me well know that I am interested and fascinated by the advancements in webconferencing websites and tools. I have seen first hand how using this type of technology in the classroom is very cost effective when using only a laptop/computer, project, webcam, microphone and external speakers. Most classrooms have at least one computer setup in the room or have access to the equipment just referenced. I have a wiki featuring tools, software, tips and strategies to use this medium to enrich instruction at http://caisefiles.wikispaces.com. As a result, I am always on the lookout for any type of tool or website that can assist people wanting to use webconferencing to bring in subject matter experts, extend the flat classroom or have students study and interact with different cultures around the world.
I recently came across a site called “Scriblink – Your Online Whiteboard“. This site allows you to invite people to participate via a long distance phone call, VOIP, or via a URL. I created a test session at http://www.scriblink.com/index.jsp?act=phome&roomid=5218&KEY=06F31C8729790 DD1CF8D347D14450E7E that you are welcome to click on to see the setup.
If you click on the ∏ (Pi) symbol you can access special math, symbols and characters. I tried to do this but could not get the special characters or symbols to embed in the whiteboard. You can upload images and have those embedded in the whiteboard as well.
The colors of the writing pen and pencil can be changed along with the thickness of each instrument. The background can also be changed and they have great choices to choose from. I couldn’t find a way to find a softer color as most of the colors for the background are very bright and wouldn’t be conducive in many collaboration sessions.
This has potential for classrooms that don’t have a whiteboard or if you wanted students to collaborate on one document/whiteboard area. You could also collaborate with colleagues online and use the URL for everyone to get together for a meeting. There are some exciting possibilities here despite the one bug that I encoutered. Overall, it is definitely worth checking out and giving it a trial run.
As I stated in the previous two parts of this four part series on instructional technology tools that can be used in the classroom to enrich learning, I actively participate in a personal professional learning network using Plurk and Twitter. Through these two web services I have learned copious amounts of information, training and resources in the past six or seven months than I have in just about all 19 years of teaching. It is amazing and I wanted to share some of the tools that I deem extremely useful to enrich learning in the classroom.
The third tool I want to share is Dabbleboard. I have written about this unique tool before but I wanted to share it again with you. At first glance, Dabbleboard looks like a limited version of Inspiration or CMAP. While that may be partially true, the biggest asset of Dabbleboard is the ability to collaborate and share a diagram with a team of students. Students can be at different computers, different locations, and work on the diagram at different times. Dabbleboard diagrams are shared by the use of an invite via email and now a URL generated by the site. Several enhancements were made with the most recent release.
Within the Dabbleboard layout, any previous diagrams created are stored in the library and can be reused and imported into new diagrams. When I logged into Dabbleboard, the diagram that I originally created back in July was automatically loaded for me. I can continue with that or begin a new diagram.
Dabbleboard is an excellent way to brainstorm story maps for digital storytelling, generate a hypothesis to test as part of the scientific process or create a flowchart depicting a process or steps of a group project. You can create a template for students to access with the capability of adding weblinks, images, and sharing with others in real time. New features have recently been added such as rotating or flipping images and auto detection of shapes drawn by hand to create resizable, neatly drawn objects.
I really like that you can share diagrams via a URL instead of limited to an email from Dabbleboard. If I were having students create accounts, I would have specified usernames and use my email address for the registration process as displayed to the left. I could also set up a generic email address and add the individual student’s names to the main email address.This way I would still have access control to the students’ accounts. Diagrams can be made public or private allowing only designated students access to collaborate on a diagram. This is a great security feature when working with students.
To the right is the original diagram I created in July. If you click on the thumbnail image, it will take you to the public link of the diagram. Take a few moments and experiment with the diagram and move items, change colors, etc. to see the full capabilities of Dabbleboard. Dabble with Dabbleboard!
As I was reading the Twitter posts from people I follow, Justin Reeve, author of the “Insights into Educational Technology” blog, submitted a post about Dabbleboard. I decided to check it out and was so glad that I did! Often times I had said to myself that I wish there was a way to show someone on the internet how to do some type of process, demonstration, diagram or facilitate an activity on a virtual whiteboard. Dabbleboard is one such tool.
When drawing a diagram using Dabbleboard, you can use the mouse to draw a circle or rectangle and Dabbleboard automatically converts the object to a typical diagram object. Use can also use the freehand tools to draw objects as well. You can resize and move objects as well as add text anywhere in the diagram by clicking in the whitespace and typing. I created a very basic diagram to demo some of the features of Dabbleboard below.
Make sure you click on the diagram image. It will take you to the public link (hopefully since the link was associated with my email). While there, manipulate a few of the objects and try some of the the tools. I tried several images of the screenshot but haven’t been able to find one that doesn’t look blurry to me. Anway, the resolution of the actual Dabbleboard diagram is much better.
The main feature that I liked is the ability to share the diagram created. I haven’t played with the feature yet but from the video tour it appears that several people can collaborate, edit and view the same diagram. You can import objects into the workspace for additional collaboration.
One think I had to remember was to click on the object to activate the selection handles to move or resize. Overall, this is a great free tool that I will definitely use with students and when collaborating with colleagues. I see endless opportunities to use this tool. Thanks Justin for sharing!
I was recently invited to join the community at Diigo. Do you delight in using del.ic.ious (I think that is where the dots go) to share bookmarks and tag websites? Then you will love Diigo. Diigo is an evolving community site where people of like interests can collaborate and share ideas, websites, and converse with educators around the world. You can download the toolbar where you can easily share bookmarks, highlight text and share that with the community and a host of other tools that I haven’t even begun to explore yet. Join the community at Diigo and add me to your Friends. I want to expand and enrich my bookmarks and ed tech knowledge by checking out what you think is important, interesting and relevant. Join us!