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Get ready for learning 2.0

25 top websites named for students and educators

August 20, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • Various websites and mobile phone apps are available for devices such as the iPad for today's tech-savvy students.
Photo illustration by Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

Ready to learn? There's an app for that.

Free websites and mobile phone apps are trying to turn Web 2.0 into opportunities for learning 2.0 for today's tech-savvy students - the reason the American Association of School Libraries (AASL) gave its stamp of approval to 25 websites it deemed "best of the best" for educators and students.

"There are so many different websites out on the Internet and it takes a lot of time to really look at them, understand how to use them," said Pam Berger, who chaired the AASL committee that picked the websites.

American Association of School Libraries is a division of the national American Library Association.

"It's very similar to being able to identify the best books," Berger said.

Earlier this year, bloggers for the International Society for Technology in Education offered several tech tools during its yearly Denver conference, said Marlene Nesary, communications manager for the Oregon-based nonprofit.

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With school in session, the tech tips are timely. Washington County students started class this week, as will students across the country.

Want to make your kid a tech-savvy learner? Here are a few sites educators recommend:

o Gale.cengage.com/apps

This series of web apps put library resources in the palm of your hands with AccessMyLibrary apps for mobile media. It comes in two versions: The AML Public Edition is a free iPhone app that uses GPS technology to find public libraries within a 10-mile radius of the user's location and gives free access to credible Gale online resources. AML School Edition supplies students with free, unlimited access to their school library's Gale online resources via the free iPhone app.

o Wordia.com

This website functions like a dictionary in that it provides the definition of a word, but it then encourages the public to submit videos explaining the connotation of the word. Explanations range from a litigation lawyer explaining the connotation of "defamation" to comedian Waen Shepherd demonstrating why the word "buddy" can take on a meaning other than "friend" - as if someone were to say, "Hey, buddy! Watch where you're going."

o Evernote.com

This website takes the concept of a shared notebook, except instead of paper-files, enables you to combine digital elements (PDFs, photos, documents, Web clips and audio memos). Works for Mac and Windows interfaces and mobile devices such as the iPhone/iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Palm Pre/Palm Pixi and Windows Mobile. According to the website, users can create notes via Twitter. A Voice2Note widget transcribes audio from any phone into your Evernote account. One possible drawback: The free version has limited features - including limited monthly storage space.

o Prezi.com

Instead of rehashing a slide-by-slide outline, "prezis" attempt to provide presenters with something more interactive. By zooming in and out of different visual aspects, you are changing slides. This presentation will make it seem as though you have done more and as if you are some kind of computer programmer. But it is all done from the Prezi.com site - no additional software is required. Customer service support is available via Twitter. Prezis can be embedded into other applications. The free, public version has a 100 MB storage limitation; more features and space are available for yearly subscribers. There is, however, a free student or teacher license available offering 500 MB and more features than the generic, free version for the public.

o MindMeister.com

Web-based tool for real-time brainstorming and idea mapping. It uses a Web-based format, though mobile access is available via apps for iPhone and iPad. MindMeister.com has the capability to incorporate live chat, which has some implications for group projects. The mind maps can be embedded into other web applications. The free version has limited features. You get more features - such as "search in maps" and the ability to create and edit maps offline - if you're willing to pay for a yearly subscription. The most expensive "Enterprise" edition, at $75 a year, gives access to all available features.

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