I wish there was…

Is the name of a website where you can make a wish and maybe it will come true. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? The site Iwishtherewas can help you find a solution to your problem. The idea is great I think, because not only is it a chance to really find that solution, but also because it’s the next logical step for companies to know what people really want. All you have to do is send in your wish and wait for a company to pick it up. Or you may find out that there already is a solution to your problem!

It is wholly in line with the trend of using people (crowds) to market your ideas or get feedback on your products. See also crowd sourcing. That is all about connecting people and companies to invent better products or to improve products. More and more the internet is seen as a place where there is more than information sec, but where there is a whole source of knowledge and ideas, free to use for everybody. And, people like to be heard!

The site “I wish there was” is another example of such a web 3.0 use

The web waarin ‘Publishers are joining in in the conversations with both bloggers and consumers

and also important: it’s great to read all the wishes, some of them are funny, others are simply brilliant…:-)

Symbaloo: your new starting point on the internet?

I am a happy netvibes user. Netvibes offers you a simple way to make your own starting page (a bit like iGoogle), with a simple drag and drop of popular (or your own) rss feeds and lots of other modules that you can arrange in a way you like. With netvibes you can read your news, search for blogs, check the weather or whatever with the webpages you put on your own homepage. It works nices and easy and saves me a lot of time.

It can look like this, for example:

 netvibes image

But now I’ve discovered something new: it’s called Symbaloo. The name symbaloo comes from an ancient Greek word that means: to collect things. And that is what symbaloo does. It collects your rss feeds, your favourite webpages, blogs, etcetera in a homepage. But the new and nice thing about it, is that it’s purely visual. Your homepage consists of colourful little blocks that you can drag & drop wherever you want on the page. To add or delete blocks is equally simple. The only thing is, it’s still in beta and it’s only available in Dutch.

I like it, the idea is great. This is how it looks like:

image symbaloo

But I’m not sure about the whole thing. Maybe I am not such a visual person, but more a textual kind of person?

Depressing vision of students today

On YouTube you can watch a video made by students of the Kansas State University. It’s called: vision of students today.
It’s rather depressing I think. All these students holding up scraps of paper on which they wrote things like:

I will write 42 pages for class this semester. And over 500 pages of email.


I am a multitasker. I have to be.


I facebook through most of my classes

Apart from the fact that I don’t believe that students today are so different from students ten or twenty years ago, in learning capacities or other net generation capabilities they supposedly have. For me these statements give proof of a  spoilt and somewhat lazy generation. It depressed me.
Laptops for students and wireless internet everywhere are great things! I wish I had that in my college days! Students can get information everywhere and anytime. No more working on college pc’s with wordperfect 5.0 and hoping your floppydisc wouldn’t break down and you suddenly lost all your work.

All this new technology that is available to an increasing number of students, should help them study, it should make them better students. But instead, in this video they seem to be whining and complaining about being bored and using their laptops for facebook, for email, or for blabbing on their cellphones allday. They want to be entertained, it seems, in stead of being challenged. Maybe teachers should be trying harder to use these web 2.0 tools in the classroom, but still… After seeing this depressing “vision”, I don’t think that even the best of web 2.0 tools in itself will make students better students. They first have to be willing and eager to learn. Are they?

teacher tube

I just discovered TeacherTube, it’s like a YouTube for teachers, with videos made by teachers. It’s looks so similar to YouTube with almost exactly the same features, that I wondered if it was made by YouTube (or Google).

But no, according to the website it was created on march 6th 2007, by someone named Jason, a 14-year veteran educator, who got inspired by power of the web for e-learning, and had a good idea.

Our goal is to provide an online community for sharing instructional videos. We seek to fill a need for a more educationally focused, safe venue for teachers, schools, and home learners. It is a site to provide anytime, anywhere professional development with teachers teaching teachers. As well, it is a site where teachers can post videos designed for students to view in order to learn a concept or skill.

Just like YouTube you can create an account and upload your own videos, join groups and watch channels. On the quality of the videos it’s difficult to comment. I haven’t seen enough videos yet, but so far I’ve found this endearing example. It’s great to hear what blogging is by 6 and 7 year olds.

sketchcasting: nice idea

I read in the dutch “ICT & Onderwijs”blog some interesting thoughts about sketchcasting. It sounded like a very nice idea: record your drawings on a smart board (or tablet pc) with Camtasia Studio or any other screencasting software, record your own voice explaining what you draw and voila: sketchcasting is born.
So, instead of using (and creating) powerpoint slides for your presentation, you might feel more confident with a blackboard (or rather a white smartboard) and a crayon, sketching and talking at the same time, explaining things to your audience.

If you’re going to use it, it will probably look like this:

But if you’re a bit of an artist, maybe you could create something incredible like this

How to make exercising less boring

I am a non-sports kind of girl. It’s not that I hate exercise, although it’s coming close to that, but it’s is sooo boring. For me it doesn’t matter whether the workout is on a treadmill, a bicycle or on a Cross Trainer. It’s not fun. At all. The problem is that my brain has nothing to do during the workout. That’s why they have television screens in the gym. Because you really do need something to look at, to keep your mind busy. Otherwise you can’t complete your 30 (or 45) minutes.

And I really need to work out, because I’m 30-something and when you reach that age, calories tend to stick to you most passionately. But, a couple of months ago I’ve given up my membership at the gym, because I don’t like the looks and smells of the people there and that’s why I have my own Cross Trainer now.My Cross Trainer is happily situated in my sousterrain (I have quite a lot of space there), so it’s there for me 24 hours a day. No more excuses (like “it’s raining”, “I hate it there”, etc.), there’s no chance of escaping the exercise now. But I don’t have a television in my sousterrain.

So what to do about the boredom? I know you can listen to music but my heart-rate needs to stay low (for fat-burning) so no answers there. Podcasts? Close, but I only have 2 subscriptions and they’re podcasting once a week. Not enough!

My solution to exercise boredom is: use audiobooks! Copy them onto your pc or mac and put them on your MP3-player. Done! You can listen to gripping stories while sweating away at the Cross Trainer. Where to get audiobooks? At your library is the best and cheapest… The available titles are growing rapidly because today audiobooks are not for the visually impaired only, a growing group of people likes them for various reasons. For example while traveling: when flying at night, the light in the plane is not too good, or because you’re eyes are tired, or maybe because reading in a car makes you nauseous, or maybe to drown the noise of other people while lying at the swimmingpool.

Or maybe because you really hate the mindnumbing business of working out and need the diversion.

converting text into sign language

Sometimes I can be jealous of somebody else’s idea. You know what I mean? For instance, when you hear or read about some brilliant idea and you wish it was you who came up with that.

I had that feeling of envy listening to BBC’s podcast Digital Planet on july 9th.

A group of researchers in the Czech Republic has been developing software that might allow people with hearing impairments to hear classic books and, potentially, conversation.

They’ve done it by representing sign language on the screen of a pocket PC – and made it easy for the user to convert key words and phrases into signing.

Now there is good example of making use of technology in our daily lives. It’s such a simple idea really and wonderful at the same time. In the same BBC podcast, Gareth Mitchell takes us to Cedia, the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. Technology is here designed to make life easier and more enjoyable, but in a totally different way than the conversion-software of the Czech researchers. In Cedia technology is used to let people enjoy music everywhere in their homes, and make use of touch screens to control televisions, lights and dvd players.

I may be a softie, but I prefer the idea of using technology in a more educational way.