My friend Jody has this theory that you should never buy a new car. For one thing, buying a used one is so much nicer to the planet–why let one more car rust in a junkyard? But she also makes the point that it’s nicer to get behind the wheel of a car that you know has been driven successfully, and all the bugs shaken out.
Web apps are kind of like that. I tried a site called Glogster a few months ago, and was really hooked. The site has only gotten better and more educator-friendly over time. Glogster lets you make a “glog,”–think of it as a poster that you build online. Just imagine that old posterboard science fair tri-fold, now with all kinds of multimedia build right in! You can include pictures, video clips, audio, music, and text. There’s an extensive file of clipart and animated goodies free for the using, too. Glogster accounts are completely free.
It appears to me that the original target audience was teenagers, who jumped right on the social aspect of the site–you can comment on other people’s creations, invite them to be your friends, and send little messages about everybody’s latest work. However, the potential for educational use is huge: it can be used to build interactive web pages without the least knowledge of HTML; to feature a student project, as a student news website…and lots more. You can also make a glog and embed it in your own webpage, as you would a TeacherTube video.
If you have ever located a file on your computer, you’ll find Glogster easy. You can even try building one without registering. Click on the kind of element you would like to add, such as text, audio, or graphics, and follow the prompts to choose from Glogster’s library or to upload your own images and sounds. Click on any element to select it, change it, or delete it.
Here’s an example. Click on the little arrow on the “TV screen” to play the video portion.
I will confess that I had to look at the HTML code and change the “width” and the “height” figures in order to fit into my edublogs page, but that was an easy fix–I changed the height and width to something around 400, to fit into a blog post. Most of the time, the easiest thing to do is just provide a link to the whole page.
The site is not without problems–some school districts may look askance at the social aspects–friends lists, commenting, etc., and also at some of the graphics. Browsing the site, you can see one heck of a lot of copyright issues. Making glogs with kids would be an excellent opportunity for some brushing up on citations, copyright, and fair use. (Bring on those ALA 21st Century skills!) In an e-mail exchange with a friendly Glogster rep, he commented that Glogster was considering some educator features. We’ll see soon what progress they’ve made.
Here’s a glog (I know, the word is SO strange…just keep thinking “poster” or “interactive webpage!”) for professional development Here’s an interactive glog for kids, embedded in a PBwiki page. And a glog made by a seventh grader as a student project.