Four Free Online Audio Editors

Well is that time of year again where students start to create projects. As always I spend time talking about copy-write
Audacity screenshot of Chromatic Fantasia (Bac...laws and what is and is not acceptable use of others material. This always leads to a lot of frustration on the part of students as they look for music and audio files to add to their movies, podcasts and radio plays and other assorted multimedia projects. To help my students I have over that past years bookmarked many different sites for students to use in creating their own music and audio files. There are many different options out there for students to use. The following four however seem to be the ones that my students have used over and over again. They like the simplicity and they all provide just enough instruction and materials to make it easy for students to create their own audio files. But the two best things about these four sites are that they are free and online.
One word of warning!! Have students create these files as the last thing that they do for their projects! They enjoy making music and can spend hours on these sites.
  1. Creaza    This is a free audio editor that is great for making podcasts, sound tracks and other audio projects. It has a simple to use interface that is typical for this type of application. Like most audio editors Creaza allows you to add files along the timeline and over multiple channels. You can also record sound and add it to your project. This is a free application but does require that you create an account.
  2. beatlab    Allows you to simply create your own background music and short music clips for videos and podcasts. This is a simple to use site that can be a lot of fun.
  3. Musicshake     This another free site that allows you to create sound tracks and audio tracks. This site is great for making podcasts, sound tracks and other audio projects. It has a simple timeline interface like other audio editors that allows you to have multiple channels. This site also works connects well with YouTube and Facebook. It is worth a look.
  4. FileLab Web Applications    This site allows you to edit audio and share them on the web. This is a free site and quite simple to use. Can only be used on a Windows machine. Again another typical audio editor.
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Tweet to Learn History

TwHistory is a great way to engage students in history using today’s social media.  This site allows teachers to conduct reenactments using social media like twitter. The great thing though about this website is that it allows you to use this type of media with out going onto Twitter. Everything is hosted on TwHistory so it is safe and accessible through school district servers that often block Twitter. This is a great tool that could be quite effective in teaching history to students. For more information on this website see the following article in Mind/Shift or check out Larry Ferlazzo‘s website and his “The Best Tools For Creating Fake “Stuff” For Learning” list

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My Students Favorite 14 Avatar Creators

This past week I moved my students in to the blogosphere to start participating in the great conversation.  One of the big things we talked about however was privacy and keeping all personal information and images off of their blogs.  So I had them create an Avatar to represent them online.  At first my students seemed genuinely bothered by the fact that they could not place their own pictures on their blog but after some conversation about safety and the purpose of the blog most agreed that using an Avatar would be just fine.   The following list seemed to be the most popular avatar creators among my students.

  1. DoppelMe – Free Dynamic Avatars  Create simple cartoon characters to represent ou as your avatar.
  2. Create Avatar – South Park Studios  Create a South Park Avatar to represent you.
  3. Marvel Create Your Own Superhero | Make Avatars with Iron Man, Hulk, Spider-Man, Thor, Thing, Wolverine, and more Marvel Characters | Marvel.com  Simple and easy to create superhero avatar creator.
  4. Toy story toy creator  Create your own Toy Story avatar.
M&M’S® Become an M&M’S® Character: Home  Create your own personalized M&M avatar.
  5. Raster Boy Avatar Creator
Easy to create full body cartoon
  6. FaceYourManga.com | Shake Yourself!
Another simple cartoon creator.
  7. Lego Avatar Creator
Easy Avatar creator that creates Lego
  8. Makewee
Wii Avatar Creator just like the the Wii console.
  9. Clay Yourself! | Hotels.com
Create a claymation avatar.
  10. HeroMachine 2.5, Superhero Generator, Create Your Own Hero – UGO.com
Super Hero Avatar creator.
  11. avatarizeyourself.com
Create an Avatar movie Avatar. Upload your own picture and then turn yourself blue.
  12. Wimp Yourself
Diary of a wimpy kid avatars.
  13.  Portrait Illustration Maker : Free Illustration Generater!
Simple to use avatar cartoon character creator. Has many different options and styles.
  14. BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF
Sponsored by the New York Zoos and Aquarium. This site allows you to create half human half animal avatars.

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Fantasy Football Lessons for Education

2007 homecoming game at Northeastern State Uni...
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So this past Sunday I sat down with a few friends to watch a football game.  As we screamed at each other and the TV I was struck by two interesting educational practices.  The first was was how the teams we were interested in watching were teams that until this year we would never have sat down to watch.  Being a teacher natural this intrigued me, why are we all so excited to see this game.  The answer was simple we were invested in this game.  We all had a stake in it because of Fantasy Football.  I immediately got to thinking about my class and how I could create this same type of atmosphere.  If I could get kids invested in a topic even a small portion of that topic I can keep them engaged and actively participating.  While it seems so simple it often is quite difficult for teachers and students to find that topic or subject that will captivate individual students.

As I continued to sit on the couch and tease and cajole  the others in the group another revelation hit me that made perfect sense.  Allow them to play.  So often we stifle kids creativity and do not allow them to play games and with each other in class.  If teachers are able to create an atmosphere of play and interaction among the students students would be engaged and actively participating in their education.  We live now in an ever increasing social world with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social websites.  Students need to feel connected. They are connected 24/7 to friends and family but at school often feel isolated and alone because they loose that connection.  If teachers can simply providing that connection in class they can help to create a learning environment better suited to the students of today.

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90-9-1

According to Jakob Nielson Participation Inequity: Encouraging More Users to Contribute there is a 90-9-1 rule for online participation: 90% are lurkers, 9% are intermittent contributors, and 1% are heavy contributors. On the flip side 90% of posts came from 1% of users, 10% of posts came from 9%, and 90% never post. He then goes on to show in charity on Facebook less than 1% give donations. He gives some suggestions for overcoming this disparity but I think his first statement is most true: you can’t.

I think this is true is any organization and on-line is no different. There will always be lots of people who just “show up” compared to the few who do the lion’s share of the work. So relating this back to education, I do not know any research into this but I would be willing to guess that around 1% of educators are involved in on-line communities such blogs, Twitter, Plurk, Nings, etc. There is often talk on-line about how to get more teachers involved in the learning and sharing that takes place in these kind of spaces.

Based on this article I wonder if we are fighting a losing battle to get a large number of educators to be involved in on-line learning. It would be great if we could get 90% of teachers to even lurk in on-line communities, but even that seems unlikely.

I am not saying that we should stop trying to encourage people to get involved in these kinds of spaces, but I do wonder if we at some point accept it as fact that many teachers will never choose to participate in on-line learning activities and instead focus on having a “go to” person per building who is active on-line and can be a resource to other teachers. I know this could be looked at as enabling the lazy, but I think it is utopian to think that someday all teachers will be involved in on-line communities and sharing.

So what do you think? Do you have a plan to get all teachers active in on-line learning or should we consider alternate methods to share our learning such as “building experts”?

This post is part of EdTech Blog Swap and was written by guest blogger Michael Kaechele (concretekax on Twitter) who blogs at the Concrete Classroom.

Keep track of Friends Over Multiple Services with Ease

With the growth of social media most users have multiple accounts and services they monitor with friends in each of these services.  Often it is hard to keep track of what friends are saying across multiple services and sharing with friends across these services can be just as difficult.  Well nsyght might be a way for you to aggregate these services and easily share and post to multiple services at one time.   This site will allow to search what your friends are saying, allow you to discuss topics with them on their network and post to other services all in one location.

This is a great resource for educators creating Professional Learning Networks (PLN).  You can monitor multiple networks and follow or discuss different topics and themes over a variety of social media websites.

Take a look at this resource at the following address: http://nsyght.com/

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Want to simplify your online presence?

Want to simplify your online presence?   Flavors.me might just be the key.  This site allows you to create content and then publish it to a variety of different sites and services.   This site allows you to post content to multiple sites at one time saving you time in getting your message out to your multiple online profiles.  For an excellent over view of what you can do on this site watch the video below.

Flavors.me from Jack Zerby on Vimeo.

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