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JAMs Free and PDR Elearning Tools July 3, 2010

Posted by jmullock in e-Learning Tools, Misc.
1 comment so far

Thanks to everyone who came to the May ASTD Greater Philadelphia Chapter eLearning SIG meeting!  For those who were interested, the tool I was using to make the presentation is called the Personal Brain.  It is a great tool for brainstorming and producing non-linear presentations.  The version I was using was the paid “Pro” version, but they also have a free version with a more limited feature set. 

Since the dynamic content of the presentation doesn’t lend itself to being posted on a blog, I’ve distilled the material down into the most important part: The links to the tools and resources themselves.

Just as a reminder, I currently use the Windows XP versions of these products, however many of them are either cross-platform, have specific MAC versions, or are entirely browser-based.  Also, while most of these products are truly free, I have included some that I consider PDRware (Pretty Darn Reasonable $$).

If you have any free (or PDRware) eLearning tools that you would like to add to the list, please feel free to send me your personal recommendations! 

Cheers…….Joe Mullock


Classics… Freeware you may already be using…

Audacity:  In my estimation, Audacity is even better than many commercial audio editing programs.  http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Gimp: A graphic editor that rivals PhotoShop, without the pricetag.  http://www.gimpshop.com/index.shtml

 OpenOffice: A very nice alternative to Microsoft Office.  http://www.openoffice.org/

Security… Protecting data and your computers… 

TrueCrypt: A file encryption program.  Easy to use, and great for securing data on flash drives.   http://www.truecrypt.org/ 

SpyBot Search & Destroy: Scan your machine for unwanted “critters”.  http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html 

Facebook Privacy Scanner:  Run a web-based scan on your facebook page to see if your information is as secured as you want it to be.  New photo privacy scanning features added since the day of the presentation.  http://www.reclaimprivacy.org/

Sandboxie:  Bonus info.  This item wasn’t part of the original presentation, but came up in the  conversation following.  Sandboxie isolates downloaded software into a “safe” area so that your cool new find is separated from everything else on your machine until you are confident it doesn’t have contain any unpleasant surprises.  http://www.sandboxie.com/

 Some Other Google Tools… Ones you may not be familiar with just yet…

Google Forms:  Part of Google Docs.   Allows you to create surveys and questionnaires.  Surveys can be distributed as links or embedded into a website, and survey responses are automatically compiled into a google docs spreadsheet.  http://www.google.com/google-d-s/forms/

Google Groups:  Create your own discussion group, either open to the general public, or restricted to specific individuals you invite.  A better alternative than all those email cc’s for small and medium sized working groups.  http://groups.google.com/

Google Translate:  As discussed in the presentation, this isn’t going to put any live translators out of work just yet, but these tools can be handy for providing working translations of a website or even just a specific block of text.  http://translate.google.com/

 Google Webmaster Tools:  Useful tools to help you monitor your website.  http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/?hl=en

Visualization…  Some interesting ways to view and display your data…

A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods:  From visual-literacy.org, a web page illustrating dozens of ways of illustrating data:  http://www.visual-literacy.org/periodic_table/periodic_table.html

 Animoto:  Upload your picture, text, and short video clips and Animoto will create a Ken Burns-style montage, complete with authorized background music.  http://animoto.com/

 Slickplan: A basic, but useful online tool for creating organizational charts.  http://www.slickplan.com/

Personal Brain: Sort of an interactive outlining program.  Add “thoughts”, connect them in multiple ways, and change your view/focus at any time.  http://www.thebrain.com/ 

Collaboration… Working separately together…

Dimdim:  A webinar-type tool for small groups (paid version available for larger groups).  http://ww.dimdim.com/

Stixy:  Think of a bulletin board (not the virtual kind–the real world kind with staples, and thumbtacks!), and you’ll have the idea of Stixy.  You (and your group) can “tack” documents, photos, sticky notes, and to-do lists up on the board.   Just to clarify from the presentation, items do stay up on the board between sessions.  http://www.stixy.com/

Ning:  Ning was what I was thinking of when I came up with the category of “Pretty Darn Reasonable” Ware.  I loved Ning when it was free and I still love it, even though there is now a fee.  Essentially, Ning lets you build your own private “mini-Facebook” sites.  If you are a member of any sort of work, volunteer, or interest group, take a look at Ning to see if it might make keeping connected easier.  http://ning.com  (Note: I have no affiliation with Ning, but I am a fan, and am a member of several user-created Ning communities). 

Authoring…  It’s hard to find much in the way of good free/low-cost course creation software, but here are a couple worth exploring…

Udutu: From their website, “The myUdutu Online Course Authoring Tool has always been free and will continue to be free for all users. Anyone can create and distribute SCORM compliant courses at no cost…”.  They do provide additional (for fee) hosting and tracking services for those who need them.  http://www.udutu.com/

Zoho Challenge:  A tool for creating online tests and quizzes.  An interesting tool, but the free version is somewhat limited.  Various price options for larger groups of users.   http://challenge.zoho.com/login.do

Utilities…  Security items were covered elsewhere, but here are some useful items on connectivity… 

Connectify:  Turn your Windows 7-based computer into a secure, wireless hotspot.  Great for when you are at a remote locate and have multiple users  attempting to work off of a single, wired internet connection.  http://www.connectify.me/about.html

Make your Laptop a Hotspot: A CNET video on how to do the same with your machine running Windows XP, or the MAC OS.  http://cnettv.cnet.com/make-your-laptop-hot-spot/9742-1_53-28619.html

Reference and Resources…  There are a million places to look for these kinds of software and online tools on the web. Here are a few of my favorites…

Lifehacker:  Suggestions and tips for all areas of your life (not just tech or eLearning).  http://lifehacker.com/

Jane’s Pick of the Day:  “Selected by Jane Hart of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies”  http://janeknight.typepad.com/  (correction from my comments during the presentation, this is not the author of  E-Learning Solutions on a Shoestring.  Certainly a worthwhile read, but a different Jane—Jane Bozarth!)

Open Source as Alternative:  Lists recommended alternatives to commercial software products.  http://www.osalt.com/

PC World  Downloads:  From the readers and editors of PC World Magazine.  Search their archives for downloadable software.  Search specifically for freeware by selecting the “Free Licenses”  option.  http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/downloads.html