Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Web Tools Review


This is a homework assignment for one of my classes.  EDCI 718 Learning Technologies with Dr. Rosemary Talab, through Kansas State University Online.


My assignment is to review three Web Tools, each for their purpose and how they can be used educationally and professionally.

With so many to choose from, I personally decided to review Pinterest, Flikr, and Pandora and describe how they mostly serve me best personally and professionally.

Pinterest (www.pinterest.com) is a great webtool that you can sign into and create an account with.  It's considered a social networking site, but what it does is allow you to collect "pins" of things that interest you and organize them into your own boards.  "Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organizing things you love."    



I have an account and I have several boards where I collect ideas.  I have boards for Recipes and Craft/Home Decorating Ideas.  And then I have two boards that pertain to my being a photographer, Poses I like and Wedding Ideas.  These help me collect ideas for what I would like to incorporate into my sessions or helps give my clients some ideas if they need some inspiration.  I have a couple of friends that I allow to be able to pin to my boards as they find things that they know I might like to have.  For other people's interests, they can use their boards to pin ideas for books that they might like to read, gardening ideas, project ideas, etc.  For educational purposes, I see that you can search subjects and other teachers will post their helpful ideas, tips, and links to websites outside of Pinterest.  I have had several friends with young children, use Pinterest to find Birthday Theme ideas.  It's just a great web tool to help you gather ideas and pin them to your wall, so that you can come back later and reference them.  You can use the SEARCH box to find anything that interests you.   Pinterest is a great marketing tool for businesses as well.  It's a great place to showcase your products, build a community, and tell everyone more about who you are. Pinterest has also been made into an APP for both Android and iOS devices.  There are widgets available for you to Pin things you see on the web, and Follow buttons to add to your own website if that pertains to you.  From your phone, you can snap a picture and immediately pin it to Pinterest by using the app.  Both the website and the app are very easy to jump in and navigate and get started pinning right away.  And of course, there are help resources available if you do get stuck.  I love the way Pinterest is laid out and it's a lot of fun to play with and look at.

 If any of you are on Pinterest and would like to see my boards you can find me here:  http://pinterest.com/souriantdesigns/  Personally, I find it MOST useful for collecting new recipes to try!


Flikr (www.flikr.com) is another webtool that I really like using because I am a photographer.  It's a place where I can upload some of my best photographs to, and hope that it gets noticed by other people and friends.  I specifically started a Flikr account so that I could not only follow other photographer friends' work, but also it is the only way that Getty Images (a major photo stock corporation) can get a glimpse at my work and possibly want to license it.  There is a specific box I had to check when uploading images, if I am interested in this possibility with Getty images.  So far, I have not had anything get noticed.  :-(  But then again, I haven't uploaded a ton of images because I get too busy tending to my clients, my family, maintaining my website, my blog, this class, and well...LIFE.    Other photographers can use Flikr as simply a place to store photos and albums on the web.  There is the ability to keyword and tag your photos so that they can be searchable which is important for professional photographers looking to share and possibly sell their work.  Flikr has really evolved over the last few years into becoming more of a social networking site.  It has the ability to make groups, discussions, organize contacts, etc.   I belong to a few groups in Flikr that pertain to genre types of photography, but again...I don't use this web tool very much.   This web tool would be a great teaching/learning source because of the ability to create groups and have discussions.

Here is a screen shot of my Flikr photo stream:


Flikr is relatively easy to use.  It takes a little bit of figuring out with some trial and error.  My biggest concern is making sure that I don't upload files that are too big for fear of my images being taken or used without my permission.  I could watermark them, but haven't decided how I really want to approach that.  For now, I keep it pretty limited in hopes just to get my name out there a little bit more
.
Pandora (www.pandora.com) is possibly my most favorite and most used web tool, so I have saved it for last in my discussion!  I absolutely love music.  Who doesn't?  And more importantly, I love ALL different kinds of music from most decades and most genres!  When I learned about Pandora during the summer of 2010 (yes a little behind the times for most) I became immediately hooked!  It is Internet Radio, and it is a free web tool, but like some others you do have the ability to upgrade to a paid account which gives you commercial free music, no interruptions, unlimited listening time, and the ability to listen from your desktop without opening a web browser.  With the free account, you'll hear one quick commercial about every 5 songs, and that doesn't bother me a bit.  I also have Pandora installed on my iPhone and can listen to this internet radio anywhere I have WiFi or 3G....although I do believe if you are on the 3G network then it will use up data, so something to be careful with. 



How does Pandora work?  You start by creating a station by selecting a song, an artist, or a genre of music that you want to listen to.  Once it finds what you are looking for and starts playing, it will then search for other songs that are similar to that artist or in that genre and play more songs that you might like.  It's a great way, I think, to discover new artists and songs that I have never heard before.  If I hear something I really love, I can go buy it on iTunes or in some other music store.  If you hear a song, and you want to learn more about the artist, you simply open up your web browser and there is a bio written up about the artist or group, along with usually the lyrics to the song, and a link to how you can purchase and download the song.  There is also a thumbs up and a thumbs down button that you can use to tell Pandora that you either LOVE this song, or you do not care for it.  If you click on the thumbs up button, Pandora pays attention and not only keeps track of your "likes" but it creates more music for you that it thinks you will like.  If you click the thumbs down button, it will remember that you don't like it and move on to the next song.  Or you can just ignore these buttons and just let the music play.  I have created a whole bunch of stations.  I have a country music station set up, a Baroque classical music station, an 80's station, a children's lullaby station (for when I'm photographing newborn babies).... and several stations set up for artists similar to Adele, Rob Thomas, Michael Buble, Mumford and Sons, Jazz, Beatles, Lady Antebellum, David Nevue, Michael W. Smith, Ingrid Michaelson, and Jimmy Buffett, just to name a few!!!   I absolutely love Pandora, and I think there are many others that do too.  Pandora is available not only for Android and iOS devices, but for Blackberries, TVs, and a few select cars that are set up for Satellite radio.  There is also a social application where you can use Facebook to sign into your account and share with others what you are currently listening to.   I think the best application use for Pandora is the fact that you can listen to ANY genre of music to include international music and Pandora will help you find new artists and new songs to listen to.  It's a great tool for the artist as well, because it's another chance for their music to get exposed to an audience that might not otherwise hear them if they are not on the airwaves of standard radio.

Your Feedback! I would love to hear from any of you who are reading this blog.  What are some of your favorite web tools and how do you use them?  For what purpose?  There are so many great ones out there!  Here is a pretty comprehensive list if you'd like to see what others are out there that you may not have heard of:  http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/

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