Friday, October 16, 2009

Where, oh where, has my desktop gone?

Google Docs, flickr, de.licio.usEduBlogs, Wikipedia: These are some of the most widely-used Web 2.0 tools on the Internet.  Gone are the days when my files were created, edited, and saved in one permanent location: my desktop computer.  Getting them from home to work (or vise-versa) relied on available peripheral hardware such as a flash drive.  And collaborating with others required using email attachments of a limited size.  The introduction of Web 2.0 tools has changed they way we create, organize, save and collaborate on our digital information. The Mac vs Windows ‘thing’ is not really that big of deal. If you rely on some of the tools mentioned above, then there is a good chance all of your documents for teaching and learning can be stored online. All that is needed is a browser that can get out to the Internet.

I recently read an article in which Microsoft has just released its web-based version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. It is currently in testing, but look for it in the near future. Instead of running Word from your desktop, you'll be running it from the Internet, collaborating on documents with people from all over. In fact, that is how this article was originally published. I used Google docs to put it on the web, and then it was shared with my colleagues around the office for their editing. Another example of an education application that many people have used is Inspiration. Inspiration now has a web portal, called mywebspiration. You can get a free account and create the same things that Inspiration does without having it loaded onto your computer.

On many occasions I have been asked to present at some state conventions, like NETA. I lug my laptop, projector, and possibly extra electrical cords around so I can get everything ready to go before my presentation begins. With services mentioned above and my personal online dropbox, I can get my presentations from the Internet. I am even allowed to share files. Dropbox, with a free registration, gives you the ability to load files up to its servers. Upon registration, your dropbox is created, and you get 2 GB worth of storage for free. I refer to my dropbox as my free 2 GB virtual flash drive. I just upload my presentation files to my dropbox, and that allows me to have a backup in case my laptop decides to quit functioning. Dropbox even has a free application for your iPod touch that allows you to get your files on your iPod. It is a very nice tool to have in your web 2.0 tool box.

The future will tell for certain, but I would expect smaller, faster Internet-based machines, such as handhelds, to start gaining more popularity as applications become more and more web-based. Are you using some of the tools mentioned above? If not, climb on board the web 2.0 movement and start thinking about how you can incorporate some of these into your classroom. Comments are encouraged.


Techyturner said...

I totally agree with your viewpoint about where the world of desktops is headed. I too have a Dropbox account and use it very often. I even have my gradebook on it so I don't have to keep copies on thumb drives or even try to remember which is the most current file.
I've been looking at a netbook for a while but haven't taken the step, yet. Maybe when one of my laptops dies and can't be resuscitated, then maybe I'll get one.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

KidTbear said...

I'm looking for a Dropbox account. I want to have my files at my finger tips. I have too many flash drives and can't remember what is on each one.