Monthly Archives: May 2008

Create Your Own Interactive WhiteBoard for Less Than $100

So, schools and companies always have a problem called “budget”, right?
An interactive whiteboard (fo which the most famous representatives are perhaps Smartboard and the Promethean Board) can cost thousands of dollars.
Well, Johnny Lee has been doing some research on using the fairly innexpensive Wiimote (the remote for the game console Nintendo Wii) and an interactive pen as input devices to turn any projected screen into a an interactive whiteboard-like experience.

Second Life Hands-free Immersive Experience

NOW we can have immersive experiences that involve our body movements in MUVEs.

This was something experienced mostly by Nintendo Wii users when playing boxing and dodging a punch. Well, Linden Labs has been doing some research on the use of 3D cameras that allow you to control your avatar throught body movements, no keyboards, no mouse.

Imagine what this can bring to educational experiences:

Handipoints – Virtual World that Helps Kids Do Chores in Real World

Speaking of persuasion power, Handipoints is a clever idea of getting kids’ interest in video games and virtual worlds to get them to do something productive in real life through an “incentive program”.

I will not go on an on about how interesting this idea is since Michael Arrington from Techcrunch already wrote a nice post about it here.

Web Conferencing Tools

So in reply to Ed Teng’s comment in my post with invites to A.Viary online production tools (if I understand him correctly) I will post some links and comments to webconferencing tools that might be useful for instructional purposes.

ePresence -> Free and open source tool. Has to be installed on your local server. Technical support is offered by the Open Source Consortium. Their webconferencing and webcasting applications are excellent and feature-rich. It is possible to record both webcasting (broadcasting an event, for instance) and make it available on your website. It is possible to record webconferencing (people interacting with a virtual whiteboard in a virtual room) and make it available as well.


DimDim -> Another open source initiative. You can host online meeting without installing any extra program, just go to their website, create a free account and you are up and running. DimDim allows you to schedule and invite anyone without requiring them to install any plugins. Maximum of 20 users in the free ad-supported version of the online web meeting program, but they offer room for up to 100 people for $495/year and an enterprise edition. You can also install locally and free of charge the DimDim Enterprise edition free of charge (it requires more technical know-how).

Elluminate -> Webconferencing tool with many features. Even though the “looks” are more old-fashioned, this program is very stable and well-accepted in the academic arena. They have good academic packages.

Yugma -> Feature-rich webconferencing tool that has a free version. Yugma offers other versions of their packages that allow you to invite more participants at a time. A plugin is required for participant to view the meeting room. An interesting differentiator for Yugma is that they offer a Skype plugin that works seamless with the famous VOIP client.

Vyew -> Web-based tool that has many important features in their free version. No plugins to download and plans that offer more flexibility and storage are also offered.

A.Viary Invites

So, I have been testing a.viary features. Aviary is a collection of online imaging software. Their suite is supposed to be feature-rich. The developers keep a very creative and thought-provoking blog. You can tell they are really trying to approach online production tools from a different perspective.

So far they have Phoenix (image editor, like an online “Photoshop”) and Peacock (a pattern creator) running. But they plan on implementing many other tools soon.

I have 4 invites for Aviary and would like to give them to people in the learning field so they can have a chance to try these tools while they are still in private beta.

Please leave a comment here telling me what connection you have with learning or eLearning (instructor, student) and come back to let us know what you think about the tools once you’ve used them. I think it would be really interesting to know what people in the education field think of this type of tools.

A hint, leave you email address in the comment in this format (to avoid spam): username [at]


Open Source Social Network Engines

No-one is impressed with the words “social networking” anymore. We used to have to explain to new comers what “Myspace” or Facebook implied. Now everyone can have their own social networks online with relatively no cost using open source solutions that I think deserve some attention:

1- -> free and open source initiative. Very customizable, still need som work done, doesn’t have many of the standard features you would expect from a social network. Large developer base might bring important improvements over time.

2- -> not exactly built for social networking per se, but has an enormous plugin database that can bring extra functionality, including the possibility of creating Digg-like video/news/websites/etc. aggregator that requires votes by community members so content is published.

3- -> Myspace-like social network engine. Integration with OpenID. Still pretty “rough”, but has potential. Demo:

4- -> more focused on “dating” but allows for customization. Many plugins have to be “purchased”, though.

5- -> I can’t tell you much about it (not many communities powered by “aroundme” right now). It is open source.

6- -> Drupal as a social network. Has free options for non profit organizations.

7- -> not much information on the website and no demos available. Open source.

8- -> new open source social network engine that has a lot of potential. Ruby on Rails. Some nice features and integration with Youtube and Flikr out of the box.

9- isocial – -> not much info.

10- clonesumating -> should be a clone of “”, which has been down for quite a while now. Quite a few features.

11- ozcode – -> an clone. Lets you build networks around feeds and friends.

12- -> brand new, lots of work to be done. Good for simple networks.

Also, -> not exactly “social networking”. Good ePortfolio with some social networking around it. I don’t understand why people pay for some ePortfolio providers out there (you know what I am talking about). :) Just an example of how open source and free (as in no money or credit card necessary) can offer great features that are comparable to commercial products. :)

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