Monthly Archives: May 2009

Create Web Apps for you Favorite Sites

Too much information out there to keep up with…

What about creating your own Web Apps (browser-based applications) for your most visited websites?

On Windows, use Mozilla’s Prism. Click “download Prism for Windows on the following page and follow the instructions.

For Mac OSX, use Fluid, which works in a similar fashion to Prism but is made to be compatible and integrated with Mac OSX.

Crowdsourcing eLearning (Feedback)

I understand crowdsourcing courses, lessons and other eLearning-related material can be a tough call for any sector (corporate, K12, etc.). But has anyone had any experience crowdsourcing the development of learning experiences from a user feedback perspective at least? 

One question could be how is crowdsourcing feedback different from simply putting a feedback button on your website or a particular lesson or product? Crowdsourcing seems to be more powerful since instead of relying on static feedback submitted by individual users at a given time, when feedback is given in a community-driven platform, it can much more powerful. Users will spark discussions around one’s content in a dynamic manner, sharing their thoughts and ideas from perspectives others might not have considered if submitting a single “feedback ticket”.

So, again, has anyone used crowdsourcing for engaging the learners in the development process?

Services that use crowdsourcing for feedback and product ideas include (not limited to):

Get Satisfaction 

UserVoice

IdeaScale

SuggestionBox

Spigit

CrowdSound

BrightIdea

Google Moderator

CrowdSpirit

IdeaBlob

OK, I might need to stop here, the “idea/innovation management” crowdsourcing field seems to be the one that suffers the most from “cloning” in the social media era… almost like they ran out of ideas for innovative takes on the same topic… ;)

 

Here is a more comprehensive list of crowdsourcing modalities and websites.

Balsamiq Mockups – WYSIWYG Mockup and Wireframe Tool

I don’t have a tablet PC or a drawing board (electronic or not). I guess I could create wireframes on basic  computer tools like Pencil even using the highlight tools on Microsoft PowerPoint, for instance.

But one tool I discovered recently makes it much easier to come up with mockups very quickly: Balsamiq Mockups. The tools has a small cost ($79 at the time of this posting) but it is worth it.

Features

  • Drag and drop interface
  • Hand-drawn look and feel (makes the mockups look like just that: mockups, allowing you to communicate your ideas with enough freedom for creativity in the actual development process and without raising too much expectation from the developers since what you are offering is nothing more than a *mockup*)
  • Several standard built-in navigation and user interface elements ready to be customized
  • Ability to export as PNG
  • Ability to create new mockups from an existing one
  • Repository of icons and images

 

Features that would be nice to have (at least some I can think of off the top of my head)

  • Native “print” functionality
  • Custom lines and hands-free drawing. Right now you’re limited to the icons and shapes available in the tool’s repository.
  • Collaborative editing possibility – either by sync’ing your local files in real time over the Internet or by providing an online-only version (I’d rather have the first option in case I don’t have internet connection for some reason).
  • Sharing capabilities (to services like those covered on ShareThis and AddThis.
  • A “website” mentality type of mockup. With “real-time” navigation, allowing a person to navigate through the (mockup) website and have that experience from a user perspective. This would need a mockup to have multiple pages linked to a main index. Similar to FlairBuilder and  Napkin Look & Feel‘s approach.
  • As pointed our by StuffThatHappens, a built-in storyboarding feature (storyboarding templates?) would be an asset as well.

Competition

The only similar tool I have found is iPlotz (I do not have this software and can’t make a comparison here) but it does seem to offer an online collaborative version of the tool (a bit overprices if you ask me). Their desktop app costs $75 (as I post this entry). Might also be worth checking out. Here is a post comparing both tools. Beware: it has been written by a competitor, FlairBuilder).

Twitter Clones and their Place?

Twitter is a phenomenon that keeps growing in popularity.  With new developers creating  tools to integrate with it, Twitter keeps getting new features everyday and extra data portability functionality…

Twitter also has many look-alikes out there. Does anyone see advantages to Twitter “clones” such as Rejaw and YouAre, and white label or self-hosted solutions ShoutEm  and Laconi.ca? Especially for academic institutions and corporate learning departments?

Any advantage at all in trying to replicate Twitter’s functionality? Any added features that you may find useful?

 

 

Learning Languages with Open Source Resources and an Open Mind

Of course learning languages can be both fun and challenging. 

Still in Brazil (in my teenage days) I learned English mostly by listening to my favorite artists, translating their music and making up dialogs in my mind while taking a shower or walking down the street… yes, that crazy…

I also used to go on the ICQ website’s “people & chat” (back in the day) to the regional public chats in the UK, USA and other places were English is spoken as a native language. 

Playing free computer games (or cheap ones) like Age of Empires and watching movies also helped a lot.

It takes some effort and creativity to learn a language (and passion and persistence not to forget it).

That’s why I get so excited when I stumble upon posts like this one by Dmitri Popov about learning languages with open source and webtop applications…

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