Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Think Outside, Then Put It Inside

With numerous web 2.0 and 3.0 applications being mentioned by people in the know on a weekly basis it's hard not to feel overwhelmed by all the opportunities but it is certainly interesting to test them out.  A site with templates, ClassTools, one of which I reviewed more than a year ago, Fakebook, has a new one.  One of my favorite tech people, Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers brought it to his readers' attention in a post last week; test-driving a new item called BrainyBox.

Like the other templates on the site, BrainyBox is free of charge with no registration requirements.  Any resources made, stay on their server permanently as long as they are used during any given twelve month period.  This particular template contains a precise format for mini-presentations.

When you first access BrainyBox this image appears on the screen.  BrainyBox is a cube, six sides, which displays items you wish to have highlighted on a specific topic.  I explored options by clicking on the numbered buttons.  This first visual is side one.

Side two gives you some features; text and multimedia can be inserted, you can password protect your creation, it can be embedded in a blog or website, it works on tablets as well as desktops.  Further buttons explain that a widget (which is one of the templates on ClassTools) can be embedded on one of the cube sides as well as videos from Vimeo and YouTube.  To design your own,  click on the New button.

Next click on the Edit button.  The tool bar across the top row allows:

  • upload an image
  • insert/edit embedded media (Flash, HTML5 video, HTML5 audio, Quicktime, Shockwave, Windows Media, Real Media and Iframe)
  • text can be in bold, italics or underlined
  • margins can be aligned left, center or right
  • cut, copy and paste are offered
  • insert or removed bulleted lists
  • undo/redo and
  • insert or remove links
Underneath you can select your font style and size, remove formatting, insert a special character, emotions, text color, background color, spell check, insert horizontal line and edit HTML code.

Placing text on a side is pretty straightforward as is an image.  Once placed each can be altered by the offered options.  An image can be resized using the tiny markers on the sides and corners.

If you wish to embed a link in an image, click on the image.  It will become highlighted and the link icon at the top is now available.  You can enter in the URL, set a target (it will open in that window or a new one) and name the link which will appear when you mouse over the image.  (To embed a link in text simply highlight it.)

For three of the sides I used Jing to capture website pages and downloaded the images.  I was able to add links to the sites so the pages in their entirety could be read.  It was as easy to add a YouTube video to one of the sides.  Copy the URL code acquired by clicking the share button under the video and paste it in the correct box.

Each time you complete your tasks for a side you need to click the Done editing button in order to advance to another side.  To start you must always click on Edit.  When you are finished with all the sides, click on the Save button.  

A new window opens asking you to enter in a password.  A new message asks you to make note of the unique URL created for your BrainyBox.  When you click OK the special URL appears at the top of the page in the address line.  Also beneath your BrainyBox creation you can now click the Share button on the far right.  

There are three options:  URL Link or Embed Code, QR Code and Download Web Shortcut.  There are three sizes for the HTML Embed Code.  I did a simple right mouse click of save image as for the QR code.  Over the course of the next two weeks the first grade classes in my building are going to be Skying with author Ame Dyckman.  I designed a cube featuring her debut book, Boy + Bot.

This new template, BrainyBox, as part of the ClassTools site maintained for at least ten years by Russel Tarr, Head of History at the International School Toulouse, France, is excellent.  It's absolutely perfect for the educational setting; no fees or registration and simple to learn and use.  It's headed for a spot in my bigger-by-the-day virtual toolbox.     

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