Learn and share in our growing Twitter community

twitter-bird

In case you missed it, yesterday our own Sue Waters published A Twitteraholic’s Guide to tweets, hashtags, and all things Twitter. If you haven’t jumped into the whole Twitter experience yet, you might be surprised at how many educators are using Twitter to collaborate and learn from each other.

Each day, on Edublogs and beyond, thousands of excellent posts are published and new exciting student projects are begun. This is exactly why we have recently created the Twitter hashtag #ebshare.

What is #ebshare for?

Hashtags are used so that anyone can easily follow a topic that interests them. We regularly tweet thought-provoking posts, new tech tools that can be used in the classroom, or anything else we think the educational community might find interesting.

The best part about #ebshare is that you can use it to share anything you would like, too! This is great for asking others to visit a blog for comments or showing off cool student work.

While the Twitteraholics guide mentioned above goes into much greater detail on how to use Twitter and hashtags, all you have to do is put #ebshare somewhere in your post, and that is it!

See #ebshare in action

ebshare

What about Facebook?

We haven’t forgotten about our Facebook fans either! Feel free to use the Edublogs Facebook page to post anything you would like to share with others. We might even re-tweet it for you on Twitter. :)

We hope that you find this new tool a useful way to connect with educators from across the globe.  Don’t be shy, share something with the community today!

Happy 2 Million Blogs!

Woah!

Check out what just happened on the upper left corner of our site.

2 million blogs

Teachers and students around the world have now created more than TWO MILLION blogs on Edublogs.org.

You add the nearly 1 million more on our Edublogs Campus networks, and you’ll find Edublogs being used in classrooms in just about every single country, age group, and subject matter there is.

We’re stoked! And humbled!

A massive thank you to all of our users that have helped to grow the Edublogs community.

Our goal is to keep growing with 10’s of millions more blogs – we certainly couldn’t do that without all of you.

Thank you!

Happy blogging!

Guide to finding and securing grants and outside funding for blogs and ed tech

currency_dollar_redFinding the funds for Edublogs Pro, Edublogs Campus, or any other education technology product out there isn’t always easy.

This is especially the case as schools and educators are facing difficult decisions in times were budgets are tight.

We have a growing number of users that have found success with grants, donations, and asking organizations to pitch in when it comes to financing individual classroom blogs or even blogs for an entire school district.

Using their advice and experience, here is our guide which will hopefully help others to do the same.

Step 1: Determine your needs

When completing applications for grants or asking potential funders for help, you must be specific and detail exactly what you need and how much it will cost.

In addition, you will be most successful when you can show how what you are asking for will help meet specific goals. For example:

  • Blogs as a class website are an easy and effective way for teachers to keep parents and students informed about what is going on in class
  • Blogs are student friendly to use, and the built in privacy settings and content monitoring systems on Edublogs provide for a safe and easy to manage blogging experience
  • Blogs naturally tie into curriculum standards such as writing, communication, critical thinking, ePortfolios, and technology proficiencies

Also, are you able to include multiple teachers or schools into the plan? Potential funders are more likely to be excited by a project that has the greatest bang (reach and impact) for their buck.

Our users have found successful grants for:

  • Edublogs Pro accounts for one teacher to provide blogs to all of his or her students
  • Bulk upgrade accounts to provide Pro blogs for 5 to 10 teachers
  • Edublogs Campus accounts for an entire school, school district, or university

Step 2: Find grants and funding sources

This is the big one. We’ve found that the most successful grant seekers have found sources close to home such as Parent Teacher Organizations and local businesses.

Many cities, districts, and states have educational non-profit organizations that provide assistance to educators as well. If you haven’t heard of any, ask around to see if any of your colleagues have.

For other sources, we recommend the following websites which have a wealth of information:

  1. Funding Your Technology Dreams – A HUGE list!
  2. SchoolGrants.org
  3. US Government Ed Grant Programs
  4. Australian Learning & Teaching Council Grants

Because there usually isn’t enough money to fulfill each request or application, it is best to apply to as many grants as possible and always be on the look out for new sources.

Step 3: Complete the application or write a proposal

Depending on the source, you may have a lengthy process. In some cases you might have multiple rounds and parts that are due at different times. Always pay close attention to the application process and deadlines to make sure everything is completed on time.

A few other tips for completing grant applications:

  • Make sure to really know the funding organization’s priorities and what they are looking for – tailor your message to this closely
  • Be positive and confident in your writing and correspondence
  • Have colleagues proof read and provide suggestions – for Edublogs related grants, we’re happy to help too!
  • When appropriate, find academic research to support your requests and how it meets an academic need

Step 4: Keep at it

It is an ongoing process which may not be successful the first time around. Most grants will only fund 1 to 3 years at a time as well, so it may take additional searches even after your blogging or technology project is off the ground.

Don’t give up and always be on the lookout for potential opportunities.

Do you have anything to add?

Are there any additional sites to find grants that we can add to our list?

Maybe you have a success story you would like to share?

We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Edublogs Weekly Review: Attack of the web browsers and RockMelt wins!

It all started on a typical Monday morning when my web browser of choice, Chrome, just stopped working for me.

A quick google search lead nowhere – only that others experienced similar problems over the past year, but no help or advice. I deleted, reinstalled, upgraded, downgraded, and nothing – Chrome was not happy. So I reluctantly looked elsewhere for something new.

About the same time I was checking out our monthly stats on Edublogs.org in our Google Analytics account and came across this stat:

126 different browsers

What?! We had users using 126 different browsers visiting Edublogs.org over the past 30 days!

Nearly half where using Internet Explorer, followed by Firefox, Safari, and then Chrome.  Who knew (not me!), but there are also browsers such as Konqueror and Sea Monkey, and we had a couple hundred visits from the PlayStation Browser and the Nook eReader.

Coincidentally, at the same time I was also catching up on my favorite tech-geek podcast, CNET’s Buzz Out Loud. They were going on and on about a new web browser called RockMelt.

rockmeltIt is currently in invitation-only Beta mode (while they test and work out all the bugs), but I put in for an invitation and a few days later was happily using RockMelt.

The best feature about RockMelt is that within no time, I have set up all of my favorite blogs in the sidebar where it alerts me to new posts immediately. I am no longer dependent on Google Reader, which I for one am very happy about. Not because Google Reader isn’t good at what it does, but if I go a couple of days between checking in, I’ll never catch up! This real-time display of blogs lets me keep up in a non-intrusive way.

I can especially see teachers and students that want an easy way to follow blogs in their classes to find this feature useful and fun!

Oh, and RockMelt is built on Chrome, but it isn’t having the same problems I was having before.

You must have a facebook account to use RockMelt as facebook is highly integrated into the browsing experience. There’s a pretty good twitter feature built in too, but still no option to publish tweets directly from the app. (edit: Oops, actually there is – see the comments below!)

To see more about what it can do, you might like this video here.

If you’re interested, be one of the first three to leave a comment below and I’ll send you one of the invitations I have left. Or, you can sign up for your own on RockMelt.com.

This week in the Edublog world

Want to share a post, ask others to visit a blog for comments, or show off cool student work?

Use the hashtag #ebshare to let us know so we can re-tweet it for you!

Featured Edublog of the Week

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The Plugged In Portable

Grade 6 class blog with loads of resources!

St. Thomas, Ontario

Find more great blogs like this one in our International Edublogs Directory.

Upcoming Webinars & Live Events

Join us for next week’s live events!

Wednesday the 24th @ 9:30am PSTAll About Edublogs Campus

For new Campus site-admins or for those interested in learning more about Edublogs Campus.

Thursday the 25th @ 4pm PSTEdublogs Serendipity – PD Out Of A Blue Sky

Join us in our fortnightly unconference sessions. Bring along the burning issues and hot topics YOU would like to discuss. The topic is chosen by poll at the start of the session.

Learn more about our live events here!

Recent Posts You Might Have Missed

Summing it up

What’s your browser of choice? In your school or place of work do they let you use more than one?

With the use of add-ons and extensions Firefox and Chrome are certainly growing in popularity, and it will be interesting to see if any of the others can make a lasting impact.

Have a good rest of the week!

Top widgets for the sidebar of your class or student blog

Did you know that the fastest and easiest way to add new features to your blog is by embedding widgets into the sidebar of your blog?

To help you out, here is a list of the most popular and most useful widgets that can be added to your blog in no time.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post for more instructions on how to add widgets to your blog. Don’t forget, these widgets can also be embedded using the HTML tab in any page or post as well!

Visitor Statistics

  1. clustrClustrMaps – The most popular widget on Edublogs.  Displays a small map with “dots” for each of your visitors.
  2. Flag Counter – Lists the most common countries that your visitors are from and shows the flag from each country.
  3. Who’s Among Us – With an account, includes some nice stat collection tools.
  4. My Web Counter – Simple and free visitor counters with many custom looks and designs.

voki

Talking Avatars

  1. Voki – Add a speaking and highly customizable avatar to your blog.  Record you voice, create a character, and much more!
  2. Read The Words – Human avatars that will read text or recorded audio right in your blog.
  3. Site Pal – A paid widget that can make scarily realistic avatars using uploaded photos of you or students.

Miscellaneous

  1. Clock Link – 100’s of different and unique clocks of all types.
  2. AccuWeather – The most complete collection of weather widgets to show current conditions and forecasts.
  3. Box.net – Create a file dropbox or upload widget for students to submit files for your review.
  4. Feed Wind – Display the latest posts from another blog anywhere on the web.
  5. Sweet Search – Place a search box for a trusted and safe for students search engine.

googapps

Google Apps

*These widgets also will all work with Google Apps for Education users too!

  1. Google Calendar – Embed a list of upcoming events or a month view of a public Google calendar.
  2. Google Talk Chatback – Put a badge in your sidebar that lets users chat with you live when you are online. Your blog’s visitors don’t even need a gtalk account to chat with you.
  3. Google Maps – Embed a Google map – complete with directions, street views, and more.
  4. Google Gadgets – Choose from hundreds of different widgets, including games, trivia and more.

Multimedia

  1. schooltubeFlickr Slideshow and Badges – Easily add photos from your flickr account to your sidebar.
  2. Facebook Photo Gallery – Show off your public facebook photo galleries right on your blog.
  3. SchoolTube MVP – Share popular videos from SchoolTube.com with easy sidebar access.
  4. YouTube – Place in YouTube channels or top trending videos.
  5. Mixpod – Create a music play list and share it on your blog.
  6. RadioTuna – Pick a genre and play music for your visitors.

wordofday

Languages

  1. Google Translate – Instantly translate your blog into many different languages.
  2. Transparent.com Word of the Day – Audio and visual word of the day. Customizable in many of the world’s languages such as Spanish, French, German, Chinese and many more.
  3. Reverso Translation – Translorts, verb conjugators, and more in many different languages.

Reading

  1. Shelfari – Show off your favorite books for others to see.
  2. Education Atlas – Free thesaurus and dictionary widget with many features.
  3. SitePal Widgetbox – Mentioned above, but this widget will allow readers to type in or copy and paste words to be read out loud.

convert

Science & Math

  1. Science Score – A science question of the day. Students can even enter to win prizes.
  2. Wolfram AlphaQuite possibly the best resource on this list – Wolfram Alpha contains hundreds of customizable math and science widgets, including unit converters, weather tools, graphing calculators, problem solvers, and much more. This might be the only resource math and science students and teachers need for their blogs!

History

  1. Info Please – Nice looking “this day in history” widget that displays multiple events and updates every day.
  2. Timeline Index – 30 different timelines showcasing several different periods of history – including US presidents, world history outline, philosophers, and explorers.

Widget Sites & Collections

  1. widgetboxWidgetBox.comThe definite go-to place to find and build your own widgets. Edublogs uses several widgets from here on our main site!
  2. SpringWidgets.comAnother great source for widgets from many of your favorite sites on the web. User reviews and comments help you find the perfect widget for your blog.
  3. Widgipedia.comLike the two sites above, wigipedia is a huge and growing collections of widgets of all types and sizes.

How To Embed

1. Choose the widget of your choice and copy the html code for it.

2.  Go to Appearance > Widgets in your blog dashboard

Appearance > Widgets menu item

3.  Click on the desired Sidebar to expand (so you can add the widgets)

4.  Add a text widget to the desired sidebar by dragging it from the Available Widgets into the Sidebar area on the right.

5.  The widget will automatically open — just add the HTML code for your widget, click Save and then Close.

Adding HTML embed code to voki

6.  You should now see the widget in your blog sidebar!

Related Links

Since there are thousands and thousands of widgets to use, we are certain to have overlooked a few of your favorites. Leave a comment below with any that we missed so that we can add to the list!

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