Category Archives: web 2.0

Top Ten Web Tools of 2013


This is the sixth time I have compiled a list of the top ten web tools I have used during the year. I am finding it interesting looking back over 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and 2012 which tools I still use and which have fallen by the wayside. My 11th tool would be Delicious, which I have started using more, but certainly not as much as the other tools listed below.

10. Dropping one place to number ten is Speakerdeck. I replaced my usage of Slideshare with Speakerdeck in 2012, and in 2013 I continued to use Speakerdeck as a platform for sharing my presentations. It drops a place, mainly as I did fewer presentations in 2013, so as a result used the service less than I did in 2012

9. Dropping one place from 2012 is WordPress which is number nine. I still use the blogging software for my blogs. I like the flexibility it offers and it certainly works for me. However as I did less blogging in 2013 than in did in 2012, though still a useful tool, I was using it less. I still think the only thing that is missing for me is a decent mobile client or iPad app.

8. Flipboard falls a couple of places to number eight. The main reason it falls is more down to Google than Flipboard. Google retired Google Reader and I was using that service to feed Flipboard. Though I did manage to import my Google Reader subscription into Flipboard, I am finding it slow to refresh and of course much more difficult to add new sites to the feed. I do need to spend some time working out how to maximise my use of Flipboard as a news reading tool, as when it works well, it works really well.

7. Climbing three places to number seven is Evernote, the online note taking tool. Since changing jobs in the Autumn, I am using Evernote more than ever. A really useful tool for making notes and syncing them across devices.

6. Instagram drops three places back to number six and I know that part of the reason was that in 2012 I used Instagram everyday as the main way of posting a photograph a day. I didn’t do that in 2013, so used Instagram less. I did try though and improve the quality of my images in 2013. I have decided to return to the photo a day thing in 2014, so will now be using Instagram much more than I did last year.

5. Dropping three places to number five is Flickr. Whereas in 2012 I added 1300 photographs to Flickr, in 2013 it was a measly 635. I also used Flickr extensively for finding photographs for the blog and for many of the presentations I gave this year.

4. Climbing three places is Chrome, which is now my default browser on my main computers. Even though I use it a lot, I do use it alongside other browsers such as Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer. What I do like is that I can now sync my browsers across different computers and different devices. Using the Google Nexus 7 I can now see and open the tabs I was using on the iMac or the laptop. I also like how I can do the same with Chrome on the iPad. Great when you want to refer to a site, but either can’t remember the URL or how you got there.

3. Climbing one place to number three is the Twitter. I use Twitter almost every day for checking out news, links, travel reports and interesting stuff. I certainly don’t have the conversations on there that I have on Google+, but when they do happen they are useful and interesting.

2. Dropping one place to number two is Dropbox. It isn’t social, but I use it every day and in some cases all day. Dropbox is a fantastic tool, in the main because it works! It was interesting switching to a Windows PC for a few months in the new job how my usage of Dropbox stopped and I was using an USB stick of all things! In the previous nine months though I did use Dropbox extensively and it was a really useful tool. It just works, to the point it is transparent and it never gets in the way of me doing my stuff, which is as it should be.

1. In the top spot for 2013 is Google+ climbing four places from number five. There are two core reasons for the rise of Google+, mainly more people used in in 2013 than they did in 2012, but in my new job it’s an integral communication tool for sharing links, news and views across the group.

So that’s my top ten web tools for 2013, what were yours?

Textual Animation

GoAnimate Screenshot

I use to really like Xtranormal and in many ways I still do… however though I like Xtranormal and am willing now and again to open the coffers to basically pay to use it, it’s not a tool that I can recommend to practitioners. I will show them, I do like it, but it costs money and it isn’t simple to get a site licence for a site as big as ours and as diverse as ours.

I sometimes find that though I like a particular tool or service, finding a way to allow access for all our staff and learners, on the assumption that only a few would actually use it to begin with, is quite challenging. This isn’t just an issue with small companies such as Xtranormal, but also with software providers as big as Adobe. We now have a site licence for Adobe CS6, in the past we were quite restricted on how we could use other versions of Adobe Creative Suite as it was on a per machine basis.

So what am I recommending now?

Well it’s GoAnimate.

It’s a simple text to animation tool. You choose a setting, choose a couple of characters and then type in the dialogue and then preview the resulting animation. The characters will speak the typed text.

Really by James Clay on GoAnimate

Animated Presentations – Powered by GoAnimate.

It’s a simple way for learners (and staff) to create animations. The limitation of ten lines of dialogue (180 characters per line) can be a constraint, but from a literacy perspective working out a dialogue of text is a good way of improving vocabulary and writing skills.

Web 2.0 Tools

One of the many presentations I enjoyed at the RSC SW Turbo TEL event was from Bex from Cornwall College.

A showcase of some of the web 2.0 tools she uses in FE and HE Teacher Education. Click on the orange information squares on each page to visit each tool’s website.

You can also watch her in action delivering the presentation in just six minutes.

Oh yes that is me in the background…. 🙂

Churning and Waving

At a recent presentation by Dave White, he used the word churning to describe the rapid pace of change we went through around 2007. That was the year most people joined Twitter, it was the year that Facebook became mainstream, YouTube was starting to hit the big time. There were all these new services and tools, some of which are still with us, some of which have disappeared, Jaiku anyone?

There was a lot of excitement at that time about new services and whenever new services were announced we all went and signed up for it. Did you sign up to Plurk and so on?

These services were so popular that in the end the only way that they could work sometimes was by restricting access to invite only.

Google Wave for me was a turning point, a really great idea, that everyone wanted to be part of…. however it didn’t quite turn out as expected.

It was invite only and as a result, individuals got access and not communities, so even though it took me a while to get an invite for Wave when I did, very few people I knew had access. You can’t really use Wave on your own, so I didn’t use it, by the time access was opened, it was too late, people like me had moved on, well more moved back to Twitter.

I felt at this point that the constant excitement of the new was over. We had moved from a time of “churning” or flux to a time of consolidation. It was now less about finding new, more about using what we had.

That’s not to say new services don’t come along, I for example am really liking Instagram. But the rush for the new is no longer the driver. For some though they are still churning, they are still looking for the new. I just don’t think it’s there.

We may in the future go through another churning phase, but until that time, it’s now the time to use the services for stuff, rather than the time of finding new services.

Web 2.210.07⅝ SP1

The first incarnation of the web as was used back in the 1990s is often referred to the web, the plain web. With the increase of social networking, user generated content and the Twitter in the last years, the term Web 2.0 has been used to describe how the web has evolved.

However the web has continued to evolve and in a similar way that we describe software the time has come to add a few numbers onto the end of the 2.

You will read about Web 3.0, but this would indicate a major shift change in how we use the web and to be honest Facebook isn’t some incredible seismic shift in how we use the web, it’s basically a cleaner better looking MySpace! Even though we all use Facebook, the fact that there are still people using MySpace (and even Friends Reunited, according to the e-mails I get from them) has Web 2.0 really evolved into 3.0? I think not.

Likewise though The Twitter is now five years old, the concept is still pretty much the same, make a posting of 140 characters and hope for the best that not only does it make it through to Twitter, but that The Twitter remains up long enough so that your 14 followers can read it.

If you think Twitter is a newcomer to the web, remember it is only one month younger than the other stalwart of Web 2.0 YouTube which is also only five years old.

Facebook is in fact older at seven year, but was only really open to everyone just five years ago…

So in the last five years, the key services that we have been using for social networking and user generated content haven’t really changed, so how on earth can we talk about Web 3.0 when actually very little is different now to what it was five years ago when all we talked about was Web 2.0.

Of course the key difference is the number of users using these services, but I do wonder if that should be a measure of the web? When Windows 95 became really popular, did Microsoft suddenly decide to change the name to Windows 96 or 97?

Success doesn’t define the evolvement of a numbering system.

However we have had a fair few changes in the web, so to leave it at Web 2.0 isn’t quite right. We have Foursquare for example, the stalking service that is akin to collecting Pokemon cards or Scout badges. Instagram, a way to share really bad photographs with other bad photographers. Audioboo, a way of sharing drunken conversations and ensuring you can let people know your home is empty.

So with these little improvements, I think we can say that Web 2.0 has evolved, but these are like security patches, updates, maybe even a service pack.

Web 2.0 has evolved, Web 2.0 is now Web 2.210.07⅝ SP1