Online tools

FREE TOOLS

SPRINGPAD NOTEBOOKS
The Terms and Services page and Privacy Policy of Springpad notebooks, my chosen online service, are located in the footer widget at the bottom of the homepage. The only catch to accessibility is, that once you log in and create your own notebooks, you rarely return to the homepage (in fact unless you know to add “about” to the web address you cannot get there via your own page). There is no link to terms of services or privacy policy on your notebook page.
The home page uses terminology such as “mission”, “discover”, “care about” “harnessing” which did give me the impression of a company that was not going to rip me off, good marketing I know, however the Terms of Service and Privacy policy do continue this theme.
They are written in clear language:
“This policy tells you, among other things, what information we gather from you, how we may use or disclose information that identifies you personally and our efforts to protect it”.
“If you are under 13, please do not attempt to register on our Website or send any Personal Information about yourself to us.”
Seem to be on the side of the user:
“Your privacy, and the privacy of all registered users of the Springpad service, the springpad.com and springpadit.com websites and our mobile applications, is important to us”,
“You may use this Website and our mobile applications without volunteering personally identifiable information“.
However I was surprised by the clause “We may alter, suspend, or discontinue this Website or support for any mobile application, in whole or in part, at any time and for any reason, without notice” , particularly with the so public demise of Google reader but felt that the following was reasonable:
“You will retain all ownership rights to any Content you submit or make publicly available for inclusion in the Springpad service (“User Submitted Content”), and we are not obtaining ownership rights to any of your User Submitted Content. We do, however, need you to grant us certain rights in the User Submitted Content, so that we can incorporate such User Submitted Content in our services. Without such rights, we may be violating copyright and other laws by storing, posting, backing up and allowing the download of your User Submitted Content on our Website or through our mobile applications.”
Also, I was reminded but not surprised by the use of cookies, but was interested to see that cookies could be “deleted or blocked by changing the settings on your Web browser, but if you block all cookies, you may not be able to take full advantage of the Springpad services”. It may be interesting to trial this and see just how many/what type of services were withheld.
I do have to admit to just skimming the first few paragraphs of the terms of service when I signed up, but having determined how I was going to use the service, I felt I would not lose much if they were to discontinue the service – though reflecting on how much I have stored in my notebooks, I would be more disappointed than I originally thought, however it still would not be devastating.
For the purposes of this exercise, I did read the whole document, did not get too bored and even learnt what “estoppel” and “indemnity” meant?
Backing up my data was very easy. Simply by clicking on the “Create backup” in the Settings menu and downloading the file to Mycomputer. It took me longer to create a new folder on Mycomputer that to download the file.

Deleting the account looks to be very simple also. Simply click on the “Delete account” link on the Settings page.

Before I came across Springpad three or four months ago, I would jot down in a convenient place, books that I would like to purchase for my library– convenient to where I was at the time that is, definitely not convenient for following up at a later date. Consequently I would have book titles on scraps of paper on my desk, beside my bed (nothing like a Sunday morning lie-in reading the Book Review sections of the weekend papers), on the coffee table (reading magazines such as Good Reading on the couch in the evening) and in the dashboard of my car – listening to Radio National on the way home. Now that I have discovered Springpad, I post the book titles into my notebook “Books for Purchase” (though sadly not when I am in my car) and my offsider receives an email notification that there are new books to be purchased. When the books arrive, my offsider, with one click, transfers the books into a “Recently purchased folder”, when I receive notification of these, I can, again with one click, move them into another folder, listing them to be made into digital signage for advertising on our TV monitors. I can at this stage also add them to my “Must Reads” folder so that I can work my way through the list without overlooking any, and when read can click them into a “Hooray it’s holidays now I can read” notebook for the staff to follow. It works an absolute treat. I would definitely recommend this service to others.
TOOLSREVIEW
I’ve chosen to review the online tool Inside a Dog and no I am not looking for Brownie points!! I have recently set up an account and a bookclub as an extension activity for a class of Year 8’s. I was thinking of setting up a group through GoodReads but was attracted to the mission statement “All about books – by young people, for young people” and felt that it would be a good “safe” environment to have my first foray into online tools with the students.
Users do need to log in to Inside a dog and have to provide a Username, password, email address (we used our school email addresses) first name, age (I encouraged the students to put in their correct age as I thought it would be important for Inside a Dog book recommendations), school and about me (we chose to leave this blank, however I did assume that many would eventually go back to this so we discussed the power of the digital footprint to ensure that what they included there was not overly informative).
The Terms of Service and Privacy Policy of the site are fair and reasonable and having browsed through the posts and clicked on various members’ links, I do not foresee any potential issue, as little information is available for outsiders to view.
The news section of Inside a Dog will provide me with some valuable links to things that I will promote in my library – book trailers, competitions and I love the author in residence aspect of the site, particularly for schools that may not be able to afford their own author in residence program – this could be really promoted to schools Australia wide. It will be great for team teaching between my role in the Library and the classroom teacher. As an aside, I would like to see a section on recently released books – perhaps a very short blurb and a reading age recommendation that would not take away from the students’ reviews.
At this stage I plan to use it in two ways. Initially I promoted it to the classroom teacher as a tool to encourage the students to read – I could see moving a book from the “Books I would like to read list” to the “Books I have read list” could be a great motivator and will be encouraging all students to just blog a little like twitter, short sharp responses to parts of their book that they are enjoying, to encourage others to read the book. E.g Imagine if your Mum sent you off to a foreign country to a Dad you had not seen since you were three? Uggh.
However, when the classroom teacher was asking for extension activities to free the brighter students up from some of the more mundane comprehension activities that the rest of the class will be doing and hinted heavily about Inside a dog, I offered to also take a small group of 10 – 12 students and promote review writing and the author in residence components of the site. I will keep you posted as to how well it progresses. I will also be able to upload reviews that the students write to our library blog at regular intervals and include outstanding ones in our online school newsletter.
Inside a dog can definitely be used at the Redefinition level of the SAMR model, but it will depend on how it is used. If it is merely set to private and used as an opportunity to create lists of books students have read and would like to read and blog about the books they are reading, it will remain at the Augmentation level, but once students are posting reviews for other students in other schools to read and interacting with the author in residence it will definitely take full advantage of the unique possibilities that technology affords. It will be very interesting to see how far we can take it.

Unit 3 Online communities reflection

I am a member of a Teacher Librarian network group here in Brisbane and how I look forward to our meetings once a term. The opportunities these offer to bounce ideas off fellow TLs, share anecdotes, keep abreast of new technologies and educational ideas and to just spend some quality time with like-minded people is a wonderful antidote for an extremely busy “on-demand” professional life of a Teacher Librarian. Online networks will never replace such meetings, but how often at the end of the meeting do you feel that there is still a lot to discuss and share. An online community gives you the opportunity to continue these discussions long after the physical meeting has finished. However it provides much more too. It extends the scope of the physical meeting from a handful of professionals based locally to a group of professionals from all over the world. An online network can also give you access to professionals with more specific skillsets than your physical network – I continue to seek help from copyright specialists I met through an earlier online course.
As a school we have embraced Facebook and Twitter as a marketing tool and are encouraged to use them for networking. However both are blocked for the students. As it is often hard keeping students on track, I do wonder whether students would value a unit of work delivered via Facebook enough to avoid the temptation to check into things they would find more interesting, such as who was going out with whom etc.
I have enjoyed the blogging component of the course – though am still at the stage of doing lots of reading and sharing but not much “replying” – something I intend to do more of as the course progresses. I have never been a fan of Twitter as previous experiences have usually been of the shallow, “who really cares” variety, but have linked to a few more educational “twitterers” and will see how it goes. The short, sharp nature of Twitter would be advantageous in my very busy working day.