Monday, March 17, 2008

tt4t_029 There is no such thing as a free lunch, advertisements and “free” services

It’s Monday, March 17th, 2008 and welcome to Episode 29 of Tech Talk for Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Happy St. Patricks day everyone. Last week I talked about Microsoft SkyDrive and I can report that this free service has proven very useful for me over the past two weeks. Having 5GB of files available to you anywhere in the world that you have an Internet connection can change the paradigm of how you go about your day to day activities.

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I have used other online storage solutions in the past from Web 2.0 fee-based services to locally-based enterprise hosted services, SkyDrive offers most of the same functionality of these services for free. The sharing feature of SkyDrive is also very powerful for educators wanting to share documents and files with their students or to the entire world! Instead of posting information to a webpage and uploading and linking the appropriate documents to the webserver you can now just share the document files directly using the SkyDrive public folder and provide a link to your students to download the file. Before SkyDrive became available I used gmail and Google Docs as a work around for my online storage needs, SkyDrive fills a different need for me.

Here is an example of an embedded SkyDrive file that I have shared to my public folder:

There is still room for improvement in that ideally I would like for my SkyDrive to appear as just another drive letter on my computer just like a local network drive. The other weakness is that you have to upload files one at a time so a drag and drop interface would be a great addition to add multiple files or even entire folders all at once. I do know that Microsoft is working on Live FolderShare that is a file synchronization tool but it is still in beta. The FolderShare service may allow some of this desired functionality in the future. FolderShare offers a way to keep files in sync on multiple computers so if you update a file on one computer it can be automatically synced using FolderShare to your online storage. This also would be a great backup feature for important files. If you have another free solution that currently offers a service similar to SkyDrive for free please send me an email and let me know how you like it.

Many Web 2.0 companies allow for time-shifted and place-shifted learning to occur. This is something that we as educators need to adapt to. While anytime and anywhere learning is not new, it really began in earnest in the mid-1990’s with the advent of wide-spread adoption of the Internet and the development of course management systems for distance learning. To be honest this is nothing new as the advent of the printing press also offered anytime and anywhere learning to the masses over 500 years ago. I still talk with many educators that are locked into the time and place method of delivering content out of habit. There are some very interesting, useful, and fun sites on the web where you can learn just about any topic under the sun on your own time. Finding them and qualifying the sites as credible however is another issue. Designing leaning experiences is also another problem that educators are struggling with because many sites offering good content also are sponsored by advertisers.

Advertising is pervasive on the Internet and unfortunately renders many sites unusable to educators. Web 2.0 companies do have much to offer education but we are still sorting out the benefits from the distractions. Many advertisements are inappropriate for children or classroom use and thus limits the potential the web has to offer education. It is really is sad when you find a good relevant site you want to use but you have to concern yourself with inappropriate advertsing that may popup on the site. Sometimes these sites also solicit additional information such as asking for your name and email address. While this is probably good business practice it is not good educational practice therefore many sites go unused due to these concerns.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
My Technology pick of the week this week is a fun little website that will help you hone your geography skills. Geosense is an online world geography game that uses an interactive quiz format to test your geography skills. A link is provided in the show notes. When you visit the site you can go in as a visitor or you can signup with a username and password so the site can track your highest scores. The game provides you with a world map and at the top of the screen it will ask you to locate a country or city. You are to click the mouse on the world map as close as you can to the location of the requested country and you have only ten seconds to do so. Once you click on the location Geosense will calculate how many kilometers off you were and then go on to the next location. At the end of the game it will give you an average of how far off you were in kilometers of the ten random locations given. It is a quite fun and addictive game that offers immediate feedback of how you well you did. It can also be humbling when you are off more than 500 km of where you thought a country or city is located.

GeoSense- an online world geography game

This site does utilize Google Ads so it is sponsored by advertisers that may or may not be appropriate for children so be careful when using sites like these. The geography game is very well designed from an instructional design perspective, just be aware that clicking on other links on this site may take you to other websites that may not be appropriate, may solicit additional information from users, or be designed to sell additional products and services, so learner and educator beware. The same is true for Google, Microsoft, and many other Web 2.0 services, after all we cannot have innovation for free and these business need to make money to stay in business.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Finding a symbiotic relationship and balance to create a win-win situation is still a struggle for many educators as we try to separate the wheat from the chaff on the Internet as well as protect children from inappropriate websites and advertising. While advertisements are nothing new on the Internet the frequency has certainly increased over the years as businesses increase their presence on the Internet. I have provided a links to a couple of interesting articles in the show notes from ZenithOptimedia and discussing Internet advertising trends if you are interested in learning more. Internet advertising spending is projected to grow 85% between 2006 to 2009 according to this article. Links to the Geosense geography game, SkyDrive, and Google Docs are also available in the show notes.

Zenith Optimedia forecast article

Online Ad Spending 2001-2011

GeoSense- an online world geography game

Microsoft SkyDrive

Google Docs

That wraps it up for episode 29 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode as well as archived versions of previous episodes of TechTalk4Teachers are available on the web at that’s techtalk the number 4
If you have questions or comments about using technology in the classroom of have some news you would like to share please post a comment to the blog or send me an email to Until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

1 comment:

Vish said...

Thank you Dr.Grissom for this wonderful podcast. As a student, this episode has turned out to be very useful for me. I tried various online storage solutions for file transfer since a long time and nothing really comes close to Skydrive (previously used rapidshare, megashare,xdrive, etc). The most useful thing about Skydrive, according to me is its ability to embed file link into a web page and anyone, even without an email address, can download the link. Surprisingly it never took me to a new page (some sites open a new page and make users wait before they can download) or forced me watch ads before downloading file.This podcast has certainly shown some of the cool capabilities of Skydrive.

I'm yet to fully test folderview and I know it is in beta, but as far as I have used it (last night) I thought it had some great potential in a way that users can browse their files on their pc from anywhere, that's an amazing tool again. It would have been even more useful to me if it can support cross platform, so students like me who use linux and windows can view both their desktops.
As far as child online security is concerned, there is something called Liveone care or Family safety, a free web filtering program from Microsoft that can filter out unwanted sites based on the parent setting, it also helps in tracking web activity (
Its good to see how Web 2.0 is transforming my Internet experience. just when I think I got everything i ever needed online, Web 2.0 chucks a brilliant tool that I cant live without :).

And finally, the technology pic of the week ( is like the icing on top of a cake. I got addicted to this game whoa. I request Dr.Grissom to pick more sites like these that are informative and interactive.

Thank you and looking forward for your next episode.