Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Follow a Blog to Awesome

Four summers ago I was on a crazy quest to move on the salary schedule, so I signed up for 15 graduate hours at Fresno Pacific University.  If you have never taken their independent study professional development classes (and you're a self-starter who is willing to go it semi-alone), I heartily recommend them.  Anyway, one of them was about using Web2.0 tools in the classroom and the textbook was Will Richardson's very excellent Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Webtools for Classrooms.  I remember thinking at the time, "Why would anyone write a blog?"  And also "Why would anyone want to follow someone else's blog?"  Lucky for me, the answer came fast in that class and in that book.

I started following blogs in that class using the now defunct Google Reader.  I started with just a few that looked interesting (see my What I'm Reading list over there on the right).  Fast forward four years later, I am following over 50 blogs with Feedly and finding amazing things in them all the time.  Just tonight I learned about Chikungunya fever (ok, that one is not cool and now on my summer paranoia list), why Americans stink at math, and that Jessica Biel will guest star on one of my favorite shows this season (guilty pleasure!).  But the highlight of the evening was that I learned how to make a 20 second animated GIF on the TechSmith blog!

If you're not familiar with TechSmith, it's time to get to know them.  They are the creators of many screencasting and video editing tools that teachers love.  I found their blog when I used their free Jing to create my first screencast during that Web2.0 class.  Jing is the perky little sister of the beautiful and talented Camtasia.  Cousin Snagit is another screen capture and video creation tool.  Tonight I installed the Snagit App and Extension for Chrome.  I used them to make this GIF on a chromebook.  Can you name those phase changes?

It was easy to do.  Really.  Go read the excellent directions on the TechSmith blog.  While you're there, start following their blogs.  They'll deliver them right to your email.  And then make a GIF of your own.

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