[Bee Logo] [CyberBee] [MultiMedia Schools]
January/February 2001
Copyright © Information Today, Inc.
Tools of the Trade
by Linda C. Joseph, Columbus (Ohio) Public Schools, Library of Congress

[Editor's note: URLs mentioned in this article appear in the chart that follows.]

Create a home page using Web-based tools that offer fill-in-the-blank authoring. No HTML coding is necessary; the wizards do the job for you. If you already have a home page, jazz it up with cut-and-paste ease. If you are not a graphic artist, there are sites that provide a variety of templates, buttons, banners, icons, and animations to use as long as you link back to the site. Students will love experimenting with JavaScripts. Clocks, scrolling messages, time, and date can be placed on pages without knowing anything about writing JavaScript. Try out a message board. It's a snap for sharing information with parents, students, or colleagues. In order to build a house, the construction workers use specific materials and tools to make the job easier. It is the same when working with Web pages. If you have the proper tools, the construction will be much smoother. Here are some of CyberBee's favorite tools.
 

Message Boards

eBoard
eBoard is an easy to use message system where you can post links, notes, and images. The step-by-step instructions will have you up and running in minutes. Password-protect your board or allow others to post to it. eBoard is a handy tool, especially for the beginner.

iKeepBookmarks
Are you frustrated that the bookmarks you need at school are on your home computer or vise versa? Worry no more. Register for a free account on iKeepBookmarks and upload all of your bookmarks from Netscape or Internet Explorer. Add more bookmarks or edit existing ones. Set up another account for your classroom. It is an easy way to have your students visit the Internet.

SchoolNotes
SchoolNotes complements school Web sites by allowing teachers to post homework, class assignments, and other information without worrying about HTML or FTP because no programming is required. Students and parents can then access the notes from work or home. This is a great communication tool for the school community.
 

Web Page Construction and Hosting

BigChalk
Select from several preformatted templates to create a home page. The school kit includes a message from the principal, calendar, newspaper, policies, and discussions. The media center kit includes links to online resources for students, links to professional development sites for educators, links to research tools, a calendar, policies, and discussions.

Learning Network—My School Online
Organize your information with a series of Web site-building tools and six templates. Set up a welcome page, homework assignments, calendar, student showcase, newsletter, and links. Add a picture to the page by choosing clipart from their library or import your own digital image. Free registration also includes a teacher grade book, e-mail account, Web site hosting, and 24-hour online support.

Filamentality
Filamentality is a fill-in-the-blank interactive Web site that guides you through picking a topic, searching the Web, gathering good Internet sites, and turning Web resources into learning activities. It helps combine the "filaments" of the Web with a learner's "mentality." First pick a topic, add links, and decide on one of five formats—hotlist, scrapbook, treasure hunt, sampler, or WebQuest. Then spin your Web.

HighWired—Your High School Online
Online publishing tools and templates allow you to customize pages for your high school. Select the product that best suits your needs. Showcase student work with Classroom, share club news with Student Activity, publish news with Newspaper, or build a school Web site with SchoolCentral. Join HighWired for free.

LIGHTSPAN—Your School Online, Your Class Online
Construct Web pages for your school or classroom using forms and template. Insert a calendar of events, links, and global messages. One of the unique features offered by this service is statistics about your site usage.
 

Color Pickers

ColorCenter
ColorMaker
Preview background patterns and text colors for your home page, then cut and paste the code into the body of your HTML document. ColorCenter and ColorMaker are two similar programs that allow you to preview how your page will look. Try different color combinations until you find the one that is perfect for you.
 

Banners, Buttons, Bullets, and Graphics

Animation Online
Want a cool banner, display, or navigation bar? Click on a few screens, type in some text, and render the image. Dazzle your friends with a banner from this site.

Banner Generator
Choose from several fonts, sizes, and colors. Download the file to your hard drive. Banners are static rather than animated for those who do not want a lot of movement on the page.

CoolText
Need a quick button or logo for your page? CoolText is a totally free online service that provides real-time generation of graphics customized exactly the way you want them. Make logos, buttons, and bullets by selecting choices of fonts and colors on a form. Beginners might find the form confusing at first because the color picker uses RGB numbers.

Millennium MousePad
Delightful country style images, backgrounds, and theme sets highlight this glorious site. Instructions and scripts for inserting dynamic cursors (one that trails across the screen) and counter digits are easy to follow. The graphics may be used on personal non-commercial Web sites as long as you follow the terms and conditions and create a link back to the Millennium MousePad. Now, that's a great deal!

PageWorks
Foot-tapping music greets you at PageWorks. Lots of fun, whimsical characters can be found here, along with how to animate your own icons. The animations are absolutely spectacular. If you use any of the animations, include this credit: "animated.gif (c) Kitty Roach."
 

Gif Animated Slide Shows
A GIF animation is a set of multiple images saved as a single file. By using this format you can put together a series of images or photographs and produce a slide show. GIF animated slide shows can be used to display school events, student activities, or create galleries of artwork. The slide shows you create can also be used on the Web and in presentation programs like PowerPoint. GIF Construction Set (Windows) and GifBuilder (Macintosh) are easy-to-use animation programs for you and your students. CyberBee has a step-by-step instruction guide for each of these programs [http://www.cyberbee.com/gotec/index.html].

GIF Construction Set—Windows
Imagine creating a GIF animated slide show in less than 5 minutes using a wizard. Organize your photographs so they are the same size and save them as GIF files. Start the wizard in Gif Construction Set and answer a series of questions, then select the photographs from your hard drive in the order you want them to appear. Click finish and preview your show. Really, it's that easy. Gif Construction Set is shareware and costs $20.

GifBuilder—Macintosh
Prepared your photographs by making them the same size and saving them as GIF files. Although GifBuilder does not contain a wizard, the steps are easy to follow. One of the best features of the program is its selection of transitions between pictures. Choose dissolve, slide, push, wipe, or peel to add pizzazz to your slide show. GifBuilder is freeware.
 

JavaScript
Have you been to a Web site where windows pop up or buttons change as the mouse rolls over them? If so, then you have experienced a JavaScript in action. JavaScript is a programming language that interacts with a Web browser and allows a page to have dynamic elements. There are hundreds of scripts already written for you. Just cut and paste them into your page.

Cut-N-Paste JavaScript
Grab a crossword puzzle, coloring book, or bar graph script for your classroom page. Customize the puzzle for a particular lesson and post it for your students to solve. Choose from over 200 cut-and-paste JavaScripts.

ZDNet JavaScripts
This site rates a 10 for organization and navigation. Browse through categories such as banners, time/date, and utilities to view a list of reviewed scripts. Descriptions about the functionality of each script are accurate and concise, so you can make an informed decision. Scripts have also been tested for browser compatibility and include a demo, the source code for your HTML document, and a button for downloading.
 

Midi Music

Classical Music Archives
Old Codger's Midi Page
Parlor Songs
State Songs
Hundreds of classical pieces are located at the Classical Music Archives. The Old Codger's Midi Page brings us familiar old tunes from the past such as "Buffalo Gals" from It's a Wonderful Life and "Stardust" by Nat King Cole. Incorporate a history or art lesson with Parlor Songs from the 1800s to 1900s. There are interesting stories about the work along with the cover illustration. Even the state songs have been recorded.

Music files on Web sites get mixed reviews. Some people like the multimedia effect, while others are annoyed with encountering the medium. Midi music used in context is a great tool. At PageWorks, one of the sites mentioned in this article, the music is very effective. The experience is fun while browsing through the animations. "Flight of the Bumblebee" by Rimsky-Korsakov, a song at the Classical Music Archives, seemed like a natural piece to greet visitors on the CyberBee page. However, several individuals wrote that their browsers were crashing. Apparently the necessary plug-in for midi files was not on their computers.

Another issue that you need to be aware of is copyright. Even though you might think the copyright has expired long ago, some publishing companies have bought the rights to the music. Be sure to read the copyright notices at each site before using the music on your home page.
 

Web Tutorial Guides

HTML Goodies
For those of you who are beyond the beginning stage of HTML or who have students who want to learn the code, then dash over to HTML Goodies. There are loads of easy-to-follow tutorials. Samples of JavaScripts and cgi scripts are also available. Joe Burns, the Webmaster, has written several books about these topics, as well as some fiction that has never been published.

Web Teacher
Just a mouse-click away is webTeacher, a self-paced Internet tutorial. It is divided into two sections, a Web primer that provides introductory lessons for getting started, and a more in-depth tutorial for understanding all facets of the Internet, from Web browsers to home pages. Two teachers from Tennessee and the TECH CORPS Webmaster designed these lessons. In addition to the tutorials, there is information about Internet safety, cable modem technology, and links to interesting educational sites.

Now that you have some suggestions about what tools to use, don't delay—try them out. You might want to start with creating a message on eBoard. Then, begin experimenting with one of the fill-in-the-blank or template sites. Your students will have a great time creating banners, listening to music, and selecting graphics. Next share all of the enthusiasm and energy in your classroom on your very own Web page.


Be sure to visit the MultiMedia Schools Home Page (http://www.infotoday.com/MMSchools) with active links to all of the Web sites mentioned in this article. Then fly over to CyberBee (http://www.cyberbee.com) for more curriculum ideas, research tools, and activities to use with your students and staff.

Message Boards

eBoard
http://www.eboard.com

iKeepBookmarks
http://www.iKeepBookmarks.com

SchoolNotes
http://www.schoolnotes.com
 

Web Page Construction and Hosting

BigChalk
http://www.bigchalk.com

Learning Network—My School Online
http://myschoolonline.com

Filamentality
http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/fil/

HighWired—Your High School Online
http://www.highwired.com

LIGHTSPAN—Your School Online, Your Class Online
http://www.lightspan.com
 

Color Pickers

ColorCenter
http://www.hidaho.com/colorcenter/cc.html

ColorMaker
http://www.bagism.com/colormaker/index.html
 

Banners, Buttons, Bullets, and Graphics

Animation Online
http://www.web-animator.com/

Banner Generator
http://coder.com/creations/banner/

CoolText
http://www.cooltext.com/

Millennium Mousepad
http://www.vikimouse.com

PageWorks
http://www.snowcrest.net/kitty/hpages/index.html
 

Gif Animated Slide Shows

GIF Construction Set—Windows
http://www.mindworkshop.com/alchemy/gifcon.html

GifBuilder—Macintosh
http://homepage.mac.com/piguet/gif.html
 

JavaScript

Cut-N-Paste JavaScript
http://www.infohiway.com/javascript/indexf.htm

ZDNet JavaScripts
http://www.zdnet.com/devhead/resources/scriptlibrary/javascript/
 

Midi Music

Classical Music Archives
http://www.prs.net/midi.html

Old Codger's Midi Page
http://www.smickandsmodoo.com/oldcodgers/midi.htm

Parlor Songs
http://www.parlorsongs.com/

State Songs
http://www.50states.com/songs/
 

Web Tutorial Guides

HTML Goodies
http://htmlgoodies.com

Web Teacher
http://www.webteacher.org
 

Linda Joseph is the author of Net Curriculum: An Educator’s Guide to Using the Internet, published by CyberAge Books. The recipient of numerous awards, in addition to her work in the Columbus Public Schools and the Library of Congress, Linda is a part-time instructor for Ohio State University. Communications to the author may be addressed to her at Columbus Public Schools, 737 East Hudson Street, Columbus, OH 43211; 614/365-5277; ljoseph@iwaynet.net.
 
 

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