Dollars & Sense #8: Doing Your Tech for Less (or for Nothing!)

Having a snazzy web presence doesn’t have to cost a lot. One of the great things about the Web 2.0 environment is that so many tools are available for free. What’s more, you don’t have to have particularly sophisticated technical skills to create something that looks great and is fully functional. Sites like Wikispaces, Pageflakes, and Animoto provide the templates, the underlying coding, and the storage. You can even build your entire website using a free service like Google Sites. When you use tools like these, you are taking advantage of cloud computing, meaning your content lives on externally hosted servers and is accessible to anyone who has web access.

Why use Web 2.0 tools and cloud computing – I mean, besides the fact that they are (mostly) free and easy to use? Noted social learning consultant Steve Hargadon believes that Web 2.0 is the future of education.’  Although his examples target school settings, his rationale applies to all types of libraries. We are in an age of unparalleled opportunity for collaboration, participation, creativity, innovation, and publication. Yes – information overload like we’ve never imagined it. Cloud computing and Web 2.0 tools help us manage and deliver the services our users need in this environment.

Where to start? Fortunately, this profession is filled with caring folks who are happy to share what they know. Here are two ‘ great resources that can help you pick and choose:

Donna Baumbach’s WebTools4u2use

A nearly comprehensive resource that covers every Web 2.0 tool from photo and video sharing to drawing, charting, and mapping tools. Draw from it and add to it.

The 2009 AASL Conference Smackdown session wiki

Whew, what a session that was! Fortunately, its resources live on in the wiki, where you can link to free tools for reading promotion, digital storytelling, information fluency, and digital citizenship.

Take 15 minutes a day to play with a new-to-you Web 2.0 tool. You won’t regret it!

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