Here's a new web application that I think will really appeal to students: Sprout. [If you are reading this on a feed reader, please click through to my site, so you can see this amazing product in action.] It allows users to build a sophisticated gadget or site based on flash technology. If you're familiar with flash, you know that the effects are fantastic. I've often wished I could integrate flash technology into my lessons, but the programming is not easily accessible.
Enter Sprout. Click on the tabs at the bottom of my Will Shakespeare Sprout. Check out the slideshow gallery of photos. I copied a quick bio from Wikipedia to add to the about tab, and embedded a sonnet reading on video. My favorite, however, is an RSS feed from Mr. William Shakespeare's blog. You didn't know he kept a blog, did you?
I've got some great ideas for Sprout that I'll be showing you in future posts. First, however, let me say this. While most web 2.0 apps are incredibly easy to use, Sprout is more complicated. In fact, I found it to be somewhat non-intuitive and clunky. However, the results are worth the effort. Just be sure to give your students plenty of time to play around with it if you are integrating sprout-building into a lesson.
Feel free to play around with my Shakespeare sprout. If you want, you can even take it home with you!