One of the challenges of Web 2.0 apps is that there are frequent changes to the business models, often resulting in services that were originally free going to a pay-per model or sometimes going away altogether. I understand that everyone needs to be self-sustaining, but it’s a challenge for schools using these tools. (This is one of the reasons I love open source software — you know it’s always going to be free.)
This recently happened with two tools I use. One is Gabcast, which used to be free, but now has a time limit of 4 minutes as a free trial plan. In looking for another free tool to do phonecasting (recording audio from a phone and posting it directly to your blog of podcast), I haven’t quite find one that fits the bill. I tried phonecasting.com but had some challenges getting it set up. I’m still looking into a few other options, so stay tuned. (drop.io allows you to record files by phone but is lacking some other useful features. It is really intended as a broader file sharing tool, rather than just a phonecasting app.) If you have an app for this you like, please let me know.
I also used a web site for checking for plagiarism that was free but now charges. In looking for alternatives, I found The Plagiarism Checker from the University of Maryland, which looks good. They also offer a premium version for a fee, but the basic one worked fine for me. (I tested out others as well, but they seemed to think everything written at a high level was plagiarized, even original work of my own.) I have not used this application extensively, but in trying it out, it seemed to work well. I also looked for open source alternatives, but didn’t find any.
If you have your own favorites in these categories, please add a comment and let us know.