A distinct feature of the Net is the ever-growing collection of tools/services meant for the academic community.

This edition of NetSpeak discusses a few more online resources that aid the teaching/learning endeavours.

An offshoot of the ongoing IT revolution is the availability of several free online productivity applications (web- based collaboration tools, and survey tools). Such tools come in handy for the non-profit and academic fraternity. For instance, while conducting a quick online survey, now you need not enlist the service of a web developer.

A web application like Google Docs (http://docs.google.com) would serve the purpose. The ‘Form' builder feature of Google Docs lets you easily float any number of online surveys with ease. This free service that allows you to design a survey form with a wide variety of question types (multiple choice, checkboxes, grid and scale) would be adequate for many data gathering endeavours. This type of applications in an educational set- up is undoubtedly valuable.

Teachers can easily conduct feedback polls and other surveys without seeking external support.

Another notable advantage of this type of survey applications is the facility that generates survey statistics automatically.

In addition, one can easily create a course web site using Google's free web site creation application ‘Google Sites' (http://www.google. com/sites/help/intl/en/over view.html) and integrate this online feedback form with the site.

Besides data gathering, another important requirement of an instructor is to conduct frequent tests. After each class, an online test would help the teacher rate her students.

Conducting such an online test is no more cumbersome, thanks to Zoho Challenge (http://challenge. zoho.com/home), the free utility from Zoho.

To generate a test, access ZohoChallenge, sign-in with your Zoho or gmail ID and click on the ‘Create Test' button. The service allows you to frame the test with a variety of question types such as ‘Multiple Choice', ‘True or False' and ‘Fill up the blanks'. With each of the questions you can attach a correct answer so that the system can automatically evaluate the results.

In addition, you can specify test parameters such as test duration and time during which it can be accessed too. Once the test is properly designed and ready to be administered, you can embed it on a web page or send its link to those who wish to take it.

Academic search

For many academicians, scholarly web search is incomplete without a search on Google scholar (http://scholar.google.com/). But Google scholar is not the only special search service in the academic realm. Microsoft Academic search engine, developed by Microsoft Research Asia, (http://academic.research. microsoft.com/), is yet another addition worth a try while you are on a serious hunt for scholarly materials from reputed academic sources.

Educational videos

A distinct feature of the globalised, IT-enabled world is the proliferation of different types of jobs that demand a variety of skill sets. Job description or job content of many of these careers is rather alien to many of us.

This context enhances the value of the educational video hosting service NextVista (http://www.nextvista.org/collection-list-light-bulbs/) that hosts a variety of career videos. These videos help us gain an intricate understanding of the nature of work involved in occupations as disparate as software engineer, marine biologist, supply chain manager and costume designer.

A video mixer

Lots of educational videos are hosted on the popular video sharing service Youtube. If you are learning a specific subject, you may find it a little difficult to handle these videos hosted under separate addresses. One way to circumvent this difficulty is to collect the relevant videos pertaining to a subject and combine them into a single link that can automatically play each of the videos one after the other. If this solution appeals to you, check out the online application MyTube60 (http://mytube60. com/) that lets you do exactly this. The service allows you to search on Youtube and create a new video by mixing several videos from it. To place a video into the mix, you just have to drag and drop it into the video-mixing frame. Instead of dropping the full video, the service even allows you to select a part of it and place that clip on to the mix.

Secured Google search

When you conduct a Google search your search string/search results can be read by anyone with technical skills to intercept your online transactions, if they wish to do so.

Now, if you wish to keep your search private, Google is offering a solution. For this, instead of searching via the usual Google (http://google.com) link, access the service via the secured link (https://google.com).

The advantage here is that the service encrypts your search transactions like search queries, search output and the like and thereby make them unintelligible to intruders. For more details: http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py? answer=173733&hl=en.

Google offers different language versions of its web search service for helping us invoke a search based on the language of our choice (example the search service for the Hindi content: (http://www. google.com/ig?hl=hi).

Now, if you wish to obtain the search results in two separate languages on a single web page, try out the service Bablex (http://babelplex. com/).

Similar web

Related content discovery tools help us harness sites with content related to the one being viewed automatically. Tools such as Similarweb and Glydo, discussed in the past (http://beta.thehindu.com/sci-tech/internet/article106625.ece) are good examples of products in this genre. ‘Similar Stumble' (http://www.similarstumble. com/), the Firefox extension that provides you similar web content at the click of a mouse button is another such service encountered by NetSpeak in the recent past. Once installed, the tool keeps a button on the browser toolbar and to obtain a list of sites related to the one being viewed, you just have to click on this button. In this regard, you may also try out the service ‘Similar Sites Search' (http://www.similarsitesearch.com/). The service offers a bookmarklet that enables you to use it directly from your browser.

To use the tool, just drag the bookmarklet and drop it on to your browser's bookmark toolbar.

Once this is done, whenever you wish to collect sites similar to the current one, just click on this bookmarklet's icon.

He can be contacted at: jmurali@gmail.com