Companies Becoming Aware of Bloggers?

I just noticed a little trend over the last few weeks. Maybe the trend has been around for a while and the trend started to notice me?

For a while now companies have started to offer special (free) educational accounts that allow more teachers to use their products/sites in the classrooms. Some examples are:

Companies, like are listening to bloggers and educators and are promising to work on “something” for educators. Please let me know if you find out what that is. In the last month, I have started to post more reviews of educational web based sites on my blog. Mostly writing down my thoughts as I test the waters and evaluate potential uses for our elementary school classrooms. In addition, it seems that blog readers are appreciative of these notes, since it saves them time and gives them a head start what features are available and some potential shortcomings (obviously from my point of view).

The first company that send me a license key to their brand new product was

  • PQDVD- Talking Photo
    They offered access to the full version for free for bloggers who mentioned their product before Christmas. They have extended their offer until January 15, 2008. Click here for details of that offer.

Last week I received two interesting e-mails from Andy Katz (from The first one after I reviewed Smilebox, another after I blogged about Panraven in a post and its potential use in the classroom. Panraven’s (Andy’s) interest in education� was evident in his second mail:

I am very excited about the potential for Panraven in the classroom. In
fact, I have been speaking with an education professor from Fairbanks,
Alaska for the past few months about introducing Panraven to K-12 students.
He teaches a class to aspiring teachers on how to integrate technology in
the classroom. On Panraven, we have some amazing stories created by these
teachers, some of which live in very remote areas of Alaska. We�ve been
laying the groundwork for an exchange program between Alaska students and
students in other locales. Using storytelling, the kids can teach each
other about where they live. If you are interested in getting your students
involved in a program like this, I�d be happy to make introductions.

I really appreciate this kind of conversations with companies who are asking for input to improve their product for a better educational fit. I also REALLY appreciate him letting me know that my blog reviews are making a difference. Isn’t that what keeps all of us doing what we are doing??

You picked up on a couple of bugs on our site (thank you!). Once we make
our next site update this week, you will have no problem entering your own
embed width. And,� we will be adding guidance in our HELP section
describing which video formats we accept.

-Flickr import is coming soon. We will also support media importing from
Photobucket and Webshots.
-At present, we only support JPG images.
-We are looking into the issue you described regarding .MPG files in
preview mode.

Thank you Andy and Panraven for listening. It is appreciated!

Another freebie flew to me, simply because I bookmarked to my account, which in turn gets automatically posted to my blog.� Connie from Yugma left a comment and invited any blogger for a free one year account:

This is Connie from Yugma. On behalf of Yugma with our One Year Anniversary, I would like to thank you for mentioning us on your site and helping us to spread the word about our product. The blogging community had had an integral part in making Yugma one of the fastest growing real-time web collaborations services in 2007 with over 100,000 users to date.

To express our thanks, we’re donating/sponsoring Yearly Premium Yugma accounts (valued at $99.50) to bloggers who simply ask. To learn more about this program and how to get your sponsored Yugma account, check out the details on the Yugma blog  linked below.

Please be sure to check this out soon! The window to request your account through the Yugma Blogger Program will be through the end of January, 2008.

With Greatest Appreciation,

Connie and the rest of the Yugma Team

PS: Be sure to stay tuned! Yugma is set to release new features and improved performance in the next few weeks and months. To keep informed of all the happenings, check out under the news and blog.

So, you tell me if this is a new trend for companies? Are you happy about this trend? Is this a great way to get the word out through the blogger’s network? Or do you see this as another unsolicited spam-scam?

I� am very happy with this development. For now it seems that the companies are genuinely interested in bettering their service, make more people aware of their sites and in return for bloggers getting the word out, are willing to give away something of value (free subscriptions, pro accounts, etc.)

Let me know about other companies who should be commended for giving us educators a break for blogging about their services?