Tuesday, September 25, 2007
PBWiki has become popular because of its ease of use and its word processor-like wysiwyg interface. Now there is a new wiki for the more random, left-brain, creative types: PikiWiki. PikiWiki is like doing a scrapbook, you start with a blank sheet then paste text, pictures, video, audio anywhere on the page. Each item on the page is like a note. If you don't like the look of your page you can slide the notes around to suit you. There are also tools to help you with the alignment of your items. The concept is good and should prove popular to teachers who embrace wikis as classroom tools. Click here for a sample page I put together using PikiWiki.
Keep in mind, PikiWiki is in a public alpha which means this wiki site is just getting started and still has bugs to work out. One problem is the site does not show the page history which shows page comparisons detailing the evolution of a page. Since you cannot see the page comparisons, you cannot restore an earlier version of the page if someone attempts to sabotage the page (we all know students who might try this). Once the kinks are worked out of the system, the people of the PikiWiki told me they will, PikiWiki should become a great tool for teachers and students.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
This trend may sweep the United States in the near future. Brain Age for Nintendo DS has been a top seller, drawing adults to purchase the portable gaming devices. The publisher recently released a sequel, Brain Age II which has inspired a bundle package with a special edition Nintendo DS. Other "brain training" games have sold well in the U.S. as well. The Nintendo Wii is also drawing praise for making players physically active, which is drawing traditionally non-gamers into the market. Soon Americans should see some of the educational and self-improvement games currently popular in Japan.
What has this got to do with schools? Last year I attended a break-out session on gaming at the South Carolina EdTech Conference. The presenters in that session pointed out something educators should take note of. In most games, to get to the next level you must master assigned tasks. Players will try different tactics, research the game, and/or work with other players to achieve the goal of advancement. Now imagine a game where a player must have a knowledge of math, science, history, etc..., to play a game and we are not talking about repetitive drills either. The hero must solve a geometry problem to cross an obstacle, then use history to crack a code, a knowledge of science to figure out a way out of a trap. If the game is interesting enough, students will flock to their textbooks or the internet to help them play the game. With the mark-up in educational software, this could prove lucrative to game designers.
Gina Hughes Yahoo Blog
Learning Game, Newsweek International
Thursday, September 20, 2007
While the video David Warlick showed may have looked simple it may have taken many hours to produce given existing software a couple of years ago. Now similar videos can be created through an online application called Animoto. Just select the digital pictures you wish to use, about 12-20 for a 30 second video, add some music you can import or use music provided by Animoto, and the application will do the rest. Videos can be e-mailed or posted online to blogs or social networking sites.
30 second clips are free but longer videos will cost $3 each. Not a bad price considering what has been spent on supplies for more conventional projects. If you find yourself creating more than 10 videos per year then there is a $30 option that allows you to create unlimited videos per year. Students can now put together picture essays with the right music that no one could ever sleep through.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
BCSD Smart Board Lesson Plans
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Won't websites do the same thing? Yes but you have to login to your website or boot the software, make your changes, save your work, then post it on the Internet. With Pownce, a teacher can have the site open on their web browser. When they need to post something, they just type it in, add any attachments, then click the send button. Students can view postings on the site directly or can subscribe using RSS news feeders. Teachers can also post any changes to an assignment just as easy.
Pownce is still in beta and users can join by invitation but when they open up to everyone, I will let you know.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
"Teachers who are using blogs, social-networking sites, and video-sharing sites in school settings are giving young people the opportunity to tune their thinking and writing to a larger audience. When students know that anyone in the school with an Internet connection – or around the world, for that matter – can read what they have written or created, it is remarkable how quickly their thinking improves, not to mention the final product."
Mr. Franek's next observation might not get him invited to Friday after school happy hours with his fellow teachers in many schools, "The first dinosaurs into the tar pits of tomorrow will be teachers who refuse to adapt to new technology." This is fairly strong language. I know teachers who absolutely refuse to adapt because they believe their overhead projectors and slides with a video thrown in occasionally are all the technology they need to do their jobs. They are not lazy teachers either, their students score high on Advanced Placement exams. What they don't realize are students are comfortable with blogs, social-networking sites, and video-sharing sites and know how to make them work. These are the tools students will be using when they join the working world.
However, since these teachers perform, administrators are willing to over look these technological shortcomings and this is understandable. Yet, I sometimes wonder how the students of these high performing teachers students would feel if these teachers decided to update technology skills. What would happen to scores of the free response sections AP exams if students practiced using blogs going to millions of readers (some of whom might be experienced exam readers) instead of papers going to one teacher.
Web pulls world into classroom
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Tne Apple products that should have schools rethinking their stance on electronic devices: the iPod Touch and is brother the iPhone. Let's put aside the phone and music players functions for a moment and focus on the Internet feature and its value to the classroom. The iPod Touch and iPhone have the ability to receive Wi-Fi which allows the devices to connect to the Internet wirelessly. The Sony Play Station Portable also has the capability to connect to the Internet wirelessly. This means another portable device that can be used to conduct Internet searches and use online apps such as Google Docs. Unlike the PSP, the Apple devices do have keyboards for easier input.
The problems with the iPhone and the iPod Touch are being a phone and a music/video player. This means administrators will have to weigh the benefits of Apple's devices and eventual clones against the devices seen as disruptions in the classroom. All-in-one devices which have Internet, phones, music players, etc... are only multiplying. Another thing, while the cost of both the iPhone and iPod Touch are still prohibitive for the average student they are cheaper than previous devices with similar features. It is just a matter of time before students will have devices that have educational benefits (Internet, writing tools, book readers) in the same package with educational taboos (phones, music players, texting) stuffed in their book bags. Now should be a time to start thinking about they will be received when they come to school.
ARS Technica article
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Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Duke University writing professor, Bradley Hammer, claims students are writing more today than in the past due to blogging, posting on social network sites, text messages, and e-mail. While they are not writings in the classical sense, he claims "...blogging and all online communication open the door for people of all ages to write, express an opinion, then back it up and defend it." There are two point that can be learned from this:
1. Like it or not, blogging and texting are not going away. They have become the pencil and paper of the new age and our students are comfortable with it. Students are using these tools to do all kinds of writing on their own.
2. Students need to learn that writing is a useful tool to convey thoughts and ideas when done properly. If writing is not done properly, then it can become a very destructive weapon.
Teachers do not have to accept the attitude of 'well its their way of doing things and I will never understand it' or . While I like technology and advocate its use in education, I have always believed the ability to write will serve one well in life. Teachers will have to accept the changes in the technology then guide their students on better ways to use it by incorporating it in their curriculm but still insist on quality when writing. Think about this, your students are writing to a potentially large audience (yes they are). Like it or not their writing is a reflection on you.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
TechCruch reports Swatchbox Technologies launched DesignMyRoom which allows users to decorate rooms online. The idea is simple, select a room then decorate it by dragging and dropping furniture, accents, paint, or anything needed to create your dream room. You can only have one project for free (no word on pricing for multiple projects) but you can upload your project for others to see. Also, if you wish, projects can be altered by other users. One feature I liked was that you are using real products with pricing information and links to a store so you can purchase them.
DesignMyRoom could make a wonderful art project for just about any grade. With the thousands of choices students could make some interesting creations. The drag and drop interface is easy but placement may take some practice. The cost listing feature of products would allow teachers to set a budget for the project. This would be a great assignment for economics students learning about personal finance. Finally, since uploaded projects can be altered by other users, assignments can be cooperative as well.
DesignMyRoom - Very Useful Tool For Virtual Interior Design
DesignMyRoom launched this afternoon - It’s a new product from a company called Swatchbox Technologies that allows people to decorate a real room virtually via a photograph of the room and DesignMyRoom’s library of stuff. Previously the company, which has been around for 11 years, sold 2 million copies of desktop software that has similar functionality as the online tool.
If you thought MyMiniLife was cool, wait until you spend some time playing around with this.
The first step is to pick an empty room, or upload a photo of your own room. You then start decorating it by adding a floor, paint, fixtures, furniture, etc. I made my own room during testing - see the before and after photos above. I also made the project public, so anyone can log in to it and make changes. Have at it.
Objects can be resized, rotated and moved around the room. The next step, the company says, is to allow users to upload their own images and insert them into the room. They’ve also paid attention to details - notice the shadows behind the clover and the lamp, for example, and the light coming into the room from the windows.
It also would be great if they created an embeddable version of the projects (something I assume they’ll do eventually).
There is a clear and really good business model here - selling people the real stuff once they’ve seen it virtually in their room. The company also makes money through product placement and other advertising.
Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0
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