Tag Galaxy – a new way to look at Flickr pictures

You have to check out Tag Galaxy a 3D Flickr image search engine!  First enter a tag, and a related galaxy will appear on your screen. Each planet contains the pictures of a certain tag, and when you click on them, the images are placed on a globe.  Your can rotate the orbe until a picture catches your eye.  Click the pictue and it will expand – click it again and it grows larger and will give reference to the Flickr site the picture comes from.  Sure, you can go to Flickr.com and search the traditional way – but exploring this way is just more fun!

World Wide Telescope – Microsoft’s answer to google earth?

Microsoft Research recently released its free World Wide Telescope application. The WorldWide Telescope draws on more than 12 terabytes of imagery from several orbiting and land-based telescopes.  The desktop application downloads the images on demand and stitches them together to form an interactive, browsable universe supplemented with information from top astronomical databases.

It also allows the user to take “Guided Tours” that astronomers and others have put together.   I thought it was pretty cool!

You can check it out at: http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/

High School Online

Click on the image to view the entire article. This is a good indication of where high school education is going. What do we need to do to make sure our district is ready for this?

Hippocampus

I happen to be reading the latest issue of Campus Technology when I stumbled on an article “Online Learning Management: Your 5 Best Tips for No-Fail Productions“. This article lead me to a website called hippocampus.org and was amazed to what is available – for free! There is tremendous amount of coursework , text, and multimedia applications that correlates with most major textbooks. This could provide a valuable resource for teachers as well. Check it out!

The end of Textbooks?

This weekend I had time to read a few of my technology magazines and I found a journal that sparked my interest. The Spring 08 Threshold magazine had several articles that talked about the future of education. I was increasingly engaged in the article that discussed open textbooks and courseware. I related to the challenge of moving from the dewey decimal system (printed, linear, time-limited) to google keywords (digital, changing, always available) in the current school settings. One issue in todays curriculum is relating real world applications and tools. (Try doing that with textbooks that are 5 years old!) With Web2.0, new ideas are transforming the classroom – including open source textbooks! Open source textbooks not only allow content to remain current, but also provide a wealth of resources to support deep learning for the learner.

The article goes on to state that, “It (movement) is happening so quickly that the way the brains of our children are conditioned to handle data is fundamentally different than in the past, and very different from the brains those currently responsible for formal education.”

Here are a couple of links from the article(s) that I suggest to look at if you want to learn more:

What kind of real world application would students get out of their classrooms if they were able to collaborate with each other and write their own curriculum? This may be an “out of the box” thought, however, with the tools available today – it is possible!

Voice Thread

Last week, as I was in JITT (Just In Time Training) at the Middle School, Christine J. introduced me to a new tool that has quite a bit of potential! It is called Voice Thread. How cool would it be to use a tool like this to be able to comment, collaborate, or even debate photographs or videos. Voicethread is a Web-based digital-storytelling application that allows users to share their stories through audio, images, videos or text. It also allows visitors to make comments on their stories in five different ways:

  • voice with a microphone
  • voice with cell phone
  • text
  • audio file
  • video with a webcam

The stories can be shared with anyone in the world or they can be kept private for selected individuals. Like many Web 2.0 applications, you can get a free basic account as well as a VoiceThread Pro account with unlimited creation and advanced features for a fee. However, VoiceThread is offering free educator accounts for all k-12 classroom educators.

It didn’t really dawn on me how valuable this (FREE) tool was until I was at JITT at the Elementary School talking to Mapuana about her penpal program with students from India. We were discussing ways each classroom could collaborate with each other using todays 21st century tools. Since we have a 12 hour time difference – tools like Skype would not work so well. I think Voicethread could be the ticket! Wouldn’t it be cool for each class to take a picture of something meaningful in their communities, upload it, and invite the other class to comment/collaborate on it? If you would like to learn more – I invite you to watch this VoiceThread presentation, What is VoiceThread Anyway? I am very interested if any of our teachers decide to use this program and how they use it! TOO COOL!

Doodle for Google – Contest

I recently heard about an exciting competition run by Google and thought you might be interested. It’s called Doodle 4 Google, and it offers students all over the country the chance to design the Google logo, and perhaps have their artwork viewed by people all over the world.

The Doodle 4 Google theme is “What if…?” Here are some examples of what this could mean:

– What if…I could live underwater, or in outer space, or in Colonial America?
– What if…I could see into the future?
– What if…I could build any kind of invention I wanted?

But your students are encouraged to come up with their own ideas about this theme. The competition is open to K-12 students between 5 and 18. An expert panel will pick 40 finalists who’ll be invited to a workshop with Google’s official doodler, Dennis Hwang, at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California. The U.S. public will vote for their favorites, and the winning design will replace the regular Google homepage on May 22, 2008. This champion doodler will receive a $10,000 college scholarship and his or her school will receive a $25,000 technology grant.

How to participate?

Please visit www.google.com/doodle4google. You’ll find all the dates and resources you’ll need to get your school involved, including detailed lesson plans to help incorporate the competition into your curricula. School registration closes on March 28th and doodle entries must be received by April 12th, 2008.

I have already registered our district, any teacher or student interested in participating should contact me!