Thursday, February 28, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: World Wide Telescope

At the Ted Conference taking place this week, Microsoft's World Wide Telescope was introduced. The World Wide Telescope is a virtual telescope that can be used to explore the astronomy of the universe. For science teachers the World Wide Telescope will be a great resource for classroom use. The program is not available yet, but will be soon. The World Wide Telescope will be available as a free download this spring.

Here is a video of the World Wide Telescope being introduced at the Ted Conference.

Free Technology For Teachers: Advertising Education - Ad Decoder

The Ad Decoder game is produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The game appears on the B.A.M. (body and mind) section of their website. BAM is full of great resources for health and physical education teachers.

Applications for Educators
The Ad Decoder game is a great way to teach students to recognize deceptions in advertising. The game is simple, but provides students with useful information about advertising and the hidden meanings in advertising. The Ad Decoder has quizzes students can take regarding advertising. The Ad Decoder also offers an in-depth look at advertising practices which they call Under the Microscope.

Adapting to Shifts in the Media Consumption Habits of Students

A few years ago I began to notice a change in the attention span of teenagers when it came to watching videos in class. At first I thought it was because the videos were boring, but then I noticed that teenagers at the movie theater couldn't watch a movie without talking or text messaging. There is undoubtedly a shift taking place in the way people consume media. As educators we need to adapt in order to continue to engage our students.

One of the adaptations to the shifts in media consumption habits of students that I've made recently is in the type of media I use in the classroom and how the media is delivered. Rather than showing VHS (almost antiques now) or DVD videos, I have been locating and downloading videos from the Internet on the same topics as the old videos I used to show. I compile a short play list of videos from the Internet and show those videos interspersed into my lectures or lessons. The students can pay attention more consistently to four seven minute videos interspersed into a lesson better than they can pay attention to one thirty minute continuously played video.

It is not just the younger generation making a shift in media consumption habits. MediaPost Publications recently released a study of 80 million Americans' television and Internet viewing habits. In the study Media Post found that one of the major reasons Americans use the Internet or DVR for viewing television was to skip commercials and to take control of when they can watch a show.

Media consumption habits are changing and educators are seeing those changes in the classroom. How teachers adapt to changes is a crucial part of maintaining student engagement. What are your strategies for adapting to change in the media consumption habits of your students?

Open Source Video Player- Miro

Yesterday I downloaded and used Miro for the first time, I cannot believe I waited so long to try it. Miro is simply the best open source media player I've tried out, and I've tried many. Miro is video player that host thousands of video channels aggregated from major media outlets like the AP, CBS, PBS. Miro also aggregates content from user generated video websites like YouTube and Vimeo. The best feature of Miro is that every video you play can be downloaded directly to your computer for use at a later date. The advantage of a downloaded video is that you avoid skipping or stuttering videos resulting from slow Internet connections.

Applications for Educators
The uses for video in the classroom are almost limitless. Miro's shining quality for teachers is the ability to download and save quality educational videos for free. The mainstream media channels on Miro provide thousands of videos relevant to all content areas.

Miro can be downloaded for use on Mac and Windows operating systems. The video below demonstrates the use of Miro on a Mac.

This video gives a demonstration of some of Miro's features.

Free Technology For Teachers: Humanities in Maine

Here's a shameless plug for a blog my compadre, Jim Wells, has started. Jim plans to write Humanities in Maine with a focus on resources for humanities education. His first post is about keeping up with the news. I'm looking forward to great things from Jim.

Free Technology For Teachers: Google Sites- Google's New Wiki Platform

Google Sites launched today. Google Sites is Google's new wiki platform. I've previously written about using wiki programs in the classroom (click here) so I'll just summarize the uses for a classroom wiki.

A wiki is a great way to have students collaborate on the construction of a knowledge resource. For example, my students have just started to create wiki about Africa to which student will add one page of background information about an African country.

A wiki can be used to create a knowledge or tutorial resource for your students to access information directly related to your course. A math teacher that I work with has created a wiki containing practice problems and their solutions along with "how to" pages.

Google Sites is an application that I'm very excited about trying with my students. The current wiki tools on the market are powerful and useful, but competition usually brings about a better product across the market.

Below you will see a video introduction to Google Sites.

Free Technology For Teachers: Predict the News with Hub Dub

Hub Dub is similar to many other social bookmarking services in that readers can submit stories from all over the web. The unique feature of Hub Dub is that rather than just ranking news stories, users can predict the future of the news.

Applications for Educators
Hub Dub is a way for students to track a particular news story, make a prediction about that story, and compare their predictions to the actual outcomes. Students can compare their predictions to the predictions of others around the world using Hub Dub. Hub Dub exposes students to global perspectives on news stories.

Here is a short video introduction to Hub Dub.