Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Searchme - Visual Search Engine

Searchme is a new visual search engine that will help students find and refine Internet searches faster than traditional search engines. When you type a search term into Searchme, it populates a list of categories that your search term could fit into. This is a useful feature for students who have trouble refining search engine results. Here is a screenshot of what happens when a search term is entered on Searchme.

The results of a search on Searchme appear as images on your screen. These images give you a preview of the websites returned by your search. Rather than opening and closing links, Searchme users can preview the pages of their search results without having to open a new browser window or tab.

Free Technology For Teachers: Technology Fear Factor

This video has been around for a while, but it's a good one to go back and visit from time to time. The video raises some good points about the frustrations teachers run into when trying to integrate technology into the classroom. I feel lucky compared to teachers in school districts, described in the video, that restrict nearly every blog, wiki, and social media application that could be used to engage students in the learning process.

What are effective ways of convincing administrators and school boards that restricting access to Internet applications that don't appear "educational" impairs the ability of teachers to help students develop 21st century skills? Certainly, circumventing a school district's filter is not an ethical option, but many high school and middle school students are already doing this. Should teachers join them if it means engaging students in education?

Free Technology For Teachers: Learn Hub

Learn Hub is online learning and tutoring meets social networking. Learn Hub is a resource for students to find free tutoring (or paid tutoring if you're so inclined), study activities, and online classes. Students can join a community of learners to share or borrow studying tips.

Applications for Educators
Teachers can use Learn Hub to create online classes, online study activities, or offer tutoring (both free and paid). Teachers can join communities and share lesson plans with other Learn Hub users.

If you're looking for a fun and educational game to play, Learn Hub has some fun trivia games you can play.

Free Technology For Teachers: Are the Skills of Digital Natives Going to Waste?

On there is an interesting article about a recent study in which recent college graduates were asked how often their technology skills are used in their daily jobs. The study found that more than 80% of graduates had learned and felt comfortable using common computer applications, but only about 50% actually have to use those skills at work. The article's target audience is clearly business managers, but the article still has some good lessons for educators. Click here to read the full article.

Applications for Educators
This article got me thinking about how many high school students have common technology skills (spreadsheet, PowerPoint, basic code writing, podcasting) that do not get utilized in school, but could be utilized in school. Take a quick survey of high school students and see how many of them can embed a video into a web site. Or ask how many high school students can name three ways to collaborate online. You will probably be surprised at how many of them have those skills. Then ask the same students how many times they have to use those skills at school. You will be surprised how few times they have to use basic technology skills.

Letting students use and show-off the technology skills they have can be a great way to engage students in their learning. When one of my special education students recently showed a regular education student how to embed a video into the wiki the class is creating, the look of pride in the special education student's eyes was amazing. Take advantage of the technology skills your students have, the results may surprise you.

Here is a quick reminder of what today's students are doing with technology.

Free Technology For Teachers: New Scientist

New Scientist has a good collection of short science videos that teachers may find useful.
The video embedded below is a simulation of a lunar landing.