Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New Google Earth Overlay Helps Users Find News by Location

Just when you think Google Earth can't get any better, they add another useful feature. According to Google's LatLong Blog, there is now a news layer available for use with Google Earth v4.3. Select the news layer from the options menu and as you zoom in on a location, news related to that area will appear. Click on the news snippet to read the full story or find links to more related stories. Click here to read the full directions. Click here to get Google Earth version 4.3.

Applications for Education
The news layer option on Google Earth is useful for students in global studies courses. Students can use this option to quickly locate news stories for the region of the world, country, or city they're studying.

How the World's Most Prolific Blogger Finds Material

More and more I get asked how I find enough material or time to blog as much as I do. My simple answer is that I scan more than 1,000 RSS feed items every day. But, I'm just an amateur blogger, I do it for fun, not for money (I haven't made enough to buy a bowl of cereal).

One of the people that I have gotten some great insight from about blogging and technology is Robert Scoble. Robert Scoble is one of the technology world's most prolific and influential bloggers. Scoble has more than 20,000 followers on Twitter and tens of thousands more read his blog or watch his videos daily. In this video shot by Center Networks at the Media Bistro Event in New York City, Robert Scoble talks about how he finds news and opinions. Scoble also discusses how new media is creating a "Worldwide Talk Show."

Here is the video.

Implications for Education
Is Robert Scoble correct, is new media and technology creating a worldwide talk show? I think he is. The challenge for educators is to prepare our students with the skills to be active, meaningful, participants in the worldwide talk show.

Google Earth - Global Warming Prediction Files

Google Earth Outreach and the British Antarctic Survey have created some great KML (Google Earth) files to demonstrate and predict the future effects of global warming. The first KML file features an interactive timeline and animations showing predicted changes in temperature around the world over the next 100 years. This first KML file also features interactive icons to use to explore the effects of global warming on people in different regions of the world.

The second KML file from the British Antarctic Survey demonstrates the retreat of the Antarctic ice shelves. Upon opening this file users will be able to use a predictive timeline to see the future retreat of the ice shelves. Additionally, users can explore a series of placemarks connected to ground level images of Antarctica.

Applications for Education
Google Earth is a powerful free program for use in the classroom. There are uses for Google Earth in science, math, geography, history, and literature courses. The KML files from the British Antarctic Survey can be used in science courses to study the effects of temperature change on the environment. Teachers may want to have students compare the effects of temperature change on different regions of the world and write explanations of the differences. The KML files from the British Antarctic Survey may also be used in geography courses to have students evaluate the impact of environmental change on the economic future of the inhabitants of a region.

Click here to install the latest version of Google Earth.

Is Twitter Down? Yes - Tell Us What You're Doing in the Meantime

Twitter is down again. Do you need to tell the world what you're doing? Leave a comment in 140 characters and tell everyone what you're doing while Twitter is down. Don't feel like leaving a comment? Then just enjoy this lovely ballad about Twitter from Allen Stern.

Find and Create Policy Maps

Policy Map from TRF (the Reinvestment Fund) provides an easy to use tool for building maps to illustrate demographic, economic, education, crime, and energy data. Policy Map also furnishes hundreds of datasets that are graphically illustrated on a series of maps.

The free map building portion of Policy Map allows users to customize a map based on existing datasets. The maps are based on the Pushpin mapping program which is quite similar to adding placemarks on Google Maps. In fact, I can't see any reason why the data on Policy Map couldn't be used on Google Maps.

The real utility of Policy Map lies in the data sets and preexisting maps. The maps and datasets provided by Policy Map cover almost every possible demographic statistic a student could need. Policy Map even has a series of maps generated around school related statistics.

Applications for Education
Policy Map has over 4,000 datasets related to
demographic, economic, education, crime, and energy. This collection of data and the corresponding maps are great resources for teachers and students to develop data analysis and inference skills. Students can use the data available from Policy Map build their own maps specifically related to their locality.

Below is an example of map built on Policy Map.

Free Animated Educational Movies

The Kids Know It Network is full of educational interactive games and movies intended for elementary school students. The Kids Know It Network hosts a number of animated videos explaining and demonstrating concepts from math, science, geography, and English. Each video starts with an introduction to a topic and is followed by a quiz. If a student gets less than 80% of the items correct they are prompted to start the video again.

The Kids Know It Network
has a lot of good activities and videos for elementary school students. The only complaint I can see some teachers or administrators making regards the placement of advertising links on the website. The placement of some of the advertising disrupts the continuity of some pages.

Another Cool Feature of Zoho Show

Today on the Zoho product blog, Arvind posted directions about using Zoho Show to make a remote presentation. The process seems pretty straight-forward and it doesn't require any software to be downloaded by you or your presentation attendees. Visit the Zoho Blog for step by step directions and a short how-to presentation.

Applications for Education
Zoho Show is a great web-based tool for creating slide show presentations. Most of my students actually prefer Zoho Show to Google Presentation because they feel that there are more editing options.
The Zoho Show live presentation tool may be a tool through which students can do some peer-editing of their classmates' presentations. The Zoho Show live presentation option could be a useful means for students to practice giving presentations online before presenting to a live audience.

Tech and Education Podcasts for the Week

Here are some of the podcasts I'm going to make time for this week. You'll notice that I've added a new podcast to my list of must listen to items.

Louis Gray is a Silicon Valley blogger and podcaster. This week on his podcast, Elite Tech News, Louis talks with Allen Stern of Center Networks and Mark Hopkins from Mashable. There are a few topics discussed on the podcast, but the one that interests me the most is, "Twitter signal or noise?" You can find Louis Gray's blog and podcast here.

This week on Tech Teacher Live, produced by Ron Kroetz, you will find Ron talking about a neat engineering project he has been working on with his middle school students. Ron's students are building model sailboats. As always you can find Ron's podcast in the widget embedded on the right side of this blog or visit Ron's blog and podcast to find out more about what he's up to.

Tom Grissom at Eastern Illinois University is asking and discussing a great question this week on his podcast Tech Talk 4 Teachers. Tom is discussing the question, "whose responsibility is it to create Web 2.0 accounts? Is it the teachers? Is it the parents? Is it the schools?" This is a very timely topic for me as my students just finished up a project in which many of them used PhotoShow or Zoho Show to create presentations. Some of my students learned the hard way this week just how important it is to follow the directions when you receive a confirmation email.

Finally, the guys at Wicked Decent Learning, have been a little swamped this week with teaching (their real jobs), power outages (ayuh, been to Jay, Maine), and general having a life stuff so they're a little behind in production. Not to worry though, they have a great topic planned for this week's show, "teacher-parent interaction." If you've been in the teaching profession for any amount of time, you probably have some parent horror stories. Jeff and Dan would love to hear those stories so shoot them a line over at Wicked Decent Learning and check back at the end of the week for their show.