Saturday, January 30, 2010

Time to Update the Browsers on School Computers

"We can't do that because we're not allowed to update the browsers or install anything."

This is a comment I hear from teachers more often than I would like. For various reasons, some well-intended, technology administrators insist on locking down computers so that staff cannot install updates. Unfortunately, by prohibiting updates those administrators are preventing staff from accessing modern web resources. This is particularly true in the case of schools that are still using Internet Explorer 5 and 6 as their web browsers. If you're working in one of these schools and you use Google Docs and Google Sites, you should share the following information with your technology administrators. Beginning on March 1st Google will begin phasing out support for Internet Explorer 6 (and previous iterations of IE). You can read more about this news on the Official Google Enterprise Blog.

Three Places to Find Country Profiles

Comparing countries is a common assignment given to elementary, middle, and high school social studies students. Obviously, the required depth of analysis differs as the students get older, but there is some baseline data commonly used in all grades. The following are three good places for students to start their research for country comparison assignments.

The CIA's World Factbook is probably the most well-known collection of information for every country in the world. The World Factbook offers an interactive map that students can use to find information by clicking on a region or country. Students can also locate data by choosing a country from a drop-down menu.

The BBC offers a resource similar to the CIA's World Factbook. The BBC's Country Profiles offers data, but also includes some narrative paragraphs about each country. The BBC furnishes a short history of each country and has a timeline of key events for each country.

Wolfram Alpha can also be a good place to find data about countries. Simply enter a country's name into the search box on Wolfram Alpha and it will generate a list of data commonly used in comparing countries.

Week in Review - New Page View Records!

Every weekend I like to publish a list of the most popular items of the week. I also like to take this time to say thank you to everyone that has subscribed to Free Technology for Teachers, Tweeted about it, become a Facebook fan, or otherwise helped to spread the word about Free Technology for Teachers. This week, because of all of you, Free Technology for Teachers reached new highs for weekly page views and has exceeded the record of monthly pageviews with two days still left this month.

Here are the seven most popular items of the last week:
1. Audio Owl - Hundreds of Free Audio Books
2. Google Apps for Education - Security Whitepaper
3. Seven Places to Find Free Ebooks
4. Prezi Announces New Free Education Licenses
5. MOOM - Museum of Online Museums
6. State of the Union - Video, Transcript, and Wordle
7. Digital Directors Guild - Digital Storytelling Lessons

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