Sunday, February 7, 2010

"The Class" - Satire on Technology in the Classroom

I found this video through Professor Michael Wesch's blog.
If you're a fan of The Office, you will definitely appreciate this video. If you're not a fan of The Office, you will still notice that unfortunately too much of this video is an accurate reflection of what goes on in a lot of classrooms today.

The Problem With the Blogger Navbar - Fix It

The ease of use and integration with Google accounts, makes Blogger a very popular choice for teachers who are starting their first classroom blogs. But it's not without its faults in an education setting. The navigation bar that appears by default at the top of Blogger blogs can be useful for searching the content of your blog, but that "next blog" link can potentially lead your students to blogs containing content that is not appropriate for school. Removing that navigation bar (navbar) is actually a fairly simple task that anyone can do. I've outlined, with images (click to view full size), the process for you.

Disclaimer: Before you go and remove the navbar, keep in mind that some people consider removing the navigation bar to be a violation of the Blogger terms of service. That said, it's a gray area as many bloggers have removed the navbar and continue to use Blogger. You can read the TOS and make the decision for yourself.

Step One:
In your Blogger account select the "layout" tab then click the "edit html" link. If you're using a standard Blogger template you probably don't have to worry about downloading a copy of your current template, but it's not a bad idea to do it anyway. Downloading a copy of your template gives you an offline back-up in case you make a horrible mistake editing the html. If that happens just upload your back-up template and you're back in business.

Step Two:
Copy the following code and paste it directly below the "Blogger Template Style" section in the html. (see the screen capture to locate the proper placement)
#navbar-iframe {
display: none !important;


Step Three:
Preview the template to make sure you blog displays correctly without the navbar. If it does, click save and you're done.

Last week Wesley Fryer wrote about the importance of enabling comment moderation on student blogs. In that post he showed readers how to enable comment moderation on Blogger blogs. This post was inspired by Wesley's post.

Much of what I've learned about customizing Blogger templates has come from Blogger Buster.

Something a lot of Blogger users aren't aware of is that for just $10/year you can have your own custom domain for your blog. For that $10 not only do you get to drop the .blogspot on your url you get access to all of the Google Apps like custom branded email. You can learn more about that option in this video created by Google.

The Errors of Television Science

Last night I wrote a post about teaching forensic science through CSI Web Adventures. Those web adventures contain accurate science facts. However, the television show - as one of my colleagues often points out - often uses inaccurate science. This morning on Open Culture I saw this video from the Fox Sports Network's television show Sports Science. I had heard some of the "facts" from this episode mentioned by one of football experts on ESPN last week, but this morning was the first time I watched the Sports Science show.

I can't speak to the accuracy of the football science in the video, but as someone who trained with members of the 1996 and 2000 Olympic archery teams I can tell you that the archery references are completely inaccurate. In Olympic competition arrows are shot 70 meters (or 229.7 feet) not 20 yards (or sixty feet) as mentioned in the video. In the video they also use stock imagery of archery equipment which is not Olympic-style equipment.

Applications for Education
CSI and the Sports Science video prove what we already know, don't trust everything you see on television. As I was watching the video above I couldn't help but think that a lesson plan could be developed using by using a MythBusters approach to television or Internet videos. Select a television episode or video and have students fact check the "science" presented in the episode.