Thursday, June 3, 2010

Historypin - Historical Images in Google Streetview

Historypin is a new service developed by We Are What We Do in partnership with Google. Historypin allows anyone with a Google account to place images within the setting of current Google Maps Streetview imagery. If you don't have images to add, you can simply explore the imagery added by others. To explore the imagery on Historypin, zoom in on a location then select a range of dates on the Historypin timeline. Learn more about Historypin in the video below.

Hat tip to Google Maps Mania for the info about Historypin.

Applications for Education
Historypin could be a good resource for history students. Students can insert images into Historypin to compare past and present views of cities from a street level perspective. Students may also enjoy taking old photos of their parents or grandparents and putting them into modern settings.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers
Historic Maps in K-12 Classrooms
Maps of War - Animated Thematic Maps

Story Cove - A World of Cultural Stories

Story Cove is a free service that hosts audio and video stories based on the folktales from a variety of places and cultures. In all there are twenty-five stories hosted on Story Cove. The stories are divided by their continent of origin. Each story is intended to convey a lesson on culture and society. The stories can be watched as videos or listened to as audio-only recordings.

Story Cove provides a nice selection of lesson plans to accompany each of the stories in its collection. The lesson plans are in PDF form and include handouts for students. The lesson plans are categorized by story and by grade level, pre-K through grade 3. Story Cove also provides printable activities like mazes and word searches to accompany each story.

Applications for Education
Story Cove could be a good resource for early childhood and elementary school teachers. Through the videos and audio recordings the stories are accessible to students even if they cannot yet read on their own.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Barnes & Noble Passport to Summer Reading
Word Ahead Vocabulary Videos
WeboWord - Vocabulary Visualized

Buying Stuff Won't Fix Your or My Problems

Reminder: This blog does not represent the official position of my employer or any other organization with which I'm affiliated. And for the record I like and use Apple products everyday. This isn't a rant against Apple.

A couple of days ago I finally got a chance to handle an iPad. As I shared on Twitter, I left the experience feeling underwhelmed. Posting that comment sparked one of the best Twitter conversations I've been a part of in the last few weeks. The conversation revolved around the idea that while the iPad may be a "magical" device for some consumers, it probably is not a good purchase for most schools. On the heels of that Twitter conversation I came into school today and was asked by a colleague if I had heard about another district in our area that is purchasing iPads for its students and faculty. My colleague thought that purchasing iPads for students and faculty is a wonderful idea while I replied with something to the effect of, "they'd be a waste of money for our school."

There's really no denying that the iPad offers some fantastic applications. In fact, if I had a spare $500 (which I don't) I'd be very tempted to buy an iPad because I think it would be a wonderful way to consume information while sitting on my couch or while on a plane (even my netbook doesn't open all the way in most coach seats). And if my school had money to burn (which it doesn't, does any school?) I'd probably recommend purchasing them, as a secondary device, too.

We've just completed our first glitch-filled year of being truly 1:1 school-wide. (I piloted various other laptop and 1:1 systems during the previous two years in my classroom). This year has seen some of our teachers take great strides toward integrating the use of netbooks into their instruction. At the same time, other teachers didn't change a thing other than having students type their lecture notes rather than write in a notebook. Putting an iPad into those teachers' hands isn't going to change that. More time working with me and some of my other colleagues will change that.

What really makes me cringe is hearing about schools that aren't 1:1 plunking-down thouands of dollars for iPads instead of netbooks or consumer-grade laptops. The limitations of the iPad when it comes to creating content makes it a poor purchase if that's the school's attempt to improve their students' learning experiences. Furthermore, if you still have faculty that struggles with fundamental skills like creating presentations or searching the web, how's an iPad going to change that?

Bottom line: I think the iPad is a neat device, but I won't be buying one anytime soon. Nor will I be recommending that schools buy them instead of netbooks or laptops. That said, I think I do understand why schools would buy them as secondary devices for students. What I'm curious about is schools that are buying iPads to be the primary device in a 1:1 environment. If your school is doing that, please leave a comment. Why are schools purchasing iPads instead of netbooks or laptops for 1:1? What am I missing in this picture?