Sunday, July 18, 2010

WikiPremed - Online Course and More

WikiPremed is a free online course designed to help students prepare for the MCAT. The course is free although according to the site some elements of the course are best accomplished by purchasing some printed materials. Part of WikiPremed offers a large gallery of drawings and images for teaching and learning concepts in chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and biology. The gallery of drawings and images is arranged into the four aforementioned categories which can be further refined through the use subcategory filters in a drop-down menu. All of the images and drawings can be reused in accordance with the licensing applied to them.

Applications for Education
WikiPremed is obviously designed for college students, but the gallery of images and drawings could be useful for high school science teachers. The gallery could be used by teachers as they design lesson plans or it could be used by students as they create content for their courses.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
The Interactive Periodic Table
A Taste of Med School - Stanford Mini Med School
Canvas Mol - 3D Models of Molecules

Hey Seth, How About Some Practical Ideas?

Warning: This post is a bit of an editorial rant. I rarely do this on Free Technology for Teachers, but this has been bugging me for a while and I need to get it off my chest.

This week a couple of videos (here and here) featuring Seth Godin made the rounds on Twitter and other networks. In both of these videos Godin takes the public education system to task for not producing creative thinkers and for producing students who lack initiative and subsequently sit around waiting for directions from their teachers and later their bosses. That doesn't bother me because Godin's not the only person to say such things and I believe those statements are accurate when applied to the majority of public schools. What bothers me about Godin saying those things is that he doesn't follow them up by offering any practical implementation strategies. What's worse is that he has a huge following of people (many of them wealthy and powerful) outside of education who will rally behind him and further take public education to task while again not offering any practical reform strategies.

Now before people jump on me for using too small of a sample size to judge Godin's statements on education; I've listened into live web conferences in which Godin eluded questions of practical reform implementation, watched a dozen videos featuring him, read one of his books, and listened to the audio of another of his books. In other words, I think I have a good handle on what Godin's all about. In fact, I like what he has to say about business, leading people, and his general cheese-moving qualities. But when it comes to education, I lump him in with all of the other people calling for reform in education without having stepped into a public school classroom and without offering any practical solutions.

I was venting about all of this on Twitter this morning when Colin Davitt asked who do I see as pointing out the problems and offering practical solutions. Here are some of the folks that are doing good work toward making practical change; Chris Lehmann, John Carver, Eric Sheninger, Patrick Larkin, and see my Twitter list of K-12 administrators for others. These people are in schools making changes happen at an administrative level. You can be out of the public school system and still make contributions to changing education. Wes Fryer, David Warlick, Scott McLeod, and others on my Twitter list of Ed Thought Leaders demonstrate that. And as classroom teachers we can stop wishing for permission and make changes happen in our classrooms, Lee Kolbert demonstrated that in her blog during the last school year. And as for me, I've sat in the hot seat because I don't wait for permission I go on the offensive with a case and evidence that almost requires a change of thinking. Nothing says "he's got a point" like hundreds of pages of research dropped on a naysayer's lap (yes, I literally did that once).

So Seth, have you got any ideas for us?

Create Augmented Reality Layers Without Coding

I've only covered augmented reality a couple of times on this blog (most notably here) because creating augmented reality content requires a level of coding skill well beyond that which I and most teachers and students possess. That could change with the launch of Hoppala. Hoppala is a new augmented reality layer creation service that launched late last week. Creating an augmented reality layer is a essentially a drag and drop process when using Hoppala. Watch the video below to learned more about creating augmented reality content using Hoppala.

Applications for Education
Hoppala could become a great tool for students to use to develop augmented walking tours of their communities. Augmented reality layers could also be developed to complement the content of stories that students write. For example, if students write a story based in their communities they could then create a physical walk-through of that story supplemented with augmented reality layers.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Augmented Reality in Plain English
ZooBurst - 3D Augmented Reality Books