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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Visualization Charts in Google Docs

Google Forms and Google Spreadsheets are great tools for collecting and manipulating data sets. Today, Google announced some new enhancements to Google Docs that will allow you to do even more with your data sets. As a history teacher, I'm particularly excited to try out the new timeline slider function available in the motion chart. Other additions include more chart colors, font gauges, and organizational charts. Learn more about the new features in the video below.

Applications for Education
The new chart options in Google Docs forms and spreadsheets will enable students to collect data then manipulate into forms that will them and others interpret the data in the ways that make the most sense to them.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google for Teachers II - Free Ebook
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers
Google Fusion Tables - Data Visualization Made Easy

iPhone & iPad Apps for Special Education

Whether they're owned by students or provided by schools iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches are increasingly being used for academic purposes. Recently, Apple added a new category to the App Store just for special education. In the special education section of the App Store you'll find dozens of applications (both free and paid) for literacy, organization, emotional development, dictation applications, sign language, and more.

H/T to Audrey Watters at Read Write Web.

Teaching Collaborative Revision Using Google Docs

Earlier this evening Kyle Pace called my attention to a nice free publication from Google and Weekly Reader. Through Google for Educators Weekly Reader has published a small collection of pdf guides for teaching the collaborative revision process using Google Documents. Teaching Collaborative Revision with Google Docs includes step-by-step guides for using Google Docs, a set of four documents for student use, and a teachers' guide with suggested lesson plans.

Applications for Education
One of the things that I'm doing with Google Docs this year is creating public documents that my students contribute to as a review exercise. I create an outline of the topics we've covered in class and the students then work together to fill in the details. After the initial novelty of posting over each over wears off, the students settle in to refine and or expand upon each others' contributions to the outline. If you'd like some other ideas about having students revise each others' work online, check out Teaching Collaborative Revision with Google Docs.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google for Teachers - Free Ebook
Google for Teachers II - Free Ebook
A Fun Video for Introducing Google Docs

Strip Generator - Drag & Drop Comic Creation

Strip Generator is a free tool for quickly creating comic strips that was recently featured on Mashable. Strip Generator allows anyone, even people who claim they can't draw, to create a good-looking black and white comic strip. To create a comic strip all you need to do is select the number of frames you want then drag characters and objects into those frames. The menus for characters and objects are fairly extensive. Once you've selected a character or object you can adjust the size to fit your scene. Adding text is a simple matter of selecting a speech bubble and typing text. When you're happy with your comic strip you can save it online, print it, or embed it into your blog.

Applications for Education
Strip Generator could be a handy little tool for having students create short stories. Students could create short creative stories or short nonfiction students. One of the things that my special education students will be doing later this semester is creating short comics about daily life on 19th Century homesteads in the western United States.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:7 Resources for Creating Cartoons & Comics
Five Online Drawing Tools
20 Ways to Use Comics in Your Classroom

My Brainshark - Easily Narrate and Share Presentations

My Brainshark is a free service offered by Brainshark for easily narrating and sharing slide presentations online. Here's how it works; upload a slide presentation that you've created then use your computer's microphone to record your voice over each slide. If you don't have a microphone My Brainshark provides a phone number that you can call to create a voice recording. A new feature of My Brainshark allows you to have a background sound track as well as a narration track. Watch the My Brainshark demo that is embedded below to learn more.
Applications for Education
My Brainshark could be very useful creating lecturecasts to post on your course blog or website. If you decide to try lecturecasting try building assignment prompts into it. I recently made a lecturecast for one of my classes to watch on a day that I was going to be out of the classroom. After every three slides I included a short assignment that students had to do before watching the next section of the lecturecast. This broke-up the lecturecast into shorter, easily digestible sections.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Six Easy Ways for Students to Create Videos Online
FlixTime - Quickly Create Short Videos
Stupeflix Wows the Crowd!

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