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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Little Bird Tales - Digital Storytelling for Young Students

Little Bird Tales is a nice site intended for younger students to use to create digital stories. Little Bird Tales walks users through each step of creating a multimedia story. Users can upload images, draw images, or record from their webcams. Stories can be written with text or narrated by students using microphones connected to their computers. Watch the video below to learn more about Little Bird Tales.


Applications for Education
Little Bird Tales could be a good way for younger students to create fiction and non-fiction digital stories. When I tested Little Bird Tales, I used pictures of my dog and cats to illustrate and tell a short story about my pets.

Snag Learning Film - Louisiana Water Stories

This week's Snag Learning film of the week is SoLa: Louisiana Water Stories. SoLa: Louisiana Water Stories is a hour-long documentary about the environmental, financial, and cultural impact of the oil and gas industry on Southern Louisiana. The film also explains the roles of swamps and coastal wetlands and rivers in the economy of Louisiana. You can watch the film and find discussion questions here.
Watch more free documentaries

Beluga - Mobile Group Messaging

Update: As of December 15, 2011 Beluga is shutting down.

Beluga is a new service for sending messages to private groups you create within your mobile device's contacts. Beluga has free apps for Android and iOS devices. Beluga can also be used from the mobile-friendly Beluga website. You can use Beluga to send basic text messages to the groups you've created. Beluga also supports sending multimedia messages to your groups.

To get started using Beluga go to the site and choose the app you need. Then create your groups and start sending messages. If people in your contacts don't have smart phones they can still receive and send SMS messages.

Applications for Education
If you've ever taken a large group of students on a field trip, you know the stress that can come with keeping track of all of them and getting them all back on the bus. Beluga could be used by field trip chaperones to quickly communicate with and keep track of their charges.

NYU Joins the Open Courseware Movement

For a while now MIT, Yale, Stanford, and other notable universities have offered free access to entire course syllabi, lecture videos, and other materials to the public. Now NYU is getting in on the act too. NYU already had educational videos and podcasts on YouTube and iTunes. But now they're going to offer the entire content of some of their courses. In the current pilot phase, NYU is offering four courses; American Literature I, Introduction to Sociology, Genomes & Diversity, and New York City: A Social History.

H/T to Open Culture who hosts a list of more than 350 open courses.

Awesome Screenshot - Capture, Annotate, and Share

Awesome Screenshot is a great Chrome and Safari browser extension for capturing, annotating, and sharing screenshots. Once you've installed Awesome Screenshot you can simply activate it from your browser to capture a page or region on a page, draw boxes, draw lines, blur out information, and add text to your screenshot. When you're satisfied with your screenshot you can save it locally or share it via the url provided by Awesome Screenshot. Watch the short video below to see Awesome Screenshot in action.


Applications for Education
Whenever I'm introducing a new web-based service to students or colleagues, I find that having annotated screenshots available to them in either digital or printed form is very helpful. Annotated screenshots helps you avoid answering the same question ten times and allows people who are more comfortable to go ahead on their own. The annotated screenshots also provide a nice reference for students and colleagues when they're working on their own without immediate access to an instructor.

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