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Monday, March 18, 2013

Street View of Everest Base Camp - And Other Resources for Learning About Mount Everest

The big news from Google today was the release of Street View imagery for Mount Everest, Mount Aconcagua, Mount Elbrus, and Mount Kilimanjaro. Those are four of what are referred to by mountaineers as the Seven Summits.


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The imagery doesn't take you to the summit of Mount Everest but you can take a look around base camp and the approach to it. The imagery may spark your students' curiosity about Mount Everest and if it does you will want to take a look at the following resources.

Panoramas.dk, hosts dozens of other interactive panoramas from around the world. Included in that list is a 360 degree interactive panoramic image taken from the peak of Mt. Everest. Using that panoramic image students can see what mountaineers see when they stand on the peak of Mt. Everest. The image includes views of the famous Khumbu valley as well as Everest's neighboring peaks Lhotse, Changtse, Makalu, and Nupste. The rest of the list of interactive panoramas includes views of cultural festivals and tourist attractions. The database of US panoramic views includes the Grand Canyon, the Jefferson Memorial, and two dozen other panoramas.

This Google Earth tour of Mount Everest's South Col route offers good views of the steps and camps along the way to the summit of Mount Everest. The South Col route is the route that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay used on the first successful summit climb. The South Col route is also the most commonly used route up Mount Everest.

Last year I read Mount Everest, The Reconnaissance 1921 which I downloaded for free from Google Books. In the introduction there is a three page explanation of the methods used to measure the height of Mount Everest. An explanation of the differences in measurements is also provided in the introduction. Part of that explanation includes differences in snow fall, cyclical deviations of gravity, and differences atmospheric refraction when observations were made. I'm not a mathematics teacher and will never pretend to be one, but reading that introduction did get me thinking about a possible mathematics lesson.

Snow in the Kingdom: My Storm Years on Everest by Ed Webster is one of the best books ever written about Mount Everest. If you enjoy good adventure stories and or stories about overcoming personal struggles, I think you will enjoy Webster's book. For my money, and I own two copies of it, it does a far better job of explaining how it feels to be on Mount Everest than any of the two dozen or so books that I've read about Mount Everest and the Himalaya. Ed Webster talks about the book and his experiences in the video below.

Wideo - Create Animated Videos With Voiceovers

Last month I introduced you to a neat video creation tool called Wideo. Wideo allows you to create short, animated videos and Common Craft like videos in your web browser. Today, Wideo announced that you can now upload your own audio files into your video projects. This means that you could record a voiceover and add it to your video.


WIDEOO REEL ENG NEW LOGO from Agustin Esperon on Vimeo.


Applications for Education
With Wideo's new voiceover tool you could really have your students creating explanatory videos in the Common Craft style. The art of Common Craft videos is the way in which confusing topics are boiled down to a concise explanation. If your students can do the same with a topic in your class, they can prove that they know the material.

My recommendation for a simple voice recording tool is SoundCloud.

Soo Meta - A Nice, New Way to Create Multimedia Presentations

Soo Meta is a new digital presentation tool from the same people that developed the YouTube remixing tool Dragon Tape. Soo Meta allows you to combine videos from YouTube, pictures from the web or from your desktop, text, and voice recordings to create a presentation. You can also pull content in from Pinterest and Twitter to use in your final product.

The Soo Meta editor is fairly easy to use. Create a free account to get started then open your browser to SooMeta.com/create/ and title your first project. After titling your project add a background image from your computer or from the web. Next pull in a video from YouTube. The video can be yours or any other publicly shared video. You can trim the start and the end time of the video in the Soo Meta editor. To add text just click the text box in the editor and type. Finally, to narrate a frame (Soo Meta calls them chapters) in your project click the microphone icon in the editor and make your recording. Completed Soo Meta projects can be embedded into your blog or website. I created a one chapter story about my dogs and embedded it below (press the green play button in the lower right corner).


Applications for Education
There are quite a few possible uses of Soo Meta in the classroom. You could have students create projects about in which they create book trailers using video clips, images, and their voices. Students could use Soo Meta to create a digital collage of media around a current events topic that they're studying. Soo Meta might also be used by students to create a showcase of their best digital works of the semester.

5 Free Tools for Providing Remote Tech Help

If you're the "techy" person in your school but you're not in the IT department sometimes your colleagues come to you with their tech help questions before heading to the IT folks. Sometimes those questions come over the phone and you find yourself trying to explain where to click next or struggling to understand the problem the other person is trying to explain. That's when it's handy to have a screen sharing tool readily available. Here are five that are quick and easy to use.

Quick Screen Share is a free screen sharing service from the makers of Screencast-o-matic. To use Quick Screen Cast just go to their website, select share your screen, and enter your name. Quick Screen Share will then provide you with a URL to share with the person with whom you are screen sharing. When that person opens the link you he or she will be able to see your screen. Quick Screen Share doesn't require you to install anything (assuming you have Java installed) or require you to register for the service.

If Chrome is your browser of choice, the Chrome Remote Desktop is a great screen sharing tool. Using the Chrome Remote Desktop App you can grant access to your computer to another person who also has the Chrome Remote Desktop App installed. If you want to share your desktop just click "share now" and Chrome Remote Desktop will generate an access code to give to the person who will access your computer. To access and control another person's computer you just need to enter the access code that they provide to you.

Screen Leap is a free screen sharing service that I've seen endorsed by a number of speakers at ed tech conferences this winter. To share your screen using Screen Leap just visit the site, click "share your screen," enable the Java applet, and send the sharing code to the person you want to view your screen. The person receiving your invitation code will be able to see your screen when you have Screen Leap activated.

Join.me is a service offered by Log Me In. Join.me allows Mac and Windows users to quickly share their screens with each other and work together. To use Join.me you do need to download the Join.me client. Once you've downloaded the client you can start sharing your screen with anyone you like. Just give your nine digit access number to your collaborators to give them access to your screen and to converse with you.

Screenhero is a screen sharing service that offers the option for both parties (the sharer and the sharee) to use their mice to control an application. For example, I can share my screen with you and allow you to move things on my screen. Likewise, I can move things around on your screen. By sharing our screens through Screenhero any desktop application becomes a collaborative application.

Math Trail - Map Based Math Trivia Challenges

Math Trail from HeyMath! is a series of map based math trivia challenges. Math Trail offers six thematic games. Each game follows a trail of locations that students have to find by using the clues provided. If they get stumped they can click "show location" but they lose the point value for the question. When they arrive at the correction location students have to answer the multiple choice math question presented to them before moving on to the next question in the trail.


Applications for Education
Math Trail provides a nice blend of geography questions and math questions appropriate for 5th to 7th grade students. You could create your a similar game yourself through Google Maps.

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