Friday, February 15, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Vacation!

I'm going on an ice fishing vacation at Moosehead Lake in Greenville, Maine for a few days. I'll be away from the Internet until Tuesday night. Wednesday morning I'll be back with more exciting and free web applications for educators. Have a great weekend everyone. Thank you to everyone who has subscribed to the blog and all those who have sent encouraging emails, it's good to know that someone is reading and enjoying web applications as much as I am.

Big Think - Expert Opinions

Big Think has been in public beta for a quite a while now, but I was waiting to see if it would take-off before writing about it. Now that Big Think has nearly 7,000 video commentaries, I feel that it is here to stay.

Big Think is a video website containing expert commentary on a wide range of issues and ideas. The experts featured on Big Think really are experts in their fields. Harvard Professors, editors of major news publications, politicians, and other recognized authorities offer their commentary on various issues and ideas. Registered users of Big Think can comment on and discuss the videos or post an idea to have others discuss.

Below is a video introduction to Big Think

Application for Educators
Big Think is a good resource to use with students when discussions arise about topics that lack clear cut answers. Students can compare their opinions with those of the experts. Big Think is also a useful resource for finding expert opinion for research or persuasive writing assignments.

Here is a sample video from Big Think in which Robert Thurman, Professor of Buddhist Studies at Columbia University responds to the question "where is China today?"

Free Technology For Teachers: Differences Between Men's and Women's Online Media Consumption

Nielsen Online has released a report about the differences between men's and women's online media consumption. The basic pattern the Nielson survey found was that men prefer user- generated media like Youtube while women prefer more mainstream media like that found on MSN or NBC.

Applications for Educators

As we know boys and girls often have different learning styles. This report from Nielsen (there is a planned follow-up study) suggests to me that teachers need to be aware of the online preferences of their students when selecting a web-application or website to use in the classroom.

Free Technology For Teachers: Youth Twitter

Youth Twitter is just like Twitter, but is designed specifically for students. Youth Twitter is micro-blogging for students. Students can participate in discussions about issues important to them and to the world. Finding a discussion to join is easy. To find a discussion students simply click on a tag related to the for which topic they're looking.

Applications for Educators
I've written about lesson ideas using Twitter before, you can read about those ideas here or here. There are two basic ideas for using Twitter. One way to use Youth Twitter is to start a conversation a
news topic and have students add their ideas and related news stories. Another way to use Youth Twitter would as a tool to have students write a collaborative story in a "mad libs" style.

Free Technology For Teachers: Open Culture Audio Books

Open Culture is a website that I read fairly regularly. The Podcast collection on Open Culture has a good list of audio books available for free download. If the book you're looking for isn't on Open Culture chances are you'll find it in one of the links to other audio book collections at the bottom of Open Culture's list. Check out the list here.