Thursday, March 13, 2008

Google Sky

Google unveiled another free service today, the Google Sky web browser. The Google Sky web browser lets you view images of space in a web browser instead of having to install Google Earth. This is a great thing for teachers and students in school districts that haven't installed Google Earth on school computers and aren't allowed to install programs. (Yes, some districts really don't let teachers install any programs).

Google Sky offers great images of outer space captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Google Sky has images that have captured x-ray and infrared wavelengths. The Google Sky web browser also has some more basic images in a collection referred to as "backyard astronomy."

Here is a short video introduction to the Google Sky web browser.

Free Technology For Teachers: GorillaSpot - Free Video Editor

GorillaSpot is a new, free, video editor. GorillaSpot is completely web based so there is not any software to download or install. GorillaSpot users can combine video clips they find on the web or upload videos from their computer. Then add transitions, voice overs, or other effects to the video to make a high quality product. GorillaSpot is similar to Kaltura which I've reviewed in the past and I use with students.

Here is a short video demonstrating how GorillaSpot works.

GorillaSpot from GorillaSpot on Vimeo.

Applications For Educators
Combining video clips and adding voice over is the 21st century version of making slide shows. User generated video (Youtube, Viddler, etc) is what students use on a daily basis because they enjoy watching short videos that they or their peers have created.
Capitalize on this student interest and turn it into a learning experience. Instead of having your students make slide show, have them create a montage of video clips with a voice over explaining the significance of each clip. This activity works regardless of content area.

Free Technology For Teachers: LoudLit - Audio with Text mp3
is a good place to find free audio recordings of famous works of literature. Many websites do this, but what makes LoudLit unique and useful for teachers is the option of reading the text online while listening to the reading of the text.

Applications for Educators
LoudLit is a great resource for teachers of struggling readers. Students can use LoudLit to follow along with the reading of a text. Have students use individual computers to progress at their own pace.

Knowtes - Build Online Flashcards

Knowtes is a new web tool for making flashcards online or offline. Knowtes users can build a deck of flashcards or browse through decks created by others. Knowtes has many decks of flashcards already made for educators to use for free. The quick search I did today returned more than twenty decks of Spanish vocabulary flashcards.

The Knowtes library of flashcards can be downloaded to use offline. This is a nice feature if you need to study, but you cannot connect to the Internet. Knowtes is built on the Adobe Air platform so you'll have to install Adobe Air which you can do from the Knowtes website.

Applications for Educators
Knowtes is a great resource for finding or making all kinds of flashcards. The Knowtes library is full of ready to use decks of flashcards covering subjects appropriate from Kindergarten through college. The option to download a library of flashcards is the best feature of the Knowtes program. Students who have laptops can download flashcards and use them to study without having to find an Internet connection. For example, in the district where I teach every middle school student is given a laptop, but many students do not have Internet access at home. Being able to download study tools is very useful for those students.