Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wise Mapping - Visual Thinking

Wise Mapping is a new, free, collaborative mind mapping tool. Wise Mapping has fairly easy to use editing and sharing function. The each cell created in a Wise Mapping mind map can be dragged and moved around in the mind map without losing any text or text formatting. Wise Mapping lets users collaborate on the creation of mind map in the same manner that documents can be collaboratively written on Google Docs. Mind maps made on Wise Mapping can be shared with others via email, url link, or embedding into a blog or website.

Applications for Education
Mind maps are great way for students to organize their thoughts before writing a story or creating a presentation. A collaborative tool like Wise Mapping allows students, particularly visual learners, to organize
group projects.

Here is a simple mind map I made with Wise Mapping.

Here is a short video introduction to Wise Mapping.

Free Technology For Teachers: Google Earth Updates to Version 4.3

Google Earth, one of the most popular Google programs used by schools, other than the search engine, is now available in version 4.3 for Mac, Windows, and Linux users. Version 4.3 has some great new features like adjustable lighting options, new languages, new overlay options, and new navigation features.

The updated navigation tools in Google Earth v4.3 make it easier for new users to seamlessly transition from 2D navigation to 3D (street level) navigation. The new navigation features make it easier for users to navigate the tilt feature of Google Earth.

Applications and New Features for Educators
In the previous versions of Google Earth the only lighting option was mid-day sunlight. Now users can adjust the lighting to reflect times of the day. This is a nice feature for science and geography teachers to use to demonstrate how the angle of the sun relative to a fixed position changes throughout the day. This feature could also be used to demonstrate the influence of latitude on the amount of sunlight a place receives.

The newest version of Google Earth has a street view overlay option. Now when a teacher creates a fly over tour of places in Google Earth, street view maps can be added. Integrating street view maps into a Google Earth tour not only shows where a city is, but also what that city actually looks like.

If you're looking for more ideas about using Google Earth check out the Using Google Earth
blog. Google for Educators also has a great list of ideas about using Google Earth in the classroom.

Here is a short video about Google Earth's newest features.

Free Technology For Teachers: Decimal Squares

Decimal Squares provides simple games for students to use to develop their math skills. The games do not require an account to play and work on any web browser that has Flash plug-ins installed.

The games are best suited to middle school students, but could be used with upper elementary grades or with high school freshmen.

Free Technology For Teachers: The Twitter Song

Allen Stern at Center Networks posted this video on Monday. At first I thought nothing of it other than, "hey, that's a fun video." After couple of days of thinking about the video I realized that there is some value educators, especially tech educators, may find in it. This video is made by a NYU undergrad. The song talks about Twitter being better than Facebook. Two years ago Twitter was unheard of (in many circles it still is) and Facebook was all the rage with students (it still is). Four years ago Myspace is what students used to communicate. To me the content of this video represents the ongoing change and development in the technologies that students use, particularly the technology they use to communicate.