Friday, May 2, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Build Your Own Educational Game With Popfly

Educational computer games and websites are great, but sometimes it would be nice to alter a game for your students' specific needs. Using Popfly a web-based tool from Microsoft you can make a mashup of games or websites to find your needs. The mashup interface on Popfly is a simple drag and drop system.

Popfly also has, in alpha stage, a game creation tool that does not require users to know any type of code. Popfly's game creator is designed for those of us who love simple drag and drop interface. But, if you are into coding, you can create your own elements to add to your games.

Popfly is web-based and operates completely inside your browser, but you do need to download and install the Silverlight browser extension. The installation is quick and easy and works with most web-browsers. The game creator is still in alpha stage and I did run into a couple of glitches with one character element not working like I expected, but overall it looks like it's a very good product. Microsoft has created a Popfly wiki for users to find and share information about the game creator.

Here's a video demonstration of the mash-up aspects of Popfly.

Applications for Education
Popfly is a good tool for making games or web pages to meet the specific needs of your students. The games created with Popfly can be embedded into a web page or used directly on the Popfly website.

A fun assignment for students to do with Popfly would be to create a game of their own to reflect their knowledge of a subject or concept. No one knows computer games better than students so have the students play, test, and review each others' games.

Free Technology For Teachers: More Google Earth Resources

The number of websites and resources about using Google Earth in education is amazing. Every time I search for Google Earth resources I find something new and different. The Google Earth Education Community is a web page written by teachers in Arizona. There is a nice collection of placesets related to using Google Earth in science, history, art, and literature courses.

Applications for Educators
One of the great things about searching the Internet for education resources is that it always sets off a brainstorm of ideas for lesson plans. The Google Earth Education Community has some resources and ideas for lessons that I haven't seen in too many places. The literature section offers a great idea for using Google Earth to create maps of places in famous fiction literature. The sample given suggests using Google Earth to create tours of places mentioned in Shakespeare's writings and the places Shakespeare visited.

If you're looking for help learning to utilize some of the different features in Google Earth, the Google Earth Blog provides some good instructions and tutorials.

Free Technology For Teachers: My Happy Planet - Peer to Peer Language Lessons

My Happy Planet is a social networking website for connecting people who are trying to learn a new language. Getting started with My Happy Planet is a simple process, select the language you speak and the language you want to learn and My Happy Planet will generate a list of people who can help you learn. My Happy Planet is networking website so if you want you can create your own profile page just as you would with other social networking services.

Applications for Education
My Happy Planet could be used by high school students to find peer tutoring in a foreign language. The social networking aspect of My Happy Planet helps students to realize the use for fluency in foreign languages and cultures to participate in the global economy. My Happy Planet allows users to block people they do not want to be contact by. Users of My Happy Planet create privacy settings so that only people they contact can view their profile.

Sharing a Video Just to Create a Happy Feeling

Just sharing this video because it's a nice sunny morning in Maine, USA today.