Monday, September 1, 2008

Google Is Launching Chrome - Will You Try It?

Google has announced that tomorrow (or later today if you're reading this in Asia or Australia) they will be launching a new web browser named Chrome. Google says that the browser is going to be completely different from those on the market now because Chrome is designed for people using the Internet as a productivity tool. In other words it's designed with people like me in mind. People that use Google Docs or Zoho Writer instead instead of Microsoft Word, Open Office, or Apple Works. In looking at the promotional materials for Chrome a couple of features really shine in my eye.

Google says that the browser will operate in a multi-threaded, non asynchronous system. What that means is that instead of each part of webpage loading sequentially, they will load in a tabbed style. Why does this matter? Loading pages in this manner should prevent slower processes like loading Java scripts from slowing or paralyzing the browser. For example the grade book and student management system where I work runs Java script while my grade book is loading I cannot do anything else with my web browser. Using Google's Chrome web browser that problem should be resolved.

The second feature that I like is a task manager for Chrome. Just like a task manager for your operating system that shows you which processes are slowing your computer, the Chrome task manager will show you the websites that are slowing your browser. This doesn't impress me as much as structure of the web browser itself, but it will be a useful tool for diagnosing the cause of browser slow down.

Google Chrome will only be available for Windows when it is released, but they say that a version for Mac and Linux is on the way. Chrome is an open source project so I'm hopeful that there will be many people building extensions and improvements as Chrome gains users. I'm going to install Chrome on my Gateway laptop as soon as I can, just to try it out, but I'm very much looking forward to trying it on my MacBook. Will you try Chrome? Do you think the concepts of Chrome will make a difference in your Internet experience?

First Hand Accounts of Hurricane Gustav

iReport is a CNN product that applies the YouTube concept to citizen journalism. Right now iReport is featuring a Google Map with "i" placemarks representing reports about Hurricane Gustav from citizens in the Gulf Coast region.

Applications for Education
In the case of a major storm like Hurricane Gustav, iReport offers visitors images and content that they might not see on television or in print media. iReport is an interesting place to get the "real story" from citizen journalists. Just as with a blog or wiki entry, visitors will, at times, need to be able to discern the truth through bias. For that reason, using iReport for stories that are politically sensitive might not be a good option for students younger than high school age. In fact, I recommend screening for language any video from iReport before showing it to a classroom full of students.

In Case You Missed It

August was a busy month for Free Technology For Teachers. The number of subscribers nearly doubled and there were 9700 page views.
In case you missed them, here are the five most read blog entries for the month of August, 2008.

1. Free Classroom Supplies
2. 101 Free Learning Resources
3. Animoto for Education - The End of Boring Slide Shows
4. Free Online Flashcards
5. Increasing Teacher - Parent Communication

To make sure that you don't miss any of the most popular content in September, please consider subscribing in an RSS reader or to the email subscription list. Both options are available in the upper right hand corner of the blog.

New Podcast - The Benefits of Blogging

I just published a new podcast episode. This episode is about ideas for utilizing a classroom blog.
There are five resources that I mention in this episode.
Google Calendar

Listen to the episode here or use the podcast widget in the right hand column of the blog.

Teaching Spanish - Resources and Lesson Plans

Once again, my network of Twitter contacts has brought me to some great resources. On Friday, I impressed a couple of foreign language teachers at my school by showing them The Realia Project which I learned about from Karen. Karen writes the Teaching and Learning Spanish Blog. The Teaching and Learning Spanish Blog has a lot of great resources for Spanish teachers and students. Right now there are some short animated videos on the front page. These videos seem like they could be good resources for elementary age students. Below each of the videos Karen has posted a list of keywords and key phrases that students should recognize in the video. I've embedded one of the videos below, but you'll need to visit the Teaching and Learning Spanish Blog to read the list of keywords.

Spanish Lesson Plans for Children is another great blog for Spanish teachers and students. The author of the blog, Jessica, shares her experiences teaching Spanish to her own children. The blog is much more than just a collection of experiences. There are great lesson plan ideas and links to other Spanish teaching and learning resources throughout Spanish Lesson Plans for Children.

Visit the Teaching and Learning Spanish Blog for keywords and phrases to learn from the video.

Hurricane Tracking Resources

Hurricanes and other major storms provide science teachers with an opportunity to integrate current news coverage with technology into one lesson plan. Google Lat Long and the Google Earth Blog have both posted KML files to track Hurricane Gustav. Below is a short video about using Google Earth to track storms. The video was created by Frank Taylor from the Google Earth Blog.

Applications for Education
The same concepts used to track Hurricane Gustav on Google Earth can applied to other storms. So if you're not up to storm tracking in your curriculum yet, take a look at the video now and use the concepts to track other storms later in the school year. For those of use in snowy climates, tracking snow storms in Google Earth might be a fun way for students to try to predict whether or not school will be closed for a day.