Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Street View of Paris added to Google Maps

Today, Google announced on their Lat Long Blog, the addition of street view images for Google Maps of Paris, France. Last summer Google had street views available for the Tour de France so it was only a matter of time before they added street view for the city of Paris.

Applications for Education
The addition of street views for Paris could be useful teachers of Geography, History, or French language and culture. In general Google's street view offers a means of taking a self-guided virtual of cities that they might not ever see in person.

Five Last Minute Debate Resources

Tonight is the final US Presidential Candidate debate. If you're in need of lesson plan ideas or resources for discussing tonight's debate or the 2008 US Presidential election in general, I have compiled a short list of resources which you will find below the video from CNN Student News. This video from CNN Student News outlines the history and formats of presidential debates. (If you're reading this in a RSS feeder you may need to visit the blog directly to see the video).

Resources for teaching lessons about the US Presidential debate and election.
The Living Room Candidate
Google 2008 Election Page and Maps
PBS Vote 2008 - Teachers and Students page
Analyzing the Language of Presidential Debates
C-Span Debate Hub

Free Music and Pictures for Schools

Angela Maiers shares a lot of good Internet resources with her followers on Twitter. A few days ago she shared a link to Soundzabound. Soundzabound is a source for royalty-free music that students can use in presentations, websites, and elsewhere. Most of the music requires the purchase of a licensing agreement from Soundzabound although there are some free 30 second loops that you can download. In addition to Soundzabound, you may want to try the Free Sound Project or Sound Snap (where I have gotten short loops for students to use).

Last week the Blog Herald published a list of five good places to find free and legal images. The list included Photo Dropper, Zemanta, Gum Gum, Pic App, and Voxant Newsroom. Of the five sources I've only used Pic App and Voxant Newsroom with students. Both are good places to find images related to stories in the news. If you or your students are looking for more images related to broad topics you may want to try Wikimedia Commons.

Applications for Education
As more and more students produce content that appears on the web the need for students to be aware of places to find legal sounds and images will increase. The image sources listed by the Blog Herald and the sound sources shared above are good places for students to find the media they need.

Apple Updates Products, But Doesn't Shrink Digital Divide

Disclaimer: I like most of Apple's products, in fact I use a MacBook for 90% of my work.

Yesterday, the blog-o-sphere was buzzing with the news of Apple's newest product updates. There are definitely some nice improvements to the Mac line of products. The entry level MacBook now comes in an aluminum case instead of plastic and the display has been improved. The MacBook Pro will have vastly improved graphics display as compared to the current MacBook Pro. All of the Mac laptops now have multi-touch track pads which is cool, but not a difference maker for me when choosing a laptop. Read more about the Apple product updates here, here, or here.

What Apple didn't reveal yesterday was a rumored $800 MacBook. However, Apple did announce that the retail price for the entry level MacBook has been reduced by $100 to $999. Unfortunately, the education discount for students, according to Allen Stern at Center Networks, is now only $50 instead of $100. This still represents a $150 decrease in price over the old pricing structure. As of this writing the Apple Store website has been down for over 16 hours so I have not been able to confirm Allen's report.

I like most of Apple's products and I use them a lot and I think that Apple does some very good things for the education community. However, the prices of their products put the products out of reach for many school districts and for many students. As long as PC makers continue to offer lower cost products, students and schools in less affluent areas will continue to use computers operating on Windows and Linux. Unless Apple begins to offer lower cost laptops or netbooks they're not doing anything to shrink the digital divide between the "have's" and "have not's" of school districts. Then again, maybe Apple likes the divide.

What are your thoughts about Apple and the digital divide? What needs to happen to shrink the digital divide? Do computer manufacturers have a responsibility to help shrink the divide or is it purely the responsibility of state departments of education and local school districts?

Update: The Apple store is back online and I have confirmed that Allen Stern was right, the education discount for teachers and students is now only $50 on the basic MacBook.