Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Nibipedia - Wikipedia Meets YouTube

If you have ever searched Wikipedia and thought, "there should be a video about this," you're not alone. Troy Peterson and his colleagues had the same idea and acted on it by creating Nibipedia. Nibipedia is the result of matching Wikipedia entries to YouTube videos. Here is how it works, search for a video and while you're watching that video you will see links to related Wikipedia content as well as more related videos. So far most of the matching of Wikipedia entries to videos has been done by a small group of people but now Nibipedia is looking for more teachers to try out a special teachers only beta. If you're interested in participating in the beta, please send me an email rbyrnetech at hotmail or send me a direct message on Twitter.

I was first introduced to Nibipedia about three weeks ago. I used the Nibipedia beta with four of my high school students in the week before Thanksgiving. Started out by having students watch videos related to the US Civil War and matching Wikipedia entries to the videos. My students really enjoyed being able to quickly find information related to the references made in each video.

The second time I had students try out Nibipedia I let the students explore whatever interested them. One student explored information about China while another explored information about the CERN Large Hadron Collider. The best part of using Nibipedia in the classroom on that day was watching my students explore the things that interested them and get lost in academic content in a way that they might not explore books on a library shelf.

Applications for Education
Nibipedia could be a great research resource for students. The matching of video to text can help to make difficult concepts more accessible to some students. If your students are struggling to choose a research topic that interests them, let them explore Nibipedia for a while and see if that sparks an interest.

Below is the official press release from Nibipedia.
In an attempt to harness the power of free media and the web-engaged knowledge community, two entrepreneurs from Stillwater, MN have developed a new teaching tool that allows users to annotate web videos with links to Wikipedia articles.
The new application, currently running on a web site called Nibipedia (, allows viewers to enrich a video presentation by adding links to related information in the Wikipedia online encyclopedia. The links, called "nibs," are stored in the software's database and presented to viewers in a timeline, or "nibstream," tied to the video. Nibipedia's unique approach to displaying web video was born from a desire on the part of the developers to allow web users to use new social media content to share their knowledge with other webizens interested in the same material.
"We just thought, 'How can we get more value out of something people are already doing?'" said Troy Peterson, Nibipedia's Chief Marketing Officer. "In the case of Nibipedia, those two things are watching videos and searching articles. There's a ton of great content on the Web, but there isn't an easy way to make them work together. We saw a need for a mashup of Youtube and Wikipedia. Our tool allows a person viewing a video to learn more by about the material being presented by opening a link to a Wikipedia article deemed relevant by another user. The application also recommends additional videos related to the one being viewed."

The Nibipedia database contains metadata and links to more than 1000 educational videos and users have added more than 4000 nibs to related Wikipedia material. In an effort to keep the linking tool useful and relevant, the development team is taking a measured approach to building the content repository.

"We started small until our community develops," said Peterson, "but there is no real limit to the number of videos we can offer. In the meantime, the more Nibipedia is used, the better it gets at making recommendations to information that will excite a specific user. Everyone learns faster when we're given information we're interested in, Nibipedia does this automatically."

"Calls come in everyday from users wanting more material on Nibipedia," said Terry Schubring, Director of Technology Development. "Content quality is key for us. Currently, only educators and other select 'content curators' can add You Tube videos to the available video channels. The linked Wikipedia content is constantly vetted by web users because those articles are already monitored by the Wikipedia community. We hope to use a 'go slow' approach to make sure the material on the site is top-shelf."

The launch of the Nibipedia tool has focused on building a tool users could interact with intuitively. Although the video viewing interface is fairly standard and understandable to even novice users, care was taken in the design of the 'nibbing' functionality.

"We worked really hard to make it easy to use. If people have to learn how to do something new, they won't do it even if it saves the world," according to Peterson. "When the people in our Beta group said they were actually having fun and wanted to nibi more, we knew we had something here."

The Nibipedia application is currently being used by a number of teachers in their classrooms as a way to add depth to the video content they are already using. The teacher test group is also finding that Nibipedia engages students by challenging them to add their own contribution to the presentation.

"One of my students sat down and just went nuts adding nibs" said Richard Byrne, teacher and noted educational tech blogger from Free Tech for Teachers. ( "One student went from exploring Stephen Hawking videos to the CERN collider. Another student was exploring light bulbs and then went on to explore China. The third student is exploring a talk about Ben Franklin and has nibbed a few things."

"The technology isn't really even the good story here," according to Schubring. "It's about making it easy for people to learn and help each other. That's why it's so sticky. There's an abundance of free content in the Web 2.0 world just waiting for people to make the connections. Hopefully Nibipedia is just the beginning of that."

Short Story Competition from Daily Writing Tips

Daily Writing Tips is one of the many blogs to which I subscribe. Today they announced a short story writing competition. It appears that the contest is open to anyone over the age of 13. All short stories must be less than 1,000 words. All entries must be in January 4th. Nominated pieces will be posted on Daily Writing Tips and readers will vote. The winner of the competition receives a full license to the executive edition of White Smoke writing and editing software ($310 value). To read the full contest rules and requirements visit Daily Writing Tips.

Applications for Education
This writing contest could provide a sizable real world audience for a high school student or possibly a middle school student. Yes, there are many writing contest specifically for students, but what I like about this contest is that if a student's work was nominated he or she will instantly reach the more than 6500 subscribers to Daily Writing Tips.

Mapeed - Takes Clutter Out of Your Maps

Mapeed provides a nice service to complement Google Maps. If you have ever created a Google Map that contains many placemarks in a small area, you should take a look at Mapeed. Mapeed provides a simple plugin (you will have to copy and paste a snippet of code) that you can use to sort through the clutter. Mapeed combines all of the placemarks into one. When you click on the Mapeed placemark it reveals the original placemarks in a clutter-free detail. Click here to see a demonstration of Mapeed in action.

Applications for Education
The Mapeed service allows you to have up to 5,000 placemarks and 50,000 monthly page views for free. Those numbers should be more than sufficient for academic use.
If you're students create a collaborative map with many placemarks Mapeed could be a useful service for them to use to make a great looking interactive map.

Who Built the White House?

Today on CNN Student News there is a brief segment about the role of slaves in building the White House and the role of slavery in the lives of the early United States Presidents. I've embedded the video at the bottom of this blog post.

The CNN segment reminded me of some other resources for teaching lesson about the White House. White House for Kids, run by the US government, features games and activities for learning. On White House for Kids students can learn about the history of the White House, what happens in a typical day in the White House, and read brief biographies of past Presidents. There is also a page for teachers that contains lesson plans and guidelines for writing letters to the President.

The White House Historical Association is a great source of information about the history of the White House. On the White House Historical Association's website you will find tours, timelines, and images documenting the history of the White House. Of particular interest to teachers is the classroom page where you will find lesson plans categorized by grade level.

DC Historic Tours has a great list of popular real and virtual tours. Currently, DC Historic Tours is featuring a map of President-Elect Obama's inauguration parade route. DC Historic Tours could be a useful resource for providing your students with a geographic context for the lessons you are teaching.

Here is today's CNN Student News video. The segment about slavery in the White House is about 90 seconds into the video.

(If you're reading this in a RSS reader you may need to visit the blog directly to see the video).

It's Official! I'm Nominated for an Eddy!

It's official, I have been nominated for an "Eddy" 2008 Edublog Award in the category of Best Resource Sharing Blog. I would love to win, but there are so many other great blogs on the list that I am happy just to be included in the list. I started this blog just over one year ago, I never thought it would get a following of more than 1200 subscribers.

If you would like to vote for Free Technology for Teachers please visit the voting page here.

My friends at Wicked Decent Learning have been nominated for the best Educational Use of Audio 2008. You can vote for them here.

Another great Mainer, Jim Burke, has been nominated in the category of Best Educational Wiki 2008 for the wiki he started, Learning in Maine. You can vote for Jim here.

If you would like to see the other categories and the list of all nominees click here.

What are you waiting for? Go vote. Seriously, just looking at the list of nominees will make you smarter.

Use Dog Pile to Help Dogs (and cats)

The Internet search engine Dog Pile is running a campaign to raise money for the ASPCA. The goal is to raise one million dollars by the end of 2009. Here's how you can help, use the Dog Pile search engine. Dog Pile is pledging to donate a portion of all revenue raised by people conducting searches on Dog Pile. This is an easy way to contribute to charity.