Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Visual Guide to Global Trends

Earth Pulse is National Geographic's visual guide to global trends. In Earth Pulse you will find a series of maps and articles designed to help you explore emerging global trends. The contents of Earth Pulse is divided into three sections, the Human Condition, Our Relationship With Nature, and Our Connected World. Each of these sections is subdivided into three or more sections. Some of the topics you can explore on Earth Pulse include the impact of human behavior on ecosystems, population shifts, and global connections made possible by technology.

Applications for Education
Earth Pulse could be a good resource for teachers of geography and or Earth science. Using Earth Pulse's maps students can visually explore global trends.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
National Geographic Photo Jigsaw Puzzles
Two Ways to Watch National Geographic Online
Monitoring and Mapping CO2 Emissions

100 Awesome Open Courses

Select Courses, a service designed to help people find online degree programs, has posted a list of 100 free courses covering a wide range of topics. The complete title of their list is 100 Awesome Open Courses for Those Who Want to Change the World. The list is divided into nine sections spanning topics from health to environmental science to engineering, politics, religion, and education.

Applications for Education
All of the courses in the list are designed for college students, but many of them could be used by high school students for independent study and supplements to their high school courses.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
MIT Open Courseware
Challenge Your Students With One of These...

Build Your Own Browser Toolbar

Yesterday, I put together a custom browser toolbar for Free Technology for Teachers. The toolbar includes a search box and drop-down menus where you can find links to presentation tools and alternatives to YouTube. The toolbar also allows for instant access to the most recent posts from Free Technology for Teachers. And the final component is a chat room for readers of Free Technology for Teachers. You can download and install the toolbar here, it works in Firefox, Safari, and IE. I'm still working on adding more options to the drop-down menus, but those updates will automatically be pushed out so that you won't have to re-install anything.

Here's a look at what the Free Technology for Teachers toolbar offers.

Building the toolbar was actually much easier than I thought it would be. I started with a simple Google search for "building a browser toolbar" and one of the first results linked to Conduit. Conduit is essentially a drag and drop toolbar builder. To make a toolbar for your own website signup for Conduit (it's free), enter some basic information about your site, and begin selecting the components you want in your toolbar. Once you've selected the elements you want, you can edit what each element contains.

Applications for Education
Conduit makes it fairly easy to create your own custom browser toolbar for your students and parents to use. A custom toolbar could be a great thing to install on the computers your students use at school. Your toolbar could include links to websites that your students will need to use frequently. Your toolbar could also include an RSS element for students and parents to quickly access the latest news from your school's website. A chat element in your toolbar will give your students a way to quickly get in touch with you.