Wednesday, November 4, 2009

CubeTree - Interesting Option for Learning Communities

CubeTree is a free service designed for companies that would like to build a social network of wikis, shared items, and microblogs for their employees. Although the service is designed with business use in mind, I can see some applications for it in a continuing education environment.

On CubeTree anyone can create a network and invite colleagues. All colleagues must have the same email domain. For example, if I wanted to create a network, only people with an domain could be in my network. Everyone in the network can create a profile (Facebook-like), post updates, share documents, collaborate on documents and spreadsheets, and share items from their RSS feeds. The video below offers a good overview of everything CubeTree offers.

Feature Tour from Carlin Wiegner on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
CubeTree's terms of service require users to be at least 18. When I was thinking about CubeTree in an education setting I saw it as a possibility for use with adult learners to create a learning community. I can see CubeTree being used in an online setting or a blended (online and face to face) setting for students and teachers to get to know each other, share information that they discover, and collaborate on the creation of a wiki.

The Washington Post's Education Blog Contest

The Washington Post is looking for your suggestions for the best education blogs of 2009. They're calling it a contest, but I think the reward for those nominated is just recognition. Readers can nominate up to three blogs. Submissions can be made via email or comment on this article on The Washington Post.

I learned about this on Twitter from Larry Ferlazzo whose blog is one of three that I'm nominating.

A Trick or Treater's Dilemma

I try not to post CNN Student News stories more than once a week, but I couldn't resist posting about one of today's segments. The closing segment of today's episode of CNN Student News is about a woman who accidentally dropped her diamond ring into a Trick or Treater's bag on Halloween.

Applications for Education
The story could be a good way to start an engaging conversation with students about ethics. The story has relevance for young students who are still of "trick or treating" age. The story also has relevance for older students who have a real understanding of the value of money or, in this case, jewelry.

Interview With Beth Still About ISTE Newbie 2010

As many of you know, last year I was fortunate enough to attend NECC 2009 through the donations of many of you, VoiceThread, and the hard work of Beth Still. You can read about last year's project and my experiences here, here, and here. Last year, the fund-raising began in April. The fund-raising for the 2010 ISTE Newbie Project has begun already. In the video below Beth and I talk about the ISTE 2010 Newbie Project, the purpose, and the fundraising.

These are the links mentioned in the video:
Beth Still - Nebraska Change Agent
Jason Shrage - Oswego 98

Open Book Exams Become Open Internet Exams

This morning on my drive into work I heard a story on the BBC World News radio program about schools in Denmark allowing students to take final exams while accessing the Internet. The article the story was based on can be found here. What I like about the story's concept is that the questions Danish students are being asked require them to use knowledge rather than regurgitate knowledge. In today's highly-connected world, finding information has become much easier and in turn it has become more difficult to be the "smartest person in the room." This is an important concept to remember when planning lessons and designing assessments. As educators in today's highly-connected world we need to be designing lessons and assessments that ask students to synthesize and apply the information they locate.

The other part of the story that I enjoyed was the interviews with teachers and students. The obvious concern that a lot of people listening to and reading the story will have is about cheating. The teachers addressed this concern by creating questions that cannot, in most cases, be answered well with simple cut and paste. The teachers and students also claim that the penalties for cheating are too severe to take the risk of cheating by emailing or instant messaging other students. While the stiff penalties are certainly a deterrent to cheating, it's more important to note that the emphasis of the exams is placed on application of knowledge rather than recitation of knowledge. - Multimedia Timelines, Wiki-style

Creating and studying timelines is one of the fundamental activities of history classes. I've written about a few different tools for creating online timelines, but none have been quite like uses crowd-sourcing to generate a gallery of multimedia timelines. Each event is accompanied by text, video, and still images. You can see an example here featuring content about the Iran Hostage Crisis which began in 1979. is arranged in lists of dates, topics, and events. Select any item on any of the lists to view the content that other users have added. If you have more information to add about a particular event, topic, or date you can add it. If a topic or date is not listed, you can add it to the database. I found the easiest way to browse information on is to select the "What Happened On..." option.

Applications for Education is crowd-sourced so you will have to teach your students to be good consumers of information if you do use it in your classroom. If students register to use (must be 13+) they can make their edits to any of the events on the website. A good exercise for history students might be to locate information that they question the reliability of and then edit that information with justification for their edits.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
TimeRime Multimedia Timeline Builder
Great Timeline Builders