Monday, November 16, 2009

Tiny Chat Launches Tiny Chat TV

As was first reported by Read Write Web, Tiny Chat has launched a new service called Tiny Chat TV. Tiny Chat TV is designed to be a competitor to U-Stream. Tiny Chat TV allows you to create your own channel for streaming video to the web. I signed up for the service and created my channel in a matter of minutes. While broadcasting viewers of the video can chat (anonymously or as registered users) in the text box directly under the video.

Applications for Education
Tiny Chat TV could be useful for broadcasting professional development workshops to world. Tiny Chat itself can be useful for creating back channel sessions during a presentation or workshop. The combination of broadcasting and back-channeling can bring in even more viewpoints and comments.

Google Translate Adds Speech and Romanization

Today, Google announced some great improvements to its translation service. Google Translate now offers you the opportunity to hear translations read to you. The translation service now translates text as you type it rather than waiting for you to finish typing. If you want to translate an entire website, Google Translate now lets you do that by simply typing the url of the site you wish to translate into the translation text box. Click translate, and the entire site will be shown in the language of your choice. Click here to see what Free Technology for Teachers looks like in Chinese.

Google Translate
has now made it easier to handle non-Roman texts. For example, if you want to translate "how are you" into Chinese but you cannot read Chinese characters, the "show Romanization" option will write the sounds for you in English.

To learn more about all of the new translation features watch the video below.

Applications for Education
Google Translate can be a very useful tool for anyone that is studying a second language. Google Translate can also be useful for examining different perspectives of news stories. I have a colleague who teaches a global studies course in which he requires students to find, translate using Google Translate, read, and evaluate news articles written in other parts of the world.

Resurrecting Eden - 60 Minutes

On last night's episode of 60 Minutes there was a good segment about the people that live in the marshes found along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The segment covered the history of the people that live there, how people live in the marshes, why Saddam Hussein built canals to drain the marshes, and the work of one man who is helping to refill the marshes. The video of the episode is embedded below.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Applications for Education
Resurrecting Eden could be used as part of lesson on geography, engineering, ethnic cleansing, and history. Of course, the video could also be used for a lesson on the War in Iraq.

Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge

The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge is currently open for K-8 teams. The challenge is for students to create local, sustainable, solutions to environmental problems. The challenge requires students to identify problems, brainstorm solutions, and put those solutions into action. After implementing the solutions students are required to analyze the outcomes and share the outcomes. You can find an overview of the challenge requirements here.

Student challenge teams can have up to four members. Members of the winning team will receive $10,000 savings bonds, an appearance on the television show Planet Green, and a selection of smaller prizes including a video camera. You can find a listing of the prizes and the contest's rules here.

Applications for Education
The We Can Change the World Challenge could be a great way to get K-8 students involved in a real-life problem based learning project. Since the teams have to be limited to four students, you would have to have multiple teams within a classroom. Even if your students don't enter the real contest, you could use the template provided to create your own in-school challenge contest.

Why .Org v. .Com is Irrelevant

Warning: You might not agree with everything I say in this post. Please feel free to tell me why I'm wrong in the comments.

Earlier today I came across a blog that, based on the tone of the posts and the recent blog creation date, appears to be written as part of a continuing education class requirement. One of the posts listed fifteen education websites. Each website was given a score of 0-100 based on a set of criteria. One part of the criteria was .org v. .org domains. Websites with .org domains were automatically given ten points while websites with .com domains were penalized ten points. Unfortunately, that teacher's blog post reflects a practice that I too often hear and see a lot of teachers telling their students to use. So I responded to the post with the comment that determining the validity of a website's content based on whether or not it uses .org is not a good practice. It's not a good practice because anyone can register a .org domain. If you want to test this for yourself head over to Go Daddy and see how quickly you can register "your name".org.

What is important to teach students is to recognize bias and recognize flawed reasoning displayed on websites. It is also important to teach students how to find the contact information for the author's of a website or blog. Then if you still feel that domain registry is an important criteria for determining validity, teach your students how to run a WHOIS domain registry search.

Where does .org v. .com rate in your criteria for determining the value of a website's or blog's content?

1. I discovered the blog post I referenced above through a Google Alert I have set up for "Free Technology for Teachers." I purposely did not link to that person's blog because I did not want to bring undue negative attention to it. If the author I'm referencing contacts me with permission, I will link to it.
2. Free Technology for Teachers was given a relatively low score based on using a .com domain, having distracting advertising, and navigation difficulty. These are issues I was aware of before I redesigned the blog layout 8 days ago. If you have suggestions for making the layout better, please let me know because as Gary Vaynerchuk says, "I'm not talented enough to see what I've done wrong."

The Science Behind Climate News

In this short TED Talk, atmospheric chemist Rachel Pike gives the audience a sense of how much scientific research goes into producing a climate change headline such as those found in popular newspapers and magazines. The video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
In the video above, Rachel Pike provides some insight into how many layers of study there are in the area of climate change research.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
The Breathing Earth - Interactive Map
View Glacier Melt in Google Earth
Endangered Places Multimedia Map

Geography Action - Build a Floor Map of Europe

For Geography Awareness Week, National Geographic has compiled an educators kit of activities and lessons plans. The centerpiece of this kit is Geography Action: Mapping Europe in which teachers will find directions for an activity in which students create a large wall map or floor map of Europe. This is very similar to the activity kit that National Geographic published last year about mapping the Americas. In addition to the map activity, teachers will find geography lesson plans for all K-12 grades.