Monday, November 30, 2009

FlockDraw - Simple, Collaborative Drawing

FlockDraw is a new, simple, service that allows people to quickly and easily collaborate on the creation of a drawing. To use FlockDraw simply visit the site, click the "start drawing" button, and start drawing. To invite other people to draw with you, just send them the url assigned to your drawing board. What's really neat is that anyone who visits the url after the drawing has started will see all of the drawing motions they missed unfold in front of them. In the future you will be able to embed your drawing board into your blog or website. To test FlockDraw, you're welcome to play with the drawing I started here.

Read Write Web, where I originally saw FlockDraw, has more information you may want to read.

Applications for Education
FlockDraw could be a simple way for students to create quickly create a mind map together. It could also be used by students to sketch diagrams and other drawings for use in slide presentations.

November's Most Popular Content

The month of November saw Free Technology for Teachers receive more visits and more page views than in any of the previous twenty-three months. Thank you to everyone that has subscribed to, commented on, Tweeted about, and shared Free Technology for Teachers. You all have helped to make this blog what it is today.

Here are the most popular items in the month of November:
1. Why Teachers Use Twitter
2. 9 Resources for Website Evaluation Lessons
3. 6 Ways for Students to Publish Their Writing Online
4. 12 Ways for Students to Publish Slideshows Online
5. Intro to Wikis Video Created By Kids
6. Ten Trends to Affect Teaching In the Future (and now)
7. Daylight Saving Time Explained

If you're new to Free Technology for Teachers, welcome, I'm glad you've found this blog. If you like what you see in the links above, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email.
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Most Teachers Have or Will Download YouTube Videos

Last Friday I posted a survey asking for feedback about how teachers respond to YouTube being blocked by school district filters. As of 6pm EST today, there were 105 responses. Of those 105 respondents, 79 people indicated that YouTube access is denied to students. In most of those cases, YouTube access is also denied to teachers. If YouTube is blocked, the question then becomes how do you, as an educator, respond? In 87 responses, teachers indicated that they have or would download videos using a third party client.

Going into the survey it was my speculation that most teachers who are not allowed to access YouTube at school, will download videos for classroom use. The results of the survey confirm my thinking. Downloading videos from YouTube via a third party client is a violation of YouTube's terms of service. That said, I think the survey results indicate that most teachers feel comfortable skating around that rule for the educational benefit of their students. This raises the question, if so many teachers feel YouTube offers enough educational material to violate the terms of service, why do school districts restrict access to YouTube? Here's one answer to that question that came in the form of a response to the question of downloading YouTube videos:
"No. If YouTube is blocked, and your School Board wants to prepare today's kids for the 1950s, so be it. When they close your library, you gotta ask yourself if you want to work for such people."

One person, John, left a very passionate "no" comment on the actual blog post. John had this to say:
"Most in favor of downloading the videos? Hey teachers, I own a slim-jim. Doesn't give me the "right" to break into your car and take your stuff inside for educational purposes. Do not use 3rd party tools to extract videos from YouTube. Plain and simple. What are you teaching your students? Violate rules, laws, etc. whenever you feel like it? Society spins into chaos if you allow students to take this route and you "model" it for them."

How would you respond to John? One response could be an adaptation of this survey comment justifying the download of YouTube videos:
"yes - I have no problem doing so and feel that such practice is supported by fair use and as long as I don't keep the video archived beyond its instructional purpose."

You can check out all of the survey results here.

If you would like some educational alternatives to YouTube, check out this list.

Update: This conversation has run its course. People are using all caps in their comments which indicates yelling. Therefore, I will be rejecting future comments on this post. Clearly we'll all have to agree to disagree.

3 Great Common Craft-style Videos Made by Kids

As many readers know, I'm a big proponent of having students create videos to demonstrate their understanding of a topic. I am also a huge fan of Common Craft's work. Therefore, I absolutely love these videos created by an 8th grade social studies class in Pennsylvania. These videos, made in the Common Craft style, are an explanation of the US Constitution. I learned about these videos from Jim Gates' TipLine blog. He asks some good questions about these videos on his blog and I encourage you to head over there and add your two cents.

The first video is embedded below.

Constitution Video, Part 1 from Mr. Titzel on Vimeo.

If you don't have access to video cameras for your classroom, check out one of these six free ways to create video online.

Free Webinar - Tour of FRONTLINE's Digital Nation

Via the Infinite Thinking Machine, I've learned that next Tuesday, December 8th at 8pm EST, PBS and Classroom 2.0 will be hosting a free webinar for educators. The webinar will be lead by Rachel Dretzin. Rachel Dretzin is the producer of FRONTLINE's new Digital Nation project. During the webinar Ms. Dretzin will share her insights gained from a year's worth of work put into creating Digital Nation. You can get more details about the webinar here.

Applications for Education
Our students are growing up in digital nation, as educators we need to stay current on how digital technology influences our students' lives. This webinar could be a good opportunity to learn about how digital technology is influencing our students' lives.

Did Negroponte Predict This in 1984?

This morning Mashable and other tech blogs reported that Amazon set a new sales record for theKindlein November. Interestingly, this morning I also watched this TED Talk filmed in 1984 in which Nicholas Negroponte predicted that some day we would be reading books on small screens. It seems that Negroponte was right.

Cyber Monday, Debt in Dubai, and Christmas Trees

Today's episode of CNN Student News covers a wide assortment of topics including the anticipated announcement on Tuesday from President Obama regarding Afghanistan, but the three main stories are about Cyber Monday, a debt problem in Dubai, and the selection of the White House Christmas Tree. The episode is embedded below.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Economics Lessons Using Planet Money Podcasts
The Crisis of Credit Visualized
Understanding the Financial Crisis - Say It Visually