Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ArcGIS Explorer Online - Explore GIS Layers

ArcGIS recently launched a new free web application called ArcGIS Explorer Online. ArcGIS Explorer Online allows users to create mash-ups of geographic data on a map. Users can add data layers to the whole map or to a section of the map. There are one dozen map baselayers that users can build upon. To add data users can select the ArcGIS data base or upload their own data files. Below you will find instructions for three basic steps to get you started using ArcGIS.

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

Applications for Education
ArcGIS Explorer Online could be a good tool for geography teachers whose students cannot access Google Earth. For some students ArcGIS Explorer Online might be easier to use initially than Google Earth. In either case ArcGIS Explorer Online provides a good tool that will get students analyzing data in a geographic context quickly.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google Earth Across the Curriculum
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers
Using Maps in an Elementary School Math Lesson

Lots of Great Links from ISTE 2010

The ISTE 2010 conference just wrapped-up a couple of hours ago. I had a great time reconnecting with folks that I met last year, meeting new people, and learning lots of great stuff about technology and education. If you weren't able to attend, but want to discover some of the great websites that were shared throughout the conference, head on over to the ISTE 2010 Diigo group. Currently, there are 115 links on the list that were shared during the conference. I went through the list and found about one dozen sites that were new to me.

Applications for Education
Diigo is a great social bookmarking service for educators. Educators (or anyone else) can create private and or public groups for sharing the links they find with their colleagues. What's really nice about Diigo is that not only can you share links with your group, you can also comment on the links and explain why you bookmarked it and how it might be helpful to educators.

Here's a nice Diigo video tutorial created by Google Certified Teacher Lisa Thumann.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Seven Tools for Organizing Web Research
Diigo Teacher Accounts
A Quick Guide to Annotating Using Diigo

Put YoLink In Your Blog

Yesterday, I published a post about YoLink. Today, I had the opportunity to meet with Brian Cheek from YoLink. Brian told me that they have just launched a new search widgets that you can in place in your blog or website. The widgets search the web as well as the content within your blog or website. Currently, the only ready-made widget is for Blogger. Putting YoLink on other platforms requires a small bit of coding.

Here's another video highlighting the features of YoLink.

Applications for Education
Putting a YoLink widget on your classroom blog could be a handy tool for searching the content that you or your students have created. YoLink also has some free PDFs about using YoLink in the classroom. The PDFs include ideas for activities that have been done by real classroom teachers using YoLink.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers
Beyond Google - Improve Your Search Results
Free Guide - Making Videos on the Web

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Google Earth Skills Quiz and Tutorials

This afternoon while trying to remember how to perform a small task in Google Earth I was forced to admit defeat and consult the Google Earth help page. While there I discovered something I hadn't seen before, I discovered Google Earth: Learn, Become an Explorer. Become an Explorer is a nine part series of tutorials, directions, and quizzes regarding Google Earth skills. The series takes users from the basics of navigation through advanced features of Google Earth. Perhaps the best way to describe Google Earth: Learn, Become an Explorer is as a guided scavenger hunt.

In case you need a reminder about why geography matters, watch this.

Applications for Education
Google Earth: Learn, Become an Explorer could be a great aid in teaching students how to navigate all of the great things available in Google Earth.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google Earth Across the Curriculum
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers
Using Maps in an Elementary School Math Lesson

YoLink - Search Refinement and Bookmarking

YoLink is a free service that helps students refine their web searches and easily bookmark their findings in Diigo and EasyBib. YoLink also integrates with Google Docs account so that users can quickly move the content you bookmark in YoLink into a document. YoLink is plug-in for Firefox and Chrome.

The video below shows you how YoLink integrates with Easy Bib.

The video below shows you how YoLink integrates with Google Docs.

Applications for Education
In the video below I talk with Ken Shelton about his use of YoLink with middle school students.

Talking Blogging With Sue Waters from Edublogs

Tomorrow at 12:30pm (Mountain Time) Sue Waters from Edublogs and I will be hosting an ISTE Unplugged session. The topic of the session is best practices for blogging. We intend the session to be primarily a question and answer session. The session will be streamed live via Elluminate. (Click here and scroll to the bottom to find the Elluminate link tomorrow, the Elluminate link isn't live yet). It does not cost anything to attend online. If you're here at ISTE 2010 please come on down and join us.

If you have questions for Sue and I about blogging, please join us in the Elluminate session. If you like, you can submit your questions ahead of time through the Google form embedded below.

Update: We already have questions coming in. So far the questions are mainly about student blogging, which is great. I just want to clarify that we're also more than willing to answer questions about general blogging issues such as comment moderation, post length, finding your voice, etc.

Large Collection of Word Games & Typing Games

Word Games is a provider of a large collection of online word games and typing games. The word games range from simple word searches and crosswords to games that require players to complete sentences and phrases. The typing games are a mix of simple sentence typing for speed and games that require accuracy to "defend" a character or move a character through a scene.

Some of the games featured on Word Games can be either downloaded to your computer, see Typing Defense, or can be embedded into your blog or website. Word Games does use interstitial ads on its site, which might annoy some visitors, but none of the ads I've seen on it were inappropriate in their content (most were for online schools, and tutoring services). The size of the Word Games collection makes up for the potential annoyance of interstitial ads.

Applications for Education
There is no shortage of word games and typing games on the market, but what I like about Word Games is that they've put a large collection of good games in one place. By having both word games and typing games at the same place you can have your whole class go to the same url at the beginning of a lesson, but then branch out to work at their own pace on different skill sets.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Starfall - Interactive Reading Lessons and Games
ChessKid - Online Chess Games and Lessons
Learning Chocolate - Activities for Learning English

Monday, June 28, 2010

3 New Ways to Find Free Technology for Teachers

One of the things that has always confused some folks when I or others give them the url for this blog is the fact that I used the number 4 in the url. Often people hear the name Free Technology for Teachers and type that into their browser bars as the url for the site. If you did that in the past you would get a parked domain page. But, as of very early this morning you can now reach Free Technology for Teachers by entering, freetechforteachers (dot) com, freetechnologyforteachers (dot) com, and free-tech-4-teachers (dot) com into your browser.

Interview with Rushton Hurley from Next Vista

This morning I sat down with Rushton Hurley to talk about his non-profit video service, Next Vista. I've written about Next Vista in the past (you can read about it here), but in a nutshell Next Vista offers a human reviewed catalog of user-generated videos. Watch the video below to hear directly from Rushton about Next Vista. Make sure you watch to the end to hear about how a video project got a disengaged middle school student engaged in the classroom.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fighting the Locked Net Monster

Today, during Mario Armstrong's presentation at ISTE 2010 he introduced four challenges facing teachers and their use of technology in the classroom. One of those challenges is the "Locked Net Monster." The "Locked Net Monster" refers to school administrators and IT administrators who lock down teachers' and students' access to the web and the wonderful tools it offers. In the last year I've written a couple of posts addressing the challenge of dealing with the "Locked Net Monster." You can read one of them here and the other below.

What follows is a repost of my Least Restrictive Environment for Educators post.

In my work with special education students over the last six years, I have consistently heard from special education teachers and administrators the refrain of "creating a least restrictive environment for students." The idea being that in a least restrictive environment students have the most opportunities to experience new things, explore their creativity, and grow personally and academically. I completely agree with these ideas.

The irony I see in school leadership with regards to technology in the classroom is that often, by imposing strict internet filters, school leaders don't create a least restrictive environment for their faculty. Some of the most restrictive environments that I've heard of include the blocking of wiki services, gmail, and Google image search (which recently added Creative Commons search). By restricting access to the internet, including such innocuous things as Yahoo mail, schools limit the ability of teachers to use their creativity in lesson planning.

I understand that schools are worried about lawsuits arising from student access to the internet. At the same time if school leaders are filtering the internet out of fear or misunderstanding of the law they are not helping their teachers prepare students for life after high school. (Please note that I did not say "prepare students for the 21st century." We're a decade into the 21st century we should stop saying "21st century skills" and just say "skills" or "skills for academic and professional success.") To address these fears and misunderstandings, Wes Fryer and others created Unmasking the Digital Truth. If you're a school administrator or a teacher who works in a district that doesn't create a least restrictive internet environment, please visit Unmasking the Digital Truth.

327,534 Free Wikis! 5 Questions With Wikispaces

I just had a great meeting with Adam Frey and James Byers from Wikispaces. For those that aren't familiar with Wikispaces, they've given away nearly 330,000 free, advertising-free, wikis to teachers. Here's the recap of my conversation with Adam and James (note, I'm paraphrasing their responses, these are not direct quotes):

1. Why give away so many free, advertising-free, wikis when it clearly represents a loss of revenue for them?
When they started Wikispaces they weren't sure who would use the tool. So they made the wikis free and eventually realized that a lot of teachers were using the service. Today, roughly 2/3 of wikis are education related. In the end they don't look at giving away wikis as a loss of revenue. Rather they view giving away the wikis as grassroots marketing. If teachers like using Wikispaces and want more features such as greater privacy controls, they or their schools can purchase a premium plan, but Wikispaces isn't going to give a "hard-sell" on that. A lot of teachers are content with the free education plans.

2. Do you have plans for adding real-time components to your service?
At this time they don't have immediate plans for releasing a real-time component. Their focus is simplicity of use and making the features that they do offer, the best they can possibly be. They don't want to fall into a situation where they create so many features that it becomes confusing for the first time user.

3. Yesterday, at Edubloggercon there was a session titled "Are Wikis Dead?" (I wasn't able to attend that session) how do you, Wikispaces, respond to that question?
They look at the education market as having two groups of technology using teachers. A group of advanced users such as those people who have been using wikis and other web-based technologies for a relatively long time and want more features. The other group, a larger group, that wants a simple service for getting students creating content on the web. So from their perspective wikis aren't dead.

4. Do you get a lot of calls from schools to have someone come to talk about using Wikispaces in the classroom? How do you handle that?
They don't get calls for deployment of infrastructure, but they do get some calls for someone talk about the use of the wikis themselves. They do respond to those calls, but for the most part prefer to have someone like myself and other educators work with schools about the use of wikis in the classroom. In their minds its educators who are using wikis who can best help other educators leverage wikis for classroom use.

5. Do you offer webinars for people who want to learn more about using Wikispaces?
Yes, they offer monthly webinars. The webinars are conducted using Elluminate. The webinars are recorded and are available for free at

Thanks to Adam and James for taking time out of their very busy ISTE 2010 schedules to meet with me.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
How-to Week - Day 1 - Using Wikispaces
Intro to Wikis Created by Kids
How to Embed a Map into Wikis and Blogs

Educational Change Challenge

Here's a good video that would be appropriate to share at the beginning of a workshop/ presentation/ conference about teaching with technology in the 21st Century. The video has me excited about the conversations already taking place at ISTE 2010 and the conversations still to come.

Some highlights from the video:
Who seriously believes that locking 25 students in a small room with one adult for several hours each day is the best way for them to be educated?

Moving from the one-room schoolhouse to the one-world schoolhouse is now a reality.

And my favorite line from the video, In education the use it or lose it rule may mean if you don't use tech for learning, you may lose relevance. An educator must be relevant.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
15 TED Talks to Watch Before 2010
TED Talk Creativity and Play
Did You Know 4.0 (Shift Happens)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Five Real-time Search Engines for You to Try

Today at Edubloggercon the post-lunch session was labeled as a technology apps smackdown. A smackdown is organized as a fast-paced presentation of many tools by many people. Everyone takes a turn sharing for two minutes. I came to the session late and missed out on the chance to share three real-time search engines with the audience. Real-time search engines draw their results from popular social media services like Delicious, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr.

What makes real-time search results different from standard search results is that the most current links are given priority over older links. Real-time search is very helpful for finding information about the latest trends or news in a particular niche. Here are some real-time search engines that you should try.

Scoopler is real-time search engine that allows you to simultaneously search Delicious, Digg, Twitter, and Flickr in one place. Scoopler is quite simple, enter a search term and you'll find results from all four of those services. Results are sorted into two columns, "live" which provides the most recently shared links and "popular" which is based on the number of times a link has been shared.

Mashpedia is an interesting service that matches reference articles from Wikipedia to materials from other sources like YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Digg, and the web in general. The purpose of drawing materials from multiple sources is to provide users with a comprehensive view of news stories and reference topics.

NachoFoto is an image search engine designed to bring you the latest images from across the web on emerging trends and breaking stories. According to their whitepaper NachoFoto searches for images based on recency, image density on a webpage, inward links, and domain authoriy. What this means for people searching on NachoFoto is that they will see new photos before older photos, will find images from sites that frequently post new quality images, and find images from websites that are family friendly.

Faroo is a real-time search that offers a couple of options not found in other real-time search engines. Faroo allows you to sort your search results by current popularity or sort your results in a timeline format. Faroo also gives you the option to preview a link's content by hovering your cursor on the link without actually clicking the link. Finally, if you're following a topic, you can subscribe to the RSS feed for your search and be notified of new results as they appear.

Collecta is a real-time search engine designed to draw the latest links about any given topic from a variety of sources. Collecta draws its results from Twitter, YouTube, and various blogs and news websites. Collecta offers a free widget that you customize to search for particular terms and place on your blog or website.

Here is a related item that may be of interest to you:

Beyond Google - Improve Your Search Results

Aviary for Education Launches in Beta

Over the last year Aviary's suite of tools has become one of my favorite free resources on the web. This week Aviary took another step up the ranks of my list of favorite free tools. This week Aviary launched, in beta, Aviary Education. Aviary Education will give teachers and students access to Aviary's image editor, music creator, vector editor, and sound mixing service. Aviary Education will allow teachers to manage student accounts, give assignments, and messages all students at once within a private environment. Aviary Education is in beta and you do have to apply and be approved to use the new service. When you apply you do need to provide you school email address as well as the name and location of your school.

You can read about Aviary's sound mixer Myna here. You can read about Aviary's music creator Roc here. In the slideshow below you will see how to use Aviary Roc.

If you're a Google Apps for Education school, you can add all of Aviary's services to your Google Apps. Read about how to do that here.

Applications for Education
This year my students used Aviary's Myna sound editor to make sound tracks for mini-documentary videos they made about the expansion of US borders during the 19th century. Roc is a relatively new offering from Aviary that will allow anyone to create music tracks. You can then take those Roc tracks and mix them with voice tracks in Myna to create an outstanding original sound track for a podcast or video.

The image editing tools offered by Aviary are great free, web-based, alternatives to the offerings of Photoshop.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
How to Use YouTube's New Video Editor
Free Guide - Making Videos on the Web
Five Ways Students Can Build Multimedia Timelines

Friday, June 25, 2010

Animated Explanations

Animated Explanations is a website for finding animated explanations of topics and concepts in the fields of health, technology, and work. The animations can be embedded in your blog or website. Embedded below you will find an animation of the human heart.

The Human Heart - Animated Explanations

Pullfolio - Portfolio Service for Flickr Photos

If you're a Flickr user, at one point or another you may have wished for a better way to display your photo sets. If that's the case for you, Pullfolio has an answer for you. Pullfolio provides Flickr users with a way to display their image collections in aesthetically pleasing online portfolios. Pullfolio provides a series of free templates for displaying your images in portfolios and slideshows. Pullfolio also gives you the ability to assign a unique url to your online portfolio.

Applications for Education
Pullfolio could be a good tool for photography teachers and students to collate and display their work.

Bounce - Share and Collaborate on Screen Captures

Bounce is a neat application that not only allows you to make annotated screen captures of websites but also allows you to instantly share those screen captures with others. To use Bounce, type in the url of any website then click "Bounce." Bounce will then create an image of that website on which you can draw boxes and annotate those boxes. You can create as many boxes and notes as you like. When you're done creating notes, Bounce will provide you with a unique url for your screen captures that you can share with others. If you create a Bounce account (optional) you and other Bounce users can annotate the same screen capture.

Applications for Education
Bounce could be a good tool for sharing comments about design elements of websites, highlighting graphics on a site, or sharing comments about articles with students or colleagues.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

VidMe - Truly Private Sharing of Videos

VidMe is a new service for privately sharing videos. Unlike YouTube's private sharing option, the videos you post on VidMe cannot be forwarded without your consent. VidMe allows you to post your first few videos for free, but after that you do have to pay to use the service. Learn more about VidMe here or on Read Write Web.

Since this post was originally published VidMe has shut down.

Applications for Education
VidMe could be a great option for sharing videos of elementary school music recitals with parents and grandparents.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
How to Use YouTube's New Video Editor
Free Guide - Making Videos on the Web
YouTube Adds Unlisted Privacy Option

How Do Americans Save Money? Infographic

Visual Economics designs infographics to educate people about various topics in economics. Their latest infographic is How Do Americans Save Money? The infographic explains the differences between saving and savings and what disposable income is. The infographic also defines consumer confidence the sentiment index.

View the whole infographic here.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
The History of Credit Cards in the United States
Saving Money in Plain English
A Pictorial History of Money

Roller Coaster Simulator - Design Your Coaster

Funderstanding, a learning systems design firm, offers a free roller coaster design activity. The object of the Roller Coaster Simulator activity is to get the coaster through the track without any roll-backs. To that end the Roller Coaster Simulator allows users to design the height and spacing of the rise and fall of a roller coaster track. Users can also adjust the speed of coaster, the mass of the coaster, the friction of the coaster on the track, and the strength of the gravitational pull on the coaster.

Applications for Education
Funderstanding's Roller Coaster Simulator could be a good way for mathematics and physics students to experiment with all of the elements that go into designing a working roller coaster.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Design a Wind Turbine
Physics 4 Kids
Understanding Einstein

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

All National Anthems

All National Anthems is a map, built on Yahoo Maps, that makes it easy to find the national anthem of almost every country in the world. Along with each country's national anthem, users will find some basic almanac-style information. Each national anthem is played via a Youtube video.

Applications for Education
The fact that the anthems found on All National Anthems are played via Youtube limits the utility of the website for schools where Youtube is blocked. If you're in a school where Youtube is blocked then I recommend visiting the BBC News website where you can find country profiles that include a short audio recording of each country's national anthem.

All National Anthems is a good example of how maps can display information. If you're looking to try a similar project with your students try having them create a map of state or province anthems.

TED Talk - Raise Kids to be Entrepreneurs

Cameron Herald certainly puts forward some interesting ideas in this TED Talk from TEDxEdmonton.

Design a Wind Turbine

National Geographic has a neat little interactive activity designed to help people understand how wind turbines generate power. Harness the Power of Wind walks viewers through the basics of wind turbine design. After reviewing the design principles you can design and "test" your wind turbine's efficiency. You can adjust the height of your wind turbine, the wind speed, the altitude, and the blade radius.

Applications for Education
Harness the Power of Wind could be used for teaching a lesson on wind power that incorporates basic physics and mathematics concepts.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Google Voice Opens to Everyone in the US

Today, Google announced that they are making their free Google Voice service available to everyone in the US. Google Voice provides you with a phone number that can ring all of your landline and mobile phones simultaneously. Google Voice also offers a slew of other features that you might find handy. I think the free conference call service could be very handy for conducting parent-teacher conferences over the phone.

Learn more about Google Voice in the video below.

Learn about the free conference calling feature of Google Voice in the video below.

EcoKids - Environmental Science Games & Activities

EcoKids is a Canadian-based organization providing free resources for teaching and learning about topics in environmental science. The resources designed for teachers require registration, but the resources for students can be accessed without registration. The games and activities section for kids offers dozens of online games across eight categories. Within each of the eight categories the games and activities are again categorized according to age appropriateness. The eight games and activities categories are: wildlife, climate change, energy, water, waste, land use, the North, and First Nations & Inuit.

Applications for Education
Elementary school and middle school teachers looking for some engaging activities to supplement their classroom instruction on environmental science would do well to browse through the games and activities offered by EcoKids.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Video - Two Cases of Global Warming
Climate Change, Wildlife, Wildlands Lesson Plans
Endangered Places Multimedia Map

9 Resources for Learning About US Presidents

Here's a short list of resources for teaching and learning about US Presidents and the office itself.

Electing a President

The Living Room Candidate is an online exhibit of Presidential Campaign commercials from 1952 through 2004. The Living Room Candidate is part of a larger project called the Museum of the Moving Image. Visitors to The Living Room Candidate can view the commercials from each campaign from both parties. A written transcript is provided with each commercial. Provided along with each video is an overview of the political landscape of at the time of the campaigns. Visitors to the website can search for commercials by election year, type of commercial, or by campaign issue.

NARA, the US National Archive and Records Administration, has built a great website for students and teachers. The teacher page offers links to detailed lesson plans. The lesson plan titled the Tally of 1824 is one of the most thorough Electoral College lesson plans that I have seen anywhere. The Tally of 1824 lesson plan addresses not only the basic process of the Electoral College, it also includes the ideas of faithless electors and the possibility of losing the popular vote but winning the election.

Common Craft's Electing a US President in Plain English does a nice job of explaining how the Electoral College system works.

Inaugurating a New President

Videos of every inaugural address from Eisenhower through George W. Bush is available through Hulu.

Governing Dynamo has built a gallery containing the text of every US President's inaugural address(es). In addition to the text, the gallery includes a Wordle of every address and an image of the President who delivered that address. Finally, Governing Dynamo hosts a video overview of the Wordles in the gallery.

The Chronology of US Presidents

The video embedded below depicts the 44 US Presidents in 4 minutes. This video includes the dates of the time in office for each president.

This video is a bit dated as it ends with Clinton's term, but it's educational and entertaining.

The Lives of the Presidents

The Miller Center of Public Affairs hosts a very good reference resource about US Presidents. The Miller Center's reference, American President, provides personal and political biographical information about every US President. Each profile links to dozens of essays about various aspects of each President's life and work. Each profile also contains images of each President. Some profiles also include audio files and video of the President.

American Presidents Life Portraits is a C-Span series that originally aired a few years ago. The series profiled each of the US Presidents. The profiles were very well produced as each one struck a good balance between profiling the politics of each president and profiling the personal details of each president. (If you enjoyed HBO's Adams series, make sure you also watch C-Span's profile of Adams). Most of the original profiles can be watched online using Real Player. Each segment is also available for purchase.

C-Span also has a few great activities that students can explore on their own or with teacher guidance. Career Paths to the Presidency lets students examine the various routes that presidents took to the White House. Shaping the Nation and the Presidency highlights eight key events that shaped the United States. Each of the eight events contains a video clip explaining the event's significance. The American Presidents timeline quiz is a fifty question interactive quiz.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Zoho Challenge Adds Comprehensive Questions

Zoho Challenge is a part of the Zoho suite of document, presentation, and office productivity tools. Zoho Challenge is a tool that allows you to create and administer quizzes online. Today, Zoho announced that you can now write questions based upon a paragraph statement, an image, or a combination of both. Learn more about Zoho Challenge's comprehensive questions option in the video below.

Here's some of what I've previously written about Zoho Challenge.
Zoho Challenge allows users to create customized tests for students to take online. Zoho Challenge tests can be written with multiple choice or open-ended questions or a combination of both. Tests created with Zoho Challenge can have a time limit imposed or be given without a time limit. Each test can be individually assigned to test takers. Finally, when a test is created with Zoho Challenge the test creator can decide whether or not the test taker can see the results.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Fluid Surveys - Create Surveys With Multiple Response Formats
How to Publish a Quiz Using Google Docs

An Immersive Virtual Tour of the Grand Canyon

This spring Thomas Hayden, one of the original producers of Google Streetview Imagery, recorded a trip through the Grand Canyon. Hayden recorded his trip using Gigapan technology. Gigapan allows photographers to capture complete 360 x 360 degree images. The images are then stitched together to allow viewers to explore the entire scene. For the tour of the Grand Canyon Hayden geolocated each image using the Google Earth browser plugin. You can now virtually tour the Grand Canyon through Thomas Hayden's Gigapan photography. (Note: you do need the Google Earth browser plug-in to view the scenes in the tour). In addition to the Gigapan imagery, Hayden has also published 48 videos from the trip. Some of the videos do a nice job of explaining the geology of the Grand Canyon's many features.

Applications for EducationOne of the special education teachers at my school used to teach an entire unit on geology by walking students through the Grand Canyon with pictures she had taken. Hayden's Gigapan imagery would enable more teachers to use the same model for teaching geology.
Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Tour Mount Redoubt in Google Earth
Forces of Nature - Earth Science Resources

The Volcanoes of Yellowstone

TimeMaps - A Journey Through History

TimeMaps is best described as a mash-up of encyclopedia, timeline, and map elements. TimeMaps' world map is designed as an overview of the development of the world's societies. The map's timeline begins in 3500BC and concludes in 2005AD. Click on the timeline's icons or on the map's icons to learn more about each place represented on the map. The map changes as you progress through the timeline. For example, the 3500BC map represents only five places while the 1871AD map highlights places all over the globe.

Applications for Education
The information provided by TimeMaps is typical of the information you might find in an encyclopedia for elementary or middle school students. The appeal of the TimeMaps is that students can see where the places they're reading about are in global context. For example, if students look at the map in the 1400's they might better understand why Europeans thought they were discovering a new world in 1492 and beyond.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Historic Maps in K-12 Classrooms
Maps of War - Animated Thematic Maps
4 Ways to View the World in Panoramic

Measure the Impact of Asteroids & Atomic Bombs

Carlos Labs, a data architecture and data integration firm in Australia, has developed two Google Maps-based widgets that demonstrate the range of atomic weapons and the size of areas that could be affected by asteroid impacts.

Ground Zero shows the size of an area that would be affected by the impact of an asteroid or the detonation of an atomic bomb. Type a city name into the Ground Zero widget to see a representation of the size of the area affected by an atomic bomb or asteroid impact.

Missile Range Map Tool is a widget that shows the range of various weapons. Select a weapon from the list then Missile Range Map Tool will show the range of that weapon.

Both the Ground Zero and Missile Range Map Tool are widgets that can be embedded into your blog or website. I've embedded the Ground Zero widget below.

H/T to Instructify for the Ground Zero widget.

Applications for Education
One of the challenges history teachers face when explaining the impact of Harry Truman's WWII decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan is getting students to understand the gravity of Truman's decision. The Ground Zero widget allows teachers to move the bomb over a familiar location so that students can better visualize the impact of atomic bombs.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
10 Resources for Teaching and Learning About WWII
National Atlas Map Maker
Atlas of World War II

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Vodburner - Free Skype Call Recording

Vodburner is a free service for recording and editing Skype calls. To use Vodburner you need to download and install the free Vodburner software. Vodburner allows you to record any Skype call regardless of duration. When you're finished recording you can edit the call by removing segments and adding transitions. Vodburner recordings can be directly uploaded to YouTube. (Vodburner is a Windows application).

Applications for Education
Skype is a great tool for connecting classrooms to each other and bringing other visitors into your classroom from anywhere in the world. Recording your Skype call allows you to reuse the conversation and information in the call. For some ideas about using Skype in your classroom visit Skype an Author or watch the following video about Silvia Tolisano's Around the World With Skype project.

Around the World with Skype from langwitches on Vimeo.

Page Easy - Quickly and Easily Build Web Pages

Page Easy is a free service for quickly and easily building simple web pages. Page Easy isn't intended be used for creating full-featured websites. Rather it is intended for use by people who need to build a web page to advertise an event, create small displays of information, or need an online contact page. Page Easy pages can contain any combination of text, images, and videos.

Creating a web page with Page Easy is a fairly straight-forward process. To use Page Easy you do have to create an account. Once you've created an account you can create a page. Choose a page name (which becomes part of the url for your page) then fill in the text boxes, video boxes, or image boxes. If you need more boxes, just look for the "more boxes" link below your last box.

Applications for Education
Page Easy could be used by students to create online collages of information they've gathered or created about a topic. Students could also use Page Easy to make a digital portfolio.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Lifeyo - Quick and Easy Website Creation
8 Ways to Build Websites (Not Blogs) for Free
Moogo - Create a Free Website

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Atlas of the Biosphere

The Atlas of the Biosphere is a series of maps about land use, human impacts on the environment, eco systems, and water resources. Click on any of the four map categories to see a series of maps related to each topic. You will find maps depicting data for the whole world as well as maps depicting data by continent. In addition to the maps, you can also download the data sets from which the maps were created.

Here's a sample of some of the maps and data sets you will find on the Atlas of the Biosphere; infant mortality, suitability for agriculture, growing degree days, and snow depth.

Applications for Education
The data sets and maps found on the Atlas of the Biosphere are intended for use by high school students. The maps and data sets could be used by students studying the impact of land use on the environment. Students could use the data sets to create Google Earth layers to make interactive displays of the data and or mash-up that data with other data sets and existing layers on Google Earth.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Google Earth Across the Curriculum
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers
Using Maps in an Elementary School Math Lesson

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Sharing and Editing Options in Google Docs

Google recently announced some changes to Google Docs that should be of interest to teachers and students. Earlier this week Google announced that they would be rolling-out the new version of the document editor to all users over the next couple of weeks. The new version includes real-time updates (no more refreshing to see what your collaborators have written), chatting with collaborators within your documents, margin settings, and floating images. Learn more about the new Google Docs document editor in the video below.

Yesterday, Google announced new sharing settings for Google Docs. Now rather than simple "shared" or "not shared" labels your documents, presentations, and spreadsheets can be labeled "private," "anyone with link," or "public on the web." These options should make it easier for Google Docs users to keep track of who can or cannot see their documents. Learn more about the new sharing settings in the video below.

Applications for Education
One of the complaints that I've occasionally heard from teachers about Google Docs is the lack of margin adjustments. That problem has been fixed in the new document editor. The new sharing settings should make it easier for students to understand who can see their creations.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers
Beyond Google - Improve Your Search Results
Free Guide - Making Videos on the Web

Interactive Map - Where Americans Are Moving

Forbes has an interesting interactive map that breaks down the movements of Americans by county. Every county in the United States is represented on the Where Americans Are Moving map. Click on a county to see the immigration and emigration data for that county. When you click on a county lines will appear connecting the county you clicked on to all of the other counties people emigrated to or immigrated from. Additionally, the number of people immigrating and emigrating will be displayed when you click on a county. Per capita income for each county is also reported on the map.

Applications for Education
Playing with this map got me thinking about a project my Civics students did last year in which they had to analyze the attractions of living in our area and analyze the deterrents to living in our area. This map provides an opportunity for my next students to take the analysis a step farther by researching what makes the places people go to after leaving our county more appealing than staying in our county.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
The History of Credit Cards in the United States
How Wealthy Countries Tax Their Citizens
Is It Better To Rent or Buy? Interactive Infographic