Tuesday, March 9, 2010

TED Talk - Kites Tap Wind Energy

I watched this short TED Talk twice today because I was intrigued by ideas for using wind energy as presented by Saul Griffith. The video does a nice job of presenting ideas for using wind energy. The first half of the talk is probably more accessible to middle school and high school students than is the second half of the talk. The kite-powered hydrafoil might inspire some neat science fair experiments. The talk is less than six minutes so it won't take much time to show in classroom.

Snap Groups - Create Private Message Board Groups

Snap Groups is new service that allows anyone to create private or public message groups. In Snap Groups you can create your own group in which to share short messages with other group members. Groups take just a few seconds to create and are given their own unique urls. Of most value to educators is that Snap Groups can be made completely private and hidden from public view. When you create a group you're given the option to make your group public or private, the option to moderate messages, restrict who can join your group, and restrict who can see your group and its messages.

Thanks to Read Write Web for the lead on Snap Groups.

Applications for Education
Snap Groups could be a good option for hosting a back-channel in your classroom. The advantages of using Snap Groups over some other chat services include being able to make your students' messages completely hidden from public search, no distracting advertising, and your group doesn't ever expire therefore you can keep a record of messages.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Back-channeling During a Class Viewing of Glory
Try TodaysMeet for Back-channel Chat Without Distraction
Neat Chat - Quickly Create an Ad-free Chatroom

Big Blue Button - An Open Source Video Conferencing Platform

Big Blue Button is an open source project that has developed a video conferencing system similar to the commercial offerings of Adobe Connect and Elluminate. Big Blue Button was created for the purpose of teaching online. Just as Adobe and Elluminate do, Big Blue Button allows you to present slides, chat via text, talk with presentation participants via VOIP, and share screens. Watch the demo videos here to see Big Blue Button in action.

Applications for Education
Big Blue Button is not a hosted solution so you will need to have server space dedicated to it and you'll probably need a person willing to invest some time in learning about Big Blue Button. For those reasons Big Blue Button is being marketed (although "marketed" is not really the right term for an open source project) to colleges and universities where there are more technical and human resources available as compared to K-12 public schools. That said, if you have the technical and human resources in place to implement it, Big Blue Button could represent a cost-effective way to offer online classes to middle school and high school students.

Creating a Teacher's Online Hub

The image below is of a chart that I developed to use as a slide in a presentation that I'm giving next week. The full presentation, which I've done before, is about creating effective teacher blogs and websites. This image will possibly be a new addition to my existing slidedeck and I'm looking for feedback. If you have suggestions for making it better or you just think it's a lousy diagram, please leave a comment.

Click image to view full size.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you: - Easy Media Sharing (10 Things You Can Do With
Let Your Students Blog
The Classroom Blogging Process

Scenes From a Ruined Boulevard - Interactive Photo Essay

The New York Times has an interactive photo essay about post-earthquake Haiti. Scenes From a Ruined Boulevard is a long series of photos taken on a quarter-mile stretch
of Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines
. Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines is one of the busiest streets in Port-au-Prince. Strung together the images give viewers a good sense of the destruction caused by the earthquake in Haiti. Viewers can explore the images by using a horizontal scroll bar or by selecting one of the five chapters. Scenes From a Ruined Boulevard provides some text in the photo essay to help explain what is recorded in the images.

Applications for Education
In my school all seniors are required to do some type of public service project before graduation. Some of our students are doing fundraisers for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Those students could share with others a visual reference, like Scenes From a Ruined Boulevard, to raise awareness of the need for aid.