Monday, November 22, 2010

Synch Microsoft Office with Google Docs

If you're a Microsoft Office user who has been flirting with the idea of trying Google Docs or you've been dabbling in it but just haven't taken the plunge, Google has announced a free product just for you. This morning Google announced the launch of Google Cloud Connect.

Cloud Connect is a free plugin for Microsoft Office that will enable you to synch your documents to Google Documents. Every time you edit and click save on your Microsoft Office documents it will also save the revisions in Google Docs. Synched documents can be accessed through Google Docs or through the original Microsoft Office file. Google Cloud Connect works with Microsoft Office 2003, 2007, and 2010. For now Cloud Connect is only available to Google Apps for Business, but should be rolled out to all Google Apps users in the near future. There are a lot of reviews of Cloud Connect on the web, but the best one I've read today is found on TechCrunch.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Edit Google Docs on a Field Trip
Twenty Google Tools Tutorials for Teachers
New Visualization Charts in Google Docs

Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold

Absolute Zero is a NOVA program that originally aired in 2008. I recently stumbled upon it and thought it would be of interest to science teachers, mathematics teachers, and perhaps to history teachers. Absolute Zero traces the history of the study of cold temperatures from the first thermometers to the work of modern scientists studying the science of cold. Along the way viewers pick up bits of information about how harnessing the power of cold changed daily life, industry, and trade around the world. Watch the video below.

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA.

Applications for Education
On the PBS Video site, where you can watch the entire program, you will find some excellent supporting materials including interactive displays and timelines. A Sense of Scale is an interactive display that enables students to put temperatures they're familiar with (room temperatures for example) in the context of a greater temperature scale that includes absolute zero and Planck temperature. A Matter of Degrees is an interactive display that asks students to create their own temperature scales using two fixed reference points. Milestones in Cold Research is a timeline of significant developments in the study of temperature. Finally, if you're looking for more ideas about using Absolute Zero in your classroom, NOVA has a teacher's guide that you can read online or print.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
NOVA on Hulu
Winter Physical Education Activities - Igloos and More
Understanding Genetics - Online Exhibits

Snag Learning Film of the Week - The Luckiest Nut in the World

This week's Snag Learning Film of the Week is The Luckiest Nut in the World. The Luckiest Nut in the World is a short (8 minutes) video that tells a story about free trade through peanuts. In the video students will learn the terms trade liberalization and free markets. The video explains how trade liberalization and free market policies have affected Senegal's peanut trade. Finally, some musical numbers introduce students to the IMF, the WTO, and the World Bank. Watch the film and find discussion questions here.
Watch more free documentaries

Applications for Education
I like this film for two reasons. First, it puts some important global trade vocabulary into terms that most middle school and high school students can understand. Second, it does it in a way that doesn't require them to endure a long, boring lecture or documentary.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Snag Learning Film of the Week - The Family Meal
Snag Learning Film of the Week - Becoming Barack
Snag Learning Film of the Week - Emperors of Ice

Why I Write Free Technology for Teachers

This morning Scott McLeod posted a list of things that we would do if we were serious about educational technology. His list could be viewed as a checklist of mindsets schools should be striving to adopt.

I'm often asked why I write this blog. And the answer is simple, to help teachers learn about technology that they can access and use in their classrooms. Two of the items on Scott's list really speak to the need for the work that folks like myself, Larry Ferlazzo, Kelly Tenkely, Adam Bellow, and many others do everyday.

  • "better educate and train school administrators rather than continuing to turn out new leaders that know virtually nothing about creating, facilitating, and/or sustaining 21st Century learning environments." 
  • "treat seriously and own personally the task of becoming proficient with the digital tools that are transforming everything instead of nonchalantly chuckling about how little we as educators know about computers."

Three Ways to Cut, Mix, & Mash YouTube Videos

This post was inspired by a request from a reader for a tool that can be used to mash-up YouTube clips. YouTube is full of great content that can be useful in the classroom (YouTube is also full of nonsense that causes schools to block it). Sometimes you only need to show a part of a video to illustrate a point. Other times it could be useful to string together a series of videos. The following tools can be used to cut, mix, and mash-up YouTube clips.

Disclaimer: Some of these tools might be interpreted as a violation of YouTube's terms of service. I'm not a lawyer so I'll let you interpret the T.O.S. for yourself and determine if you should use these tools in your school.

TubeChop gives you the ability to clip a section from any YouTube video and share it. This could be useful if there is a section of long YouTube video that you want to share with your students. One such instance could be if you want to show students studying public speaking a section of commencement address as a model.

Splicd is a service that lets users select and share a segment of a YouTube video. Splicd is a simple and easy service to use. To use Splicd all you have to do is select a video from YouTube, copy the video's url into Splicd, then enter the start and end times of the video segment you wish to watch. This service will be particularly useful for those times that you want to share only a part of a long video. Click here to see Splicd in action.

If you made mix tapes in the 80's, the concept of Drag On Tape will be familiar to you. Drag On Tape makes it easy to string together a series of YouTube videos and or sections of YouTube videos. Create your mix tape of videos just launch the Drag On Tape editor, enter a search term for videos, then drag videos on to the Drag On Tape timeline. You enter searches and drag videos as many times as you like. To trim video timings and string videos together just match them up on the timeline editor. Drag On Tape allows you to collaborate with others on a mix.

On a related note, if you have raw video footage that you want to edit or you have a collection of your own videos on YouTube that you want to edit, the YouTube video editor is quite easy to use. You can find the directions here.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
47 Alternatives to YouTube
Auto-captioning Available for YouTube Videos
Downloading Videos for Use in the Classroom
Free Guide - Making Videos on the Web

Educational Games & Toys for Your Holiday Lists

The holiday shopping season kicks-off in full force at the end of this week. To help those who will be shopping for children's gifts this year, I recently talked with The Toy Guy, Christopher Byrne about his picks of educational games and toys for the season. Fans of Regis & Kelly, Oprah, or the Today Show may recognize The Toy Guy. While The Toy Guy does love toys and games, he also recommends taking kids on a good old fashioned trip to the public library. The video of our conversation is embedded below.

Make sure you check out Time to Play Magazine for more games and toys reviews.

Here are the toys and games The Toy Guy mentions in the video.
vTech V.Reader Animated E-Book System
LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Learning Game System
Hyper Dash Extreme
Woody's Run Around Round Up Game

This one is not mentioned in the video, but I found it while exploring Time to Play Magazine and thought it had potential to be good. LeapFrog Tag Maps

If you're looking for educational games and toys to add to your classroom, I recommend reading Gary Stager's recent post 'Tis The Season for Technology.