Thursday, January 20, 2011

Saving Money (Compound Interest) in Plain English

Saving Money in Plain English is a Common Craft production that provides a concise explanation of the benefits of saving money in a bank or credit union. While the video doesn't explain how to calculate compound interest, it does explain the benefit to your savings of compound interest.

Khan Academy has some good videos that introduce and explain how to calculate compound interest. The first two videos in the series are embedded below.

Applications for Education
When my school still offered a consumer mathematics course, calculating compound interest was an important concept in the course. These videos could help students understand the benefits of interest and perhaps see why they would want to know how to calculate compound interest.

Lawrence Lessig Explains Creative Commons Licensing

Almost everyone knows what Copyright is, but say "Creative Commons" to a group of people and you're likely to see some confused looks. In short, Creative Commons is a licensing system that content creators (writers, artists, photographers) use to give permission to others to reuse their works. I've previously mentioned some good resources for learning about Creative Commons. This afternoon I found an oldish (2006) video interview with the founder of Creative Commons, Lawrence Lessig,  explaining what Creative Commons is and its purpose. The video is embedded below.

42 Tasks - A Free Task Management Tool

42 Tasks is a new, free, online task management tool. The appeal of 42 Tasks is the simple user interface that it features. After you have registered for an account on 42 Tasks, adding tasks to your calendar is a very simple process. To add tasks just type them into the blank description line in your dashboard then select a date from the calendar. Tasks are automatically arranged in chronological order. You can also place tasks within task categories that you've created.

42 Tasks doesn't currently offer group task management, but according to their homepage that is a feature they're working on adding.

Applications for Education
There is no shortage of online task management tools on the web (here's seven others I like). But even the best task management tools are worthless if students don't use them. For that reason, I like to provide students with a number of options to try because the user interface of one task management tool might appeal to one student while not be appealing at all to another student.

The Vision of Students Today - Call for Submissions

Last week I shared with you Professor Michael Wesch's  preliminary call for contributions to a new video he and his students are working on. The video will be called The Vision of Students Today. The purpose of the video is to capture students' perspectives of the world and their most critical learning moments. Professor Wesch now has more information and how-to tips posted on his blog. He also posted a video of how-to tips and information about the project. I've embedded the video below.

And for those who don't know who Michael Wesch is, he's the Kansas State University professor who produced, with students, the very popular video A Vision of Students Today.

Applications for Education
As I wrote last week, recording a contribution for The Vision of Students Today could be a good way to get students thinking about their learning. It could also be a good professional learning activity to get a sense of what your students see as important in their learning and perhaps what they think your school thinks is important.

An Update on Link Within - A Related Posts Widget

This post is more of a blogging tip along the lines of 11 Things You Should Know About Blogging than it is a post about technology and education.

On the last day of 2010 I installed and wrote about a neat widget called Link Within. Link Within is a widget for blogs that automatically generates a list of related posts at the bottom of each of your blog posts. In the post in which I introduced Link Within I also explained why a blogger would want to use a widget like Link Within. The short explanation of why you would install it is; it will help visitors discover more content on your blog and stay on your blog longer.

The preliminary statistical results.
Here are the preliminary statistics (after 20 days) related to using Link Within on Free Technology for Teachers. In the 20 days since I installed it Link Within is ranked 14th out of 2,813 for traffic referrals to the blog. The average number of page views per visitor is up by 6% and the time on site is up almost 8%. Now it would be disingenuous to say that those increases are entirely the result of Link Within because I wrote a couple of posts in the week immediately after installing the widget that were wildly popular on Diigo, Delicious, Twitter, and other networks and introduced some new visitors the site. That said, the referral rate on its own is promising.