Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wow! Qwiki is Engaging

In the last 48 hours since they opened up to the world, I've had numerous people tell me that I had to check out Qwiki. I finally did check it out this afternoon and all I can say is "wow!"

Qwiki is a multimedia encyclopedia containing more than three million entries. Qwiki publishes narrated, illustrated, interactive reference entries. To use Qwiki, enter a topic in the search box or select a topic from the featured topics on the homepage. Then watch, listen, and read the Qwiki entry for that topic. Below your chosen Qwiki you will see a selection of related Qwiki entries. You can also find related materials by clicking the "Q" symbol that appears at the end of the Qwiki play bar.

Qwikis can be embedded into your blog or website. Below I've embedded a Qwiki about archery.

And as the "wiki" in Qwiki implies, registered users can suggest videos and images to improve the reference entries. In the future registered users will be able to create their own Qwiki entries.

Applications for Education
Qwiki could be a fantastic way for students to all kinds of information. For a lot of "standard" curriculum topics, Qwiki's entries provide a more engaging format for learning about those topics than that offered by textbooks. What I'm really looking forward to though is the day when Qwiki lets users create their own entries to display on blogs and websites.

3 Clutter-free Ways to Display YouTube Videos

I'm slowly starting to hear more instances of schools allowing teachers and students to access YouTube in their classrooms. Last week a reader contacted me for suggestions about displaying YouTube videos in her classroom without accidentally having an inappropriate "related video" show up on the screen. What follows are the three resources I recommend for displaying YouTube without the sidebar advertisements and related videos.

View Pure is a simple little tool that strips way all of the distractions of related videos, comments, and promoted videos. To use View Pure just copy the link of a video into the "purifier," click purify, and your video will be displayed on a blank white background. You can also install the View Pure bookmarklet to accomplish the same goal. Of the three tools in this post, ViewPure is the one that I use in my classroom.

Quietube is a handy little browser extension that removes all the clutter from YouTube allowing you to view only your selected video. Quietube removes all advertising, sidebar content, comments, and ratings. Installing Quietube requires nothing more than dragging the Quietube button to your toolbard. Then anytime that you're on YouTube click the Quietube button to remove all of the clutter and just watch your selected video. Quietube works for Viddler and Vimeo videos too. makes it possible to view YouTube videos without displaying the related videos and associated comments. To use simply copy the url of a YouTube video and paste it into SafeShare also offers browser bookmarklet that eliminates the need to copy and paste links.

Here's what looks like in action.

Rethinking Education - Do You Want to be a Part?

Rethinking Education is a new video from Dr. Michael Wesch. I saw the video on Dr. Scott McLeod's blog yesterday and have since watched it twice and listened to just the audio once (the value for me was almost the same without the visuals). The video is embedded below and my reflections are below it.

Replace "printing" at the beginning of the video with "creating" and you have the reason I like Web 2.0 tools for publishing interactive texts, producing videos, and sharing acquired knowledge.

The discussion of what is good knowledge or good information is a discussion that should happen whether the information is online or in print.

Links are very important.

The State of the Union - Video & Text

Last night President Obama delivered the annual State of the Union Address. In addition to all of the usual major media outlets, the address was streamed live on YouTube. The video of last night's entire State of the Union Address is available on YouTube (I've also embedded it below). The text of President Obama's remarks are available here on the White House website.

And if you would like a quick overview of the words most commonly used in President Obama's remarks, check out the Wordle I made from the text.

If you need a quick explanation of the history of the State of the Union Address, CNN Student News offers one in the opening segment of today's episode.