Friday, February 18, 2011

The Awesome Library

The Awesome Library is a collection of more than 37,000 educational resources organized by academic category and sub-categories. For example, if you click on the "teacher" category you can then select from nine sub-categories about teaching. Or try selecting the "technology" category where you will find guides for using technology including this Internet guide for beginners.

Applications for EducationThe Awesome Library could be a good reference resource for teachers and students alike. The categorization scheme is easy to navigate which may be helpful for students that have difficulty refining general Internet searches. 

Embed Plus - Clip & Annotate YouTube Videos

If you've ever shown a YouTube video in your classroom and wanted to show just a portion of it for students to discuss, you know the inconvenience of trying to skip to the right starting point. Embed Plus addresses that problem and others. Embed Plus allows you to start a video at any point you specify. You can also use Embed Plus to skip scenes in a video, play it in slow motion, zoom into an area of a video, and annotate a video.

The annotation feature of Embed Plus is a nice complement to the real-time reactions feature offered by Embed Plus. Real-time reactions pulls in Twitter and YouTube comments about your chosen video. The annotation feature lets you comment on specific parts of a video. Your annotations can include links that you insert.

Here's a video without using Embed Plus.

Here's the same video using Embed Plus.

Applications for Education
If you're in the habit of embedding videos into your blog or website for students to watch, Embed Plus could be a good tool for you. You can use Embed Plus to have your embedded videos start and end at the places you want so that you can direct students' attention to the most important parts. You can use the annotate with links feature to direct students to information that will build upon what students watched in your embedded video.

Use Your Own Data in the Google Public Data Explorer

Last spring Google launched the Public Data Explorer. The Public Data Explorer allows anyone with a Google account to create visualizations of public data sets. Until this week, the only data you could visualize was the data from Google's preferred providers (World Bank, US CDC, US Bureau of Labor, and others). This week Google announced that you can now upload and create visualizations of your own datasets in the Public Data Explorer. To do this you need to use the new Data Set Publishing Language (DSPL) developed by Google. The process of upload data in the DSPL format isn't something you'll learn in minutes, but if you're really interested in doing it Google does have a step-by-step tutorial for you to follow.

To learn more about the Google Public Data Explorer and how it could be used in schools, please read my comments here. Here's part of what I wrote about it last year:

Applications for Education
My first thought when I saw Google's Public Data Explorer was that I could use it in my civics course. Each year in my civics course I ask students to analyze data and create a public policy proposal based on that analysis. The Public Data Explorer could help students compare data sets.

Another good resource for creating data visualizations is Google's Fusion Tables tool

Collaborize Classroom - An Online Learning Platform

Collaborize Classroom is a free service that host websites for teachers. The fundamental purpose of Collaborize Classroom is to provide a discussion forum for teachers and students. On Collaborize Classroom teachers can post assignments, notes, and media for students. Students can reply to the teacher and to each other. To help teachers keep track of student use of their sites, Collaborize Classroom provides teachers participation and activity reports about each registered user of their sites.

Applications for Education
Collaborize Classroom doesn't offer a lot of options in the aesthetics department, but it makes up for it by offering an easy-to-use service for teachers and students. The participation and activity reports could prove to be very helpful and time-saving for teachers.