Monday, May 9, 2011

Grab a Piece of NASA History

Later this year, after more than thirty years, NASA will retire the space shuttle program. Even though NASA is discontinuing the shuttle program, parts of the program can continue on in your school, library, or museum. NASA is distributing parts of shuttles and other space equipment  to qualifying educational organizations. Included in the list of parts is more than 7,000 tiles from shuttle heat shields. Click here to find out how your school can acquire a piece of NASA history.

Applications for Education
Having a space shuttle heat shield tile or another piece of space shuttle equipment could be a neat way to spark students' imaginations and lead to inquiry-based questions.

H/T to Meg Wilson for Tweeting the NASA link earlier today. 

New Sort by Subject Option in Google Images

Today, Google launched a new way to sort the results of an image search. Now you can sort images by subject. Now when you need help locating an image for your next multimedia project you can narrow your choices to a particular subject. Learn more about sort by subject in the video below. To access the sort by subject option click on "sort by subject" on your image search results page.

A Brief History of Time Zones - Interactive Display

I read an interesting article today on the BBC News site about Samoa changing time zones again this year. In doing so they will move to the west side of the International Date Line and jump ahead one day. At the bottom of that article there is a link to A Brief History of Time Zones.

A Brief History of Time Zones includes an interactive globe that tells the history of the development of timezones. The interactive globe also includes many videos and links to explanations of things like why China has just one timezone while Russia has nine. Have you ever wondered what timezone people use in Antarctica? A Brief History of Time Zones has an answer for you.

Applications for Education
A Brief History of Time Zones could be a useful supplement to a geography or history lesson about time zones. Students can pick up information about the roles of industry and politics in the use and development of time zones.

Impressed by the iPadsibilities of iPads in Special Ed

Over the weekend I had the great pleasure to attend Ed Camp Boston. My friend Harold Shaw and I drove down together early in the morning. On the drive down the conversation turned to tablet devices and their use(s) by schools. Neither of us have iPads or other tablets in our classrooms, but we're intrigued by the conversations happening around their use in schools.

As the Ed Camp Boston schedule filled-up, it was clear that Harold and I weren't the only ones interested in exploring the possibilities for iPads in classrooms. I choose to attend an afternoon session titled iPads & iPods in Special Education led by Meg Wilson. I won't bore you with a blow-by-blow of the whole hour. In short, I'm very impressed by the possible uses of iPads in special education, particularly with students who have multiple special needs. The app that Meg showed that impressed me most is Sign for Me. Sign for Me is definitely not a free app, but if I needed it I would gladly pay for it.

In the same session Meg directed us to a great wiki called Mobile Learning 4 Special Needs where you can find a large categorized list and review of apps for use with special education students.

I'm still not ready to run out and deploy iPads to all 1250 students in my school. However, now that I've seen some more of the possibilities, I am less skeptical of the idea of deploying iPads in a 1:1 classroom. I continue to look forward to learning more about iPad uses in schools.

Web Doc - Multimedia Conversations Made Easy

Web Doc is a new service that is best described as a blog platform that offers rich multimedia commenting. If you've ever tried Tumblr, Web Doc will initial look familiar to you. Web Doc makes it easy to create a new post full of multiple media formats. Web Doc provides templates for  changing the visual background of each post, widgets for all kinds of purposes (calendar, games, etc), and of course lots of options for video and image display.

What makes Web Doc unique is that people who visit your Web Doc can reply with Web Docs of their own. In other words, the comments written in reply to your Web Doc can contain all of the rich multimedia elements that a Web Doc started from scratch can contain. This takes commenting to a new level compared to "traditional" blog platforms that only allow hyperlinks to be inserted into a comment.

Watch the video below to learn more and see Web Doc in action.

webdoc in action from webdoc on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
One way that I can envision Web Doc being used in the classroom is as a collaborative blog about current news events. One student could start a Web Doc by posting a news video he or she found online and writing a reflection on the video. The other students could then build the conversation by adding their own text, image, or video comments.