Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stuck With IE6 and Old Computers - Advice Wanted

I received an email last week from a reader named Allison who teaches in a school that doesn't allow her to upgrade the browser on the computers in her computer lab. And the computers themselves are running Windows 2000. This teacher was hoping that I could provide a list of engaging elementary school websites that will run well on Windows 2000 machines that are using IE6.

Since I don't have access to a computer that uses Windows 2000, I'm hoping that those of you who are or have recently been in the same position as my emailer can offer some advice in the comments. What resources would recommend to an elementary school teacher who has to use Windows 2000 and IE6 with her students? Please leave a comment and help out a fellow elementary school teacher. 

If you're wondering why you should update your web browser when new versions come out, read this.

Create Games Using Stencyl

Stencyl is a free program for creating flash-based games on your Mac or Windows computer. Using Stencyl you can create a fairly complex game even if you don't have any coding skills at all. That is possible because Stencyl uses a drag and drop interface to enable game creation. Stencyl provides a huge selection of characters, settings, and elements to add to each scene of your games. To create and direct the actions within your games Stencyl gives you a block-snapping interface to construct actions and sequences. The block-snapping interface will look familiar to people who have used Scratch or Android App Inventor.

Watch the video below to learn more about Stencyl.

Applications for Education
I learned about Stencyl from an article on Read Write Web and thought to myself, "I can quickly make a game." I was wrong. Stencyl is not something that you or your students are likely to figure out in a class or two. That is because Stencyl offers so many options for creating and editing games. In fact, Stencyl recommends that you have at least an hour to work through the first game creation tutorial. That said, the process of figuring out the sequences that go into a game could be a great exercise in developing logical problem solving skills.

New Streetside Views on Bing Maps

Bing Maps recently announced updates to their Streetside Views for desktop browsers. The new Streetside Views offer better panoramic views of city streets and landmarks. In the past exploring Streetside Views was a double-clicking point-to-point experience. Now in Streetside Views you can slide through the panoramas to virtually tour streets in major U.S. cities. The Streetside View includes an overlay of business names and street names when available.

Here's a landmark in Streetside View for all my fellow Red Sox fans.

Applications for Education
Streetside doesn't have nearly same quantity of views that Google Streetview has. But for the places where Streetside is available, the viewing experience is better than that in Google Streetview. If you would like your students to take a virtual tour of a major U.S. city, give Bing's Streetside Views a try.

Computer Viruses and Threats Explained by Common Craft

Common Craft has just released another great explanatory video. The newest video is called Computer Viruses and Threats Explained by Common Craft and it does exactly what the title says. The three minute video clearly explains different types of computer viruses, how viruses are spread, and how you can prevent getting viruses and prevent spreading viruses. You can watch the new video on the Common Craft website.

A related video that you should also check out is Common Craft's Secure Websites in Plain English.

Applications for Education
Are you looking for a good explanation to share with students as to why they shouldn't open suspicious files or links? If so, Computer Viruses and Threats Explained by Common Craft is the video for you.