Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Cool Infographic About NASA's Shuttle Program

Yesterday, I posted a CNN Student News video about the end of NASA's space shuttle program. Today, I'd like to share an infographic about the shuttle program that I discovered through the Cool Infographics blog. The following infographic was created by Alberto Cuarda for the Washington Post.

An Uncertain Future depicts the history of the shuttle program including years of and number of missions that each of the five shuttles undertook. Aligned with the timeline of the shuttle missions is a timeline of US Presidents. The infographic also portrays the predecessors to the shuttle program and the possible replacements for the shuttle program. I dropped the image into so that you can zoom in on different parts of it below.

(If you're reading this in RSS you might have to click through to see the image).

Turn-O-Phrase - Word Puzzles for Culture Buffs

Turn-O-Phrase is a simple game of identifying colloquial phrases from a set of two pictures. Depending upon which level you try there may or may not be some words to help you along. Further you advance, the more challenging the activity becomes. Take a look at one of the easier phrases below.

Applications for Education
The one drawback to Turn-O-Phrase is that you have to sign in with a Facebook or Twitter account after you have tried a few challenges. That aside, Turn-O-Phrase could be a nice little activity for ESL/ ELL students. You could also create your own offline version of the game with a collection of pictures cut out of a magazine or printed from an online source.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo.

Why Not Take a Course from Yale This Summer? It's Free

Whether it's for professional development or personal enrichment, the summer is when many of us take a course or two. Fortunately, for those of us looking to take a course just for personal growth, Yale (and many other universities) publishes the entire contents of many of their courses online.

Even though you can't get university credits for working through the Open Yale Courses, it's a great way to brush-up on topics that you might be teaching in the fall or learn more about a topic that you have a natural interest in. For example, I don't foresee myself teaching psychology anytime in the near future, nonetheless I'm loading-up my iPod with the lectures from The Psychology, Biology, and Politics of Food. I plan to take in those lectures over the next four weeks as I'm flying from place to place.

Check out the list of 35 courses available through Open Yale Courses and see if there's something new that you want learn about before school starts again in the fall.

Automatoon - Create Animations for the Web

Automatoon is a free service for creating simple to complex animations that you can reuse anywhere on the web. There are three basic steps to using Automatoon. First, you draw and color your images. Second, you break apart each element of your drawing. And third, you specify the animation action for each part of your drawing. For example, when I made a simple animation of a face I started by drawing the face then separating the elements and finally specified the sequence in which I wanted the face to be reassembled as an animation.

You can add as many parts to your Automatoon animations as you like. There are three basic animation actions that you can specify; bend, change, and move. Each part of your drawing can have one, two, or all three of those actions. The tricky part is putting together the correct sequence of actions.

Automatoon uses HTML5 so that you can create and view your animations on devices like the iPad 2 that don't support Flash.

Watch the video below for a tutorial on creating animations using Automatoon.

Applications for Education
Automatoon reminded me a tiny bit of the old Logo Writer program that I used to create animations in elementary school. What I remember about making those animations with Logo Writer is that I had to make sure my sequences were correct in order to have my animations display the way that I wanted them to. In that sense Automatoon also requires users to specify sequences correctly in order to produce an animation as they envisioned it. So in that sense Automatoon could be used as a way for students to see the importance of proper sequencing. But that's about where the similarities between the two programs end.

Automatoon could also simply be used as a tool for students to develop animations for websites and other multimedia projects that they're developing. Perhaps you could have students build animations to explain things like a lunar eclipse or volcanic eruptions.

Minigroup - Create Private Groups for Blogging and Sharing Files

Minigroup is a free service for creating private groups in which you can share files, calendars, and announcements. Within your Minigroup account you can create multiple private groups so that you can have a group for sharing with friends, a group for sharing with colleagues, and a group for sharing with students. In each of your Minigroup groups you can post and invite people to events, post reminders, and share files. Minigroup postings are hid from search engines and anyone who is not invited into your group.

Watch a video overview of Minigroup below.

Applications for Education
Minigroup could be used as a private group blog for your classes. You could have students contribute to the group blog. Minigroup allows you to create multiple groups within your account so if you teach multiple sections of the same course you could oversee multiple groups with one log-in.