Thursday, September 15, 2011

Explore a Map of 900+ UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO Places recently released a new site design that features a Google Map of more than 900 World Heritage Sites. You can zoom and click on the map to find and explore sites all around the world. Clicking on a placemark will take you to a page of information with pictures about that World Heritage Site. From there you can click through to pages of information about other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the same region.

Applications for Education
The UNESCO Places map could be a good resource for geography and history teachers. Students could use the map as the starting point in a research project about significant historical sites in various regions of the world.

More Ways to Edit Your Videos in YouTube

Yesterday, I posted a list of twelve useful YouTube accessories. In that list I included directions for using YouTube's video editor and creating "choose your own adventure" videos using YouTube's annotation tool. Shortly after I wrote that post YouTube introduced some more ways to edit your videos.

In the past when you uploaded a video to YouTube it was stayed up as is unless you took it down. But if you uploaded a video and then realized that there was something else you wanted to do to the video you then had to take down the video, re-edit it, then upload it again. That is no longer the case. Now you can edit your videos within YouTube without having to re-upload them.

The new YouTube editing option allows you to add color effects, trim your videos, and change soundtracks within your browser. To do these things just click on "edit video" while viewing your video (you do have to be signed into your account to do this). Watch the video below for a short overview of the new YouTube video editing options.

Applications for Education
If you have your students uploading their video projects to YouTube the new editing options could be useful for them. Being able to make minor edits without having to go through the whole process of taking down then uploading the new versions of their videos could be a good time-saver that will allow you and your students to move on to the next learning activity.

Word Tamer - An Interactive Story Builder

Word Tamer is a neat site for learning the process of developing characters, settings, and plots in creative writing. Word Tamer is set up as an interactive journey through a carnival of literary devices. As students move through the carnival they develop characters, develop a setting, and develop a plot for their stories. At each stop in the Word Tamer carnival students can print out the words they have written. Along the way there are videos to help students understand the roles of characters, settings, and plot development in crafting a good story.

Applications for Education
I learned about Word Tamer from Kristen Swanson who noted that the narration and graphics make the site UDL-friendly. I think that Word Tamer has potential to get reluctant writers started on their way to crafting creative stories.

Try Posterous Spaces for Private Classroom Blogging

Posterous, a blog service that I've written about in the past, recently made some changes to their service that educators should be aware of. First, the name of the service is now Posterous Spaces to reflect the fact that the service is designed for groups to share content with each other publicly or privately. Second, now when you create a blog or "space" with Posterous you can make that space public or private. A private space can only be viewed by those people you specify in your administration panel. Likewise, you can control who can and cannot comment on your blog's posts. You can maintain a mixture of private and public spaces within one Posterous Spaces account.

One thing that hasn't changed about Posterous is that you can still allow people to make contributions to your blog by simply sending an email to "yourblog'sname" @ You can choose to moderate or not moderate those contributions. From an administrative standpoint, using the email method of contributing to a group blog is much easier than having to enter permissions for each person you want contributing to your group blog.

Here are two videos explaining the new Posterous Spaces features.

Introducing Posterous Spaces from Posterous on Vimeo.

What's new and what's different about Posterous Spaces from Posterous on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned above, you can have people contributing to a group blog using Posterous Spaces without having to create usernames and passwords for them. Simply have them send an email to "yourblog'sname" and their posts can appear on the blog. It's the quickest way that I have found to get a classroom full of students contributing to one blog. In fact, this is the method that I am using in my Global Studies course this fall.