Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Live Mount Everest Webcam

Long-time readers of Free Technology for Teachers might know that one of my pet topics and lifetime goals is to visit the Himalayas. Therefore, I tend to jump on any opportunity to share resources for teaching and learning about Mount Everest.

A team of scientists studying climate change in Nepal have established a live webcam feed featuring Mount Everest. The camera is only operational during daylight hours in Nepal (roughly 6am to 6pm local time) but if you can grab the feed at the right time you can get some great looks at the mountain. The same researchers are also posting real-time climate data about Mount Everest and other mountains in the region.

H/T to Kraig Becker at The Adventure Blog

Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

Twitter, Google Plus, and the blog-o-sphere are buzzing tonight with the news of the passing of Steve Jobs. Whether you're an "Apple person" or a "PC person" Jobs made an impact on the way that you use computers and mobile devices. The video below is one that I included a couple of years ago in my list of five must-watch commencement addresses. I think that we can learn or be reminded of some important lessons from this commencement address that Jobs gave at Stanford in 2005.

Glassboard - Private, Mobile Group Messaging

Glassboard is an app for Android, Windows, and iOS phones that enables you to create and participate in private groups. Using the app you can create and participate in as many groups as you like. Kind of like when you use Google Plus, you specify which groups can see the content you share. You can share notes, links, pictures, and videos. The content you share and the content others share with you is displayed in a news feed on your mobile device.

Applications for Education
Glassboard, like Beluga that I reviewed last winter, could be a handy app to use when you take students on a field trip. By having everyone use the app you can quickly communicate important information like meeting times to everyone at once.

Soap Box - A Backchanneling Tool for Tablets, Phones, and Laptops

Soap Box is a new service that enables teachers to gather instant feedback from students through their cell phones, tablets, or laptops. Soap Box offers nine useful functions for teachers and students. The video below offers an overview of all of the features. One of the features that grabbed my attention is the "confusion barometer" that allows students to state their status as either "I get it" or "I'm confused." Two other features that jumped out at me are the "smart filter" and the "profanity filter." The smart filter searches for similar questions in the backchannel to avoid duplicates. The profanity filter blocks inappropriate language from being posted in the backchannel.

Applications for Education
Soap Box is still in beta, but you can sign-up now to try it out. What makes it promising is that students can use a variety of devices to submit their feedback. If your school has a bring your device policy this could be the backchannel solution you need. Click here to read about how I've used backchannels in my history courses. Click here for my 2010 Reform Symposium keynote in which I talked about using backchannels in a variety of settings.

The Kids' Science Challenge - Play Games and Develop Projects

The Kids' Science Challenge is a national (United States) contest for students in grades three through six. The challenge asks students to innovate and build upon on our current conceptions of how things work. There are three areas of innovation in this year's contest; reducing waste, developing meals to be eaten on Mars, and developing a toy or game that demonstrates an animal's intelligence. The contest is open until February 29, 2012.

Applications for Education
To help students start thinking about the topics in The Kids' Science Challenge, the challenge website has a series of games and videos for students. For teachers, The Kids' Science Challenge offers a page of lesson plans and hands-on activities designed to help students develop ideas related to the contest's three challenge topics.