Friday, November 18, 2011

Kerbal Space Program - Create Your Own Space Program

Kerbal Space Program is a neat new program (still in beta) for Mac and Windows that allows students to create and manage their own virtual space travel programs. One of the highlights of Kerbal is that through the software students can develop and test rockets. In the testing phase students get instant feedback on the speed and potential orbiting path of the rockets that they virtually launch. Watch the video below for a complete overview of the Kerbal Space Program.

For clarification, the beta version of the software is free. The developers do plan to start charging $7 to download the software in the future though so get it while it's still free.

Thanks to my friend and colleague Mike Morrel for sharing this one on Facebook.

Study Stream - Language Learning Videos and Exercises

Study Stream is a new service for learning to read and speak Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Portuguese. Study Stream takes an interesting approach to helping people learn these languages. The centerpiece of the Study Stream system is a collection of videos and articles in the language that you're trying to learn. The videos and articles are accompanied by side-by-side translations to help you follow along. From each video or article you can select words and phrases that you want to study through the study exercises provided by Study Stream.

Applications for Education
Study Stream reminds me a bit of a service called 22 Frames that also uses current, relevant videos to help students acquire new language skills. While I don't think it can replace formal instruction with a world languages teacher, Study Stream could be a good independent practice tool for students.

Catch - Capture and Share Notes Anywhere

Catch is a service that allows you to create bookmarks, text notes, voice notes, and images anytime you're on the web. Catch offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. You can also use Catch on Android and iOS devices to save notes. You can find the Android and iOS apps here. Notes that you save to your Catch account can be just a simple link, a link with a note, an image that you capture on your phone, or voice message.

This week Catch announced a new feature called Catch Streams. Streams are collaborative sets of links and notes. With a free account you can establish up to three Streams. In each Stream you and your team can build collections of resources, brainstorm by sharing notes, and keep track of goals you've set.

Applications for Education
I often get ideas for a lesson while not near a computer. Services like Catch allow me to capture those ideas on my phone. Later when I get to a computer I'll expand upon my idea. Students who work the same way, might find Catch to be a handy tool for capturing their ideas whenever they get them. Catch Streams will enable those same students working on group research projects to collaboratively brainstorm and build resources lists.

Using Pictures for Current Events Lessons

Everyday the BBC runs a feature called the Day in Pictures that displays a small collection of photographs from around the world. For years I've used this resource as a conversation starter for current events discussions in my Global Studies classes. The Day in Pictures collections are part of a much larger resource from the BBC simply called In Pictures. The In Pictures resource provides hundreds of images in a variety collections and slide shows about current events throughout the world. Some of the slide shows even include narration. All of the images include captions explaining what is happening in the picture and a little background knowledge about the event being photographed.

Applications for Education
The In Pictures collections from the BBC are great conversation starters for current events discussions. The collections are also great supplementary material for students to use in presentations about current events. For visual learners the images from the In Pictures collections are helpful for providing visual connections and context to a story.