Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Videos - How Candidates Raise and Spend Money

The amount of money that Presidential candidates spend on their campaigns is just mind boggling to me. Chances are good that it's mind boggling to your students too. CNN's Explain It To Me series has a couple of videos explaining how candidates raise money and what they spend that money on.

Here is How Candidates Raise Money.

Here is Campaign Spending. One of the statistics in this video that might help your students understand how much money is spent on campaigns is that Kobe Bryant would have to play for 29 years to earn as much money as President Obama spent in 2008.

On a much lighter note, and use your discretion before using this in your classroom, the Colbert Super Pac Coordination Resolution With Jon Stewart actually does include some good explanation of a couple of finer points about political super pacs.

Applications are Still Being Accepted for Google Teacher Academy UK

The Google Teacher Academy is held periodically at various locations throughout the world. I had the privilege of attending GTA when it was held in Washington, D.C. in 2009. This spring there will be a Google Teacher Academy in London on April 4th. If you're interested in becoming a Google Certified Teacher, applications are being accepted until February 16th.

On a few previous occasions I have written about applying to GTA and the experience. If you're interested in my advice about GTA, here are some of my thoughts:
Overcoming the Video Hurdle of Applying to GTA
Advice for Applicants
Why Google Apps for Education? Why GTA?

Free Bike Tours for Teachers

Image Credit: Ian Britton Free Foto
My lifelong friend Steve Thompson runs a company called Crate Works that builds travel cases for bicycles. This morning he sent me an email about a free travel opportunity for teachers. Experience Plus Bicycle Tours gives away bicycle tour packages to teachers every summer. The tours are in Europe, South America, and Central America. If you're a cycling enthusiast, teaching at least half-time in the United States you're eligible to apply. Applications are due by March 30, 2012.

Two Tools for Reading ePub Files in Your Browser

ePub documents are everywhere now. But if you don't have an ereader, you might feel like you're missing out on something. Fortunately, there are some tools that you can use to read ePub documents on your laptop or desktop. Here are two tools that I have used to read ePub documents on my laptop.

EPUBReader is a Firefox add-on that will allow you to read ePub documents within your browser. EPUBReader downloads ePub files and displays them directly in your browser. The video below offers a short demonstration.

Magic Scroll is a Chrome web app that you can use to read ePub files on your desktop or laptop even if you do not have an internet connection.

If you want to convert webpages into ePub documents, dotEPUB is a good Chrome web app for that. I previously wrote about dotEPUB in October. Here is a video overview of dotEPUB.

Applications for Education
Both of these browser add-ons could be good to have installed on your school's library computers or computer lab computers. If students are conducting research and encounter an ePub document, they will be able to access it without the need to send it to an ereader.

A History of Timelines & 5 Tools to Make Your Own

Through Brain Pickings I discovered a neat set of timelines called the Cartographies of Time. The Cartographies of Time are historical map and timeline mash-ups. I've embedded one of my favorite images from the Cartographies of Time below.

The Cartographies of Time made me think that it would be fun to have students create their own creative timelines like this one drawn as dragon, but if you would like to have your students create a more "traditional" multimedia timelines, I have a short list of good tools for that too.

Better World Flux allows users to create animated visualizations of development data. To use Better World Flux (no registration required) all you have to do is select a data set from the menu provided and select a country or countries from the menu provided. From there Better World Flux creates an animated data visualization for you. The visualization will change as the years on the timeline at the bottom of the visualization change. This way users can see growth and recession of a statistic over time.

Using XTimeline students can collaborate, just as they would when making a wiki, to build a multimedia timeline. Timelines built using XTimeline can include text, images, and video. XTimeline will accept dates in A.D./B.C. format.

Using the annotation and spotlight tools in YouTube's video editor your students can create a sequence of educational videos in a "choose your own adventure" style. Your students could create short videos about a series of events and link them together. In a very sequential course like U.S. History you could have students making videos and linking them together throughout a semester or longer. Click here or here to find directions on how to link videos together.

Time Toast is easy to learn to use. To add events to a timeline simply click on the inconspicuous "add an event" button and a simple event box pops up in which you can enter enter text, place a link, or add a picture.

Animaps wasn't built specifically for creating timelines, but it could be used for that purpose. Animaps is a service that was built for the purpose of allowing users to create animated Google Maps. The basics of creating maps in Animaps is very similar the process for creating maps in Google Maps. The main benefit of using Animaps over Google Maps is that you can create a tour of your placemarks that plays through according to the timing that you specify. Another benefit is that you can build in colored shapes to expand and contract to demonstrate patterns. You can also import images to your map from Flickr, Picassa, and Facebook. Click here to watch a demonstration of Animaps in action.

Bending the Rules for Good

On Monday Chris Brogan wrote a post, Throw Away the Maps, that reminded me of an analogy that I've often made in my own presentations, but have only hinted at in blog posts until now. In Throw Away the Maps, Brogan tells readers to work toward something larger and more meaningful than your job description.

I love to watch re-runs of M.A.S.H. whenever I get a chance (not having a television at home, that's not very often). I've always connected with Alan Alda's character Captain Hawkeye Pierce. Hawkeye was the best surgeon in camp, but not the best soldier in the Army's eyes because he had a tendency to ignore Army rules if they were in the way of delivering best care to his patients or if they were in the way of being a humanitarian. As educators there are times when organizational rules might stand in the way of providing the best educational experiences for our students. When that happens will you choose to be like Hawkeye?

I often use the above analogy in response to questions about cell phones in schools. You can read about some of my experiences with cell phones in schools here.