Wednesday, March 28, 2012

ChronoZoom - A Timeline of Almost Everything

ChronoZoom is a new timeline project from Microsoft Research. The primary goal of ChronoZoom is to provide a multimedia timeline of the history of the world from the dawn of time to today. The timeline is arranged according to themes and thresholds. Thresholds are eras and major developments in the history of the world. Within each threshold there are multiple videos, images, and texts about that time. ChronoZoom is an impressive display yet it is a little tricky to navigate at first (or at least it was for my click-happy fingers). You should watch this ChronoZoom tutorial from Microsoft to discover all of the functions of ChronoZoom.

I initially learned about ChronoZoom from Audrey Watters then did a little more reading about the ChronoZoom project on the Microsoft Research website. Microsoft describes ChronoZoom as a "an infinite campus in time."

Learn more about the ChronoZoom Project in the video below.

Applications for Education
About ten years ago someone gave me a monstrous-sized book simply titled The History of the World. While it is a nice book, it certainly has some significant gaps. ChronoZoom reminds me a bit of that book in digital form. ChronoZoom has the potential to be a great reference tool for history students and teachers. The option to view images and videos makes ChronoZoom a definite improvement over an giant, printed reference book. Like many reference sites that are slick in appearance, ChronoZoom has the potential to capture a student's attention and launch him or her into a series of quests for more information about a variety of topics.

Add Multimedia Timelines to Your Website

Verite Timeline is an open source project that allows you to add multimedia timelines to your website. Before you read any further I want to point out that making this work on your own website will require you to access and alter the HTML of your site. If you're not comfortable doing that, you might want to skip this post.

You can create and install timelines on your site in two different ways. First, you can draw up your timeline using this Google Docs template then adding that completed template to the Verite Timeline code. Alternatively, you can create your timeline in JSON format then adding that code to the Verite Timeline code that you add your site.

Applications for Education
The Verite Timeline template and code does offer a lot of flexibility for creating multimedia timelines. It is a bit more advanced than most teachers will use in their classrooms, but for those who want to teach students a small bit of HTML coding while they also build timelines of events, Verite Timeline could be effective toward that end.

H/T to Nathan Hall

Take a Virtual Tour of the Swiss Alps

This week I'm in Lugano, Switzerland to speak with teachers at the American School here. Completely coincidentally on Tuesday Google released new Streetview imagery of the Albula-Bernina railway through the Swiss Alps. Streetview cameras were attached to the train and now you can experience the views of traveling by train through the Swiss Alps. Take a look at the gallery of imagery here. I've embedded one of the many views below.

View Larger Map

Applications for Education
This update to Google Streetview imagery is another example of some of great virtual tours that your students can access through Google Maps and Google Earth.

Thanks to Ken Shelton My Slides Have Improved

Ken Shelton surrounded by
kids after his NCTIES keynote.
I have given dozens of presentations over the last year, thank you to everyone that has invited me to do so, and although the topics of the talks are similar I do mix up some of the tools I mention in each one. I also change up the slides a little bit for each talk. While my slides do the job of showing what I'm talking about, I was never 100% happy with some of them. That changed recently because of two simple suggestions that Ken Shelton gave in a talk about presentation design at NCTIES

Ken's two pieces of advice that I've put into immediate use are these. First, start taking a picture a day to build-up a library of images that you can use in your presentations. I've been doing this since I heard Ken say that. So far I've only used two of my own images, but I do have designs for using some of my others in the future talks. Second, Ken recommends using full-bleed on the images you place on slides. In other words, eliminate border space and if necessary place font over the image. That second piece of advice I'm using on 90% of my slides now. I am much happy with the look of my slides. 

Creating pretty slides is only one part of delivering a good presentation. There are many other elements to consider. For those elements take a look at this collection of Short and Sweet Presentation Tips and these ideas for shy presenters

ACMI Storyboard Generator

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image has a nice resource for creating storyboards. The ACMI Storyboard Generator provides templates with video directions for creating a storyboard from scratch. Alternatively, students can build a storyboard without using a template at all. Students needing a little inspiration for a story can consult some of the examples showcased under the "themes" tab and view the showcased videos.

Applications for Education
Whenever my students created video projects in my classroom, I always had them create an outline and or storyboard before they ever touched a video editing program. That way they had a clear plan when they started to build their videos. Without an outline or storyboard students tend to waste time because they get fascinated with transitions and effects and forget that they are actually trying to convey a message with their videos. The ACMI Storyboard Generator could be a very useful tool for students who need to generate clear outlines for video projects.

H/T to EduTecher.