Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Get Inspired by the Google SketchUp Gallery

SketchUp (formerly a Google product, recently sold to Trimble) is a great program for creating 3D models to use in maps and online portfolios. The SketchUp Showcase is a new site that was launched yesterday for the purpose of highlighting the most impressive uses of SketchUp. Each model is accompanied by a short story about the model.

The showcase also highlights a new technology, the SketchUp Online 3D Model Viewer. The model viewer uses WebGL technology to allow zoom and rotate models 360 degrees.

Applications for Education
Rather than re-write much of my past posts about SketchUp, I'll encourage you to watch this short video about SketchUp in the classroom.

Try Zoom.it to Display Large Infographics in Small Spaces

Over the weekend I had someone ask on Twitter how I make infographics display in small space on my blog. The answer is that I put the images inside a Zoom.it display. I wrote about Zoom.it eighteen months ago and have republished that content below.

Zoom.it is a neat application for displaying large images in blogs, wikis, and websites. Zoom.it creates a display of your images in a format that allows you to zoom in, zoom out, and scroll around a large image. To use Zoom.it your image does need to be hosted online somewhere (Flickr and Picasa work fine). Then to create your zoomable image just copy the url of your hosted image and paste it into Zoom.it. You can then share your image by giving people the direct link to it or embedding the image into your blog or website. Check out my zoomable image below.

Applications for Education
Zoom.it could be a useful tool for displaying large images that students have captured with a camera or created by hand in an art class. If students are doing work with textures and you want to be able to displayed their textured work online, a high resolution image is necessary. Unfortunately, large high resolution images are hard to display on most blog, wiki, and website pages. Putting that high resolution image into Zoom.it will make it possible to see the textured details of a high resolution image.

A Good Directory of Where a Bill Becomes Law

Where a Bill Becomes a Law is a Google Maps-based site designed to help visitors determine where and when a bill was presented to the US Congress. The site links directly to the sponsors of each bill, a summary of each bill, and the complete text of each bill. Where a Bill Becomes a Law also shows you the movement of the bill through committees to final votes by Congress.

Applications for Education
Where a Bill Becomes a Law could be a good resource for teachers and students of U.S. Government. The site provides an easy way for students to determine who sponsored legislation. Using Google Maps you could have your students create a similar map of legislation from their state's legislature. Have your students pick a piece of state legislation and put a placemark on the district of the legislator who proposed that legislation.

Here are a few other resources that can help students understand how a bill becomes a law.
US Civics Infographics
How a Bill Becomes Law - Interactive Flowchart
Videos for Learning About Congress

H/T to Google Maps Mania

PortfolioGen - Create a Teacher Portfolio Page

PortfolioGen is a service that offers a platform on which teachers and pre-service teachers can build simple webpages to highlight their portfolios. Teachers can write "about me" pages, highlight their certifications, upload documents, and link to other examples of their work. PortfolioGen pages have contact forms for potential employers to use to get in touch with teachers. Click here for an example of a PortfolioGen page. One thing that PortfolioGen does offer yet is an option to embed videos.

Applications for Education
If you're an educator looking for a new job who doesn't have a digital portfolio yet, PortfolioGen provides an easy way to quickly create one. Even if you're applying for jobs that don't require digital portfolios, it is still a good idea to have an easily-accessible page that highlights your work.

Another digital resume service that you might want to try is Visual CV. Visual CV allows you to include videos in your digital resume too.

Backpack TV - Organized Academic Videos

Last night I received an email from a student intern at a new start-up company called Backpack TV. Backpack TV is a site that is creating a library of academic videos from across the web. You can browse for videos by subject, topic, and video duration. Backpack TV has also organized videos according to content providers. Some of the content providers are Khan Academy, Patrick JMT, and 60 Second Recap. According to the email that I received from Backpack TV, the videos have been selected and tagged by a team of high school and college students.

Applications for Education
Backpack TV, like many similar sites, could be useful for teachers and students to find short video lectures and demonstrations to supplement classroom instruction. The videos could be helpful for students who need a quick tutorial when they get stumped on a homework assignment.