Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Teaching Astronomy with Pictures and 16 Other Resources

Through a recent post on Open Culture I rediscovered NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day gallery. The image that Open Culture highlighted was actually a video a simulated flight through the universe. After watching the video I discovered that NASA's has a list of seventeen resources for teaching astronomy. Some of the resources are specific to NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day images while others are more general in nature.

View Mars Panoramas and More

Last week I posted a short history of Mars exploration. This evening I explored a couple of more resources about Mars.

On 360 Cities you can view a panorama created from some images captured by Curiosity. On your laptop or desktop you can zoom in, zoom out, and pan around in 360 degrees. As I learned from this CNET article, on your iPad you can do the same by simply moving your iPad around.

The Mars Science Laboratory has many images of Mars captured by Curiosity as well as videos related to the rover's exploration of the Red Planet. I like this animated demonstration of how NASA communicates with Curiosity.

Knowmia - Create, Share, and Watch Video Lessons

Knowmia is a new service that got a lot of tech press yesterday. The site was started by the same people who brought us the Flip camera. Now they're trying to break into the flipped classroom with Knowmia.

Knowmia is a website and an iPad app for creating, sharing, and viewing video lessons. The website portion of Knowmia is a collection of videos made by teachers for students. There are roughly 7,000 videos in the Knowmia collection right now. Many of the videos are pulled from YouTube while others are hosted on Knowmia. The videos are arranged by subject and topic. Registered teachers can upload and tag their own videos.

The Knowmia iPad app is an app for creating your own whiteboard videos. I installed the app and gave it a try this evening. I found the app to have far more creation options than the similar Showme and Educreations apps. You can draw free-hand on the whiteboard screen or insert pre-made shapes. You can also use pictures and video clips in your video lesson.

Applications for Education
If you're thinking about trying some "flipped" lessons this year, take a look at Knowmia and the Knowmia iPad app. And if you're not using the flipped model, Knowmia has promise as a good place to find educational videos that your students can use to review or get "on demand" help when they cannot connect with you.

Right now it appears that only registered teachers can upload to Knowmia. Hopefully, they'll add a student submission section in the future. That way students could use the Knowmia iPad app to create videos to demonstrate their understandings of a topic.