Friday, September 7, 2012

Search Trends and Politics

While eating lunch today I spent a some time looking at Google's Politics & Elections hub. The two aspects of Google's Politics & Elections hub that I fond most interesting are the "Trends" and "Insights."

In the Trends section you can see graphs and heatmaps depicting fluctuations in the number of searches for Presidential candidate's names over the last eleven months. In the Insights section you will find the results of surveys about issues and candidates.

Applications for Education
You could use the graphs in the Trends section to create research prompts for your students. Ask your students to try to determine what might have caused in a spike of searches for a candidate's name. Use the questions in the Insights section as discussion prompts in your social studies classroom.

Why Don't You Rank Your Lists?

Credit: Quite Adept
A question that I am often asked is, "why don't you rank the resources you share?" The answer is simple, in most cases there are too many variables in every teacher's and school's situation for me to make a blanket statement that something is the best. That said, when I go to work with teachers in-person I can get all of the variable information about their situations and recommend things that are probably the best for them. But writing a blog post that is potentially read by thousands of teachers declaring something as "the best" is not something I'm comfortable doing. Therefore, when I do write lists with a hint of ranking, the ranking is based purely on popularity with readers as determined by the number of visits to a post.

Don't take my lack of ranked lists as me not having an opinion about apps, devices, and web tools. I have plenty of opinions and occasionally they pop-up on this blog. I generally stay away from writing opinion pieces because for the most part I write this blog to share news and provide teachers with options when looking for technology to use in their practices.

The possible exception to my ranking policy is my recent published PDF 12 Awesome EdTech Tools for 2012-2013. Even that list took me three days of deliberations to choose because there are so many excellent tools available to teachers today.

Commenting Added to Google Spreadsheets

Being able to tie comments to parts of Google Documents and Google Presentations is a useful feature when peer editing or collaborating to create something new. Now that feature is available in Google Spreadsheets too. This week Google announced that you can now tie comments to specific cells in your spreadsheets. To comment on a cell just click on it then select "comment"  from the "insert" menu in your spreadsheet.

Applications for Education
Commenting on cells in a spreadsheet could be useful for discussions about information you've collected in a Google Form. For example, if you asked parents to submit questions or feedback at your school's open house night and want to have discussions with your colleagues about the comments collected, the commenting in spreadsheets option could be useful for that.

60 Second Economics Lessons

Last fall The Open University released a series of 60 Second Adventures in Thought. This week they released a new series of 60 second lessons. 60 Second Adventures in Economics is a series of six short videos explaining things like the Paradox of Thrift and Comparative Advantage. I've embedded the playlist below.

Applications for Education
60 Second Adventures in Economics is clearly not a replacement for actual lessons in economics, but they could be good introductions or reviews of a lesson.

H/T to Open Culture

Maily - A Safe & Fun Email Application for Kids

Maily is a free iPad app that provides young children with a safe and fun way to send emails to parents and selected family members. To use Maily parents have to create accounts for their children. Parents select and add contacts for their children. After the account is created children can then send and receive emails only from the people that their parents have added to their children's contacts list.

The user interface that children see in Maily is very kid-friendly. Using Maily children can draw pictures, use templates to create emails, and or upload pictures to send. To send an email children click the send button and the select the image of the person to they want to receive their messages.

The video below provides a good overview of Maily.

Introducing Maily for iPad from Maily on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Using Maily could be a great way to introduce young children to email in a safe environment. You could use the Maily app to have students send weekly emails to their parents about what they did in your classroom each week.