Friday, January 18, 2013

3 Good Places Where Students Can Watch and Learn About Wildlife produces and hosts high-quality documentary films and photographs. The films and images focus on exploring the world and the work of non-profit organizations around the world. The films and images are organized by location and by charitable and or environmental cause. is funded in part by the Annenburg Foundation. Part of the video gallery includes live webcam feeds of animals in their habits as well as recorded videos. offers a lesson plan section for teachers. Not all lesson plans are appropriate for all grades and the lesson plans are labeled accordingly. All of the lesson plans are based upon videos hosted by Explore. offers an extensive collection of videos and images of plants and animals. The videos and images are cataloged according to animal, plant, eco-region, and geo-political region. You can navigate the galleries by selecting one of the broad categories then choosing a subject within that broad category. For example, choose the Antarctica eco-region and then you can explore all of the images and videos about plants and animals found in that eco-region. Videos on Arkive can be downloaded to for your classroom use. Arkive offers a dozen online games for kids. The games collection is a mix of quiz games and problem solving games. One of the games that I tried out is Animal Survival that required me to keep a Sand Lizard alive by correctly answering questions about Sand Lizards' daily lives.

Wild Earth is a site that has organized more than three dozen live webcam feeds of animals. While watching the video feeds, registered users can chat with each other about what they're seeing. If the video feed is not live when you visit the website, you can choose from any number of recorded videos.

Create Multimedia Booklets With Simple Booklet

This week someone asked me if I knew of a free tool that students can use to take the content of Word documents and put them into an ebook format. That question prompted me to review Simple Booklet again. Simple Booklet is a service offering free online booklet creation and publishing.

To create a book using Simple Booklet just sign-up for a free account and click create. Select the layout template that suits your needs. To add content click anywhere on the blank canvas and a menu of options will appear. You can add text, images, audio files, videos, and links to each page of your booklet. In the field for adding text there is an option to copy from Word documents.

Each page of your Simple Booklet can have multiple elements on it. To include videos you can upload your own files or select from a variety of provides including SchoolTube, TeacherTube, YouTube, and others. To add audio to your pages you can upload your own files or again select from the online hosts, Sound Cloud, or Mix Cloud. When you're done building pages in your Simple Booklet you can share it online by embedding it into a webpage or you can share the unique link generated for your booklet.

Applications for Education
Simple Booklet offers a free plan. You can register on the site or use your Google Account to register for Simple Booklet. Simple Booklet now offers a very reasonable plan for educators who want to create and manage student accounts. For $5/year teachers can create and manage student accounts.

Simple Booklet could be a good tool for students to use to publish multimedia stories. Students could use Simple Booklet to create a small portfolio of their work using videos, images, sounds, and text.

Distributing Files With Facebook and Google Drive

A few years ago I wrote a series of posts about how I was using a Facebook page to keep students and parents informed of important things happening in the classroom. You can find that series through these links; part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4. This morning I read about a service that would allow you to share large files on your Facebook page. I was just about to use it when I remembered that I could accomplish the same thing by using Google Drive and posting a link from files in my Google Drive account on my Facebook page.

You can upload videos, audio files, PDFs, Word documents, and just about any other file to your Google Drive account and you can make access to the file public if you want to. This is how I occasionally share some of my large PDFs. Grab the link to the file by clicking the share button in your Google Drive account then select "anyone with the link" as your accessibility setting. Now you can paste that link into your Facebook page for your class or your school.

Applications for Education
As I wrote a few years ago and still say today when people ask, I think that having a Facebook page for your class that students and their parents can Like is a good way to increase the distribution of information about your class. Students and parents need to be reminded to visit classroom websites, but very few students today need to be reminded to visit Facebook. Try this out by putting a helpful file like a course syllabus on your the Facebook page for your class.

Get Eight Good Mac Apps for Free

Stack Social is currently running a promotion through which you can download eight useful Mac apps for free. The combination of apps would normally cost you $117. I grabbed the bundle of apps because I wanted to try the video conversion app and screen capture app included in the bundle. The bundle also includes the Type Fu typing game which may be of interest to some readers.

To download this bundle of free Mac apps you do have to register for a Stack Social account and Tweet or Like Stack Social on Facebook. It took me about two minutes to complete the registration and social sharing requirement. It's a small price to pay for a nice collection of apps that would otherwise cost you $5 to $30 each.

H/T to Lifehacker.