Monday, August 19, 2013

Active Textbook - Turn PDFs Into Multimedia Documents

Active Textbook is an interesting service that you can use to turn your PDFs into multimedia documents. The basic idea behind the service is that you can upload PDFs and add pictures, links, and videos that are displayed when students read your PDF through the Active Textbook viewer. While reading your PDF through Active Textbook students can highlight, draw, and add comments to the document.

The downside to Active Textbook is that you have to create your PDF outside of Active Textbook. You have to have the layout of your PDF set before uploading it because you can't actually change the content of the PDF, you're simply adding links to it through the Active Textbook service.

Applications for Education
Active Textbook could provide a good way to create your own short multimedia texts for students. The most compelling feature is the option for students to highlight and take notes on the document while they're reading it through Active Textbook. Active Textbook also adds a dictionary tool to your document which could be handy for some students. Active Textbook is free to use for up to 500 pages of material.

Unsplash - Another Good Source of Free Images

Earlier this month I shared five good places to find public domain images. Today, I found another good source of free images. Unsplash is a Tumblr-hosted site that adds ten new, free, high-resolution images every ten days. I scrolled through the site for quite a while today and found a lot of nice images. The downside to Unsplash is that the site does not have a search function.
A free image found on Unsplash.

Applications for Education
Whenever I lead a workshop on video production in the classroom I recommend that students use their own images whenever possible. When using their own images is not an option then I recommend using public domain images. Unsplash could be one of the places that you and your students use to locate high-resolution free images.

Submrge - Ideas for Teaching With Games

Submrge is a new site created for the purpose of promoting the use of games in education. On Submrge you will find short reviews of a wide variety of games including games designed specifically for education and popular commercial games. Along with the description of the games you will find links to examples of how teachers have used the games in their classrooms.

Applications for Education
Teachers who have wondered about how to use popular video games in their classrooms could find Submrge to be a good place to find engaging lesson ideas. Some of the games that are included in Submrge are games that your students are probably already familiar with. That could be a good hook to engage students who otherwise don't get excited about school.

How to Identify Individual Elephants - An Activity In Observing Differences

A couple of months ago I shared some information about Elephant Voices. I revisited Elephant Voices this morning after the Google Science Fair Google+ feed shared a link to a good story from National Geographic and Elephant Voices about how researchers identify individual elephants.

In Mara Elephants: Who's Who & Whereabouts offers eight educational modules in which you can learn how researchers identify elephants. In each of the modules you learn about a specific characteristic of elephants that can be used to distinguish them from each other. A series of pictures accompanies each module.

Applications for Education
Mara Elephants: Who's Who & Whereabouts could be the basis for a fun lesson in observation of details. Of course, your students will be learning about elephants along the way too.