Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On YouTube You Can Now Find Free Music to Legally Download and Re-use

For the last couple of years Vimeo has offered free music to download and re-use in your video projects. Now YouTube is offering the same thing through the YouTube Audio Library. This library is slightly different than the free music available when you use the YouTube slideshow creation tool. The music in the YouTube Audio Library is music that you can download to use in projects online and offline. You can search the library of music according to genre, mood, instrument, or duration. You can listen to the tracks before downloading them as MP3 files.

Applications for Education
The next time your students are developing multimedia projects for your class, have them take a look through the YouTube Audio Library to see if they can find a tune to enhance the messages of their productions.

How to Enable or Disable Google+ Settings in Blogger

If you use Blogger and or your students use Blogger, you may have noticed that Blogger is now automatically posting to Google+ whenever you publish a new blog post. You can disable this feature in the Google+ menu on Blogger. In that same menu you can also enable or disable Google+ comments. The two screenshots below provide directions on how to enable or disable Google+ settings in Blogger.

(If you're Google+ profile is not connected to Blogger then this isn't relevant to you. If you're in a Google Apps for Edu domain and Google+ is not active for you then this is also not relevant to you).

Ten Educational Games from Taking IT Global

Taking IT Global is an organization with a mission to empower youth to understand and act on the world's greatest challenges. I've written about some of their programs in the past. One of the things that they offer is a collection of online games designed to help students learn about economics, politics, and health in the context of a broad global perspective.

In Taking IT Global's games section you will find ten games that are appropriate for elementary school and middle school students. A couple of the games that I've tried are Flags of the World and Ayiti: Cost of Life.

Flags of the World asks students to match flags to their respective countries. After matching each flag to its country students can click the "learn more" link to find more information about that country.

Ayiti The Cost of Life is an educational game designed to teach students about the cost of living and the struggles to improve life in rural Haiti. (Ayiti is the Haitian Creole word for Haiti). In the game students have to help the "Guinard Family" improve their lives in terms of finances, health care, education, and general happiness. The game plays out over a timeline of four years and sixteen seasons. Each season brings a new challenge.

What Colors Communicate - A Visual Guide

Whenever I talk to students or teachers about slide design, digital portfolio design, or any other visual project one of the things that I talk about is color choice. Using the right combination of colors can make your project stand out. On the other hand, the wrong combination can make your project stand out for the wrong reasons. Dustin Stout recently published a handy guide to colors and what they communicate. The guide was created for blog designers, but the concepts can be applied to lots of other formats. The guide is posted below. I encourage you to visit Dustin's blog post for more information about colors and visual design.
Click image for full size. 

Applications for Education
Before your students start designing their next sets of slides, have them take a look at this guide and consider the impact of their color choices. If you have access to a color printer, you might make a couple of copies to hang in your classroom.

H/T to Randy Krum at Cool Infographics

123D Circuits - Collaboratively Design Electronic Circuits

123D Circuits is a free tool from Autodesk and (reviewed here) for collaboratively designing electronic circuits online. On 123D Circuits you can design your circuits and test them on the simulator in your browser. You can create circuits from scratch or use and modify templates and other publicly shared projects. All projects are public unless you pay a subscription fee to make your projects private. Watch the video below to learn more about 123D Circuits.

Applications for Education
123D Circuits could be a great tool for students to use to design and test circuits before moving on to creating them with real components in your classroom.

Click here for seven other resources you can use to teach students about electricity and circuits.

Problem Attic Expands Again - Quickly Create Practice Assessments

Problem Attic is a service that I reviewed when it launched last year. Since then it has continually expanded to the point that you can now quickly create practice assessments and flashcards for social studies, language arts, mathematics, and science from a collection of more than 85,000 questions from past state assessments given in New York, Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

To create your practice tests on Problem Attic you simply create a new document then browse through questions and pin them to your document. After you have pinned all of the questions that you want in your document you can arrange the order in which they appear in your document. Finally, before printing your document you choose and set the page formatting.

Applications for Education
Years ago one of my colleagues used old exam questions as review activities with his students. Problem Attic takes that concept and makes it easy for any teacher to build review activities based on problems from actual tests that students have taken. Students can also use Problem Attic to find a big collection of questions that they can use to help them prepare for tests in mathematics, social studies, language arts, and science.