Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Three Good Tools Students Can Use to Organize Online Study Groups

As the holiday break approaches many high school and college students will be preparing for exams. When getting together in the same place to study with a group, an online study group is a good option too. Here are three tools students can use to organize online study groups.

ExamTime is a service that middle school, high school, and college students can use to prepare for tests. On ExamTimes users can create flashcards, mind maps, and practice quizzes to help them study. ExamTime also provides the option to create online groups to share study materials. Groups allow teachers and students to share learning resources to group members and to host discussions.

Think Binder is a website that gives students a place to create online study groups. In each group students can share files, share links, chat, and draw on a collaborative whiteboard. Students can create and join multiple groups. As you will see in the video below, getting started with Think Binder takes just a minute. Embedded below is my brief video overview of Think Binder.

Google+ is probably the most robust service for high school and college students to use create online study groups. Students can create private communities in which they share resources, have discussions, and they can host Hangouts in which they talk see each other as well as share whiteboard space, share documents, and share presentations.

Why You Might Use "Incognito" or "Private" Mode in Your Browser

People often think that "incognito" mode (Chrome) or "private" mode (Firefox) is only used when someone has something to hide. There are other uses for it.

I use incognito mode quite often when I'm demonstrating how to use a web app or website that requires my username and password. I also use it when I want to show people what a shared or published Google Document looks like when you're not signed into a Google Account. In both cases opening a new browser in incognito mode saves me the hassle of signing out of an account when I know that I'm going to be back into it in a few minutes. Incognito mode thinks that I'm a new user and doesn't have my saved usernames and passwords so I'm able to show sites and documents as they appear when I'm not signed into them.

Is Street View Not In Your Area? Create Your Own Street View Spheres

Google's Street View imagery is capturing more of the world all the time. Through Street View we can virtually visit national parks, world heritage sites, and all kinds of interesting tourist destinations like the Eiffel Tower. But Street View hasn't captured everything that's interesting, yet. But now you can help to remedy that problem by creating and sharing your own Street View imagery.

Yesterday, the Google Maps team announced a new program called Photo Sphere that allows anyone with an Android phone or a DSLR camera to create and share Street View imagery. Detailed directions for creating and sharing through Photo Sphere are available here. Using an Android phone seems to make the process easier than using a DSLR camera.

Applications for Education
Creating new Street View imagery could be a great project for a geography or local history course. I can think of many interesting places in my area that should be on Street View, but aren't.

Now You Can Sort Files on Google Drive for iPad

The Google Drive for iPad app received a small, but helpful update today. As was announced on the Google Drive Google+ page, you can now search and sort your Google Drive files on the Google Drive iPad app. You can sort files according to title, date of last edit, date of last modification, and date of the last opening of a file. It does not appear that you can sort according to who shared a file with you. A "Find and Replace" function is also now available on the Google Drive iPad app.

A Brief History of Skiing Around the World - And the Physics of Skiing

Over the last couple of weeks whenever I drive around my town I see more snow accumulating on the mountains. This weekend the lifts will open on the mountain closest to my home and I can't wait to hit the slopes. On the topic of skiing, this month National Geographic has a couple of neat features. First Skiers features an interactive timeline and a map of the history of skiing around the world. The timeline begins in 8000 BC and continues through present day. The timeline displays when, where, and how people have used skis around the world throughout time.

After examining the history and development of skiing, consider introducing your students to the physics of skiing. In the video below the National Science Foundation offers a four minute overview of the physics of skiing. The video examines the roles of gravity, acceleration, and friction on the speed of a skier. After watching the video, delve into more detail with this lesson plan from the University of Utah's math department.