Friday, May 30, 2014

What is the World Wide Web? And How Does It Work? - Two Good Explanations

Even though they use it everyday many of our students don't understand how the World Wide Web works. A recently released TED-Ed lesson tackles the topic of how the Web works. In What is the World Wide Web? students can learn about the origins of the Web, its evolution, and how we can contribute to the Web. The lesson includes eight review questions for students to try after watching the video. The video is embedded below.

Another good explanation of how the Web works is found in the Common Craft library of videos. Through the World Wide Web Explained by Common Craft students can learn about how computers are connected and the role of a web browser in displaying the information we see on our monitors. That video is embedded below.

Real-time Translation Coming to Skype Later This Year

Earlier this week Microsoft announced that they have developed a real-time translation feature for Skype. The real-time translation tool will provide nearly-instant subtitles for the words spoken by the people on a Skype call. In addition to the subtitles you can hear a translation of spoken words. Microsoft says that this feature will be in a beta version of Skype later this year. Watch the video below for a demonstration of the translation feature. (Jump to the two minute mark if you just want to see the demo without the explanation from the developers).

Click here if you cannot see the video above.

Applications for Education
Real-time translation over Skype has the potential to take digital penpals to a new level. I can imagine classrooms around the world connecting to talk and learn about each others' cultures and languages.

Canva Explains Color Scheme Basics for Slides and Infographics

Canva, one of my favorite services for creating infographics and slides, regularly sends emails containing design tips. The tip that they sent out in their latest email contained a link to this color scheme basics tutorial. The five part tutorial teaches you how to create five complementary color schemes to use in your slides, infographics, and poster designs. The five color schemes are environmental, summer, retro, monochromatic, and complimentary. Click here to view the color scheme tutorial.

Applications for Education
Canva's color scheme tutorial could be a good one to share with your students before they design their next slidedecks. After working through the tutorial students might be less inclined to do things like put yellow font on a white background. Your student don't have to use Canva to design their slides, they can simply apply the lessons from the tutorial to their use of PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Presentation.

For those who haven't heard of Canva prior to this post, it is a service that makes it easy to create beautiful slides, flyers, posters, infographics, and photo collages. Creating these graphics on Canva is a drag-and-drop process. Start by selecting a template then dragging and dropping into place background designs, pictures, clip art, and text boxes. Canva offers a huge library of clip art and photographs to use in your designs. You can also upload your own images to use in your graphics. Your completed Canva projects can be downloaded as PDF and PNG files. You can also simply link to your online graphic.

Could You Win the National Spelling Bee? - Test Yourself With These Winning Words

Last night two champions were crowned in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. As I watched the final moments last night I knew that I would not have been able to spell some of the words presented to the competitors. If you and or your students would like to test your spelling skills against those of past winners, take a look at Vox's Spell It Out challenge.

Vox's spelling challenge presents you with the final winning words from twenty past national spelling bees. You will hear the word pronounced then you have to type it in the spelling box to submit your answer. Before submitting your answer you can hear the word used in a sentence and see the origin of the word.

Applications for Education
One of the nice things about Vox's Spell It Out challenge is that students can see the importance of understanding word origins and root words in determining how to spell a word.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for Tweeting about this yesterday. 

Listango - A Quick and Easy Bookmarking Tool

The Internet is not lacking for bookmarking tools. Some are complex and robust while others are clean and simple. Listango falls into the clean and simple category. Bookmarking websites with Listango is a simple matter of clicking the Listango bookmarklet in your browser then choosing the list to which you want to add your bookmark.

To get started with Listango you register for an account then drag the Listango browser bookmarklet into your browser's bookmarks bar. With the Listango bookmarklet installed whenever you're viewing a site that you want to bookmark you can just click the Listango button to save the site to one of your bookmark lists. In your Listango account you can create as many categorized bookmarks lists as you like.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a very simple tool for your students to use to organize the sites they find while researching on the web, Listango is worth giving a try. If you have found other bookmarking tools to be too complex for your students, Listango presents a simple alternative to those complex bookmarking tools.