Tuesday, February 22, 2022

PhET Releases Ten Updated Simulations With Interactive Descriptions

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have already seen this news but it's worth sharing here as well. PhET now has ten simulations that include interactive descriptions. This makes the simulations accessible to students who rely on screen readers to access the web. 

Read PhET's announcement here



This brings the total of PhET simulations that have some type of accessibility feature to 33. That's fourteen more than when I wrote about PhET's accessible simulations last fall.

For those who aren't familiar with PhET, it is a service that provides free interactive math and science simulations covering topics in physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and mathematics. Many of the simulations can be included in PowerPoint presentations and embedded into Google Sites. Additionally, PhET offers lesson plans that incorporate their simulations into remote math and science lessons. 

An Often Overlooked Flipgrid Option for Starting Conversations

In this week's Practical Ed Tech Newsletter I shared some tools and ideas to use to try to make sure that students actually watch the instructional videos that you create for them. One of my suggestions was to try an option in Flipgrid that is hiding in plain sight. 

When you post a new topic in Flipgrid you can record a video for your students to respond to. But you can also upload a video that you've recorded outside of Flipgrid and have your students respond to it. When using that option I'd include some questions throughout the video that students have to address when they record their responses in Flipgrid. 

Watch this short video to learn how to upload videos to start conversations in Flipgrid. 



Check out this playlist for more than a dozen other Flipgrid tutorials that I've produced.

What is Sub-image Search? - And Why Would Your Students Would Use It?

Sub-image search is one of the search strategies that I use a lot when trying to find out what an unfamiliar object is. I've used it to identify some old farm equipment, to find the origins of some flea market pottery, and to identify types of plants whose names I don't know. It's that last example that I share in my course on Search Strategies Students Need to Know

What is sub-image search?
Simply put, sub-image search is the process of cropping an image to focus on just the most important part and then conducting a reverse image search for that cropped image. Cropping the image removes any extraneous information that isn't helpful in the reverse image process. For example an example of sub-image search, watch this new video that I made. In the video below I provide a demonstration of what happens when I conduct a reverse image search of mushroom surrounded by brown leaves and what happens when I conduct a reverse image search of the cropped version of that same image.



Applications for Education
Sub-image search isn't a magic pill that instantly give students answers to "what is that?" when they conduct a reverse image search. Sub-image search will, however, give them a better direction for refining their searches. They still need to read the contents of the web pages that host the visually similar images that are revealed through the reverse image search. Sub-image search will, however, give them a better direction for refining their searches.