Friday, March 23, 2012

Best of the Web - Again

This week I'm at the Teacher 2 Teacher conference in Bow Island, Alberta. I'm giving my best of the web talk twice (once yesterday, once today). This continues to be my most-requested presentation. The slides for it are included below.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Poll Everywhere Introduces Voting on Images

Earlier this week the popular survey service Poll Everywhere released a very nice update, support for images and equations. Now you can put images into your polls and have students vote on the images. Another part of this update is the option to include mathematics equations in polls. The video below provides an overview of the updates.

Image Support for Multiple Choice Options from Poll Everwhere on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
The image voting option could be a good way to create surveys or polls in which you ask students to identify plants, animals, and other objects. The mathematics inclusion option will allow you to create multiple choice polls in which students have to select the correct equation.

InstaGrok - A New Way to Search and Pin Information

instaGrok is a very promising new search service that I learned about from Joyce Valenza during my time at Discovery's Beyond the Textbook forum. At first glance instaGrok appears to be a new version of Google's old Wonder Wheel service. But after investigation you'll see that instaGrok is more than just web of suggested search terms.

You can use instaGrok to search a topic and quickly get lists of facts on that topic, links to information on that topic, videos, images, and quizzes on the topic. If you want to refine or alter your search, just click on another term in the web of search terms. If the results that you are getting are too difficult to comprehend or are too basic, use the difficulty slider to change the results.

When you find materials that are useful for your research you can pin them or add them to your instaGrok journal. You can add notes to those links in your journal as well.

Applications for Education
instaGrok could be a fantastic tool for students who are struggling to refine a research topic. It also appears to be a great way for students to organize the useful information that they find while conducting their research.

Twtbase - A Directory of Twitter Apps

Earlier this week while searching a tool to make word clouds out of Twitter hashtags, I discovered Twtbase. I never did find the tool I was looking for, but I did find a lot of other neat Twitter applications on Twtbase. One of the Twitter applications on Twtbase that I like a lot is Trends Map.

Trends Map is an application that displays trending topics on Twitter according to location. In other words you can visit the map to see what topics are currently the most discussed topics in a city, state, province (yes, I'm in Canada this week so I thought I should list that option), or country. Embedded below is a Screencast of Trends Map that I found on Twtbase.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for way to reuse or analyze information from Twitter, take a look at Twtbase. Trends Map could be a good introduction to a lesson on current global events. Have students investigate why a particular topic is trending in one area but not in another.

Vifinition - Videos Defining Words

Update: As of February 2013 Vifinition is offline. 

Vifinition is a fun site featuring videos that define words. The site matches YouTube videos to words. The videos aren't explanations of words so much as they are demonstrations of the words in context. For example the video for "bend" shows pictures of bent objects. That video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
Vifinition isn't a site that I would send students to on their own because the videos do come from YouTube and the site is crowd-sourced so your students could come across material that isn't suitable for the classroom. Instead, I would use Vifinition as a teacher to locate videos that I could share with my students during a vocabulary lesson.

Vifinition also gave me the idea for a vocabulary lesson in which you have students make videos that demonstrate definitions in context. If you don't the resources or classroom time for creating videos, you could have students search YouTube, Vimeo, Next Vista, and other video sites for videos that do demonstrate the meaning of their vocabulary terms.