Friday, April 27, 2012

Add More to Your Images with Thinglink

Yesterday, at NETA 2012's web tools showcase session I demonstrated two tools, ThingLink and Jellycam. During my Thinglink demonstration I only showed inserting pinmarks with links to make interactive images. This afternoon I learned that there is a lot more than links that can be inserted into those pinmarks. The Slideshare presentation below shows all of the options, but there are a few that I want to make sure you see. Media from Google Maps, YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr can all be included in your Thinglink images.

Applications for Education
One way that Thinglink could be used in a  US History classroom is to have students upload pictures representative of  concepts from the Industrial Revolution then tag different parts of the images to link out to further explanations and examples. And here's an example of an interactive infographic created with Thinglink.

Timeline - From Civil War to Civil Rights

The cover story on the May issue of National Geographic is about the sketches of artists during the US Civil War and how those sketches helped to tell the story of the war. You can view a gallery of sketches here. One of the online features supporting May's issue is a timeline spanning 1526 to today. The timeline is focused on the Civil War and the years following. Along the timeline there are images and short stories of significant moments in the history of civil rights in the United States.

Applications for Education
From Civil War to Civil Rights is in no way a comprehensive overview of the Civil War or the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. That said, the visuals and the short stories could be useful as introductory materials and conversation starters.

The Evolution of the Zamboni

Disclaimer: it might be a stretch to call this post educational. It's more of a sports trivia post than anything else. 

It's Stanley Cup playoff time and even though the Bruins just got eliminated and my childhood team, the Whalers, abandoned me like a bad prom date long ago one thing remains the same, the Zamboni cheers for no one. While flipping through Sports Illustrated last night I learned that the 10,000th Zamboni rolled-off the assembly line last week. To celebrate this achievement the Zamboni company released a time-lapse video of its production. I couldn't find that video but I did a poster on the evolution of the Zamboni and some images and a video about how it works.

Applications for Education
If you have students that are passionate hockey fans, you could grab their attention with a short science lesson about refrigeration and ice.

And if you're looking to make your own Zamboni, Red Green has a tutorial for you.

TEDx Bozeman - Classroom Game Design

On the heals of my slightly critical post about TED Ed, I thought it would be good to balance things out by sharing a good TEDx Talk that I recently watched. Classroom Game Design is a talk that was given by Montana's 2011 Teacher of the Year, Paul Anderson, at TEDx Bozeman. I have to admit that when I read the title I thought it would be just another talk extolling the virtues of playing video games. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was wrong. In his talk Paul Anderson talks about using the principles of game design to revamp his methods for grading, delivering instruction, and planning. Paul's ten minute talk is embedded below.

On his website and YouTube channel Paul Anderson has uploaded more than 200 quality instructional videos like the one about the skeletal system that you can watch below.

A Thought or Two About TED Ed

TED made headlines this week with the launch of TED Ed. TED Ed is a new platform through which teachers can build short lessons around short videos that have been given the TED stamp of approval. Like most TED videos, the videos in TED-Ed that I have watched so far are good. From a production standpoint the videos are better than the blackboard and narration that you get with Khan Academy. But that's about where my excitement ends.

After and or while watching the videos on TED Ed students answer multiple choice and short answer questions about what they're seeing and hearing. Which is exactly what many teachers (myself included in my first years teaching) do or have done by handing out question lists for students to complete while watching film strips, reel-to-reel movies, VHS tapes, and DVDs. TED Ed does have one slight advantage here in that students do get instant feedback on their multiple choice answers on TED Ed.

TED Ed provides a place for teachers to "flip" lessons which is TED's way of saying build their own quizzes around the TED Ed videos and link to related resources that they select for their students. I gave it a quick try and found it easy to do this. But I also know that I could do the same thing with other tools. The assessment tools that TED Ed provides didn't strike me as anything more than what you can do with a tool like Flubaroo. And before you flip your classroom, please consider these questions.

One of the things that I would like to see added to TED Ed is a place for real-time conversations about the videos that students watch. This would allow students to ask questions of each other and of their teachers while watching the videos. This allows the students to take a bit of the lead in determining what is thought-provoking in a video. I know from experience of showing video clips in social studies classrooms  that giving a forum for that kind of response to videos can mean the difference between watching and thinking about what is being shown and simply hunting for answers in a video. Here are three tools that have the required kind of technology in place now.

Overall, TED Ed seems like it could be handy for creating quick introductory or review lessons, but it's not going to revolutionize how education works. I welcome your thoughts in the comments.