Friday, May 18, 2012

Open Atrium - Your Open Source Intranet

Early this morning I Tweeted that I was feeling quite geeky because I was installing Open Atrium on a server. While my installation didn't go quite as planned, it did give me enough experience to say that I think Open Atrium could be a good Intranet solution for some schools.

Open Atrium is an open source program for running blogs, message boards, calendars, collaborative notebooks, and project tracking tools within your domain. You can create user groups within your Open Atrium installation.

Applications for Education 
To be clear, Open Atrium is not something that most classroom teachers are going to deploy on their own. It will take some time and some familiarity with servers (not to mention a server or server space at least) in order to get it up and running. Open Atrium could be a good platform for schools that want to create managed spaces in which their teachers and students can blog, message each other, and maintain appointment calendars.

Follow the Olympic Torch Relay

Image via
The Olympic flame is flying to Cornwall today to begin the 8,000 mile relay around the UK before arriving at the Olympic Games later this summer. The relay begins tomorrow morning. You can see the plane and how the flame is transported in these images from the BBC. To keep track of the where the Olympic flame is on a given day, visit the Olympic Torch Relay Map on the London 2012 site.

The BBC also has a good map with pictures of all of the locations that Olympic Torch will pass through over the next seventy days. The BBC also has a nice gallery of past Olympic Torch designs accompanied by a bit of information each design, the host nation, and or that year's Olympic games.

For more resources about the 2012 Summer Olympic Games I recommend seeing the list that Larry Ferlazzo has started.

And if you're wondering about the picture above, it's of my long-time friend Butch Johnson who has competed in five Olympic Games and is currently in the running to make a sixth consecutive US Olympic Archery Team at the age of 56.

GoClass - Create and Deliver Lessons on iPads

Last week I wrote about NearPod which is an iPad application for creating and delivering quizzes to students. This morning, through David Kapuler, I learned about a similar free iPad application called GoClass.

GoClass is a free iPad application for creating short lessons and delivering them to your students. The lessons can include annotated images, free hand sketches, text, and video. GoClass gives teachers tools for creating class rosters that they can use to keep track of which students are using the lessons when. Teachers also have the option to ask questions and poll their students. After the students' response have been gathered teachers can project those responses without showing individual student's names. The image below, from GoClass, illustrates how a teacher might use the app with students.

Applications for Education
GoClass is a promising iPad app for teachers who are working in 1:1 iPad environments. I particularly like the option to project students' responses in aggregate without revealing individual names. That feature could be useful for prompting discussions about the questions and materials you've presented to your students.

IWitness - Video Testimonies of Holocaust Survivors

IWitness is a project of USC's Shoah Foundation Institute built to help students learn about The Holocaust. IWitness gives students and teachers access to more than one thousand video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses. The purpose is to give students a place to find first-hand answers to questions that they might ask if they could talk to a Holocaust survivor in person. To access all of the content teachers must register on the site and then invite their students to join. Students cannot register without an invitation from a teacher.

Applications for Education
IWitness offers more than just videos. Teachers can use the activity builder to create lessons and assignments for students to complete. Teachers can observe and moderate students' activities within IWitness. Click here to read about one high school's use of IWitness.

QuizSlides - Quizzes Based on Your Slides

QuizSlides is a new service whose purpose is to help you build quizzes based upon your slides. The basic concept is that you can upload PPT or PPTX files containing questions then add answer choices to create an instant-feedback quiz. The quiz can be set to allow students to try answers until they get the correct answer or the quiz can be set to allow only one try per question.

Applications for Education
The concept of QuizSlides isn't bad, but I wouldn't use it with elementary school students because students have to enter a captcha code before they can start the quiz. I found the captchas frustrating so I'm sure elementary school students would as well.

QuizSlides could be used with middle school and high school students to post review activities online. As a practice activity I would probably set the quizzes to allow multiple attempts at each question.