Friday, November 23, 2012

Google Maps Indoor Floor Plans On Your Desktop

In September Google added 10,000 indoor maps to Google Maps for Android. This week Google added those same indoor maps to the Google Maps that you use on your desktop. To view the indoor maps select a building and zoom in until the floor plan appears.  Click here for the list of all of the places for which Google Maps has indoor floor plans.

Applications for Education
The Google Maps indoor maps are not Street View maps, but they could still be useful for some teachers and students. You could use the indoor maps for field trip planning. The indoor maps could also be useful if you have your students writing travel narratives about places that they haven't been to. For example, a few years back one of my colleagues and I had students write fictitious travel narratives about places that they had studied during our geography unit. Students had to research places in a city and write a short narrative about visiting those places. The indoor floor plans could provide students with some more details to add to those narratives.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year I'm celebrating two Thanksgivings! I enjoyed my first Canadian Thanksgiving in October and today I'll be celebrating American Thanksgiving with friends and family in my home state of Connecticut. I have two Thanksgiving traditions. First, 25 of the last 27 years I've watched the Manchester Road Race in the same spot with the same friends. Second, after the race I always listen to Alice's Restaurant on the radio. I'd like to share that tradition with you. What are your Thanksgiving traditions? Please leave a comment.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Teachem Adds New Ways to Share Online Courses

Last month I shared a new service called Teachem that is using the TED-Ed model for creating online courses. The difference between Teachem and TED-Ed is that Teachem allows you to put a series of videos and questions together to develop a course. Over the last month Teachem has added a few new features that are worth noting.

The first and probably most significant update is the option to embed your entire course into your existing blog or website. Any time that you can streamline your online offerings into one central location for your students, it's a good thing. A second update of note is the new set of visibility options. You can now mark your Teachem courses as public, private, unlisted, or password protected. And the third update of note is the option to add teachers to your course. If I want my colleagues to contribute to the development of a Teachem course I simply invite them as teachers to join me in Teachem.

Applications for Education
Theses new Teachem features are nice but I still stand by what I wrote in October about the service. Teachem isn't a revolutionary tool by any stretch of the imagination, it's basically another way to flip your classroom (read my concerns about flipped classrooms here). That said, Teachem it could be useful for organizing short review or introductory activities for your students.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Core of Education Vodcast #2

This week Rod Berger and I sat down to record the second episode of the Core of Education vodcast. This is a bi-weekly(ish) series in which Rod and talk about apps, ideas, and trends in education. This week I share five of my favorite mobile apps and we touch on the topic of BYOD which we plan to explore more in our next episode. The video is embedded below. You can also see the video on the newly redesigned Core of Education website where Rod posts interviews with lots of other educators.

The Art of Explanation - A Review and a Conversation With Lee LeFever

A couple of weeks ago I received a copy of Lee LeFever's new book The Art of Explanation. Many educators are familiar with Lee's work through his Common Craft videos. In The Art of Explanation Lee takes us through the process of crafting explanations that reach large audiences. The book isn't a "how-to" on the technical side of creating Common Craft style videos. Rather it is a walk through of what makes a good explanation whether that explanation is made in person, in video, or in a podcast. Of course, Lee points out when video is and isn't the best choice too.

Yesterday, I sat down and recorded a short video interview with Lee. In the video I ask Lee about the difference between fact telling and story telling, what makes an effective explanation, and for his advice for teachers who want to have their students create Common Craft style videos. At the very end you'll also get the "behind the scenes" story of Common Craft's first video.

Applications for Education
As Lee points out in his book, one of the challenges that experts face is "the curse of knowledge." The curse of knowledge is basically knowing so much about a topic that you forget that what you take for granted is not as easily understood by non-experts. Explaining things is something that we do every day in our classrooms and I know that I'm guilty of sometimes suffering from the curse of knowledge. Lee's book can help you break this curse and create better explanations.

Disclosure: I did receive a review copy of The Art of Explanation from the publisher.