Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Week in Review Featuring Chicken Bones, Power Outage, and Google Reader

Image credit: Jen Deyenberg
Good morning from Greenwood, Maine where the sun is shining and the snow is melting. It was a busy week here at the Free Technology for Teachers world headquarters. The week can be summarized in three parts; power outage, chicken bones, and Google Reader.

Power Outage
This week I started three new Practical Ed Tech webinars. The first one went off without a hitch. The second one hit a snag when the power went out all over my town just ten minutes before the start time. The outage even took out the cell tower nearest to me. I scrambled, drove 15 miles to the next town where I was able to finally get some Internet access on my phone to tell people what had happened. Thankfully, everyone was understanding.

Chicken Bones
While I was driving to the next town in the power outage my younger dog, Max, decided to help himself to chicken wing bones from the garbage. When I came back in the house the garbage bin was knocked over and all of the chicken bones were gone. So off to the emergency clinic we went for x-rays and doggie stomach pumping. He's okay now, but it was a stressful evening that didn't end until 2am.

Google Reader
The biggest news in the web technology world this week is that Google has decided to shut-down Google Reader effective July 1. There has been all kinds of panic and digital gnashing of teeth on Twitter and blogs about this. The closure of beloved services is part of the territory of the modern web. As I wrote this week, don't panic, try Feedly instead.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 13 Good Chrome Apps and Extensions for Teachers and Students
2. Six Free Alternatives to PowerPoint and Keynote
3. Create a Text Message Exchange Between Fictional Characters
4. Three Tools Students Can Use to Create 3D Models Online
5. Google Announces the Closure of Google Reader - Don't Panic, Use Feedly
6. A Map of Nearly 100,000 Historic Sites
7. Opus - Sample Math Problems Aligned to Common Core Standards

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20 Chrome Apps & Extensions for Teachers and Students

This morning I got up very early by Saturday morning standards to be a virtual guest in a class at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. The topic for the morning was using Chrome apps and extensions in schools. I put together a little slideshow of the 20 apps that I thought they should look at first. As I told the students, for every one of these apps and extensions there are probably three or more that do the same type of thing so if you see one that is similar to one in the list, give it a try.

All of the images in the slides are linked directly to the Chrome store, just click the image to get to the app in Chrome store.


Friday, March 15, 2013

5 Resources to Help Students Understand the Size of the Universe

Sometimes when I take my dogs outside on a cold clear night in Maine I look up at the sky and I try to wrap my head around the size of the universe. Tonight was one of those times. Over the last couple of years I've shared some resources that can help viewers understand the scale of things in the universe, here they are.

The Scale of the Universe 2 features a huge selection of objects in the universe that are arranged according to size and scale. You can zoom-in on the image to objects as small as neutrinos and quarks or as large as planets, constellations, and galaxies. When you click on an object in The Scale of the Universe 2 a small window of information about that object pops up.


3D Solar System Web is a neat website that I discovered through the Chrome web store. 3D Solar System Web features a narrated tour of the solar system beginning at the sun and working out through all of the planets. The tour explains the classifications of each planet, how long it takes each planet to orbit the sun, and each planet's unique features.

Magnifying the Universe is an interactive infographic that allows you to see the size of atoms, animals, buildings, mountains, planets, stars, and galaxies in relation to other objects in the universe.

100,000 Stars is a Google Chrome Web GL Experiment that does a good job of helping viewers understand the scale of the universe. 100,000 Stars is a visualization of the 100,000 stars closest to Earth. You can view the stars on your own or take an automated tour of the stars. that also does a good job of helping viewers understand the scale of the universe. 100,000 Stars is a visualization of the 100,000 stars closest to Earth. You can view the stars on your own or take an automated tour of the stars. 

The Known Universe is a six minute video tour of the known universe that starts with Earth's biggest mountains in the Himalaya and zooms out from there. Watch the video below.

Free Courses On Copyright and Creative Commons for Educators

Next week P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University) is starting a few free online courses of interest to educators. On March 18, P2PU will offer Copyright for Educators (US law), Copyright for Educators (AUS law), and Creative Commons for K-12 Educators. Each course runs for seven weeks. You do need to register by March 17 to participate in the courses.

These are some of the key questions addressed in Copyright for Educators:
  • What is the public domain?
  • What does copyright law protect?
  • What is fair use?
  • What other exceptions are there in copyright law?
  • What are open access educational resources?
These are some of the learning objectives of Creative Commons for K-12 Educators:
  • Find educational resources that are open for sharing and remix
  • Remix open educational resources
  • Share remixes on the web
  • Attribute CC licensed materials
  • CC license your work
  • Explain CC licenses and how they work
  • Edit collaboratively
  • Work transparently
  • Advocate openness
 H/T to Open Culture.

Presefy - Let Your Audience Follow Your Slides Remotely

Presefy is a new service that you can use to share your presentations to your students' mobile devices. Through Presefy you can control your slides from your computer or from the browser in your iPad, iPhone, Android phone, or any other mobile device that has a web browser.  When you advance the slides in your presentation the slides also advance on your students' mobile devices. Your students can take notes as they follow along with your slides.

To share your presentations just create a Presefy account and upload a PPTX or PDF file. Your account is given a channel name and URL. Share that URL with your students, have them enter it into their browsers, and they can follow along as you advance your slides. Learn more about Presefy in the video below.


Presefy - Go Mobile with your Presentations from Presefy on Vimeo.


The free version of Presefy allows you to store two presentations at a time. You can delete and re-upload presentations as many times as you want in the free account.