Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Peanut Gallery - Add Your Own Words to Silent Films

Just a few minutes ago on the Official Google Blog a new Chrome experiment was released. The new experiment is called The Peanut Gallery. On The Peanut Gallery you can add your own words to silent film clips by simply speaking into your computer. When you speak into your computer your words are turned into text and displayed in the film clip. Watch the video below for a demonstration.


Applications for Education
The Peanut Gallery could be a fun place for students to experiment with storytelling. The silent film clips provide the visual prompts for students to fill-in with their own little stories. It's kind of like a visual Mad Libs activity.

The Sherpa's Story of Mount Everest

Yesterday, I posted some resources for learning about Mount Everest along with the news that Google Maps now contains Street View imagery of Mount Everest base camp. All of those resources give a very western perspective to Mount Everest. There's another side of Everest and that is the perspective of the Sherpa people who are native to the area and have climbed Everest more than any other group. Kraig Becker at The Adventure Blog shared a great BBC documentary about Sherpas who work with westerners on the mountain. You can watch the video below. Before showing the video to your students, you may want to remind them that Sherpa is an ethnic group, not a job title.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Street View of Everest Base Camp - And Other Resources for Learning About Mount Everest

The big news from Google today was the release of Street View imagery for Mount Everest, Mount Aconcagua, Mount Elbrus, and Mount Kilimanjaro. Those are four of what are referred to by mountaineers as the Seven Summits.


View Larger Map
The imagery doesn't take you to the summit of Mount Everest but you can take a look around base camp and the approach to it. The imagery may spark your students' curiosity about Mount Everest and if it does you will want to take a look at the following resources.

Panoramas.dk, hosts dozens of other interactive panoramas from around the world. Included in that list is a 360 degree interactive panoramic image taken from the peak of Mt. Everest. Using that panoramic image students can see what mountaineers see when they stand on the peak of Mt. Everest. The image includes views of the famous Khumbu valley as well as Everest's neighboring peaks Lhotse, Changtse, Makalu, and Nupste. The rest of the list of interactive panoramas includes views of cultural festivals and tourist attractions. The database of US panoramic views includes the Grand Canyon, the Jefferson Memorial, and two dozen other panoramas.

This Google Earth tour of Mount Everest's South Col route offers good views of the steps and camps along the way to the summit of Mount Everest. The South Col route is the route that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay used on the first successful summit climb. The South Col route is also the most commonly used route up Mount Everest.

Last year I read Mount Everest, The Reconnaissance 1921 which I downloaded for free from Google Books. In the introduction there is a three page explanation of the methods used to measure the height of Mount Everest. An explanation of the differences in measurements is also provided in the introduction. Part of that explanation includes differences in snow fall, cyclical deviations of gravity, and differences atmospheric refraction when observations were made. I'm not a mathematics teacher and will never pretend to be one, but reading that introduction did get me thinking about a possible mathematics lesson.

Snow in the Kingdom: My Storm Years on Everest by Ed Webster is one of the best books ever written about Mount Everest. If you enjoy good adventure stories and or stories about overcoming personal struggles, I think you will enjoy Webster's book. For my money, and I own two copies of it, it does a far better job of explaining how it feels to be on Mount Everest than any of the two dozen or so books that I've read about Mount Everest and the Himalaya. Ed Webster talks about the book and his experiences in the video below.

Wideo - Create Animated Videos With Voiceovers

Last month I introduced you to a neat video creation tool called Wideo. Wideo allows you to create short, animated videos and Common Craft like videos in your web browser. Today, Wideo announced that you can now upload your own audio files into your video projects. This means that you could record a voiceover and add it to your video.


WIDEOO REEL ENG NEW LOGO from Agustin Esperon on Vimeo.


Applications for Education
With Wideo's new voiceover tool you could really have your students creating explanatory videos in the Common Craft style. The art of Common Craft videos is the way in which confusing topics are boiled down to a concise explanation. If your students can do the same with a topic in your class, they can prove that they know the material.

My recommendation for a simple voice recording tool is SoundCloud.

Soo Meta - A Nice, New Way to Create Multimedia Presentations

Soo Meta is a new digital presentation tool from the same people that developed the YouTube remixing tool Dragon Tape. Soo Meta allows you to combine videos from YouTube, pictures from the web or from your desktop, text, and voice recordings to create a presentation. You can also pull content in from Pinterest and Twitter to use in your final product.

The Soo Meta editor is fairly easy to use. Create a free account to get started then open your browser to SooMeta.com/create/ and title your first project. After titling your project add a background image from your computer or from the web. Next pull in a video from YouTube. The video can be yours or any other publicly shared video. You can trim the start and the end time of the video in the Soo Meta editor. To add text just click the text box in the editor and type. Finally, to narrate a frame (Soo Meta calls them chapters) in your project click the microphone icon in the editor and make your recording. Completed Soo Meta projects can be embedded into your blog or website. I created a one chapter story about my dogs and embedded it below (press the green play button in the lower right corner).


Applications for Education
There are quite a few possible uses of Soo Meta in the classroom. You could have students create projects about in which they create book trailers using video clips, images, and their voices. Students could use Soo Meta to create a digital collage of media around a current events topic that they're studying. Soo Meta might also be used by students to create a showcase of their best digital works of the semester.