Friday, December 13, 2013

PBS Diorama - Short Videos About Natural History and Life

Diorama is a new site from PBS station WNET in New York. Diorama features short videos, infographics, and pictures about the dioramas on display at the American Museum of Natural History. Diorama currently features information about moose and termites. New content is coming soon.



PixiClip - A Great New Tool for Creating and Narrating Drawings

PixiClip is a great new tool tool for creating, narrating, and sharing drawings. PixiClip provides a whiteboard space on which you can draw, upload images to mark-up, and type. While adding elements to your PixiClip whiteboard you can talk and or record a video of yourself talking. In fact, you can't use the whiteboard without at least recording your voice at the same time. Recordings can be shared via social media and or embedded into your blog posts.

PixiClip does not require you to create an account in order to use the service. However, if you want to save your recording to re-visit and edit you will need to create an account. Accounts are free and take less than thirty seconds to create.


Applications for Education 
PixiClip could be a great little tool for creating short flipped lessons. You could use the whiteboard to explain how to solve a math problem. You could also upload a map and draw on a map for a short geography lesson. Or you might have students use PixiClip to create short stories based on pictures they took during a field trip.

Check Out This Award-Winning Android App Developed By Students

(Cross-posted from one of my other blogs, Android4Schools.com)

Yesterday, on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page I shared a post about MIT App Inventor 2. In response to that post Christina Winsor DiMicelli shared an app that her students at Hampstead Academy in New Hampshire built using MIT App Inventor.

Chow Checker was developed by students was developed by students at Hampstead Academy. The app was submitted to and won Verizon's Innovative App Challenge.

Chow Checker is a free Android app that anyone can use to search for foods and discover which allergens may be in them. Chow Checker users can create profiles of their own allergens to help them keep track of the foods that contain allergens that can affect them. You don't have to create a profile in order to use the app. You can simply enter a food's name or part of the name ("trail" instead of "trail mix" for example) and view the common allergens that it contains.

Applications for Education
Chow Checker is a fantastic example of a real-world project for students. If you would like your students to try a similar project, the MIT App Inventor is a fantastic tool. App Inventor does not require you to have any prior coding or app development skill in order to create a working Android app. MIT provides excellent support documentation and curriculum for classroom use for new users of App Inventor.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Map of US Military Bases World Wide and a Crash Course in Imperialism

Empire.is features a map of more than 700 United States military bases and postings around the world. The map uses satellite imagery from Google Maps and Bing to display these bases. The map alone could be an interesting resource for a U.S. History and or current events course. (It should be noted that some of the postings on the map are closed) I would combine the use of the map with a viewing of John Green's Crash Course in American Imperialism (embedded below).


On a related note, you may also be interested in this animation of Howard Zinn's A People's History of American Empire.


H/T to Google Maps Mania.

MIT App Inventor 2 - Design Android Apps in Your Browser

This morning I went to use the MIT App Inventor for the first time in a couple of weeks and discovered that MIT App Inventor 2 is now available to anyone who has a Google Account. MIT App Inventor 2 works just like the first version except version 2 runs entirely in your browser (Chrome or Firefox, IE is not supported). I immediately went to my Chromebook just to confirm that MIT App Inventor would run correctly on it, and it does.

The only download that is required for App Inventor 2 is the optional emulator. The emulator allows people who don't have Android devices to text their apps on their desktops. If you have an Android device then the emulator is not required and you don't need to worry about installing it.

Applications for Education
If you would like to introduce your students to programming real-world applications, the MIT App Inventor is a fantastic tool. App Inventor does not require you to have any prior coding or app development skill in order to create a working Android app. MIT provides excellent support documentation and curriculum for classroom use for new users of App Inventor.