Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Best of the Web 2018

This morning I had the privilege to give a presentation for the 2018 Wild Wisconsin Web Conference. They asked me last fall to give a Best of the Web presentation and I was happy to oblige. Until this morning I hadn't given a Best of the Web presentation since last March so I spent last week updating it for 2018. The slides from the presentation that I gave this morning are embedded below. You can also get PPT or PDF copies here.

Patches - Create Your Own Virtual Reality Environments

In the past I've featured Google's Cardboard Camera and Street View apps as tools for creating simple virtual reality imagery. Those tools are great if you want to capture immersive images of physical environments and share those images with others. But if you want to create completely drawn and animated virtual reality scenes, then you'll want to try Patches.

Patches is a free online tool for creating virtual reality scenes. Patches offers animated characters, animals, buildings, and common objects that you can place inside a virtual reality scene. Just drag and drop objects and animations from the selection menus to the Patches design canvas. You can create and customize your VR scenes as much as you like by changing object positioning, color schemes, and even the speed at which an animation moves. You can preview your VR scenes within the Patches editor. Completed projects can be viewed in a VR viewer by just enter the link assigned to your project into your mobile phone's browser.

Applications for Education
Students could use Patches to create virtual reality environments in which a fiction story is brought to life in VR. Patches could be used by students to create simulations of historical events. As someone in the Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group pointed out, Patches could be used in math classes to help students further their understanding of geometry concepts.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Polar Bear "Street" View Lesson Plans

Polar Bears International offers a set of extensive lesson plans designed to help students learn about polar bears and their habitat. One of those lesson plans is called Street View and Polar Bears. In Street View and Polar Bears students use Google Maps to explore the geography, geology, and ecosystem of the tundra around Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. At the end of the lesson students should be able to answer questions like "what are the characteristics of the subarctic tundra?" and "what would be some of the considerations for the construction of buildings, schools, houses, etc. in the subarctic?"



Bear Tracker is another feature of the Polar Bears International website. The Bear Tracker plots the travels of collared polar bears in Hudson Bay and the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska. You can view the travel paths of one or all of the bears on each map. The map also offers play the travel paths recorded over time.

Mentimeter Adds a New Q&A Feature

Mentimeter, one of the tools that I often mention for conducting formative assessments, has just released a new Q&A feature. The new feature will let your audience submit questions that they want you to answer. Additionally, members of the audience can vote for the questions that they want you to answer.

The new Mentimeter Q&A feature is in addition to all of the other polling options that are built into the platform. Those include open responses displayed as word clouds, multiple choice questions, scales, and matrix responses. Watch the following video to learn how to use the new Q&A feature in Mentimeter.


Applications for Education
Mentimeter's new Q&A function could be useful in helping you identify and prioritize the questions that your students want you to answer. I also think that it could provide a good way to have students submit question that they think should or will appear on an upcoming assessment.

How to Add Voice Comments to Google Docs

Last night I shared the news of Kaizena's updated Google Docs Add-on that streamlines the process of adding voice comments to Google Documents. If you haven't tried it, watch the video that I just made about how to add voice comments to Google Documents.


Applications for Education
As I wrote last night, the combination of voice comments with direct links to a lesson could be very helpful to students who might otherwise be confused by the voice comment alone or the lesson alone. And, as Louis Odendaal pointed out on Twitter, the voice commenting feature can be helpful to ELL students and teachers.

Are you new to using Google Docs? Learn everything you need to know in my online course, G Suite for Teachers