Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Community and Collaborative Comicstrips

Bitstrips is a site that has taken on the collaborative model for the creative side - telling stories with comics.

Bitstrips helps you create your characters and tell your story through their process of "Design, Create and Laugh." It has used a collaborative model that allows your to share your comics, get feedback, track how many people have viewed your comic, other comics by the author, etc....

This art form has been around for a long time and is one that most of us have grown up with. As kids, it was one of the first tools that really motivated many of us to read.

So what is it that attracts young and old to comics or cartoons? Many adults today still enjoy this form of media. Is it the way the story is told? Is it the visual with the text? There has been a lot of research done on the art of telling stories through comics.

I have used Comic Book Creator in the classroom and teachers and students love it! Classes have used it for developing study reviews or presenting an idea/project.

Use Comics to help students understand a difficult concept or theory - first have students develop a story around the concept. Characters don't have to be "real people" and they can give live to concepts and theories. If students have developed a storyboard first around their story, they could present it in a variety of ways. Staging the story and taking photographs (like frame-by-frame animation), then uploading the images into Comic Book Creator. Students could draw the images and scan them or draw in Photoshop Elements and then the images then import them into Comic Book Creator.

Students with learning difficulties such as dyslexia have been drawn to programs like Comic Book Creator as it has allowed them to be able to express themselves and tell their stories.

Don't think comics are just for kids.....this can be a very powerful way to get kids hooked into learning and telling their stories.

Other Links:

NACCAE (National Association of Comics Art Educators)

Comics in Education

Comics in the Classroom

Comics Art Education

Comics in Education

Better Education Through Comic Books

Motivating Through Comics

Creating your comic avatars in Bitstrips.

Starting your Bitstrip comic panels.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How can the Internet make the world a better place?

How can the Internet make the world a better place?

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) is using YouTube to find out what you think. OECD is a "global forum for new ideas to create prosperity in developed and developing countries."

In Seoul, Korea, on 17-18th of June, "government ministers from more than 40 countries, global business leaders, technical experts and academics are meeting to work out how the Internet can improve the world."

You have a chance to have input. Some of the rules of engagement to participate are:

  • participants must be at least 13 years of age
  • videos should be 1 minute in length or shorter
  • participants are encouraged to "think outside the box" and be original, creative and imaginative.
read further points surrounding rules of engagement.

Remember, you only have until June 16th 2008 (Korea time) to upload your submissions.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Science Resource gateway to over 50 million pages

Over 30 databases and more than 1,800 scientific Web sites from 13 federal government agencies can be searched at

Categories include:

  • agriculture & food
  • applied science & technologies
  • astronomy & space
  • biology & nature
  • computers & communication
  • earth & ocean sciences
  • energy & energy conservation
  • environment & environmental quality
  • health & medicine
  • math, physics & chemistry
  • natural resources & conservation
  • science education
Featured websites:

Mosquito Control

National Earthquake Information Centre (NEIC)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Visible Body - 3D Human Anatomy

The Visible Body is a complete 3D model of the human body:

  • muscular
  • digestive
  • circulatory
  • respiratory
  • urinary
  • nervous
  • skeletal systems.
The Visible Body is free to use - just register online and begin exploring this web delivered application.

Be sure to read the F & Q to cover further questions - such as student logins, future versions, etc.... This site has been developed by the team at Argosy, an education publisher.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Create your own Pinhole Camera - from Handheld to 3D

Corbis is a "creative resource for advertising, marketing and media professionals worldwide" based in Seattle.

Corbis has created some great templates for Pinhole cameras that can be freely downloaded.

Move the lesson to the next level......
Once students have created their pinhole paper cameras move them into the visual 3D world.

Download a free 3D program such as Google SketchUp
and have the students design their own Pinhole Camera in 3D. Once they have completed that, import it into Deep Exploration and watch the magic. Students will be able to bring their Pinhole Camera to life. Students can learn what it is like to become digital instructional designer. Using Deep Exploration they will be able to tell/present their digital story on how their pinhole camera is put together what happens inside when the camera takes the picture - showing the end user how to use it.

This interactive 3D story can then be published in any of the Microsoft products (Word or PowerPoint) and Adobe Acrobat. Students can continue building their story around their interactive 3D story with further research (text) and 2D images.

Other links:

Wikipedia: Pinhole Camera

Pinhole Gallery - hundreds of pictures from artists around the world that have used a pinhole camera

Make a Pinhole Camera from a Pringles chip tube

Pinhole Visions - the art of pinhole photography

Friday, June 06, 2008

Get your Wii On

If you haven't tried the Wii Fit must. I played competitive sports all through school and on into my adult years.....then came the "break." Broken ankle, torn ligament and sprained tendon.....all in one swoop at the volleyball net (opposing player came across). So I continued my series of gym memberships. Then exercise equipment that soon became clothes lines for hanging clothes while they dried (I think every basement across Canada probably has at least one unused piece of exercise equipment in it).

As I got more and more into technology......the movement of one's self became less and less.

We have a couple of game boxes in the house but when I read about the Wii Fit, I thought I would have to investigate. I pre-ordered my Wii Fit and received it as soon as they arrived in NZ through EB Games ....came home - pulled it out of the box - hooked it up and did my first 1 1/2 hours of aerobic, strength training and flexibility games/workouts. It did give me a workout!

Part of the setup is to create a Wii Avatar (virtual representation of yourself), which is called a Mii. This little Mii becomes your cheerleader. As you figure out your BMI and weight.....the Mii even "puffs" up in size once everything is calculated.

My first Wii Age for balance, BMI and weight = Wii age 69.....anyone have an old folks home I can crawl into? The cheeky Mii then runs out on the screen puffing and trying to encourage you to do better. The next day I was determined to have my Mii applauding my success. After another hour of working Wii age was now 42. Hmmmm - still not good enough. Post this on the Wii calendar to keep track. Next day my Mii avatar greeted me for another challenge. Wii age = 36.....getting better. After a couple of weeks, my Wii age ranges in the mid 20 - high 20's. Determined to get under 20 :)

There are several folks in the office that have the Wii Fit and I started chatting with one of our developers (Richard) and asked if we could use the Wii controllers with any of our 3D development programs. Richard (also an avid Wii user) jumped on that and started playing around with the use of the controllers at its infancy.

Check out his YouTube overview.

Other links:

The Global Wii Experience Website

This site is one to check out....all the injuries reported from the misuse of the Wii Fit.

Stay Tuned.....

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Opensource AudioBook Community

"LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and releases the audio files back onto the net. The goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books."

Once the copyright time period has lapsed on text, it enters the public domain. That means anybody can have free access to it and use it how they wish.

LibriVox is encouraging a world community to come together and help achieve the goal. Anyone can participate - in any language.

What a great project for an English class to participate in! You can use free recording software such as Audacity

Different samples of volunteer project types listed on Librivox:

  • collaborative: many volunteers contribute chapters of a long text
  • solo: one volunteer reads an entire book
  • short works (prose and poetry): short works and poetry!
  • dramatic works: “actors” record parts, all edited together.
  • other languages: projects in languages other than English.
How it all works:
  1. a book coordinator posts a book in the Readers Wanted Section.
  2. volunteers “claim” chapters to read.
  3. the readers record their chapters in digital format.
  4. the book coordinator collects all the files of all the chapters.
  5. the book coordinator sends the collected files to a meta coordinator.
  6. we check the files for technical problems in the Listeners Wanted section.
  7. the book coordinator sends the collected, corrected files to a meta coordinator..
  8. another public domain audiobook is made available for free.
Read the Forum for more Q & A.