Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dance, Dance, Dance....

Dance is a freeware application (free to try - register to keep) that helps a dancer learn dance patterns. Over 200 patterns available and the ability to create your own dance patterns as well. The ability to animate, print and export patterns. Many patterns now also have a support video/picture sequence of actual dancers.

SimpleDance is based on the Dance software above. (although SimpleDance is free, it doesn't seem to have had any further development into it for a couple of years).

SimpleDance is used to enter and to visualize dance patterns with help of the footsteps.

Retail Product:
Take your dance class to the next level........

Credo Interactive specializes in 3D character animation software.

Lifeforms software is a motion capture software.

Danceforms is used by dance / technology teachers and choreographers in need of a visualization and notation tool can realize and demonstrate entire scores, complete with music integration.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

NASA Learning Technologies

NASA Learning Technologies consists of 6 separate areas of learning:

WorldWind 1.4
World Wind lets you zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth. Leveraging Landsat satellite imagery and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, World Wind lets you experience Earth terrain in visually rich 3D, just as if you were really there.

NASA SVS (Scientific Visualization Studio) has a collection of visually intense animations on a global scale as well as a variety of samples up close.

Math Trax
MathTrax is a graphing tool for middle school and high school students to graph equations, physics simulations or plot data files. The graphs have descriptions and sound so you can hear and read about the graph. Blind and low vision users can access visual math data and graph or experiment with equations and datasets. Developers site on Math Trax.

Virtual Lab
Virtual Lab completely emulates a scanning electron microscope and allows any user to zoom and focus into a variety of built-in microscopic samples.

What's The Difference
A highly accessible and a simple to use "compare and contrast" tool for students. It is easily customizable to go well beyond the included module that covers the Solar System. "Solar System Explorer" covers every planet in depth with important facts such as atmosphere, composition, diameter, distance to sun, gravity strength, and simulated views of the surface.

The Celestia Exploration activity - explore outer space.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Web Cam Sites for Kids

EarthCam for Kids a collection of webcam sites from around the world. From New Zealand Volcano cameras to Polar Bear projects in Northern Canada.

A growing collection of webcam sites for students with topics such as: adventure cams, amazing animal cams, creative & fun cams, naturally nature cams, out of this world cams, people cams, smart cams, weather or not cams, and weird-o-rama cams.

Great supplement to any lesson - great for all ages.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Brainboost - the question engine

Brainboost is an answer engine unlike Google that is a search engine. Write a question in plain English and Brainboost attempts to find the answers....not just link you to pages that mention parts of the question.

For example if you typed in "Why is the sky blue?" Google would return pages to you that have the words sky and blue.

Brainboost "translates the query into multiple queries that will raise the probability of finding the ANSWER to the question."

Give Brainboost a try.

Brainboost and Google comparison.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Awesome Things to do With Photographs

IF YOU TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS YOU NEED TO SEE THIS WEBSITE....Photojojo is a website packed full of very innovative things from around the world wide web on photo tips, DIY projects, and info on photo gear.

Here are 2 cool free tools to create posters from your photographs.

The Rasterbator is a program I had used several years ago it creates huge, rasterized images from any image source (photographs, cartoons, etc...). Upload an image, print the resulting multi-page pdf file and assemble the pages into extremely cool looking poster up to 20 meters in size. It prints photographs in newsprint dots in black and white or decide. I used to print huge posters up of groups of my students and put them around my multimedia lab. Once the pieces are printed out you put them together like a puzzle, tape the backs together and VOILA a cool poster to put up on your wall (with or without lines through the final poster).

Photojojo listed another similar web tool called, you load up any photograph or image to the web and will turn it into a poster that you can print off using your home/office printer. Tell it how many sheets you want to use, upload your pic, and seconds later it’ll spit back a pdf.


Storyboarding is used in Web design, Film and Animation. It is the process of visually planning your story whether it is a website or a full length feature film. The Storyboard Artist interprets scripts or web design concepts to create storyboards.

In Web design, storyboarding helps to develop a clear specification of what the site will do and how it is structured. In film or animation it is a vital tool in pre-production that can spot any initial problems, give the director a feel for the various shots required, helps keep focus on the story, reveals what props might be needed, etc... The storyboard will be referred to throughout the shooting of the film or development of the animation as a point of reference. Storyboarding is a great process for students to learn either individually or in groups.

Anthony Zierhut who is a freelance storyboard artist describes what his job is like and the skills that are needed. Interesting interview if you have students that might be interested in this field.


Storyboard Pro by Atomic Learning (free)
While not as flash as some of the retail versions below, it does a great job to introduce storyboarding to students. There are free tutorials on the website as well.

Springboard 0.8.0 (almost free) You can download it for free to try and if don't want the hassle of downloading every couple of months just pay the $35 - quite a good little program.

Gliffy (free)
The free online diagramming tool.....would work great for storyboarding websites.

Storyboard Artist
Educational quotes available.

Frameforge 3D Studio 2
(the demo version is quite useful)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Smithsonian Education

In 1826, James Smithson, a British scientist willed that his estate should go “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” Several years later saw the first Smithsonian Institute Museum now expanding to 19 museums, 144 affiliate museums and 9 research centres. In 2005 there were over 24 million visitors in 2005 and housing 136 million collections it is a treasure for any educator.

Smithsonian Education is geared towards educators, students and families. There is a free Smithsonian Education e-newsletter you can sign-up for that has links to various lesson plans, stories within the website, professional development for educators, etc...

The educator section is full of teaching resources. For example February is Black History Month and there is a whole section dedicated to this topic.

The Smithsonian Magazine is available online or in print with sections on: history, the arts, science & technology, travel, nature & wildlife and people & cultures. An interesting article in this months is on "Faces of War".... journey of WWI soldiers whose faces were disfigured from the war and the artists and sculptures who came to their aid creating face masks.

Monday, February 19, 2007

English Web Helpers

New Zealands Unitech has a great Flash based website for reading. Once you walk through the doors of the Readers' Cafe you are invited to explore the cafe moving your mouse to the right and left of the cafe reveals new areas of the cafe.

Students can have fun with such things as developing a story with a drag & drop fridge magnet simulation, learn about your fav authors, take a book quiz, learn about the latest books and join an online discussion about a book.

Poetry Archives - "The purpose of the Poetry Archive is to provide a simple interface into a dynamically generated, database driven website archiving thousands of copyright free poems."

There is presently over 5,000 classical poems available on the database written by over 150 classical poets. "The goal is to provide the largest free archive of classical poetry available on the Internet with a simple user interface. "

The Online Books Page has been around since 1993. It is website "that facilitates access to books that are freely readable over the Internet. It also aims to encourage the development of such online books, for the benefit and edification of all.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Social Sciences Tools

DiscoverOurEarth is based on the research done in the geoinformatics lab at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (University of California, San Diego). There is a wide range of information related to the Earth sciences, accompanied by images, graphs, maps, and movies. Discovery topics: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Topography, Plate Tectonics, and Sea Level Change. Web tools for on-hands learning such as: interactive mapping, virtual experiments and interactive 3D graphics.

USGS (US Geological Service) website has an online tool called Map-It that is a simple form that you fill in the longitude/latitude pairs as input and the form "plots them on a Mercator projection map along with land/sea and political boundaries."

Strange Maps is an mapping blog that has postings on a wide range of interesting maps and wonderful annotations. Today's posting is a world map on driving orientation....who drives on the left or the right hand side of the road. Some great stories and maps to spark discussion in your class.

PRI's The World is a is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.
With podcasts, colourful pictures and stories with a global perspective, this site brings the world to your students. Check out the Geo Quiz that has a new question posted everyday for your students to ponder.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Technology trends that could impact EDUCATION in the next 5 years....

The report released by the New Media Consortium and the nonprofit group EDUCAUSE looks at 6 emerging edtech trends that could have a huge impact on education in the next 5 years.

The six trends identified in this year's report are:

  • User-created content;
  • Social networking;
  • Mobile phones;
  • Virtual worlds;
  • New scholarship and emerging forms of publication; and
  • Massively multiplayer educational gaming

"A central focus of the discussion of each technology is its relevance for teaching, learning, and creative expression. Live weblinks to example applications are provided in each section, as well as to additional readings."

Be an innovator....challenge can you incorporate these technologies into your classroom/school?

2007 Horizon Report
New Media Consortium

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Web Tools for the Teacher Toolbox

EasyTestMaker is an online test generator that helps you create tests easily and quickly. Creating multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching, short answer, true and false are just some of the features.

Rubistar is an online tool to easily create rubrics for all of your project-based learning activities. Registration is free with an added feature that enables a teacher to analyze the performance of their whole class. "After students have completed the project the teacher can then enter the scores into Rubistar to determine which items were problematic."

Rubistar is made available from which has more tools available for the classroom - such as: QuizStar, Academic SKill Builders, Assign-A-Day, etc... Check some of these out.

FunBrain a great site for K-7ish where kids have fun while they are learning. Interactive games to help students with their math and language skills.

With daily postings, Diary of a Wimpy Kid can be read everyday for general interest or to help improve reading skills. has a wonderful free online tool called Quiz Center. You can use it to create, administer, and grade quizzes online. You will be able to make online quizzes that provide instant feedback to you and your students.

Happy Valentines Day

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gliffy - draw & share diagrams on the web

Gliffy (beta) is a really great example of interactive web development......a web-based diagramming solution.

It allows users to create and share online diagrams. Registration is free and without downloading any other software you can start creating diagrams as soon as you login.

You can create: Flowcharts, UI wireframes, Floor plans, Network diagrams, UML diagrams, or any other simple drawing or diagram.

Great for the classroom.... students can work collaboratively on their diagrams and are able to upload their own images and drag these onto the grid work area. Another great tool to add to the toolbox.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Smile you're on candid camera.....

Citizen Journalism...
Open-source Reporting...
Citizen-controlled Media...

These are some of the new terminologies that are hitting the web for the next online social wave called participatory news networks. Reporters have always had their sources for their stories, now news sites such as NowPublic and Yahoos YouWitnessNews (beta) are encouraging the "average Internet user" to be the roving reporter.

New tools such as video cameras in mobile phones, YouTube, blogs....Web 2.0 have encouraged the average Internet user to participate on the web. We have a new generation of young people that would rather interact through text messaging than a telephone or reading a newspaper.

There will be many ethical and legal issues arise from this new frontier....most reporters follow a code of ethics and will the new urban reporter be bound to these same ethics and standards? It is human nature to be drawn to a train wreck and the numbers have proven this with "NowPublic boasting more than 60,000 contributing reporters in more than 140 countries."

Problems in Schools....

An interesting report from writes about schools that are having to deal with students "baiting" teachers in the classroom by confronting them and then secretly video taping it. These video tapes are then being posted on various websites such as MySpace and YouTube. Policing this can be a nightmare for educators as many of the postings are done outside the school walls on home computers. Other schools report school fights showing up online quite frequently.

Form of free speech or journalism? No - only another type of cyber bullying.

While online websites promote this new open communication tool it is important to discuss in the classrooms the impact on peoples lives that urban journalism can have. Ethics, legalities and other areas need to be discussed.

It is very easy to upload a file and press the send button from the comfort of your own home.....

Friday, February 09, 2007

Teacher involved in illegal software scandal

This story has been all over the Internet this week. The BBC news reports that through Mr. Gorbachev's foundation website, Mikhail Gorbachev (former Soviet leader) has come forward and pleaded with Bill Gates to intervene on behalf of a Russian headteacher accused of using pirated software in his classroom.

Prosecutors have charged the teacher with "violating Microsoft's intellectual property rules by using computers in his school that contained unlicensed copies of the firms software....causing company losses at 266,000 roubles (~ $10,000 US)." Microsoft has replied stating it did not initiate the charges against the teacher rather the "chairman of Microsoft Russia, said: "This case was initiated by Russian authorities under Russian law."

Mr. Ponosov says he is innocent, that the software had been pre-installed and he did not know it was unlicensed when he obtained the computers. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has also come to Mr. Ponosovs defence.

CNet news reports President Putin saying "to grab someone for buying a computer somewhere and start threatening him with prison is complete nonsense, simply ridiculous, the law recognizes the concept of someone who purchased the product in good faith." The computer vendors that sold the machines should be the ones being charged.

Under Russian law, if convicted Mr. Ponosov could spend several years imprisoned in a Siberian detention camp.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Virtual interactive worlds for tweens and teens

Preteen or tween (ages 13 and under)....
Nickelodeon (the children's television network) has just released on the website a virtual world for tweens called "nickTropolis." After the success of SecondLife virtual world for adults there have been many websites for young teens (tweens) that have shown up on the Internet.....Disney is also releasing a virtual world on its website.

nickTropolis is an online world where tweens can create their own avatars (a virtual graphical body that is used to interact online in real time), interact through their avatars with other online tweens in real time. The site is a gaming playground for tweens, online video, tweens can furnish their own rooms and interact with online Nickelodeon characters.

Teens (ages 13 and over).... is an interactive world very, very similar to SecondLife but for young teens. More advanced and "adult like" than nickTropolis. allows its user community of digital avatars to: play (games), shop (in the digital stores or auctions), explore (the There island), chat (real time with other avatars in the There bars or clubs), create your own There dream home or fashion line and attend all of the online events within the There world.

Teen/tween Consumerism
The marketing community knows that the youth of today are their adult consumers of tomorrow. They have realized that this group of youth are more IT saavy than the previous generation. These tweens/teens have more disposable income and are also very, very comfortable communicating within a digital world.

Note: both websites have free membership and have a section for parents in regards to online safety. nickTropolis reports it has netsafe measures put in place that needs communication from the parent/caregiver.

Question: How does/will this impact how we educate and communicate with this group of students? Is it important as educators to be are aware of the trends that impact our students lives outside of the classroom?

........Real universities already have digital universities in the virtual world SecondLife........

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Upgrade to Google Maps Australia & New Zealand

Yesterday Google released an upgrade to Google Maps online mapping service which will enable users in Australia/New Zealand to find local information. This includes business listings, driving directions and support for Google Maps for mobile.

Google Maps Australia Beta went live back in May 2006 but the website simply provided flat street maps and satellite images, but the upgrade means it now offers virtually identical functionality to its US counterpart.

I do wish the satellite images were updated more frequently. Checking out my own address in Auckland still shows the image of our house being built.....we have lived in it over a year.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Video Producion

Kids' Vid is a website to give teacher and students the tools to implement video production into the classroom.

The site is broken down into: scripting, making, editing and showtime.

There is also a theatre area where kids can share their work.

The Digital Kids Club by Adobe is a wonderful resource for teacher and student for digital video and digital photography.

Digital Kids Club is full of lesson ideas, templates, galleries, and collaboration areas where teachers can share and learn about what other media teachers from around the globe are doing. has posted an article title "5 Steps to Great Video Production." It lists and briefly describes the steps that students should know that are required to produce a video. also has a lot of other topics related to video production. Another article describes what is necessary to setup your videography.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching

MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) is an educational community that has been around since 1997.

Membership is free and the aim is for members to share their work through a community portal. MERLOT has over 16067 available online materials with 42056 members. The arts, business, education, humanities, mathematics & statistics, science & technology, and social sciences are categories for learning materials.

There are also educational portals in the areas of: biology, business, chemistry, engineering, health sciences, history, IT, mathematics, music, physics, psychology, statistics, teacher education, teaching & technology, and world languages.

An example of what the portals contain for world languages:

  • tips for teaching
  • contacts to other people teaching/involved in world languages
  • learning materials
  • professional associations
  • showcases

Friday, February 02, 2007

New Technologies Coming to a Classroom Near You

Augmented Technology....research in this area of technology has been around for awhile. You have seen it on TV or in the movies....Tom Cruise standing in front of a glass grid of a map - from a projector that is fitted into a glove he is wearing comes a virtual elevation of the terrain that he can interact with. Fiction? Not really...............

Augmented Technology is an area of computer research which deals with the combination of real world and computer generated data. Some examples of this are used in/with:

  • GPS devices

  • Virtual Reality (VR) projects (ie: airplane simulation training for pilots)
LifeClipper combines GPS, VR and Real Life. The participant puts on the gear - a portable computer (pictured to the right) and then walks around a designated route. The experience is as if they are in a movie, it combines what they see around them during the walk along with photo, video and sound that is seen through the goggles at predetermined points captured by GPS.

This takes the meaning of a virtual class field trip to a whole new dimension. Imagine visiting the site where The Treaty of Waitangi was signed and with the help of this technology students could feel like they were actually witnesses this time in history occurring.

HUD (Heads up Display) HUD is a display on the screen that doesn't block the user's view. This is already being used in many domestic cars where the speedometer and other stats are projected up onto the windshield for the driver to view (BMW, Nissan, Lexus, Citroen, and GM all offer HUD.)

There are now prototypes to project a GPS street system onto your screen rather than having to purchase a separate unit for your vehicle.

How man students have complained that they can't read the projector screen because it is too small?

The new projectors being developed and tested in the Faculty of Architecture at the Bauhaus-University Weimar are short of amazing. Not only do the dual projectors take a corner of a wall to make one large smooth image it can use augmented technology to give a projection depth....a 3D feel. Explore the projects photo gallery.

Further links:
How Stuff Works - Auglmented Technology

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Phys.Ed & Health Web Resources

Using technology in physical education, health education, and athletics.

  • some promotion of products to sift through but a good insight into what is new for use in this curriculum area. Tips on using various software applications and new resource links each month. You can sign up and subscribe for free to this newsletter.

The Educational Technology Clearinghouse.

  • a clearing house for PE resource links (lesson plans) for PreK - senior students. (Note: there are also lesson plans for dance, music, theatre, visual art, languages, health, language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.)

The University of Waikato: Resource Library for Health and Physical Education.

  • quite an extensive range of web resources from nutrition to sports media.

Another online resource website that you can subscribe to: Blue Web'n. Every month 5-10 new sites are added and sent to you via email. They have an extensive "idea bank" of lessons and resources for teachers in a variety of grades and curriculum areas.

  • Health and Physical Education links