Thursday, May 31, 2007

Design Inspiration & Resource from Japan - PingMag

PingMag is a bilingual online design magazine that writes about ideas and inspiration by two designers from Japan. This online magazine is full of great articles and content.


Storyboard Design: Hey teachers, feeling like you need a little inspiration? Looking at that storyboard unit and dreading it? Check out the article in PingMag. The writers take you through 5 different storyboard case studies:

  • TV drama
  • Film festival trailer
  • Online game
  • 2 different TV commercials

With each case study there is an example of the drawn storyboard, discussions about the creative journey of the "storyboarders" and examples of the finished product.

As I was reading through their archives I came across a hilarious and entertaining article they did on the Website Development Process. Using Lego they created a superb visual story of what all web designers have gone through with their clients....from conception to completion of a design project. Great resource to help your students understand what is involved in the completion of a project (plus it will give you a giggle.)

Clothing and Textile teachers there is a huge amount of information on this site for you!

My husband will shake his head when I write about this one....but every morning before work, my husband packs up his eyeglass case, wallet, Tupperware bowl of cereal, spoon, bits and pieces of paper and religiously places them all in a nice plastic grocery bag. I keep teasing him and tell him that I am going to buy him a real man bag.....anything would be better than the plastic bags. Well in Tokyo apparently the fashion IS for a man to carry a fashion "man bag" .....who would of thought.

You really need to check out this site! Some of the categories that are available (which I am sure are growing daily):

  • Architecture
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Conscientious Design
  • Events & Exhibits
  • Fashion
  • Film/Animation
  • Graphics
  • Illustration
  • Internet
  • Japan
  • Music
  • Photography
  • Products
  • Street Art
  • Technology
  • Typography
  • Worldwide

And in case you didn't pick it up at the beginning......LOVE THIS ONLINE MAG!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Young musicians learn by sight, sound and "doing"

I started my young days in a small town in the Saskatchewan prairies in Canada. With no kindergarten or preschool, I started taking piano lessons when I was 5 years old. My mom taught me but I quickly moved onto taking lessons from a Sister at the convent once a week. Those were the days when discipline meant a sharp whack across your hands with a ruler if you made too many mistakes during your piano lesson. I can only remember one such "corrective measure" happening to me....funny I never made that error playing that particular song again!

I enjoyed my piano lessons throughout the years with my piano teachers BUT I am very much a "senses" learner and I wish this software had of been around when I was learning to play the piano. StarPlay would have been a great support during those loooooooong practices early in the morning and after school. I learn best by doing, seeing and hearing.....pretty much all at the same time. Today we call this multi-tasking but when I was a kid I think they called it being "hyperactive" :)

If Celine Dion can sing with Elvis Presley during the American Idol special....why couldn't I practice with Lang Lang (Chinese pianist)?

A software relationship between Siebelius and InTheChair has developed StarPlay which will soon be released. It is a "whole new experience, StarPlay is music software that allows your students to perform with professional bands and orchestras. They become part of the band, hearing the musicians around them while watching the conductor or the other musicians. "

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Technology Adventurer - Indiana Jones for the future

As I was reading through my feeds tonight I came across an article that shouted at me to give it a read - "Designing mobiles for the world" from the BBC News website. The article is about Jan Chipchase who is a principal researcher at Nokia Design (the good folks that design communication mobility).

Nokia has sent this "Techno Indiana Jones" to 15 countries in the last 12 months to study human behaviour.....particularly how people interact with their mobile phones. This research has lead to a greater understanding of the relationship we have between our mobile phones. Whether you are in the Sahara desert, on the ice fields in the Rocky Mountains or Zorbing down the hills in Rotorua New Zealand....they will be exploring your communication habits and looking at how you use, store, carry, and interact with your mobile phone.

Jan Chip's blog Future Perfect is not a story about a company called Nokia, but rather a journey of how people live and communicate from the corners of the world. What an amazing job....exploration, technology and human interaction all in one package!

A research document called " Where's the phone? A study of mobile phone location in public spaces" was written by J. Chipchase and two other Nokia researchers that reveals some interesting gender and cultural trends.

It is somehow reassuring to know that leading technology companies still believe that human face-to-face interaction is a great way to help evolve technology....even if it is to make a better or new product.

Even though I am a technologist and dare I say "geek", making human connections is still more important to me than network connections. Could technology be as exciting as it is without the human aspect? I hope humans will never stop needing human contact....good or bad. After all isn't that what makes us human?


Check out Chipchases' blog and some of his articles. Great discussion for psychology classes, business and economics, technology and social sciences.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Expertvillage - videos to help and learn

In the aftermath of the YouTube craze many websites have embraced the "you upload a video" theme. Expertvillage has a lot of great videos that teachers could use within their programs (be sure to view the video before you show it to a classroom full of students....just in case.)

For example:

Dance: many dance programs find it difficult to source out samples on video to show their students. Some of the types of dance videos available are

Phys Ed: in the New Zealand curriculum for phys ed there is a section for "circus skills". Some of these skills are shown:

Other video categories:

and it goes on and on...... You will have to check this site out.

Here is a sample from Expertvillage on Industrial Product Design:

Learning Support:
Each video has a section where you can link to the video or embedd the code (as I have done above). You can also bookmark any of the videos. Great option to include on your class blog.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Adobe Labs: Kuler - color tool for creativity and inspiration

Just a reminder for those designers needing inspiration that have not found Adobe Labs: Kuler yet......go check it out today!

It is a great tool that is helping designers around the world with color schemes and inspiration. Whether you are building a set for a play, designing a line of clothing, illustrating for a magazine or building a website.....color is an important element that will have a true impact on your final product and an impact on your target market.

Use as an instructional tool in any color lesson. Students can create accounts and log into the web version of Kuler or download the standalone version for their desktops. They can create their own colour themes around colour rules:

  • analogous
  • monochromatic
  • triad
  • complementary
  • compound
  • shades
  • custom (move the colour arms to form own themes)

Below each colour swatch Kuler also gives you the code for the following colour models:

  • HSV (hue, saturation, value)
  • RGB (red, green, blue)
  • CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black)
  • LAB (the most complete color model used conventionally to describe all the colors visible to the human eye)
  • HEX (color code for HTML)
Students can tag their colour themes and save them to their MyKuler space, publish to the Kuler community and/or save it as a Photoshop exchangeable swatch file that can be used with their Photoshop creations.

Great tool to get students inspired!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cool and unique projects to "make"

This first site makes me wonder if you need to be a musician, an electronics specialist or both.

Creating your first synthesizer....this would be such a great project to do with groups of students in a competition atmosphere. The Sound Maker Project website gives you all of the directions needed to create a "Weird Sound Generator " (WSG) out of just about anything, and well, people have done just that. Various pictures have been submitted by by developers who have made their WSGs out of things like lunch boxes, an IKEA key box, plastic toys, VHS plastic cases, even a stuffed teddy bear....are just a few of the great projects.

Would love to hear if anyone takes this on with their classes!

Make: technology on your time is a great website. I have spoken about it before and it is worth revisiting again. I was in San Francisco in 2005 for the FlashForward conference and I picked up the first Make magazine that was published and have been hooked on Make ever since. Published by the computer publisher O' is a combination of "Geek meets MacGyver" (for those of you who don't know the television character MacGyver...he was a laid back secret agent who was always in trouble with the bad guys and could make bombs out of paper clips or machine guns out of a pencil.)

Some of these unique projects are posted from avid fans or you can purchase a kit online from Make. For example, how to make your own strobe light for a camera or how about making your own USB charger for your iPod or other gadgets.

And as we move into our Winter months here in New about a website that makes snowflakes.

Make-a-flake is a fun interactive website created with Flash. Use a pair of digital scissors to cutout and create your own snowflake which you can post to a gallery (or use a cropper tool to save to your computer).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Spice up your documents with cartoon characters

Have some fun with the assignments or presentations for your classes.

The first one is from a Dutch website called Planearium....a SouthPark Studio designed in Flash. You drag and drop the parts of the cartoon to create your own character. Capture your characters individually (using a cropper tool) then place them in documents, animate them in Flash....have fun - thanks for this link Mr. McColl.

The second site is based on Superheros. The Hero Machine is a great Flash application that can be used in English classes (which was passed on from the English dept....thanks Mr. Thomas). This is the free version to try but I encourage you to try the commercial version (which is very reasonable) which gives the designer a huge selection of different possibilities to design unique Hero Characters.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Print anywhere, anytime and without ink!

You may remember the original instant Polaroid camera....point, shoot then out pops your picture. Wave it around in the air for a few seconds and like magic your Polaroid image appears. Great technology at the time, but wasn't that camera a big clunker to carry around compared to the cameras today?

Zink (which stands for zero ink) has taken that Polaroid paper technology even further. Still using only heat (no toner or coloured cartridges) to develop the picture from the coloured crystals that are between the layers of paper.

Zink has developed two types of printers. One is an integrated digital camera/printer that is a full featured digital camera with a built-in full color printer. The other printer is the size of a credit card that is a companion printer to your mobile camera phone or digital camera. It attaches wireless or with a USB cable.

These should be available on the market in late 2007.

Companion Printer

Integrated printer and digital camera.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Google The World

Google Sightseeing Blog explores the world via satellite. Making posts every weekday viewing weird and wonderful things around the world using Google Maps or Google Earth.

One recent posting shows a unique Solar Project in the Mojave desert, California (The image bottom left is a photograph of the Solar Project. Bottom right is a Google image).

Some great lead-in stories with images to begin many class discussions.


Another website you need to check out is Flash Earth.

It is an experimental Flash application that uses satellite and aerial images from online mapping websites (you have 8 different mapping websites to choose from). What I really like about this web application is the speed and ease of use. You can zoom in and out so quickly into any corner of the earth.

Use a cropper tool and have some great images to use in your classroom.

Friday, May 18, 2007

School 2.0: join the conversation

This is a site that I stumbled upon late one night while doing some research. With one eye open and the other already sleeping....School 2.0 website appeared on my screen.

The website and poster (image shown on the right) is a tool that has been created "to help schools, districts and communities develop a common education vision for the future and to explore how that vision can be supported by technology."

The poster is an amazing tool that has a huge amount of detail. This is a tool that can be used to create dialogue with ALL levels of your school community, from students to Trustees.

You can order up to 5 copies of this poster for free and may I encourage you to do so today.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Resources, resources, resources

Shambles is a website that was designed to support international school communities throughout South East Asia. With a database of over 25,000 education websites that have been approved and recommended by teachers it is a very rich resource!

Some of the resources available are:

There are so many great resources and links for all grade levels in this website it is a must to check out.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

yackpack: new web based communication tools

yackpack is a collection of free web based communication tools.

Walkitalkie Widget - "Instantly connect with everyone on your blog, wiki, site -- anywhere. 1-click installation. "

YackPack UC - "Live voice, presence, voice and text messaging. Perfect for keeping teams in touch."

Yackplayera - "Record and embed or link rich voice messages, quickly and easily. "

These are great communication tools to introduce to your students. Use them with a local or global project or use them on your class website.

There is an information section on the website that suggests different ways teachers can use these products.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

mscape - HP building interactive experiences

In February I looked at augmented reality and some of the new GPS devices that may be coming to a classroom near the future.

Well according to HP....the future is now!

mscape: creating new user experiences

HP has a new venture called mscape that is quite a different pathway for a company that has been known for the hardware it develops. Free to sign-up and try.

It is a website where the users create and share games, tours, stories, art and other location-based experiences called mediascapes.

What is a mediascape you ask?
Mediascapes are environments you create from the actual landscape around you. "Mediascapes are mobile, location–based experiences that incorporate digital media with the sights, sounds, and textures of the world around you. A mediascape blends digital images, video, audio and interactions with the physical landscape. "

Do you want to create a school tour....create a "school mediascape."

Do you want students to relive a battle scene from a historical event....create a "history mediascape."

The possibilities are limited only to your imagination :)
HP Labs:
If you want to follow to see what projects are developing in the HP Lab give their website a peek.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Periodic Tables that will suit a variety of learners

Ever wanted to find out what super hero was made up of gold or mercury?

The Periodic Table of Comic Books is a great website that has been developed by two teachers from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky. With almost all of the elements there is at least 1 superhero comic available to download that discusses or makes reference to the element.

Another website to check out (linked from the Comic Book site) is WebElements Periodic Table. This website has a very in depth view on periodic tables. With video, audio, images, etc...

Give both of these a look...great resources for your science program.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Need to quickly edit a PDF on the fly?

PDFescape enables a user to edit a PDF document from within a web browser without installing any software. There are a lot of free PDF converters available online (ie: changing a Word document to PDF) but PDFescape allows you to make slight edits to an existing PDF document such as: edit text, add a form field, add vector shapes and hyperlinks to an exisiting PDF document.

Nothing beats the full version of Adobe Acrobat for creating and editing pdf files.

Note: PDFescape developers recommend the use of Firefox for the best experience with PDFescape.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The impact of technology on learning.

How does technology impact student learning? Some will say it has been the demise of education since the computer has entered the school doors. Then there is the other extreme that believe the computer is the ONLY tool of choice for learning.

Some students may say "hate computers" and others live for them. But is it just the computer that is part of this technology evolution?

There are electronic microscopes for science classes and GIS (geographic information systems) that are common in most social studies programs where students learn the skills necessary for engineers and future city planners. SiliconCoach is an amazing tool that can be used for Phys.Ed, Dance, and many other sports teams. It "produces a range of sports analysis software designed to analyse motion, enhance performance, and reduce the risk of injury." Food analysis software for Food & Nutrition classes. And the list goes on.....

I purchased a new cellphone the other day. While we were having lunch with friends and their teenage kids, I was mumbling about how I wanted my old cellphone back. This one just wasn't doing what I wanted it to. My friends teenagers asked to see the a matter of about 4 seconds they were into my cellphone looking like NASA programmers and had my problem solved. I smiled and asked them if they could figure out what other features the phone had. Again they turned to the cellphone with a serious look and in about 10 seconds told me about 10 other features my phone had (that I wouldn't admit I didn't know). Great I said, and the teenagers just smiled and shrugged his shoulders. All in a days work. Think about the joy any teacher would feel if a classroom of students took on that same enthusiasm with their work. Shouldn't this happen in all classes?

Are we using the right tools to engage our students? Are we as educators scared to take this journey along side our students instead of being the leaders? Are we trying to engage students with old technologies?

Next time you are with some students. Ask them this: How many people use technology? You may find that many only think of a computer for an answer.

Then many have a cellphone? An mp3 player? Have Digital TV at home? How many have a Myspace account?

Hey, that's technology.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Is hand writing a dead skill? Does this matter?

Over the last two years I have noticed more and more schools moving towards web based learning through applications for students. Many of these are very successful programs such as Mathletics. My maths department uses this program and seems to get great results from it. The students love it. They are able to compete online with other students from around the world, win prizes online and parents can have scores emailed to them weekly. The teachers set the work online for them and it is aligned with our NZ curriculum. It hooks and engages the students and it has made mathematics fun.

I came across an online writing tool called MY Access it automatically generates scores for essays, critiques five aspects of writing, and provides feedback for improvement. A comment made by students on their homepage video made me think - are we going to lose the skill of writing with pen and paper? The students said, "'s fun to use and its better than having to write it on paper" and another student said "If I had to use paper and pencil then I don't think it would be as much fun. Its a lot quicker on the computer and its more fun to type."

Does this matter for our future society? How will the digital divide impact this? If we still have a literacy problem worldwide and communication moves more and more to the computer. Will we now have a "literacy divide" problem? Wired carried a story last year that reports that the digital divide is not only alive but growing.

We found cave writings on the walls of stories from thousands of years ago. What stories will they find thousands of years from now? Will our media survive as the cave walls have?

Monday, May 07, 2007

VOX: the easy way to keep in touch with people

There are a lot of blogs, wikis and other Web 2.0 web applications that allow you to keep in touch with your friends, family and even make new friends. Vox takes it to a new level with an easy WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get") editor and security levels.

Vox reports that, "you can choose the privacy level for every post, every picture, every sound clip, every video. Put up posts for the world. Put up posts for just your family. Or just your friends. You can control everything."

This is especially helpful when you are using a collaborative site for your can decide who sees it. Just want your students and/or their parents to see it, Vox states that this can easily be done.

An easy editing interface allows the user to add text, images, video, and audio are just some of the great things you can add into your Vox postings.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Frappr: the social map

It is easy to sign-up to Frappr and create maps for your website or blog. If you are working with schools from around the world, create group maps to find out where those students are from.

Friday, May 04, 2007

eLouai: interactive activities

Explore the world of eLouai - I absolutely love this site. It is full of interactive Flash applications that students of any age will have fun with.

Doll Makers has quite a few different applications to interact with. I created this avatar on the right that I could use with my signature in emails...even has the same hairstyle as me. Students could use the avatars for their own digital signature on assignments. Once you have created an avatar, you can save your image as a .gif, .png or .jpg. These can then be edited further in a graphic program.

Room Makers is another collection of applications that range from creating worlds for a game to creating cities. The City Creator uses the images from the SkyscraperPage website.

Caricature Maker has the components of the face broken down. As the user builds their caricature it helps them understand exactly what makes up a caricature. Each component that is placed on the face can be moved up, down, left and right. Even small movements of a mouth for example, can change the appearance of the caricature.

Explore eLouai and have some fun in your classroom.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Springdoo - video says it better

Springdoo is a great tool that is taking audio and video easily to the masses with tools such as springMail and springCast.

springMail allows you to record audio and/or video and load the messages to your Springdoo account. An email is sent to whom ever you want and instead of clogging an inbox with large audio or video files....the recipient is sent a link to hear/see your message.

As easy as "push a button on the website, talk and then hit send."

springCast "communicator is a video and audio broadcasting widget" which allows you to post your audio/video directly to a blog or website. Videos you record from your mobile phone can be displayed onto your website.

Great tools to use whith your classes if you have your students working on global projects with other schools. Great tools to use if you are on a school field trip and want to update a class/school website.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Architecture and Engineering: Skyscrapers

If you love skyscrapers or are using them within your curriculum area, these sites are for you!

Skyscraper Page is a unique resource and community all wrapped into one. There are brilliant small illustrated skyscrapers from around the world that you can download as an image - Resource. The site also teaches a person how to illustrate these little skyscrapers (using several different software applications) and then encourages all users to upload their creations as a part of the archived skyscraper library - Community.

Further Resources to check out:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


iGoogle allows you to personalize your own homepage for free. There have been many different personalized homepage web applications over the last year, but I must say iGoogle gives a user a number of options.

There are over a hundred different RSS feeds or widgets to choose from to put onto your desktop.

  • Weather - choose as many cities as you like around the world to have a 4-day weather posting.
  • Calendars/clocks - a couple of different varieties to choose from.
  • To-do lists
  • Convert a document to .pdf via email
  • Various quotes of the day
  • Lots of games
  • Spell check

Just to name a few of the hundreds that are available. If you like to have the news at your finger tips when you login along with the weather and other tid bits....give iGoogle a try.


iGoogle Sidebar - Firefox Add-on

If you don't want to take up a whole page for your iGoogle widgets/modules, you can download the free Firefox add-on and this will display your iGoogle widgets/modules in the side while you continue using your main navigation window (can only be used in Firefox).