Friday, March 30, 2007


Here is a up and coming site to watch its development (sent from fellow AEL - thanks Roxana), Wikivid. Surely influenced from the YouTube craze, Wikivid is an encyclopedia of informative videos. Presently it is in the testing phase with only a collection of free software videos that have been gathered from around the web.

"The goal of each entry is to provide access to videos on the given subject for purposes of education. The vision for Wikivid is to eventually provide its own content through video uploads from the community."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Acrobat 8 Family Grows UP

If that wasn't exciting enough for you yesterday.....let me tell you about the Acrobat Family. Adobe acrobat is something that has been around for a long time and a great way for users to move documents easily between platforms.

Last year at the Adobe Education Leaders Institute in San Jose I met up with fellow AEL Steve Adler (who knows just about anything there is to know about Acrobat) and he changed my thoughts on the use of Acrobat - especially in education. Whether you are looking at a way for your parent community to interact online with forms, investigating ways to deal with classroom assessment (especially video and audio) - Acrobat 8 can do all of that for you and more.

Earlier this year Steve took us through an online workshop for Acrobat 8 showing all the features but he especially focused on developing portfolios with Acrobat 8. It was extremely easy (good for teacher and student usability) and very interactive!

Last year I started working with Acrobat 3D.....Adobe partnered up with (our own New Zealand's) Right Hemisphere incorporating their 3D viewing technology with Acrobat. I met with the folks at Right Hemisphere earlier this year and was taken through a tour of the latest version of the Acrobat 3D Toolkit and all I have to say is "wow." Acrobat User Community has an "Ask the Expert" for Acrobat 3D - helps clarify the difference between Acrobat 3D and the other Acrobat versions.

If you are looking at investing in an acrobat full version and you work with any type of 3D....look at investing in the Acrobat 3D version. You won't be disappointed!

Other Links To Check Out:

Comparison chart for the Acrobat 8 family
Acrobat 8 Professional
Adobe Acrobat 3D
Adobe Acrobat 8 Standard
Adobe Acrobat 8 Elements
Helpers for teaching Adobe Acrobat 8
Adobe Acrobat User Community

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Release of Adobe's CS3 Suite of Products

This is the first true bundled marriage of Adobe and Macromedia products as one voice since Adobe purchased Macromedia. New packaging, improvements on workflow between applications, added functionality, movement to video editing online and some new faces in the family (Adobe's purchase of Serious Magic - digital green screen and other great tools for video buffs), and some really cool tools have made this release an exciting one.

The chichat is Photoshop CS3 extended... why extended? Check out the link that explains how it extends into areas such as 3D & motion designers, medical professionals, scientific researchers, architects & engineers, education and manufacturing professionals.

I have had an opportunity to play with these products during the beta phase.....and can I will not be disappointed :)

Other links to check out:
CS3 for Education:
CS3 Site licenses for K-12 Schools:
Create overview and chart comparison of Creative Suite3:

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Skrbl: the web whiteboard

Skrbl (Beta) is a very cool free online tool. Just sign up and create a user and away you go with your Skrbl whiteboard.

You simply click anywhere on the whiteboard and type on the board (as you can see by the image on the left it takes a variety of languages). You easily move between freehand (pencil tool) and text tool.

For other Skrbl users you can collaboarate on a whiteboard...just give out the URL and have a Skrbl meeting online with anyone in the world. You can share files, show pictures from your desktop, or copy images from the web.

Classroom: another collaborative tool that students can use with global collaboration or local. Teachers planning various projects can also make great use out of this tool.

Monday, March 26, 2007

i-Lighter: the yellow marker for the web

I remember in university printing out mounds of articles to hi light for assignments. Before I moved to New Zealand I recycled piles of articles that I had collected over the years. i-Lighter could potentially stop anyone doing research from having to print out all those articles....only to highlight one or two sentences.

i-Lighter installs a small icon in either Internet Explorer or FireFox toolbars. When you come across content you want to save...just click on the i-Lighter and your cursor becomes a highlighter. Just highlight (select) the sections you want and it saves it to folders in your i-Lighter account. You are able to easily reference back to which website you retrieved your information from.

What a great tool for research...accessing your references anytime....anywhere.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Preparing students for future jobs that don't exist yet....

Last year I wrote about "What is the third space?" - which you can still read about on the side bar of each page in my blog "Things for Thought." At the end of the writing I wrote "Remember.....most of the jobs we are preparing our students for don't even exist yet."

A perfect example of this type of entrepreneurial future is a website I came across called Meat Team - Values in Motion. It is developed directly from the YouTube technology and success.

The belief is through the use of internal communications such as "internal tv (video programming) for, by and about your organization" a strong culture of success can be fostered. In other words have your CEO or principal on video talking about the positive aspects on being an employee for this organization.

An interesting marketing model: The MeatTeam meets the company, writes a series of scripts/stories about the company culture, sends camera equipment out to your company (which your own employees video), equipment gets sent back for MeatTeam to edit and then MeatTeam optimizes the various video stories to work on your internal/external network.

Great concept! From my own personal experience most companies/organizations really have a hard time identifying and projecting their culture/story onto the web. I found it took an outside view to watch and ask the questions to really get to the heart of what the organization culture was and what it looked like.

Video has always been a powerful medium. With the increase in broadband speed and the ability to produce great quality video even in the comfort of your home....this seems like the most natural progression.

Great model to study in a business class. Since podcasting has moved on from audio to video, many classrooms are now V-Casting and producing video teacher lectures, classroom skills, labs, etc... For example in our school I am working with the science department towards developing a video library for the students for science experiments. The students will have access to these 24/7 to view before the lab, during the lab, and after the lab for review.

Note: BrenniesBytes will not have any postings for the rest of this week. Look for the next posting next week.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bridge to Classroom: Engineering for Earthquakes

A new bridge is being built in the Bay area of San Francisco California and is a website that takes you on a journey from early 1900's to present day bridge construction.

This site has an amazing amount of information on bridge construction and also how to construct a bridge in an earthquake zone. With a tour of the history of the original Bay Bridge, photo galleries of the present build and interactive models makes this site a great classroom resource.

One of the stars of the site (from an educators point of view) is the classroom area called
Build your own bridge.

Build your own bridge to see if it will withstand a large seismic event. Learn about what causes earthquakes and look at new technologies that are now part of the design of bridges.

Note: The interactive "build your bridge" may load a bit slowly at the start....but it is worth the wait (or have it preloaded before class).

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Human Anatomy Online

Human Anatomy Online is full of information of the inner exploration on the study of anatomy of the human body. With animations, graphics, information and descriptive links for 10 different systems to choose from:

  • skeletal
  • digestive
  • muscular
  • lymphatic
  • endocrine
  • nervous
  • cardiovascular
  • male reproductive
  • female reproductive
  • urinary

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Quest Network BlueZones: "Explore * Question * Ask"

Quest Network BlueZone is an inspirational site for journeys through global education. BlueZone was founded by explorer and National Geographic writer Dan Buettner.

Registering online for free gives educators access to all the resources and videos for a variety of global projects from looking at common threads in lifestyle (health and fitness) to looking at your senior community.
Two quests to check out are on Central America and Okinawa, Japan.

How BlueZone works is registered classes log onto the website and interact with the exploration team that may be anywhere in the world. They vote online to decide what the exploration team will explore the next day. The next day the students get to watch through video, exactly what the exploration team was voted to do.
Pretty cool.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Virtual Reporters - "News at 7"

All communication and journalism students need to take a look at this .... is this the future?

This unique concept was developed by the Intelligent Information Laboratory at Northwestern University .

Using a graphical gaming engine and a text-to-speech technology News at 7 is truly a smart application that"automatically generates a virtual news show" every day. "Totally autonomous, it collects, parses, edits and organizes news stories and then passes the formatted content to an artificial anchor for presentation."

In other words....the application roams the internet, and gathers information from various news sources and creates its own data to feed to the 3D virtual news reporter.

This is an amazing the news cast for today. A lot of times applications that use the text-to-speech technology sounds very choppy and robotic....surprisingly the speech is quite smooth.

View the archived news casts since February.....

Great case study for your students....what direction will this experimental technology go in the future?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Read * Write * Think

Read * Write * Think is brought to you by the International Reading Association, National Council of Teachers of English and marcopolo. A great website that supports literacy for K - 12.

The student materials section is full of online flash applications that supports literacy learning for students while they also have some fun playing the various games.

Read*Write*Think also has a collection of great web resources to support teachers and a large selection of lesson plans for all grade levels.

Great ideas to support literacy and literature!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Architecture - A web perspective

Great website, great website, great website! So, do you think I like this one?

Architect Studio 3D is an online and interactive website where students can learn about Frank Lloyd Wright and become an architect and design a virtual house using the interactive Design Studio.

The user can work through a process in the design studio:

  • choose a client,
  • a house location
  • design exterior
  • interior
  • landscaping
  • then tour your finished home.

The About Architecture includes the architect's handbook and designing for people & places. Inspiration and tips for the budding architect!


Donald A. Gardner Architects Inc. is one of the leading residential house plan designers in North America. Their website offers hundreds of house plans for students to discover.

Every house plan gives a description of the house, floor plans, alternative view (sketched or photographs), specifications, pricing (US $), ability to compare plans, and reverse the floorplan if desired.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Opencourseware + Open Educational Resources

Opencourseware or Open Educational Resources is a new concept for education.

The Opencourseware Consortium is a collection of higher ed institutions and associated organizations from around the world that are using a sharing model for educational content. Professors worldwide have made their course content available online for free.

For example MITpencourseware (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has an amazing amount of content. From aeronautics to physics to music and theatre arts.....educators are sharing their syllabus, reading materials, assignments, study materials, related resources, etc....


Open Educational Resources Commons (OER) works as a similar model to Opencourseware Consortium but the focus is Primary to Post - secondary education.

OER Commons is an "open-learning network where teachers and professors (pre-K to graduate school) to access their colleagues' course materials, share their own and collaborate..."

Upload a resource/lesson or find can also apply social networking features to the content through comments, tagging, ratings and reviews.

Great inspiration for teachers worldwide!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

World Trends: Advertising & Marketing Ideas

Springwise has been one of my favourite sites for sometime.

Springwise works with volunteer spotters worldwide that spot & submit new business ideas to the website.

The idea database is FULL of amazing ideas. Great case studies for your students and great ideas to help springboard those young entrepreneurs.

Signing up for their free newsletter or sign up to become a Springwise spotter.


AdCracker is a tool to help in the concept development of a product, service or idea and how to market that.

There is a lot of content available for free on the website to help students through such topics as :
  • how to write a creative brief
  • marketing with your mouse clicks
  • how to position something in the market
  • communication strategies
  • how to write an ad plan
  • how ads make people think, feel, or act

Many more topics to explore along with their hunt for the worlds top 10 ads (TV, print and radio.)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Technology Tidbits....

Video Gaming 101 now a part of a medical doctor's training?

A recent study done at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York revealed that doctors who had played video games had less errors in the surgical test and performed it faster than those who had not.

Laparoscopy and related surgeries involve manipulating instruments through a small incision or body opening where the surgeon's movements are guided by watching a television screen.

The results of the study supported previous findings that playing video games helped perfect "fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, visual attention, depth perception and computer competency."

Researchers stated there is a definite possibility that medical "gaming" will become a part of a doctors training. They went on to further state this does not mean parents should let their kids play hours of gaming......sorry kids.

Article from Yahoo news....

Book Review: the kids are alright:
How the Gamer Generation is Changing the Workplace
by John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade

This book is an interesting read for parents and educators. It supports what many companies and learning insititutions are finding....that gaming isn't just for kids. Gaming simulations are showing up in the boardroom, in the medical classroom and in business.

"Gamers have amassed thousands of hours of rapidly analyzing new situations, interacting with characters they don't really know, and solving problems quickly and independently." (p. 80) "...gamer generation is more likely to believe that competition is the law of nature." "...(gamers) care more about the organizations they work for..." (p. 82)

After reading this book you may question: do we need to look at how we challenge students in their learning and in the classroom?

Your cellphone can now answer your door when you are not home.

This story proves what a powerful tool our cellphone is becoming. A dutch wireless company is starting to sell a GSM (global systems for mobility) wireless doorbell that will interface with your cellphone.

If you are not home and someone rings your GSM doorbell you will still be able to "answer your doorbell, talk to visitors, and even open the door, whether they are at home or not. All via your mobile phone."

The article explores the benefits of this technology: kids that get locked out of the house, package deliveries, homecare nurses easily accessing a it just me or does this technology make anyone else a little nervous?

Read more on this article....

Monday, March 05, 2007

Maths & Science Web Simulation Technologies

Shodor is a non-profit research and education organization that focuses on the advancement of science and math - specifically through the use of modeling and simulation technologies. This site is full of wonderful tools and interactive java models for students to work through or demo with the teacher.

The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives is a project from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Utah State University. The virtual library is divided into grade levels: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The topics covered are: number & operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, and data analysis & probability.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Looking for a new way to get student responses for a program within the school? Extra-curricular activites? Parent responses? Even want to send a survey to a committee on planning suggestions?

Try using an online survey web-based application. makes creating a survey, collecting responses and analyzing the results a breeze.

You have to love a company that is so positive about their product that they list the web links to all of their competitors so the consumer can check out the competition for themselves.

It is free to sign-up "there are no annoying banner ads on your surveys. In addition, all of your survey responses remain absolutely private. Basic (free) subscribers are limited to a total of 10 questions and 100 responses per survey."

Give a try today.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Mixing color palettes for a design project can be quite time consuming and frustrating at times.

If you are trying to decide on a colour palette for a poster, PPT presentation, set for a play or a website....ColorBlender makes it fast and easy by allowing the user to see a possible combination 6 color-palette.

Once you have a palette that you are happy with you can export the palette into a photoshop color table, illustrator colors or send the blend by email.

A variety of other options to check out on this great web tool.