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.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Tighten up your Mac Security

Apple has released OS X Security Configuration Guides for Max OS X v10.5 (Leopard), Mac OS X v10.4 (Tiger) and Mac OS X v10.3 (Panther).

The guides "provide an overview of features in Mac OS X that can be used to enhance security, known as hardening your computer."

Apple posts a warning with these guides:

"To use these guides, you should be an experienced Mac OS X user, be familiar with the Mac OS X user interface, and have at least some experience using the Terminal application’s command-line interface. You should also be familiar with basic networking concepts.

Certain instructions in the guides are complex, and deviation could result in serious adverse effects on the computer and its security. The guides should only be used by experienced Mac OS X users, and any changes made to your settings should be thoroughly tested."

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

"Green" Transportation

In a time when green carbon footprints is a topic that could easily be overheard in many "coffee and casual conversations" around the world.....what is being done in our transportation markets to help sustain a green environment?

Remember when you used to be long to the book of the month club? This same concept is now moved to the streets. Streetcar is one such company in the UK that "offers self-service cars and vans for rent by the hour, day, week or month. The vehicles are parked in a dense network of dedicated spaces in several UK cities and can be booked for as little as 30 minutes or as long as 6 months."

There are presently over 3,000 members in the UK and other similar companies are popping up around the world in large cities to help reduce the amount of vehicles that are on the road.

How about a car that runs on air? The proposal is to run a vehicle using compressed air. You know, the same compressed air that we fill our car tires up with at the service station.

Compressed air engines have been around since the 1800's. The Mekarski system was invented in 1870 to move public transportation - tram systems.

Just do a search on YouTube for air cars and you will get about 14,100 results. A concept that seems to be back!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What's new at Adobe Labs

So what's been happening over at Adobe Labs?

New beta releases for:

  • Dreamweaver
  • Fireworks
  • Soundbooth

Monday, May 26, 2008

Apple Applies for new Patent

It is all over the blogosphere that Apple has applied for a new patent. Solar panels for the iPhone. Imagine never having to worry about your battery dying on your mobile phone. Sitting at your favourite cafe - having a latte while your phone is sitting on the table charging - without having to plug it in.

I fly quite a lot with my job and I am forever checking and double checking to ensure that I haven't forgotten a connecting or power cable for either my laptop or one of my many mobile devices.
Before I moved to New Zealand (about 3 years ago), I purchased a small solar panel that would be able to charge my mobile phone or iPod.....but it is just another thing to carry. Not to mention all of the connecting ends you need to carry (or loose) as well.

So - bravo to Apple for bringing back an old technology (remember our old solar charged hand calculators) into a new.

Now.....if we could only have solar powered laptops that are lighter and more can dream.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Extremetech brings you 25 Great Geek Websites

The folks from Extremetech bring you 25 Great Geek Websites all in one hit....thank you Extremetech team :)

The sites are listed below - but be sure to go to the website at Extremetech to get the summary and direct links of each of the websites.

Blues News
The Inquirer
Ars Technica
Beyond 3D
The Tech Report
Anand Tech
Silent PCReview
The Guru of 3D
Hack n Mod
Tech Forums
DriverHeaven.Net Forums
[H]ard Forum
AV Science Forum
Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Joel on Software
Coding Horror
ThinkGeek (my fav online geek "stuff" store)
Mikes Hardware

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How do we teach young consumers to grow up in a "free" economy?

We all like to win something or get something for free. I dare say, that people have even spent money on something they really didn't need so they could get the "free" offer. That is called marketing.

But how do we deal in a technology economy where most things (free or otherwise) are available within the comforts of ones home through their computer? Freeconomics is now driving the web.

A great article that I came across in Wired called "Free! Why $0.00 is the future of business" put more questions in my head than answers.

"Until recently, practically everything "free" was really just the result of what economists would call a cross-subsidy: You'd get one thing free if you bought another, or you'd get a product free only if you paid for a service."

Classroom Chat.....

What is the cost to society for "free?" How do schools prepare students for freeconomics? Can entrepreneurs be successful in a free society?

Monday, March 17, 2008

How to easily build your own music server

Hi all....I'm back. Life got a wee bit chaotic but back to the blogging.

Is your music collection getting out of control? Do you find that you are constantly having to update and change your mp3 player to reflect your updated music collection? We know how well those plastic jewel cases holding our CDs last.

If you have an old PC or Mac sitting around that is collecting dust, why not turn it into a personal music server?

Wired "How-to-Wiki" takes you through an easy step by step guide on how to setup a digital music server. "First and foremost, building a media server gives you access to all of your tunes from anywhere in your house. You'll be able to search for songs and play them back whether you're in your kitchen, living room or your home office, regardless of where in your home your media server sits. If you're extra savvy, you can also set up your server to be accessible over the internet."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Beijing 2008: The Hi Tech Olympics

165 Days to go to the Beijing Olympic Summer Games 2008. In 2001, China found out that for the first time, China would be hosting the Olympic Summer Games.

How does one engage with over a billion possible TV viewers.....just in the host country alone? Through mobile technology of course.

"CMMB (or S-TIMI) is the technology developed in China and selected by the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) as the main platform for delivering TV services to mobile devices.

The CMMB network will use both satellite and terrestrial signals to obtain effective coverage both in densely populated cities, including indoor reception, as well as in s
parsely populated rural areas. The commercial launch of mobile TV in China is anticipated to coincide with the Beijing Olympic Games." (read further....)

Viewers will be able to catch all of the olympic show through their mobile devices. Once this mobile technology is launched.....what will this communication tool now mean for the mobile market worldwide?

The "water cube", (world's largest swimming complex) and the "bird's nest" (the national stadium) are architectural wonders. From the new hi-tech fabrications and methods to the integration of old world Chinese architecture that follows principals of harmony and balance.

Can she loose her reputation for pollution?

One of the most polluted cities in the world....there is some talk that some events may have to be postponed due to the pollution if it can't be controlled by the time the games comes around. 1998 - invested over 16 Billion dollars to fight the pollution....but is still the most polluted cities. News reports state that Capital Steel is one of the biggest problems and contributors to this pollution problem within Beijing. Capital Steel is being closed down and moved out of the city. Employees only 80,000 workers and at the new site there will be jobs for only 7,000. An emotional time. Bringing an environmental consciousness to a culture over night is a difficult task.

Olympic teams worldwide are working through decisions on whether their athletes will be wearing face masks. This is a common sight in the day-to-day of a someone who lives in Beijing (read more on this story....)

Will Beijing city be able to escape the traffic gridlock?
Beijing has over 17million people and there are also millions and millions of cars on the road. How will judges and athletes get around the city and not be late for any of the events? They are working to change and upgrade their underground rail system to one of the longest in the world. There are new lines being added and a special Olympic line that is predicted to carry over 126,000passengers daily.

2008 Beijing has also had share of controversy. Just recently Steven Spielberg rejected the role as artistic adviser to the Olympics. "The film director withdrew on Tuesday on the grounds that China wasn't doing enough to pressure Sudan over the conflict in its western region of Darfur.

China is believed to have influence over the Islamic regime because it buys two-thirds of the country's oil exports while selling it weapons and defending it in the United Nations." (read more on this story....)

Education Resources:

  1. Australian Olympic team - 2008 Beijing
  2. Teacher Planet: Theme is Olympics
  3. VISA Olympics of the Imagination

Friday, February 22, 2008

MIT OpenCourseWare materials that are most useful for high school students and teachers.

MIT OpenCourseWare (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has over 1800 online courses to be viewed and freely participate in.

There is now a resource area called MIT OpenCourseWare: Highlights for High Schools that helps to support science, technology, engineering and math instruction at the high
school level.

One example is a guitar building project where students learn about the "physics principles by examining the physics responsible for producing music with electronic stringed instruments, while building, testing, and playing their own electric guitar. Students will design their own Guitar bodies, construct their own pick-ups, assemble their own guitars, tune them using a chromatic tuner, and use them to play a simple song."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Adventures in Art: Online Activites and Projects for Kids

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (USA) has a great website that is full of resources for the classroom.

Two main education areas are:

  • NGA Kids - this resources is full of interactive flash games, programs and projects for students of all ages to engage with.
  • NGA Classroom: for Teachers and Students - lessons and resources can be accessed by a curriculum, topic, or artist.
Online Tours are available for exploration by artist, artworks or themes. There is also a large collection of videos and podcasts that can be downloaded about various topics related to art, artists and artworks.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

National Geographic: Educator Resources

The National Geographic Education website supports educators and students with many web resources.

Explore lessons, maps, photos, news, video, audio and much more.

For students....there are exciting opportunities to participate in student expeditions. Travel with the National Geographic team in July and August to 12 possible locations:

  • Peru
  • Equador & the Galapagos
  • Costa Rica
  • Belize
  • Caribbean
  • Mali
  • Tanzania
  • China
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Spain
  • Iceland

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

British Film Institute: BFI - Because Films Inspire - Art

BFI - the British Film Institute website is full of archives, cinemas, festivals, films, publications and learning resources.

BFI Education publishes a growing range of teaching packs, teaching guides (many of which are free)and resources to support the use of moving image media in schools. 4 different categories: primary schools, secondary schools, film and media studies and curriculum online resources are available for educators to explore.

16+ student guides (some available for free). These are student guides that help senior media students with their "research that cover topics from censorship to Shakespeare."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Left brain supporting the right brain and a whole lot of Adobe

I came across the creativetechs blog last week.....what a great site! They offer great tech tips and training workshops (if you live in the Seattle area.)

You will find great tips on:

  • everything Adobe
  • links to other great website tutorials
  • administrative information (ie: setting up a leopard server)
  • how to create your own favicon using Genfavicon free website
  • "Whats New in CS3" .pdf booklets....great tips and shortcuts
Definitely a site work checking can even save it to you favourite news aggregate :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A magazine that offers possible visions of the future of learning with digital technologies and other innovative resources

If you haven't discovered the great resources at Futurelab from the UK (see previous posting) time to browse through a great website! Just a quick review....what does Futurelab do? Well, "Futurelab is passionate about transforming the way people learn. Tapping into the huge potential offered by digital and other technologies, they develop innovative resources and practices that support new approaches to learning for the 21st century."

Of the many great resources that is produced from Futurelab, one of these is their bi-monthly magazine called VISION.

This issue has some articles that could encourage some great discussions with your education community:

  • Can every child matter? (and if so, how?)
  • The student becomes the master
  • Learning to learn: what - or who - is assessment for?
  • Environmental lessons: integrating sustainability into education
  • Divided we fall: addressing the digital divide
Great resource to be shared.

Update on removal of social network accounts

Back in January I blogged about online social networks and how difficult it has been for people to remove their accounts. I just came across an article posted on Slashdot that seems to confirm this and more....."Facebook a Blackhole for Personal Info".

The article reports that "While the Web site offers users the option to deactivate their accounts, Facebook servers keep copies of the information in those accounts indefinitely. Many users who have contacted Facebook to request that their accounts be deleted have not succeeded in erasing their records from the network."

'It's like the Hotel California,' said Nipon Das, a user who tried unsuccessfully to delete his account. 'You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.'

"Facebook's quiet archiving of information from deactivated accounts has increased concerns about the network's potential abuse of private data, especially in the wake of its fumbled Beacon advertising feature."

School Chat....
I think the discussion on personal digital footprints, the Internet and the privacy is such an important and vital issue for today's Internet users. This is something that should and needs to be discussed openly in all schools!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tag your music by how you feel

Need to get motivated with some great music for a workout? Rainy day and feeling a little lazy? Or, need some motivating music to get some housework done?

You can download this little application (Mac or PC) called Moody by CrayonRoom. Once downloaded it becomes paired with your iTunes and while you play through your songs, just click on a coloured square that reflects the "mood of the song."

There is a 16 colour grid that corresponds with emotions from intense, calm, sad and happy....with everything in between.

So now you can create a playlist according to your mood :)

School Chat....
This would be an interesting way to have students in Drama, Dance or English look at bringing emotion to various types of plays or performances. Music teachers would be able to work with their students to explore how emotion is tied in with music. We tend to be visual interesting way to explore the connections between music, colour and emotion.

Monday, February 11, 2008

All things iPod, iPhone, iTunes and Apple

So you own an iPod, iPhone or other Apple products....time to discover iLounge.

iLounge’s annual Best of Show awards are designed to recognize standout products and major innovations in iPod, iPhone, iTunes and/or Apple TV products and services. Explore the 13 winning products and 10 finalists.

Example of some of these new products are:
  • Atlantic iceBar2 - waterproof case for your iPod with speakers

  • Belkin Podcast Studio for podcasters

  • Casio Exilim EX-Z80 and EX-S10 Cameras - record videos directly into iTunes/iPod/iPhone-ready 640x480

Then just for fun (but some of the tips are serious).....50 Things you can do with your iPod

Check out Apples iTunes U and Mobile Learning

miShare is a cool little product that lets you share your files and playlists between iPods without having to use a computer to do this.

iPods in Education from Tony Vincent. Great website that explores various ways "that iPods can be used for teaching and learning."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

72 Tips for Safe Computing

Most homes now adays will have a computer of some sort in it. Whether it is the parents work computer, student laptop or general house is usually put through the paces.

Many people drive a car but don't have a clue what goes on under the hood. Same as a computer. It may be used for email, Internet searches, games but if some extra pop up boxes appear or if you have to find a file in the Temporary Internet folder or manually update a .dat file for your anti-virus software....HELP! have put together 11 categories that cover 72 tips to help the "everyday user" have a safe experience on their computer. If you have a computer or work with a computer - take the time to read through these tips and understand them. Don't know why phishing is....then do a quick search on the Internet to find out what it means.

When I talk about security in workshops and conferences, it still amazes me how many people raise their hands when asked, who have passwords that are either their name or better yet....still "password". Have you purchased a wireless router for you house? Have you gone through to change the administrative passwords? Believe it or not....many leave the factory passwords activated.

If you use a computer .... learn what it can do and how to keep your digital information/footprint safe!


  • The Very Minimum
  • Malware/Antivirus
  • Windows Specifics
  • Impossible Passwords
  • Phishing
  • Safe Surfing
  • Anonymity/Privacy
  • Spam and Spim
  • Kid Computing
  • Home Networks
  • Physical/Security
School Chat....
Help your parent community. I remember parent teacher night. Most of my parents talked briefly about their kids and how they were doing. Then the discussion quickly turned to "I have a few questions about my computer or network." Create some handouts from these tips for your parent/teacher evenings.

Have a friendly competition with your staff during one of your PD days. Create an internet hunt and have these tips formed in questions. Teams of teachers will have a time limit to find the questions online.

Have this information available on your school Internet for all in your school community.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Teachers in the future could live anywhere in the world

I just read an article from the Startribune online (free registration) - "Tutoring assistance is just a click - and a world - away" A story about a company in India that is making headway into the US in the "after school tutoring market" Mode of delivery: virtual. Their prices: cheaper than their North American counterparts and with the time change - the evening in North America is the morning in India with the beginning of a new workday. Parents interviewed in the article did not seem to care where the tutors were physically located - they wanted results and have seen this with their childrens marks go up.

A lot of money and time is spent around the world on education standards, teacher training, teacher certification and curriculum development....what impact will this trend of global online tutoring have on mainstream education?

In Canada alone, a teacher moving from one province to another has to have their certification processed and approved by the individual provinces, as each are distinctly different.

But should this be an issue?

Many companies now use call centres from around the world. You could be ordering a pizza and be calling a call centre half way around the world.

In the digital context, do global boundaries matter as much anymore? In the 21st century economy, our students will need to know how to look beyond physical borders to build and engage in business.

Should this be modelled in the school communities? There are already many schools around the world that deliver part or whole programs online. The reduced costs of video conferencing and other online collaborative tools such as Adobe Connect, NetMeeting, etc... have made it possible for schools to purchase and use these tools in their school community. The majority of 21st century students are familiar with online communities and engagement.....fewer educators are. There seems to be confusion on how this new communication stream should/could be incorporated into the curriculum.

Should education communities be proactive instead of reactive and start to look at developing new global education models?

What will be the benefits for the teaching and learning communities if the teaching community also includes virtual staff from around the world?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Innovation = Design + Inspiration

Want a peek into future technologies that will be coming to house, office or school near you?

MERL (Mitsubishi Electric Research Labratories) is an arm of the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. MERL focuses on research in 5 areas:

  1. computer vision

  2. digital communications

  3. digital video

  4. off the desktop interaction & display

  5. sensor & data system
Past and Present projects are an impressive exploration of technology and the creativity of the human mind.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Building interactive widgets for the web with Adobe Flex

The word widget is something that has become a popular term to "describe an interface element that a computer user interacts with, such as a window or a text box." (wikipedia)

A new Adobe Flex web application called Sprout Builder lets users author their own media widgets [ "living content" ] that can be shared on many blogs and social network services along with websites.

Sprouts can be developed to be personal, promotional or informational material. Sprout Builder has an authoring environment that supports users to easily build a variety of different Sprouts.

You can pull administration data about your posted many times someone has seen or used your Sprout, for example.

Read more on this from source posting, where you can access a link for a test run of Sprout.

Widget Distribution Partners
Spring widgets

School Chat....
An interesting option for school promotions, student projects/portfolios and delivery of curriculum concepts.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Which Technologies will Shape Education in 2008?

The New Media Consortium (NMC) and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) just released the 2008 Horizon Report. "Each year, the Horizon Report describes six areas of emerging technology that will have significant impact on higher education within three adoption horizons over the next one to five years."

The 6 technology trends identified in the report that could shape education in 2008 are:

  • Grassroots Video
    - evolved from user created content in 07 report....the popularity of YouTube has spun of many similar web services. Shooting, editing and publishing video can be done easily, even with your mobile phone.
  • Collaboration Webs
    - evolution from social networking and virtual worlds in 07 report....teachers networks have grown beyond their backyard.
  • Mobile Broadband
    - evolution from mobile phone in 07 report....people are using their mobile phones more and more. Unfortunately the prohibitive cost of telco prices - ie: NZ - in some parts of the world limit the potential for educational use.
  • Data Mashups
    - a great concept for educators to understand and be able to develop. Mashups is pulling data in from various sources around the web into one area. For example, if a teacher wanted to pull resources in from around the web for a project on climated change....they could create their own mashup for this and then host it on their school or classroom website for the students to then access. Links in the report on authoring tools to create mashups.
  • Collective Intelligence
    - bringing together the knowledge and thoughts in "real time" in what the report calls "explicit knowledge stores." An example of this is wikipedia.
  • Social Operating System
    - is an evolution of all the "social aspects" from the 07 report. The report also talks about the "third space" (see side bar under "things for thought," where I blogged about the 3rd space back in 06, with a link to a great article by Tracey Bretag.) How do people connect? How do communities of interest develop?
The 6 trends that were identified to impact education in 2007 were:
  • User-created content;
  • Social networking;
  • Mobile phones;
  • Virtual worlds;
  • New scholarship and emerging forms of publication; and
  • Massively multiplayer educational gaming
Download 2008 Horizon Report
Compare with 2007 Horizon Report

Monday, February 04, 2008

How to find beta applications and keep up with news & innovation.

How does one keep up with all the new web applications/services, news and innovations that are showing up on the web everyday?

Two sure fire ways to find out what's new on the web:

  1. If you haven't already, set yourself up with a free online service for searching, subscribing, creating and sharing news feeds, blogs and rich web content....this is called a feed aggregator. An aggregator brings together all the news headlines, blogs, podcasts, and vlogs that you have signed up for in a single location for easy viewing. I use Bloglines but there are many other online free aggregators you can sign up for.

  2. Book mark or add this website to your aggregator......The Museum of Modern Beta [MoMB].

    brings together for you everyday a new beta web application/service that has come online. MoMB has the websites organized in several different ways:
    • recently added
    • by language
    • the cloud
    • serendipity
    • special: alpha
    • special: by invitation
    • special: out of beta
    • the hot 100
    • the top 100
    • etc.....

Friday, February 01, 2008

Interactive Science Models for Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Biotechnology and Nanotechnology

"The Molecular Workbench is an NSF (The National Science Foundation)-funded research project, that seeks to explore the educational value of having student solve problems using dynamic representations of linked micro and micro worlds."

Download the free Java modeler to run the simulations (download link), which will run on Windows, Mac or Linux operating systems.

Once the modeler is downloaded and installed, click on the Showcase link to download and interact with a variety of models.

Choose from:

  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Nanotechnology
The screen shot on the left is an example of the simulation for the motion of Greenhouse Gases (found under Chemistry.)