Saturday, April 25, 2009

Discovery Channel Interactive Corner

DiscoveryChannel.Image via Wikipedia

This Discovery Channel site offers a large collection of interactive games, quizzes, puzzles, and other activities.

Students can virtually time travel back to the the age of dinosaurs, build a volcano and watch it erupt, relive the final days of the battleship Bismarck, dive on the Titanic, and much more.

Among the numerous games, kids may play Darwin and create a species that will survive a million years of evolution, try surviving in the rugged Alaskan wilderness, or test their crime trivia knowledge from crime scene to criminal trial.

There are thirty items in the Quizzes section on topics such as the Titanic, pharaohs, tornadoes, sharks, and Mythbusters. There are more than twenty puzzles many of which are based on popular Discovery Channel shows such as Dirty Jobs and Deadliest Catch.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

More TV Ad Technology

Earlier in the week I posted a TV ad from Sprint that I thought was a good illustration of why we need to be teaching with technology. I since came across this VISA ad from Australian TV that further emphasizes that need.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's Happening Now

This is why we need to be teaching technology ...

Windows Live Search does the Math

Did you know Windows Live Search can solve linear and quadratic equations? I only tested linears and quadratics, maybe it does more.

Just enter the equation in the search box and hit enter. It's pretty fast, too.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Two New Google Tools

Google Labs has just introduced two new tools that many educators may find useful, Similar Images in Google Image Search and Google News Timeline.

Similar Images
Google Image Search is a tool you can use to find just about any kind of image, but it can sometimes be difficult to find the perfect image if you can't describe it in just the right words. Similar Images allows you to refine your image search with visual similarity, searching for images using pictures rather than words. By clicking the "Similar images" link under an image you will find other images that look like it.

Using visual similarity, you don't have to refine the text of your search, instead, you can just click on the link below an image you like. For example, if you search for [jaguar], you can use the "Similar images" link to quickly narrow your search.

You might try exploring the pyramids of Egypt or discovering the Forbidden City. So if you see an image you like, but you're not sure how to describe it, just click the "Similar images" link to see more like it.

Want to know more? Check out this video tour.

Google News Timeline organizes information chronologically by presenting results from Google News and other data sources on a zoomable, graphical timeline. You can move through time by simply dragging the timeline. You can set the time scale to days, weeks, months, years, or decades, or just include a time period in your query (i.e., "1977"). To see this in action, check out the results viewed by month in the summer of 2006.Google News Timeline can show results from many different sources, including both recent and archival news, scanned newspapers and magazines, blog posts, and sports scores and media like music and movies. You can view multiple sources simultaneously, allowing each source to lend context to the others.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Caption YouTube Video for the Classroom

With CaptionTube you can create custom captions for YouTube videos. It’s easy to use and it’s free. With CaptionTube you can ...
  • Offer viewers a transcript to read.
  • Improve discoverability and searching for teaching videos.
  • Create and edit closed captions in multiple languages.
  • Export captions and upload them to your YouTube account.
  • Simple and secure sign in using your Google account.
CaptionTube's tools includes a scalable timeline to help you precisely match your captions to the video. You can choose the duration of time for which each caption is displayed.

CaptionTube FAQ

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Wish I Could Get ...

Teachers now have to find classroom resources without having to spend a penny. is a web-based tool to match teachers and donors with each other to get sometimes critically needed items into the hands of students and teachers.

How works:
  • Teacher needs teaching tools...
  • Teacher registers on this site...
  • Donor has item he or she wishes to donate...
  • Teacher receives eMail with offer...
  • Teacher and donor eMail each other to discuss donation ...
  • Teacher receives donation...
  • A perfect match!

The I Love Schools, Inc. mission is to help America's teachers find much needed school equipment, materials and supplies they cannot obtain through in the normal ways. According to, the average teacher registered on this website spends over $659 out-of-pocket buying these items. These people are consistently taking money out of their own paychecks to purchases items for their employer. Teachers have been doing it for years. The current economic climate has made things even tougher.

Once a teacher registers, works to find donors who can contribute the needed items, new or used. Many items have found a great home in a classroom. Teachers across the country have experienced the concern and generosity of Americans who have discovered their needs through and have responded with enthusiasm.

100% of a donor's gift goes directly to the teacher of the donor's choice.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

EtherPad: Real Easy Real-Time Collaboration Tool

Sometimes less is more. EtherPad may be the easiest real-time text collaboration tool you and your students can use. Unlike Google Docs or Zoho, NO REGISTRATION, NO EMAIL ACCOUNT is needed. Collaborators simply need to share a unique URL which can even be customized.

EtherPad features
  • No account required
  • The only really real-time collaborative editor on the web
  • Edits highlighted in author's color
  • Infinite undo history
  • Syntax highlighting for editing code
  • Every keystroke backed up

EtherPad stacks up favorably against other online text collaboration tools in other ways as well.
  • Some other online editors are cumbersome to share with other people. It requires sending an email, and all collaborators must have an account. With EtherPad, you just copy and paste a link, no emails or accounts required.
  • Some do not highlight who typed what, so with more than two editors, things get chaotic and confusing very quickly. EtherPad makes things clear by highlighting each author's contributions with a unique background color.
  • One of the most basic operators for editing text is "undo." While collaborating in some editors, you lose undo history whenever someone else makes a change. EtherPad supports infinite undos and ensures that every operation is forever undo-able, even in the presence of other editors.
EtherPad is a tool for a specific purpose, and depending on your needs, other editors may be a more suitable option for working together on documents. For example, EtherPad doesn't support rich-text editing or document embedding.

The web site is a FREE service. You can create your own pad and share with up to eight people. Some minimal security is possible through the randomized URL.

Because there's no account required (or even available) the product is easy to use , but that also means EtherPad doesn't keep track of a list of your pads online. If you lose the URL, your document is lost forever. The only way to keep your pads private is to safeguard the URL.

For more features and better security there are pay versions, either the Private Network Edition which you can download and run on your own servers, or the On-Demand Edition which EtherPad will host for you.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Online Text-to-Speech Solutions

In an educational setting, there can be a number of reasons to convert written words into spoken words. Naturally, the most obvious use would be to assist and support visually impaired students. Readers who struggle can be helped by reading along along with an audio version of the content.

Students can be provided MP3 files of class notes, study guides, review materials, or any other textual material which they can then listen to on their iPods or other MP3 players.

Text-to-Speech technology is improving constantly. The old monotone, mechanical speech patterns have been replaced by spoken content that sometimes sounds nearly natural.

I've provided links to a number of online text-to-speech services. Some are quite good, ReadTheWords and YAKiToMe! are my first choices. Some are free, some charge a fee, and others have both limited free and paid plans which offer more. Most will allow you to embed a player into your own blog, wiki, or web page or direct link to their site.

Visit each and find the one which best suits your needs.



Here's an example of this post read by Tom from ReadTheWords ...

Here's an example of this post read by Audrey from YAKiToMe!...
Text-to-Speech Solutions

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