Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jonathan Bird's Blue World

Jonathan Bird's Blue World is an Emmy award winning educational program that explores the wonders of the world's oceans.

The program airs on public television, but the website also has webisodes on the site for you to view. They also have an educators' section with study guides for each episode, sea stories and web links. You can even book him to come to your school and do a presentation (for a fee). He is very dynamic and you can see an example of one of his presentations.

Some of the episode topics include: Sharks, whales, airplane graveyard in the sea, tropical fish, manta rays, and much more. There is also a section with videos describing the SCUBA gear that they use when filming and exploring the oceans.

There is also a blog, http://jonathanbirdsblueworld.blogspot.com/, where they post information and news.

I found the program to be well done and very interesting and the resources on the site for educators were great. Definitely a great resource for your classroom.

On a side note, I actually went to college with Jonathan at WPI. He was two years ahead of me, but was in a band with a friend of mine. He's a great guy and it's great to see another engineer doing educational work.

some of the episodes:

Monday, May 17, 2010

iTALC - computer management

iTALC is a free, open source, computer management system. It enables teachers to control student computers, including monitoring what the students are doing, remote control to help users, lock out workstations, send text messages to students, remote power on/off and reboot and more.

It is extremely easy to install and use. It took me less than 10 minutes to download and install the admin version on my computer. I loaded the software and the key onto my network drive and then logged on to each computer in my room (there are 8) and installed the client version in less than 3 min for each computer. It then took a few minutes to set up the main system on my computer with all the classroom computers linked.

iTALC is similar to systems like LANSchool, but free.

The wiki is also very helpful with the installation and set up.

PDF Online - free PDF Services

PDF Online is an online service that has both fee and FREE services relating to PDF files.

One of the free services is "Doc2PDF" that will convert a document to a PDF file. You can only convert files up to 2GB (to convert files up to 10GB you need to subscribe to the premium version).

This is good for people who don't convert many files to PDF. If you want to convert a lot of files to PDF, I suggest CutePDF.

The other free service is "PDF to Word" which converts your PDF documents to RTF Documents for viewing and editing Word. It works very well and fast. After uploading your file, it will convert it and then leave a link for you to download with the converted file.

Another way to do this is with PDF2Word.

PDF files are very handy for sharing files and posting files online. The ability to create them or edit them is very useful for teachers.

Tech Training Wheels

Tech Training Wheels is a great site created by a group of Google Certified Teachers. They have created some excellent tutorial videos on topics like embedding videos in a Google site, Managing navigation of a Google site, using Sketchup and documents, among others.

They have a community part set up on the site and encourage users to upload their own tutorials.

It is a great site for newbies or even experts to find new tips and ideas.

Interactive Engineering for 9-11 year olds

Engineering Interact is a great site with interactive lessons for 9-11 year olds that help them explore and learn science and engineering concepts.

The activities fall under the following topics: Light, Sound, Forces and Motion, Earth and Beyond, and Electricity.

The activities are in game form and are well done. I played with two of them and had fun myself.

There is also information about how engineers use the science of that particular topic which is a great way to show them why the topic is important.

I was very impressed with these games and I can actually see them being used for older students up to freshman in high school as a fun way to learn or review the topics.

It was created and is supported by the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering.

The games and activities require FLASH, so you won't be able to use these on an iPad or iPod Touch.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

HP buys Palm - What could that mean for education?

image from Precentral - http://www.precentral.net/

On Wednesday, April 28th, 2010, HP announced that they would buy Palm, the maker of webOS and the Pre/Pre+ and Pixi/Pixi+ smartphones.

Palm, the company that actually launched and popularized early smartphones with it's Treo line, had struggled for many years and then was buoyed up by the release of it's new operating system, webOS. webOS is well liked and critically acclaimed, being described as the most elegant, user friendly, smartphone OS out there. It's synergy system keeps users always up-to-date and in sync with other services. It is also the only one that does true multitasking. In spite of webOS's initial excitement, Palm was unable to capitalize on that and sales of their new smartphones have not been as good as they thought and the company has been struggling. Enter HP.

HP, one of the largest technology companies in the world and a major computer manufacturer, is planning on keeping webOS and most of Palm's team and run them as a separate business unit. They are planning to scale webOS across multiple platforms, and in interviews have discussed a webOS powered tablet and slate. HP's global scale and financial strength combined with Palm's webOS will allow HP to "participate more aggressively in the fast-growing, highly profitable smartphone and connected mobile device market."

So, what does this have to do with education? One, Palm's webOS is a great platform and easy to use. HP can expand the market of webOS further into education. HP is talking about new devices like tablets and slates which will be great for the education market. This also means more competition in the market place which benefits consumers by lowering prices. webOS is extremely easy to develop apps for. Most high school computer science students (and many other students) already know web languages, which is what webOS is based on. This means that students could develop their own apps for educational purposes. With HP backing webOS, we will also see more and more developers creating apps for it. Palm has great support for developers also. HP and Palm have some very talented developers and engineers and the combination of both should lead to some very innovative products in the future.

Palm and webOS already have a lot of great apps for education and more are available all the time. webOS is easy to use, powerful, has a great web browser, supports Flash, has thousands of apps, supports 3D graphics, has true multitasking, and is easy to develop for.

HP and Palm have always been good towards education and I don't see that changing. HP already is involved with education through partnerships, discounts on products, and resources for students and educators. HP has their Teacher Experience Exchange which has lesson plans, resources, discussions, and more for educators. HP also offers free online technology training for educators. Palm has the Palm Foundation which provides financial and product-donation assistance to high-quality, effective non-profit organization. Palm also encourages developers to create educational applications.

In short, I feel that HP's purchase of Palm will lead to many good things for education - a great operating system on new devices with great potential and use in education.


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