Thursday, May 28, 2009

Musical Resources

I have compiled a list of a few web-based resources that will allow you to integrate with your SmartBoard and Airliners, even Activboards as well as with your Mobi or Qomo Interactive Tablets to help you with music in Elementary grades.

Some of these sites will work seamlessly and can be used with any of the items listed above. Now some of these sites do require something extra and I will let you know which ones they are and what they need to function. Sometimes it is just as simple as having Quicktime on your computer or maybe you will need to open the link with a different browser than you normally would. Most however work great on their own with what you have on your computer. Remember that you will also need to have a set of speakers so that your students can hear.

Have fun with these and I will keep posting more periodically for different subject areas.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's in a Presentation?

So in an effort to bring free web 2.0 tools to you that you may not have already known about, here is another one that I had overlooked previously.

How many of you have ever used the web-based utility SlideShare? Did you know that you can upload an mp3, combine it with the slideshare and create a SlideCast?

According to the website there are only a few steps to follow to get your slidecast up and ready to present.

• Upload your presentation file to SlideShare.
• Go to Edit slideshow>Create Slidecast tab. Enter your mp3 url there
• Synchronize slides & audio using the synchronization tool and click publish

Check it out for yourself and see if you like this tool and if it will work for you in your presentations to make them more interactive.

images and steps shared from: SlideShare

Friday, May 22, 2009

What's in a Game?

I just read a very interesting article on how violence and gore can get in the way of video games. The original article is titled... "All that Gore Gets in the Way of Gameplay."

In a study done by Andrew Przybylski and Richard Ryan. They looked at users responses to differentiating versions of the game Half-life 2. They had participants play the game in both a "high and low" violence version to see how it effected their game play.

The results showed that regardless of the amount of violence in a game it did not alter their perceptions of game play. The violence in the games added little or no additional favoritism to the games themselves. In some cases it was viewed negatively because it detracted from the cinematic perspective of the game to the players. Some players are interested in the gameplay and fluidity of action than the violence in video games. Now I have to say that I like the blood and guts just as much as the next guy but have to admit that sometimes it does get in the way of how I view and play a game.

The next aspect that the researchers looked at was they "Why?" Why, if it is not necessary to have the violence in games do developers put it in there? The response to the question can be different based on the person you talk to. For me I see it as marketing to what society wants to have. Others may see it differently. The researchers compare it to the movie industry and how they remake original movies with more special effects and action than the original versions to grab in audiences.

Will it change your purchasing choices if a game has more violence than another? Not sure, read the whole article and you may have to rethink your stance. Do I want violence or cinematics or can I have both. That will be a question for the game designers.

Thank you Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach for your "tweet" regarding this article.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Webspiration comes back from the clouds

Just in... Webspiration comes back from the clouds. Gone but not forgotten myWebspiration has now come back in Beta format and is now live and ready for users to sign up and begin working again.

myWebspiration was created by Inspiration Software, Inc. who are also the makers of Inspiration, Kidspiration and Inspiredata.

This web-based platform allows you to collaborate, organize information, share ideas visually, invite in users and create written documents. The interface is similar to the system-based software so if you have worked with or are accustomed to one of the products there is virtually no real learning curve. Now if you have never used the products you can get up and going really quickly. Now you do again have to create a username and password to access the site, I know folks again with another account to keep up with. Again my suggestion is to make it similar to what you are already using. But the really nice things about this is that it is on the web so you can go anywhere and as long as you have access to the internet you can retrieve information from myWebspiration.

Not only is this a great Web 2.0 tool for use in the educational setting for all curriculum for collaborative projects, concept mapping, organizing and structuring written communication. It can also be used for brainstorming ideas and concepts applied to the business model.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Google sends Gmail to the Labs

So, have you ever taken a look at the Google Labs? There are lots of little things in there that you can add to make your Google experience a little better. Now do you have a Gmail account? I know some of your are saying "not another email account." Let me tell you I think I am up to seven myself and counting so I completely understand. But while you are looking through the Google Labs and if you have a Gmail account check out the Gmail Labs section from the link on the right side of the page under Other Experiments at Google.

There are a number of unique and interesting little feature add-ons that you can add to your Gmail account. I am not going to list everything out here in the blog but I will highlight a few things that I thought were interesting and then let you go and check out the rest of them. Now there is a disclaimer at the top of the page that lets you know ahead of time that these items are all in the experimental stages of development and could be removed at anytime. So don't freak out if one day you go into your Gmail and it does not look the same anymore due to a feature being removed from the Labs section. Gmail has a built in "escape hatch" they say to get things back to normal. It is a hyperlink to the standard Gmail web page.

So here are some of the things that I found interesting.

  • Google Offline: This feature allows you to put Gmail in your browser window and access it offline.
  • YouTube, Picasa and Flickr in your email: Preview within your mail items from the three sites listed.
  • Message Translation: Will automatically translate emails into English that you receive in other languages.
  • Right-side labels and Chats: It moves the boxes to the right hand side of the screen.
  • Navbar drag and drop: Allows you to move items on the navbar to other areas using the drag and drop method.
  • Create a Google Doc: Allows you to create a Google Doc from your email using the shortcut keys "g" and "w." You must have enabled the shortcut feature prior to being able to do this.
Again these are just a sample of the ones that I have used. Take it with a grain of salt and go take a look for yourself. Maybe you have an idea of a feature add-on that you could suggest to Google for the Gmail Labs.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A computer in a keyboard?

Yes I said a computer in a keyboard.

How about just having a keyboard that does the same thing as a full desktop or laptop computer. Now I know what some of your are thinking. Hey we have cell phones that have all the functionality of a computer without the peripheral ports other than an SD card reader. Well this one seems to be something neat to me. A new cool tool that might be something fun to have.

The ASUS Eee Keyboard. It is a full qwerty keyboard minus the number pad. Now in the place of the number pad there is an 800x600 pixel resolution touchscreen display which also acts as a touch pad. What are some of the other features; a 1.6GHz processor, a possible 32GB SSD, 802.11n, bluetooth, HDMI, 2 USB 2.0, audio in/out and vga port. Not bad for a product who's projected price point comes in between $400-600 dollars.

So in the short I think it looks like a promising product that I would like to see in the retail market so that I can test it out. It may be something really good for use in the home. I would bet with some additional peripherals you can get this hooked up to your HD/LCD TV and use it sitting on the couch watching he ball game. Maybe there could be some sort of wireless monitor that could be out there you could use with this keyboard. Oh wait another on the horizon product from ASUS is the wireless monitor, but that is another post all together.

Check it out next month and make your own decision.

image provided by: ASUS

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Looking for a Child friendly Operating System?

I know that there are a lot of available offerings for parents to have a safe friendly environment for their small children to use the computer. I have looked a number of them but have settled on one that I like.

Qimo (pronounced "kim - oh") is a customized, and customizable, operating system built off the Ubuntu Linux platform for children ages 3 up to about 12. The interface has been optimized and designed for a child with lots of interactive features and what I call "big kid buttons." Take a look at the screen shots here.

The system really looks good with the added features that will help children grow in a safe computing environment. Michael and Michelle Hall are the founders of QuinnCo Inc. which is a non-profit organization that helps put computers in the homes of children with special needs. What they do is to take older computers and remove all data files and load them with educational games that teach computer literacy. It is fun, it is interactive and that is what our kids need to get them interested the appropriate use of computers.

The system requirements are very low "...needs a minimum of 256MB of memory to run from the CD, or 192MB to install. At least 6 GB of hard drive space is recommended, and a 400MHz or faster CPU." So if you are planning to donate they can take computers ranging from a Pentium III class to current machines. You can read about other opportunities to donate at the link above.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mobi - Not the Artist the InterWrite Tablet

So we have been talking a lot about collaboration and how to get students involved in the classroom. So what is it about kids today? Are they bored, unchallenged, tired? Where is the motivation for them from the instructor.

Let's get them involved and with the new InterWrite Workspace 8.01 software and the InterWrite Mobi Tablet that just might do the trick.

The InterWrite Mobi tablet is the first multi-user, multi-tablet collaborative solution for classrooms instruction. What is it you ask. Well the Mobi is the next generation of interactive tablet in which the user can manipulate desktop or laptop applications without being locked into one location in the room. You have the ability to roam free and be a part of the learning environment. The one nice addition to the Mobi over its predecessors is the addition of a 2.5" lcd color screen which allows you to link up with another product from eInstruction, the Classroom Performance Systems (CPS for short). Check out Brian Piekarski's previous article in our blog. All response information is sent to the display as it happens so that you can see where the students are without having to go back to the desktop or laptop. The board has also been redesigned to be more ergonomic for the user as well as lighter in weight and sturdier for in class use. Previous evolutions of InterWrite tablets had a rechargeable pen that had one contact point for charging the newly designed pen has a 360 degree contact point for charging and fits inside of its own holster built into the back of the boards hand-hold.

Now to talk about one really new cool feature of the InterWrite Workspace software that come with the Mobi Tablet or can be downloaded from the eInstruction website. It is the ability to use the collaborative workspace. While inside the workspace software the instructor can have up to 9 tablets interacting with the display at one time. it is very simple to use you click on the multi-user icon and drag and drop the tablets into the areas of the screen you want them to use. You are the instructor and have control of the page and all users. Each tablet has access to their own space only and cannot write in an another users defined space. Now those of you who have a previous incarnate of the the InterWrite tablet can still use the multi-user feature of Workspace v 8.01 software so do not worry at all.

Check out the eInstruction website for more information about the Mobi tablet, CPS and Workspace software.

video images and image provided by eInstruction