Saturday, October 31, 2009

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Help with Google Earth Images, too

ARGH!! MOST frustrating!

You are SUPPOSED to be able to create a placemark in Google Earth and use the img src tag to link to images in the placemark. And you can. But, once again, when you save the placemark, the image doesn't get zipped in with the kmz file - and it's SUPPOSED TO!

Anyone have an answer to that?


MANY thanks to Shawn Canady, for helping resolve this issue. It turns out that I had too much of a file path included in the img src tag. I had something like "file:///Users/jamesgates/desktop/gepic.jpg" Removing the file:// did it. Sheesh!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Help with Google Earth tours

I've searched everywhere I can think of, and I've tweeted about it, and I've even been able to communicate with Frank over at the gearthblog (I point folks there frequently) but I have not been able to find the answer to this question about tours in Google Earth. Maybe a reader can help.

You've seen the Google Earth tours, I'm sure, where you're flown to various places around the world and when you arrive there, the balloon opens then closes when you move on. All the while, the narrator's voice can be heard talking us through the tour.

I want to make one of those - and I can - but I can't share it.

I can set up a folder of locations with each location having a balloon for information about that place. I can click the Tour folder icon and it will do as it's supposed to do, flying me to each location. I've set the preferences up so that the balloons will show, as well. I can even click the record button and record audio with it. And, I can play back the tour on my machine and it's wonderful! But, I'm not able to share it.

When I right-click to save the file I am able to save the tour. But, if I send that file to someone else, the audio isn't there, And, frequently, the balloons don't display. Yet, it works fine on my own computer.

I REALLY want to resolve this issue, so if anyone can offer a suggestion as to what I must do to ensure that the audio gets compressed into the kmz file and the balloons show, I would LOVE to hear from you.

Update 10-27-09

With the help of Mickey Mellon, one of the authors on the gearthblog, I was able to make SOME progress. Mickey suggested that I change the .kmz file extension to .zip and open it. It opened into a folder that contained a .kml file as well as another folder that contained the audio file. That audio file had a .aac extension, supposedly a supported file type for Google Earth. I then did the same thing for one tour that did work correctly, and that file had a .mp3 extension. Hmmmmm...

So, I renamed the .aac audio to .mp3. I then opened the .kml file in a text editor and changed the reference to point to the newly named audio file. I saved the changes, then opened the file in Google Earth. It played PERFECTLY!

This means that it just doesn't like that .aac file type when it comes from someone else, because it likes it just fine on your own machine. I'm thinking that we're (I'm including you and Mickey in on this) getting close.

Can anyone help now?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Prezi - I don't get it

I've talked about this on Twitter, but maybe a reader can help me come to terms with Prezi. I don't get it.

I recently saw another person who used Prezi for the presentation, and again I thought, "This is everything that we complained about with Powerpoint. Needless, distracting animations. The only thing missing were sound effects, and I could imagine them containing whooshing sounds and spinner sounds and ratchet sounds to fit the nauseating motions.

Seriously, if Microsoft ever decided to steal .. sorry.. build similar visual effects, wouldn't we immediately begin to complain about them?

Or am I missing something? Am I allowing my stomach queasiness when I watch the zooming and spinning, etc, to cloud my judgment?

Congratulations to LTMS600 class

I had such a great day yesterday. I got the chance to hear all about the projects that the teachers in the LTMS600 class did with their students so far this fall. Yesterday was the final day for the course, and I thoroughly enjoyed the day.

From 3rd graders using a Wallwisher board as a KWL chart, to backchanneling with 8th grade Spanish students, to a Facebook-like project in Mythology that ended up in Issuu, to students making Jing screencasts for the library - and great uses for Google Docs, and student blogs and Google Earth tours.. and more. What fun it was to see and hear about the changes in their classrooms.

I wish now that I had thought to jot down all the comments that students had as they worked on the projects. The teachers told of how they didn't want to stop the activity when the period ended, and how they went above and beyond the requirements of the assignent because they enjoyed it so much, etc.

Comments from the teachers included: "My objectives were certainly met if not exceeded.", "Students would come to class and ask, 'Can we work on our wiki pages today?'", "The students and I loved it - every student participated." Or, "The students thought it would be cool to use this tool when they discussion other issues that they thought were important." This comment that I posted about the other day sticks with me, too: " Seeing the students rise to occasion was fantastic. The students becamse the teachers, and I becamse the learner." And this comment I thought was especially good, "This was one of the most successful projects I’ve ever taught. Not only because it was engaging for the students, but because they learned valuable skills: group discussion skills, research skills, supporting points with specific, accurate details and writing skills. These are skills that transcend the Communication Arts classroom; these are skills students will need to be successful in whatever career path they decide to pursue. " (I wish I could share her entire project description with you - it was excellent.)

It was a VERY good day, yesterday. And to Vicki, Scott, Lisa B, Lisa K, Nicole, Emma, David, Diane, Karen, Emily, Rich, Heather, and Amy - Congratulations. I'm so proud of your work. And I'm so happy to have had the opportunity to wrok with each of you.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

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Friday, October 23, 2009

A word about images

This has to be one of the toughest ideas to fully comprehend - the matter of image sizes and 'weight.' And, unless you're aware that it IS an issue, you're destined to continue along doing what you're now doing, never to know what it is you're doing wrong.

And Microsoft (PowerPoint AND word) doesn't help matters. What happens when you insert an image into Word or PowerPoint? It displays at pretty much the size you're looking for, doesn't it? The picture fits very nicely on that PowerPoint slide. But, it lies. The picture is NOT that size. The picture is still the 3072 x 2304 size; it's just scaled smaller. And it's still 2.5mb heavy. That might even be acceptable (I would argue it's not, but I'll agree now that it is) if you're just making the PowerPoint for your computer and it won't be shared with anyone or, worse, uploaded online. But, when you're uploading those huge images online, they load needlessly slowly, and they're costing money in terms of a needless drain on bandwidth. I've even seen websites for computer companies that contain such images. ARGH!

Now, when you're at school and you're viewing the webpage containing that image, it will load a LITTLE slowly, but not enough, in your mind, to be concerned. But, multiply that page load requirements by 30 (the number of students in your class) and suddenly the images DO slow down to a frustratingly slow speed, and the bandwidth requirements has increased a great deal.

PowerPoint makes it easy - if you know the tool is there - to fix this issue. When you save the PowerPoint you can tell it to compress all images. Have you seen that option? No? I didn't think so. It's not as obvious as I think it should be, and it seems to be in a different place with every version. I don't see that option in Word, but you can let me know if it's there. Regardless, however, I think it should be very obvious how to have the image resized when you save the file. I just added a single image to a Word document with NO text, and the file was 4.5mb large. The image fit nicely on the page, however.

This is part of Digital Literacy, isn't it? An much overlooked part, too. I firmly believe that students should be taught about this notion and how to manage many files that will be used in a presentation.

When I was putting lots of files online in websites, I used a nifty, free program called, Irfanview. It's a windows only app, but it did a great job batch processing files. I could point it to a folder of images and tell it to resize them, rename them according to my pattern, and save them in another folder. I think there was even an icon that installed on the desktop and I could drop images onto it and it would automatically resize and save to my specifications. Then I'd use those images for the web.

There are many great programs out there that are free and can help you resize images. But, one thing's for sure, we really need to become aware of those file sizes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Business as Usual?

I've not been able to get this out of my mind. Recently I had the opportunity to talk with a Business Education student teacher. I was told that in the classroom to which he's been assigned, the current teacher teaches Office all day - from a textbook. And, under the pretense of "Differentiated Instruction" allows the students to work their way through the book at their own pace. Meanwhile, the teacher sits at her desk and .. who knows what she does.

The student teacher asked her if he could use the Office Live site and was told no, because she can't make the students create a site that requires an email address. Fine. The student teacher asked for two other options and was told no. So, this poor person must continue to preserve the outrageous "instruction" that is currently going on there.

When I think of the amount of money that teacher makes, and how little teaching is actually being done, I get sick to my stomach. When I think of all that COULD be done and ISN'T, I get sick to my stomach.

THROW AWAY THOSE !@#$%^& TEXTBOOKS!!! Get your curiosity back and start investigating the many changes that have taken place online, and start teaching the students with and about those tools. SOMETHING other than teaching Powerpoint from a textbook, for crying out loud.

Can you hear me screaming?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Teacher found herself when she gave up some control

This is terrific. Here are some comments from a teacher who has been working to enhance her lessons with more technology. Specifically, using tools that give her students more creative power. Read what she has to say about her experience. Have you been there? Would you say that this teacher has been transformed?
"First thought that pops into my mind is: Becoming a facilitator and not a teacher was difficult to overcome. I had to give the reigns to the students. In the beginning, I felt I was not teaching and therefore useless. Afterwards, my thoughts changed completely. Seeing the students rise to occasion was fantastic. The students became the teachers and I became the learner. Does that sound corny?

This has become my highlight of each marking period, or now semester. I look forward to watching students come up with good interview questions, struggling with Audacity and finally hearing their final scripts in Podbean. The look of accomplishment on their faces makes my year….The Assistant Superintendent came to observe me once, during the final recording of the Podcast. He left me a note saying that “I used good Web 2.0 tools” He seemed to be impressed. That note made my day. I laminated it and stuck it under my see through thing on my desk as a reminder."
Oh, and do you also see how powerful an "attagirl" can be? Something that easy, yet something so often left unsaid, can make a REAL difference. With students, too. Try this: the next time you see some good work from a struggling student, or from ANY student who appears to have put forth real effort on your assignment, get "in the moment" with that student and say, "Nicole, I REALLY like what you did here. This is very good."

Nicole, I REALLY like what you did here. This is very good!

Another great Skype lesson

This was just shared in the Classroom 2.0 Diigo group today.

Here are some 7th grade students talking about copyright with the man himself, Larry Lessig, of Creative Commons fame. If you're reading this I'm sure I don't need to say more about who Larry Lessig is. And, for those of you who are not permitted to use Skype, send that link to your Principal and again urge him/her to reconsider. It's FAR too good a tool to remain locked up.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Another Google Wave video to see

I had two questions about Waves. One: How can you tell which are the latest edits to a wave. Two: Is it possible to know if any of your contacts are online and in the Wave application? I think I have the answer to my first question (A vertical green bar appears on the left edge of the wave entry), but I don't yet know the answer to the second question.

However, I did find another good video to suggest. It showcases 15 features of a wave, in rapid fire succession. Here it is:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

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50 out of 70 were blocked

I just can't stop thinking about someone who recently queried a large group to ask about their filters at school. She said she's at her wit's end. Her science teacher had gathered a collection of seventy science sites, but when he got to school only twenty were accessible.

Are she and I the only ones who find something terribly wrong with that picture?

Copyrighted? But I NEED that video!

During a recent discussion with two other teachers, the subject of YouTube videos came up. One person commented that she was upset that she couldn't show some of them to her classes, as they are PERFECT for what she's trying to get across. The conversation went something like this.

Woman: "I link to them and even embed them, but the kids cant see them at school, and some don't have computers at home. It's tough"

Man: "I download them all and upload them into my Moodle."

Woman: "Well, you know that's against the YouTube acceptable use policy and a violation of Copyright."

Man: "Hey, I need them to teach with, so I do what I have to do. I'll use them as long as I am teaching that subject."

And all of that could be avoided if the teachers were given a different filtering policy from students and access to youtube. Instead, the teachers are turning into copyright criminals. The man had ZERO guilt associated with taking those videos.

This could ALL be avoided!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Check out this WallWisher by 3rd graders

Isn't that a fun site? This was put together by some third graders who were studying rocks (of course). What a fun way to post what you know or WANT to know and have others comment on it. Non-threatening, easy to use, and fun. A nice way to get the third graders eased into computer work, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oh BOY! My google Wave account just arrived!

Yes, I'm a geek, and I'm a lucky man. I COULD have been a geek in the 1950's when computers were just 1's and 0's. Today, however, I can play with cool stuff like the Google Wave.

A while back I had pointed you to a video about the Google Wave that was an hour and 20 minutes long. Here, though, is a video that does a great job of explaining it in only ten minutes.

Oh, and sorry, I've given out all eight of my available invitations to the Wave.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

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  • This one is for the elementary teachers. Looks like fun.

    tags: writing, storytelling

  • This is what Google thinks will challenge WOlfram Alpha. What do you think?

    tags: google, search

  • Nice tutorials for every Google App. Bookmark this one.

    tags: google, tutorials, googleapps

  • We have created a list of what we think are the best available apps out there and have categorized them into the following: Science, Language, Math, Administrative & Content Management, Interactive & Online Classrooms, Study Aids, Video & Imaging, Music, Multimedia, Geography & History, and Mapping Tools.

    tags: opensource

  • "Blogging is becoming more and more popular in the classroom. Teachers can blog to stay in touch with parents and students or they can incorporate blogs from all of the students as a learning tool. The beauty of the student blog is that children from Kindergarten to high school can blog. No matter how you use blogs in your classroom, these tools will help you get started, enhance your experience, or bring the students into the fun."

    tags: blogging, tools

  • "The issues surrounding copyright have never been more visible. But the classroom presents its own copyright-related challenges, for students and teachers alike. How is an educator to know what the rules are? How do those rules apply in the classroom? And how can we make sure that students know the rules as well?"

    tags: copyright

    • Educators' Workshop

      The material in this guide will help librarians and media specialists in their efforts to inform other educators about copyright. It includes a quiz, tips on designing a workshop, and a chart of available classroom materials.
      Educators' Guide

      This comprehensive 13-page guide is designed for teachers of all grades and subject areas and includes: an overview of copyright, FAQ section, glossary and standards charts for all the classroom curricula available on this web site.
  • I don't think they do

    tags: Writing

    • In many elementary schools, student work is hung in the classroom or on a wall? Do people read them?
  • The fastest way to create an audio. No special effects or editing allowed, but for instant recordings, this is a good option.

    tags: audio, recorder, podcast

  • The Homework Day website.

    tags: wolfram

  • "Join us on Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at noon CDT, for the start of Wolfram|Alpha Homework Day, a groundbreaking marathon live interactive web event that brings together students, parents, and educators from across the United States to solve their toughest assignments and explore the power of using Wolfram|Alpha for school, college, and beyond."

    tags: wolfram

    • During Homework Day, scholars, experts, and members of the Wolfram|Alpha team will explore a wide variety of subjects relevant for K–12 to college students. Segments throughout the day will be tailored for specific age groups and show how students and teachers are already using Wolfram|Alpha in the classroom
  • Notice that she gave each student the navigation requirements (left side of screens) and they could choose what they wanted to put inside each section. Some added audio files, others made screencasts, and others added games, etcc.

    tags: wiki, wikified

  • "A WRP, or wikified research paper, is made on and allows students to link to resources within their papers, along with embedding various images and videos within their papers."

    tags: wikified

    • A WRP, or wikified research paper, is made on and allows students to link to resources within their papers, along with embedding various images and videos within their papers
    • This knowledge of worldwide access to their papers has seemingly inspired students to give extra time and care to their papers, because they understand how many people could be reading them in the future. -Hannah L

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Punishment leads man to career in teaching?

This is too funny. I wish I had said it, but I didn't. He just granted me permission to use his name, so I can tell you it was @JonBecker.

He tweeted out a message about a man who was found guilty of an Internet-based crime and who was then ordered to stay OFF the Internet. JB's comment: "Guess he'll have to become a teacher." ROFL!!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

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