Monthly Archives: September 2006

Changing the Way We Look at the World

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Most if not all of you reading this post will at least be familiar with Google Earth, which is a great tool to learn about the world today and hone your geography skills. However, for historical maps, I’ve yet to see a better site than the David Rumsey map collection. From the website’s intro:

The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection has over 13,600 maps online. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century North and South America maps and other cartographic materials. Historic maps of the World, Europe, Asia and Africa are also represented. Collection categories include antique atlas, globe, school geography, maritime chart, state, county, city, pocket, wall, childrens and manuscript maps. The collection can be used to study history, genealogy and family history.

Read an article about the collection, take a Flash Tour of the collection (requires Flash), or view 360° panoramic images of the collection space. You can also view Japanese Historical Maps or fine art images from The AMICA Library.

This is an incredible collection of historical maps, available digitally and for free! Because they are digital, there are different ways to sort, aggregate, synthesize, and look at the maps. The About page states:

Presenting individual maps in a digital format literally breaks the boundaries of an atlas’s bookbinding, allowing the viewer to view single maps independent of their original encasing. With Luna Imaging’s Insight® software, the maps are experienced in a revolutionary way. Multiple maps from different time periods can be viewed side-by-side. Or, the end user can create their own collection of maps by saving groups of images that hold particular interest. Complete cataloging data accompanies every image, allowing for in-depth searches of the collection.

The collection’s owners really seem to get it, also because the collection is copyrighted under the Creative Commons License

I like this resource a lot, because it echoes what Judy Breck has been writing about recently, in that learning should occur online because current knowledge has moved there. She calls this the “global virtual knowledge ecology” (p. 44).  Breck argues for schools to adopt a new attitude toward the Internet, take advantage of a new access to information, and above all, benefit from the new aggregation of knowledge made possible by the Internet’s open content and “interconnectivity within and among subjects” (p. 46). Especially these last ideas of open content and interconnectivity are important and relevant for the map collection.

All in all, a great resource, so go check it out. Just make sure your pop-up blocker is off for this site, but it’s well worth it. A fast Internet connection is recommended as well.

Image Credit: the David Rumsey Collection: http://www.davidrumsey.com

Professors Take Heed… Teachers Should Too

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Another great example I found on the web via the Dangerously Irrelevant blog, in this post. It’s a short video by  Consuelo Molina, UCLA student, videographer, and graduate of the San Fernando Education Technology Team (SFETT), called Digital Kids @ Analog Schools. Consuelo is but one of an increasing number of young people who really get it when it comes to using technology for learning, work, and life.

The content of the video is centered around the idea that colleges and universities are not preparing students for the world beyond because pedagogies are backward instead of forward looking. According to the video, what students want:

  • more than just lectures, papers, and problem sets; no more teaching with yesterday’s tools
  • to be able to connect with what they learn
  • choices in the way they can express themselves, e.g. having control over how they represent what they’ve learned. The phrase “visual learner” comes up over and over again
  • access to technology to personalize learning
  • to be prepared for the jobs that our available NOW, jobs that require creativity, intellectual capital, communication skills, coming up with ideas
  • to get value for their tuition
  • to apply technology to learning
  • for professors and instructors to listen to them
  • colleges to break the norm, be different, and start looking to the future

Pay attention to the ending as well, it’s very cleverly done. However, as discussed in the video, a picture (or in this case a video) is worth a thousand words. If you like what you read here, watch the video, and you’ll really get the message.

Finally, this quote from the video sums up the feelings of more and more students these days, at all levels of education:

If this place isn’t perfecting my skills for the new business world, then why am I here?

Image credit: serafini:
http://flickr.com/photos/serafa/67922566/

True Convergence!

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Great article from the BBC today: ‘Tower of Babel’ technology nears. The article discusses Software Defined Radio (SDR), which is able to translate and understand any kind of radio wave signal, such as 3G or wi-fi. As a result,

wireless devices that previously understood only one or a few languages, or standards, will suddenly be able to talk to each other freely regardless of frequency or conflicting protocols.

According to the article, widespread implementation of SDR will happen in the next 5-10 years. More information on this technology can be found in Technology Review and wikipedia.

Imagine the potential implications for education with mobile, connected tools! This is the type of thing I’ve been looking for for a long time, as it means that we can REALLY take advantage of existing technology for teaching and learning. This is especially the case because SDR is software driven, while “currently, most devices rely on hardware, rather than software, to get at the information in radio signals.” What it could mean for teaching and learning:

  • No more worrying about tech budgets for schools, as students would be able to use their own devices, regardless of standard or protocol. And the fact that SDR is software-driven makes it even better (think upgrades, rather than replacements).
  • True anywhere, anytime computing (especially anywhere).
  • Collaboration across devices will be much easier, because it doesn’t matter if I have a smart phone and you have a handheld computer.
  • SDR should make it much easier for mobile devices to interact with other technology, increasing the opportunities for the use of context-aware computing, and digital overlays on top of a physical environment.

The possibilities are almost endless…

Image credit: Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Brueghel-tower-of-babel.jpg

Another Cool Online Tool

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And you thought flickr was great? Here is an excellent tool to do more with the pictures in your flickr account: fd’s Flickr Toys. You can make mosaics, posters, trading cards, collages….. etc. The tools are free, and I’m sure will be repurposed by many.

 BTW, this post is a great example of the power of the web. I ran across this site while scanning the 50 or so blogs I subscribe to. I found the Flickr Toys in a post by Ewan McGregor. Some reviews of the different toys can be found here.

Image credits: my own 🙂
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dutchboyinohio/215369406/ and http://flickr.com/photos/dutchboyinohio/254091607/

My Book Is Finally Published!!

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It was two years in the making, but the edited book I’ve been working on with my colleague Karen Swan is finally in print! Here is the official citation:

van ‘t Hooft, M., & Swan, K. (2007). Ubiquitous computing in education: Invisible technology, visible impact. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

It’s odd how excited I was to actually hold the first paper copy in my hands, considering how much I work with digital sources. No matter how cool technology is, there is still something about reading a book…

Image credit: http://www.rcet.org/ubicomp/images/ubicompbookcover.jpg

Kids Can Teach Us a Thing or Two…

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Jeff Utecht is a teacher at the Shanghai American School whose students are doing some amazing things with technology. Here is the latest example: Teentek.com. Jeff describes the origins of this site in this blog post. The site is run by kids and is for kids. While I could go into great detail about how this is a great example of student-centered learning and technology as a tool to eliminate the barriers between school and world, what really struck me about Teentek is how some of the kids involved with it are talking about what technology means to them. For example (from Jeff’s post):

Once upon a time, technology was a way of using tools to solve problems. Now, in the 21st century, it’s way of communication and information gathering that is central in almost every part of our lives. Economy, entertainment, communication. Without technology, the rate at which these things happen would slow down to a snail’s pace. So what exactly IS technology, you ask? Technology is the way we use tools to communicate and gather information, at a basic level. These include cellphones, video games, and most importantly, computers.

Another example of technology use by kids for kids is Tony Vincent’s Our City Podcast, where kids (with some help from their teachers, as this one is more classroom-based) can submit podcasts about their hometowns.

It’s amazing what kids are capable of doing when we let them …

Image credit: One of Jeff Utecht’s students 🙂 : http://www.flickr.com/photos/63444054@N00/246321151/

APEC Cyber Academy

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I recently got involved in a very interesting project. It is called APEC Cyber Academy, and is funded by the Taiwanese government and APEC. A description of the program:

APEC Cyber Academy &
APEC 2006 International Online Contest

October 2, 2006 ~ December 3, 2006

The APEC Cyber Academy (ACA, http://linc.hinet.net/apec/) is an international networked learning environment designed specifically for K-12 students. The primary goal of ACA is to provide learner-centric, collaborative, ICT, and international learning experiences to K-12 students and teachers around the world. Launched in 2002, ACA is currently hosted by the APEC Digital Content Production Center (APEC CPC) under auspices of APEC/EDNET and the Ministry of Education of Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). With its outstanding networked learning environment and high quality digital content, ACA has already attracted many international users. As of December 2005, ACA has over ten thousands registered learners from various APEC member economies.

ACA has hosted an annual international online contest since 2002. The nine-week event for 2006 will start on the 2nd of October and conclude on the 3rd of December. The contest is composed of three programs: the APEC Networked Collaborative Learning Program, the APEC Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Cyber Camp, and the APEC Journalistic Kids. The former two programs are associated with team projects that only accept group entry. On the other hand, the APEC Journalist Kids is pertaining to personal efforts and only accepts individual entries.

  • APEC Networked Collaborative Learning Program

The collaborative learning program consists of four independent learning projects: Money, Convenience Store, A Day in Our School, and Our Holidays. To participate in one of these projects, students have to form teams, take part in weekly learning activities, complete assignments collaboratively, and even communicate with their distant learning partners through ACA’s communication tools.

  • APEC ICT Cyber Camp

The virtual summer camp focuses on both learning ICT skills and building up international learning communities. Participants have to pass two online computer games, APEC Challenger and APEC Traveler, before they are authorized to form teams of five including one teacher or parent. The ICT Cyber Camp is composed of a sequence of six correlated learning modules designed with advanced and interactive technologies.

  • APEC Journalistic Kids

This is an activity in which students play the role of local correspondents of their classes or schools for ACA. After being authorized as a residential journalist, every participating kid is encouraged to try his/her best to do digital storytelling in ACA about his or her local community.

Awards and Prizes

For the APEC Networked Collaborative Learning Program and APEC ICT Cyber Camp, the performance of each team in these programs will be evaluated based on their respective evaluation rubrics. The winning teams will be awarded a group certificate of merit from Minister of Education, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). Furthermore, the best team in each program will be awarded a personal computer (one computer per team).

As for the APEC Journalistic Kids, the performance of each journalist will be evaluated based on evaluation rubrics. The winning journalistic kids will be awarded a certificate of merit from Minister of Education, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). Furthermore, the best journalist will also receive a personal computer.

PLEASE COME ON BOARD AND JOIN THE EXCITEMENT!

For more details about the online contests, please go to the APEC Cyber Academy at http://linc.hinet.net/apec/ or e-mail: apec@avatar.nutn.edu.tw.

I’m excited to be a part of this project and will be acting as an online tutor for the ICT Cyber Camp. What I like about this project are the collaboration and networking, and the fact that kids from all over the world get to interact with each other in an educational and safe environment online. As of right now, the project is especially looking for teams and individual participants from the United States and Europe, so if you’re interested, check it out and join the fun!!

Feel free to repost this information on your blog, website etc.

Image Credit: APEC (http://linc.hinet.net/apec/login/login.asp)