More Functionality in Bitstrips


A recent blog entry from the folks at Bitstrips for Schools indicate that they haven’t been sitting idly by with their great product. It’s got even better.  One of the more requested items that I get is the desire to be able to upload their own images.  It’s now possible.

Just head on over to the Art Library and the Images tab and you’ll see the option to upload your images.

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Now, what can I do with this?  With the launch of the iPad in Canada last Friday, there was a great deal of discussion over the weekend about who had one and who didn’t.  What a great opportunity for classification.  I head over to my Seesmic Desktop and do a little cropping and offer the following.  Here’s my latest scorecard.

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Now, I know that there are a couple on the right that are wavering but that’s OK.  I can save the document online and move people from the right to the left in a heartbeat if needed!

And for my friend Kelly who complains that there isn’t a big enough selection of women’s shoes…  Make your own!

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links for 2010-05-30


Learning About the Oil Spill


The situation in the Gulf of Mexico continues to lead the news with stories about the attempts and lacks of success in capping the well.  The incident has also become incredibly political in nature with hearings and visits to the site by the American president.

If only the energies and efforts could be channelled towards finding the solution.  The owner of the well, BP, is taking all of the pressure for this; I hope that other oil companies are helping find a solution as any incident could have happened to them and there will undoubtedly be new rules and regulations implemented as a result.  It behoves all to come to a resolution as quickly as possible.

When things like this hit the news, it has huge implications in the classrooms world-wide as teachers and students try to come to an understanding of what has happened.  Using television and other news sources is a traditional place to turn, but the internet does provide a forum for innovative and unique ways to learn and acquire a deeper understanding of the situation.

Here are some resources that I found particularly helpful.

Size of the area affected.  Part of the problem with traditional maps is the inability to show relative sizes.  Areas towards the poles seem to be larger than those near the Equator.  How do you put this in perspective? I investigated and blogged about Paul Rademacher’s mashup yesterday.  Here, he allows you to overlay the spill on any part of the world.  Put it on your community where you may be more familiar with distances so get a true appreciation.

In this CNN report, an explanation of one of the methods to try to cap the well is explained.  In times like this, news reporters turn to experts who have a reputation for being a resource to assist with the report.  In this case, Bill Nye has been consulted.

What about the rig itself?  How did this incident start and where were the flash points that led to the situation?  The Wall Street Journal provides this interactive object to let you explore the areas of the rig detailing The Final Moments.  There was an unfortunate loss of life in this incident and that is also covered here.

BP itself provides a couple of resources that explain what has happened and how they are attempting to find a solution.  This animationshows the concept of “Top Kill” which was seen as the solution to stopping the flow of oil.  A remotely controlled vehicle provides streaming video from the floor of the gulf. A collection of BP’s responses appears here.

ESRI provides an animation that illustrates a timeline of the incident.  Starting from April 25, you can see how the oil has spread to endanger the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, and how it’s projected to affect Alabama and Florida.

NPR has provided a resource showing the impact on the environment that this incident has had and will continue to have.  Time provides a photo essay illustrating the impact on the “Critters of the Oil Spill”.  The imagery is sickening but does detail the horrific effect this has on the wildlife of the area.

Boston.com is known for its publication of incredible images documenting the news.  The Gulf of Mexico accident is no different.  Images of the area and the impact on wildlife and peoples can be found here.

This is a disaster of incredible proportions.  When curiosity needs addressing, the internet does respond with images, documentation, and animations to assist.  Used judiciously, they can support student understanding that goes beyond the quick clips on the evening news.

links for 2010-05-29


Gulf Oil Spill


I’ve been quiet about the Gulf Oil Spill but have been sickened by the images that come through on the news services.  A new mashup puts the size of the oil slick into perspective.  It’s a mashup of imagery of the size of the spill onto Google Maps.

http://paulrademacher.com/oilspill

In the image below, I’ve asked it to overlay on Windsor, Ontario.

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The image stretches from west of Lansing to east of Chatham and from Sarnia in the north to Pelee Island in the south.  In terms of distance, it’s an hour to drive from Windsor to Chatham and an hour and a half to two hours to get to Lansing.

This really puts the size of this into perspective for me.

Be Alert


The world needs more lerts.  Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

It does lead in to the concept of being alerted to things that are happening around you in the digital world.  Just who is talking about you?  Where is your identity being discussed?  Who is saying good things about you?  Who is saying bad things about you?  Even paranoids have enemies.

Sure, you could go searching for such things but if you know me, I’m all about automating anything that I can.  Some call it lazy; I call it getting the technology to work for me.

Google provides yet another service with great functionality.

 

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It’s called Google Alerts and it’s like having a research team working for you constantly. 

The concept is ridiculously simple. 

Determine the search term that you want found, tell Google Alerts what to search (everything is nice), how often and then provide an email address to search the results.

I can’t help but wonder what this functionality would have had when I was taking university courses.  You search the stacks; you search the electronic resources that you know of.  But that’s the extent of it.  Imagine being able to search everywhere automatically.

So, humble person that I am, I have a daily search for “dougpete” and get the results sent to me.  Some folks would call it “monitoring their brand” – I’m not that deep – it’s just keeping an eye out for what’s going on.

It does have a serious use as well.  I recall a discussion with @rmbyrne when we were presenters at the Teacher2Teacher Conference earlier this year.  Richard is the blogger behind the excellent Free Technology for Teachers resource.  He’s used this resource to track down someone who was reposting his content without permission.

So, if you have anything to monitor – your content, your name, your school, your business, your research topic – you name it – create yourself a Google Alert (or more than one) and stay on top of things automatically.

links for 2010-05-28