For a while, I was a big user of the Google Chrome Similar Site utility. It served me well; I would do a search for something and then use the Similar Site utlity to find sites like the one that I found. I found that it was a terrific way to refine my search and get better results.
As a matter of secure connections, I do have extensions that force an https:// connection which result in a warning that the site can’t be analyzed because of the secure connection. That’s actually quite comforting that the extension doesn’t try to get around the rules just to do its thing. Sadly, though, it does render using the extension useless.
Then, I read Stephen Downes OLDaily yesterday. Someone had suggested a new website to Stephen that does check for similar sites this time via the web.
The site is: http://www.similarsitesearch.com/ and it works very nicely.
Just enter the site that you are interested in finding similar sites to and let it do its thing.
So, of course I did what Stephen did and searched for myself.
A good group of people to be similar to!
- Similar Site Search (downes.ca)
- SimilarPages (philbradley.typepad.com)
- Just Like Me (dougpete.wordpress.com)
If something like this had been available when I had studied History, I might have really got engaged and interested in it.
MyHistro is a wonderful mashup combining Google Map with an interactive timeline where you add the elements and tie them to a location plotted in Google Maps.
It’s a little difficult to put into words so I’ll direct you to a link that I enjoyed that put things into perspective for me. I looked through the online library and found an interesting example. It’s titled “Journey Through Canadian History by Picture Storybook”. In this case, the authors have mashed maps, picture storybooks, and a historical timeline to make a really interesting story.
The combination of all of the story elements is very interesting.
I know that teachers are always struggling with coming up with innovative ideas for projects. There is an iPad application that works with MyHistro. Add your own text and imagery and others can comment on your work. Once you’re done, there are a variety of ways to export your work or to embed it in your wiki or website.
Take a look at MyHistro and see if it doesn’t fit the bill for you.
Here’s a cute little writing activity. It’s called the Google Docs Stories Builder. You’re not going to write the next great Canadian novel but it’s a fun little activity. The activity starts here.
Every story needs characters so you’ll begin by adding them.
The two characters in this story are my fine furry friend Jaimie and me. I’ll add the characters to the builder. You’ll notice immediately that the names appear with a flag in the story window.
So, a typical dialogue between the two of us would go like this.
And, no story would be complete without a little music…
The whole process is interesting. It reminded me of creating Google Search Stories.
The story would serve well as an introduction to multiple authors of a Google Document. You easily get a sense of how the flag follows your cursor around the screen and how text can be inserted and edited.
I do get a feeling, unfortunately, that it’s still a work in progress. There is no “Login” option – just an option to create a new Google account. Even though I was logged in to my Google account, I wasn’t able to have a sense that I was logged in to Google Docs Story Builder. I was hoping that there would have been an option to save my story to YouTube just like Google Search Stories. After all, your construction can be played back as a movie with typewriter effects for those of us old enough to appreciate it…
Perhaps one of you reading this blog will tell me where I missed something.
This search engine is specially made for the mathematicians and scientists in the crowd.
How often have you wanted to do a search for a particular equation requiring specialized characters? Quick, where is that alt-code cheat sheet? Well, in fact, you can find it here.
Wouldn’t it be nicer if there was an easier way?
There is. Check out Symbolab.
Typing any formula is as simple as using your regular keyboard and then the buttons on the top row. Results come first from Wolfram Alpha and then the deep searching begins.
Let’s start with a simple example y=mx+b
Actually, there’s no real reason that you couldn’t use a traditional search engine for that equation so let’s try something a little more complicated.
How about something like:
There’s a formula that would be a real challenge with your alt-codes. It’s a snap with Symbolab.
And now, the results
The top row of the search engine is actually a series of buttons that can be expanded with a click. So, the sin / cosh button opens to reveal…
This site features just a wealth of functionality if the need to search for specialized symbols is in your future. BTW, the chemistry symbols section is under development as I write this.
The topper? How about a calculator to go with all this goodness!
If you’ve used Google, you’ve seen them. There have been hundreds of them created over the years and placed on the Google search page to honour various events and personalities. Most recently to this posting, we’ve enjoyed a number of them to celebrate the 2012 Olympics.
Google’s own definition is:
“Doodles are the fun, surprising and sometimes spontaneous changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists.”
Read more here.
Admit it… You’ve played them, listened to them, were inspired by them, laughed at them, …
Google’s Olympic Closing Ceremony Doodle
It’s not a totally new concept. In education, some of our great textbooks have had little “doodles” in the side panel. They are extraneous little snippets, related to the topic at hand, but not necessarily key to the core understanding.However, when I would get to a page in the book with this little tidbit, I would read it first. It actually got me thinking a bit about the actual reading. It also, I must admit, sent me off on learning tangents at too.
The goal, though, was to enhance the learning experience much as the Google Doodle enhances the search experience.
So I wonder…for those who write online curriculum and/or blended learning resources. Could we do the same thing with a result of more engagement in the content at hand? Certainly blogs have the ability to throw a widget or two in the sidebar. Could we not leverage the power of this to make the learning experience more powerful? What about student writing online? Could they be encouraged to write more, inquire more, publish more, think more by adding their own?