Thursday, February 9, 2012

Google Earth Plugin Perfection

Google Earth is an incredible teaching an learning tool, but it is a full on program with more functionally than the average classroom will every use.  In addition, it is resource intensive and will not run well on older machines. Enter the Google Earth Plug-in for most modern browsers (Chrome recommended).  Until recently, I personally disregarded this plug-in as a "fancy google map" because it lacks the on the fly switching of layers that are present in the full version

Enter, the brain child of high school geography teacher Josh Williams.  Mr. Williams has created quite the impressive teaching and learning tool.  His site gives the user the ability to choose either viewing a single or double instance of earth on one page.  Additionally, having the ability to access a variety of educationally relevant layers, all with in a few clicks is pure brilliance.

Thanks to Richard Byrne for introducing me to this site.

I have included a very short video overview of the tool below.

*Click the monitor icon in the lower right corner of the video to view the video in full screen.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Did you know?

in 2007 Karl Fisch created the original Did you Know video.  It was a viral sensation and I could not go to a education related presentation for the next two years without seeing that video or one of its many incarnations.  Anyway, this post has nothing to do with that.  This post, and possibly many more, is about technology tricks that we assume everyone already knows.  The conversation usually goes something like this like this.

"I need something interactive for ________ lesson. Do you know where I can find something?"


"I just cant seem to find any good instructional materials on _______."

My answer to both is "did you know you could do an advanced Google search for that?"

As a general rule, teachers are the hardest working professionals on the planet.  What other profession requires one to strategically plan a potty break?  If we can save a little time tracking down resources, we can spend more time doing the 99 other daily activities that demand our attention at school (or at home). 

Enter the "advanced Google search."  If you already know this trick, you can stop reading now (better yet,  forward this to a colleague that does does not know about it).  If you have never seen this before, I am about to make your day.

The advanced Google search narrows down your search result to display only the following file formats:

The two formats that I focus on when looking for general presentation materials are Microsoft Powerpoint (.ppt) and Shockwave Flash (.swf).  The Powerpoint is obvious, but the Shockwave option may help you find that "interactive" component that you have been looking for.  .swf is short for Small Web Format and is a form of Flash.  While flash does not work on iOS devices (sorry 1:1 teachers), it does work amazingly well on your Interactive Whiteboard or as part of a webquest.  Flash is the same technology they use to make many online games and typically the teaching materials made with it are interactive.

In the video below I explain the simple process of searching for these two file formats using an advanced Google search.

*Click the monitor icon in the lower right corner of the video to view full screen.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.
Did you Know photo credit: Enokson via photopin cc


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