• 18May
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Technology Comments: 1

    18-May-postWe all know how much students depend on Google to link them to information from all over the web. But what would happen if the search engine actually turned into the resource? Case in Point: the Wolfram computation knowledge engine. Sounds a bit more fancy then Google already! But Wolfram, the bringer of all things Mathematica, is shying away from media pressure to label his knowledge engine ‘the thing that killed Google’, and I can see why. Both serve different purposes.

    Changing our approaches

    Could this change the composition of our information streams? Could it impact upon the way we use learning objects in education and the rate at which we feel the need to keep reinventing the wheel? And how about the nature of instruction? Does it have the potential to change the way we teach and assess? For example, could you see yourself directing your students to Wolfram to help them test their understanding of the Darcy–Weisbach equation? How about a course in nutrition using Wolfram to provide students with information on the nutritional value of foods (e.g. cheeseburger). Or what about economics students using Wolfram to quickly compare the GDP of Brazil and Ecuador or astronomy students checking how far the Milky Way Galaxy is from the Earth today?

    Reliability of Information

    If you’re worried about the reliability of the information, why not get your students to do some research on it? One activity that comes to mind is:

    Phase 1: Have students look up a collection of statistics or historical facts on your subjects of choice using Wolfram.

    Phase 2: Instruct them to cross reference the results with those published in other sources to see how the information compares.

    Phase 3: Ask them to discuss the implications of the discrepancies in the information generated from this and other popular search tools, and consider why they think inconsistencies exist.

    It could be a great activity to develop information literacy and research skills that incorporates a mixture of the old and some of the newest ‘bleeding edge’ technologies around today.

    The Challenges

    The challenge here is in the way we use our minds to conceptualize the information we want to generate from this type of tool. It’s not just about finding information about ‘a topic’. It’s about the relationship of the information you’re looking for right now. And if this tool really does enable us to access information that’s only a few seconds old, maybe we have to reconsider the way we understand ‘accuracy’ of information? The relationship of information that was ‘accurate’ two hours ago may look different now.

    Does this also imply a need to change the way we reference our sources? Until now, it’s been sufficient to note the date on which you accessed a specific article or webpage. Are we now going to have to note the time as well?

    Media Response

    Today the BBC discussed the recent alpha launch of the project. Public reaction includes comments on the engine’s ‘ability to do calculations, conversions, translations and other comparisons with linguistic data’ and on the way it has given information seekers ‘new ways to find and compute data‘. Let’s see what we can do with it in education! Consider that a challenge ;)


  • 06Apr
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Educational Technology, Mind Amplifying Tools Comments: 0

    picture-1

    Wordle is getting a lot of hype in the educational blogosphere and also within my current study community, but I haven’t added it to my list of recommended techie tools until now because I just wasn’t totally convinced of its value.  It’s basically a tool that allows you to take a chunk of copied text (from an email, a document, etc., from a website url that has an atom feed, or even based on a user’s del.icio.us name) and paste it into a textbox. What comes out on the other end is a word cloud. Here’s an example below of a word cloud I created a second ago by pasting in the text from the ‘About‘ page of Wolfram Mathworld (a comprehensive learning object repository for all things math-related).

    wordle-mathworld

    You can customise how the cloud looks, change colours and fonts and layouts, etc.

    I suppose that it could be interesting to pick out key themes, terms, ideas, etc. out of selected works but how can it be usefully applied in an educational context?

    Well, recently a colleague of mine from Dublin, Karl Duff, shared a really creative example with me of using Wordle within a foreign language context. The teacher creates a word cloud of an article or a short story. Students are then shown the cloud and the teacher explains the premise behind Wordle and the idea behind the bigger vs. the smaller words that are generated. Once students are clear on the concept of Wordle, they are asked to work in groups to create a short story based on what they think the Wordle cloud represents. This is, of course, done in the foreign language they are studying. The students are then asked to share their stories with the rest of the class and to discuss the similarities and differences between each group’s main ideas. Finally, the teacher reads out the article or short story that he/she originally selected to create the word cloud.

    That’s the basic idea of the exercise. You could even go further and have the students create word clouds of their stories and compare with the original cloud. You could also add another level to the exercise and have the students individually write reflective essays about how their group’s story aligned with the key themes and ideas of the piece you selected. It all depends on how in depth you want to get.

    To break down the design of the first part of this activity a bit more, I’ve adapted the Hybrid Learning Model (HLM) created by the Centre for Institutional E-Learning Services at the University of Ulster to outline the learning events that could take place in the example above using their mapping grid (pdf):

    wordle-mapping_grid

    I would be very interested to hear how you’ve used Wordle to support your learning and teaching endeavors.


  • 31Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Educational Technology, Mind Amplifying Tools Comments: 13

    I’m not sure how much longer I’ll have access to my Sprouts, and as a result, I’m not sure how much longer the Sprouts that I’ve published on this blog will be accessible. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough resources to recreate all of my Sprouts in alternative formats, but there is one in particular that I would like transfer here into this post so that the information can continue to help those interested. This way, we can also build upon it as a community and let it grow.

    On 02 Jan 2009, I published a collection of links to various reusable learning object repositories that provide access to free electronic learning tools covering a broad scope of disciplines. I’ve transferred them below (listed in alphabetical order) in case that Sprout becomes inaccessible in the near future.

    I wholeheartedly encourage teachers, tutors, teaching assistants, instructional designers, learning technologists, librarians, students (both formal and informal) and anyone else who’s interested to take a look at what’s out there. These are resources for all levels of learning (K-12 through to higher and continuing education) and the list even includes some resources for the mobile learner. They can help you create blended/e-learning lesson plans, stimulate discussion among peers about how to begin integrating technology into your curricula and support your students in the development of connected learning strategies. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are accessible resources out there, produced by people with subject expertise and a genuine intention to share information with the world. Take advantage!

    Please note, all links below will open in new windows/tabs.


    Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education A national organization whose mission is to support and advance undergraduate statistics education, in four target areas: resources, professional development, outreach, and research.


    The CITIDEL Repository is a resource to discover Computer Science education and research materials. It is an integral part of National Science Digital Library (NSDL) which serves the community of computing educators.


    The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an intergovernmental organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning/distance education knowledge, resources and technologies.<br /> COL is helping developing nations improve access to quality education and training.


    A place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc.


    The Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) is a distributed community effort involving educators, students, and scientists working together to improve the quality, quantity, and efficiency of teaching and learning about the Earth system at all levels.


    The Digital Scriptorium is an image database of medieval and renaissance manuscripts that unites scattered resources from many institutions into an international tool for teaching and scholarly research. It bridges the gap between a diverse user community and the limited resources of libraries by means of sample imaging and extensive rather than intensive cataloguing.


    DSpace is the software of choice for academic, non-profit, and commercial organizations building open digital repositories.  It is free and easy to install


    Australia's free online network for educators edna provides a range of digital resources for education and training. It’s a network of the education and training community that includes government and non-government schooling systems, early childhood, vocational and technical education, adult and community education and higher education.


    We invite you to Learn, Connect, and Create with high-quality teaching and learning resources in applied science and math, engineering, computer science/information technology, and engineering technology for use by K-12 and university educators and students.


    The Exploratory Project is a research project of the Brown University Computer Graphics Research Group with the goal to begin the groundwork for a next-generation approach to Web-based educational software.


    FLORE is a free repository of French language educational resources. It is meant to help the user find appropriate sites and specific learning objects to learn or teach French. FLORE is designed for faculty and students in post-secondary institutions and it offers over 1000 online resources with annotations such as content descriptions and peer reviews.


    FORA.tv is the leading interactive viewing experience of the smartest, most entertaining video content in the world. —The world of ideas and knowledge—all drawn from the live-event speeches, discussions, interviews and debates going on everywhere all the time at the world’s leading conferences, ideas festivals, think tanks and other major centers of thought and discourse.


    More than 1,500 federally supported teaching and learning resources are included from dozens of federal agencies. New sites are added regularly.


    The BCcampus OER Portal is an initiative by BCcampus to create awareness of the availability of high-quality freely available open educational resources from both BC and beyond. Here you will find FREE TO USE learning resources that you can use to supplement your own course materials or learning. Some of these are from BC-based projects while others are from Open Educational Resource projects from around the world.


    freereading is a high-quality, open-source, free reading intervention program for grades K-3. This open-source instructional program helps educators teach early literacy. Because it is open-source, it represents the collective wisdom of a wide community of teachers and researchers. FreeReading contains a 40-week scope and sequence of phonological awareness and phonics activities that can support and supplement a typical kindergarten or first grade core or basal program.


    Gateway to 21st Century Skills


    Organizations from around the world have formed a global alliance to make shared online learning resources available to educators and students around the world.


    The Health Education Assets Library (HEAL) is a digital library that provides freely accessible digital teaching resources of the highest quality that meet the needs of today's health sciences educators and learners.


    ide@s provides Wisconsin educators with teacher-reviewed, standards-aligned lessons, interactive tools, video, and other resources for use in curriculum development and classroom instruction.


    iLumina is a digital library of sharable undergraduate teaching materials for chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, and computer science. It is designed to quickly and accurately connect users with the educational resources they need. These resources range in type from highly granular objects such as individual images and video clips to entire courses.


    Intute is a free online service providing you with a database of hand selected Web resources for education and research.


    The Learning Exchange is our digital library of learning resources for social services and social work education and training. The resources include information sheets, official publications, interactive learning resources, video clips, case studies and radio broadcasts, all of which may be used for non-commercial, educational purposes.


    iTunes U, part of the iTunes Store, is possibly the world’s greatest collection of free educational media available to<br /> students, teachers, and lifelong learners. With over 100,000 educational audio and video files available, iTunes U has quickly become the engine for the mobile learning movement. It puts the power of the iTunes Store in the hands of qualifying universities so they can distribute their educational media to their students or to the world.


    Jorum is a free online repository service for teaching and support staff in UK Further and Higher Education Institutions, helping to build a community for the sharing, reuse and repurposing of learning and teaching materials.


    Enjoy Great Content Educator created lessons and activities Rich with movies, images and podcasts<br /> Special collections from content providers. Meet Others In this unique social network for educators Locate colleagues from around the globe<br /> Find peers across a variety of content areas. Collaborate Online Use new Web 2.0 tools to engage with others Create and manage your own custom groups Share content, news, polls and conversations.


    Learnodes.com is a blog that showcases the richest digital-edge nodes for learning, individual and in clusters. At learnodes.com, in some instances, several nodes from a single subject are included in single posts, causing those posts to become small landing pages in the open internet for their subjects. Learnodes.com showcases nodes of learning content that include OERs — the open educational resources of universities and other teaching institutions. GoldenSwamp.com features learning content created by individual experts, academic institutions, libraries and archives, business and government projects and laboratories, and other open online sources.


    LearnOutLoud.com is your one-stop destination for audio and video learning. Browse over 15,000 educational audio books, MP3 downloads, podcasts, and videos.


    LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books.


    LoLa is an exchange for facilitating the sharing of high-quality learning objects. It contains materials for use across the curriculum, with a particular focus on<br /> modules for Information Literacy.


    The Maricopa Learning eXchange (MLX) is an electronic warehouse of ideas, examples, and resources (represented as


    Putting Educational Innovations Into Practice Find peer reviewed online teaching and learning materials. Share advice and expertise about education with expert colleagues. Be recognized for your contributions to quality education.


    MIT World is a free and open site that provides on demand video of significant public events at MIT. MIT World's video index contains more than 500 videos.


    MIT Sloan Teaching Innovation Resources (MSTIR) is a collection of teaching materials, including case studies, simulations, deep dives,<br /> and industry, business and country overviews that MIT Sloan provides as a free teaching resource open and available to the world.<br /> Similar to the course syllabi and materials found on MIT’s OpenCourseWare site, these materials carry a creative commons license<br /> allowing them to be downloaded, copied and distributed.


    Funded by the LSC and available free to all authorised organisations in the post-16 sector, the NLN materials represent one of the most substantial and wide-ranging collections of e-learning materials in the UK.


    NSDL is the Nation's online library for education and research in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics.


    The best free cultural & educational media on the web.


    The OpenLearn website gives free access to course materials from The Open University. The LearningSpace is open to learners anywhere in the world.


    OLI course designs improve learning outcomes Using intelligent tutoring systems, virtual laboratories, simulations, and frequent opportunities for assessment and feedback, OLI builds courses that are intended to enact instruction – or, more precisely, to enact the kind of dynamic, flexible, and responsive instruction that fosters learning.


    The OSP Collection provides curriculum resources that engage students in physics, computation, and computer modeling. Computational physics and computer modeling provide students with new ways to understand, describe, explain, and predict physical phenomena.


    Bringing the Power of Browser-based Authoring to Students, Educators and the World.


    PhilPapers' purpose is to facilitate the exchange and development of philosophical research through the internet. Our service gathers and organizes philosophical research on the Internet, and provides tools for philosophers to access, organize, and discuss this research.


    The Real World Learning Objects (RWLO) Resource Library is an online repository of Internet-based unique and compelling learning objects designed so that community college faculty can easily access and adapt for use in their classes.


    The SMETE Digital Library is a dynamic online library and portal of services by the SMETE Open Federation for teachers and students. Here you can access a wealth of teaching and learning materials as well as join this expanding community of science, math, engineering and technology<br /> explorers of all ages.


    The Sofia initiative was launched by Foothill-De Anza Community College District in March of 2004. The goal of Sofia is to publish community college-level course content and make it freely accessible on the web to support teaching and learning.


    For the first time in its history, Stanford is offering some of its most popular engineering classes free of charge to students and educators around the world. Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE) expands the Stanford experience to students and educators online. A computer and an Internet connection are all you need. View lecture videos, access reading lists and other course handouts, take quizzes and tests, and communicate with other SEE students, all at your convenience.


    With over 2000 videos available online, the Teachers TV website is an invaluable resource for any busy education professional. Watch videos when you want and download great resources including lesson plans, worksheets and more.


    Inspired talks by the world's leading thinkers and doers.


    UCL Eprints collects the work of UCL researchers and makes it freely available over the web, helping the worldwide scholarly community to discover UCL research. Institutional repositories like UCL Eprints complement the traditional academic publishing and scholarly communications processes. They raise the visibility of research and help to maximise its impact. UCL researchers are encouraged to deposit a copy of each journal article, conference paper, working paper, and any other research output, in the UCL Eprints at the earliest opportunity, ensuring that their research reaches as wide an audience as possible.


    VAIL is an online laboratory that facilitates learning, research, discussion, and innovation regarding academic integrity issues that face the 21st century classroom. Faculty, administrators, and students are encouraged to use VAIL resources and share their experiences and ideas with one another.  VAIL seeks to bridge the gap between the concept of academic integrity and its application and enforcement in the digital age.


    LOR (Learning Objects Repository) is a project undertaken by VCILT - University of Mauritius. Here you can access a wealth of teaching and learning materials as well as help our LOR Community to grow.


    A free resource from Wolfram Research built with Mathematica technology. Created, developed, & nurtured by Eric Weisstein with contributions from the world’s mathematical community


    If you have other free resources to suggest – ones that you’ve found helpful – please let me know and I’ll include them in the list!