Thursday, October 29, 2009

A tale of homework help - Searching for images in Google Earth using Panoramio

My daughter is learning about continents and cultures in her Grade 2 French Immersion program.  Her homework this week is to gather images that represent these regions and the people who live there.  She could have started by cutting out images from old National Geographics, but we decided to explore the Panoramio layer in Google Earth first.

After showing her how to navigate the controls for zooming in and out and panning across the continents we toured the globe and identified each of the continents.  She chose to look at images from Asia first and started zooming in until Panaramio's blue square icons came into view.  Clicking on the icon opened a photograph of people or landmarks.  She then had to decide if the image met the criteria for the assignment.  Clicking on the image a second time opened the image in a web browser.  We created a notebook for her photos in Zoho Notebook and then dragged the image into the notebook using the Zoho Notebook browser extension.  (Side note: I prefer Google Notebook, but they have discontinued support for the browser extension). Update: a Google Notebook extension for FireFox v. 3.5 can be found here.

Soon she was exploring on her own, finding interesting photos and adding them to her notebook.  She noticed that many areas didn't have photos available which led to a discussion about the natural features like deserts and mountains and why people live closer to water and coastlines.  Afterwards, we looked at her notebook and picked out the photos that best fit the criteria before printing.

I was impressed by how quickly she adapted to the use of the mouse for navigating in Google Earth, her ability to work in multiple applications at once, and her critical thinking skills for selecting appropriate photographs.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Dateline Schools interview with your's truly

I was recently interviewed for a local radio program hosted by my RESA (Regional Education Service Agency). I really enjoyed talking about my school and the work I do as the technology integration consultant.  We discussed the ways in which our school is using Google Docs and Moodle as well as the importance of integrating technology in schools.  Thankfully they've edited out my tongue tied moments, and the result is worth a listen.  I welcome any questions or comments.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Up early this morning looking for best way to update multiple status posts.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

To blog or microblog?

image source:
Last week I "lurked" in on an e-learning course led by Alec Couros featuring edublogger Sue Waters on the topic of Educational Blogging and Personal Learning Networks.  I have been working on developing my blog this year, but often find it languishing with long periods of neglect.  I wonder if I have anything valuable to say and wonder if anyone is listening?

Much of the conversation in last week's blogging discussion centered around the comments and discussions that exist after the blog is posted.  I have not had any comments so far, or so I thought, until I checked a few minutes ago and found that two comments posted weeks ago by my colleague were waiting in my comment moderation queue.  I've opened up my comment moderation settings and set my e-mail notification up so hopefully I won't miss any more.  

Which brings me to the point of my post.  I have also started using Twitter this year -  Sure, many of my posts fall silently into the twitter stream, but some have generated responses or been retweeted.  Because of Twitter I can say that I am being heard and that I am part of a Professional Learning Network.  So far I cannot say the same of blogging.  

So should I continue to blog?  The value of a long form writing platform has its place and I have turned to blogging as public repository for what I've learned and what I feel I can teach.  But the quick format of Twitter has made what I am doing visible to others in a very immediate way and helped connect me with other ed tech professionals.   

What do you think?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Netbooks are coming! The Netbooks are coming!

I'm excited to announce that the Academic Transitional Academy will be purchasing a "bevy" of  Acer Aspire One netbooks to further support our students' learning needs.  Netbooks are smaller than a standard laptop and also less expensive.  This allowed us to purchase more netbooks and the small size should make storage and handling easier.  They aren't as powerful as a standard laptop, but students who have been testing various models have reported that everyday computing tasks like using Moodle and Google Docs work just fine.   Greater access to technology brings many benefits and likely, a few headaches, but hopefully this technology infusion will help make our learning environment more engaging, authentic, and rigorous.