Category Archives: learning objects

Online video resources

Last week I attended the KidzattheCentre conference in New Plymouth, hosted by the Taranaki APs and DPs association. It was a most enjoyable time amongst a group of people with an obvious passion for what they do and a desire to learn more to improve and develop what is happening in their schools.

One of the delegates shared with me some exciting things that had happened in his school with one of his staff who had introduced some of the Khan videos to his students to help them understand a range of mathematical concepts when they were finding it difficult to do so in class. The significant benefits this teacher felt were offered were (a) the step-by-step process that explained each concept clearly for the students and (b) the fact tht the student could rewind this learning at any stage if there was a point they didn't get or if the explanation was moving too quickly for them. 

There's a third benefit of using these sorts of videos as a part of the learning resources you make available to students – illustrating processes, products and environments that the student wouldn't otherwise be able to see in the classroom environment. That's where the collection of online video resources from MITvideo looks to be useful.

The collection has over 10,000 educational videos organized into more than 150 channels, the largest channelbeing the Open Courseware channel that contains more than 2,300 lectures from MIT's open courses. All of the videos are either MIT productions or videos approved by editors at MIT Video. Some videos are hosted by MIT Video while others are from YouTube.

From the brief scan of the science titles I've done there's plenty here that could be used to support science teaching at the senior secondary level, for instance.

Adventure in your community

it's always useful at the start of a school year to come across resources that might be useful in the school programme. This one from National Geographic Education came to me through TES Online, and is intended to support Geography Awareness week (which I wasn't aware existed). 

The parent guide provides an excellent overview of the sorts of activities and challenges you can set kids to do – it would make a superb resource for teachers also to incorporate some of these activities into a classroom programme. 

The resource is designed to invite individuals or teams of students, families, or friends to explore their own communities anew through geographic eyes by undertaking a series of “missions.” These missions emphasize geographic skills such as photography, storytelling, mapping, and taking action. Complete missions and earn points toward badges in each of the skills, demonstrating that you are able to see your community and the rest of the world with deeper understanding.

NB: You need to create a TES account to access the resource, but it's straight forward and extremely worthwhile doing so.

Sifteos are coming

At the 2009 ULearn conference I presented some thoughts on what we might be seeing in the future of eduction, and referred at one point to MIT grad student David Merrill’s work with Siftables — cookie-sized, computerized tiles you can stack and shuffle in your hands. These future-toys can do math, play music, and talk to their friends, too. (see TED video above).

After my presentation I was approached by several teachers who wanted to know whether it was possible to get their hands on these devices – and it appears that very soon it will be. It seems that these small tiles have been commercialised, and can be found on the Sifteo site, with a note saying that you’ll be able to purchase directly through this website, starting mid-late 2011. They’ll work with both mac and PC, and I can imagine these will become popular very quickly – although at $50 per tile it’ll be a while before we see lots of them around in classrooms.

Useful mapping tool for learning

Looking for some more interactive, online resources – here’s one that will keep your and your students engrossed for hours. Titled Change the world one map at a time, this resource lets you select a subject from the top menu and watch the countries on the map change their size. Instead of land mass, the size of each country will represent the data for that subject –both its share of the total and absolute value.

I can see heaps of potential for this in classes – another good example of data visualisation for the classroom. Apart from the obvious approach of simply exploring the map and noting what is revealed, this sort of thing sets itself up nicely for a lot of predictive questionning – then using the map to discover what the pattern is, for example…

  • which countries have the most children? how does that compare with their overall population?
  • how many of these kids go on to primary, secondary, tertiary education?
  • where in the world do they use nuclear energy to generate electricity? Hydro-power generation? etc.
  • if uranium is required to generate nuclear electricity, where can that be found?

Extending beyond this is the opportunity to consult secondary sources of information to understand how accurate this visualisation tool is. Thanks to Mapping Worlds for this great resource!

Earthquake Shakeup – learning from the experience

The earthquake after shocks continue to rock us here in CHCH, but people appear to be getting on with things. For CORE staff in Christchurch, however, that means getting on with things from home, as our offices in Kilmore Street have been officially closed until further notice. While our building is simply awaiting a structural clearance, the Repertory Theatre directly over the road isn’t so lucky.

Proof that there’s a learning opportunity around every corner has been provided by some of my CORE colleagues in other parts of the country. Jill Hammonds and Tessa Gray have worked with others to create the “Earthquake Shakeup” wiki, containing loads of curriculum ideas, focus questions to guide inquiry, and resources to support the earthquake theme in the classroom.

Plenty here for educators who are planning to use the Canterbury Quake as a context for learning – in fact, I think I’ll point my own children to it as I now have them at home with me until the end of the week from the sounds of things.

While I’m at it, take a look at this animation showing six months of 2010 New Zealand seismic activity data picked up by the GeoNet sensors. The animation begins in April and ends a few days after the 7.1 quake that hit Christchurch on September 4. Keep in mind two things when you view the video.

  • Blue circles represent seismic activity recordings.
  • Each event leaves behind a small, pale red dot to show the overall pattern.

(via SciBlogs – Seeing Data)

Time Zones made easy

As someone who has trouble from time to time keeping up with figuring out the time zone difference between different countries when trying to make arrangements for international skype calls I was happy to come across EveryTimeZone – a great interactive online app that provides you with an ‘at a glance’ view of time zones across the world in relation to where you live. It automatically adjusts to the time on your computer – and shows the hours of daylight and darkness. It is also adjusted automatically to theĀ  daylight saving variances in different countries.

In addition to being a useful personal tool, I can see this being an excellent app to use in the classroom – both as a way of learning about time zones, and also for students to use when scheduling their online interactions as a part of global classroom project work.

Online resources for teachers

I attended the CORE Breakfast in Christchurch yesterday morning, and thoroughly enjoyed the presentation by Helen Cooper from the Ministry of Education and Simon Evans of CORE about two exciting sites.

While these sites have been around for a little while now, this was my first real tour of each of them, and I was impressed with how far they have come – and what the vision is for their future development! I was particularly impressed with the ‘learning journey’ feature of the Digitstore site, providing teachers with the ability to develop collections of resources that can then be made available to students.

Digistore is a repository for digital content that enables teachers to better select digital content to support their students. Resources are available from early childhood level through to senior secondary school level and include a vast range of digital resources including film clips, audio clips and documents. The site also features learning objectives, which are interactive items based around a learning skill or concept, covering a range of subjects, including Maths, Science and Languages.

Software for Learning is a catalogue of software, which informs and encourages teachers to use the software in the classroom. Each software features information about how to use the product in the classroom, as well as galleries, tutorials, and snapshots of how teachers are currently using it in New Zealand.

Simon and Helen used Livebinders for their presentation that can be found here.


Some years ago now a colleague of mine and I put an idea to a potential funder to develop an online timeline for people to contribute photographs and stories that could be tagged to specific locations – linked to collections in museums. The proposal wasn’t successful and so our idea languished. So it was with interest I explored HistoryPin today, after the link was sent to me by Malcolm. Created in partnership with Google, HistoryPin allows anyone to contribute photographs and stories, linked to a specific location, building up a visual history book. Viewers can search for and explore the stories related to a certain location, and using the time slider, can find stories in that location in different times in history. HistoryPin also links with StreetView images so that comparisons can be made between historical views of locations and how they look now. As the resources on this build up I can imagine it being a really valuable reference for the classroom.

Animated guide to the orchestra

I’ve just been playing with this wonderful resource after spotting a tweet from Paula Jamieson from the Te Whakatipuranga Hou ICTPD Cluster. As someone who used to play second violin in the school orchestra, I’ve always enjoyed introducing young learners to the delights of the orchestra and the ways in which all the different instruments can combine their unique voices to produce such wonderful symphonies of sound.

This animated guide to the orchestra from animatedscience is a really fun and easy to use introduction to the orchestra for students. Combining the full sound of an orchestra playing with a number of interactive quizzes, it’s an easy way to review what the various instruments are named and where they are positioned in the orchestra. I recall when I was at teacher’s college spending hours creating a similar activity using overhead transparencies – but this beats what I produced hands-down!

Thanks to Animatedscience, and to Paula for bringing it to my attention šŸ™‚

Secret Life of Scientists

I just came across this interesting site that began last week caled The Secret Life of Scientists. It’s a web-based seriesĀ  from NOVA on PBS that will spotlight two science and engineering stars every month. In a selection of three to six short videos, each person reveals his or her passionsā€”both in and outside the lab. You can ask these scientists your questions and find out how their surprising secret lives fuel their science. Coming up over the next few months will be a pole-vaulting engineer, a rock ‘n’ roll physicist, and a juggling climatologist, just to name a few. The current featured scientist is leech expert and culinary adventurer Mark Siddall.

I’m sure there will be some useful ‘starters’ here for science classes somewhere – or for follow-up and general interest participation for individual students.