There is a vast sea of information out there. In fact, it’s hard not to avoid drowning in it if you, as an educator or learner (which we all are) don’t put strategies in place to organize content by aggregating it using different bookmarking and sharing Web applications (which are a dime a dozen. Tools like Diigo and Pinterest, for instance, are excellent examples of aggregation tools which employ bookmarking and sharing mechanisms.
However, content aggregation can still be an overwhelming task. That’s where content curation comes in play. Services like Smartbrief thrive at selecting target news for users by means of curators. Only the “best content” (at the curators will) are included in perdsonalized newsletters or news briefs which the users can select to receive via email.
Similarly, Youtube is launching Youtube EDU to solve what has been a major pain point for educators trying to use Youtube in the classroom for a long time: inappropriate and irrelevant content. A curation platform for educators, Youtube for Schools allows teachers to select just the right educational videos for their students.
According to Mashable, there are already over 400 playlists curated by Youtube itself in partnership with 600 Education venues including major ones such as the Smithsonian and TED, all organized by grade level, content area (such as Lifelong Learning) and subject matter.
Educators can learn more about producing and sharing their own Youtube videos in the tutorials presented here as well as submit their own playlists to Youtube EDU.
Will the guys from Techcrunch soon put one more of Google’s social media endeavors in the deadpool akin to Google Video, Google Wave and so many others??
I hope not, this new (“limited Field Trial”) social networking service Google is cooking up sure sounds intriguing and useful: Google+.
Here are the main features of the service (as seen on their project’s landing page):
CirclesThe easiest way to share some things with college buddies, others with your parents, and almost nothing with your boss.
The Google Apps team published a blog post explaining improvements to the Forms tool allowing form creators to easily configure branching of pages depending on the respondent’s choice for every question.
This feature has a lot of potential for digital story telling. Teachers or students can create interactive stories that evolve with the reader’s every choice.
In fact, the Google Apps team emphasizes this possible use on that same blog post with the sample interactive adventure “The Hunt for the terrible Dr. von Schneider”. To interact with this story, just click this link and then click “Choose this template” on the next page. This will add the form to YOUR spreadsheets. Go to your http://docs.google.com account and open the “Copy of Choose your own adventure form” spreadsheet. Click “Form” and “Go to live form” on the tool bar. Voilà!
It is a short little adventure but it illustrates the concept fairly well.
Based on the Google Apps team’s post, as easy as 1, 2, 3:
1. To create a story, go to Google Docs and create a new form with an enticing choice at the beginning.
2. Check the box next to Go to page based on answer while editing the question. Select the corresponding pages they should be directed to based on their answer.
3. Users can be sent back to the same page after being split apart during the story. Under the Add Item menu, select Page break. Then, select what page you’d like your form respondents to be directed to under the drop down menu in the page break.
According to the blog “Open Source at Google”, the application was released with the intention of driving developers to develop Web applications with Google’s App Engine. The team encourages developers to look into the source code to find out how specific Web application development challenges were overcome. The team of developers at Google hopes CloudCourse to become a sort of poster child for App Engine.
But what can CloudCourse do? According to the developers:
Built entirely on App Engine, CloudCourse allows anyone to create and track learning activities. CloudCourse also offers calendaring, waitlist management and approval features.
CloudCourse is fully integrated with Google Calendar and can be further customized for your organization with the following service provider interfaces (replaceable components):
- Sync service – to sync CloudCourse data with your internal systems
- Room info service – to schedule classes in your locations
- User info service – to look up user profile (employee title, picture, etc)
Let me know (in the comments here) what your experience is like if you do try to use ClourCourse.
Google Docs keeps getting better as developers focus even more in real-time collaboration and in creating a more robust set of features.
This document explains how to unleash some new features on Google Documents (before they are rolled out to everyone by default).
Here are the set of features that were added and how to activate them (directly quoted from their website):
- Real time collaboration: See updates from other collaborators as they edit the document.
- Higher-quality imports: More consistent imports from your desktop into Google Docs.
- Chat with other collaborators: As you make your edits, you can chat with other document editors about the changes, from within the document.
- Ruler: Google documents have a ruler for setting margins, indentations, and tab stops.
If you’d like to try out these features and start creating documents using the new version of Google documents, just follow these steps:
- Click the Settings link in the top-right of your Docs list.
- Click the Editing tab.
- Select the option labeled “Create new text documents using the latest version of the document editor.”
Google has an area dedicated to Education called Google for Educators which provides news, resources and tools for the classroom. Featuring information about events and opportunities for educators and students, tutorials and testimonials around Google applications and how they can be used in educational contexts. Teachers will also be able to find classroom materials and lessons plans to help them plan and deliver lessons in specific content areas using Google tools.
The website includes, for example, a section dedicated to “tools” in two categories: “Search” and “Communicate, Show & Share”.
From the Google:
“At Google, we support teachers in their efforts to empower students and expand the frontiers of human knowledge. That’s why we’ve assembled the information and tools you’ll find on this page.”
Imagine a scenario in which a professor, instead of having students discuss questions in separate threads in a classroom forum, s/he simply starts a conversation in one place on the Web where everyone can add videos, photos, gadgets, maps, text and more media to illustrate their points. Now imagine this conversation could also be played back so the students could reflect on how they built knowledge together via a live, natural and seamless discussion throughout the semester.
This is one way Google Wave could be used for Education. So many people talk about “knowledge building” and Constructivism, “reflecting on one’s own learning experiences”, etc. But not many people put this into practice when teaching.
Not that forums and wikis and everything else the Web offers as far as collaboration goes is bad. Google Wave is just another way, a dynamic one, of keeping a central conversation going (which can be synchronous) instead of having elements of the dialog get lost in complicated threads or email systems our universities currently use.
Wave is not as simple as email, it will probably require moderators to keep the “conversation” neat and clean. Just the other day I was trying to imagine a more dynamic blog system in which the hierarchy that is typical of blogs – author’s posts (higher level) > comments (lower level) – could be debunked and, instead, a flowing conversation where every comment gets the same status, like in a live conversation in which every speaker/listener has chances to take turns at the same level. The current blogging platforms have a “traditional” social system in which their very own structure puts the author on a pedestal as the “lecturer” (authority) and the readers as mere expectators that add a few words to the post via comments. This structure with emphasis being drawn to the main post, and less “status” applied to the “comments” under it (notice the word “under” or “below” apply in multiple meanings here), can be broken with the Google Wave conversational structure in which a flowing conversation runs down a “page” without “obvious” social stigmas…
Google claims they are rethinking email by answering the question: “what if email was invented today, what would it look like?”
One wished we’d ask a similar question about Education: “what if Education was instituted today, what would it look like?”
I understand crowdsourcing courses, lessons and other eLearning-related material can be a tough call for any sector (corporate, K12, etc.). But has anyone had any experience crowdsourcing the development of learning experiences from a user feedback perspective at least?
One question could be how is crowdsourcing feedback different from simply putting a feedback button on your website or a particular lesson or product? Crowdsourcing seems to be more powerful since instead of relying on static feedback submitted by individual users at a given time, when feedback is given in a community-driven platform, it can much more powerful. Users will spark discussions around one’s content in a dynamic manner, sharing their thoughts and ideas from perspectives others might not have considered if submitting a single “feedback ticket”.
So, again, has anyone used crowdsourcing for engaging the learners in the development process?
Services that use crowdsourcing for feedback and product ideas include (not limited to):
OK, I might need to stop here, the “idea/innovation management” crowdsourcing field seems to be the one that suffers the most from “cloning” in the social media era… almost like they ran out of ideas for innovative takes on the same topic…
Here is a more comprehensive list of crowdsourcing modalities and websites.
What really interests me here is the alternative approach to explaining Google’s new technologically-advanced Web browser that has multiple process running at the same time.
They ingeniously used a well-written comic to explain the somewhat complex advances of the new browser.
Very interesting piece of a more informal learning approach.