Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.

Archive for December, 2007

How to get your twitters and blogging into top gear
December 23rd, 2007

I have been catching up on my reading and procastinating a little at the same time. But, to get to the point. Sue Waters and Michelle Martin have written simply excellent posts about Twitter and blogging respectively. They actually compose excellent posts all of the time and I wonder if I will ever manage to do the same. I can only hope.

Sue Waters posted some excellent advice on how to manage your twitter community and how to keep relatively on top of it all. Sue’s advice is practical and straightforward. Her advice is always useful. I haven’t been watching Twitter that much in the last week or so but I shall see if I can manage a Twitter moment each day and see what crops up.

Michelle’s post last week was on why people do not comment on your blog. I read her advice closely of course as I do not attract many comments. I am not that paranoid about it but it would be nice to obtain more comments. I will follow her advice and make some changes to my blog and writing style. Michelle has written a great follow up post as well.

Maybe my writing is too scientific. Perhaps it is too academic? Is it boring? Is my writing clear? Is it too verbose? Enough.

Frankly, I would like to let go and post about life at work and what I see happening at school and in the local area vis-à-vis educational technology however I felt that would simply become a rant. So, my present goal is to converge my two separate career backgrounds, history and technology, and focus my blogging in that area. I shall try and merge with other other history~ humanities educators and build up a community that way. I will of course write about the tools but at least attempt to add a curriculum example as part of the tool review.

Do yourself a favour and read Sue’s definitive post on Twitter and Michelle’s invaluable post on blogging. Don’t forget to tag their posts in and share them via Google Reader and the like!

Web 3.0 and medicine
December 23rd, 2007

Somewhat off task for a teacher of history yet this article written by Dean Giustini in BMJ describes the evolution of the semantic web in a clear manner. Dean references Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his work on the semantic web. The article includes a brief yet useful glossary and a comparative table that lines Web 2.0 up against Web 3.0.

As you read the article replace the word ‘doctors’ with ‘educators’. Terms such as ‘medicine’ and ‘health-care’ can be replaced with terms such as ‘teaching’ and ‘classrooms’. 

Footnote ~ historical photograph and document archive
December 23rd, 2007

The Footnote site is a rich source of primary source documents and images. The majority of the files are free although some do require a subscription. The collection has an American emphasis yet there is quite useful material for students of history in Australia.

I have found the documents from the Japanese photographic archives recovered after WWII to be particularly interesting since my father was a guest of the Japanese following his capture in Malaya by the Japanese army in January 1942. A number of the photographs in the Japanese category were taken in Singapore. A tip of the hat to Larry Ferlazzo for his post pointing to this site.

Becoming Human
December 20th, 2007

Back in 2001 I became aware of the web site, Becoming Human, while I was working as an instructional designer at ICUS in Singapore. I quickly shared this site with the other designers on the team as I felt it was simply an excellent example of graphic design and interactive treatment. I was constantly on the look out for web sites that I felt could inspire and challenge the graphic designers and Flash programmers that were an integral part of the team at ICUS.

The site was created by the brilliant team at Terra Incognita Productions in Austin, Texas for the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University. Terra Incognita Productions have created a superlative suite of web sites since 1998.

The Becoming Human web site features an interactive array of video, flash and audio based content. It includes interactive activities focused upon the evolution of the human species. The photography is rich and the illustrations are highly detailed. It is easily navigated and incorporates a glossary and links to relevant web sites.

This web site is not interactive in the Web 2.0 sense of the term yet it could certainly be enriched if a teacher of history or science links it to a blogging or wiki based activity that allows students to document and share their own observations of the embedded materials. The students could be inspired to create their own explorations of the human race by creating and publishing their own podcasts, vodcasts or Voicethread productions.

Theban Mapping Project
December 19th, 2007

The Theban Mapping Project had its beginnings in 1978. Its aim is to develop and build a database of all of the archaeological artefacts of Thebes. Many artefacts were damaged by treasure hunters and inexact excavations in years past and the team of the TMP have been energetically working to catalogue, illustrate and map the ancient heritage of the area before any further damage is inadvertantly caused by climate, tourism or exposure.

As they point out on their web site they believe “that the first and most essential step in preserving this heritage is a detailed map and database of every archaeological, geological, and ethnographic feature in Thebes. Only when these are available can sensible plans be made for tourism, conservation, and further study.”

The team has created a superb web site which has been constantly evoloving as additional maps, images and details are added to the database. It is enriched with video, photographs, interactive maps and dynamic 3D imagery of the tombs. Even a quick exploration of the tomb of Ramesses II and the tomb that he built for his sons is sufficient to reveal how rich this resource is for students of Egyptian history.

The web site also features links to articles, a bibliography, timelines and a glossary. I believe it is one of the richest resourecs for this epoch of Egyptian history. It places the artefacts in a situated context strengthening their value for students of ancient Egyptian history.