Monday, July 28, 2008

1 Knol = 1 Unit of Knowledge

When you think of search engines, Google pops into your mind first! What else does Google offer? Google Earth, Google Docs, Gmail, You Tube, iGoogle, Google Finance, Google Health, GOOG-411, etc. The list is now extensive.

But, the time has now come – they are expanding upon their market even further. Google is presenting their latest tool – a free internet encyclopedia simply dubbed “Knol” – meaning a unit of knowledge.

For the past seven years, Wikipedia has captured the market as a collaborative internet encyclopedia. What is the difference between a Knol and Wikipedia? Google’s Knol requires all writers to state their identity upfront. This allows you to take credit for your work and, at the same time, allows others to see the credibility your voice offers. What is Google’s main mission in presenting the Knol? Simply stated, to highlight authors.

Not sure what to write about? Your Knol can cover (almost) any topic you’d like. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind about Knols…

1) Knols are not edited! Be sure you proof and provide correct information!
2) Knols can be collaborative efforts, or one single voice
3) Other readers can post comments and ratings on your Knol
4) A Knol is different from a blog
5) Knols are indexed by search engines
6) Knol topics can be duplicated, but the content should be original
7) Be sure to write specifically for the audience most likely to read your Knol
8) Authors can make money with Knol submissions using Google’s AdSense.
9) You only need a Google account to login and begin writing

Ready to write your first Knol? Check out this link which provides best practices for writing great Knols:

Friday, July 25, 2008

What kind of environment are you creating?

Years ago, “learning spaces” was an approach to technology and education that was not thought about in the scope of overall preparation for teaching. Interestingly enough, it has a great impact on students today. Think about it from a realtor’s state of mind… location, location, location! In education, we can relate. It may not be the actual location but it is definitely the environment created within!

One of the most popular places today that has done a successful job of creating an “environment” is Starbucks. Why do you go there? Sure, the lattes are wonderful, but the atmosphere is the real lure. As educators in the technology arena, we could learn from Starbucks. And the students we impact could learn from us not only as individuals but by what we are surrounding ourselves with.

What is the environment that we want to create in technology education? An atmosphere that says we are living in the 21st century and we not only acknowledge it, we embrace it. Our atmosphere should also incorporate true hands-on experiences. Computers are only a start - technology today comes in many forms that are useful to educators and students alike. Our atmosphere should also say we adapt easily. Technology is always in the movers-and-shakers category. We have to prove that we can move and shake with it. No room for ruts, or resistance to change.

Diana G. Oblinger, editor of “Learning Spaces” said it best... “Today’s students—whether 18, 22, or 55—have attitudes, expectations, and constraints that differ from those of students even 10 years ago. Learning spaces often reflect the people and learning approach of the times, so spaces designed in 1956 are not likely to fit perfectly with students in 2006.”

Whether it is business or education, followers model what their leaders are doing. Want tech-savvy students? That famous quote says it all… we must be the change we wish to see in the world today. Energy creates energy. Show your excitement in the classroom about technology and the students will follow suit.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fresh Perspective – Old Concept

Webster defines collaboration this way: “to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor”. With 21st Century Learning Skills, how should we define collaboration? Quite similar to Webster but with significant focus on output.

Is collaboration necessary in our classrooms today? Simple answer, a resounding yes! Who benefits the most? The students.

Collaboration is all about pulling the strengths, ideals and even experiences from everyone in the group. And, yes, students bring valuable experiences with them to class every day! In a group of students, collaboration helps to open their eyes, really, to perspectives beyond their own.

Successful collaboration is found when all the members find (or literally begin to see) the value within the input of others. Putting all of those perspectives together should still, somehow, provide moments where students can grasp the goal/knowledge desired. Almost like having one problem, but then seeing that there are lots of solutions, not necessarily just one! Pool all of the ideas and solutions together - align as a group on one accord - and then you have collaboration. What has been learned? The main objective, as well as some valuable knowledge that can't be measured.

Collaboration in our classrooms today… simply what we have always called team work! The benefits are infinite.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Go out of this world… but stay in your seat.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is already known for their scientific discoveries, amazing inventions, world-wide partnerships, out-of-this world explorations and breath-taking photographs. But, did you ever stop to imagine them as your personal assistant in the classroom? NASA experts are as close as your computer.

Options are varied. If you teach science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, your students are guaranteed to be engaged. What could be even better? You can easily match their offerings to your standard course of study objectives.

What can you gain by having new friends at NASA? The possibilities are endless…

· Lesson Plans (Including step-by-step hands-on activities)
· Interactive Multimedia (Quizzes, knowledge-based games, etc.)
· Classroom Partnerships (Projects that involve direct communication with NASA)
· Webcasts and Video-Conferences (Did I mention they are completely free?)
· Educational Television Programming and Videos
· Podcasts
· …and more

Start with the below link, and you are on your way to presenting and out-of-this-world curriculum.

Before you go, did you know that as a result of the folks at NASA and their fine research and scientific skills we have the following products…

Invisible Braces
Edible Toothpaste
Ski Boots
Ear Thermometers
Smoke Detectors
Joystick Controllers
Enriched Infant Formula
Scratch Resistant Eye Glasses
Protective Paint
Sneaker Insoles
Fire Fighter Equipment

Now, did this get your attention? It surely got mine! I had the privilege of touring NASA just a few days ago and the knowledge they passed along was staggering. Your students want to learn from NASA too…