Discover Great Literature with Google Earth

Googlelittrips.org is an engaging approach to reading and discovering great literature. Using Google Earth, readers undertake virtual expeditions created by teachers and students following and visualizing the travels of the characters.

Read the book, saw the film, hit the road on Lit Trips. (c) www.googlelittrips.org

Lit Trips’ developer and manager Jerome Burg “retired” after 38 years in public education teaching high school English. He now supports educators around the world in areas related to effective integration of technology into the curriculum. His brainchild Lit Trips was developed as part of the Google Certified Teachers program and is an effort to encourage engagement with the wisdom of great world literature through 21st century technologies. In my opinion, Lit Trips is “augmented imagination” at its best.

The list of Lit Trips is already impressing and ever growing. Visit, share, and build your own Lit Trips on www.googlelittrips.org!

The following video explains how you can start the trip.


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Technologies in School: Just Ask the Students!

What is the future of technology in the classroom? We often ask this question to educators, policymakers and academic experts, but rarely to the ones really concerned: the students.

Katie Ash, Christopher Powers and Jennifer Neidenberg chose a different approach to bring in student perspectives to the decision making process. They made an insightful video asking three questions to US high school students from Maryland and Oregon.

  • What technologies do you use to communicate with your friends? – “Facebook, facebook, facebook, and my cell phone …”
  • What technologies do you use during school? – “We don’t really use technology …”
  • What technologies would you like to have in school? – “More wireless internet. More (really) accessible computers …”

The answers are far from unexpected but could help to adjust the debate on technology use in schools. I was especially surprised that even though the filmmakers asked “what”, students were more concerned about “how” technologies are used in school. Watch Edweek’s new video or read the full length article.

(Thank you edweek.org)

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Forget About Heavy Textbooks – Here Comes Smarthistory

Pictures of an exhibition. (c) www.smarthistory.org
Pictures of an exhibition. (c) www.smarthistory.org

Smarthistory.org is an incredible resource for all people interested in art history: museum visitors, travelers, informal learners, teachers and students. The website is more than a replacement of expensive and heavy textbooks. It uses multimedia to deliver a personal voice through unscripted conversations between art historians while looking at works of art. This is much more than a textbook or a usual audioguide can provide. Smarthistory makes information about art accessible, entertaining and engaging.

Beth Harris and Steven Zucker started Smarthistory as a blog in 2005, featuring podcasts that could be used as free audio guides. They later organized the podcasts stylistically and chronologically and began adding text and images.

In 2008, they received a grant to redesign the site from the Kress Foundation. Now the site itself is a masterpiece of usability. Last year Smarthistory won the renowned Webby Award, “the Internet’s highest (official) honor for excellence” as The New York Times put it, for the best education website.

Visitors can enter and explore smarthistory using several navigation paths, depending on their needs and interests: by timeline, style, artist, and theme, or by using a prominent visual navigation in the center of the homepage or at the bottom of post pages. It’s a a lively, entertaining and even playful approach to art history.

Start (re-)discovering art history with www.smarthistory.org

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Everyone is an artist

Joseph Beuys’ famous slogan “Everyone is an artist” showed his belief in the central role of creativity in everyone’s lives. We should not see creativity as the special realm of artists, but everyone can apply creative thinking in his or her own area.

Now a team of Russian designers made it easier to see the art in your everyday computer activities. Their free little Java application MousePath, which was renamed recently and is now known as IOGraph, captures your mouse movements and draws them on a blank canvas. Have you ever wondered what your mouse is doing when it’s moving around imperceptibly? Now you can see it!


The developers Anatoly Zenkov and Andrey Shipilov say: “IOGraph is intended to brighten up your dull work, computer related routine and, hell yeah, it makes you an artist.” Run IOGraph, then forget about IOGraph and do your business as usual. When you come back after some minutes or several hours you will see what you have done. The lines in the picture are movements, the dots occur where the mouse is stopped. With IOGraph you will see your computer work from a different  perspective. Try it out!

Download IOGraph for free (Windows, Linux and Mac OSX) at www.iographica.com

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Goodbye, Rainbow! – UK’s New Department for Curtains and Soft Furnishings

dcsf-old-logoWhat may be a new beginning after UK’s election is rather a paradoxical situation: UK’s new education secretary Michael Gove has quickly renamed his department the Department for Education. The former department for children, schools and families (DCSF) came under fire for spending millions on designer furniture and logos. The Conservatives, when in opposition, nicknamed the department the Department for Curtains and Soft Furnishings.

The DCSF’s branding – a rainbow emblem and cartoon characters nicknamed “munchkins” – were taken down on May, 13th. The re-branding also includes a redesign of the website. The situation is paradoxical because the new name and look can be seen as a protest against the department’s re-branding and new logos under Mr Goves predecessor Ed Balls.

What will the new education secretary do with the furniture? And what does all this mean for education, children, schools and families? Vistit www.education.gov.uk for further information.


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