Friday, December 30, 2005

National Assessment of Adult Literacy U.S. Dept Education
This month the US Government released this once-in-fifteen-years study of the nations literacy. The results, if you look at the sample questions and the breakdowns, are not exactly encouraging. Most groups stayed the same, and college and grad students declined (no surprise to this B.S. Physics).

The worst performance, though, is reserved for the researchers at NAAL/NCES. In the sample of 19,300, 1200 were in prison. That's one in 16 for the quantitativley non-proficient. US prisons held--a 5 second Google will tell you--but 1 in 142 of us. The sample over-weighted criminals by 900 percent.

Not offensive enough? The US Government also employs a diverse population housed in military barricks. Not one was included.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Should you not know Edward Tufte, you really might consider getting aquainted. His work for many years has changed thought about graphics and numbers and how to make data-centric reading readable.

This chapter introduces his invention, Sparklines. Next time you need a number to tell the story, a sparkline might just tell it better.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Graphics Novels: 300
I'd say I was never a fan of this genre, but that would overstate the relationship. In truth, don't know that I've ever given one more than a passing glance--if that. Its just that type of snobbishness that has us in the current crisis over history.

The comic mentioned here addresses the battle of Thermopylae; the script is now in filming by Zack Snyder, whose was given Rainbow Six. If you're looking for ideas for your interactive, peruse a few graphic novels for inspiration.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Open Sustainable Learning Opportunities Group
Support software for open courseware initiatives. MIT and the University of Utah with help have put together the Open Learning Support system. Instructors use it to upload and manage courseware; learners use it to interact with others and get answers to questions.

Also see the sourceforge project page and the OLS homepage.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Puzzle of Geologic Regions
From the U.S.G.S, a puzzle of physiographic regions of the Unites States. This is from, where they also present a number of dynamic maps. And see the Tapestry of Time and Terrain.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

DaVinci Technology for digital video Texas Instruments
DaVinci two days in a row? :-) We don't often talk about systems level programming here, but this news is worth a heads-up. TI's new digital video system on a chip (Block Diagram ) comes complete with ARM processor, DSP, and embedded Linux. I'm not a DSP guru, but Slashdot hears from one who notes:
"The idea of microcode/silicon instruction sets combined with the abstraction of a familiar kernel and realtime operating system as the starting point is going to be immensely empowering for the next generation of DSP programmers. Indeed I expect that in 10 years time we will no longer consider the two as distinct disciplines at all."

Heady stuff for those of us who consider signal processing pure black magic.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Game - Da Vinci & The Code He Lived By History Channel
Get 20 questions right! Beautiful graphic design. I needed a little more reward along the way.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

This service from Discovery Network and other content partners claims to deliver 40,000 video clips to your school or homeschool. Unfortunately, the 30 day trial period comes with a $150 ding to the credit card. Much as I love our readers, I won't be accepting the charge to inform y'all how much history content appears.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Autodesk Contributes Web Mapping Software to Open Source Community: Yahoo! Finance
Those of you working on the digital cartography side of storytelling will understand this better than I. Autodesk has created "a nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide a supportive framework for open, collaborative development of geospatial software."
The discussion on Slashdot runs to the cynical side; however, I wonder if Autodesk isn't seriously viewing this as their best alternative to compete with ESRI.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Via con dios, Hugh Sidey Gerald R. Ford
No interactive content here, no hot technical idea. Hugh Sidey, with a pad & pen, and maybe a typewriter, was the one person who turned me on to politics, policy, people, and history. Sidey's easy reading The Presidency column got me reading the Time issues that otherwise may have only been opened for Current Events quizzes.

The tribute here is from Gerald R. Ford, and that says a lot. If you plan to write about people and events, Hugh Sidey deserves your study time.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Battle Lines: Letters from American Wars Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
You should know us well enough by now to guess that no simple collection of letters would make this column. So what does this one do to make the list?

Audio! Each of thirty-some letters are read aloud. With a cool viewer that lets you see both the original handwriting and a typed copy. The currators organize them by simple topic: Enlisting, Comforts of Home, Love, Combat. So far. You can also sign up for the next installment.

This feature is part of the Guilder Lehrman collection, a wonderful resource for developers. And its all found at the address of yesterday's interactive,

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Follow the Trail to Freedom in the 1850's. History Now.
Yes! I've only traveled 3 steps on this interactive march, and I'm hooked to find out what will happen to my character. So far, as a runaway slave, I'm farther south than I started, so curiosity and anxiousness are rising.

But let's talk a little about open source. This is just the type of wonderful applet that has so many narration, animation, dynamic map, a ticking clock,... Way to many possibilities to sit there, statically, with no hope of further development!

Open sourcing this would turn it over to a nation of students who might just adopt it and make it something huge.

Excuse me, I have a slave to get to freedom.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Educational Entrepreneurship: Why It Matters, What Risks It Poses, and How to Make the Most of It AEI
The conference room at American Enterprise was filled with scholars and entrepreneurs eyeing the changing face of education. It was quite a long day! Speakers ran from Larry Rosenstock, founder of High Tech High in San Diego, to Joel Klein, now chancellor of NY City schools to Joe Williams, reporter of Milwaukee schools' transition and now New York's. The catalogue of the landscape in education risktaking and innovation was astounding.

Wm. Roberti talked of rebuilding New Orleans schools, a job he’d been hired for two months before Katrina. (The job changed - though his mission remained!) John Chubb of Edison deftly illuminated the legal restrictions on charter schools – restrictions designed to keep them from scaling up to a point of efficiency! Kim Smith of New Schools Venture Fund reminded us that Entrepreneurs leap much further than intrapreneurs: both strategically break the rules, but entrepreneurs create new organizations.

Startlingly, the encouragement for our project came not from the main entrepreneurial advocates. To me, our view was actually framed only by host Frederick Hess of AEI-who started the day; and contrarian author Larry Cuban-who helped wrap it up. Innovation and entrepreneurship, they said, should reach beyond EMO’s and CMO’s and the functions of finding new mechanisms to deliver essentially old services. It should not just be about fixing broken bureaucracy (though that’s critical!).

Rather, we should be inventing new streams of revenue and delivering new ways to reach students--often students who never have been properly served by traditional public schools. Or, any student (or adult) who just wants to learn more, faster, better.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

In Digital Games, Complexity Matters Marc
How do we bring to learning the intense concentration and commitment students give to their video games at home? Marc Prensky takes on this subject in a number of his writings. In particular this paper (published in Educational Technology) looks at the differences between simple games that we often see and the complex games delivered via Nintendo, etc.

There's nothing really deep here; see the recommended books for more. But it does serve as a warning that making a lesson an online game does not necessarily make it more engaging.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Monticello Explorer Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Whoa! This summer I stopped briefly at the visitor center at Monticello, but had no time to go into the plantation. No need! This comprehensive virtual tour takes you through the entire grounds, explores the fields and outbuildings, and takes you all through the mansion itself.

This uses everything. Vurtual models, audio narratives, dynamic maps, interactive timeline. Quite a feat of production. Of course it is with the help of our good friends at SecondStory, who always do such a great job.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Interactive Medieval Map
Oh, this is cool! A dynamic map of medieval europe - from 362AD to 1483. With sidebars for links to more information. While it's not extremely detailed yet, users are invited to submit info - in a one-click submission. So it should grow!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

As we've built this project up, a nagging question has always been, "How will developers get paid?" Open source has developed some surprisingly generous donations of time, money, sweat, perhaps blood, and certainly tears. And some remarkable business models have suceeded (witness Opera now giving away its project while its stock climbs).
Somewhat described as the "Ebay of Learning Objects", LydiaLearn forms a marketplace for developers and content aggregrators to meet. It may take a while; a lot of professors may be disappointed when their power-point slides don't find a ready market. I do think we'll see some cool results come from this.

Monday, October 17, 2005

iPod Apple
By now, everybody knows that the new iPod does video. And lets you buy Desperate Housewives. But what about education?

We now have a cheap, ubiquitous, eminantly portable, device which plays videos. Meanwhile, Cingular, you'll recall, has a phone with iTunes. Which also includes a JAVA engine for executing most any type of program - including Flash. Did we mention the 60GB drive on an iPod?

A pocket-portable web media player. What will you do with this kind of device?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Medal of Honor - Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith
Acts that rise above the heroic - that so stand out among the brave actions performed now by soldiers weekly; acts that are sufficiently gallant and inspiring to draw the Medal of Honor - such acts deserve to be retold well and often. Sergeant Paul R. Smith's dedication to his buddies is such a story. The US Army web team has taken this on.

I would suggest that you listen first to the President's story of Paul as a young man and soldier (FF about a third through the video). You might watch his wife Birgit's memories, or her remarks at the end of the Hall of Heroes induction.

These and more videos will tell you something of what Paul was til 4 April. 2003. The animated Battlescape tells what he did that fateful day.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Battle of Gettysburg The United States Army
My, my, my! OK, you have to know that the very first Flash™ history app we found and referenced on this site was Gettysburg's First Hours. Nice weapons sound effects, but no help as far as narration! Fast forward, then, to this site by the US Army web team.

So a question: what next? What's the next level of improvement? How can we accelerate it's day by working together, by discussing critiques, by learning, and perhaps even sharing code?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

MIT's $100 laptop CNET
MIT released images of it's $100 laptop design. For our purposes, think of it as a hand-crank-powered Flash™ player. It's much more than that, of course - even includes tablet-pc type functionality with handwriting recognition. But add this device to cell-phones, PDA's, ever-cheaper commercial laptops, and TV/DVR's with a computer-in-the-box--and you see that we are designing apps for a world much different than the banks of educational-PC's-in-a-lab and family-home-computer-on-the-desk. Slashdot has more links.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Sprout Let's Grow! PBS Kids
PBS Kids has launched a new TV network, and a new web presence as well. This site has no history; It does have a remarkably seamless integration of sound. When you load the site, you get a welcome and invitation; when you mouse over something you get immediate aural feedback. The activities load quickly and execute fast. All-in-all, the developers (whoever they are) have built a homepage that lives up to my idea of a multi-media site. Perhaps they will write about their secret.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

History According to Bob | Podcasting Stories of History
Boiling Mad Henry VIII seems to our very first officially-labeled podcast. In just over a month, Bob Packett has produced 20-some audio stories, and served them up for consumption. Hopefully his server keeps up! (By the way, we found this via, which has an educational podcast directory.) Henry VIII, it seems, loved to kill his subjects, and one of them was a cook who deserved to stew in his own soup.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Privileged Status of Story (Ask the Cognitive Scientist) American Educator
You may have noticed that we focus greatly here on stories, above and beyond history. At least as it appears in texts. We've talked a little about this need, but never really gone into detail about why its so critical that we step up to the plate and return good stories to a place of prominence in the everyday curriculum.

This article nails the topic. Starting with a wonderful description of what actually makes a story, cognitive scientist and educator Daniel Willingham describes why minds accept and remember well-told stories. He then suggests ways to use this in the classroom; not just to retell small stories, but to structure lessons. Applause applause!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Mayhem in the Middle - How middle schools have failed America —and how to make them work.
Is middle-school-ism a good thing or a bad thing? The idea here is that "this philosophy of schooling stressed socialization and downplayed academic rigor".

So why not both? Once, we socialized kids by having them study people of great character: Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Daniel Boone, Abigail Adams, Joan d' Arc, Elizabeth I, the Saints, Solomon, David.

A great story is a great story!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Social Impact Games : Entertaining Games with Non-Entertainment Goals : links
Since I'm just beginning to explore these, I'll have to get back to you on good details. Should be a fairly good resource list for educational games.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Do Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Learners Need Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Instruction? American Educator
No, is the short and maybe surprising answer. However, "All students learn more when content drives the choice of modality."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

There is no New Orleans
Why would a successful, well paid engineer give up a lucrative, fun career to bootstrap history education? One Dr. Jeff Myers, formerly of Cleveland and now of Tulane hospital gives one answer. "There is no new Orleans", says Dr. Myers (M.D., PdD.), for national consumption.

Well, maybe there isn't. I'm not there. But from history, we learn not to utter such gibberish for others. We keep our fears to ourselves. We inspire others to reach up, reach out, and do better. We lead those who need lifting and inspiration. A PhD in anything ought to at least come with that wisdom.

That is why the history shortage is so critical. God bless citizens with illiterate leaders.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

rSmart Offers First IBM-Enabled Open Source Application for Education
Does anyone yet use a courseware / education mangement solution to track students use of online apps? Could an app supply a service which reports students game/quiz results back to the instructor's systems?

The key part of this article is the Sakai Project course management framework (Open Source) begun at Michigan (ack-spptt...&#$%! Wolverines). Sakai also has a nice Sakaipedia (Wiki) for support, and it even includes a section on Pedagogy.

Also, RSmart has a white paper: Open source - opens learning__Why open source makes sense for education. Includes a list of academic related OSS projects.

Monday, August 29, 2005

State of Ajax: Progress, Challenges, and Implications for SOAs
This article has links to a number of good resources on Ajax (Asynchronous Javascript + XML). I also did a quick Amazon search, and the books will soon pour out - though I think none were released yet. There's also several good-news-bad-news takes, from "Ajax is much simpler than advertised" to "Ajax is difficult to cross-platform harden."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Bye, Bye, Library CBS News
The University of Texas tosses the books from its Undergrad Library.

What's left - an "academic center" - isn't a bad thing to have, but from this chair the Internet and conversation pits still aren't as educational as a perusal through orderly collections.

Now, just yesterday, I observed the same effort taking place at Ohio State. (Is the coincidence related to the Longhorns-Buckeyes "Showdown at the Shoe" next month?) At OSU, they'll build a "Learning Commons" where the Undergrad library once was. The more recent inhabitant--the Education library--will remain; it will house journals, but no books. (Given that the print subscriptions seem to be lapsing by the week; and there were no actual textbooks or readers in the "education" library, the loss may be negligible.) You can peruse the Learning Commons / Library Futures Committee Bibliography.

All of this presages the need for us to succeed here. If libraries are saying goodbye to books, well,...the Net needs to be much better.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

In the First Person: An Index to Diaries, Oral Histories, and Personal Narratives
Not only does this include text from over 9000 individuals; over 2500 audio and video clips appear.

One can search, view by historical event, view collections, and check out the top 100.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Israeli Withdrawl from the Gaza Strip New York Times Interactive Graphic
History marches forward in this up to the moment graphic. Earlier this summer, many Americans were appalled that their local government might be allowed to forcibly buy their homes for development. Imagine the feelings of these Israeli families who have been in homes up to 35 years, now being evicted en masse across a wall they might never revisit.
The 10 Best Resources for CSS SiteProNews
While we focus here on sound and animation, much cool interactivity can be brought through normal (D)HTML. This page lists 10 sites to liven up the look and feel of your pages. The listamatic alone has a gazilion tricks.

Also today, there's a little news on IBM's contribution to accessible sites.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Wetwang Chariot
BBC - History
A beautiful and carefully crafted interative, it certainly has depth of subject. Now, can anyone tell me what is missing?

People! There are no people in this; and arguably no history! Who used it? Who made it? A cart has no values; no moral to the story. If there is a lesson in this long interactive, it ought be the hard work and care that the craftsman put into building this chariot: we ought come away with respect for the dignity of the builder.

We don't; and so this lesson mimics so many bad chapters of current texts. History texts are boring because they too much concern processes and too little regale us of people.

Lets change this in the next generation of learning.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Mozilla Foundation Reorganization
Hopefully, it's clear that we feel passionately about Open Source as a solution to some intractable parts of the education problem. So occaisionally we note milestones in the greater OSS domain.

Last week, the Mozilla Foundation, overseer of the project to build Firefox, Thunderbird, and other open source projects, announced a major reorganization - mostly to suite the I.R.S. Mozilla will now have a taxable corporation as a subsidiary.

For why, you can read Chris Blizzard's blog note. For us, the point is that many creative tacts can work to solve big problems. The 50% of African Americans not graduating; the under-educated masses of the world's oppressed countries are waiting for your creative solutions.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Next Generation of Educational Engagement
Here's a thoughtful piece on games, interactivity and education from the former President of Educause (and before that C.I.O. at the U. North Carolina system), and now head of higher education at Microsoft.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Jhai Foundation - Connecting Lao Villagers
Monday's Wall Street Journal ran an article (Portals / Lee Gomes) highlighting a $200 computer designed to run on bicycle power. The JHAI foundatatio site also addesses the economic potential of the village computer and communication system.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Colonial Williamsburg
Last weeks blog, you'll note, is empty. The Nags Head coffee shop offered wifi; I punted. Today we write from the College of William and Mary, a college that was old when Thomas Jefferson took his law training here. Around the bend is colnial Williamsburg. Didn't take in the whole experience, but I've heard from many families that it is a remarkable experience.

They do offer an online media page. View the various colonial trades, seasons, etc. Also, Online Exhibits. The timeline in the colonial maps exhibit looks worth a return.

But do go out and visit our historic places. Even the college here is full of tour guides, and interpretive signs.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Institute of Outdoor Drama
Today, a different kind of history-telling resource. Here in Appalachia, we seem to be the center of outdoor drama. A few miles from here, stories of the western frontier in the Revolution are spun nightly under the stars. A few miles further, Johnny Appleseed comes back to life. And further still, crews recreate Tecumseh, and the Hatfields and McCoys.

This site serves as a resource to all who work in this field. And for consumers, a list of every such production in the country. This summer, go spend an evening in story!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Mozilla: From obscurity to opportunity - ZDNet UK
Technology news org ZDNet UK visits Mountain view, "to find out how a small band of open source enthusiasts have started to challenge Microsoft's hold on the browser market." Several articles look at marketing, history, how they make open source work. There's even photos from Mozilla HQ!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Into the West TNT
Alas, last night was the first glimpse I've got of the Stevern Spielberg series. Compelling. The site offers a fine dynamic map of the expansion of the US, a gorgeous timeline, and some biographical info. Even TNT and Spielberg, however, can't seem to integrate sound into their web media.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Thursday, July 14, 2005

AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML)
This winter we featured the article where James Garrett nicknamed this bag of tricks. Together, they deliver more real-time response in web pages, in a way previously available only in Flash™. (For a quick demonstration of this approach, play with Google Maps). Now the resources are collected here, on Mozilla's new developer pages. This really will change the quality of the learning experience.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Building the School of the Future School District of Philadelphia and Microsoft
Microsoft has teamed up with Philadelphia Schools to create the school of the future. For now, this site has only a set of mushy goals with a mushier R&D process. Yet Microsoft has money and smart people, so one can't help but be a little excited. Apparently they conducted a groundbreaking this spring. Any more info?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

All-laptop high school to open in Vail The Arizona Daily Star
So the day has come. We've projected for years the day when laptops would be cheaper than a complement of texts; for one school district, that time has arrived.

A big leap of faith in net content? Maybe. Or maybe just resignation at the poor quality of the texts, and/or the lack of discipline to read them. Either way, the future moves forward. Our mission here becomes more pressing.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Srebrenica: Europe's shame

Ten years after Dutch UN troops handed over 5000 human beings for massacre, the world's shame at Srebrenika is still little known. I could find no major commemorative site. CBC's moving audio slideshow The Digging Season follows the victims. PBS has Srebrenica: A Cry from the Grave. The UK Guardian has an interactive guide to Massacre in Bosnia.

Friday, July 08, 2005

U.S. History: Our Worst Subject? - Senate Hearings U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
A rather blunt title for a US Senate hearing. Is it all that bad? Witness Charles Smith gives the results of the National Assessment: Merely 10% of our High School seniors show proficiency in History. Three fifths (57%) scored below basic.

Among African Americans, fully 80% could not show even basic knowledge of our legacy.

How can things be this bad?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Free Quiz Downloads from the PEST Community of PEST Test Makers
How much do you know about the Revolution? Take one of these quizzes. Answers are promptly rewarded or raspberried with ever changing sounds effects.

PEST (Professional Exam Self Test) is shareware. You download and install the app, then download and run the quiz. Cool part? You can easily create a quiz for others, and submit it to the site.
(I didn't do well on my Revolutionary Battles).

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Who Burned Down the Museum?
A 3-D mystery game of 19th century peculiarity! This is a very rich interactive! It starts with an introduction to Mr. Barnum and his museum (The Lost Museum - Introduction ). The mystery soon takes you into the civil war and the society Barnum lived through.

This cool interactive seems to have a story to its creation. Hosted by SUNY, the mystery is attributed to American Social History Productions, Inc. Production was done at SUNY's New Media Lab, while some material appears from GMU's Center for History and New Media servers. In all this was an eight-year effort!

I have to admit, though, that I nowhere near finished the mystery. The design, while compelling if you are very interested in the topic, doesn't reward you much along the way--or draw you forward past the first call of other pressing matters.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Black Alliance for Educational Options
As we enter the July 4 weekend, perhaps we can reflect on one job still unfinished: greater independence and options for so many of our urban, black youth. It's also a good day to note the committment of John Walton, who died this week, and who poured so much money and time into reaching such kids.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Elections for the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, 2005/En - From Meta; discussion about Wikimedia projects
With Historic new elections taking place in Palestine, Lebanon, Georgia, the Ukraine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and more, I thought I'd post this Notice of Election at the Wikimedia open content community.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

1999 High School History Quiz
We've cited the results often, but here at last is the quiz itself! Can you do better than seniors at 55 leading (and expensive!) colleges and universities?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Digital History
Yes, yes... Here's a creative approach. The timeline shows where in the US events occurred in that year. try it.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Internet Public Library: History
Since we've been visiting a few index sites, I thought I'd go ahead and toss in our very old friend here. Celebrating their 10th anniversary!

Friday, June 24, 2005

TeacherXpress - The Education Web - All in One Place - For Busy Teachers: Category: History KS1 and 2
"This web site is a testbed for advanced adaptive automation techniques ...Software robots manage the page...they are all the product of genetic programming." The result is a whole lot of links - on history and other topics. Also of interest here,
History KS3 and 4

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Lives, the Biography Resource "The largest guide to posthumous biography sites on the Web"
We don't usually put text collections in this space, but this wonderful site reminds us all that history is the story of real people.

Awhile back we were "stuck" in the Library of Wooster High School--a palace of a school for these parts; a complex which could only be built with private money. In the center of the library was a shelving unit unique among the HS libraries we'd seen...yet my grandparents would know the stack well. It was Biographies. Well written, complimentary, thoughtful biographies of people who gave us all the freedoms. inventions, and arts we have. Not tomes, but readable stories. We need more of that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Port of Entry: Immigration Library of Congress
Today's item uses no sound or animation..but it is more interactive than many of the web resources we've seen. Since it includes handouts and teacher guides, with use of original source materials, it's a good example of an integrated web resource.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

M-learning : home
And the frontiers continue: " m-learning : learning in the palm of your hand m-learning is a pan-European research and development programme. It is aimed at young adults, aged 16 to 24, who are most at risk of social exclusion in Europe. They have not succeeded in the education system, cannot read and write..."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Moodle - A Free, Open Source Course Management System for Online Learning
You may know the genera as Blackboard Software, the online course management system. Moodle is open source; and seems to compete well with, or even exceed, the capabilities of Blackboard. Lots of articles review it.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Thursday, June 16, 2005

History Unbound: Interactive Explorations Wadsworth
A few examples from the subscription service of the text publisher. The full list of topics covered runs substanital. Given the mostly static nature of the examples, and the extremely small text on my monitor, I guess I'd recommend purchase only if they promise to use the money to add sound in the near future.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Spielvogel Interactive Maps Wadsworth
From the textbook publisher Wadsworth, some 58 somewhat interactive maps. Many more resources are available from the main Thompson / Wadsworth History page.

Monday, June 13, 2005

2004 Hurricane season CNN
Natural events often impact history (Like the catastrophe" of 535AD which launched the dark ages). This dynamic map tracks last year's deadly hurricanes.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Shape of Things to Come Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
For those readers who don't think about education trends all that much, this sums it up nicely. I would add that if projects like this hit critical mass early, even more may change in five years.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Center for History and New Media George mason U.
This is growing into a really excellent resource. Includes end-learner websites, research on web-learning pedagogy, a syllabus finder, and more. Take a look around!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Atlas of the Orient
Tore Kjeilen has put an extreme amount of work into this atlas and encyclopedia. The maps are interactive in a basic HTML fashion. The site also points out the pitfalls of a standard ad-driven business model: one really can't focus on the content for the blinking, iritating ads. But kudos to Tore for giving it a go. What a real labor of love and information.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Theban Mapping Project
Another outstanding example of interactive media. Explore some 60 tombs throughout the Kalley of the Kings, with videos, dynamic maps, diagrams, and more.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Experts: Throw Away the Tests, Pick Up Good Books
"The major difference between the students I've taught at Harvard and Columbia, and other [bright] young people..., is that the students at Ivy League universities read better books, starting when they were very young." There's no hard evidence presented, but this seems true enough. However, have to know something to understand the great books. Which is where this project comes in.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Uncle Roy All Around You Blast Theory
Again highly creative, this was actually billed as theatre. The mind spins, however, over the educational possibility.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Headline History - Key Stage 2 educational interactive history for children
And the creativity continues!! Here you pick a time, read the news, and then go back to the scene to interview witnesses and edit the story! This one was an award winner.

Good content for all ages, including video interviews with the Roman Emperor Claudius and many other figures.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Benjamin Franklin | PBS
Today's interactives concern Ben's kiteflying, his effects on a modern town, the cities of the world he influenced, and his electrical experiments.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Bible Literacy Report 2005
One reason I started this project is that even with 20+ years of formal education and 12 years of Sunday religious classes, I knew remarkably little about the Bible. Yet much of literature and many of the great speeches of history are rooted here.

Too many kids get almost no exposure to the stories and literary tradition of the Bible. This report looks at that problem. If you want to laugh and cry, watch this Jay Leno's Jaywalking.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

News Schools and Old
A fantastic essay on the evolving education landscape.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Battlefield Britain BBC
Supporting the BBC series, this site starts with the interactive Battlefield Academy. Here, four missions await you:
* stop the Romans from capturing your Celtic hill-fort
* eliminate your Wars of the Roses rival in a river-crossing battle
* hammer the French fleet in a Napoleonic sea battle
* defend the UK from the Luftwaffe

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

From the OSU Libraries
Why is the engineering library always full and active and vibrant; whilst the Education Library is dreadfully dead?

Monday, May 09, 2005

An Unusual Experiment
Yesterday's Sunday front page headline again blasted the experiments we're running in Ohio with new forms of school organization. Our reporters loathe experimentation and change. This recording captures an earlier radical experiment: the founding of Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee College.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A History of Navigation BBC - History
What is good; what is bad about an individual web interactive? This one has a lot of both! If you have a lab and a 2 year grant, this would make a fine study.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Roper Global Geographic Literacy Survey National Geographic | Roper
Among US 18-24 year olds,
  • Half could not find India on a globe.
  • 85% could not find Afghanistan, Iraq, or Israel
  • Barely 1/4 could guess the population range of the US.

    This is multiculturalism?
  • Sunday, May 01, 2005

    Fifty Million Downloads
    What can open source, volunteer labor do? The Firefox web browser just passed its 50,000,000th download.

    Monday, April 25, 2005

    What about Acting Courses?
    Another finding of the study, Increasing the Odds is that "Education courses taken before teaching have little impact on teacher effectiveness." Further, "The evidence is conclusive that master’s degrees do not make teachers more effective. In fact, the evidence strongly suggests that rewarding teachers for these degrees is an inefficient use of limited public resources."

    OK, if they shouldn't take Education classes, what should they take? We talk a lot here about story telling. Why not acting classes as a requirement?

    Saturday, April 23, 2005

    Pope Multimedia The New York Times
    We haven't visited the Times media department in awhile, as the technology is fairly straightforward. At a historic moment like this, though, it pays to look again at the media of record.

    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Increasing the Odds - How Good Policies Can Yield Better Teachers National Council on Teacher Quality
    "Two recent reviews of the research found that a teacher's level of literacy as measured by vocabulary and other standardized tests affects student achievement more than any other measurable teacher attribute, including certification status, experience, and the amount of professional development that a teacher receives.
    "These summary findings were based on numerous robust studies spanning many decades that looked at the impact of literacy on student achievement, all finding that a teacher’s level of literacy is a strong predictor of student achievement."

    Thursday, April 21, 2005

    Tuesday, April 19, 2005

    Reach Every Child | History
    This list ties places (state & national historic sites) to periods of history.

    Monday, April 11, 2005

    Interactive Graduation Rates Gates Foundation
    Good map; appalling data. (Page seems to only work in Microsoft I.E.)

    Sunday, March 20, 2005

    Timeline of Old Testament History
    As text timelines go, this is an awefully good representation of events in and around the Bible.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    The Dakota Experience: Deadwood Illustrated South Dakota State Historical Society
    Meet all kinds of people in the Dakota gold rush.

    Wednesday, March 09, 2005

    NYPL Digital Gallery
    The New York Public Library is making available 275,000 images digitized from its collections, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more.

    Wednesday, March 02, 2005

    Paint the Cathedral Animation BBC
    Students can bring the Cathedral facade backs to its splendor.

    Tuesday, March 01, 2005

    2005 National Education Summit on High Schools
    Following up on the Bill Gates entry, here is the website for the 2005 Governors Summit. Also, you can find more info at, including their Action Agenda. And this little tidbit from Gates: "In 2001, India graduated almost a million more students from college than the United States did. China graduates twice as many students with bachelor’s degrees as the U.S., and they have six times as many graduates majoring in engineering. " Full Text of Speech

    Monday, February 28, 2005

    OpenCyc 0.9 Released
    Long ago, in a farwaway galaxy, we looked at the work of Doug Lenat and the Cyc group as a resource for mapping knowledge about History.

    Cyc knows many things, like:
    (altitudeOfHighestPointIs Ireland-TheNation (Meter 1041))
    When people die, they stay dead. (If you think the latter sounds petty, try asking Google about a living person).

    Here is a great article on Lenat, Cyc, and commonsense computing.

    Some of you will someday use Cyc to aid learners. Maybe you'll start now.

    Sunday, February 27, 2005

    Bill Gates: US High Schools Obsolete
    "'America's high schools are obsolete,' Gates said. 'By obsolete, I don't just mean that they're broken, flawed or underfunded, though a case could be made for every one of those points. By obsolete, I mean our high schools _ even when they're working as designed _ cannot teach all our students what they need to know today.'"

    The Slashot discussion on this is interesting. And one reader points out that Gates echoes the views of the Aspen Institute.

    Friday, February 25, 2005

    EduVision: Home
    An interesting project by the UN and others to deliver wireless instructional media to Africa. Now, if we could get it in Silicon Valley...

    Thursday, February 24, 2005

    Survive Dicken's London Game BBC
    Great game - although I had trouble with it after awhile.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2005

    Losing Our Future The Urban Institute; The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University
    That sad 50% story again.

    Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    TiVo Home Media Engine SDK
    The homepage for TIVO's Home Media Engine SDK is on Sourceforge. There's also a TIVO Developer Challenge.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2005

    American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation's Drive to End Welfare - Jason Deparle
    Both The Nation and National Review praised this, so Mr. Deparle must have something going. PBS Newshour (Paul Solmon) did a great piece with Deparle and the families. It's touching to see one former welfare woman tell her Congressman, "No. Don't take my work. I love my work."

    It's also clear that we still need to help families like these ...with an overhauled wage laws and education system.

    Monday, February 14, 2005

    Tuesday, February 08, 2005

    Boston - CVB 1.5 - The Map Network
    OK, Google Maps launched, and it is cool. (I have beandwidth). But eye this Map of Boston from the Map Network and Advantage Boston.

    Saturday, February 05, 2005

    V CAST
    VerizonWireless has created this interactive that lets you explore a city block, park, or beach.

    Monday, January 31, 2005

    Fidel Castro | Maps PBS | American Experience
    Castro took power in a democratic revolution - and avoided real voting (and US attemtps to restore it) for 40 years. All 90 miles from Key West.

    Friday, January 28, 2005

    Appropriate for this election eve, as Iraqis weep for having never expected to see such a day come.

    This one showcases Oddcast's avitar technology to liven up debate coverage.

    Thursday, January 27, 2005

    Liberation of Auschwitz United States Holocaust Museum
    Today, sixty years have passed since Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz. USHMM offers a map animation with narration, several films, and more.

    Sadly, 20 and 60 years after today's "never again's" we'll also be remembering the genocides of Sadaam and Rwanda, neither harried by the intrepid UN.

    A number of other animated maps are alos on the site.

    Tuesday, January 25, 2005

    American History Resources NY Times
    Including almost a score of Crossword Puzzles on topical American history. The interactive puzzles work quite smoothly!

    Monday, January 24, 2005

    Why Do We Make It So Hard for them to Learn? PARADE Magazine | One Idea (Norman Mailer)
    Norm's big idea is that we ban all commercials, as they sabotage attention spans. Maybe Norm has never seen a teen spend 5 hours on Halo2 without a soda&piss break.

    Thursday, January 20, 2005

    Jib Jab's Second Term on Yahoo!
    The good folks at Jib-Jab released a new one for the Inauguration. Review their campaign, election and other movies while you're there.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005

    eLECTIONS Cable in the Classroom
    This game deserves some thought. Compelling for students, I would think.

    Thursday, January 13, 2005

    Animated Avatars, Text to Speech Software - Oddcast [V]Host
    Wow! (We like to say that occaisionally). Awhile back, we listed the Accuweather virtual weatherperson as a model for history storytellers. Behind this is Oddcast. Their list of client apps is already extensive. Try Discovery Channel's Trivia Quiz (questions vary).

    Wednesday, January 12, 2005

    Journey of ManNational Geographic
    The show traced DNA from tribes in Africa to Australia and India, up through Eurasia, Siberia, and down to the Navajo. Check "The Journey" in the above flash app, and also Build A Face.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2005

    Tsunami in South Asia
    Brings together graphics & pictures. I couldn't bear looking too far, but cheers to the media editors.

    Monday, January 10, 2005

    3D page of the week - Cortona VRML - ParallelGraphics
    Great view of what people are doing with VRML. A few historical renderings.

    Sunday, January 09, 2005

    :: Movie: Hotel Rwanda
    We can't not mention this movie. As the toll mounts in the Indian Ocean, this tragedy is slightly ahead of where the man-made Rwanda reaping was. But then the Killing in Rwanda would escalate and continure for 85 more days. So would the UN's waffling.

    Tuesday, January 04, 2005

    Interactive Scene at the Signing of the Constitution
    Identify each person in the famous Christy painting. Also, a nice Map of Historic Philadelphia in the Late 18th Century. -- Free Seminars and Summer Institutes for Social Studies Teachers
    Still need to give this a better look...this kind of amazing site comes from Ashland University. Includes audio lecures, a historical documents library, and an exhibit on the Constitutional Convention.

    Monday, January 03, 2005 Books / Subjects / Literature & Fiction / Genre Fiction / Historical
    Didn't know Amazon classified fiction this way! Very nice. Now to organize it.... Can I exclude "romance novels"? Ick!