Saturday, January 10, 2009

Learn about our government

With all the news on our president-elect, Congress and the Senate, I've found myself having some very interesting conversations with my nephews and nieces. Lots of questions about how folks are elected, how laws are made etc. Here are kids websites I access for reference and refreshers. Lots of great e-learning examples - plus quizzes, games and trivia. May spark some ideas for your course development!

Check it out: (U.S. House of Representatives) (White House kids site - I am going to miss Barney!) This site has a number of interactive modules about Congress. Check out How a Member Decides to Vote. In this module students will learn about the various influences that affect how a Member of Congress decides to vote on a bill. In this simulation, each student will become a Member of Congress and will be asked to vote on a proposed Constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration.

and which will link you to lots of other related sites, including state websites - see if you can pass the citizen quiz.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Video: Web Search Strategies in Plain English

Check out this video designed to help you get more out of your web searches. The folks who created the video are Common Craft. Their custom, handcrafted videos are short, simple and focused on making technical information easy to understand. They use a whiteboard-and-paper format called Paperworks that is designed to cut out the noise and stick to what matters.

Once you have watched this video, check out the others at The Common Craft Show. The videos are free to view and share. You can purchase them at a reasonable cost from their store.

Check it out:

I also liked the Linkedin video: Learn different ways to use this tool ....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The element - new book by Sir Ken Robinson available

Just got my pre-order shipment notice for The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything from Amazon.

Check out: for reviews and an excerpt.

I first encountered Sir Ken Robinson on the website. His video is worth watching ... Why don't we get the best out of people? Sir Ken Robinson argues that it's because we've been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers.

Check out:

Check out for other interesting videos. You can download them to your computer or iTunes (audio or video).

More brain exercise ideas

These are great - and they may spark some ideas for your own interactive exercises. Lunar Tunes is an exercise that will test your auditory and visual-spatial memory. Hoop Nut is an exercise that will test your auditory processing speed and ability to focus your attention.

Radica Brain Games - low tech game for those not ready for a Nintendo DS

The iBrain book also suggests some low tech ideas like learning how to play chess, taking up the tuba and volunteering at a local hospital. Maybe 2009 is the year to learn a foreign language, as well?

Free Screen Capture Program ... beyond Print Screen

Just started using Jing, a free online screen capture program. It's not as full-featured as Snagit but it is simple, easy to use and does the job. This program hangs around as a "sun" image at the top of your screen. Click the image and then select the area of the screen you'd like to capture. Mark up your screenshot with a basic text box, arrow, highlight, or rectangle to annotate or make comments about the screenshot.

Save the screenshot to any number of places, including your computer or to Screencast (online free storage). Sharing to Screencast returns a convenient link which is copied to your clipboard. Paste the link in an email (instead of pasting an image). Your email recipient will thank you for not bogging down their inbox. The image stays in your online storage until you delete it.

You can also make a video recording of your screen actions by selecting the video icon instead of screen capture. You can record audio as you record the screen action. The resulting output is a SWF file which can be shared just like the screen capture.

Mac and PC versions are available.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Social Learning

I've been waiting for the flatworld knowledge site to go live. It looks really promising ... could this work for business learning as well? I'll let you know what I find. In the meantime, check out the preview videos.

From their site:
"We preserve the best of the old - books by leading experts that are rigorously reviewed and developed to the highest standards. Then we flip it all on its head. Our books are free online. We offer convenient, low-cost choices for students – print, audio, by-the-chapter, and more. Our books are open for instructors to mix, mash, and make their own. Our books are the hub of a social learning network where students learn from the book and each other.

Our books are social learning tools. It is 11:30 p.m. A student in Florida is reading online. She doesn't understand something. She clicks “Q&A” to see if that question has been asked and answered already. Yes? Great. No? She posts her question.. It is 11:47. An answer arrives from California. Thanks. Social learning at work. Students can chat live with other readers, take and share digital notes, set up study groups, and even find partners for cross border projects. They can do all of this at our site or tap into the collaborative features of Facebook using our Facebook app for this. They are part of a global community of learners. Or not. Their call. "

Check it out:

In the press:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Google your way to a younger brain

UCLA researchers compared people 55 to 76 who surfed the Internet and those who didn't. MRI scans showed more brain activity in those who routinely do web searches compared to novice web surfers. However, even novices boosted their brain activity after spending an hour a day for 5 days surfing. Web surfing stimulates the brain, particularly the frontal lobe, which is involved in complex decision-making.

In iBrain, Dr. Gary Small, one of America's leading neuroscientists and experts on brain function and behavior, explores how technology's unstoppable march forward has altered the way young minds develop, function, and interpret information. iBrain reveals a new evolution catalyzed by technological advancement and its future implications: Where do you fit in on the evolutionary chain? What are the professional, social, and political impacts of this new brain evolution? How must you adapt and at what price?

To compete and thrive in the age of brain evolution, and to avoid these potential drawbacks, we must adapt, and iBrain—with its Technology Toolkit—equips all of us with the tools and strategies needed to close the brain gap.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Adobe Captivate 4 - Sneak Peek

Came across a blog that has info on the yet-to-be released Adobe Captivate 4.

Check it out:

and a sneak peek article:

Live collaboration on text documents

I've signed up to beta test Etherpad, an online application that allows real-time collaboration on documents. It does not require downloading or installation of any software packages.
But, unlike many web applications, it does not require registration, either. Simply click “Create a Pad” on the homepage and you will open a new editing session. You can then copy and send the URL of the session to anyone you want to invite. By opening the link, they join in the editing.
Each person can write simultaneously and the text is updated in real time. And each person is assigned a different highlight color so it is easy to see who has typed what.
Just wondering if this application would work for storyboard/SME content development? I'll let you know how it goes...
Check it out:

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Use comics to spice up your learning

In the last several years, the comics art form has flourished, generating much interest from the literary, art and educational communities.

Comic Life is an award winning application for creating not just comics (obviously), but also annotated images, story books, instruction guides, and brochures.
The software costs $29.95 and you can download a 30-day trial version. Be prepared to lose yourself for a while - this software is lots of fun, even for those of us with little or no graphic talent!

Comic Life allows you to create page layouts with boxes for images and text. Styles can be applied to create just about any type of ‘feel’ for your document. Captions can be created with tails in order to have thought balloons, speech boxes or just additional annotations. Filters are available to turn your digital images into a variety of hand drawn looking graphics to enhance the comic appearance of your work.

For ideas on how to incorporate comics into your learning, check out: