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LIFE mag photos via Google search

July 26, 2016

Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.

search screen image

(click the image above to see how it works)

Sample image from the LIFE magazine archive accessible through a Google search

(what you see after clicking a search result thumbnail)

I think it’s safe to assume that a “personal non-commercial” license includes use in a classroom situation. It’s less clear whether you’re allowed to re-post the images publicly, even in PowerPoint slides.

Tip o’ the hat to Joanna Sherbun, who gave me the idea for this post.

Must it be ebook OR paper?

July 21, 2016

ebook or paper

Are the only options for a new technology that it must either wipe out its predecessors or politely disappear from the face of the earth? I don’t think so. A third path is that the old continues alongside the new.

The new way often does replace the old, particularly when it’s significantly cheaper, more available, safer, more durable, or easier to use. But technology adoption is not a simple matter of survival of the fittest; the old way often continues on a smaller scale. Consider pencils, radios, bicycles, and board games. In other instances a new idea gains a slice of the market but does not dominate; think of Velcro, helicopters, and electric carving knives.

The jury is still out in the case of ebooks. I’m not convinced that they will eventually push paper books entirely out of the marketplace. In 2015 ebook sales actually dropped 12%, while printed book sales rose 3%. Local bookstores also appear to be making something of a comeback.

Personally, I read ebooks and paper books. I believe that eventually they will coexist peacefully. Dan Cohen has a couple of excellent articles related to this: What’s the matter with ebooks and What’s the Matter with Ebooks: An Update.

[image credit: Paperback Book vs. Amazon Kindle by Megan Trace]

Will Pokémon Go inspire learning games?

July 19, 2016

Pokemon Go screenshot.jpg

Pokémon Go is an augmented reality (AR) game that asks you to go outside (a good thing) and look for virtual creatures to capture, train, and battle. Point your phone at the right locations and your screen shows little monsters superimposed over the real-world image. The game was released on July 6 and within a week it had been downloaded 25 million times! At the end of this article are resources for learning more about this phenomenon.

Augmented reality is not virtual reality (VR). AR keeps users in the real world while they interact with virtual objects, while VR immerses users in a fabricated world with the help of headgear (e.g., Oculus) or an avatar (e.g., Second Life).

AR games and apps are not new, but Pokémon Go has increased by leaps and bounds the number of people who have experienced it firsthand. Six years ago The Horizon Report said the technology was only a couple of years away from having widespread impact on teaching and learning; this year’s report says the same thing. Maybe the current craze will motivate educators to take a new look at the potential applications of AR in teaching and learning.

Read on!

Learning with digital timelines

July 11, 2016

part of the timeline teaching guide at Vanderbilt

Creating a time line, collaboratively or individually, can be an effective learning activity. Derek Bruff’s recent piece, “Teaching with Digital Timelines,” provides practical examples and a link to a thorough teaching guide created at Vanderbilt (image above).

Many tools are available

Four of the most popular timeline-specific sites are Tiki-Toki,  Dipity,  Histry, and  Preceden. A newer entry in the market, MyHistro, lets users combine a timeline with a map (see the slides below). And if you’re not averse to getting just a little geeky, with Timeline.js you can enter data in a Google Sheet and generate an embed code for a web page.

Even more resources!

Mayer and Multimedia Learning

July 8, 2016


Richard Mayer is a rockstar of educational psychology who has spent decades researching connections between visual media on learning. On the way to receiving several career achievement awards, Mayer formulated a Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning that is based on three assumptions:

Dual channels Our brains physically process visual and auditory material through different channels.
Limited capacity Each channel can only handle a few pieces of information actively at one time (cognitive load).
Active processing Learning occurs when we select relevant information, organize it into a coherent structure, and integrate it with what we already know. Learners receive auditory information through voices and other sounds, as well as visual material in the form of images and words. Instructors should use both, designing learning experiences that are consistent with the way our brains work.
Mayer Model

Mayer has extensive research to back up this theory. His principles for effective media design help learners focus on relevant material, move it to working memory, and then integrate it with prior knowledge. Here are four of the principles:

  • The Signaling principle encourages us to highlight essential material using bold text, color, headings, arrows, etc.
  • The Redundancy principle says we should NOT add on-screen text to a narrated animation.
  • The Pre-training principle says we should give learners a head start on the names, locations, and characteristics of key components before getting to the details.
  • The Personalization principle urges us to present words in a conversational(rather than formal) style.

So what?

You can put Mayer’s principles into practice when you develop your next presentation. In this video, Nathan Cashion uses the pre-training and coherence principles to remake a slide.

This video by Sarah Martin shows how the Signaling principle can be used

Additional resources

[Image credit: “brain” by Abhijit Bhaduri]


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