Friday, August 28, 2009

Every child "starts out as a scientist," inventor says

From ASCD's Smart Brief:

Every child "starts out as a scientist," inventor says: "
Entrepreneur and inventor Dean Kamen shares his perspective about U.S. math and science education.  -More

Avoiding the Dickensian Curriculum

Nice post from The Edurati Review:

Avoiding the Dickensian Curriculum: "By Jason Flom, Ecology of EducationMonotonous tedium and homogeneous uniformity -- the great plagues of education. With rampant disregard for age, class, or ability, a curriculum lacking topography flatlines interest, dulls creativity, and limits potential. Yet, we find ourselves haphazardly careening toward fact based national standards, accountability systems, and teacher pay incentives that "

Calling All Mentors: The SLA Capstone Project

From Chris Lehmann's excellent blog Practical Theory:

Calling All Mentors: The SLA Capstone Project: "In a little over a week, the first class of the Science Leadership Academy starts its senior year. The students will, as a major part of that senior year, embark on a year-long Capstone project where they tackle an idea or a problem of their own design. All students have to create a proposal, detailing how they will incorporate the five core values of the school -- inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection -- into their capstone to create something original and meaningful. Ideas we have heard cross all disciplines, as students want to do original science research, create and stage original plays, design web-based applications, research the history of education reform, and much more. To do this, they will need mentors -- people with expertise in a myriad of fields -- who will be on the other end of an email or a Skype call when the students need a hand. Students will also have mentors at the school. Advisors are responsible for helping the students stay on-track and subject area teachers will serve as on-site guide as well. But we need you too. Please considering giving an hour a week to be a capstone mentor. You can sign up at, where you can tell us what kinds of projects / areas of expertise you would be able to support.

From the site:

The Senior Capstone Project at Science Leadership Academy is an opportunity for students to demonstrate what they have become over the course of high school as scholars and individuals. It represents the culmination of four years of intellectual growth towards an independent and self-directed learner who can contribute meaningfully to his or her community. As such an ambitious intellectual project, we are looking for mentors in all fields interested in working with students to develop their own ideas and facilitate their progress toward a meaningful product that truly demonstrates our core values of inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation, and reflection. While students are working to develop their own vision of what it means to lead, your participation as a role model of leadership and creativity will be hugely beneficial to them. As a Capstone mentor, your role would be of an advisory nature, in conjunction with two teachers at the school, providing guidance, feedback, and your wealth of knowledge and experience in a mutual relationship designed by the student and yourself.

Please consider volunteering your time as a capstone mentor for an SLA student. (Mentors will be contacted for clearance, etc... to ensure that students are working with an appropriate mentor.)

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More Than a Passing Trend Part II

From The Fischbowl:

More Than a Passing Trend Part II: "On the heels of my previous post I came across this video by Erik Qualman - some interesting observations in the comments to his post. I'll present it here without comment of my own, other than I think there are some interesting ideas to consider here.

Oh, one more thing. I believe this falls into the category of 'D'oh!' Any chance you think they'll do retroactive revenue sharing?

50 Excellent Online Communities for Lifelong Learners

From the really good, but horribly named site Learngasm:

50 Excellent Online Communities for Lifelong Learners: "

Whether you are looking for a little added information on what you are already studying in school or would like to connect with others who share your interests as a business professional or avid hobbyist, these online communities all offer an excellent opportunity to continue your search for knowledge. From reading to learning a new language to becoming a financial wizard to travel to saving the Earth, these groups offer a chance for learning as well as reaching out to others online.

Books and Reading

These online communities are united around a love for books and reading. Find others who share your passion here.

  1. Goodreads. Organize your books by shelves depending on whether or not you’ve read them, are reading them, or want to read them; share reviews; form virtual book clubs; and test your knowledge of book trivia at this popular social network for book lovers.

  2. Library Thing. Another popular book site, here you can catalog your books virtually, find reviews from others, share your opinion, and more at this online book community.

  3. Shelfari. Get a virtual bookshelf here where you can show the books you’ve read, what you want to read, and share your books and opinions with friends. This site has been rated as one of the most visually stunning social networking sites of any genre.

  4. Bookarmy. Read reviews, get recommendations, read about authors, connect with others, and even read books online with this community that is devoted to preventing having to read bad books.

  5. aNobii. Find members with the same book on their lists that you have and discover how others rate books, too. You can purchase books online and even get code to add to your blog to write about books.

  6. ConnectViaBooks. When you first land on this social network, you discover an interactive map that shows the various activities of members around the world. Connect and share your love of books globally.

  7. Booktagger. Add the books your like and tag them with descriptions, then join a book group or create your own. Make book lists organized by fun categories you create, keep track of books you’ve loaned, and more in this community.

  8. Noting:books. Keep notes about the books you are reading, including the days you started and finished and your thoughts as you read. Share your notes with others and be sure to read members’ notebooks they keep, too.

  9. ReadWhale. Make your book shelf, connect with others, and discuss books, with this social community. Rate your books and compare with others and share your books through Twitter.

  10. Juicespot. Get the juice on books or spill the juice yourself at this social network for those who love books. Read articles and vote on whether you agree with the point made, see what critics have to say, and share your own reviews with others in the community.

Foreign Language

If you are learning a foreign language or would like to help others practice a new language, then check out these communities that are all about sharing a thirst for languages.

  1. italki. This social network offers a combination of free resources and resources for a fee. Connect with other members to practice your language skills or find a teacher who is a native speaker of your target language.

  2. Livemocha. The free options here include tips from native speakers, free online lessons, a community to practice your skills, and much more. Pay to get audio and video lessons as well as access to professional tutors.

  3. MyHappyPlanet. Communicate with members to practice your language skills here. For an extra bonus, you can find lessons designed by other members to help boost your skills.

  4. xLingo. Connect with others on this social network to practice a foreign language. You can also join in forums, blog, and create flashcards for practice.

  5. VoxSwap. Participate in chatrooms and forums or connect with individuals to practice your language skills. You can also watch videos in nine different languages.

  6. Babbel. This network offers fun language learning in English, Spanish, Italian, German, and French with community connections, online courses, videos, and more. Some of the services here are available at a fee.

  7. Busuu. English, Spanish, French, and German are the languages of focus on this social network that provides an opportunity for members to learn together. Language courses and lessons are also available.

  8. palabea. Learn a new language while also exploring a new culture by connecting with others in this online community.


From investing to personal finances, these online groups will help you learn the information you seek.

  1. Zacks Investment Research. Create a portfolio, connect with community and more at this site that provides mathematically-based research to help you learn about markets and trends. Be sure to check out the Education section for investing guides and other resources.

  2. MarketWatch Community. Members can create profiles to help connect with others, then share information, news, tips, and more to learn about the stock market and investing.

  3. Covester. Covester allows members to watch the investment habits of other members in order to better learn how to make money through investing.

  4. ZeccoShare. If you are learning about investing, then the community here is a great place to join. Get investment tracking, sharing of ideas and tips, and join groups where members can find support each other as they learn about investing.

  5. UpDown. Practice investing with a $1 million portfolio while you gain experience without risking your own money. Get tips from others, and even earn real money along the way, with this community.

  6. Minyanville Financial Infotainment. Join this financial social network to meet other investors while learning about smart investment strategies. Also participate in forums and read blogs and articles about investing.

  7. Tip’d. For those interested in finance and investment, Tip’d offers news, tips, articles, and more. Members can vote for the most helpful resources to ensure only the best information is available.

  8. InvestingMinds. This community offers everything from investing clubs to chat rooms and provides you the chance to learn from others and share your own investing experience.

  9. Wesabe. Learn to manage your money while connecting with others with the same financial goals in this network. Find blogs, read news and reviews, and much more.

  10. Learn how to manage your personal finances wisely in this community with the tools, articles, quizzes, online forums, and more.

  11. Art of Saving. This personal finance social network helps members reach their finance goals, such as saving for retirement or increasing net worth. Learn from experts, other members, and from webinars and events.

  12. Beginners can learn about investing on this social site that helps you find out about stocks, trading, and more through simulated trading. Participate in forums, read blogs and articles, and get to know the movers and shakers in the investment world.


Many say travel is the ultimate learning experience. If you love to travel, share your experiences, meet others, and plan your next adventure with these groups.

  1. Exploroo. Explore the world via this social group before heading out in the real world. Find blogs, photos, videos, and more from members as they share their travel experiences. You can also find events, participate in forums, and read travel articles.

  2. CouchSurfing. This unique and popular social community has members meeting online, then providing accommodations for each other at their homes after they become acquainted as they travel around the world.

  3. PassportStamp. Track your travels on this social network. You can also get information on travel statistics and find travel tools.

  4. TravBuddy. Share travel advice and meet other travelers on this social network. Share photos and blog about your adventures, too.

  5. Travellerspoint. Not only can you find help planning trips here, you can also connect over past travels with photo and blog sharing as well as offering review and more.

  6. WAYN. Whether you want to plan trips online or meet up face-to-face anywhere around the world, this social network will help you connect with others interested in travel and active lifestyles.

  7. Driftr. Track your travels on the map at Driftr, then share with others via blogs, photos, and reviews.

  8. tripwolf. Imagine a travel guide run by its members. tripwolf is just that, with members offering facts, tips, and more to help other members plan their perfect trip.

  9. TripSay. Rate places you’ve been on the interactive map here and join in the community for discussions about your travels.

  10. Dopplr. Billing itself as the social network for smart international travelers, this group allows members to share travel information, pick up on travel similarities between members, share insider tips on locations around the world, and much more.

Variety of Communities

Social justice, climate change, the arts, biographies and family history, science, and academia are all represented among these online communities.

  1. Care2. This network focuses on environmental and social causes. MEmbers can read articles, participate in discussions, and stay on top of news and events to help promote their favorite issues.

  2. WiserEarth. Find other people who share your passion for a just and sustainable Earth with this group. Create a group or join one that already exists to work towards issues important to you, including low impact development, ethical science, and coastal ecology.

  3. deviantART. This community of artists share their work as well as follow other artists and participate in art critiques.

  4. OneWorld. Filmmakers, video journalists, and anyone interested in social issues and hoping to raise awareness and affect change through visual media will find a home among the members of this network.

  5. OneClimate. Climate change is the uniting issue of the members in this social network. Check out the newsroom, find out what actions you can take, or join groups to meet others interested in making a difference.

  6. lifeknot. No matter what your hobby or special interest, you can find others who share your passion at lifeknot. From animal rights to candle-making to water sports, there is a group that matches your interests.

  7. Tell your life story or share a fascinating biography of a family member on this site that is all about sharing biographies and connecting with others. You can also create a family tree to share.

  8. MyHeritage. A social network aimed at both families and reaching out to the community, MyHeritage allows you to connect with family members online and research your genealogy by reaching out to other members for information as well.

  9. Scientists can collaborate and network on this social network that welcomes both scientists and non-scientists to join.

  10. academici. For those in the business of knowledge, academici is a great place to share information, research, and more. Find others in your field of interest or upgrade to a paid membership for more advanced options here.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Google Opens Up Its EPUB Archive: Download 1 Million Books for Free

From Read Write Web:

Google Opens Up Its EPUB Archive: Download 1 Million Books for Free: "

google_books_logo_aug09.pngGoogle just announced that it will now allow users to download over 1 million public domain books in the EPUB format. Google had already made this archive available to some of its partners, including Sony and Barnes and Noble, but until today users weren't able to download these free EPUB texts from Google directly. Google will continue to make PDF versions of these books available for download as well, but users with eReader's will find the new EPUB files far more useful.


If you don't have an actual hardware eReader but still want to read these EPUB versions, you can install Stanza or a similar desktop reader to read these books.


EPUB: The One eBook Standard to Rule them All

EPUB is a free, standardized format that almost every hardware eReader or desktop software understands. Amazon's Kindle, however, cannot read EPUB texts without using some intermediary software that converts these books into a format the Kindle can understand. While there are a few competing formats, EPUB has turned into the de facto standard for eBooks. Some vendors, like Sony, wrap a digital rights management (DRM) solution around these books, but others just publish completely open, non-DRMed versions of their books. The EPUB files from Google Books will not be locked down by a DRM solution.

It is important to note, however, that these EPUB files were run through an optical character recognition (OCR) system and weren't edited afterwards. While this software has greatly improved over the last few years, there are still quite a few mistakes in most books. This post on the Google Books blog explains the conversion process in more detail. The PDF versions of these books don't suffer from this problem, as they are just copies of the actual pages. This also means, however, that these PDF files are far larger and that users can't, for example, adjust the size of the books' fonts according to the size of their screens.



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Science of Motivation

From "Free Technology for Teachers. Worth watching...

The Science of Motivation: "In this video, posted yesterday on the TED blog, Daniel Pink explains the science of motivation. One of the themes of the talk that stands out is the idea that 'this for that' motivation techniques often do not work. I found this interesting because that is a technique that some teachers try with their students. So what is an effective motivation technique? Giving people autonomy and projects that they are vested-in is a much better motivation technique. Can these ideas be applied to education? I hope so.

Applications for Education
This talk is centered on motivation as it relates to employees, but the ideas could be adapted for an education setting. The ideas in the video could help teachers in their efforts to motivate students. The ideas could also influence how school administrators relate to teachers.

Here is a related item that may be of interest to you:
Three Ways the Brain Creates Meaning