Super Simple Timelines

I’m just getting around to writing about this, and I’m probably late to the party as far as this product is concerned, but I’ve discovered a very simple, very effect way to create timelines for websites.

Back in the 1990s Tom Snyder Productions made some of the coolest EdTech software around. One of my favorites was Timeliner. Users could input dates and events, then print out long timelines on fan-fold printer paper with a dot-matrix printer. Along with Print Shop, it was one of my go-to tools for classroom printing.

Timeliner is still around, and has been updated to take advantage of modern technology. I haven’t played with it in ages, so I don’t know what the new version has, and, quite frankly, I no longer need to. I’ve found a much, much better (and free!) product in Northwestern University’s Knight Lab’s Timeline JS. Continue reading “Super Simple Timelines”

MaKey MaKey and Google Earth

Makey Makey and Google Earth-001
MaKey MaKey – Front Side

Before Christmas I got an Amazon gift card for my birthday, and I used it to buy a MaKey MaKey. It arrived just before the hectic Christmas rush and our traveling, so I didn’t really get a chance to play with it. These past few very cold days have been the perfect opportunity to see what this thing can do.

So, what is this thing?

A MaKey MaKey is an Arduino-based computer interface that allows any conductive material to be substituted for a key on the computer keyboard. The name is a contraction of “Make Anything a Key,” or “MaKey.”

The kit comes with alligator clips and jumper wires to attach to…just about anything. The board is connected to the computer via USB. You connect the clip to some conductive material such as aluminum foil, liquid, or even a piece of fruit. Another clip is attached to the ground on the board, the held in one hand. Touching the fruit-foil-liquid will complete the circuit through your body and trigger the key, depending on where the first clip is attached on the board. Continue reading “MaKey MaKey and Google Earth”

Oh, Technology…

The Greenville News reported that Greenville County Schools has undergone its review by AdvancED for accreditation. Here’s one of the things they found… The review team from the AdvancED Accreditation Commission conditioned its approval on a “required action” that the district improve its use of technology to provide equity for students in all schools and … Continue reading Oh, Technology…

The Last EdTech

This week many of my former instructional technology colleagues gathered for the South Carolina Educational Technology Conference. This was the second year in a row that the conference was held in Greenville, and it’s being right here in my back yard presented a unique set of problems. Last year before deciding to retire, I had … Continue reading The Last EdTech

A Bridge to Nowhere

Sparkleberry Swamp Altered
Sparkleberry Swamp

Somehow I found myself taking one last course for certification this summer. I’m taking one of the PBS Teacherline courses online. The course is on Dynamic Media and Digital Storytelling, a subject with which I’m already quite familiar. However, I just needed the course credit.

The course itself is been…so, so. There’s been more time spent on “Educationese” and gobbledy-goop catch phrases that I used to detest, than on actual digital storytelling.

Even so, I did manage to put together a decent (in my opinion) project. My digital story was entitled “A Bridge to Nowhere”, and it’s a summary of a previous blog post about the controversial Briggs-DeLaine-Pearson Connector, a proposed bridge from Lone Star to Rimini across Lake Marion.

The 12 minute video summarizes the history of the Santee Cooper area, and briefly touches on the controversy. I used photographs I’d taken from several paddling trips to lakes Marion and Moultrie, coupled with GoPro video. I filled in with a few maps, newspaper clippings, and historic shots to complete the video. Continue reading “A Bridge to Nowhere”

Back to School 2012

Aviary google-com Picture 1

And so it begins again. Students return on Monday. Our teachers were back last Monday. The summer is over and we’re getting back to the business of educating kids.

Not that summer has been a vacation for me. I’ve long ago left the cycle of having summers off. In fact, summer is typically my busiest time as we try to do upgrades on our systems. This summer was particularly busy because we tried to change/upgrade just about every technology system we have. It’s been a crazy time with late evenings, working on days that I would normally have off, and trying to conduct a three ring circus of vendors working on frantic deadlines to get everything ready before August 15.

Here’s a list of our projects this summer… Continue reading “Back to School 2012”

Going Google

We’ve done it.  This week I flipped the switch to transition our school district to Google Apps, with GMail as our primary e-mail system. We had been a Novell/Groupwise shop every since I’ve been in the district.  Novell had been a reliable, rock-solid product.  However, their latest version was on a linux-based platform, and it … Continue reading Going Google

If you build a dam here…

Lake Union 1

While kayaking on Parr Shoals Reservoir last Saturday, Alan and I started discussing lakes in general. Specifically we were talking about the placement of dams and the hydrology of water backing up to fill in the space. We laughed at one of the last scenes of “O Brother, Where Art Thou“, where the lake comes flooding in as a torrent, rather than rising gently as it should. As far as movies go, “Deliverance” was a more realistic view of how lakes are created.

As the conversation proceeded, I reminisced about the time I participated in the SC-MAPS project when I was a teacher. This was a three-day workshop where we learned how to use topographic maps and satellite imagery in the classroom. This was long before the days of Google Earth, so the ability to look at overhead images of where you live was still a novelty.

One of the activities they had us do was to draw a line across a river connecting contour lines at the same height. This line would represent a dam. Then we were to trace the contour line at that level all the way around, outlining the area that would be inundated by the new lake. It was a tedious process, but the results were fascinating. The lakes always turned out much larger than we expected.

As Alan and I talked, we wondered if there was some automated way to do this using Google Earth, so when I got home I started searching for a method. The automated systems I found were complex, requiring advanced knowledge of ArcGIS, hydrology, and GIS techniques in general. Even so, I think I’ve found a simple way in Google Earth. Here’s how… Continue reading “If you build a dam here…”

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