Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Turkeys Go 21st Century

Image of Pumpkins and Gourds

I couldn't possibly resist posting this.  Butterball is getting into Web 2.0 by offering turkey podcasts.  They provide tips on meal planning and food safety. 

Consider it assistive technology for cooking up your thanksgiving bird :)

You can visit their site by clicking the link above, or by clicking here.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! 

(Hat tip:  Red

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A New Look at Search Engines

Almost everyone is familiar with the search engines Google and Yahoo! (Actually, hasn't Google officially become a verb?) Their interface is very much the same - you type a word or phrase into a search box and press enter, which results in a list of articles or images.

Enter Quintura.

I stumbled across a blog posting about this site today, and have been intrigued ever since. Quintura goes about things a bit differently. It's sort of a dynamic search experience. You type your search term into the ubiquitous search box, but instead of just a listing of possible websites, you are shown a visual map of your word or phrase and its related concepts. And if you hover over a search term, any other related terms will appear. The sites that are related to each term change on the bottom portion of the page. Below is a screenshot. I am searching the term computer.

Screenshot of Dynamic Quintura Concept Map

I am then going to hover over home, because I would like to see what sites offer information about home computers.

Screenshot of Dynamic Quintura Concept Map

You can see how the terms expand around your area of interest. Quintura works the same way with images. (Use at your own risk - I haven't found an image filter on this site.) They are also developing sites geared towards women and children.

So we have a visual search engine - sort of a cool concept. What do you think about it? Would this be helpful to any of your students? How? Post your comments below.

(Hat tip: Download Squad)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Feeling Your OATS?

I was at the Mid-State Coalition meeting yesterday when a colleague suggested that we demonstrate the Open Source Assistive Technology Software (OATS) website.

As its name suggests, the OATS website contains some incredible, open-source (read: "free") software that has been developed for people with disabilities. 

I'll let you explore the site, and try to highlight some of the applications that are listed there in coming posts.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Firefox Text-to-Speech Plugin!

For those of you who use Mozilla's Firefox internet browser, you have one more reason to love this application.  A new text-to-speech extension has been created that will read text on a webpage aloud. 

This very cool extension is called CLiCk, Speak and has been developed by Charles L. Chen.  It offers a very simple interface (see image below) and since it uses Microsoft SAPI voices, has multilingual supports. 

               Link to Image of Click, Speak controls in Firefox

Thanks to Mr. Skip Stahl from CAST for posting this information to the QIAT listserv!  Click here to visit the CLiCk, Speak website.

Great Resource from CDWG

The Big Deal Book of Technology for K-12 Educators, Fall 2006 is a resource about which I was made aware by a post from Jane Ricard on the QIAT listserv. 

There is great information about:

Check it out by clicking the links above, or by clicking here.  You can also visit the CDW-G website by clicking here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday Frivolity

It's been a long week, and you all deserve a break.  How about going sledding?  No snow, you say?  I don't like winter sports, you say?

Well, you can create your own sledding course right from your computer desktop, without the hassle of putting on snow pants. 

Image of Line Rider interface Introducing Line Rider.  This fun little Flash application challenges you to draw slopes and hills for your little sled-rider to brave.  SimplImage of the Line Rider in actiony draw a few lines, hit the play button, and watch your little sled-rider with the red scarf careen up and down your virtual sledding hills.  Be careful not to make them too steep - this program takes the laws of physics seriously!

Enjoy this little diversion, and have a great weekend!  Click here to visit the Line Rider website.

(Hat tip:  Download Squad)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

All You Ever Wanted To Know About Soundfield Systems But Were Afraid to Ask...

 Classroom amplification systems have become more and more in demand (at least around here) in the past few years.  And how do you know what you should look for in a system?  Should it be an FM system?  Should it be IR?  Should you use a personal or tower unit?  Or should you have a wall or ceiling mounted system?  Am I stuck in an infinite loop of questions?

Thankfully, the government of Alberta, British Columbia put together a nice guide to soundfield systems.  It is a PDF document that can be downloaded by clicking on this link.  It's a nice little resource that I stumbled across while perusing my email from the QIAT listserv. 

Check it out!

(Hat tip:  J. Hopkins, QIAT listserv)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Interesting Survey Results

Will Richardson, whose blog (weblogg-ed) and book (Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms) are must-reads, has posted results from an interesting internet survey he conducted.  (And in which I participated...)

This survey asked some interesting questions about the use of what he has termed "the Read/Write web."  (Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, etc.)  You can see the questions and results by clicking here.

Here's a summary of the results from a couple of the questions:

  • 56% of the respondents said less than 10% of teachers were using these tools, and an additional 19% of the respondents said that less than 25% of teachers were using these tools.
  • Biggest barriers to the use of Read/Write web tools?  Lack of time (17%), lack of professional development (20%), lack of leadership on a local, state, and national level (18%).  Surprisingly, security/privacy concerns rated only 6%.

How different do you think the results would be in Illinois?  Sounds like it might be fun to replicate the survey locally...  Are your districts/agencies using blogs, podcasts, and wikis?

New Episode of the BEST Podcast Now Available!

The lastest installment of the BEST podcast is now available at:





We recorded live at Closing the Gap and have a wonderful interview with Joan Breslin-Larson from the Minnesota Department of Education about research that she and her colleagues have done in the are of monitoring and due process.