Saturday, February 14, 2009

Darwin Online

We celebrate the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin (1809–1882) this year. Educators will find a cornucopia of classroom activities online that illustrate Darwin's extraordinary life and achievements. The following are a few recommendations.

- About Darwin: View maps of the historical journey of the HMS Beagle and a timeline of Darwin’s journey and research data.
- AMNH exhibit: Discover the man and learn about his ideas in this interactive exhibit. Includes interesting videos.
- Darwin's writings: Links to online copies of all editions of Charles Darwin’s literature.
- Voyage of Discovery: Activities from PBS to teach about Darwin's great journey.
- "Endless forms most beautiful" webcast: In lecture one of a four part series, evolutionary biologist Sean Carroll discusses Darwin and his two most important ideas: natural selection and common ancestry.
- Darwin Special Issue: The journal Evolution Education and Outreach has free pdf downloads of its articles celebrating Darwin's birthday.

(Photo: AMNH Exhibit online)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Twitter for Educators

Twitter is a free service that lets you keep in touch with people through the exchange answers to a simple question. What are you doing? Where's the next workshop? Twitter has become a popular microblogging tool. It can be accessed a variety of ways, such as via the web or instant messaging services. Why is it useful for educators? Consider these possibilities:

1. Quick networking: Your one question may draw responses from a host of people quickly. If you have a relatively good number of fellow educators in your contact base, some of them are bound to be checking their twitterfeed when you pose your query.

2. Knowledge sharing: People are eager to answer questions because they can also learn from the shared experience. It's a quick way to find a URL to a classroom activity or information about an educational event, for example.

3. Track conferences: Twitter can help you stay on top of what's going on at conferences. If you can't attend one, someone may be tweeting about a session. Or, as often happens, you are at a conference but several great sessions are happening concurrently. A tweeter buddy can fill you in. To avoid multitasking during an important presentation, you can can check the conference tweeterfeeds later.

For more information and information, check out check out Twitter Fan Wiki. For a twitter application database rating, see twtbase.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Benefits of Social Networking

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at the University of Minnesota have discovered the educational benefits of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. The study found that, of the students observed, "94 percent used the Internet, 82 percent go online at home and 77 percent had a profile on a social networking site. When asked what they learn from using social networking sites, the students listed technology skills as the top lesson, followed by creativity, being open to new or diverse views and communication skills. What we found was that students using social networking sites are actually practicing the kinds of 21st century skills we want them to develop to be successful today." Watch videos to learn more about this study.