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Qwiki- transforming the search into a story

What it is: Have you seen Wall-E?  Remember the scene when the captain finally starts taking charge and goes to his wall of computers to learn about Earth?  He tells his computer to “define Earth” and a wall of images of Earth pop up complete with computer narration.  In the definition of Earth he hears about the sea and interrupts the explanation so that he can have the sea defined.  This concept of information presentation is a reality…or nearly a reality.  There is a new way of information searching called  Qwiki.  Search using Qwiki and instead of coming up with a list of links to websites, images, and videos, a slide show of images and videos begins complete with computer voice narration.  It is truly an incredible experience.  Why are we still using textbooks again? Qwiki is currently in Alpha which means that you have to request an invitation to get the full version of Qwiki, flaws and all. It is worth requesting an invitation; it is jaw dropping!  Even without an invitation, you can head over to Qwiki and get an idea of what it does. There are a few preloaded Qwiki searches that you can check out.  Qwiki believes that “just because data is stored by machines doesn’t mean it should be presented as a machine-readable list.”  Qwiki has transformed the search into a story. How to integrate Qwiki into your curriculum: Qwiki is limited in its search capabilities right now (in that it won’t necessarily come up with a result for EVERYTHING you want to search), but the current Alpha version of Qwiki gives you more than enough great material to start using it in your classrooms.  I have searched everything from mitosis to the solar system to rational numbers to Romeo and Juliet to Shiba Inu to Google and World War 2.  Each had fantastic content, images and information.  Qwiki is going to revolutionize the way that we search and receive information.  The way that it pares a search down into a story is brilliant. Use Qwiki on classroom computers as part of a center activity, students can dig deeper into science, math, history, geography, or literature using Qwiki to search.  Your students can learn more about any topic by searching related topics.  Use Qwiki to introduce new concepts to your students using a projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard for whole class learning and discussion.  Do you have reluctant or struggling readers?  Allow them to read along with Qwiki on their favorite topic or subject.  Teach older students? Involve them on conversation about the implications of making our searches “more human” while relying on a computer.  What could this type of searching mean for Google?  Does this type of searching change their views on learning?  Does this type of search feel too much like entertainment without offering enough information? What would they change or add to Qwiki? Tips: Qwiki is currently in Alpha, that means if you would like to access the full version, you will have to request an invite.  I got my invite within 5 minutes of requesting.  As you run across features that you wish Qwiki had (the ability to slow down the narration, the ability to change voices) be sure to let them know.  If you run across glitches, report those. When a product is in Alpha, it gets better and better when people use it and comment on their experience. What do you think? Are you as bowled over as I am? What implications do you see a tool like Qwiki having for education? How will you use it in your classroom? Leave a comment!

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NASA @ Home and City space is everywhere you look

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 27-04-2011

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What it is: NASA has such cool exploratory websites for kids. NASA @ Home and City is no exception.  On this site, students get to explore 3D environments where they discover common household and city items that have roots in space exploration.  Students can click on various objects in the house or city to learn more about how space travel impacted the items creation or use.  Each item has a brief description and a short video included.  If students are particularly interested in an item, they can click to learn more about it on NASA’s Spinoff database site.  Students can take part in a Spinoff challenge where they explore technologies and answer questions; when all have been answered, students will unlock special downloads.

How to integrate NASA @ Home and City into the classroom: NASA @ Home and City is a great place for students to learn more about space as well as how the science and discoveries made in space impact their daily lives.  I love the way this site encourages students to discover and uncover learning.   NASA @ Home and City would be a great website for students to visit in partners or small groups on classroom computers.  Each student can take a turn exploring for the group and acting as guide.

If you don’t have access to classroom computers, explore the site as a class using an interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer.  There is enough content for each student to have a turn directing the exploration.  The  3D feel of the house and city would be fun on the big screen!

I like that this site is appropriate for a wide range of age and developmental levels.  Young students will enjoy exploring and viewing the videos for information, while older students can really dig deeper with the Spinoff challenge and additional information links.

Tips: Make sure to rotate around the home and city, there is more to explore!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  NASA @ Home and City in your classroom!

 

Comments (3)

Thank you for locating such great resources. I really appreciate your suggestions for how one might use them in the classroom.
I plan to direct small groups of students to this site, have them do some guided exploration and reading, then complete response tasks. Response tasks will be matched to the abilities of the groups.

Kelly, here is the NASA’syoutube video that goes along with the NASA @ Home and City site: http://youtu.be/S2QyMybXioc.

This video explains in a little more detail many of the space technologies from the @ Home and City website. I use the parts of video as both an introduction to the lesson, and as an extension for those students who want to know more.

Thank you Ryan, outstanding!

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