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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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PlanbookEdu: Lesson Plans in the Cloud

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, iPod, professional development, Teacher Resources, web tools | Posted on 06-07-2011

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What it is: Planbook EDU is a great cloud-based (a.k.a online) lesson plan book.  Because Planbook EDU is hosted in the cloud, all you need is an Internet connection, your plans travel with you.   Planbook EDU is listed in the Google Apps Marketplace and is a natural fit for schools already using Google apps for education (email, calendar, documents, etc.).  The free version of Planbook EDU has nothing to install, let’s teachers access their planbook from any internet connection, is easy to use with word processor like editing, is fully customizable, works in all major web browser and is iPad/iPhone supported (word processor editing doesn’t work on these devices).

How to integrate Planbook EDU into the classroom: I am a big fan of organizational tools, they let me organize my thoughts so that in the fire hose of ideas what is important (the learning goal) doesn’t get lost. Planbook EDU is a simple way to organize and plan units and your school year.  I love that it is cloud-based so that I can access my plans from anywhere and any time.  The basic features are robust enough to get your planning in place and the extras that can be added on make it VERY useful.

The premium version allows you to embed your planbook directly in your classroom website…very handy for keeping students and parents up to date with what is coming!

Tips: For $25/year, you get all of the free features plus- attach files to lesson plans, assign Common Core Standards, embed your planbook on any website, share lesson plans with anyone, print from your browser, export to Microsoft Word or PDF, built-in spell check and enjoy access to unlimited planbooks each school year.  EVERY user gets a free 14 day trial of all the premium options from Planbook EDU.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using PlanbookEDU  in your classroom!

 

Comments (8)

Thanks for the great post.

If anyone has any questions or comments about PlanbookEdu feel free to contact me directly.

Matt Curry
Founder, PlanbookEdu
matt@planbookedu.com

I have been using this tool for over a year and love it. I have the premium version and it has been a life saver. Don’t know how I did it without it.

[…] Planbook EDU by clicking here!!For a more detailed review be sure to check out the award nominated iLearn Technology!! Posted by dkapuler at 7/06/2011 Labels: lesson […]

Thanks! As someone who hates writing lesson plans, this makes my life so much easier! I love the fact that I can add files. Will let you know how it works out when the new school year begins.

Thanks for the input from someone who has been using it Kathleen. We could all use more of those tools that make life easier!

I’ve always liked PlanbookEDU.

It is one of the best of its kind, but a few more options can be seen here…

http://www.brighthub.com/education/k-12/articles/103054.aspx

Third-year teacher and first time user of both Planbookedu and Edublogs. I am going to try to convert as many people as possible to both services, as they add value, are efficient, and affordable. My real curiosity is how well my entire year’s planbook will copy to next year with slightly different start dates and holidays. If it goes smooth, this thing could be a must-have for every teacher.

Best thing I ever bought for my classroom!

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