Monthly Archives: February 2004

polarhusky.com Reflections

www.polarhusky.com is the online educational environment for Artic Transect 2004, a seven-month, 3,000 mile journey across Canada’s Nunavut province. The following are some reflections about the Web site and the educational experience.

With the variety of learning activities at the polarhusky.com site, teachers should not have a problem finding something that can fit their curriculum.

The designers use current technology well including Quicktime movies, QTVR, audio clips, and chat rooms.

It is overwhelming as others have commented. It might be helpful to offer pre-defined paths through the environment that showcases the main areas. The paths might also link to topic areas or learning strategies that a teacher could pursue.

The personal aspect of the journey is well-covered with the biographies and comments, both human and canine.

With the technology and with the personal reflections by the team, the reality of this expedition is conveyed over the Internet.

Great use of outside resources like brainpop.com. Teachers are able to discover these resources and use them in other ways besides for polarhusky.

Chat: I read the Ernst chat and I was very impressed with the variety of questions and the stories the students shared. Most students log in from Canada and the US but I found one from Australia definitely giving it the feel of a global community.

Guests numbered up to 48 which I assume means at least that many people were participating. That’s great! (Could have been more than that but you would only know if they posted.)

I think it would be helpful to provide statistics on some of the activities like the chats to give educatorys an idea of how well different strategies work. A report at the end of the project discussing these issues would also be very helpful. (Maybe that is done?)

The collaboration zones are being used and the information is very interesting. One girl, in Eagan, wrote that it was the first real snow she had seen since 2nd grade. Lack of snow these past years has been saddening for me but it was very interesting to see her perspective. She will grow up thinking that it does not snow that much in Minnesota.

I think the collaboration area would be an excellent exercise for younger classes and for language students. It’s also a good place to practice language skills as the articles are short and much of the vocabulary is easy to understand. Just exploring the collaboration areas at the site for a class could lead to many different learning activities.

One activity could be to work solely in the Phenology Zone. Divide the class in three groups, one for each section: Physical Observations, Animals, Plants. Then the students study their topic and report in the Zone. Students could rotate through each group. What a great way to study the environment that we live in.

Mechanics

There’s a lot of scrolling at the site and the links at the bottom to the top don’t work on my system. I think there is some bad html on the page that is causing this.

The flash map on the home page is a useful tool for providing basic info about the journey. Would be nice if it didn’t have to load each time you went to the home page.

The “breadcrumb trail” navigation strategy would be helpful on the site. (“Breadcrumb Navigation: Further Investigation of Usage”).

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Language Study on the Web

In preparing a Powerpoint presentation (homework) on how the Internet can be integrated into my content area (foreign language instruction including English as a foreign language). In the process of researching on the Web, I found many exciting sites. The material for language instruction is awesome!

Here’s some of the sites. I’ll get to more later.

Google provides a page for searching for text in different languages. Your search term can be in English. Some computer systems may not be able to display the fonts required.

http://www.google.com/language_tools?hl=en

China Daily English Study

http://language.chinadaily.com.cn/

This site has lots of language resources. Techniques, articles

games, quizzes and more.

http://iteslj.org/

CNN site with stories including audio, a transcript, and several quiz types. Also an area to answer questions and share with other students. There is a variety of subject matter and this would seem great for content-based study.

http://literacynet.org/cnnsf/archives.html

Graham Stanley’s EFL Blog

http://blog-efl.blogspot.com/

Syndicating

Blogger will allow a “feed.” The feed lets subscribers know when you’ve posted a new blog.

This is RSS and Theresa mentioned it in our first class. RSS stands for (a) RDF Site Summary (and RDF stands for Resource Description Format) or (b) Really Simple Syndication. (Pick one.)

It’s the standard that provides the syndication capability for blogs.

To subscribe to a feed, you need some software. I had trouble finding something compatible with my Mac OS X system. Newsmonster sounded good and is supposed to work on OS X with Netscape 7 but it didn’t work here. I ended up with BottomFeeder. It’s free and also available for Windows. Newsmonster is also free and likely works better on MS Windows systems than on Macs.

BottomFeeder’s documentation leaves a lot to be desired. After a couple of hours, I finally feel I have some idea of how it works.

It comes with sample feeds and you can add your own. A good place to look for feeds is Syndic8.

BottomFeeder checks feeds hourly (you can adjust that) and lets you know if there is a new post at the sites in your subscription list. You can click on the listing and see the first sentence or so and decide if you want to read the whole article. You can then read it in BottomFeeder or have BottomFeeder send the link to your browser.

I am trying to syndicate my blog. Stay tuned.