Wolfram|Alpha launches

Yesterday I played with Wolfram|Alpha.  What is this, you ask? Think of it as a master computational engine – put in a problem and it solves it; put in a keyword and it give you data on the query subject.

Wolfram|Alpha’s long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.

I entered “español” in the search box, not quite sure what it would return. Visually, somewhat interesting. I liked the “more” feature in each subsection and the ability to export the information in PDF format. “Lemonade” reveals interesting nutritional information averaged across multiple sources. “Dali” sadly doesn’t return any of his artwork, just a few dates.

I think if my teenage daughter would have had access to this site while she was taking Pre-Calculus, she would have died and gone to heaven.

Social networking for educators

I’m doing a two-part learning lunch series for my staff on social networking. Many of my staff are, shall we say, experienced educators, and have not experienced social networking or even be able to describe it.  So during the first part we are looking at what is social networking, and next week is how is social networking used in education. This will be interesting!  Learning Lunch Launch Sheet (PDF)

Connect to other educators through Twitter

There are many ways to find educators on Twitter and I’m going to highlight one today – Twitter4teachers. Why highlight this site? It is actually an open wiki, organized by subject area, and educators who twitter can join and easily add themselves to the wiki. This is also an easy way to find a teacher who twitters, making it a nice place for the newbie Twitterer to find a few folks to follow. And, adding oneself to the wiki is an easy way to experience editing a wikipage!

MIWLA Connect Update – the power of one

MIWLA Connect has taken off, and I have to give a lot of credit to one person, Emily Serafa-Manschot. What did Emily do? Well, Emily invited many of her world language friends in her address book to join the community, she has started blogging, and suddenly the community is gaining feet. Why is this impressive? Because Emily probably wouldn’t call herself a techie! I’m pretty excited – we have educators from around the country and world joining us.

Want to join an online community specifically for world language educators? Meet our ning, MIWLA Connect

Professional Learning Communities for world language teachers can play a major role in supporting the teacher in the classroom. Unlike the math, science, social studies or language arts teachers, many world language teachers are the only teacher of their content area in the building. Of course, in larger schools this is not the case, but many American schools are small, so a teacher may find himself or herself as the only teacher of Spanish, French, German, Chinese, etc. in the building.

FLTEACH is probably the oldest online community for world language teachers. It is a listserv based out of SUNY-Cortland. It is still a vibrant, email-based community where teachers can share information, support each other, and discuss their profession.

Web 2.0 communities are now providing new places for teachers to meet, discuss, and share resources. The Michigan World Language Association has started a Ning, called MIWLA Connect, which is open to anyone interested in world languages (no need to be a member of the MIWLA). We hope this Ning provides an online meeting space for world language educators, as well as a place to share resources. Members can add document or media attachments for others to access, post photos and videos, create small groups, etc.

Are you interested in world languages? Then join us on our Ning!

80+ Participants in Integrating Tech Workshop

Wow! Over 80 people chose to attend the Integrating Technology into Instructional Practice workshop. Thank goodness I had assistance from my University of Michigan Computer Science Engineering Freshmen son Bryan – he was invaluable providing help connecting to our secure network and just-in-time support. It was an exciting, fast-paced workshop exploring multiple authoring environments that could be used in teaching and learning. The participants were a dynamic group, they brainstormed many possible ways to integrate the technologies we explored in their practice. I’ll be updating the wiki page later tonight with their ideas. Thank you participants for sharing your energy, ideas and excitement!

Workshop Participants

ACTFL 2009: Off to the house of the mouse

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages national conference is at the Swan and Dolphin in Orlando. The program looks interesting and it is always invigorating to meet with fellow educators for discussion and networking.  I’ll be presenting two hands-on technology-focused workshops: Integrating Technology into Instructional Practice (6 hours) and Enter the Conversation: Beginning Blogging for Teachers and Students (3 hours). Working with practicing teachers is always exciting – plant the seeds and watch the ideas generate!  Are you going to ACTFL? In 2009 ACTFL is in San Diego and the call for proposals is already open.

A global view of social media

Everyone working in educational technology should read the April 2008 Universal McCann Wave 3 report on global trends in social media. This is not an education-specific report, but rather a global view of the impact of social media – who is using what tool for what purpose. Absolutely worth a read – the content is outstanding and the visual layout beautiful.