Friday, December 09, 2005

GM's Education site still shines

Although I'm no longer a part of it, I still love this web site for students in grades K-12:

When you go there, you get a very standard GM page, which is a bit cumbersome. But, I encourage you to follow the links to one of the grade ranges (K-4, 5-8 or 9-12). You'll find some great games and stories written for each grade level. The stories focus on science, energy and the environment, and scratch the surface of some fun technologies, like 3D modelling and satellites. The games are all directly related to the content, and reinforce ideas introduced in the articles.

The high points of this site are the interactive tours. When you read an article on fuel cells, you can click the "interactive tour" button and get an in-depth illustration of how the hydrogen molecules react with O2 to create electricity. You can do the same for an inside look at the internal combustion engine.

I must admit, I was shocked when I first learned about this site. Of course, the way I learned of it was interviewing for the job of creating and managing its content! We've struggled for almost three years to publicize this site without an all-out advertising blitz. The strange thing is that every time we put it in front of teachers, they rave about it and say they would use it in their classrooms. What's the barrier to making this happen?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Finding good blogs on education

Wow. It’s been a challenge finding blogs that do education justice. When I first started looking for edu blogs, I had a hard time. Most teachers still post on forums. And, boy, do those forums get ugly. One very popular teacher forum talked about everything except education.

In general, I have found blogs by educators to be one of two things: 1) not updated often enough to make me want to come back, or 2) not on the topic of education. Many education professionals have blogs; they just don’t use them to talk about teaching. Then there’s the whole gamut of blogs that talk about RSS, OS’s, and blogging in education.

The tide is changing. I’m starting to find a few blogs that relate to teaching students. Here are a couple of blogs moving in the right direction.

Education Week has broken into the blogosphere! This is a leading magazine for education professionals (teachers and administrators), and they launched their blog effort with Betsy Rogers, 2004 Teacher of the Year. She does a good job of chronicling the challenges of teaching in a financially strapped district. Posts are thorough, and the resulting comments are engaging. Betsy may need to learn how to present only the intro to her posts on the main page. Also, I haven’t seen a reply from Betsy to any of the comments. Is she reading the comments?

Although this isn’t updated often enough, it has good content. Norma Jean Smith is a librarian in Texas who finds good stuff for students on the web, and writes about them. Now, if anyone will just read and let her know she’s done good!

Midland Brown, a North American academic, is credited with this collection of history-related articles. Some discuss resources available, and some get to the details of teaching history to students. I like his thoughts, and it is updated sufficiently. Two things I don’t like is that comments are not allowed, and he incorporates advertising.

There’s still some annoying blogs out there. For example,

I find portal clusters annoying. It’s a list of other blogs. These authors offer nothing to the blog, just simply use RSS to suck in other blogs. When do I get to the meat? Oh, and the last entry is from December 2004. Makes me wonder if anyone is monitoring this, and do I bother submitting mine?