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Cezanne’s Astonishing Apples


Posted on 28th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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Cezanne apples
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has recently placed this delightful little Cezanne tutorial in the Explore and Learn collection of its website. Geared toward kids, Cezanne’s Astonishing Apples is a refreshing bite for painting insight for most anyone. Art

Operating like a traditional library


Posted on 28th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Schools We Have Now

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Kudos to the school district in this eSchool News article for providing their students with an online collection of books. The article describes very well the advantages for the students that this online library provides. Great stuff — very 21st century and appropriate for the digital natives enrolled in the district’s schools.

The financial model, however, is very 20th century as the article relates. How this works is very clear in the text from the article quoted below. The net effect of the sort of deal the NetLibrary makes is to be able to charge multiple (many multiple!!) schools and districts for the same digital material (250 books in this case). For every student across the world to use just one version of the collection would have no cost after the first collection is put online. In my most recent post, HyperPhysics is used by 3 million visitors annually worldwide at no cost to the users — nor to the taxpayers!

The following describes how the 20th century model works when repositioned onine, quoting eSchools News. We can understand the downside to publishers interested in profits and the need to reward authors. The downside for learning is that only students in districts that do this sort of thing can read the books, and even those fortunate ones can only do so one at a time — just like my experience at the Austin High School library back in the 1950s:

NetLibrary is one of several companies that work out deals with traditional book publishers to convert their titles to electronic format and then lease these titles on the web. Traditionally, companies that want to put material online have met with resistance from publishing houses, which fear the internet will support copyright infringement and encourage piracy of copyrighted works.

The eBook library operates almost exactly like a traditional library in terms of copyright protection regulations, Van Hamersveld told the Houston Chronicle.

“It is a single-user [service], just like if you were to go to the library and check out a book,” she said. “One person checks out that book, and until that book is checked back in no one else can access it. That makes the issues of copyright and profit margins … a little easier to swallow for the publishers.”

Newton’s Laws – HyperPhysics

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Posted on 27th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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car crash force physics
HyperPhysics is website that explains and illustrates physics. It is provided as free and open learning content by Georgia State University, is used worldwide and is visited about 3 million times a year. The car crash illustration above is from a page about the work-energy principle in the mechanics section. Physics

The Art Institute of Chicago Exhibits


Posted on 25th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmarte
The Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmarte exhibit that was on display at the Art Institute of Chicago last fall continues virtually here at the museum’s magnificent website. Virtual visitors can study the exhibition themes that highlight this great artist’s work and see images of many of his paintings and drawings. Like many museums in many countries, this institution is helping to build a planetary network of great art that anyone anywhere can explore by going online. Art

Cyberly Incorrect


Posted on 25th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Schools We Have Now

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The top Good Read on George Lucas’ current Edutopia is the featured article here in the Lynchburg, Virginia about the State of Virginia passing a law mandating every school in the state to teach Internet safety to its students. Over the years since the early 1990s in which the Internet has grown, there is no story (my educated guess) that has received more cyber ink and the kind of ink that goes on newsprint and glossy magazines than protecting kids from the Internet.

I almost didn’t write this post because it is cyberly incorrect to do anything but fan the fears that children are threatened by the Internet. Whether a child is hurt by a predator on the street or online is irrelevant — it’s awful either way. But how much is the education of those same children being damaged by the hype-publicity that undermines the confidence of teachers and blocks the exploration of online knowledge by students? My Mother used to say that there is no one who does more harm than people who mean well.

Of course we should warn kids about predators, online and offline. But we should be in awe of what the Internet can do for learning and engage it fully — not shy away from it.

Sweet Sixteen Carnival of the Mobilists


Posted on 25th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Mobile & Ubiquitous

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Carnival of the Mobilists
In the quiet aftermath of the record-breaking 3GMS get together in Barcelona, gotomobile put together this 16th weekly Carnival of the Mobilists. The Carnival midway is lined with news and insight about the exploding mobile phone medium which I think will be the power delivery venue for learning content to the new generations across the planet. There will be fireworks and celebrations as learning gets global, literacy spreads and ignorance declines. Optimistic. Maybe so but carnivals are for thinking on the happy side. Besides, just watch, and see if I am not right :)


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Posted on 24th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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Leonardo Creation
Calling it a “labor of love,” since 1996 Anniina Jokinen has maintained the collection here of Medieval, Renaissance and 17th century literature that is the Internet standard for this subject. Literature

Global Earth history that is phanerozoic


Posted on 22nd February 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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globes earth history phanerozoic
The globes above are from a phanerozoic page on the website of Northern Arizona University geology professor Ron Blakey. Phanerozoic, I learned today, means, quoting Webster’s dictionary:

of a geologic eon : of or relating to the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic eras taken together — compare CRYPTOZOIC (which means: of a geologic eon : prior to the beginning of the Cambrian period — compare PHANEROZOIC)

This page of globes is an excellent place to view the geological past and to dig into related subjects through the professor’s homepage. Earth sciences

What makes kids grow new neurons

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Posted on 20th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Schools We Have Now

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Once again, Kathy Sierra of Passionate Users writes here a profound and penetrating analysis of the workplace, and the analysis equally or better explains why our kids are stagnating in schools. In discussing Elizabeth Gould’s work in the discovery that new brain cells are created through our lifetime, she says:

One of the most interesting (and, in hindsight, “doh!”) discoveries was that one of the main reasons researchers kept finding NO evidence of new neuron development in their test primates is because they kept them in an environment which shut that process down. In other words, it was the caged-living that stopped the neurogenesis process. By giving her animals a rich, natural environment, Gould “flipped the switch” back on, allowing their brains to work normally, and sure enough–the happier, more stimulated animals showed a DRAMATIC increase in neurogenesis as well as dendrite density.

Kathy is explaining why workers grow dull when they work in cubicles. But what about sending kids for 12 years of lock-step learning in (“doh!”) cookie cutter classrooms where by golly we all learn the same standard stuff or we go back and try to learn it again.

Kathy’s writing is a terrific explanation of what happens in the cubicled workplace — but when you read it substituting traditional classrooms that prohibit the digital excitement of our kids’ lives outside of school, it is even more important. If we want our kids to grow new neurons, we had better face up to getting them out of the school cubicle routine. That is an unscientific way to put it, but my guess is children’s brains really do end up producing less neurons in boring environments.

What George Washington really looked like


Posted on 20th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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George Washington age nineteen
Forensic scientists, archeaologists, and historians have reconstructed three life-like, life-size models of George Washington that will be placed on display at his Mount Vernon home this fall. ABC News has a video report, with views of the three reconstructions, here. It is the birthday this week of the man who led the American victory in the Revolution that established the United States. George Washington, it turns out, was not only a great man, he was a handsome man too.

Iceberg science — very cool


Posted on 19th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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iceberg webcam setup
On this blog, I harp on how we limit students by marching them through often dull study standards — very old school stuff. What would be more interesting and enlightening? How about here, tracking iceberg cams in the Antarctic through a Ross Sea iceshelf project by Stanford, Chicago and Wisconsin Universities? Learning science by watching science in action is very 21st century — and undeniably cool in this instance. Earth Sciences

Coin Paradox


Posted on 18th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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coin paradox animation
The Coin Paradox is one of dozens of animations of mathematical ideas on this page of Mathworld. WolframResearch creates and hosts MathWorld as open learning content that is a model of grand scope and excellence for 21st century education.

The paradox? After a half rotation of the coin on the left around the central coin (of the same radius), the coin undergoes a complete rotation. In other words, a coin makes two complete rotations when rolled around the boundary of an identical coin. Hummmm….?

History of a Wyoming town


Posted on 16th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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wyoming road
One of the wonders of knowledge to learn on the Internet is that it grows from the grassroots up. The website here about Wyoming history is based at Western Wyoming College. You get close to the land and close to the past by plowing through the abundant information tended here. History

Mobile phone soap operas


Posted on 16th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Mobile & Ubiquitous

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c/net reports here that soap operas will soon be available for mobile phones. Rather than stories in the soaps tradition, that last for years, the mobile soaps will have stories with “three-month arcs.” Sounds to me just right for a semester of episodes, perhaps for history or biography. Why not have three-month arcs of mobile content telling the conquests of Genghis Kahn or the life of Simon Bolivar? When kids in a class finished assignments ahead of time, they could watch their phones until the bell rang. Now, of course, the digital native generation has to keep phones turned off at almost all schools.

A call to update Wikipedia


Posted on 15th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge


Here is a blog post calling for knowledge management (“KM”) experts to update their Wikipedia article. The post encourages experts to gather around a subject they know, and there to work together to put the best possible description of the subject into their Wikipedia article to be used by global learners. Here is that call to cooperation:

The aim should be to showcase the depth, importance, applicability and value of KM, include pointers to key content, people and provide a quick entry point to our domain knowledge.
Here’s the entry:
Hope to see you there over the next few weeks.

What the KM experts are doing here in an open venue is in stark contract to academic venues that do their cooperating inside of university intranets. Wikiacademics has been emerging spontaneously nonetheless since the earliest Internet era. Too bad it happens so slowly.