Useful sites (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


Sepia Town

I really like Sepia Town. This wonderful site  that enables you to view and share thousands of mapped historical images from around the world. “Sepia Town lets people experience the past through a large and growing collection of user-submitted, mapped historical images.”

Although it is still early days, there are  over 500 images currently on the site, and are intersted in more photos being uploaded. At the moment it is a somewhat busy looking map with thumbnails of those images that have been uploaded but they are so interesting. Using Google maps to pinpoint locate where the photo has been taken and the direction is a boon as well.

The Sepia Town creators are planning to add new features over the coming months like “a mobile version, filtering by date and media type, film and audio upload, plus individualized pages for registered users.”

It would be great to see enough pictures uploaded on the site that in time you’ll be able to see many angles of the same street and compare a street view year by year.

The next thing  would like to see is more detail for Australian places. Sydney has a few photos, Brisbane just one and there do not seem to be any for Melbourne at all.

Earth view – new imagery from Google maps

Google has just released Earth view – new imagery for Google Maps. The new view, available to all those that have installed Google Earth browser plugin, enables you to view Google Earth 3D imagery and more in Google Maps. To use Earth View in Google Maps simply click the “Earth” button next to the map, statellite, et buttons in the upper-right corner of Google Maps.

Basically Google Maps now supports a multi-dimensional exploration of the world in a similar way to Google Earth and you can also share the Google Maps Earth views just as you would share any other view in Google Maps. Likewise you can create placemarks whilst using the Earth View.

There are 36 places showcased. You can view them by clicking the “More places” link. Some of the 3D views that you can look at include the Reichstag,
the Taj Mahal, the Sydney Opera House,  the Leaning tower of Pisa, the Matterhorn, Table Mountain and an underwater, 3D view of the wreckage of the Titanic.

This might be useful for those students using Google maps as they will be able to view locations in 3D as well as use 3D imagery in any Google Maps tours.

It is worth playing around with Earth View for yourself to really get a feel for it or you can choose to watch the video below to learn more about it.

Trailers and e-books

I love my illustrated books. Some of my old picture books have such beautiful illustrations. There is now new approach to the classic Alice in Wonderland story… and with a difference, the classic illustrations have been brought to life for the iPad.

This app makes the story interactive. This particular form is not meant to be read sitting still. It can be shaken and turned. There are many interactive elements on the screen to move around, fall down or jump up.  If  you tilt your iPad you can make Alice grow big as a house, or shrink to just six inches tall. It is “odds on” that the kids will love it. I too would love to try it but unfortunately because of the US success the date for the sale of ipads in Australia has been delayed. For now I will just have to make do with this demonstration. I notice that Alice for the iPad is available from the App Store and there is also a free, lite version.

Another beautiful trailer was brought to my notice by my colleague Tania Sheko this week. Neil Gaiman’s journal/blog post, which he labels “just happiness”, he remarks on how happy he is with the result of a collaboration with Charles Vess. In the trailer he is reading his poem Instructions, and Charles Vess illustrations accompanying the words. In the trailer we see the illustrations of Vess developing from pencil drawings to delicate paintings. It is such a whimsical trailer to promote Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’s upcoming children’s picture book: Instructions. It really whets my appetite for the book.

This week I was at a conference where there was one session on some ebook options. I have also been discussing the future of eBooks with the adminstration at my school and with other teacher librarians and teachers. We are still really at the beginning of the journey with eBooks and there is no clear direction except that the eBook, in one form or another, is here to stay.

The “old technology” hard-copy book version, that has been around for about 500 years (in its common format) is a well-loved and remarkably robust  invention. I believe that eBooks can happily coexist with the paper versions as do audio books. The eBooks can provide access to a library of books, anywhere, anytime and in a very compact package, great if you are on a long flight for instance. I am beginning to regularly see people on trains checking news headlines on the iPhones. This is great if you have limited space or if you have only few minutes to read. Audio books and podcasts also fulfil a need, especially for visually impaired or if you need a hands-free version of the story. They can, in addition, offer a performance akin to a drama in some instances as with my own BBC radio collection titles.  I regularly listen to podcasts out walking or when I am on long drives on country roads. They are great companions on my journeys.

I have also tried eBooks with some of our students and so far they have no clear preference for one form over the other. It depends on many factors and they are really quite forthcoming about the strengths and weakness of each form. So I believe that the “old” book has little to fear in the near term from the new eBook version. Rather they can happily co-exist and support each other.

Useful sites (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

David Metzenthen on writing, YA literature and Jarvis 24

The 2 videos below are of a David Metzenthen interview (2009) where he discusses writing, his way of writing for young adults and also Jarvis 24, one of the 2010 CBCA short listed books. David answers questions about his approach to writing very honestly and thoughtfully. 

There is also a very readable review of Jarvis 24 on the Fiction Focus (CMIS) blog

SLAV Conference – Flip camcorder presentation & FUSE

Yesterday the School Library Association of Victoria held another of its conferences for library teams (all staff who work in school libraries).  Over the last few years these conferences have offered very successful and practical professional learning for library support staff and others. Yesterday was no exception. I really enjoyed Lili Wilkinson, reader and writer of young adult fiction who also works at the Centre for Youth Literature, at the State Library of Victoria, where she manages the website called It is a site about books for teenagers. Lili is always so enthusiastic about books and reading and she spoke eloquently on her favourite topic reading. She was quite inspiring about reading, no matter what format it may take, be it on paper or on-line. She also talked about the story.

My Multimedia technician, Keely Scicluna, and I were asked to talk about Flip camcorders. I was not sure how to present the information and ended up creating a site via Google sites called TechTools – Flip Camcorders. This was suggested by another of my library co-workers. I was not sure where everyone attending our session was with regards to these kinds of tools but was advised to talk about obtaining the cameras and how our library gives students and staff access to them.

Creating a this space using Google sites  allowed me to put in links to useful sites for finding out about buying the Flip camcorders – the different options, the extras that go with them and the prices. I also could put in useful posts and sites that discuss how others have used these great little digital video cameras and some support sites. As I worked I kept adding pages for instance pages with technical tips – simple film techniques, taking video clips and uploading them to the computer and will add soon some advice about responsible and appropriate use.

The site is not fancy as I haven’t done a lot of exploration yet but it was very easy to create and it got the information I wanted to share out there. My other option was to create a wiki but I sometimes find wikis a bit temperamental and not they do not always turn out as I would like them to. Here I could add video and images easily and all the google apps I played with went in seamlessly. There are pre-built templates but you can build your own if you prefer and you can control who can view and who can edit. I would certainly recommend that you have a look at using this tool for creating sites that could easily be used by classes as they space to share projects and classwork.

The keynote speaker for the day was Sandy Philips, Manager of KnowledgeBank: Next Generation, DEECD. She presented information about FUSE , a site that offers all our school community such a wealth of opportunities to find, share and create educational resources. This is an extensive and growing portal of learning resources for k-12.

Sandy opened her presentation with a background view of what we call the Internet and Web 2.0. and how the Internet has changed to a “post anywhere, anytime,  and anyhow” resource.  She also discussed the 3 different uses, the “Me, We, See” in our schools, acknowledging Stephen Heppell in presenting this concept which relates to behaviours associated with what we do online, from the totally private, the “friends and colleagues only to the totally public publication.

A huge number of resources are available on FUSE without needing a password. Government school teachers already have a login to the other content and a login process is being put in place for non-government schools to access.  This is the ‘library’ for government schools and cultural organisations such as Asia Education, ACME, SLV and others are all contributing.  Teachers can log and build their own learning resources on FUSE and then submit each for public use or keep it private. There will also be collaborative spaces for discussion, building ideas and sharing etc.  Sandy referred back to curriculum content.  Thinking, communicating, and being creative are all skills that are encouraged in the ‘new’ curriculum.

Sandy asked us to consider the projects that are being set in our schools for  today’s students.  Have things changed to use the thinking, communicating, creative skills that are possible with these new resources?  FUSE presents a wonderful opportunity to all in schools by offering an enormous range of resources that are appropriate, safe and interesting.

Sandy ended with some cautionary advice. We need to look at what we are doing and consider all the new options available to us. We need to get students to think differently. To explain this Sandy showed a video clip she created, from resources in FUSE, to accompany Billy Joel’s We didn’t start the fire. We were asked to think about how we might approach this activity with our student.  For example have the students consider the years since this song was published in the early 80’s

  • What events have had a global impact?
  • What were these impacts?
  • Which ones were connected?
  • Then could they create an Australian story with an appropriate song.  
  • What event has affected your students personally?

A link to Sandy Phillips’s presentation is available here