Back from the TCEA Convention

Well, I am back at work after spending a whirlwind two days at the TCEA convention in Austin, Texas. By far the most thought-provoking presentation I attended was GeoTeleWikiPodBlogcasting for Understanding by Bernie Dodge. Although probably best known for Webquests, Bernie focused his presentation on emerging technologies and their applications for educators.

The first category of technology Mr. Dodge discussed is GEO technology which is an area I know very little about (but am now intrigued with and hope to find out more). One of the GEO technologies Mr. Dodge mentioned is Geocaching. Apparently Geocaching is a “sport” that has been revived from Victorian times. Using clues and GPS equipment, geocachers retrieve items hidden by other geocachers. It seems to be somewhat like a treasure hunt (although there is no actual treasure involved). The Geocaching site allows users to search for caches near their zip code and download a PDF with information about individual caches. Users can also plant a “travel bug” in a cache with directions of where in the world the bug would like to go. Then the bug can be tracked as it moves from cache to cache around the world… sounds like fun for geography classes (and me). Mr. Dodge also mentioned some fun GEO sites that incorporate photography and maps – Flikrmap and the Degree Confluence Project. “The goal of the project [Degree Confluence] is to visit each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at each location. The pictures and stories will then be posted here.” As a geography teacher (or any teacher, really) you could take your students on a trip around the world by simply clicking on the pictures present at these sites. Mr. Dodge suggested staying on a single line of latitude or longitude and discussing how the climate, terrain, etc. changes along the line and why… pretty cool. Along the same line, with Map Builder, users can create maps and discover the latitude and longitude for points on a map. I think I may have even enjoyed geography had I learned with these types of interactive tools. 🙂

Whalenet is a project that has potential applications for both geography and science (and probably other subjects as well). Wheelock College has been tagging and tracking whales and other marine life for years and is allowing the public to follow the path of the marine life on their site. As students keep track of the whales’ paths, discussions about what is happening in the area as well as why whales are moving in a certain direction could be studied in class.

Although GEO technology was the area I learned the most about, Mr. Dodge also shared some resources and information about wikis, blogs and podcasting. One resource mentioned is LearnOutLoud which offers (many free) audio and video files focused on educational topics. I browsed through the files and found some very useful audio and video files that tie to the curriculum.

I would love to hear any potential ideas about how you have used these resources in class or ways you think you can use them in the future.

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