Monday, September 13, 2010

Take your students back in time with video!

In September 2010, the YouTube Time Machine (YTTM) was born. The concept is simple. Select a year anywhere from 1860 to today and this service cues up videos found on YouTube pertaining to that year. Everything from TV commercials, to news reports, to music videos, to sports and movies. It’s quite the trip down memory lane to dial in the year you were born for example. I was born in 1969, and the first thing that the YTTM played for me was a very disturbing TV Commercial for the International House of Pancakes. I can’t imagine what the marketing geniuses were thinking when they made that! Anyway, this fantastically simple service can have some very interesting applications to teaching and learning. The obvious examples of history or sociology courses come to mind. Want to know a bit about the culture of a particular year? Well then YTTM is a great place to spend 15 minutes of time. Check it out and let us know if you integrate this tool into your teaching or learning by leaving us a comment below.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Conversation starters with your students online?

Are you an online teacher in a sociology or psychology class? Do you sometimes scour the web for multimedia tidbits that you can use with your students to start a discussion? I think many teachers online are searching for those lovely tidbits that are inspirational, interesting and moving so as to spark learning and ultimately to fuel communication and discussion between students online.

Well, today I came across a neat website: StoryCorps. If you visit their About Us page, this is the first sentence:
"StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives."

I learned a long time ago that truth is often stranger than fiction so real life accounts of people’s lives can be a great spark for discussions in any humanities field. StoryCorps has conducted over 30,000 interviews many of which are available in audio files on their website. They are short stories which makes them digestible easily. Many are VERY interesting.

One of the latest ventures by StoryCorp is to create animated shorts from a small selection of their stories. Directed by Mike and Tim Raush, the first five shorts are fantastic. Check them all out! Humanities teachers will have a field day with these animated shorts. I am sure. Enjoy.

If you have an interesting way to integrate an animated short video into your online class, leave a comment below and let us know your tips and tricks!