Thing 11: Mapping & Geolocation Tools

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“C.O. with pilot and observer referring to photos and maps prior to setting out for the German lines” by Thomas (Tom) Keith Aitken, 1918.

Although this topic was introduced earlier this year, I had a difficult time getting a handle on it. I have not had teachers wish to integrate mapping and technologies in their lessons. (Although if I asked I still might find blank outline maps of the United States.) I know that the students know about street view in Google maps, several having demonstrated in my library a stronger interest in ‘virtually driving through a city streets’ instead of working on their lessons and class assignments.

I do know that, in addition to city streets, Google has street views of museums, government buildings, universities, etc. and indeed some of these look quite interesting. I have read about street views being created in the national parks (Burnett) and that Google works with trusted photographers and cultural institutions to make more content available. Upon searching for things in Central New York State, I did find a street view of Cornell University (although the images of this campus felt empty because they did not have many people in them and I could not find the Carl Becker House). I also noticed when I zoomed in on the map of Ithaca that additional smaller red dots emerged that indicated additional street views of local venues. I’m not sure if these were official street views or user-submitted views. Again, these are really neat but I have yet to find that curriculum tie-in.

One of the professional development tools I use is +Google. On day earlier in April, someone posted an article about privacy issues related to Google street images (Helft). Since I also use +Google as an asynchronous learning tool in my mobile technologies course, I shared it with my students. This provided an interesting opportunity for us to discuss this technology that they were very familiar with (Google’s street view) and digital privacy issues (implications of background artifacts and other informational details of casual digital photographs; tagging friends and others in personal digital photographs that one shares with others).

While I am still looking for that curriculum tie-in at my school, I did like how this article allowed me to introduce the topic of digital privacy with my students. We are planning to offer this special elective again in the Fall and I will use this article again. Perhaps at that time I will have addition ideas of ways to use mapping and geolocation tools in this (and other) classes.

Referernces

Aitken, Thomas Keith. “C.O. with Pilot and Observer Referring to Photos and Maps Prior to Setting out for the German Lines.” N.d. First World War ‘Official Photographs’. National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. N.395. Flickr Commons. Web. 18 May 2014. No known copyright restrictions.

Burnett, Jim. “Google Maps “Street View” Coming To The National Parks.” National Parks Traveler. National Park Advocates, 04 October 2013. Web. 18 May 2014 <http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2013/10/google-maps-street-view-coming-national-parks24033 >.

Helft, Miguel. “Google Zooms In Too Close for Some.” New York Times. June 1, 2007. Web.  Web. 18 May 2014 <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/01/technology/01private.html?_r=0 >.

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Thing 10: Productivity Tools

Civilian Conservation Corps Members Learning the Difference Between Fir and Pine Trees.

Norr, Roy. (1936). The Civilian Conservation Corps boys are being taught the difference between fir and pine trees on the Columbia National Forest, Washigton. USFS photo #340009. From the Gerald W. Williams Collection, OSU Special Collections & Archives: Commons. No known copyright restrictions.

When I initially saw that this lesson was productivity tools, my initial thought was ‘well, that’s rather subjective’ since many (most?, all?) the tools we’ve looked at during this online course could be used for productive purposes. So what exactly does productivity tools mean to me and to my students? I think it means collecting and organizing digital information for research projects and that means social bookmarking. For this final lesson I explored Evernote and Instapaper.

I remember seeing Evernote on many iPad advertisements before I bought mine. I was not sure what it was or what it did but it looked cool (hey, an elephant never forgets) and the app was free. Although I did download it, I did not have an opportunity to explore it, until now. I discovered that with an Evernote account, one could access items bookmarked through the web browser, a tablet computer, or a smart phone. It would also ‘remember’ photos and voice memos (at least on smartphones and tablets). Web pages could be  bookmarked and everything (web pages, voice memos, photos) could be annotated, tagged, and shared with others through email or some social networking services. This is indeed a cool tool.

Instapaper is a similar bookmarking tool which advertises itself  as “a simple tool to save web pages for reading later.” While the mobile app is available for purchase, I only explored the online version. This service only bookmarks web pages, these also can be annotated and shared through email. Users can also link and share through several different social networking services. In addition, many social networking services and newsreaders can send items to one’s Instapaper account for later reading (I did not investigate this feature).

I could see myself easily using both of these tools for different purposes. I could easily see myself using Evernote as a research tool because of its scope of media that can be saved and the ability to tag items. I could even see myself introducing this tool to High School students working on research projects. I see myself using Instapaper as a professional development tool. If the mobile app works as well as the online service, this would mean that I could easily bookmark articles and web pages of interest to be read later.

For me, social bookmarking tools are important productivity tools when one considers all of the online information that one is exposed to on a daily basis. As a teacher librarian, I feel that these are often under utilized. I see people bookmarking websites with their web browsers and many times sharing just URLs with others through email (hey, how about some metadata?) or through print with really long URLs that are difficult to retype. While well intended, this can be frustrating for the recipient. The other day I received an envelope at school through the interoffice mail. Our BOCES had recently invited Kathleen Odean to introduce educators in our area to the best new YA books for 2012. I was unable to attend this workshop and I heard that it was excellent. Inside this envelop was a copy of the resource book that Odean had shared during the workshop. As I opened the booklet and noticed a QR barcode inside which linked readers to her bookmarks on Diigo. It was a pleasure to see another person using a social bookmarking web site to share resources with others. I do, indeed, look forward to her next visit to our area.