A class field trip to South Africa sounds pricey, but with a computer and an Internet connection, students can travel to Johannesburg without leaving the classroom. Project Explorer is a nonprofit organization that produces free online content for virtual global travel. With a view of travel as an educational experience like none other, the project makes use of digital media to promote an understanding of different cultures and customs to students worldwide.
The site hosts virtual field trips to England, Jordan, and South Africa that include more than 160 short films that correspond to the destinations. Each video explains more about the region’s food, music, culture, and language. Since 2003, Project Explorer has counted more than a million visitors to the site from over 40 different countries. Recently Project Explorer won a Parents’ Choice Award for ‘Outstanding Web Programming.’ The site’s developers are currently working to add a fourth field trip—this one to Malaysia—and it plans to offer lessons specifically designed for the early grades.
Ed-tech administrators and educators looking for original and third-party Web resources can use the Educational Technology Clearinghouse as an online launch pad. The site was developed by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology at the University of Southern Florida, which designed and built some of those materials. The “Tech Ease” resource, for example, is a self-help guide that shows how to use many common technology tools in the classroom. Similarly, the “No Strings Attached” option offers a variety of video demonstrations about how to use wireless technology and laptop computers. In addition to the tech-development pages, FCIT’s site offers portal space that hosts thousands of clip-art images and PowerPoint presentation files that can be reused by teachers under a “friendly license,” which allows them to be used for free for educational and other noncommercial purposes.
“Go search like nobles, like noble subjects,” reads a line from William Shakespeare’s play “Pericles, Prince of Tyre.” The quote is an apt introduction to Shakespeare Searched, a site dedicated solely to the works of the English playwright and poet. This site, created by the Folger Shakespeare Library, in Washington, allows students to search for specific words within the lines of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. A keyword search can identify a specific passage in a poem or play or find larger meaning and themes within his many works.
A search on the word “love,” for example, pulls hundreds of passages from plays like “Romeo and Juliet,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and, of course, “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” Within each search, common results are grouped by topic. These groupings or clusters break the search down further to show how many times a Shakespearean character used the word love, or find words that are most commonly associated with love.
This site is a free online listing of grants available for K-12 schools and teachers. Grant Wrangler can be especially helpful as school technology budgets tighten. Grants can be searched by keyword or by deadline. The news bulletins are updated daily and contain direct links to applications that are available online.
Teachers and administrators can also subscribe to Grant Wrangler’s daily e-mail blast, which lists up-to-date grant opportunities.
Users can also download a Grant Wrangler widget to post on a school or district Web page, making it easier to track new grants posted to the site.
Compiled by Tim Ebner
A version of this article appeared in the October 21, 2009 edition of Digital Directions as Top Picks: Go-To Sites For Ed-Tech Leaders