Bright Ideas for Education - Tom March

January 2009

G'Day & Happy New Year,
Thesis Builder :: Causinator!-

Thesis BuilderIn the November newsletter I highlighted the Thesis Builder, a javascript tool to help students draft persuasive essays. Over the years, the original Thesis Builder has become the most popular link at / (so much for articles, presentations and WebQuests!). Because a few of you were good enough to encourage more such "Builders," I updated the Topic-O-Rama and added another Thesis Builder - this time focused on Cause & Effect essays. The Causinator guides users through brainstorming a topic and shaping their ideas into a thesis statement and outline.

See the newly updated Web site:

Tag Galaxy-
One of the coolest sites of 2008 has to be Tag Galaxy, a mash-up of Flickr and an amazing 3D environment. Steven Wood has contributed this thesis project from Georg-Simon-Ohm University of Applied Sciences, Nuremberg. Essentially, Tag Galaxy is a slick front end to the ordinary Flickr API. But instead of getting a simple page of photos as you would from a Flickr word search, Tag Galaxy integrates the PaperVision 3D interface so that the images float in from the wings, landing in amazing juxtapositions on a spinnable and clickable sphere. The image below is a simple search for "celebrations." TagGalaxy
I've had fun during workshops using Tag Galaxy as the source for Learning to Look tasks that prompt participants to engage in critical and creative thinking. Like earlier days with Vivisimo / Clusty, searching a huge user-generated and tagged database gives us an empircal look at how the world sees abstract concepts. They provide great opportunities for open-ended questioning. Try the searches below using Tag Galaxy:
  • "celebrations" - How are different cultures represented? What does this say about them?
  • "frienship" - Why so many flowers?
  • "hope + change" - Why so many darker-skinned people hoping for change?

Additional Resources

Tom March Presents...-

NECC: Spotlight Session

WebQuests 2.0: A Richer Web Improves a Good Idea
WebQuests were pretty cool a decade ago, but see what happens when you unfold today's WebQuest with video podcasts, social information networking, and collaboration tools.
- Day: Tuesday, 6/30/2009
- Time: 3:30pm–4:30pm

Friendly Pitch

Between now and April, I need to schedule at least a couple workshops / presentations on either side of NECC - June 22 - July 2. Please contact me ASAP if your school, district or association is interested in booking me for a one-day or multi-day session. First-come, first served!

Tom March


Please send me an email about any of the above.
It's always great to hear from you.


Recent Newsletters: November 08, October 08