Here are some amazing programs that were not designed specifically for education, but could have an incredible impact on learning.
With Election Day fast approaching, ElectNext allows everyone to find the candidates (President, Governor, Senate, Congress) that are in their district and who most resemble their values. If you answer a series of about 10 questions (which are selected by a secret algorithm), you can view the candidate who most aligns to your answers, and then you can explore what their policies are in those areas. Plus you can look at the other candidate(s) and see where they do and don’t align with you.
Can you imagine the great class discussions you could have on the issues and candidates? How many Middle School student know who is their Congressman, and what he or she stands for? And that’s just the start, plans are to expand ElectNext to help you evaluate and become active in whatever issues you are passionate about.
Vantageous will allow you to use virtually any PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone to take multi angle videos. Let’s say two students are making a presentation, or having a debate. You can use up to four devices to video the performance. You will then press play, and while the videos are running select which angle is active at any particular time. When you’re done, you can save, download, or upload your video to play or share. It’s a great addition to digital storytelling.
The program should be out in the next few weeks, and you can sign up on the website for notification of when the program is ready.
Do you want to extend your social reach to do good? ThunderClap allows you to write a message and set a target number of respondents. Once that number of people have agreed with you message, it sends out posts from each of those people to the various social networks carrying that message.
Let’s say a high school class has an issue that they can get behind, like possibly supporting someone who had an accident. They may decide that they want 250 people to send out tweets or Facebook updates about it. They post a message to Thunderclap, and they talk to friends and relatives to support that issue. Once they reach 250 supporters, the posts go out. If those 250 people have an average reach of 250 people, they’ve reached over 60,000 people.
Thunderclap has been used for causes like helping refugees in Sudan, and ending Polio. The UN used it to announce World Humanitarian day and reached 1 billion people.
Does your class want to get involved with Microlending to third
world entrepreneurs? Seeds
ready yet, and they are looking for backers themselves, but they are building a social game that allows microlending. They point out that most social gamers are women, and most of the people who benefit from micro lending are women, so this is a natural. In many parts of Africa, there are more people with cell phones than people who have access to potable water, so receiving and paying back funds (by texting) is easier than taking a shower.
ShoutRoulette is the fastest, simplest way to yell at people you think are morons about the things you are right about. Just pick a topic, choose your opinion and in moments you will be matched up with someone who vehemently disagrees with you. Then just start screaming. And I didn’t even have to write that, I just copied it from their website.
ShoutRoulette came out of Comedy Hack Day, which paired comedians with hackers to create funny apps. You probably can’t use this one in the classroom, but if you get tired grading papers or writing business plans, it’s always a good release to yell at someone other than your spouse or children.
I saw all of these programs, and a few more at the October 9 New York Tech Meetup. They are monthly and the next one is November 13. They are a blast, and hope to see you there.