I Go, You Go, We All (except Jim) Go for Diigo

Bookmarks getting a little unmanageable? Try reorganizing your saved sites of interest with Diigo, an online bookmarking application. What’s the advantage of bookmarking with Diigo rather than your web browser? Diigo combines information management with social networking under the tagline “Research, Share, Collaborate” to connect people looking for similar web-based resources. Users create new interest groups or join existing groups in which they can post links to a running bookmark “feed.”  Share your favorite conservation- or biodiversity-related TEDTalk with the Crossing Boundaries Diigo group or create your own Diigo group for bookmarking personal hobby resources of the yoga, knitting, and hula-hooping persuasion. Additionally, group members can choose to receive immediate, daily, or weekly emails notifying them of the bookmarks other members have posted to the group.

Other helpful Diigo features include:

  • A web highlighter for marking up your online reading
  • A capture tool for taking screen snapshots and adding polygon, text, and arrow overlays
  • A send tool for exporting links to Twitter, Facebook, and your blog
  • A read later tool for saving sites of interest as unread bookmarks
  • Mobile applications for syncing with your iPad, iPhone, or Android

Refer to the Diigo Tech 101 page on the Crossing Boundaries wiki to get started sharing resources with your Crossing Boundaries fellows!

“Greg Stone: Saving the ocean one island at a time”

Scientist Greg Stone. Image courtesy of www.neaq.org.

Scientist Greg Stone. Image courtesy of www.neaq.org.

Looking for ways to show your students how scientific research can effect real social change? Watch scientist Greg Stone talk about ocean biodiversity conservation efforts on the isolated Pacific island nation of Kiribati. Stone and local leaders developed the concept of a reverse fishing license—similar to land initiatives to compensate for rainforest preservation—as an alternative to selling fishing rights to Kiribati’s vast expanse of ocean waters (nearly 2% of the world’s oceans!). With the help of Conservation International and other governmental and nongovernmental partners, an endowment was set up to pay the developing country the equivalent of revenue lost from fishing licenses. Inspirational and informational, this video is a great case study of the dynamic relationship between science and policy. Check it out or look for other TEDTalks to integrate into your classroom. TED is a nonprofit entity that brings experts from every field to speak about “Ideas Worth Spreading” at its annual conferences in California and Edinburgh, UK.

Special thanks to Kateri Krantz-Odendahl, our Cornell Lab of Ornithology education intern, for writing this blog post.

VoiceThread: Creating virtual spaces for conversation

“Collaboration made simple” reads the slogan of VoiceThread, a software-free, multimedia slide show designed to create a virtual space for global conversations. The slide show can include videos, images, or documents and viewers can leave comments in five different ways: telephone, microphone, text, audio file, or webcam. Comments remain embedded around the outside of the slide show frame—think holiday wreath—encouraging an ongoing dialogue with future viewers.

Science teacher Dave Gardener of Solvay, NY, used VoiceThread with his SUNY-ESF Global Environment class to comment on eight videos included in the Crossing Boundaries 2011 Environmental Film Festival (Note: Videos in VoiceThread are password protected. To view the Film Festival videos, search titles on YouTube). The videos covered a range of ongoing environmental issues, including global warming, conservation, and resource management. Students watched the videos together as a class before individually submitting responses to the questions listed for each video on the Crossing Boundaries website.

Dave noted that students enjoyed the activity, citing the video “What Cows Produce,” a comic animation of the contribution of cow-produced methane in global warming, as a class favorite. “It’s not always going to be serious,” said Dave of studying environmental issues. “It can have some humor involved in it.”

Initially, students tended to make more general comments unrelated to the environmental issue at hand, but after reiterating the goal of the activity and having students go back and edit their comments, Dave was pleased with the responses. “I like the idea of the Voice Thread,” said Dave, praising the versatility of the commenting methods from written notes to voice recordings. “Instead of having them try to come up with something and…write it out, some of [my students] are more comfortable speaking it out, so that might be a nice alternative assessment idea.”

Additionally, Dave plans to thread the concepts introduced in the videos into discussion throughout the year as the class continues to study the social and economic impacts of environmental issues. “They may think that in the beginning of the year they’re just taking an environmental class and they’re just going to learn about the trees and the different world biomes, but then they realize there’s a lot more involved.”

Interested in using VoiceThread in your classroom? Create your own VoiceThread for your students or choose one from the VoiceThread Digital Library. The Library also provides articles about other successful VoiceThread projects as an additional resource for new VoiceThreaders.

Special thanks to Kateri Krantz-Odendahl, our Cornell Lab of Ornithology education intern, for writing this blog post.

Recap: April ’11 Workshop

mexicoMexico curriculum discussion: Nancy and Mike presented an overview of their recent curriculum development trip to Mexico, including hair-raising adventures canoeing with crocodiles, visiting an offshore island covered with thousands of pairs of nesting boobies, and talking with educators about ways to connect students between NY and Mexico. Then, we all discussed possible directions for the curriculum development, including a possible focus on bird migration and habitats.

gis-iconOne-click GIS wonders: Courtney shared three easy, simple-to-use GIS tips to allow your students to explore data.

  • Spatial bookmarks: Bookmarks allow you to easily return to a specific area of your map without having to search for it again with the zoom and pan tools. Ultimately, it cuts down on the amount of time it takes to backtrack to specific locations of interest. –> Click the Bookmark menu and select Create.
  • Overview window: The overview window creates a small window that shows you where you are in relationship to your entire map. You’ll never get lost in a sea of data again! –> Click the Window menu and select overviewwindow .
  • Magnifier: The magnifier creates a magnifying glass through which you can closely examine data, such as the relationship between roads and deforestation in the Amazon. –> Click the Window menu and select magnifier.

blog-iconCB blogs: Courtney and CB intern Kate gave a quick overview of new content on our Crossing Boundaries blog and our active Conservation Scientists’ blogs. We encourage you to read and comment on these blogs that cover topics from frog genetics (www.annasavage.edublogs.org) to mutualism between a bird and tree (www.tazaschaming.edublogs.org) to plant diversity (www.susancookpatton.edublogs.org).

What’s going to be your Act of Green?

In “going green” it’s easy to find oneself thinking, “I’m just one person, what can I do?” Well, remember, you are not alone! Environmental initiatives start small and grow. A Billion Acts of Green is a global campaign supported by Earth Day 2011 and dedicated to seeking pledges large and small from individuals, organizations, and corporations towards more sustainable ways of living. The Act can be simple: plant a tree, swap your light bulbs out for LEDs, or lower your water usage. With already over 96 million pledges, the campaign is well on its way to reaching its goal of one billion pledges before the 2012 Earth Summit in Rio, showing the power of individual actions to collectively better our environment. Visit the campaign’s website now to make your commitment to sustainability!

Special thanks to Kateri Krantz-Odendahl, our Cornell Lab of Ornithology education intern for writing this blog post.