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New multimedia web app launched

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Digital Explorer has just launched a new multimedia web app, the [de] Student Player. The web app hosts 100s of photos, videos and graphics from a variety of expeditions and projects around the world. The [de] Student Player is designed to be used on desktops, laptops and tablet computers.

It is designed both for front of classroom use by teachers and independent learning for students.

Media items are grouped around themes relating to the resources…

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And are labelled using common hashtags both for curriculum subjects and topics…

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Clicking on a media item shows additional information – great for that extra background on a new species or for student-led learning…

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When photos and videos are added to the lesson area, they can then be played full-screen for perfectly personalised lessons…

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Oh and did we say it’s free?

Create Share and Explore

Here at Digital Explorer we are always looking for new ways to encourage a more interactive learning experience.
Today we have been playing around with Thinglink.

Thinglink is a free website that helps you create and discover rich images. Every image can be linked to create a pathway for information. This way of tying together information in a creative and interactive way makes Thinglink a perfect tool to be used in education.
So we thought we would give it a go…

Thinglink is a simple tool that enables a fun and explorative way of learning.

Its free to sign up. All you need is an email address/ twitter account. There is also a section specifically designed for education which enables you to store an unlimited number of images. This means you can always save your creations for next year!

1) So the first step is to select an image that you want to create as your base. This can be a graph, a map, or a classroom display.

2) Once you’ve chosen your image you can upload it from your hard drive, facebook, flickr or a URL. Once your image is uploaded you can give it a title.

3) So you’ve got your picture and a title, now you can start editing. Click on the element of your image that you want to link. Then you can copy and paste a URL to link it to an online resource, article or another image. Bellow this box there is a description box, you can use this box to explain the link to the image, or include facts and information.

4) The top left hand corner of the image box shows a search bar where you can link in videos, photos and music on your image.

5) Once your finished editing remember to save and then you can share your image on many different social media websites. You can also email your image or copy and paste the link into a PowerPoint and use in conjunction with your lesson. Simple!

It’s definitely worth checking out the browse function in the top right hand of the screen. You can search for specific images that relate to your lesson if you don’t want to create your own or just need a few ideas.

Thinglink enables teachers to create imaginative and unique experiences. This can be done through the annotation of graphs, or embedding the images into student blogs. Alternatively Thinglink could be used in lessons or as homework for students to design and demonstrate their own personal understanding of a topic.

EMSEA Conference 2013 presentation

Here are the slides for the presentation given by Jamie B-D at the EMSEA conference in Plymouth…

Bringing London Zoo To You

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Skype in the Classroom- Bringing London Zoo to you

Digital Explorer has teamed up with Skype to provide a better educational experience. We can bring the world to your classroom.

One of our most recent Digital Explorer and Skype collaborations was broadcast from the Zoological Society London. In the depths of the rainforest enclosure at 7am there was one of Digital Explorers good friends Ollie Steeds, and the zoo keeper Lucy. Ollie was discussing the rainforest and his experiences as an explorer. Lucy told the class about her experiences with the animals and talked about adaption. This lesson was being held in a classroom 17000 Km’s away near Melbourne. The students at St Agatha’s primary were able to ask questions and engage with educators from across the world.

Skype has the ability to connect the world and therefore goes hand in hand with Digital Explorers mission to educate young people on global issues. St Agatha’s primary school near Melbourne had the opportunity to connect with experts that they may not have had the chance of meeting without the use of Skype.

Skype has the ability to create real world links.

If you would like to book a speaker for your school you can do it on the Skype in the classroom website, where there are many of Digital Explorer’s friends. There are accompanying resources available on our website.

We would like to say a big thank you to the Zoological Society London, St Agatha’s, Skype and Ollie.

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Join Us for a Rhino Event on 18th September

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The Changing Face of the Rhino – Wednesday 18th September at 7:00pm

Mantis Foundation lecture auction

The Changing Face of the Rhino is a fundraising event that Digital Explorer is proud to support. The event is an inspiring account of the living trauma of rhino poaching. The event gives focus to how humanity can be inspired, and to reshape attitudes towards environmental crisis. You can book tickets online.

Here at Digital Explorer we have got 50 tickets available at half price (£10). This fundraising event is an excellent opportunity to get students actively engaged with conservation issues. The event has a number of relevant speakers including an opening by Bear Grylls, an introduction from William Travers OBE, and a lecture from Dr. William Fowlds, with closing words from Virginia McKenna OBE.

These tickets are for teachers and students only and are available on a first come first serve basis. If you are interested please contact Flora at Digital Explorer.

The Changing Face of the Rhino fundraising event would suit GCSE and A level geography students. There are accompanying resources available from Digital Explorer entitled the Voices of Conservation.

The Voices of Conservation Collection focuses on issues of rhino conservation in South Africa. The collection includes booklets, lesson plans, facts sheets and assembly resources. There is a fantastic competition courtesy of Voices of conservation that offers the opportunity to win a journey of a life time, and be part of a conservation mission. To be a part of this amazing opportunity download the voices of conservation poster available on the Digital Explorer website. These resources are based around the work of Dr. William Fowlds and others, and help to bring issues of conservation to the classroom. For full access to these resources go to Digital Explorer website.
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Building a tech stack for global learning

Interesting event at the Institute of Education about global learning. It turned out to be a debate about development education and created a dichotomy between values and knowledge driven models. The discussion got into the nature of knowledge for a while and it was time to escape. My brain is too small to cope. So instead, I put together a few slides describing what I believe to be a minimum technology stack for global learning.

This is the basis for the model that Digital Explorer will be working to resource and provide CPD around. Thoughts, feedback and ideas appreciated as always!

This is apparently getting towards Education 3.0. Very exciting if you like that kind of thing.

Redesigning Education – initial reflections

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Another education event at the RSA, and another sense of disappointment. The Redesigning Education event launched the book of the same name, developed by the Global Education Leaders Programme . It’s all very interesting and all the best and brightest innovations and buzzwords are in there.

Collaboration, connection, use of educational technology, project based learning, teachers as designers of learning rather than imparters of knowledge were all there. I did like the special emphasis on mobilising demand.

It’s a good highlights tour of current educational thinking wrapped up in the moniker Education 3.0 (with Education 1.0 being about access, and Education 2.0 focusing on school improvement). I especially like the section on scaling and diffusion of innovation.

But somehow this greatest hits tour seems slightly skewed. Not enough attention is paid to the context of the 21st Century – access to resources (food, water, energy), population growth and increased material aspirations on a finite planet, post-industrial markets, the expectation of free online content, etc.

If we were to have a completely blank slate and the greatest minds how would they redesign the education system. As such, this is a useful highlighting of ongoing trends.

At Digital Explorer we are currently working on developing a #futureminds curriculum/model, interested in the different ways of thinking that young people will need to thrive.

  • How can we help young people develop compassion for themselves, their communities and the wider world?
  • How can we help young people understand that they live in an interdependent world, where their every day actions can have both negative and positive impacts on the other side of the world?
  • Lastly, how do we introduce the concept of delayed gratification into an instant world? The need to work hard, to save for a prolonged retirement(?), to act on environmental issues that may not see a result for 50 years?

It’s not that Redesigning Education won’t help, but the 21st Century context in terms of environment, demography and technology will require very different ways of thinking and coping, that will require a very different focus. Learning to think in new ways should be at the fore of a new design for education systems.

What would your experience curriculum include?

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After an excellent event put on by Earthwatch, Why emotion matters in conservation science, it was a pleasure to talk about how we can help young people have an emotional relationship with nature and the especially the ocean.

‘J’ Nichols talked about a project in El Salvador, where every 10 year old releases a baby turtle on the beach. What an amazing experience, for every single 10 year old to have. And there is a buzz in the years beforehand, children anticipating this rite of passage and connection with nature and the ocean.

In discussions on the National Curriculum in England, we put into law what our young people should know. What would happen if we also enshrined in law the experiences that they are entitled to: spend a night in a tent in the wild, visit the sea, attend a service from a different faith background, grow food (and eat it!).

What would your experience curriculum include?

For the research on this, see the Cornell University study showing the link between adult environmentalism and nature experience before the age of 11. Maybe we should start lobbying for mandatory nature walks and camping for primary school pupils rather than climate change in the science or geography curriculum.

Guest blog: I love being a polar explorer

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Many people think that being a polar explorer is only about enduring hardships and hauling massive sleds across miles and miles of ice. There are these things, but there is also so much more to polar exploring than just that. One of the largest parts of our jobs is to take vital scientific measurements. To do this we do have to go across hundreds of miles of ice, but even this has its upsides. Waking up in this beautiful landscape is one of the perks of the jobs.

Because of the serenity and emptiness of the Arctic, it is a real shock to come back to the U.K! Your brain struggles to process everything that you see around you. Your senses pick up the minor things, like food cooking, and cars going past.

After the peace and remoteness of the Arctic, it is a very sudden change! It is very funny to see all of the Londoners in their thick coats, and we are there in T – shirts and jeans!

One question we get asked a lot is if we have ever come face to face with a polar bear. They don’t usually come near the camp, but if they do, making lots of noise surprises them, probably because they are not used to having anything stand up to them!

I love being a polar explorer, and I wouldn’t swap my job for anything! It is a great feeling to know that the work we are doing could really make a positive difference to the Polar Regions. I feel honoured to have the opportunity to do this, and if anyone is thinking of a career in Polar Exploration, go ahead!

By Jake S, as part of the Colyton Grammar School Polar Challenge Day. Pupils were asked to write a blog post describing life on a polar expedition, using what they had learnt during the day.

Guest blog: What being a polar explorer is like

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As you would expect, being a polar explorer is extremely difficult. For one thing, the Arctic is one of the most remote areas on the planet, and help isn’t simply a phone call away, as it is in most places. If trouble comes, you are on your own! And of course, the main problem is the cold. Temperatures can drop to -60°C! This is so cold that some things freeze instantly. One day, I was chucking out the waste water from cooking, and as I threw it, the liquid froze in mid-air and fell to the ground, a dead weight!

The cold means that things must be protected, even inside the tents! Even 1 minute exposing flesh can start frostbite, a horrible condition where extremities like fingers and toes freeze, turn black, and have to be amputated. Protecting yourself means everything is challenging. Every night, when I get into bed, I have to go through a strict ritual. First, I have to take off my clothes down to my thermals, while still wearing my mitts. Obviously this is quite difficult, because mitts are massive and puffy. After that, I have to get in 4 layers of sleeping bag! The first layer is a thermal bag, a bit like a crisp packet, to stop moisture leaving my body at night and freezing around me, then I put on a fleece, a thick heavy outer layer, and, if it is really cold, a further thick outer layer. And putting all this on ahs to be done with mitts, of course!

It is hard getting to sleep, even once I am in my sleeping bag. In the summer, it is light all day and night long, due to the planet’s tilt, so I have to cover my eyes with something, e.g. a hat, to have any chance of sleeping. In the morning, when I get up, the day starts straight away. Each member of the team has to pull a sled weighing an incredible 200 pounds, and that is just the minimal amount needed for survival be! 200 pounds is the weight of about 5 12 year old children! 10 hours of the day is spent travelling, pulling the necessities like food, shelter and scientific equipment. The sleds must be pulled over anything, including sharp ice rubble, steep ledges and even floated across rivers like a raft! But, of course, while travelling, the great beauty of the Arctic can be seen. A vast plain of ice, the sun reflecting off them, is one of the greatest sights in the world.

At the end of the journey, it is time to set up camp. In nice weather, around – 30°C, this can be ok, but at -50°C, in the driving winds, after a day spent pulling heavy sledges, this isn’t fun. At least when it is up, it is a bit warmer. Food is normally high calorie things, like Mars bars, that have been sliced and put into bags to stop them freezing, otherwise they would break your teeth! An electric fence is set up around the camp, to deter any curious polar bears. Once, when I was going to the toilet tent outside the fence, a polar bear appeared, so I had to leg it back over the fence before it got closer!

It is always a bit sad coming back home after visiting the Arctic, because nothing feels the same. However, it is nice to have some warmth! The whole point of Arctic exploration is to conserve and protect the Arctic. The Arctic is incredibly important in the world, as it helps control the climate. But unfortunately it is melting. That is why people explore the Arctic and brave the challenges; to discover more about how fast it’s melting and why. The Arctic is worth saving!

By Jake L, as part of the Colyton Grammar School Polar Challenge Day. Pupils were asked to write a blog post describing life on a polar expedition, using what they had learnt during the day.