A roundup of sites that caught my eye this week.

  1. When in Rome… teach! This is a great use of the Internet:
    This week, we introduced the new Ancient Rome 3D
    layer in Google Earth, a groundbreaking collection of 6,700 3D buildings modeled as leading scholars determined they stood in the year 320 A.D.
    While we hope that teachers are already pretty excited to incorporate Ancient Rome 3D into their lessons, we wanted to go a step further and issue an open challenge to educators to harness the power of this new tool in the classroom. Today, we’re proud to announce the launch of the inaugural Google lesson plan contest for K-12 educators in the US, the Ancient Rome in 3D Curriculum Competition. Whether you teach art history to high school students or geometry to fifth graders, the new visual tool can spice up lessons old and new. From a comparative architectural study using the ancient 3D models and modern Street View imagery to a new LitTrip of Virgil’s
    Aeneid, the only limit is your imagination!
  2. Are the diplomas already a failure? I believe it was Melanie Phillips (in All Must Have Prizes) who wrote about the peculiar British attitude towards vocational schools and compared it with that of the Swiss. This School Gate blog entry questions the British Government’s attempt to create a new kind of qualification “separate from A-levels”.
  3. You can lead cattle to water but you can’t make them think. James Atherton (whom I referred to recently) blogs about an interesting article in the Times Higher Education Supplement. Written by Bob Blaisdell, associate professor in the English department, Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York, it reviews a book by Temple Grandin, Associate Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, and a renowned expert on stock handling systems in abattoirs. She is also seriously autistic. Blaisdell provides some interesting insights into learning and learners:

    “I noticed that if you left a pile of camera equipment alone in the middle of the field, all the cows would come up to it and investigate. But if you walked towards them carrying the same equipment, they’d take off. Motion was a problem, so if I just stood there holding the equipment the cows would come to me.”

    I know, I know: we’re in a hurry to impart knowledge to our cattle. (We can lead the cattle to water, but we can’t make them think.) Can we afford to be patient, observant? Can we take the time to be perceptive about the details that make classrooms so distracting?