Thursday, April 16, 2009

Some neat OER websites for Geography

Spatial Worlds Website

Picture descriptions:
Left image: The participating teachers at the Brussels OER workshop.
Right image:Brussel streetscape.

Brussels, Belgium: N:50º 52' E: 4º 22'

One of the great aspects of being involved in the OER intiative was that a huge range of innovative resources were presented. Here are just a few to have a go at!
Physical Geography
Geography games
World Demographic Clock
Designing an habitable planet
History and DNA (I know it is not Geography but really neat as a site)
Historical maps
Outer space and geography
The breathing Earth
Lifestyle and the environment
Mapping worlds differently

It is worth looking at the well travelled initiatives related to Open Education Resources. Considering more and more teachers are using websites in their teaching today there is a need to start working on some type of quality control to ensure that the websites support good pedagogy in the classroom. Naturally this is true for geography as well. For example when looking at a website do you consider the following to make sure it is OK for your quality teaching and student learning?** If it was a book I am sure these questions would be foremost in your review.
Is the website:
o Culturally appropriate
o Gender appropriate
o Current
o Agenda of the developer- bias
o Credibility
o Authentic
o Interactive
o Advertising Free
o Attractive
o Engaging
o Easy to navigate
o Relevant to curriculum (even if not designed specifically for a given curriculum or for any curriculum)
o Adhere to W3C Accessibility
o Modular
o Content independent of structured
o Language Independent or Multilingual
o Remixable
o Easy to download and save
o Stored as a file type that is readily accessible with generally
available software
o Cross Browser Compatibility
o Cross Platform Compatibility
o Accessible outside of login
o Unlikely to be blocked by firewalls
o Degree of Openness (eg Rights)
o No cost to use
o Labeling
o Indexed for Searchability
o Time Limitations

** These criteria developed at the April 2009 OER workshop in Brussels.

All good questions and need to be reviewed before the website is used as a teaching tool.

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