As most of you who read my blog posts regularly, or follow myself (@VanessaSCassie) or Sharp's Audio Visual (@SharpsAV) on Twitter know, we've been carrying a new product for awhile now -- the Magic Planet.
No, it's not a space age crystal ball as the title of this blog post suggests, but rather a great piece of technology that lets people (students included) grasp concepts on a spherical surface. We recently had the president and CEO of Global Imagination lead a presentation to our clients in Calgary, and will be having another presentation tomorrow in Vancouver if you're interested in attending (insert shameless plug here).
As I sat and watched this great demo and listened to the discussion of educators in the room, I was reminded of why I think everyone is so easily impressed by it. While I'm the first to admit that shiny things can sometimes catch my eye in a distracting way (squirrel!), the glitz and glow of the globe is NOT the primary reason that our attendees were so excited about it.
Instead, the endless realm of possibilities as well as the potential impact the Magic Planet could have on learning were the main focus of yesterday's session. It quickly became apparent that some abstract concepts that have traditionally been difficult for spatially-challenged students to grasp with a 2D representation, could EASILY be demonstrated on the globe. And I should know. You're talking to the girl who has gotten lost coming out of a mall bathroom more times than I'd like to admit.
If you haven't yet taken the time to explore this product, you really should. I could go on and on about why I, as a former classroom teacher, would have LOVED to get my hands on this for my students, but my top 10 reasons are listed below:
1. For aforementioned spatially inept people (like myself), making connections of a myriad of concepts (how many Earths fit into Jupiter, why are flight patterns shown on a curve for 2D maps, etc.) is much easier than looking a flat image on a computer/in a textbook.
2. Integration with your SMART Board and SMART Notebook is SUPER easy (as well as with other often-used programs such as Powerpoint). Essentially, this allows you to have 2 different display surfaces at a time, which will actually "talk" to one another.
3. You get access to TONS of pre-made content built for the globe from reputable organizations (can you say NASA?)
4. Said content is relevant to major world events -- for example, there's an animation that was ready 3 DAYS after the Japanese earthquake, showing the effects on ocean waves around the world.
5. It's easy to create your own content from either scratch or compiling things from the internet. Better yet -- have your students create projects to demonstrate their learning.
6. A reputable study in China showed that student's learning improved in a classroom with the Magic Planet than in one without. And I'm not just talking about that spit-it-out regurgitation type of "learning". The study showed how much better students' comprehension and retention of concepts/ideas was, even after controlling for as many other variable factors (male-female ratio, same teacher, same average, etc.)
7. You can get a version of the globe that is touch interactive to allow for even better ease of use.
8. Just because it's called a Magic Planet doesn't mean that you're limited to a globe projection. I've seen it become everything from a fish tank, to Mars, to a blinking eyeball to a fireworks display.
9. It can become a crucial component of a multimedia lab, as it allows you to display everything from YouTube videos to panoramic images and movies to content built on your own PC.
10. Ummm...because it's fun, cool, exciting and the wave of the future!
For those who haven't had a chance to see it up close and personal, take a look at this brief YouTube video from a few years back that gives you a glimpse of what I've been going on and on about today:
To all those that attended yesterday's session - thank you! I was excited listening to the chatter about how this could become another fantastic teaching and learning tool in today's technology-enable classroom.