Friday, February 10, 2012

Five Pretty Cool Places to Play

I've been spending some time exploring digital spaces that tap into my sense of wonder and natural desire to learn. We all have places in which we like to muck about online, and our preferences are surely driven by our personal interests, learning styles, and to some degree, time.

My most recent favorites are (in no particular order):

The Kids Should See This
This is a collection of kid-friendly resources of all types that have been curated by Rion Nakaya and her four-year-old co-curator. This collection is largely offered without much commentary (which I like). I also love the diversity of content. If you are looking for pure wonder-inspiring content that could inspire conversation and investigation, I hope you'll check this out.

Wonderopolis
This playground offers up a daily wonder (as in "I wonder...") that is very engaging. Wonderopolis comes from the National Center for Family Literacy, and their stated goal is to help find the "learning moments in everyday life." Wonderopolis is a little more text-based and goes deeper into the learning by answering the questions that they ask. If I were going to use this with a class, I'd propose the question and invite the students to explore the topic before sharing the "answer." Again, I love the variety.

Gooru
A colleague turned me onto this one this week. Wow! This is a remarkable resource. I am absolutely sure that I have not plumbed the full potential of this site, and since it is in Alpha, it clearly has room to grow and become extraordinary. In the meantime, what I love about this is that it has tons of well-vetted resources of all types organized into useful content categories and topics. If you are a teacher who is looking to quickly get to the best that the web has to offer in a certain area, I recommend that you sign up to give gooru a spin. If you are just wanting to learn something new, gooru is also a great place to just browse.

Star.Me
This one is a little different from the others listed above, in that it is a more active playground. Joining star.me is a socially enhanced creative experience. This amazing playground comes to us via the delightful mind of Ze Frank, and is a delightful reminder that it is fun to be creative and to use our imaginations. Highlights include the opportunity to complete the "Mission of the Day," to participate in community missions, to comment to other people's responses, and to earn stars that can be bestowed upon community members. The fun is so engrossing that it can be difficult to leave, but the challenges never leave you feeling like you have wasted time. Star.me is definitely an opportunity to use your brain in joyous ways.

Flipboard
I've known about and used Flipboard for a while now, and it just keeps getting better. Flipboard is an App for the iPhone, iPad or Android that takes RSS feeds and turns them into a magazine format. Working through your Twitter or Facebook feed is delightful. You can also attach your favorite blogs, and they have pre-selected feeds from great content curators such as Mashable, favorite sites such as TED.com, and amazing publishers like The New Yorker.  The interface is completely intuitive, and it is easy to find new things to inspire your curiosity or to match your passions. Flipboard is a must-have app if you are looking for a playground on your slate or smart phone.

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