Classroom visualization tools – Stargazing now possible with Worldwide Telescope on Bing Maps

The thing I think is exciting about Bing is that it’s becoming more than just a place to find information and search…it’s really about how to apply search to experiences and productivity scenarios you would use inside a classroom. So not only being able to search on information but the ability to apply new learning constructs and create new learning experiences that weren’t possible before.

Today, Bing Maps released the Worldwide Telescope (WWT) application that was first previewed at the recent TED conference. The application allows students to literally look up at the virtual sky in Bing Maps and see constellations and stars as they exist in real-life. You can even adjust the time of the day to see what the sky looks like anywhere in the world at different hours in real-time. You can download the new WWT app here (scroll down and click on “Maps Apps”) and read more about WWT and its uses in the classroom in one of my earlier blog posts here. You need to have Silverlight installed and it only works on the U.S. version Bing Maps right now, but the team is looking to expand the WWT application to other countries in the future.

The WWT integration with Bing Maps is just one great example of visualization tools teachers can use in the classroom. I think visualization and technology’s role to enhance visualization is a game changer as we work with publishers and content providers around the world. When you think about what students are reading for example…most students are reading more words on a digital screen format than they are in an analog book…and that creates huge potential for content providers to do great things.

A couple weeks ago, I keynoted at the NCCE 2010 conference in Seattle and showed off several free visualization tools from Microsoft that allow teachers and students to get creative about teaching and learning. The video below shows a demo of Deep Zoom in Silverlight Web pages (more info here), Photosynth (my previous blog post here) and work we’ve done with the British Library to digitize books.

Check these visualization techniques out and see how you can bring inanimate objects to life and transport faraway places closer to make a personal connection and a real experience. I would love to hear your feedback and see your examples!

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