Because I’m not 4,003% sure what subjects I want to teach or who I want to teach them to, I checked out 3 fairly random resources found in our book for teacher use. The first was GarageBand. Created by Apple Inc. this software is designed to help individuals to either create their own music built off homemade recordings or revise and personalize pre-made songs. The program has very few downsides. IT has a variety of tools and kits built in to give students free creative range. They don’t need to actually have a metronome or electric guitar or mike mixer to create a song. They can use the limited tools or instruments they personally have, add their recordings to the program, and then use the program tools to produce a professional-like song. The only real downside I see is that this program can very easily glorify the ‘me’ in ‘team’. By removing the need for a sound tech, a guitarist, drummer, etc. students are robbed of the experience in working as a team on a song. They also miss out on learning how to operate such equipment which can hurt them later on down the road if they choose to work in a studio that demands recorders have a good understanding of the equipment.
The next resource I checked out was Vernier LabQuest. This is a device with an integrated lab quest program. It holds over 100 preset science labs and additional tools for use in the teacher’s curriculum. Teachers may also design their own labs using the Vernier software. It has a touch screen making it interactive as well as sensors for collecting data if the students are performing the labs hands-on in class. The device can link up to other Vernier products or to a computer/projector so that students may view each others results or watch the teacher input information prior or post experiment. The tool is designed to be used as either a standalone lab or as an aid for hands-on experiments. The program has excellent reviews and even the company itself has received awards for this work and others. It is currently pushing version two of LabQuest (over $300 per unit) which is expected to be as great a success as its predecessor.
Finally, I investigated Babylon 9, a foreign language translator available online. I use this program from time to time so I figured it would be interesting to review. The program is freeware and can be used online or downloaded onto a computer or other device. It has over 800 translation pairs. This does not mean that it has over 800 languages in its repertoire. Instead it has 800 translatable pairs. For example, if may be able to translate between Farsi and English, but not Farsi and Dutch. The simpler the sentence, the more accurate the result will be. However, Babylon 9 can also easily confuse the original sentence meaning with another. For example, if I try to type “My favorite strawberry milkshake is by Breyers” and translate it to Hebrew, I will get “My favorites from a hamburger and -milkshake- to Blue corn pancakes at strawberries by -Breyers-“. This is because the program cannot distinguish context (when I said “by” I meant “made by”) and cultural words such as “milkshake”, a food not used in Israel but common in the U.S. This in mind, Babylon 9 cannot be a stand alone program. It can be used with other tools or its dictionaries can be useful as aids, but you will get some very funny looks if you use it as your sole translator in a foreign country!