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Monday, 7th June 2010

A Superb Web Resource: The Ocean Portal from the Smithsonian Institution, Includes a Number of Gulf Oil Spill Resources

Note: Tomorrow, June 8, 2010 is World Oceans Day. Materials from the UN and The Ocean Project

Given the tragedy now going on in the Gulf of Mexico, we thought it might be a good idea to make mention of the truly impressive, superb, fact-filled, and award winning (a Webby Award) site, Ocean Portal from the Smithsonian and more specifically, the Museum of Natural History. The site officially launched last December.

The Ocean Portal is loaded with content and spending just a few minutes here doesn't do it justice so stop by and have a look around. We found content from the SI as well as material from the Encyclopedia of Life and other Ocean Portal collaborators including:

+ ARKive
+ Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego
+ National Geographic Society
+ Census of Marine Life
+ BBC Earth
+ Monterey Bay Aquarium
+ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Right now, the top story is what you might imagine, "The Worst Oil Spill the U.S. History." The article is loaded with useful links, some great photography (as sad as it may be) and along the left margin links to educational resources including lesson plans, activities, and a links to related materials. If you're not an educator, this portion of the article might still be home to many useful resources including this directory of additional sites that includes a new special section from the Encyclopedia of Life with more on the Gulf Oil Spill.

So, while it's likely you'll begin your tour of the site with the oil spill material, don't forget that there is PLENTY of other material on all things "ocean."

The portal is divided into six sections:

+ Ocean Life and Ecosystems

+ Photo Essays

+ Ocean Over Time
Includes several timelines.

+ Ocean Science

+ A Multimedia Gallery (Audio, Video, and Photographs)

+ Educators Corner

The site also has a blog, newsletter and multiple RSS feeds.

Whether it be today, tomorrow (World Oceans Day) or sometime in the near future Ocean Portal is a web resource that is completely worth your time and attention and also worth sharing on your web site, on new resources lists (if you haven't mentioned it already) during presentations, or one on one with school librarian's, educators and others.

SI's Ocean Portal completely illustrates the power of the quality content from authoritative resources, hyperlinked content (both text and multimedia) and resources to make it more useful in the classroom to show what a high quality web resource is all about.

From an SI Announcement:

“The Smithsonian Ocean Portal is one of the most significant Smithsonian Web 2.0 projects to-date,” said Michael Edson, director of web and new media strategy at the Smithsonian Institution. “Using the best Web 2.0 technologies, we are transporting visitors to the coastline, the open waters and the deep ocean, providing experiences and perspectives typically out of sight and reach of the general public. For the first-time, visitors can shape and share their personal ocean experiences, perspective and newfound ocean knowledge in an interactive and customized way with ocean lovers around the world.”

Unlike many traditional websites, the Ocean Portal is not static, one way or rigid in architecture. Instead, the Ocean Portal is a constantly evolving environment enhanced daily by rich content and media from its ocean collaborators, as well as the ebb and flow of visitor interactions and user-generated content. The museum is seeking critical audience feedback on the content and functionality of the Portal to help set future direction for enhancements to the site and ensure an optimal visitor experience.

Source: Smithsonian Institution, Museum of Natural History

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