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Gearing up for a new semester

Our way too short and too hot summer is winding down. Next week begins the week of meetings and school begins the following Monday. I am preparing for another exciting busy semester. Thanks for understanding that I had to take a break from the blog.

Hans Rosling & Motion Charts

If you have not seen a Hans Rosling presentation, I suggest you immediately go here (TED Talks) and watch one of his videos.

In his videos, he uses Gapminder to display data.  Gapminder software that Rosling wrote with two of his children.  Part of the software, TrendAnalyzer, was bought by Google in 2006.  You can make your own Gapminder display by using the Google Motion gadget.

I used the Google Motion gadget to create the chart below. Note: I had technical issues embedding the working chart, so I just inserted a screen shot instead. The chart actually moves, unfortunately my picture of it does not. :(

created from Dept. of Education data & Google Motion gadget

created from Dept. of Education data & Google Motion gadget

As a longtime fan of Tufte, the information presented using the software is presented in a way that, I imagine, Tufte would find awesome.  I encourage everyone to take a look and see if it can be used in the classroom to display large amounts of data that change over time (trends).  I can almost guarantee that students will be enthralled by the movement.  Seeing data in action is so much more powerful than just seeing a series of bar graphs.

TweetPsych

Staying in the same vein as the last post, I found another interesting site that makes Twitter a little bit more interesting.  TweetPsych is a site that allows an user to enter any twitterer’s username and get a brief psychological profile.  It’s fairly interesting to see the results.

I came across a really interesting site called Twicsy.  The site allows users to search images that people have linked to on twitter.

The site is interesting in that you can search for a topic (such as Iran) and get a page of results. When you hover over an image, it is englarged in a popout. When you click on the image you are directed to a page with a larger version of the image and tweets related to the image.  Very cool stuff.

Classroom Tools – Free

Even though school is out for the summer, I decided to do a post on classroom tools that are available free.  I’m not going to discuss GoogleDocs or Zoho or PBWiki here, these will be more visual tools – video and image tools.

photo by dcJohn

photo by dcJohn

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Editorializing Editorials

Today, thanks to twitter, I came across two editorials from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that are extremely pertinent to education.

Students lost in digital wasteland

and

If it’s not on the test, don’t expect me to know it

Both of these articles deal with the expectations of students vs. instructors vs.  system/standardized tests.

In the first editorial Eric Fox, an English professor, bemoans the shift to edutainment (not the word he uses) from education.  He blames the shift on “packaged minds fresh off the factory farm of iPod, “American Idol” and Facebook, a vast herd of electronic sheep stuffed with fast facts and establishment filler.”  It’s the establishment filler (I might have called it a filter) that Fox has the issue with.

The second editorial written by Laura Braziel a graduating senior at UGA, explains how students can “game” the system and become an honors graduate from a top five journalism school at a major university without actually learning much.  She blames standardized testing.

As someone who works in instructional technology, these editorials are disconcerting.  I have a passion for education and for learning.  I believe technology should not get in the way of learning, but should enhance and deepen the learning process.  I have mixed feelings about standarized tests and their impact on learning and curriculum.  What you think?

Ok, ok, maybe not Wikipedia since most faculty seem to turn away from Wikipedia like vampires turn away from the sun…

In this article, I want to discuss why faculty don’t like Wikipedia, if wikis have any value in higher education and if student created wikis have value.

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