Monthly Archives: December 2007

Meet the World – Information and Graphics

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Grand Reportagem magazine (can’t find a link- it’s from Portugal) has an interesting series of info graphics (you can see them here) that illustrating fairly disturbing facts about countries- using the flags of the countries. Interesting idea- using symbols of pride to criticize/inform.

You could also do something similar with many logos (companies, sports, universities). If you wanted to go fairly abstract there’s also book/video/cd covers or even caricatures.

Here a quick mock up with an old Apple logo-

Apple Share
Stat Source – please excuse gross visual misrepresentation of the stats but I don’t have the time/willingness to actually work it out.

This would make a really interesting co-curricular project between a math and history/sociology type of class (throw in art as well if you’d like). The math required to calculate the proper area to factually represent the statistics would be fairly decent (especially with more complex shapes and area calculations) and figuring out which statistics about the country/company/person to contrast would require quite a bit of research and processing.

I think it’s hook a number of students and in the end you’re teaching them far more than stats or facts. You’re teaching them how to think and how to convey that thinking in a way that’s visually compelling. All the great ideas in the world mean nothing if you can’t get them across in a way that is compelling to your audience.

US Flag Stats- Iraq

Walking the Walk . . .

2Pac in the classroom

It really made my day to see ianvirgil actually print out and use the TuPac poster from this post (which was inspired by Dan’s post ). Funny how distance no longer matters- as they’re both in CA and I’m way to the right in VA.

I’m feeling a mixture of pride (I love when things I’ve done are actually useful and used) and envy.

Not being in the classroom sucks at times. There are certainly benefits but I really miss the kids and those moments when things really click in the classroom. It’s frustrating at times to do all this thinking about teaching and to have such a better understanding (as well as more tools) than I ever had before yet to be without a class of my own.

I’ll have the chance to work closely with Terry Dolson and her Core class next semester. We’ll see if that helps.

Study of gamers at IU School of Education

Media advisory: Study of gamers at IU School of Education: IU News Room: Indiana University

The reason for the research, Appelman said, is that the learning style has changed for today’s students, but the content delivery has not adapted. In the standard method of teaching, teachers deliver content and expect memorization, reading, and other work to translate the learning into performing a task.

“Students today are absolutely bored with that approach,” Appelman said. “What they want to do is to dive in immediately and say, ‘Give me a task that I can learn from.’” The primary learning method gamers employ, he said, is trial and error. “This generation has no problem with failure. They ‘die’ hundreds of times a day, but they learn from that.”

Wouldn’t work for everything but it’s definitely worth thinking about. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out.

Signs of Insanity – Musings on Standards


The building I work in. Conducive to insanity?

So now that I’m in college you’d assume I’d be happy to be away from the irritation and hassle of state standards (like the SOLs). It turns out I actually missed them. Have I lost my mind?

Probably, but I found myself arguing this morning that we should be taking advantage of the accreditation process (think NCLB for colleges only with no tests and the majority of the “proof” being created by the profs./admins- basically prove to us that you deserve to be accredited) in order to get people to change their teaching, integrate more technology etc.

That led me to realize how much I relied on the SOLs (VA’s state standards) as a lever to get into classrooms. Those standards helped me in all kinds of ways. I played good cop/bad cop and gleefully used the SOLs as the bad cop.

“Look,” I’d say “I know that the SOLs are requiring you to do blah blah blah. That’s really hard. You’ve got no time. I know. I think I have something that can help . . .” It was incredibly useful and it gave me a structure when talking to teachers who taught content I didn’t know that well.

I didn’t think I had that in college and, truth be told, it made things much more difficult. As it is college faculty have far more freedom than teachers both in terms of content and teaching styles/methodology.

I can certainly make very passionate arguments regarding the use of certain technologies in teaching but how could I start these conversations? I’m not a cold call salesman. I don’t chat people up and then suddenly say “I know I just met you but have you considered radically changing your teaching style?” I’d much rather create some content that addresses a need I know they have and then show it to them and say “If you’d like to talk about this or use it let me know.”

What I was preparing to do was sit in on a lot of classes to get the feel. I’m still going to do that but now I’ve got a framework of things these professors have to do. I can look at these major markers and then look at what will help them meet then in general and only have to tweak things based on individual classes.

Now I’m saving time and have a “big stick” that I’m not holding to motivate people. Instead, I hold the carrot of ease, engagement and ego. My way will help them meet that need easily, engage their students which improves product and makes teaching more enjoyable and finally, provides them a chance to show off the great work they’re doing in their classes.

Change often needs both a carrot and a stick.

Now my question is- do we risk eternal hatred for technology integration by associating it so closely with a process/idea that so many dislike so strongly?
Is it a disservice to the faculty and the ideas to push these changes on people who clearly don’t want to change? If so, what other options do we have to create change in any real and timely manner?

Photo source me.

Digital Economy and Pro Status

Just randomly thinking here . . . please pass if you’re busy and looking for direct application.

I’m not a photographer, yet I’ve got over 10,000 images scattered among three flickr accounts. I haven’t bought film recently (or ever that I recall) but I’ve got to imagine that the film combined with processing would have cost quite a bit. Then I’d have to figure out how to store all these pictures etc. I’d also have even fewer friends than I do now as I tried to get them to look at all these pictures and give me some feedback.

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flickrvmi.png

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Instead the accounts have around 45,000 views -that includes one that’s pretty much totally private – just stuff for family and friends. Strange to see things stack up like that.

Does this matter or am I just indulging my ego?

I think it does matter. The web combined with digital photography has created the right economy for a lot of non-professionals to really improve at a number of skills. I’m talking about photography but it could just as easily be writing, art, music or film etc. Granted it doesn’t work for all things (math would be far different for instance) but that doesn’t mean we should ignore what it does work for.

I’ve now got a free audience (voluntary and various) with different experiences, skills and points of view. That’s basically what I feel college is a lot of times. A place where you pay for a, hopefully enlightened, audience and feedback. I can do without any more student loans but I still want that feedback, that audience.

I can put up huge amounts of work, get feedback and learn from others all virtually for free. Granted there are some comments that are useless and some that are left by trolls (see virtually all youtube comments) but learning what is and is not constructive criticism is exactly that- learning. I can be selective and I can check out the commentor’s work, which either lends credibility or doesn’t. I’d have liked that option for some of the teachers I had in high school (not sure if I should smile or frown about that).

So it seems the economy is in the publishing/media, storage, and audience/expertise/interaction. Cheap, fast and frequent feedback.

Practice makes perfect right? And feedback guides practice. The more frequent and timely the better.

I’ll pretend I’m not quoting Borat when I say “Thattt’s Niccceee.”

Image source YangPing