First day of class

I’m teaching technology integration as part of a teacher licensure program at the University of Richmond. The classes are small and made up primarily of career switchers. They often seem less than thrilled to be greeted by my baby face and currently very uncut hair. I try to make up for this by referencing my 97 careers, 13 children and then doing everything from the command line. Here’s one of the things we did on the first day of class that seemed to work pretty well. 4 Slide Sales Pitch Inspiration I read this on Dan’s blog way back when. I wanted to use it then and I’ve been waiting ever since1. Assignment You’ve got 25 minutes to come up with a four slide introduction for yourself. What should we know? What makes you stand out? Why are you here? These and other exciting questions will be answered. I pitched is as a mix between the standard first day of class introduction and impressing a perspective employer. I showed them a few examples from Dan’s page. That may have been a mistake as it seems to have intimidated a few and I wonder if it colored the design choices of some others2. Rationale This is a technology integration class. I need to know something about these people so I can […]


The Future of Search

It has been interesting to see the excitement surrounding WolframAlpha . The new “Computational Knowledge Engine” called Wolfram|Alpha has gone through a full media cycle before it has even been unleashed on the world. It has been hyped as a “Google Killer” and denounced as snake oil, and we’re still at least a few days from release. The simple goal behind the engine is to connect searchers with precise information. Wolfram|Alpha’s search magic comes through a combination of natural language processing and a giant pool of curated data. That quote is from Radio Berkman (which is a very interesting podcast out of Harvard Law) and they’ve got an interview with the creator as well. Watch the abbreviated 10 minute version below. I’m not sure how well the idea of a curated semantic web will work (although I can understand that urge). This does really show a different way to think about searching for information. It really takes it beyond search, making it closer to exploration maybe. It’s similar in some ways to one of David Huynh’s Parallax project (of Simile Exhibit fame) which has been out for quite a while now. Video of that is below. Freebase Parallax: A new way to browse and explore data from David Huynh on Vimeo. While the media may be portraying Google as being […]


Simple Definitions, Complex Thoughts

Get them here or make up your own. You’ve got two ways to play this game. 1. Give these to your students as warm ups at various times but with one of the words blocked out and have them decide what it should be. 2. When they’ve got the hang of guessing, they start making their own based on terms you’re studying. Should work for just about any subject and is far better than the standard “write a sentence using this term” vocabulary exercises. Don’t limit yourself (or them) to vocabulary words- think historical events, novels etc1. 1 In a way it reminds me of the “its the * meets the *” style of music/movie descriptions which would be another great way to get students thinking describing novels in interesting ways that draw connections to things they know. I swear I have something about this bookmarked in delicious somewhere.