Five Giveaways from Jane McGonigal’s Opening Keynote

For today’s installment, I will be mocking this article summarizing the ISTE keynote speech I could not stomach attending. Think of it as meta-mockery of a summarization. This kind of thing irritates me more and more because it wastes time and energy. People wander off chasing garbage statements (with good intentions) but the keynoters spouting this nonsense make no attempt to connect the dots. It’s all frosting, and a thin layer of sickly sweet frosting at that. I also hold ISTE to blame for furthering nonsense. They ought to know better. 1. There Are Now 1 Billion Gamers Worldwide According to McGonigal, this “critical milestone,” recently reached, encompasses everyone who spends at least one hour a day playing a game on a connected device — be it a gaming console, a smartphone, a tablet or a computer. “When you add it all up,” she said, “that’s seven billion-plus hours a week spent in maximum engagement through games.” 1. There are over 2 million people imprisoned in the United States alone.1 That’s over 7 people in prison out of every 1,000. “When I add it all up,” I said, “that’s 19 billion-plus hours a year spent in maximum incarceration thanks to prisons. That’s got to be a critical milestone or at least a large number which will impress Twitter lemmings.” 2. […]

Data Viz Reviewed

As we prepare for the next theme in our MOO-ish thing, I figured I’d condense and summarize some of the products from this run. Gillian Lambert a wonderful English teacher from Moody MS opted to play along and visualized yearbook data for her school. Gillian documents the process and highlights how visualizing the information led her to new understandings. I think that’s one of the most neglected benefits of a process like this. Creating leads to additional understanding for both the audience and the author. Debbie found that sometimes the web 2.0 tools aren’t up to par. Her critique of the infogr.am and piktochart services echoes some of the problems I’ve had with services like this over time. They are fast and relatively easy but you give up some key elements of control that some people won’t be happy about. I think they have their place but you have to go in knowing the limitations of the tool and the impact of those limitations on your ability to control the narrative. Katie spent some time tracking happiness but with great common sense opted to move on to looking at Google Doc usage. She used mural.ly to layout the graphs from GAFE in a way that lets you see the big picture and drill down to the details. The infinite canvas […]


Four Paths to WordPress

There are many ways1 to get content into WordPress other than writing in the normal WP post editor. I figured I’d sketch out at least four and why you might choose one over another. Press This I don’t believe many people notice or use the “Press This” bookmarklet that is located under Settings>Writing or under Tools. There’s a 3 minute video below detailing where to find it and how it works below. Think of it like the bookmarklet you might use with Delicious or Diigo only with more flexibility behind it. The ability to nearly seamlessly add media from the reference page (seen at about 1:27 in the video) is the main thing I find that makes this tool particularly useful. I’m using it instead of Diigo for the Word Games site because I want to embed a mixture of media and all of it will be from external pages. Think of it as having the capabilities of Pinterest but with the additional ability to embed video and text. Via Email This used to be a hassle but Automatic’s Jetpack plugin makes it very simple. You will need a WordPress.com account but it’s free and you’ve already given away all your information to Google or Apple anyway. You can see a tutorial on how to do that here but it’s […]

What Transitionary Personalized Learning Might Look Like

In most English classes the teacher chooses all of the content in addition to all of the assignments. In some classes you’ll get to choose between a few books, assignments, or essay topics that the teacher has provided. The projects tend to tier upward in terms of sophistication and/or length.1 There is essentially one broad common experience for everyone and virtually every structural element originates with the teacher. The student ability to alter the class is limited to asking questions. That leads to a fairly predictable experience built to produce similar products which are easier to compare to one another. English, in particular, seems to beg for a different paradigm for course participation/creation. I talked some about the mechanism for infusing student selected media into a course in the previous post, so I’m doing this backwards to some degree. The lower portion of the image above is a rough conceptualization of what the course itself might come to look like as compared to a traditional course (the upper portion of the image). A chunk of this is colored by how I’ve seen elements of #ds106 play out. I have always loved the idea that participants can submit project ideas. Linking those ideas to the student work created based on them makes it far more powerful and interesting for everyone. It […]

Personalized Learning?

I’ve been thinking about personalized learning a fair amount after hearing it repeated over and over by the hordes of vendors.1 I’m not talking about paprika flavored mush and I’m not talking about a magic fairyland where you chug cherry flavored corn syrup to your heart’s content with no ill effects. My focus is on thinking about how this might work for a teacher with fairly traditional-ized students in a district where success is still defined mainly through standardized tests.2 I am going to make the assumption that these students have a computer and access to the Internet. It’s also evident my thoughts aren’t revolutionary but I think the ability for technology to help make this kind of personalization much more manageable for teachers and students (in a semi-traditional school framework) is a relatively new development. Classroom workflows don’t come up much, if at all, in my wanderings but I think they are important and should be considered. There’s also quite a lot of current hype and focus on flipping/blending/frappéing3 Maybe it has to do with districts finally giving up on providing technology and allowing BYOD. My bet is the BYOD wave will go poorly at scale and will result in fairly trivial surface level “changes” – some googling of answers, clicker assessments, and the ability to check grades/hw on […]

Blog Post Stats

I wondered about my blogging patterns given my recent increase in posts. I didn’t bother pulling out Jim Coe’s posts from back when this was a joint blog but the data is good enough for my purpose. Anyway, I started messing with it and am working towards a visual way to represent it in a way that makes sense to me. I’m totally unhappy with this graph. Totally. I messed with some color pallets etc. but it just didn’t do what I wanted at all. I then went to the opposite end of the spectrum and wanted to see what sparklines might show me. Sparklines are a favorite of Edward Tufte who is on the super minimalist side of the data visualization spectrum.1 At first I didn’t think there was enough data to make the sparklines work. I then tried compressing the horizontal axis and it improved things but it’s still not what I want. Here’s another stacked year graph that I might work on some more. I ended up wandering into Adobe Illustrator and found out there are some interesting tricks for making graphs in there. I will explore it more in the near future. I’m learning a lot of things. Here’s a messy (deliberately) stack of the graphs above with the opacity set to 20% or so. It […]

More Storage Visualization

I have meant to play around more with the Google Chart API for a while and I wasn’t happy with what I made earlier to visualize the network storage differences among the schools and users. I thought a treemap would be a more powerful way to show just how much space a few teachers used vs the masses. Knowing your options and picking the right one to help illustrate your point is an important element of data visualization. After all, we aren’t ignorant savages who believe –Isn’t this about visualizations, basically a form designed for those who won’t (or can’t) read? Kinda like remedial explanation for the 99%.” You can see the Google example for this kind of graphic here. This is my first time messing with it so I started by copying their example into my text editor. Their example was pretty close to what I wanted in terms of the structure of the information. They had Location, Parent, Volume, Color as the main variables. I wanted something pretty similar. Instead of ‘Global,’ ‘HCPS’ was my top category with the schools taking the place of the countries. Pretty simple but I sure didn’t want to write all that data by hand. I already had the basic data in Excel, I just had to come up with the right formula. […]


These are just a few fairly random pieces of media that I’ve come across lately that open some paths to start talking about the power of words and the struggle to define them. I haven’t made up my mind about this podcast as a whole yet but this one was interesting. The whole idea of virtual law for video games is interesting but it’s further improved by the idea that a lot of this based purely on words. Online, multi-player games create addictive, all-encompassing competitive worlds for players. But sometimes, players disturb the fantasy with abusive behavior. Through trial and error, game developers have found that “virtual judiciaries” can help solve problems in their virtual worlds, and the results have real-world consequences. This episode has a number of different interesting options but a huge part of the issue is around defining solitary confinement, torture, and cruel and unusual punishment. In its code of ethics, the American Institute of Architects requires members to “uphold human rights.” But what does that mean when it comes to prisons—specificially, those that confine inmates largely to their cells with little to do? Dear judges: Stop trying to figure out what the founders meant by every little word. You can’t, and it doesn’t matter. To get at the original understanding of the text, the court started […]


Weekly Links Post (experiment)

The following is something I’m experimenting with. I’ve been pretty interested in workflows lately and I’m trying to get a little more out of bookmarking. The ability to create a summary post at preset time intervals based on a particular tag is something Diigo offers. I’m hoping that taking advantages of some of these bells and whistles will help me come to like Diigo. After using Diigo for a few months, I still don’t like it. For instance, their bookmarklet loads, then pauses and adds something that makes me hit the wrong button about 30% of the time. I’m also not a fan of the way they embed ads. I miss Delicious Classic like people missed Coke after the debacle that was New Coke. After the Yahoo abandonment I hung on because I’d always preferred the simplicity. Eventually, the poor performance of the remixed Delicious literally forced me to leave. Way too often bookmarking a page resulted in having to hit refresh before I could interact with it again. That’s impressively dysfunctional. The subsequent loss of link rolls and other basic functionality eventually resulted in my move to Diigo. My current setup is supposed to mirror Diigo to Delicious which then feeds my Pinboard account. So if Delicious ever stops actively breaking things, I’m prepared to return. It may be […]


Networked Storage Data

We have 668 high school teachers using at least .1 MB on a shared network volumes we’ve collectively dubbed “Virtual Share.” Those 668 high school teachers use 2019.7 GB or 2.02 terabytes of storage. What’s particularly interesting to me is the disproportionate usage between teachers. The top user, a single person, uses 180 GB or roughly 17% of the total.1 The top 10 users use 733.2 GB of storage. The top 20 users use 993.6 GB of storage or almost 50% of the storage is used by roughly 3% of the users.2 These are just embeds of the data from Google Spreadsheets. Nothing fancy, not much control but I think it does paint a decent picture of the extreme differences in resource usage. I do continue to have trouble with the interactive chart embeds outside of the spreadsheet. I do like the unintentional psychedelic effect on the pie chart. 1 No judgements on quality of use, just amazement that they are so far out there. 2 Makes me reconsider the whole 1% thing as even more screwed up.