Event Calendar & Participation

One pretty common need I’m starting to see around community-engaged learning is a way for students/faculty to submit events to a central calendar and then indicate their participation in various events. That comes with various program requirements. People want specific reflection patterns per event and have different ideas around what an event counts for in their program. That comes with additional metadata requirements, dashboard views etc. We did something like this with cultural events when we made the RVArts.org site.1 I’ve got at least three programs interested in this process and some are pursuing products like Give Pulse. So I took advantage of the request from the da Vinci Center to look at how quickly we could make a functional prototype that would – create a calendar of upcoming approved events for students allow students to submit reflections on those events with a particular structure allow students to submit additional events for approval generate data visualization and reporting for student reflection and for program analysis purposes I took the more difficult route and assumed we’d have no user accounts just to see what that felt like. With user accounts this become easier. Even with this restriction I was able to build out a functional custom theme in around three hours. Next time, it’d be considerably faster. We could easily bring […]

handwriting in the 21st century an educational summit

Can’t Trust It: Typing vs Handwriting

I read a portion of this article on keyboarding being overrated. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I’m not really aggressive either way. I do think it makes little sense to make two different ways to make the same letters. Montessori leads with cursive and I tend to think she’s done a better job thinking this through. Anyway, I took at look at the first paragraph with apparent proof. Brain scans during the two activities also show that forming words by hand as opposed to on a keyboard leads to increased brain activity(pdf). Scientific studies of children and adults show that wielding a pen when taking notes, rather than typing, is associated with improved long-term information retention, better thought organization, and increased ability to generate ideas. Link one leads you the Zane Blosner sponsored Handwriting in the 21st Century? Educational Summit. Zane Blosner also sponsors the national handwriting contest where I’m very sad to say you cannot see the winners’ handwriting. Let’s pretend this summit1 isn’t run by a company that sells handwriting solutions. The majority of brain related references here are cited as James, K.H. “How Printing Practice Affects Letter Perception: An Educational Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective.” Presented at Handwriting in the 21st Century?: An Educational Summit, Washington, D.C., January 23, 2012. I believe that’s Dr. James. Seems legit but I […]

I’m not dead yet . . . Google Scripts to Check on a Bunch of WP Sites

John Stewart is going to write up something more systematic and structured as he’s taken these rough ideas up a notch but I figured I’d throw this functional Google Script code in here before I lost it. I believe I got up to five positive statements on blogging more in-process stuff so I’m taking that as an overwhelming mandate. These Google Script functions are meant to loop through a set of URLs in a Google Sheet pulled as an array to see if the site’s still in use. The first two take a look at the WP REST API endpoints for posts and pages. That way if the person only writes pages you won’t be tricked. I’d probably write them all to the sheet because I’m paranoid. The third (aka the hassle as I hadn’t ever messed with XML using javascript) looks at the RSS/XML feed in case the site is not updated enough to have a functional API endpoint or if it’s broken for some reason. This won’t help you out if they’re just writing pages but there’s only so much a person can do. John made a more robust structure with error checking, the piece where it writes to the spreadsheet etc. and I’ll loop in his post once it’s up.

Rethinking Our Project Page (and other stuff)

Image from page 211 of “Bulletin” (1961-1962) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) I’ve been lucky enough to hire two awesome people who have started over the last month or so.1 We’re also going to get a new supervisor on July 3rd. That’s led me to have a bit of breathing room and a reason to start re-thinking some things. One of those things is how we combine documenting our work. Can we document what we do in a way that will create more people interested in doing these things? Can we do a much better job bringing active faculty to the forefront? Can we serve the end of the year report needs regarding various data elements? Can we gather data we might reflect on regarding our own processes? How do we knit all this stuff together from various services without a lot of extra work? The Old I’ve done this more than a few times. The latest incarnation at VCU was the examples page (pictured above). It is semi-decent but was done in haste. It tries to affiliate tools and instructional concepts with examples. Conceptually, it’s pretty close to TPACK in that way. It has done a marginal job thus far. It houses examples and people can browse them. It doesn’t […]

Non-Standard Shapes- Another Odd WP JSON Display

It’s better to see this in the full page view but it grabs a WP JSON feed and makes up non-standard polygon shapes based on the posts using the featured image as the background. Try reloading the page and the shapes will change. If you hover over them they’ll behave in very odd ways as well. That’s all easier to see on the full page view. It’s a strange proof of concept but one I’ll be putting to work for an odd art site in the future. I’ll tame it a bit as I’ve made a number of completely odd decisions just to see what would happen. It could be I’ll end up using data from the posts to influence the shapes more intentionally. That opens up a whole world of strange dataviz possibilities. That is one of the things I love about doing this kind of WordPress interaction. It’s light enough that I’ll run down a path like this and just try it out. I probably wouldn’t have bothered if it required a full child-theme or page template. It’s a low threshold with a high ceiling and now I have another example of something people don’t think WordPress could do for my NMC presentation next week. See the Pen socially engaged artists – jquery by Tom (@twwoodward) on CodePen.

timeline of last 50 posts

WP JSON to Timeline JS

As part of some thoughts on building out a series of reflective views for student portfolio blogs, I thought seeing your WordPress posts in the TimelineJS view might be a useful way to look back over your progress. I intend to wrap this into a custom spreadsheet template and/or a plugin1 but figured I’d sketch out how it works so far in case anyone was interested. The WP Rest API makes it pretty easy to write the data via Google Script. I just want to cut out chunks of the data and put it in the right fields. The following script does that and writes it to a page named “wp.” 1 Or maybe just a page where you throw in a blog URL and get a bunch of alternate view/data options.

Audio Annotation POC Using WaveSurfer.JS

See the Pen wave surfer – waveform by Tom (@twwoodward) on CodePen. I needed to make a quick proof of concept for the annotation of audio on the web. In this case, it’s meant to provide a visual and auditory way to play through interview segments that represent different categories of responses. I found WaveSurfer.js this morning and just a bit later I had a functional example. I find the ability to highlight track elements visually and access specific segments to be a pretty powerful combination. If we stacked several tracks vertically the visuals would quickly point out content variation in terms of timing and total composition. You could get more and more complex from there. Playing with it gave me all sorts of ideas (including possibly using it as part of of the upcoming Reclaim Your Dance Party // API + Audio = (beats, visuals, internet, participate) session at Domains 17 with Grant and Brian). It’s also looking like I’ll be able to work more with our music department to think through online course on music so possibilities like this will be very useful. This kind of thing would be pretty easy to turn into a plugin . . .

Simple Text Analysis POC

See the Pen text analysis color viz – step 1 by Tom (@twwoodward) on CodePen. Assuming you have sentences, phrases, or words you’d like to categorize . . . you could do something like this to create a visualization. This one is using CSS but it could be done in any basic word processing software. Setting levels of opacity would allow for multiple-overlapping categorizations. See the Pen text analysis color viz – step 2 by Tom (@twwoodward) on CodePen. Playing with font size and the rotation of the paragraph also opens up some doors . . . as does doing different rotations at the sentence level depending on the categorization of the sentence. You could get even more granular with stuff like that using data attributes and CSS. See the Pen text analysis color viz – step 4 by Tom (@twwoodward) on CodePen. A Bit Odder See the Pen text analysis color viz – step 5 by Tom (@twwoodward) on CodePen.

Open Content Creation at VCU

I’m going to hit a few of the things I’ve done with people around open educational resource creation.1 In the discussion, I’m going to ignore some complexities around the term ‘open’ in order to avoiding dragging the whole post down. My personal definition of open is very liberal2 although I can see the value of Wiley’s R framework in a variety of conversations. Once again, I’ll try to move from simpler to more complex options. The Judah Will The Judah Will is a will that was transcribed and annotated in the digital history class this semester. Ryan Smith is the history professor behind the idea and has been more than awesome to work with. Right now the work is all in Google Docs but we’re looking at paths/tools/display options that will better show the research and conversations that occurred. The simple act of transcribing the will is one act of OER creation and active participation in the field of history. The additional research and investigation of the elements of the will constitutes another layer. The majority of students in the class really enjoyed the process and liked the idea that they were adding to the sum of information available to historians. This activity also enabled the professor to model historical research/thought while interacting with the students on a project with […]

WP JSON to Google Sheets – Reflective Data

Image from page 86 of “Refraction and motility of the eye, with chapters on color blindness and the field of vision” (1920) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) Way back in 2015, I wrote a little plugin1 to count URLs, get the word count and do other stuff so I could reflect on my blog posts. Given some (k)new knowledge2, I figured I could make a version that runs in Google Sheets and indeed I can. The reason I like this as an alternative to the plugin is that it works for anyone who has access to Google Sheets even if they can’t install plugins. Google Sheets also offers a lower barrier to messing with your own data once you get start capturing it. You can count the !s, or a variety of emoticons, or how often you use the word “spaces,” or whatever you want- all without the ability to program in php or javascript. I think it starts to open up different doors for students3 to gather their own kind of data for reflection and amusement. It starts to get at the DIY ethos inherent in the quantified self communities. The sheet is here. I’m going to build it out into something a bit more robust and plug/play in the […]