Rampages Growth Plotted

As part of the gen ed seminar I pulled the rampages.us user signup data for Kristina Anthony. It was just a straight export from the wp_users table and stripped of everything but the date. She pulled it into Excel and used a pivot table to make it manageable. Which is awesome. So I pulled it down and pushed it back up into Google Docs so that I could embed the chart in this post. It makes me feel better to look at the growth over what amounts to around a year of actual use. I tend to focus on places for improvement (and there are many) but it’s worth looking at what ALT Lab has managed to achieve in a fairly short period of time.1 The July to February jump of about 6000 users is pretty insane. I have every expectation that we’ll add another 6000 or so users next year. Things will certainly only get more interesting. This has been done without huge student training initiatives. For the most part faculty members are able to support their own students. We have some of that filter up and we deal with some troubleshooting online but there’s no dedicated person(s) to support WordPress issues or train students. That’s a testament to WordPress. 1 In the higher ed dimension a year is […]

Private Comments via XMLIMPORT

Making shareable (Sharing with a single person or specific group but not with the world.) comments on public writing is a fairly awkward spaaaaaace right now. There are things like AnnotateIt and Awesome Screenshot and the annotations in Diigo. So I’m looking around for other free options and brain storming odd ideas and not find a whole lot and I came up with the following . . . Note: I’m not saying this is a good idea, it may even be a bad idea but it might inspire someone to do something more interesting down the line.1 I at least found it mildly amusing. Here’s how you might pull an author feed from WordPress into Google Spreadsheets with separate cells each paragraph (for paragraph level commenting). The idea being that you can share the Google document with just that student and do the commenting via the GSS commenting feature. Google spreadsheets will import lots of things (xml, atom, rss). WordPress provides lots of specific feeds (author, tag, categories, combinations thereof). So step one is to get the author feed – for example http://rampages.us/fren330/author/sheehantm/feed/. You can then use the IMPORTXML formula in GSS to import that XML and do some XPATH parsing of the pieces. In this case I used =IMPORTXML(“http://rampages.us/fren330/author/sheehantm/”,”//p”) to pull out the paragraphs. I can then share the […]

Little Trick, Big Numbers

I often want to know just a bit more about numbers I see in tables. As I was looking at some thing today, I stumbled on the Wikipedia page for “List of Most Viewed YouTube Videos“. After being more than a bit amazed at the utterly staggering numbers. I wanted to know what they translated to in terms of years because the numbers were just too big. I remembered that Google Spreadsheets will let you pull in a table from a website with no fuss. All I needed to do was put =IMPORTHTML(“http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_viewed_YouTube_videos”,”table”,1) in the first cell on the spreadsheet and viola the table is transcluded. I can now add a few more calculations to figure out the import stuff – like how many years worth of time have been spent watching Gangnam Style (16,274.24 years for the record1). You can go mess around with the data here. 1 Assuming I didn’t screw something up.


Citation Workflow – Diigo/Pinterest to Google SS

Talking to Bud the other day he mentioned that generating the citation page for his digital stories was something of a pain. I’ve thought about it a bit since then and decided to try to simplify a workflow for this. Odd thing I learned – – CHAR(10) is the official way to get line breaks in Google Spreadsheet formulas. Flickr to Diigo to Google Spreadsheets Initially, I looked at the Flickr galleries because that’s the option that Bud normally uses. I saw that the gallery was in a standard HTML list format and I had some hope. Google spreadsheets lets you pull lists and tables like these in via the IMPORTHTML function. Martin Hawksey has some good instructions and examples over here. So that failed but I could import just about every other list on the page. So, I decided doing this through Diigo would make pretty decent sense for a number of people. Assuming you choose a unique tag for the images you plan to use- this example just uses “flickr”, I’d suggest something story/movie specific. So the basic Diigo URL you’d get is https://www.diigo.com/user/bionicteaching/flickr. Trying to make this really easy for people, I set up the first page to allow you to paste that URL in and our friendly formulas transform it into https://www.diigo.com/rss/user/bionicteaching/flickr. The example linked here […]


Text Acrobatics in Google Spreadsheets

I’ve established here enough times I’m not a programmer so I have to find ways to get things done until I learn more. I found this gigantic list of edtech related conferences compiled by Dr. Wright thanks to Stephen Downes’ feed. It’s in Word1 for a variety of reasonable reasons and I can’t fault anyone who puts in this kind of time and energy and puts the result out there for free. It does make it harder to manipulate but it is very consistent which opens up doors which might otherwise be closed. It does cut/paste into a Google Spreadsheet pretty well. The key to things like this is finding ways to break them into pieces. It is really algebra and variables but a more entertaining version. You can chop pieces of the block up and then chop up those parsed out pieces. For convenience’s sake we’ll use cell A2 as the housing for the unparsed information. December 1-2, 2013 International Conference on Advanced Education Technology and Management Science (AETMS), Hong Kong, China. http://www.aetms.org/ The first thing I did was scan for consistencies that I might use as chop points. The date is always first and in most cases it’s one word (the month) followed by the dates and a comma. That allows me to do things like =FIND(” “,A2). […]

Calendar as Unifier

I touched on this with a previous zombie pictures post. Essentially, metadata is awesome because it lets people find your stuff and it helps your stuff find its audience. Metadata is also absent more often than not because people don’t like to type in lots of tags and they especially don’t like to do it on phones. You see elements of this metadata addition becoming automatic- simple things like Instagram (or maybe IFTT) auto-tagging my images with instagram and (in my case) iPhone (like the image above). I’ve also seen auto-tagging of image filters and with exif data you get all sorts of interesting automated metadata details but they tend to be mechanical rather than social. IFTT, FeedWordPress, and others allow you to do some low level of automatic metadata association. What keeps coming back to me is that it would be relatively simple to enable people to associate calendars and specific calendar events with online media publishing workflows. This would add the socially relevant automated metadata so the audience could find the media. The end goal being audience rather than metadata.). This would work particularly well at institutions which have centralized calendars or in the case of Udell’s Elm City aggregated calendars. Take VCU’s calendar of events as an example. It has time, location, and categorical elements already. You […]

A Non-Definition of OER

THe following two photographs of slides are from David Wiley’s presentation on open education (which was awesome). I am playing against his definition for a variety of reasons which may become clear as I progress. (1) Any kind of teaching materials- textbooks, syllabi, lesson plans, videos, readings, exams “Teaching materials” are in the eye of the beholder but leading with this phrase puts people in a certain mindset around content and one that is actually harmful. People make fun of “educational” resources for good reason. A large part of what needs to be opened is our ideas around what content might be educational and how we might use that content. (2) Free and unfettered access, and (3) Free permission to engage in the “4R activities“ I won’t argue much with #2, although I do realize I “pay” for access to some of this content when a 3rd party tracks me. While I recognize the importance and goodness of #3, I hate to exclude all the content that falls outside that definition. I’d rather have a larger “house” of content and a few rooms that help people decide what they can do with it. I think it’s actually good that content might be ephemeral and might eventually go away. I am ok that I can’t remix certain things. I still find […]

Yearbook Data

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 […]

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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 […]

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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. […]