There are four photoshopped images from various ads.

Is it a lie?

So I actually taught a 55 minute class Monday. I’d give myself a C- but I think the underlying concept and the examples are decent and worth sharing. Here’s the idea. Essentially it’s easier and easier to tell convincing lies in a digital environment. I’m stealing from Dan Meyer here. I asked the kids to tell me one thing they knew was true and then one thing they knew was false.  The next request was for a statement that was sort of true or sort of false. Augmenting Reality   So I start with the question “Are these pictures lies?” and then try to drill down to the various pieces and apply the idea of context, intent, and manipulation. Essentially, maybe it doesn’t matter so much if Dana Carvey is airbrushed up.  He’s a comedian.  I don’t think anyone cares too much what he looks like.  He’s not selling anything to do with looks. Does it matter more that they’re changing Beyonce’s skin color dramatically?  Why would they do that? Does it matter? Interestingly, the students seemed to feel that this was done with lighting and wasn’t a big deal. With Demi Moore, I tried to add complication.  Would this be a lie if this picture was used to sell a beauty product?  That seemed to trigger something for the […]

Random Thoughts and Examples of Student Dashboards

This collection of dashboards1 was brought on by a tweet2 from Dan Meyer but precipitated by the fact that I am struggling to figure out what matters in terms of a future LMS and how the data we present (or don’t present) to students and teachers impacts education as a whole.3 While we4 often say we5 want a balance between multiple choice assessment and other types of assessment, if the only data that teachers see and talk about is related to multiple choice we probably shouldn’t bother talking about other types of assessment. There’s also the idea that assessment data may just be the tip of the iceberg. I’m not sure what exactly would make a difference but there are lots of other things that ought to be looked at. In the end I see the data displayed to students and teachers as being pretty important but it means nothing if it’s not set within the right context and used in the right way by both parties. All that aside, let’s see what’s going on right now. Delaware Insight Dashboards Fairly traditional, I’m not sure these dashboards are even meant for student view but many of the systems I’ve seen lately just give students access to their own data with the same views they give teachers and call it a […]

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Based on Faulty Information

Their opinions are based on faulty information . I shot this quick clip in one of the classrooms that was doing the performance based assessment. The audio is terrible but what this student says is perfect. It’s actually kind of scary because there are people who don’t do this out in the public- like they don’t check their sources and stuff, therefore their opinions are based on faulty information. Now if we can create more assessments that cause students to come to those simple, yet powerful, conclusions I’ll be very pleased.

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8 Bit Excel

Spreadsheet Invasion from Amy Thornley done in Excel. -via Flowingdata Excel is usually a place where people go to suffer1. It is time to reclaim it. Animate a scene using colored Excel cells as your medium. Want some 8 bit inspiration? 8 bit stop motion MW|WM 8 bit music 1 For the record, I actually like Excel.

UMW Faculty Academy 2010 prt.1

cc licensed flickr photo shared by bionicteaching Here are a few of the things I’m thinking about after a great time at Faculty Academy. Raw notes are below. The big picture stuff is pretty simple. Work that is student driven, public and has a real audience results in all kinds of good things happening. We really ought to begin working on defining and publicizing best practice around blogs a lot of this stuff. And by “stuff” I mean things like student driven classes, online conversations, etc. Simple things like “when/why does it make sense to give people feedback as audio? ” Kevin McCluskey gave his theater students feedback via audio files and saw his language being reflected when students did in class critiques. So there are a variety of times we ought to be recommending this type of feedback for reasons far beyond simple convenience. Melanie Szulczewski had a really interesting look at how the action words her students used changed over time and focused on the idea that blogging allowed them to reflect as they progressed rather than after. So it’d make sense to make this kind of data visible and encourage people to look at it. Maybe a blog plugin that showed comments by user sequentially with chunks of additional information- maybe word count, links to outside content […]

Wolverine poems and other gifts from the Internet

Picture CC from DuneChaser Four people got to this blog today searching for “wolverine poems.” I hate to leave people disappointed. I’m not sure which wolverine they’re looking for so I’m covering my bases. Wolverine: The Haiku Wolverine is the man with adamantium bones and sharp claws. Wolverine: The Animal Carcajou, skunk bear, you glutton! I call you out as a big weasel. This did inspire me but it also got me thinking about how many fun sources for poetry/writing prompts that are out there just begging to be used. I’d love to do things with Google Trends. Take today’s (at around 9-10 PM Eastern) trending topics- No. 1 with a bullet is “applebees menu1.” I would also be forced to use #44 “goonies 2” Then it’s on to #64 “agent cody banks” and finish it off with #47 “19 pound indonesian baby” and #48 “sycophants definition.” I consulted the Applebee’s menu yet again. It had answers, but not the ones I wanted. I was hungry . . . for knowledge. “Is Goonies 2 an actual possibility? Am I getting my hopes up for an inevitable disappointment?” I wondered again. My mind tends to drift when I am stressed. I tried to relax. I knew Agent Cody Banks was on the case. I had no way of knowing that a […]

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New(ish?) Exhibit 2.2 API is Sick Fast

OK, the new1 Exhibit API is crazy fast. It still takes a second or so to load but once it’s up and running the selection speed is dramatically improved. DRAMATICALLY2. I’ve been pitching the Simile project3, especially Exhibit, for quite a while for all sorts of educational uses. It really is fairly simple and allows you to create the kind of powerful data-driven interactive websites that would simply be impossible if you aren’t able to write code. You need to create these kind of interactive database sites because they are interactive and allow students to manipulate data and see it in a variety of contexts. That enables, and encourages, all sorts of processing and helps students see connections. David Huynh and the rest of the people who are working on this BSD licensed project have really made some incredible speed improvements. To change to the new API, just replace the original API reference in the header of your page (http://static.simile.mit.edu/exhibit/api-2.0/exhibit-api.js) with http://api.simile-widgets.org/exhibit/2.2.0/exhibit-api.js = instant speed jump4. As a way to force myself to do it, I’m going to take this pretty new API and attach it to this interesting data set on X Box games5. Why? Well, because I can and it’s awesome. 1 How new, I’m not sure. Allison C. from UR mentioned it in relation to the Confinder […]

Why I loathe Portaportal

The following is an attack on an idea and a structure. I am in no way trying to attack you if you use Portaportal but I would like to change your mind. I encourage you blasting back in the comments but if you call me names, I’ll likely cry. Sure, I get a lot of dirty looks from educators when I loathe Portaportal1. Portaportal is, after all, the educators friend. “Look how easy it is!” “I can share links with my students!” “It’s free!” Yes, yes and yes but just about everything is easy and shareable these days. I have two2 main problems with Portaportal. Round One – The Surface I’ll deal with the minor stuff (relatively) first. The thing is hideous. It is appallingly unattractive- everything from the color schemes to the jagged icons. Who in their right mind comes up with a flesh tone and pink color scheme? “But,” I can hear the rebukes, “Craigslist is ugly and look how popular it is.” or “I don’t care what it looks like as long as it does what I want.” First of all, Craigslist is ugly but it’s taking you to free things you actually want. Portaportal, especially in an educational context, is taking you to something you’ve been told you want. That’s a big difference. I’ll put up […]

TED Spreadsheet Exhibit Remix

This Exhibit is based of the spreadsheet found here. None of the data is mine. I found the spreadsheet via this tweet by scmorgan. If anyone knows who to give original credit to please let me know1 Clearly, I have no official or non-official affiliation with TED. I just like to watch the videos. I do want to thank David F. Huynh for making Exhibit which enabled me to make this site in about 10 minutes. Most of that time taken up by messing with the CSS2. I am an Exhibit fan which is pretty obvious if you search the site. This data just seemed to beg for Exhibit so . . . I obeyed. In the future, I may add some additional fields based on what I see as valuable to different strands of education (leadership, planning, creativity etc.). If you want to do something similar it’s really easy to get this data out and do with it what you will. 1 I did look around for about 10 minutes but no original source presented itself- popular link though. 2 Obviously, I have only the roughest ideas regarding CSS so if you have skills it’d take you no time.

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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 […]