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Next Level Video – Asterpix

I love the way in some videos you can click on images or text on the screen and they are interactive- taking you to URLs or different portions of the video. I really feel that in education, and elsewhere, this has amazing potential. Making text interactive through hyperlinks changed the world so doing the same thing with video is likely to have some real power as well. I’m not a big fan of Flash so I had explored a few of the Quicktime options (mainly Livestage Pro. The software creating these movies is fairly expensive and has a pretty steep learning curve. Not ideal for education or for encouraging student/teacher use (or me for that matter and I like this stuff). Enter Asterpix (I know, with a 12-3-07 launch I’m late to the ball). This online service (registration required) allows you to add clickable links to movies. It plays nicely with Youtube and gives you and embed code. See example above. While it’s not quite as slick as I’d like- it makes up for it in terms of ease of use and pure getting things done. I’m very happy. There’s something to be said for just increasing the amount, as well as adding different formats, of data in videos and then there are a lot of creative options you could […]

Wikipedia Mindmap – more data visualization!

Wiki Mind Map.org This is a really cool free site that’d be great to use in the classroom. You pick a topic from wikipedia and it creates an interactive mind map of the content. Click on the pluses and topics expand. You can even change the “center” topic of the map on the fly. Lots of cool stuff you could do with this and it’d be a great way to get to those visual learners that don’t respond well to outlines or even static mind maps. Too bad you can’t point it at any mediawiki site. That’d really open up some interesting options in the classroom.

Exhibit and Data Visualization

The kind and brilliant folks at MIT have come out with a new Exhibit API that allows for more flexibility and power. The bonus is that it looks good doing it. I’ve now revised my Google spreadsheet fed history example to use some of the new power. It’s here if you’re interested. In the end I opted to mimic their new presidents layout (much like I mimicked their old presidents layout). This time I had a better reason than pure ignorance of the API (I now have impure ignorance after all). Their new layout is really right in line with what I’d like to focus on this year- data visualization/interaction. The new layout has the map right their with the time line. I like that. Time and location on one easy interactive page. Add in their option to sort and hide/expand sets based on the data you define and you’ve got something really powerful that will help students make connections. A simple example is if I restrict my set to show only “explorers” then suddenly in the map and the time line things change. I notice explorers were mainly earlier and than none were born in the Americas (obvious to you and I but maybe the spark some kids need). Then I switch map views and I see that explorers […]

Google Earth – The Next Level

I found this KMZ file the other night. It’s really the greatest Google Earth file I’ve ever seen. It’s tracking bird flu but it’s doing it through, time, space and evolution. It creates a three dimensional representation of the changing aspects of the virus as it moves from carrier to carrier and place to place. There’s a video showing what it can do and explaining things here. The source file is over here. Why am I so impressed? Mainly because it’s a perfect representation of data visualization. It shows a completely different way to use Google Earth. Who would have thought to use a geography program to track the evolution of a virus? This kind of convergence is amazing and examples like this can lead to some amazing connections. It can also lead the way for other creators to start using this application in different ways.

Flags and Pie Charts

This might be the visual link some students need to start seeing how pie charts reflect real data and it’s not a bad way to get some exposure to the flags of other nations. Basically, the pie chart is shown with the proportional slices for the colors of the flag. You click on the pie chart and it shows you the actual flag. It’s an instant way to make pie charts concrete. A neat idea and something you might have the kids create for other things. You could have them do something similar for paintings, clothing (high fashion or sports uniforms), certain album covers etc. It wouldn’t be great if you were stressing exactness but for getting the general concept down in a fun way it’d work well. Found via Digg

Google Timeline

A really amazing looking tool from Google with some interesting educational potential. It’s worth checking out. Found via Digg.

Rollercoasters, Personal Pies and Data

U.S. Housing Prices The first example is an animated roller coaster ride of US home costs adjusted for inflation. It’s a pretty dramatic and entertaining way to look at the data (link from Digg). It makes a graph “real” in a way that I’ve never really seen before. Personal Pies Personal Pies (great title) is even better because it allows your students a lot of flexibility in the product they create and the data couldn’t be any more relevant to them. He’s created pie charts for his life- everything from portion of life with beard to number of states he’s visited (there is one non-school safe “pie” so be warned). This is a perfect project for students dealing with pie charts and percentages. (from Anil Dash) I think these examples are important because they prove that data (or anything else for that matter) doesn’t have to be boring or presented in boring ways. I try to think about two things when creating project/presentation or anything else- Is this going to fun and original? Is this personally relevant to my students? I guess both those really focus on engagement. It always amazes me how little attention the difference between engagement and silent acquiescence gets.