Google Forms to Exhibit Example (POC)

So, I’ve managed to create two quick websites for work that are driven by Google’s new form option for getting data into spreadsheets. I’ve put a quick example of a log here. Feel free to enter data etc. It’s up there to play around with and hopefully is simple enough to help people figure out how to do it. One thing I don’t like about the form option. I don’t like that changes I make to the submission form alter my spreadsheet. I might want the form to read “Your name here” while my spreadsheet says {name:text}. I don’t believe there’s any way to do that and it would be much nicer when using this with Exhibit. Instead I have to add another sheet and I use a formula to reference the data in. It’s just =sheet1!A2 in case anyone needs it. Then if I get my mouse in just the right place it turns into cross hairs and I can drag that formula dynamically so that it pastes as =sheet1!A3 and A4 etc. then I can drag it across to create =sheet1B2 etc. That is much better than typing all that in. In a perfect world I’d also be able to apply some css to it but that’s getting a little picky. So the key steps. create spreadsheet and […]

Just in time tech . . .

Google spreadsheets now lets you share editing by sending out a custom form. This is a huge deal. No, really. Huge. It solves so many problems I see happening all the time in schools. This is such a great way to get large amounts of information from all sorts of people of varying technical skill levels so you have it one place to manipulate. No need for the hassle of Adobe PDF and the complications of those forms or the need to create custom web forms of various types. It’s free and dead simple. I’m going to use it to collect testing information on programs for our upcoming Vista move. Previously, I was going to use cforms ii (awesome WordPress plug in by the way- especially if you need to fully customize the CSS- see an example I did for the NSDC here– it is real so don’t fill out fake info please). But there’s no real easy way to share that information. You could give people the password to the blog but that’s no always a good thing and the information that’s there is really just for looking at or exporting. I wanted something more dynamic. I think you could write some custom php pages and pull the info out but that’s a hassle and it takes time. I […]

Actions as a Result of the Annual Report

All right. So I didn’t win Dan’s design challenge. Iain’s report and a number of others had both more information and more story than mine. But the contest has led to some more thinking and some action. Feeds All my feeds are now in Google Reader. Now I get stats. That led me to realize I read (scanned, processed, whatever) 1,128 posts last Friday. I’m averaging about 600 a day. That seems excessive especially considering that 90% are read between 9:00 PM and 11:00 PM. So I looked at the top feeds by number of posts per day and saw the top one was a Yahoo Pipes mashup of digg, del.icio.us, reddit, and Slashdot. It was something like 250+ posts a day. Way too much noise compared to real value. Cut it. I also dropped Gizomodo (12 posts a day) and am looking at pruning more feeds. Hopefully this isn’t coming across as a #11 on Pete’s list of common edtech blog posts. I’m not overloaded. I’m just looking to be a little more efficient and am using data to help me make those judgments. Annual Report I’ve been thinking about my submission for the annual report and realize I did a few things wrong. I liked what I did. It was pretty. However, it was really more about looking […]

Meet the World – Information and Graphics

Grand Reportagem magazine (can’t find a link- it’s from Portugal) has an interesting series of info graphics (you can see them here) that illustrating fairly disturbing facts about countries- using the flags of the countries. Interesting idea- using symbols of pride to criticize/inform. You could also do something similar with many logos (companies, sports, universities). If you wanted to go fairly abstract there’s also book/video/cd covers or even caricatures. Here a quick mock up with an old Apple logo- Stat Source – please excuse gross visual misrepresentation of the stats but I don’t have the time/willingness to actually work it out. This would make a really interesting co-curricular project between a math and history/sociology type of class (throw in art as well if you’d like). The math required to calculate the proper area to factually represent the statistics would be fairly decent (especially with more complex shapes and area calculations) and figuring out which statistics about the country/company/person to contrast would require quite a bit of research and processing. I think it’s hook a number of students and in the end you’re teaching them far more than stats or facts. You’re teaching them how to think and how to convey that thinking in a way that’s visually compelling. All the great ideas in the world mean nothing if you can’t […]

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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.