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). […]

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 […]


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 […]

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.

A Little More Wordle and Poetry

Well, you know how I love Exhibit and I’m also a poetry fan. So after messing around with it some the other day and seeing some interest from a few people who put in their own poems- I decided to see what other poems might be on there and see if I couldn’t display them in an interesting way. Go mess with it. Add your own wordle poem if you’d like (the css in the embed code will likely mess things up temporarily but I’ll fix it). Now, if I had a class1 I’d get a bunch of these done for a number of poems from the same author and probably the same genre. Then you could sort them by author or genre and do a surface analysis. Do the big words matter? Are the “big words” shared between poems, across authors? Does it matter? Where things could get interesting is creating fake Wordles that do represent the words you think matter most2. Students would falsely elevate the number of words to make them larger regardless of occurrence. Then the explanation of why becomes an interesting conversation- especially when comparing the two. 1 or more free time 2 Oddly, most of my favorite lessons involve faking data, rap, animal attacks or, hopefully, all three

A Blogging Bestiary

Soooo, I had to do another presentation on blogging and “Bob on Blogs” wasn’t really the style I wanted for the UR crowd. Time for something new. This is my basic thought process in case it might interest someone. Concept (learning objective): There are two key things I want viewers to come away with A blog is just an easy way to get content (multimedia and otherwise) on the Internet and you don’t have to do commenting, regular posts, etc. There are lots of interesting ways to use blogs in education The problem I ran into was that I had lots of blog examples but when I started trying to break things down to show the flexibility it got way too complex. I was initially trying to show things like: Group blog, with comments, using text and images Single user blog, without comments, using text Group blog, aggregating via RSS, with comments using text, video and images So, instead I divided the presentation into two parts. The first portion would be a more traditional presentation with slides to add some humor and associate some interesting visuals with the relatively dry topic of the conceptual use of blogs, their limitations etc. I really wanted to keep the audience engaged and thinking about things in terms that made sense to them. The […]

Stepping Up: Non-Programistan/Non-HTML Exhibit Page

Ben called me on the fact that Exhibit really was too much for most teachers/humans. It seems no one wants to know HTML these days has ever wanted to know html. So my “no programming” claim was weak and as a true patriot of Non-Programistan I had to step up. Here is a spreadsheet where you can put in some basic fields. It builds you the Google Spreadsheet headers (you have to cut and paste them in) and with a little simple work on your part in the spreadsheet the HTML is made for you. You have to cut and paste it into a text editor and save it as html. I made this page with it. Now, this version if fairly rough but it works. The whole thing is limited and will only do the sortable table view but it’s a decent start. There’s a lot you could do to expand this to allow mapping, time lines etc. as Exhibit is built to be modular. I might have to learn enough programming to make this work in a web interface some day. Step 1 You put in the data types, headers etc. you want. Step 2 After pasting in the URL headers into a Google spreadsheet you publish it and copy the XML feed and paste it into the […]

Teaching a Table New Tricks

I’m doing a presentation tomorrow with Jim Groom on how to create mashups without knowing anything about programming. The fun thing is it’s presented using a mashup of communist propaganda posters and that sort of rhetoric. Good clean American fun! It may, or may not, be presented entirely in a fake Russian accent. It will entirely depend on my mood (and Jim‘s). You can also check out the full site here if you’re interested. My example takes a table of information from Wikipedia on Industrial Warfare and steps you through the ways you can change it using SIMILE’s Exhibit. If you bother to look at the actual Exhibit pages you’ll see they link back to the Google spreadsheets to show you what data had to be added to create the changes on the pages. So, you’ll start with this- Step 1 Making this data interactive– so I cut and paste the table into Excel and clean up the data a little bit. I make the html portion of Exhibit. Then I get what’s below- an interesting level of interactivity has been added. You can select/omit/sort the data now. So seeing relationships is a lot easier. Step 2 Adding the visual component– now I felt that we needed something more visual so I added some image URLs and URLs to the […]

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 […]