Wikipedia Mindmap – more data visualization!
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.
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 […]
Shareology.org– A free resource made available by the Nicholas Foundation. There are a number of things going on there but the one I was really interested in is designed to enable large scale resource sharing, communication and cooperation among teachers. We were starting to cobble together a way to share, tag, rate, and review lesson plans and resources between our Instructional Technology Trainers. Shareology is offering a hosted package designed to help teachers do exactly this. It also supports variable levels of security, easy to set up user groups, blogging and discussion boards. There’s an example site for math teachers in a district similar in size to HCPS (50,000 or so). It’s a little locked down in terms of privacy but that’s one option some people will like. The fact that it’s free and hosted would make it ideal for a lot of places with over stretched IT departments and tight budgets.
Here are the things I’d be working into the mix if I were teaching English, government, math/stats or history in this fine political season. Political Bias? Lifehacker pointed out this cool little Greasemonkey script “Memeorandum Colors script colors sites that usually link to conservative topics red, and sites that generally link to liberal topics blue (the colors get darker or lighter depending on the sites’ linking activity). The result is a quick visualization of what kind of political site a link points to using colors.” Let them read how it works and think about how that might slant things in strange ways (what if I’m conservative but am consistently linking to liberal blogs in order to attack them?) This would be the start of a conversation between the class and myself. What purpose does this script serve? In what ways can we use the data it generates to inform what we’re reading? What happens to readers and the way we consume information as ideas like this become more commonplace? Red vs Blue Book Buying Here’s a chance for some discussion of voting demographics and a chance to really get some good critical thinking going with data and causation. The maps are of “red” and “blue” books and their purchase rate (through Amazon) prior to 2004 and 2008 elections. The great […]