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Real Life Math or Window Ad?

Windows come in many shapes and sizes. Some commonly used shapes for windows are circles, rectangles, squares, triangles, pentagons, and octagons. Source: www.pella.com One of those amazingly horrible attempts at making something “real world” in a textbook. This is a high school math textbook. The source for this staggering information is a website that sells windows. And they double down on their insistence that windows make this content relevant and useful to today’d hip teens by using windows in two examples. Remember aspiring teen window makers, you can use the reflective property of congruence in your future job interview!

A lonely tree in front of the ICA museum construction site.

Intro to OER: A Wider Spectrum

I’ve done a number of introduction to OER conversations over the last few years. I did another recently. Here is my revised attempt at getting at a very broad overview and maybe going a bit farther afield than is typically the case. This particular presentation emphasized OER as addition and that you could use all sorts of pieces as augmentation rather than replacement. The intro was focused on a quick overview of broad concepts and getting some terms for future independent google work. I try to emphasize that with the people in attendance. We aren’t diving down every rabbit hole offered here but we are tossing out some key words and concepts that you might wish to pursue later. Despite the fact that creative commons and MOOCs feel old and played out to me they remain new terms to a number of the faculty attending. While it muddies the waters a bit, I do emphasize that VCU has a chunk of free-to-our-students resources that faculty should be aware of. Standard With that intro out of the way, I try to work from the typical conception of OER towards what I feel like are less considered elements. That leads to starting with courses/textbooks. They’re high structure and made with educational intent. I hit a few common places for this content and […]

An old time strongman with a handlebar mustache in front of some trophies.

Interviewing My Domain

I am late in responding to this prompt from Alan but given all Alan does I figured I should give this a shot. What is your domain name and what is the story, meaning behind your choice of that as a name? I started this many moons ago when I was teaching k12. It was a time of hope around edtech and the edu-blog-o-sphere was young. Many people even referred to it as the edu-blog-o-sphere1 and the first edubloggercon had yet to happen. Most of the fully-branded tech teachers you know today were working in actual schools rather than for companies. It was a strange time, like the 1960s maybe, so I blame the domain name on that. I was working with Jim Coe and we had plans become some sort of edtech consultant group. That whole branding thing didn’t seem quite as repulsive to me then as it does now.2 In any case, I had previously had a free blog on a site run by James Farmer (incsub.org/wpmu) which was entitled Bionic Teacher. My concept at that time was that fusing the best of technology with the best of human options resulted in the title. Since we were now two people and a long-term goal of influencing more people bionic teacher became bionic teaching. We then immediately got that […]

Three rows of orange-ish colors with the text 'fake hues' over the top of them in white.

Social Media Jujutsu

Jujutsu1 is a martial art focused on using your opponent’s momentum against them– clever redirection of force rather than trying to meet it directly. This seems like it might be an option for some of today’s social media woes where people are trying to continue to take advantage of the good aspects of these tools/communities while opposing some of their attempts at manipulation. There are major alternatives like Brontosaurus Mastodon but many people aren’t going to make that jump.2 So consider this post more of a way you might mitigate harm while continuing using tools meant to bend your mind and warp your perceptions. Twitter Numbers One way these interfaces play games with your mind is by showing all kinds of numbers. You’ve got a score card for likes, retweets, followers etc. It becomes a shortcut. Is this tweet funny? 453 people fav’d it. Should I fav it too or is this just a bandwagon thing now? How good was my tweet? Did enough people retweet it? That extends even to following people. How many followers do they have? Are they worth following? It can make you skip really looking at the content. One path out of Twitter’s attempt to manipulate you via numbers is Benjamin Grosser’s Twitter Demetricator. It’s a browser plugin3 that removes all those numbers replacing them […]

cartoon face eating cheetos.

Screen Time

Every time I hear something about limiting screen time I cannot help but think about how poorly the concept has been thought out. If we talked about “food time” instead maybe that would help us think that while time matters (eating for hours each day is probably a bad idea), how long you eat probably matters far less than what you’re eating. You have to think about both things. Funneling cheetos for 30 minutes a day is worse than eating carrots for an hour.1 Screen time isn’t a single thing. It’s an insane range of things. There’s lots of screen time that is of Twinkie quality but there are many other options. If I read a book on a device is it screen time or is that reading? If I’m coding for an hour? Editing video? Video chat with my parents? When we reduce things to this extent we end up doing things that ignore the actual problem. So the next time someone on the radio or TV talks about screen time as if it were a single thing please join me in envisioning the giant cartoon heads depicted below. 1 Funneling cheetos may not even qualify as actually eating. It’s a chemical endurance sport that will likely be featured in the next Olympic games

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Why I’m Teaching Data Viz for Sociology

I’m teaching a course for VCU’s digital sociology Master’s degree program this semester. One of the things I’ve asked the participants to do is explain why they’re taking this course. I’m hoping that will help me customize what we’re going to do in the course. Since I asked the participants to document why they were taking this course, I figured the least I could do is create a similar post explaining why I agreed to shepherd this course and why I made some of these initial choices. I’m approaching the concept of data visualization pretty broadly. The course is broken into two main components. The first portion is looking at their own portfolio and how they might think it through in terms of data visualization1 and then moving on to broader/deeper applications of data visualization (connected to their personal research). Part of the reason I want to start with the portfolio is that the data is personal and it’s easier to get a feel for how real/accurate any visualizations you make are. We’ll also be able to establish a decent foundation of web literacy, design, accessibility, etc. prior to applying them to more sophisticated visualizations. Essentially, it’s about starting out on more familiar ground before venturing out into increasing complexity. The second section will focus on figuring out a set […]

Bret Victor on the right with a black and white cartoon fish on the left. Under the fish is the statement - This is not a fish.

Data Viz and Dead Fish

3:40 – “I believe that behavior and responsiveness is the essence of the computer as an art medium and what that means is that any time we create art that doesn’t have behavior we’re not living up to the potential of the medium. It’s not native art.” 4:34 – “… what sort of art is possible when both the art and the artist are alive? When the art and the artist are responding to each other and working together to create something beautiful.” 15:00 – “So what you’re seeing here is kind of the interplay between two living and behaving beings. There’s the fish behaving through simulation. There’s me behaving through performance and there’s this wonderful kind of symbiosis with the two of us working together to put on a show. The simulation and the performance are really complementary. So when I was making that little scene with the fish there was always this back and forth between the simulation and the performance. So if there was something I wanted the fish to do but I couldn’t perform it with my hand because it was too complicated, I had to move my hand too fast, there’s too many other things going on with the scene, I take that and put it in the simulation.” 16:02 – “There’s this back and […]

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Working on Accessibility

Bean with Tools on the Ocean of Storms flickr photo by NASA on The Commons shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) We’re taking a much deeper dive into accessibility lately. It is a fruitful and good thing to do but also one of those deceptively deep topics with lots of complications. As a result I’m learning a good bit so I better write it down before it’s all forgotten. Two Handy Tools Thanks to both Matt and Jeff, I ended up using a few different tools.1 Google’s Vox Plugin helps you get a better idea what the experience was going to be like for someone with issues seeing the website. Using this will enable you to understand exactly how some of your decisions play out. I found it very handy. As a minor warning, there appears to be no way to turn it off/on short of disabling the extension. Despite that, I really think it’s a good idea to spend some time using this tool. It really helps. The other useful tool so far has been the Siteimprove Chrome extension. It’s pretty handy to see what warnings/failures are in play in each page. It’s led me to realize that there are so many problems. Bits of Useful Code One of VCU’s requirements is a text only view for the […]

strange image using headphones as eyes

Web Development Podcasts

My podcast listening ebbs and flows. I am currently in the flow state.1 Anyway, I like these three podcasts that are all web development related.2 Shop Talk Show – gets a bit deeper than I need at times but very solid SynTax with Wes Bos of Javascript30 and Scott Bolinski. I really like the Web RTC one. Tools Day – ~20 min and probably the least technical 1 That sounds weird but ebb wouldn’t make any sense. 2 I’m also listening to some strange fitness/weight lifting podcasts which make these seem mainstream.

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What is Rampages? Part Two

Image from page 776 of “The Ladies’ home journal” (1889) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) Continuing on from Part One . . . I have way too many examples. If you read this blog often, you’ve probably seen most of these being born1 but this is my first attempt at organizing and a more cohesive structure around key categories/processes and all in one place. This isn’t my normal pattern as I’m more of a folksonomic structure guy rather than taxonomic. What this has done is remind me of just how much work has been done in a relatively short time. I’ve only been here three years. Rampages is roughly three years old but wasn’t publicized initially and then had some rough growing pains. The last year or so I’ve been trying to convince people my department still exists . . . and still people find ways to do tons of amazing work. I’m not even including the stuff we do outside of WordPress. I’m only scratching the surface but this post keeps getting longer and longer. I threw a bunch of the links here. Some will be duplicates but there’s plenty of additional sites as well. Courses Rampages supports faculty teaching the full continuum of courses at VCU- from augmenting traditional […]