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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Statistics Come Alive

One more from TED! I promise I’ll let you explore more of these on your own, but before I do, I have to point out one more of my favorites from the TED website. You simply MUST check out Gapminder.org.  Gapminder’s founder Hans Rosling, a Swedish professor of global health, has presented twice at the TED conference, showing off international data in a way that will knock your socks off.  Below is his first TEDTalk....he can definitely explain Gapminder better than I could.
Hans Rosling’s profile on TED:

Go straight to Gapminder.
About Gapminder: The initial activity was to continue development of the Trendalyzer software. This software unveils the beauty of statistical time series by converting boring numbers into enjoyable, animated and interactive graphics. The current version of Trendalyzer is available since March 2006 as Gapminder World, a web-service displaying time series of development statistics for all countries.

Statistics can be enjoyable? You really have to see it to believe it.

The Element

I previously referenced one of my favorite sites on the web, ted.org.  I actually first discovered TEDTalks when my mother e-mailed me a link to listen to Sir Ken Robinson’s 2006 talk, in which he discusses the following question: Do Schools Kill Creativity? Here it is, about 20 minutes in length, but well worth a listen, especially if you work with kids.

Robinson is slated to be the keynote speaker at an upcoming ed-tech conference that I hope to attend, and he has a new book coming out in January detailing what he calls “the element.” A book description from his website:

The Element is the place where passion and skill meet. People find The Element when they engage in the thing that they love that they are also especially good at doing. This leads to more than just a sense of personal satisfaction. Being in The Element insulates people against unpredictable changes and leads to a more flexible and productive society. The new paradigm of The Element has a profound impact on education, corporations, organizations, and, especially individuals. It is available to every person who knows how to find it. The Element is an enlightening tour through this new paradigm. Illustrated by stories, many based on exclusive interviews, of celebrities, entrepreneurs, scientists, and other highly accomplished people who have found The Element, it is as entertaining as it is profound.

More here on the man and his work.

TEDTalks are also available as podcasts that you can subscribe to and download through iTunes. Ken Robinson’s is one I keep on my iPod at all times, and I listen to it each time I need some inspiration and/or a shot of humor as I ponder the possibilities. I feel fortunate to work in a place that encourages and provides opportunities to express creativity, both from the adults in this environment and the students. I love what I do, and I’m working on being “especially good” at it. My quest for The Element continues...have you found it?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

del.icio.us

Delicious is a FREE social bookmarking site that allows users to create publicly shared bookmark lists. Learn more here.

I first encountered delicious at the PNAIS TechShare conference in June. A group bookmark list was created for us to contribute fun and exciting things we found over the course of the conference, and many people have continued to add to it ever since. You can view it here:
http://delicious.com/TechShare

How could teachers use delicious? I can think of many uses, particularly for research projects as students find helpful sites for a particular subject. Any ideas?

Why would the average person use delicious? Because your bookmarks travel with you! If you save them to your delicious account, you can log in from any computer and have access to your hard-earned list of special places. Also, because you can “tag” the bookmarks as you add them, patterns start to emerge and you can now search a massive list of bookmarks by the keywords associated. If you’re one of those people whose bookmarks aren’t organized to begin with, this will help get you started.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just About the Coolest Thing Ever

I saw this a few months ago and it stunned and fascinated me. It is a demonstration of a new technology called “Photosynth,” a product from Microsoft Live Labs, created by researchers from the software company and the University of Washington. Truly spectacular, especially if you’re a digital photo buff. You can find out more about Photosynth here.



Now, this particular “TED Talk” leads me to another of my favorite sites... definitely a place to visit  if you’re ever hankering to have your mind blown by the creativity of other people. Visit ted.org and you’ll quickly see what I’m talking about.

From their site:
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.

The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

This site makes the best talks and performances from TED available to the public, for free. More than 200 talks from our archive are now available, with more added each week. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shift Happens


The video that started it all... Originally titled 
“Did You Know?”  this one has a long and growing story, which you can find out more about at http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com/.

I began doing some basic research this summer on the current state of educational technology. I wanted to get an idea of “what is going on out there.” Time and time again, links kept pointing me back to this video, which began as a staff training “conversation starter” in 2006, and blossomed into a full-fledged worldwide internet sensation. The two gentlemen responsible for the original concept can be found online as well... Karl Fisch (@ the Fischbowl) and Scott McLeod (@ Dangerously Irrelevant).

One of the terms you will hear thrown around a lot these days is “Web 2.0,” which refers to the idea that the Web has entered a new phase of use for the world at large.  The internet is no longer a place to just get information, but a place where information is created and shared. Being “online” is a much more interactive process these days. For example, this blog allows you to leave comments and interact with me! We can get our conversation started right here and now, just by reading and sharing ideas.

Anyway, Web 2.0 is just one of the ways our world, and the way we prepare students for it, is changing. A shift is definitely happening. Are we ready for it?

From the shifthappens Wiki:

Because we are educators in the United States, our experiences and perspectives are going to be somewhat America-centric. However, we believe that the themes of Did You Know? are global in nature and apply to schools and children around the world. We want all children to be successful. We do not view the growing importance of India and China as negative but rather as additional opportunities for everyone in the world. We do not mean to gloss over the very real issues that countries such as India and China face, and we recognize that globalization and "flat world" factors have downsides just like other societal shifts. We prefer, however, to focus on the positive benefits and on doing what we can to help children learn and grow so that they may become successful digital, global citizens.

What do you think?