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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.