12 March 2011

A Preponderance of Ponderous Perceptions

I'm sure it will surprise no one that it's a rainy weekend in western Washington. It's spring in the Pacific Northwest---and while my yard is waking up from its winter slumber, the conditions are still not entirely friendly for staying outdoors for long periods of time. Cold and wet is one of most unpleasant combinations to find yourself in.

So, I am working on various indoor projects and thinking about the following ideas...

Take 20 minutes to watch this video. No...really. I know---you have a brazilian other demands for your time and attention. But I can think of nothing I've seen in the last year that has totally blown my mind the way this TED talk does.

In "The Birth of a Word," Deb Roy, a researcher at MIT, "wired up his house with videocameras to catch every moment (with exceptions) of his son's life, then parsed 90,000 hours of home video" to capture not only how language development happens, but all of the environmental influences that help it along. Beyond that, Roy and his group also look at social interactions that happen in real time across media. What do we see when we cross Twitter with tv feeds? It's a presentation that left me dumbstruck. I'm still not sure what to think about all the implications presented here---but it is fascinating to consider them.

And then, I was handed some links to "geotemporal visualization." Wha'? These are tools that mash together space and time into one visual. When you think about some of the things I've shared here, the visuals are one or the other. We've looked at how to plot achievement data (or any other set) on a map...and we've looked at tools that allow you to follow data over time. But nothing that shows these simultaneously. What if you could? And why would you want to?

You can play with the "timemap" showing Renaissance Artists and Authors here. (For more examples, visit Timemap or the Geotemporal Viz site. I can think of ways to use these tools with students, but for teachers and administrators, there might not be as many advantages. I'll have to think about this some more...or perhaps you can see some schoolwide benefits.

Now that my files are all copied and uploaded to Amazon.com's cloud ($.14/GB/month---quite the deal), I am also pleased to discover how easy it is to share files. How nice to be able to send a link to a new teacher and give them instant access to my entire library of AP Biology stuff, for example. I really like this idea...but still need time to play with it. A lot of my "old" curriculum really isn't very good. I would definitely overhaul it before using it with students. There's probably no historical value...and yet, I'm not willing to just delete it. Maybe another teacher could take the crude base and reconfigure things into something wonderful. Or maybe I'm just fooling myself.

I decided this week to put my entire handout for the ASCD conference on a business card. One side will have my contact info...and the other a QR code (shown at the right) that will automatically link to all the resources. I will also supply the URL for those who don't have smartphones. Is this too weird? I haven't tried this before...so we'll see what feedback I get. Somehow, it just seems silly to provide a paper handout for a session which showcases a variety of digital tools and information.

I've been feeling more creative recently---good things happening at work...some excellent progress on my ASCD presentation...new ideas to share at a conference next weekend...trying to post here more often. Positive things to identify in spite of the all the negativity in the world I'm living in. Where all these things take me remain to be seen. And out of all the things I'm pondering this weekend, it's the one topic I know I have to leave out.

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