Thursday, December 28, 2006
If you haven't made the switch yet, let me commend it to you. Among other niceties, spell checking is inline--for any form text area you happen to be typing. A blog entry, for example, as the entry above--which I entered via an old Windows ME system with Firefox 1.5 still resident.
The guys from JibJab were on the Tonight Show last week to premier their newest production. It looks back over 2006, so we get to call it History here. I won't say it's one of their funniest videos, but if you're not sure if you recall the whole year, they'll help you out. And, it's not that bad an example of how to cover a multi-event period of time.
A word about the title. JibJab was aiming to be a fairly mainstream production. So it prbably says something about the culture and the level of education out there that there are still enough people to find that title funny, and few enough people that might be perturbed.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Have you seen A Christmas Carol yet this year? We took in the Patrick Stewart version the other night; were reminded again of the joys of seeing Christmas anew.
And were reminded, too, of the oft repeated lesson of "Beyond the Basics" last week. Content matters. Great writers are great because they are more than momentarily entertaining. "A Christmas Carol" changes your life more than 20 episodes of most any TV show. David Copperfield has more to say about the nature of man than six semesters of behavioral science classes.
Which brings up our Christmas wish for the 50% of urban and minority kids who might but probably won't graduate in the coming years. Might would-be teachers and teachers returning for Masters training study far less pedagogy and memorize far more Dickens and Shakespeare.
Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
The quarterly issue of History Now is out from Gilder Lehrman. This time they look at gadgets and the people who brought them. A beautiful interactive timeline lets you learn more.
(Reminds me that I'm way, way overdue to visit our near neighbor, the National Inventors Hall of Fame!)
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Is there room in education for a traditional liberal education? For History, Literature, the Arts?
The answer (and, yes, we've had enough driving to D.C. this fall), was a resounding "YES!" from the hundred or so wonks, teachers, administrators, and entrepreneurs gathered in the Hotel Washington Tuesday. Is squeezing it in a challenge? Sure. It can be done, and perhaps not with additional hours to the schoolday. The key (all knew this 50-60 years ago) is to integrate history, arts and literature into the rest of the curriculum.
Among those already doing this are any schools associated with the Core Knowledge Foundation. They take advantage of the substantial "reading" periods from Kindergarden up to spiral in good knowledge. The teachers, by the way, love it.
Similarly, the folk at K-12 are fighting the good fight to get quality material into schools and kids wherever.
Of course, we here at the Open History Project have known this truth for a little while now, and you can find the idea subtly integrated throughout the site. Too bad Speaker Pelosi summoned away the new Chair of the House Education and Workforce committee - or he would have heard it loud and clear too.
I would be remiss if I didn't commend in particular the remarks of Dana Gioia, who led by example with a speech laden with Shakespeare and Byron. He spoke of childhood in the labor town Hawthorne, CA; of how his family of no formal education still gave him poetry and music; and of example low performing students then and since affected deeply by literature, music, and drama.
If I profane with my unworthiest handAll this seemed to have worked out OK for Gioia, author, successful executive, and now chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
Find the papers and presentations here and the full video (indexed) here.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
"a recent experiment...tested students' ability to learn how to use a real digital camera by operating a virtual one. Although those students who used the virtual camera found it easier to remember how the camera worked, they also experienced more 'false memories'."Is the same thing true of any non-reality training (e.g. lectures)?
Monday, December 04, 2006
Shocking. OK, maybe not. Shucks, we would have thought the number much higher. And who knows, maybe B students are simply more honest in surveys, recognizing the need for solid marketing data and all.
At least all these dishonest louts have been good for the career of one Donald McCabe, who has made his profession at Rutgers studying them. His C.V. lists publications, alas with no hyperlinks. Why, there is even an International Plagarism Conference. Here's the Conference Proceedings. Alexander Hamilton, where are you? (Sr. Annunciatta, where are you?).
Saturday, December 02, 2006
One of the excellent people we met Thursday was Ed Dieterle, a Harvard researcher in technology and education. The River City Project is billed as "A Multi-User Virtual Environment for Learning Scientific Inquiry and 21st Century Skills". It looks sweet.
The interactive uses a downloadable client not accessible to the general public. However, our lofty status as educational geeks/wonks/pundits got us a copy and guest account, so ask and you may receive!
Friday, December 01, 2006
The Fixing Failing Schools session was long...and intriguing. But not at all surprising. All day we heard that
1) Testing is exposing the weakness of our poorest schools, but
2) Sanctions are being applied infrequently and N.C.L.B. public choice is rarely chosen.
3) The biggest positive effects may come from the Supplemental Services portion of the bill. But that too is unevenly available across the districts.
Well, this problem took 100 years to build, and five years is a bit of a short time to turn it around. Especially with fundamental union opposition. Still, every other profession has improved itself using metrics, and this one will too, in its own sweet, and perhaps painfully long time.
If you oppose national government testing, why, jump right in here and help build a movement for a more sane approach to education metrics.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
We can't swear that Ruby and Rails really are the state-of-the-art in Web 2.0 ajaxy goodness. But Rails does seem to ride the edge in some domains. Either way, the new release features REST (REpresentational State Transfer). Well, if you are interested, follow the links, Google on, and get a copy of the new Agile Web Development with Rails.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
You'll recall last summer we met with John Rolfe of Jamestown Colony, and he told the strange story of his colony's experimentation with communal living, it's near demise, and recovery into a prosperous and permanent settlement.
In this recounting from William Bradford, a similar story of experimentation, failure, and recovery is told. 'Tis a story not often told in the schools--see the above dropout story!
ABCNews is running a series of stories on the poor graduation rate.
- Video: High School Dropout Epidemic
- Dropout Generation: Nearly 1 in 3 Won't Graduate
- High School Dropouts Earn Far Less Money
- Solution to Dropout Generation: A Support Network
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
PBS and partners like USA Today take on a season-long project investigating the lives, passions, technology, religion, and environment of 16-25 year olds. The project is ongoing, with intermediate broadcast segments and a final documentary to be aired in January. Components are added to the site regularly and features published in partner organizations.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Here is en extraordinarily rich site that would be vastly improved if it practiced what it preaches. The media are fantastic; the the narrative perspective, and worse, the instructions on the pompous Teacher's Guide, much less so.
Can you imagine bringing a teen into the Army, sitting them down, and giving them lessons: "You Are the General! Investigating the Battle of the Bulge!" No. As this lesson points out, the Native Americans knew how to teach history. They told stories, and the children were expected to learn them to pass them on to their children.
'Twould be nice, for example, if kids were to learn and remember something of Massasoit, Standish, Bradford, etc.
Still, a very rich site. And filled with sound, as you know we so like to hear. The media fan in me just loves it. This would make a fantastic forensic case study.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
What? Your mind is on education and storytelling? You gotta get out more.
There's only 31 hours, 32 minutes and 54 seconds til kickoff time. You want History? #1 playing #2 in the last game, for the Big 10 Championship and clearly the National Title, in a season that started with the same #1 playing last year's #1 down in Austin? That's History friends!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Last week brought a little reprieve and time to finally(!!) get some dynamic dropdown menus onto the site. The code isn't quite 2006 Web 2.0, but it works--and great thanks to Aaron Boodman (www.youngpup.net). Hope it's now easier to find your way around.
And, for a reward, Google also opened its feature-complete beta Blogger to FTP users like us. Still a few entries to tag, and we hope they complete BlogThis, but so far, thanks Google!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The web is full of reports on this today, so why shouldn't we join in? Does it fill the bill? I don't know; I'm still looking for navigational components that install and work easily. So, we'll leave it up to you to decide if this beats the Animations in Ajax Control Toolkit, Macao Web Animation Framework, or any other.
Write in with your favorites, and history-telling examples.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I thought this morn we'd talk about the benefits of religious diversity. Wait a minute!, say you? We're really off topic now? Hmmm.
Yesterday, we mentioned that FamilySearch and the Geneological Society of Utah are partners in in the Virginia Freedman Project. If this sounded odd to you, check GSU's mission statement, and lean closer: Mormons take their ancestry seriously. You can look up why yourself (or create an interactive explaining it!). The point here is that FamilySearch and GSU provide world-class resources for researching people.
Both, you'll note, are ministries of Church of Latterday Saints, so if you benefit in your work, say thanks for religious diversity!
Monday, November 13, 2006
Virginia Will Digitize African-American Historical Information
This announcement initially caught our eye as one more digitization effort to make note of. Something exciting here is the number and scope of organizations working together: National Archives, Genealogical Society of Utah, FamilySearch, state of Virginia, Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, and Howard University.
Friday, November 10, 2006
We're off! If the #1 team in the nation isn't #1 Monday, and you don't hear from us...well, it may be because some Buckey fan found out about our record at away games.
Meanwhile, we're looking forward to finding a good Chicago Irish pub, a proper polish sausage, and a little culture and fun on the banks of Lake Michigan. Go Bucks!
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Three Sunday nights past, we sat down for William Golding's extraordinary drama of voyage on a converted 1770's British man-of-war. Golding, you might recall, started with Lord of the Flies; so his view of human nature runs somewhat hard.
Wouldn't your audience be interested in some of the characters and character of this story? Could you give life to a person of that time...just for a short while, for the young folk in school right now? Surely, with a bit of patience and teamwork,...you could do better than the history texts on their desk!
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Saturday, November 04, 2006
"The National Summit on Video Games, Youth and Public Policy was both down to earth and informative. ... I honestly believe that the gaming industry by and large could have benefited from attending.
"Which is why the first article I'm writing about the summit has very little to do with what happened there, and everything to do with my disappointment in the lack of interest the event generated amongst the mainstream game media. ..."
Friday, November 03, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Here's a fine little interactive that lets kids virtually walk through an exhibit at Chicago's Field Museum.
Mind you the subject matter is a little dirty, but the kids should be ok.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
If you live in a bubble, as we sometimes do, you may not be ready for Zune--Microsoft's answer and ante to the iPod. Bigger screen, bigger battery, well,...have fun Googling on it!
We did see several Flash-to-Zune converters advertised. Why wouldn't it support Flash natively?
Friday, October 27, 2006
OK, nothing at all to do with web media. Should some kids learn without co-ed pressures? I have no idea. Do boys and girls learn differently sometimes? We sure better be open to that possibility--the evidences keep coming.
Hmmm. Maybe this does have something to do with history media. Think you that some stories will grab girls attention more than boys? Vice versa? Can the same story start with two (or more) different introductory narratives?
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
You guessed it. We still haven't persuaded funders to stop funding more of the same reports on the problem; and give us money for the solution. But we whine...This one comes from the Brookings Institute (Report PDF):
..two very fascinating questions. The first is: Does the road of contentment, of happiness, if you will, as best we can measure it, of students in school make a discernible difference in their performance? The report then also takes up another somewhat unrelated question but equally important in the ongoing debate on No Child Left Behind, and that is the question of: How much truth is there to the common contention that the states are really gaming this law, artificially inflating the reported numbers of students that meet proficiency standards?
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
BBC continues to add to its interactive and multimedia history content. This index gives you access to the whole lot of it. We saw a few previously not noticed: The Colosseum: Building the Arena of Death; Animated Map: Battle of the Somme; and Interactive Map of Auschwitz .
Monday, October 23, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
They say Edison tried a thousand materials before he hit on a working light bulb. Experimentation is critical to improving education; but like surgery, experimental failures hurt real people.
The Gates Foundation, the state of Ohio, and others asked Fordham to take a look at the work so far in Ohio's charter schools. Now, charter schools are generally beyond the scope of this blog. Yet we do have a certain interest in seeing a few education dollars unleashed from the entrenched, unimaginative, hidebound educrats and given over to people who emulate the visionaries of other professions... and actually try new things.
This report takes a hard look at Ohio's steps and mis-steps on the charter school path.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
The U.S. has a new poet laureate, and the Newshour continues its tradition of introducing and recognizing these and other outstanding poets. Says new laureate Donald Hall, "I've seen enormous increases in the consumption of poetry...poetry is simply becoming more popular. It's still not as popular as dog racing...but it has become infinitely more popular."
If writing with feeling interests you (and it should as a storyteller), visit the Newshour's poetry project, learn of some poets, read and hear their works, and explore more resources on poetry.
What a country!
Thursday, October 12, 2006
This week took us to the world's greatest annual study of people, policy, terrain, technology, medicine, you name it. Friends, there is old history, and there is evolving history and if you want to meet people really deep into tomorrow's headline history, the AUSA annual meeting is the place to do it.
I can only summarize this way: I've encountered more than my share of real geniuses. The guys who invented machine learning and A.I. The The folks inventing Rails as we speak. Avi Tevanian, inventor of the Mac/NeXT OS Kernel. The men and women running our army are some awfully bright, learned, adaptive, creative, committed people. Hearing their briefings on the progress and change of the past three years is truly inspiring.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
We always thought Flash was an iffy technology for many web applications. Maybe now, Flash can start concentrating on what it was invented to do: Tell Stories!
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
We asked you: "How soon will it be till college students are learning more from their iPod than from the professor lecturing in front of them?
Textbook publisher Pearson and audio vendor Audible.com have teamed up to produce study notes: Vangonotes.com . We've already downloaded our first two (free) modules on reconstruction and are excited (OK, it's still a textbook publisher - yawn) to hear them!
Saturday, September 30, 2006
We want to report more on this, but for now:
A study of 14,000 college freshmen and seniors at 50 (good) schools reveals:
- There is trivial difference between freshmen and seniors in their knowledge of America's heritage.
- At 16 of 50 schools, seniors knew less than freshmen!
- Overall, seniors failed the civic literacy exam with an average score of 53%.
Monday, September 25, 2006
The Aga Khan gives a rare radio appearance and talks about education. "Shallow" is a great word to use in in re our education on world history and civilizations.
"Pluralism" however is an easy buzzword. The answer is much greater efficiency of education - and much more available life-long study. Not to mention much wider education in the regions the Khan defends.
We're working at it...
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
The No Child Left Behind Commission met in Cambridge and webcast this video. Now, an amazing amount of nothing is said by the first several speakers, so go for a walk or fast forward until... Gov. Romney gives an amazing performance. His familiarity with the details is astounding (especially for someone who just launched a politics-shattering healthcare program).
There follows a panel discussion: the mediocrity of state standards is well covered. Somebody better do something about generating higher standards before the fed bureaucrats are given the job!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
We mentioned that our non-stop effort to attract friends and funders took us last week to D.C. 'Twas a short but reaffirming presentation. People with creative ideas who may be outside the system are making very positive and big contributions. They've now posted the event Video, summary, and transcript.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Why aren't you in Austin? I mean, not only did you have a chance to see the top two football teams in the nation go to battle (Go Bucks!) you have Austin City Limits next weekend, FlashForward this week, and the Austin Games Conference last week. Who should spend September anywhere else?!
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
A good look at the American Learning System and how we muck along despite our problemic K12 schools.
Of course, if you're black, male, and inner city, you might need a bit more of a boost than Borders, Amazon, and the net terminal at your public lib can provide.
On our last trip to D.C., we finally had time to take in this gem of an historical site. Too often we forget about the earliest days of America--days when the Wild West was here in Ohio, and when marble icons like George Washington were wet-behind-the-ears scamps. The park boasts a spankin-new visitors center, and it is beautiful. Complete with a playground for the kids and a 30 minute movie, the center is the gateway to a four site park all Americans should see.
We're wondering about the funding for these long-overdue upgrades to our Nation's heritage sites. Are they part of the $100 million in history education funds? Are the parks just now making good use of user fees? Are outside donations the catalyst?
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
We should start this by saying we generally dislike miniseries and docudramas. (To be fair, we don't see much else to like on the tele). Most days, we'd certainly agree with John Fund, who opines that "docudramas are the worst draft of History."
In all the hype over this show, it's worthwhile to view the movie in the context of the rest of the anniversary programming. Most all of it was quite shallow.
At the very least, The Path to 9/11 should be recognized as a tribute to all those victims of terrorism against the US--victims we way to often forget.
By the way, can you right now identify Robert D. Stetham?
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Friday, September 08, 2006
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
When we last week suggested you swing by the National Museum of American History, we had no idea that TellingTheStory would make it. A last minute signup for Educational Entrepreneurship (and a wet Ohio Labor Day) had us spending the night near D.C., so why not?
'Twas a good chance to see how media new and old were mixing in the nation's central repository, and we were still amazed at the breadth of the collection. Most surprsising was Stanley, the super-computing Volkswagon that won last year's DARPA Grand Challenge. For a follower of DARPA initiatives, and a one-time tech at the lab which came in second (sniff) it's still somewhat shocking to find this years' super-high-tech already consigned to history!
Friday, September 01, 2006
"Waking teens from their deep REM sleep before 7 a.m.--which during late fall and winter is well before the rooster crows--is much like approaching a lion gnawing on an antelope carcass. "
OK, this may not help you build storytelling media celebrating the best people across time, but.... it may help if one of the little target audience yawns at you at o'dark.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
This cool interactive from the National Park Service starts right: it has sound!. Designed to introduce students to four of Boston's historic locations, it assigns students four tasks involving a painting or document. (I masterfully got all 4). Completion here grants you a token to the larger Webranger game, and also links to the individual historic sites.
IMHO, the play to "critical thinking skills" is a little heavy; and I'd shorten the introductory directions. Also we learn almost nothing of the people involved. Still, kudos to the Park Service team for this exploration of learning through sound, motion and interactity.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Might want to change your labor day plans--your next chance to see the National Museum will be mid 2008! "The full museum will close to the public as of September 5. (Labor Day, September 4, will be the last day to visit the museum.)"
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Later today, a gathering at the National Press Club will receive the latest study of state education standards. If you check in, and are as disappointed in progress as might be expected, you might just sign up for next Tuesday's session on Entrepreneurship in Education (AEI.org).
Our own experience with state education standards a few years back was a real eye-opener. The BS-to-content ratio was amazing even by government standards. And the writing! Oh, my. We had previously thought engineers to be negligent with the basics of Rhetoric. Huh. They had nothing on O.D.E. educrats!
Monday, August 28, 2006
Sites visits the tunnels used by the North Vietnamese in their war with America. Interesting video and photos.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Ajaxian points out the relaunch of Gucci's site with AJAX and script.aculo.us instead of Flash. We don't shop Gucci, thus can't personally vouch that the new site looks like the old version; it does imitate many Flash sites past. You can try Runway Fashion for their version of slider effects.
Most important to us, you can see that we were able to give you a link for Runway Fashion. That's not always the case in Flash sites, and one of the big advantages of the AJAXy approach.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Friday, August 18, 2006
On occaision, we take this space to give news that has nothing to do with history or education or new media, but may just make your life easier. Today is such a day: This summer, while we were burning ribs or somesuch and you were who-knows-where, the folks at Ultimate Boot CD for Windows were busy releasing version 3.0!
If you've never used UBCD, you may be lucky, or wealthy, or you just didn't know it was there. But is sure helps fix broken computers, as we often do to pay the web hosting provider. And version 3.0 is just sweet. Much, much easier to build a disk than before. New tools, new look, mem test before boot - all great new stuff.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Monday, August 14, 2006
This beautifully crafted game of Egyptian mystery had me hooked - for about 10 minutes.
Alas, if there's deep learning here, I'll not know. I spent quite awhile trying to guess the combination to the safe - without which the game just ends in the 4rd scene. Next, my arrow-key skills were too low to catch the thief--without whom the game also comes to a screeching halt. I fear the discussion board won't help me cheat through the mouse chase, so... let me know how the game comes out.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Of course you want images for your interactive--or maybe you just need some inspriration and you know you could get it if you could just make get the gas money to go to Antietam or the Alamo. Flickr clusters perhaps to the rescue. Tag searches are great-sometimes. And sometimes they're a bit exasperating. If you haven't found Flickr clusters, here's a heads up. We found clusters for americanrevolution, civilwar, statues, civilrights, WWII, and WWI. Of course, the clusters for Kings turned up more on Kings Canyon and Kings College; I can't find any methodical way to find new clustered tags. But maybe you know more, or can add these and more to the Wiki.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
This may be obvious to many readers: Look to the video services of Yahoo! and others for inspiration, ideas, clips, and connections. Yahoo's collection has grown nicely. (Of course, you may see a lot of other stuff). Try Thomas Jefferson, American Revolution, Crusades, or just History.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
The impetus to teach more history grows!! You recall the National Constitution Center? They've teamed up with Guilder Lehrman to build and run a high school. It's in Philly - home to some of the very worst schools in the nation a few years back.
More surprising is that there are already 31 History High Schools around the country. But maybe you, dear reader, go to one!
Monday, August 07, 2006
In our non-stop quest to bring you the best ideas in storytelling, we took one for the team and took time from our camping weekend in Allegheny National Forest to visit Titusville and the Drake Oil Well Museum. We walked in the footsteps and learned of the tenacity of Col. Drake (no, not Sir Francis Drake - Edwin Drake).
Of all things, the movie in the visitors center starred a young Vincent Price!
Good news for those interested: The 150th anniversary of this huge moment in the industrial revolution is just around the corner...and the Feds are providing money to celebrate. Big improvements to this site will be coming in the next several years. Send them your ideas for new media!
Thursday, August 03, 2006
We missed this - you probably didn't. If the problem still exists, or if you are creating based on old info, you might want to check out the solutions.
We hadn't actually seen Actionscript.com ("The Flash/Flex ActionScript Developer Community") for awhile. Glad to see they're still flying!
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
OK, we're not really going to tell you about building enterprise software. I wouldn't begin to presume!
But an hour with this book this morn cleared up for me my recent intuition to learn Ruby and Rails. I get these feelings about some technologies and languages and not about others; until this morn I couldn't place exactly why Ruby draws me.
It's this: the OHP website is far from "Enterprise". But it ( along with certain of my other projects) has enterprise-like aspects. Most of these are faked through some generously open and WELL documented library of php functions or free services that together deliver the blog, forums, wiki, etc. But it's becoming apparent that keeping up will require much more code, especially on the DOM side.
This hope may or may not mature, but that's what struck me while reading this well-crafted book.
Monday, July 31, 2006
Or "This Old Pyramid" as the show is titled.
Haven't seen the show; the website is...well, yet another sketch/picture/article style exploration of the pyramids. It may be better than the others, I dunno. But really, it's 2006. What about sound and storytelling?
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
The American Story has it's share of wonderful coincidence; one has to be the discovery of Jamestown Fort just in time for America's 400th anniversary celebration!
On a childhood visit--or any visit before 1990--you would have been told that Jamestown Fort lies somewhere out in the sea. Washed away by erosion of the James River and swept out to the briny deep. Not today!
In the early 90's one archaeologist took on the establishment and set out to prove that the fort still remained. And remained it did - untouched by earlier less sophisticated digging, it remains today a still partially tapped reservoir of History.
On our visit they were excavating the original sweet well. A square well, unlike almost any well of the time. Very exciting to watch students scrape away at what was last seen 400 years ago.
Even better, you can now see what they've found in a brand spanking new archaearium. Soon you'll also be able to explore a new visitors center at the National Park; last year the state of Virginia added its new Jamestown Settlement full of living history.
A great feature inside the Archaearium is the virtual viewers. By pointing these at an area of the original fort, you can peel back the layers of time and see what was discovered. We could learn a lot from these for online history!
Happy Anniversary America, and what a way to celebrate!
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Down Jamestown way, Monday last, we met a most interesting character - John Rolfe, sometime member of the House of Burgesses of Virginia Colony, husband (briefly) of Pocahontas, and cultivator of the lands (circa 1620) south of James City Shire.
Remember you John Rolfe? No? 'Twas him who set the colonists straight on making a profit in Virginia - yes, profit! Otherwise, t'was no way to pay for the expensive passage from England. Well, my friends, coming here was no pleasure cruise. Either you came because you led a dirt poor life in Britain, or you came because you were a middling gentleman hoping to be a greater gentleman - either way, t'was dangerous, hard work. You were quite likely to die. (Of the two, you generally wanted to be a laborer--gentlemen tended to die; whilst laborers lived better, longer lives here than in back in England).
At any cause, Mr. Rolfe was generous enough to instruct us upon the keys to survival in Colonial Jamestown. And informative (and entertaining) he was! Rolfe (a.k.a. Dick Cheatam in 2006) came to us courtesy of the U.S.Park Service, who contract with Living History Associates.
Talking with Cheatam afterwards was even more educational - as he is one of those brave souls who are able to make a living from telling stories of History.
If you can enguage one of these great historic characters (hire one of the LHALTD speakers) for your corporate or other event, do!
Monday, July 24, 2006
Friday, July 21, 2006
We probably could have guessed after the tower addition is complete - but yes, this is a library! The entrance from the arena through the cafe gave thoughts of another student center of some sort - but then came the warning to check out books before entering the cafe.
If you're in school now, avert your eyes from the next bit. (There was a time when colleges consisted mostly of Classrooms. With slightly less space given over to dorms, a gym, and a library. If you're in school, you know nothing if this setup - your campus is mostly auxilliary buildings. Sometimes, its almost hard to find the academic structures).
But this post is not about that - its about the rise of networked learning. Eighteen HP t5700's run the screens here in the library cafe - and surely a wifi link is present. Few books are on the main floor of the lib either - and those in display cases.
OK,... you've guessed that this is just a reminder for those readers who still think old-school. Are the t5700's old-school too?. Me, I have a deadline to meet on a hiking trail. More on Williamsburg, Jamestown, etc. next week. Get outta here - it's summer!
Friday, July 14, 2006
Monday, July 10, 2006
The Times has a series on the growing predominance of women in college over males who are dropping back both in attendance and excellence.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
We've noticed this week the comatose state of several of the Spring's new audio blogs / podcasts. Not surprising that people with real jobs would decide their time wasn't all that well spent converting their text of this week's high tech news into an audio format. Still, too bad, as I was enjoying spending the drive time with such visionaries. Hopefully, a middle ground will fill the void.
"Timeline is a DHTML-based AJAXy widget for visualizing time-based events. It is like Google Maps for time-based information. Below is a live example that you can play with. Pan the timeline by dragging it horizontally.
"Just like Google Maps, Timeline can be used with zero software installation, server-side or client-side. And like Google Maps, you can populate Timeline with data by pointing it to an XML file (here is the data file for the timeline above). But Timeline is not limited to only that means of loading data. "
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Happy 4th of July!!
Here is a somewhat bland, but clean and clear audio presentation on Franklin. Would that some of the many, many visually beautiful interactives we showcase here would include a little of such clean, clear audio.
Fourth of July 1826 PBS / American Experience
It is a story you would consider too improbable to make good fiction. Yet it happened here, in the US, on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
This rendering of the story is part of American Experience' podcast. To understand it fully, you should know that John Adams and Tom Jefferson became almost bitter ememies during the campaigns to their respective elections. This between the man who wrote the Declaration and the man who birthed it, and appointed Jefferson it's voice.
Yet over they years, they became long-distance debate partners, then friends again. (You can, in fact, read all that they posted between Quincy, MA and Monticello over the years).
Monday, July 03, 2006
How long did we fight the British?
And remembering that the Iraqi people and Army are still fighting for their independence (hopefully it will be a shorter war than we had for ours): the Iraqi Government today lists 41 people who would rather not see the people have a right to vote.
History is about people.
If you're near Philadelphia this weekend, there are many ways you can celebrate beyond the fireworks and franks! Learn more about our independence all weekend!
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Hopefully you aren't eating while reading this. Still, we thought you'd want to know that if you are a true geek, you can indeed get thong undies with the Apache Software Foundation logo. Eek.
This is outside the normal scope of this blog, but it's compelling enough to make a quick note. We're firm believers here that America has passed the point where its 80th and 90th percentile grads can blithely know nothing about history and culture beyond our borders. We just plain need to know how western traditions merged and diverged with other major cultures.
This article points out that Islamic tradition has a word for war that is unjust, not in the path of God. And the word is not Jihad (as many of our own leaders apply it to al Quaeda), but hirabah.
If you've found any dynamic media content relating to Arab, Middle Eastern, and Islamic history, send in those links!
One day we'll have enough contributors that events like this will get here before they're over. Meanwhile, plan for next year! Meanwhile, view the FlickR tagged photos. And maybe we'll get podcasts!
Of course, you can also go to London: Europeans RailsConf 2006
Recently on a student history forum, the question was posed "Why is High School History so Boring?" Lots of answers were given. The real reason, of course, is that there are no people left in high school history. We replaced them all with themes and concepts and overarching genre or whatever.
So we made it through parts of the Daniel Boone National Forest this weekend. If you're interested in rock climbing, head there! And don't forget ot visit Miguel's Pizza!
If you're interested in Daniel Boone, though, don't bother. He's been removed there too. Oh, you can hike a mile to view remnants of a Daniel Boone cabin. But, discovered in 1956, the site is still waiting for someone to get round to an archaeological dig. Of the two visitors centers, one mentions that Truman named the Forest after Boone in recognition of his relationship to the Environment.
Since every other thing there, including the Sheltowee Trace Trails are named after Boone, we got to wondering.... And sure enough, you will soon be able to watch the old episodes: Daniel Boone TV Series (1964-1970). Meanwhile, if you find any rich web apps on Boone, send them in!
Friday, June 23, 2006
Other than a DHTML rollover, there's no new media in this. But, it being Friday in June with a weekend in the Daniel Boone National Forest on deck, you're lucky to see anything but white space here. And anyway, the graphics are nice, and they are tied in with our friends at Guilder Lehrman.
Speaking of Daniel Boone, don't forget that Outdoor Drama season is here! We passed this one en route last July, still hope to take it in this year.
And perhaps, weather willing (it's not) we might even catch Tecumseh! this eve.
It is, after all, the original multimedia history!
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Speaking of Rhetoric, Maira Kalman has illustrated a version of Stunk & White's Elements of Style. The above link is to the National Public Radio story, with related links. Here's the Amazon.com entry.
There's also, very strangely, an Opera.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
I'd been hoping to go a little deeper into this than we'll have time for this morning. Digital History is one cool web site.
Cool thing one is the lifespan bar. The width of the timeline slider represents the life expectancy of a typical person living in that year. Note the slider bar get wider as you move it forward in time.
Connected to each item on the timeline is a fairly extensive treatment in text. And there are lots more goodies. Alas the Multimedia page is a little heavy on the Psuedo-intellectualism: Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky.
You'll want to play with the Time Machine. Take a look at the Games, Film Trailers, and Historical Music.
A bit of a strange section is the African American Voices - which seems to have a lot more bland overview than necessary. But skip down the page for some quotes.
And somewhat hidden is this Overview of American History.
All in all an amazing site!
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
This article is a technical view of the Open Ajax Initiative. There's more at the Eclipse Ajax Toolkit Framework project page. Some big players (or at least early leaders) have joined in: see the many articles referenced in the resources section.
Note, too, that there's a mailing list forum at the ATF site.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Sweet again! Whilst I fear I have not had time to see the movie yet, this map mashup brings back fond memories from the book (w/ apologies to Fr. Cinson). Map, pictures from Flickr, and routes taken in the story. Very nice.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Sunday we pointed out a nice little animation of the rise and fall of Communism. Today, an awesome interactive from Freedom House: Map of Press Freedom 2005.
I'd love to see a little bit of an introduction with sound & motion, but overall...this is one we'd love to have open source code for!
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
This little app does what the headline says. We saw something like this in Headline History. This standalone page might be great in a young classroom.
Can we get an open source version of this? To embed in your own projects/lessons?
This blog was Mike Chambers' blog of the week in April: it's dedicated to creating components with Adobe Flex.
I don't have a feel yet for how much you can do in Flex; think, though of our quesions from Sunday. Are there ways to improve display of such info?
And would this help with creating Sparklines? (And more sparklines).
Monday, June 12, 2006
We don't enough talk here of Rhetoric, the soul of any good communication. This morning, Peter Schramm has crafted two clauses worth sharing.
Of one conference speaker he writes,
let me just say that he is a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles.
I saw a lot of such personages this weekend (as always) on the Sunday morning talk shows. Schramm also writes of another speaker,
He showed that history is not a chronicle of wasted time, that manly rhetoric can yet be used by the valiant, and he would never allow the low and the incomplete to roll over the just...
A snapper-up of unconsidered triffles; the low and the incomplete: isn't that great stuff?!
Speaking of Rhetoric, I've been reading E. Charles Vivian's Robin Hood. Great stuff!
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Lately the blog here has been heavy on the how (as promised) and why of animated storytelling--and a bit light on the what. By way of mends: this simple animated map effectively demonstrates communism's rise across much of the globe - and it's swift demise.
The map is posted on a discussion forum and alas there is no citation. One wag wrote to say that the map really shows "socialism". Whatever.
What would you do to improve the map? I'd put something - maybe a filling pie chart? -- to show the percentage of the world's population so afflicted.
Of course, many other improvements could add to learning. How about graphics to indicate world events? Think about it!
Friday, June 09, 2006
This is rather hefty reading for a gorgeous June Friday, but if you do punt, remember to come back!
Frankly, the analysis and conclusions don't really match with our approach here. Example: In Ohio,
Students are first exposed to world history in sixth grade with an introduction to Regions and People of the World, which is followed in seventh grade by "World Studies from 1000 B.C.E. to 1750: Ancient Civilizations Through the First Global Age." By the end of middle school, students are expected to describe the development of the earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, in addition to understanding the “enduring impact of early civilizations in China,Egypt,Greece and Rome
after 1000 BC.” Supporting detail is in short supply, however,and what exists remains vague. Specific references to aspects of Athenian democracy and the Roman republic, as well as the influence both cultures had on late forms of representative government, would be more useful.
Now, c'mon Doctors. Do you really think that the average sixth grader is learning anything this way? For that matter, do you think their teachers get this gibberish? Personally, that class had about as much meaning to me as memorizing Moscow train schedules.
The A in the class represented about 3 facts worth of retained learning. One of them was not "the influence of the culture on late forms of Representative government." Maybe, ...because we had no understanding at all of government.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
We noted last week the goings on at Adobe (/Macromedia). Another interesting project is Apollo - which will take Flash (and Flex) to the desktop. Apollo's not yet ready for primetime - they're not promising anything yet, in fact. But, it's something to keep in mind and watch for at the upcoming developer conferences.
Comparisons are also being made to Windows Foundation...Stay tuned.
Monday, June 05, 2006
If you don't travel in the academic computing circles, you won't know EDUCAUSE. However, if you want to meet Provosts for I.T. or whatever your university calls them, this group is their home.
Here, Bryan Alexander takes a comprehensive look at what Web 2.0 companies are working PDF 352KB | HTML Format
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Friday, June 02, 2006
In education news, The Education Gadfly has been podcasting, if you want a little irritation and occaisional inspiration on your commute.
'How Low Can We Go?'' David S. Kahn, Wall Street Journal
Also, for you all who took your SAT's over the past decade: we're smarter than you!!! A long time SAT tutor explains the differences in the new test, and how it affects overall scores.
Since we updated you on things Adobe this week, let's bring up this tutorial on integrating RubyOnRails and Flex! I haven't tried it yet, but both are now set up on my machine, so any free moment now I want to give it a go. Should be fun.
You'll also wantRubyOnRails (1.1) and Flex (2.0): Pt 2 and Flex and Rails Part 2: Extra Time.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Exciting things are happening at Adobe/Macromedia. (I think. You may be better set to interpret them than us).
First, we mentioned this winter the arrival of Adobe Flex. This caught attention in the programming community as AJAX mania took over. This month, there's a new release: Flex 2.0 beta 3.
Second, Adobe is, depending on your perspective, seeing the Open Source train coming, or jumping on the Open Source Bandwagon. Either way, they have radically altered the way they release software, and you get the early peeks as well as the freebies to go with it. Adobe Labs
is where you'll find them.
And the biggest early peek is Actionscript 3. 3.0 promises to be a dramatic leap forward; much advanced (and much faster) than the unloved version 2. It comes with ActionScript Virtual Machine 2, which apparently is so different that AVSM 1 will remain to handle legacy code. Meanwhile, AVSM 2 is reported to be extremely fast, while Actionscript 3 is much more like a modern programming language, and reportedly demands more coding discipline.
While that sounds scary to designers, the payback is supposed to come in the use and reuse of modules. Shipping with the beta flex package is ActionScript Libraries
and Flex Data Services. And, there's lots more. Check the Mike Chambers Podcast and others.
All of this will end up running in the new FlashPlayer 9, which is now available.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Perhaps nothing but the debate on the war is as devisive as the debates over education; and that's too bad, because only the kids really loose in such contention. Last fall I was at a meeting of committed, creative, industrious leaders who labor tirelessly to each bring some creative new solution to the education mix. In the back scowled non-stop a union rep, a reporter, and a anti-reform college prof, all of whom could see nothing but evil in the designs of the participants.
This article wonderfully bridges some of the gaps between the opposing camps. Some out-takes:
Unlike Deborah, Diane has long supported an explicit, prescribed curriculum, one that would consume about half the school day, on which national examinations would be based. Diane believes in the value of a common, knowledge-based curriculum, such as the Core Knowledge curriculum, that ensures that all children study history, literature, mathematics, science, art, music, and foreign language; such a curriculum, she thinks, would support rather than undermine teachers’ work. Deborah, while strongly agreeing on the need for a broad liberal arts curriculum, doubts that anyone can ensure what children will really understand and usefully make sense of, even through the best imposed curriculum, especially if it is designed by people who are far from the actual school communities and classrooms.Yet both of us are appalled by the relentless “test prep” activities
Deborah is a pioneer of the small-schools movement. Diane, while not an opponent of that movement, has questioned whether such schools have the capacity to offer a reasonable curriculum, including advanced classes.
We found that we were both dismayed by efforts in New York City to micromanage what teachers in most K-8 schools do at every moment in the day.
The establishment of a national curriculum and national testing has its dangers, Diane concedes, but the consequences of preserving the status quo may be even more dangerous for the nation’s future. On this point—opposition to preserving the status quo—both Diane and Deborah agree.Reading this, you might get confused as to which is the conservative! Well, ff we didn't agree with both of them, we wouldn't be sacrificing our career to work at an alternative.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Thursday, May 25, 2006
In honor of Memorial Day, the Institute has launched the final installment of Battle Lines: Letters from America's Wars. "Chapter Five: The End of War" is comprised of letters about defeat, victory, death, and war’s lasting effects. The letters, all from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, include correspondence from James Monroe, Robert E. Lee, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Douglas MacArthur read by professional actors.
Listen to readings, see transcripts, and examine original letters at:
A soon-to-be teacher reminded me this weekend of the importance of original source material. This series is one of the most elegant presentations of original source material we've seen.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Not much time to play with this here, but you can! Use 'Map Index' or 'Map Categories' to choose a map. Try Population Year 1, Population Year 1500, Population Year 1900.
What will Edward Tufte say?
Seemingly little to do with History and Interactivity, except for this: we just know so little about what works and what doesn't in education. Witness the recent switch to "Block Schedules". Classes are too short to get anything done, went the cant. Make them longer and kids will learn more.
Well, there may be some merit to that if a class is really flowing and all of the students are highly and intellectually engaged.
But of course not all classes are like that, and many students are not at all engaged. So here we find some results on how block scheduling helped science students by the time they arrived in college.
This sounds intriguing enough
:it's compared with The Closing of the American Mind, one of the books that got us out of engineering and into history. The topic is more narrowly aimed at Harvard
—perennially a good target because of it's mythic stature
—but the lessons swing wider.
It's a good time to remember that not one of America's 50 best universities recently required an American History class of its students. Few students of any age or class will have written a paper on the life of a Washington, Madison, Hamilton, Churchill, St. Gregory, or any other non-popstar.
The Wall Street Journal has a review today.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Happy Start of Summer!!!
Today we hauled the BigAssGrill over for a cookout for the kids at the Jr. Hi. The first thing to be noted was that it was not raining, and the sun was shining--which would definitley not have been the case last week or the week before.
The second thing to be noted was the math skills of the teaching staff, who had some trouble with the concept that 380 kids will eat at least 380 free hamburgers and hotdogs--not 250 or less.
The third thing to note is that this is just a warmup for the busy summer grill season - starting with the grand parade and wienie throwing on Monday. Last year 1000 went - well like our fall hotcakes - so this year we'll cook up 1500 doggies to toss to the children old and young.
You don't toss wieners in your parade? Huh! Gives the ole ball-park feel to the event!
Monday, May 22, 2006
In playing with and searching through the newer hipper coding & design sites, we found a new addition to this blog - the nifty sidebar that does a dom-scripted tree of related blog feeds.
It still needs some tuning, and we'll geth there. Meanwhile, thanks to Dan who created this great goody.
The scripts work on OPML - Outline Processing Markup Language. There's lots more fun coming from OPML, and the list here has the top 100 blog subscriptions of that community.
Friday, May 19, 2006
If you're developing history interatives, you'll want to put this one near the top of your bookmarks. A huge resource of Creative Commons licensed audio to add to your storytelling.
You'll recall we featured here a couple weeks ago OYEZ, OYEZ, the audio record of the US Supreme Court. A great treasure trove right there.
Yet developer's will find even more to cheer about in the music sections. Including Soundlift.com a fantastic resource in its own.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Last night the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer brought a segment on iPods (Online NewsHour: Apple's Ipod is a Technological Phenomenon -- May 15, 2006 (RealAudio)). Are they divisive? Do they isolate people? Or do they result in even more community?
A very recent convert to MP3 conference downloads, I'm still jumping with joy at attending conferences worldwide whilst driving down I70 weeks after the conference closed up. Probably prattled on about it 5 times last week alone.
So of course my reaction to the broadcast piece on iPods was, "can I get a podcast of the story on podcasts?" Naturally.
Indeed, since we last looked, PBS has seriously upgraded its podcast feeds. The big list is here:
Podcasts from PBS
And of special interest to us:
Encounter the people and events that have shaped a nation.
The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
A documentary about segregation from the end of the Civil War to the dawn of the modern civil rights movement
Listen to first-hand accounts by people who experienced, endured, and survived Jim Crow.
Texas Ranch House
A living history series in which modern-day adventurers are transplanted to a Texas ranch in the year 1867.
Watch videos of the ranchers in action.
Download weekly episodes in MP3 audio format.
Friday, May 12, 2006
Thursday, May 11, 2006
I've been trying to think of what to say about this beautiful page. Perhaps we should just leave it at that!
Or maybe I should offer it as a work in progress--and a window on the state of page scripting. And, perhaps we should add the word ambitious. Either way, if you are a student of art history, there should be a great deal of info here. As a student of interactive web stories, the best part probably comes when you click on any of the panels in the scroller timeline at the top. This takes you to a different setup using the same central scroller, but with maps for each era.
All of this is implemented with DHTML onclick pseudo-links and in-the=page Javascipt. Some of the DOM scripting gurus these days might frown on these choices - I personally haven't decided on the whole onclick issue. Still, with some simple scripts and NO Flash, they've added some neat features to a very complex site. Kudos...and see you at the next version!!
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Can you put a little in your learning app? Now that you have lots of tools to access the server without reloading a page? How would you use it?
An interesting mental excursion. Have fun.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Far too many students drop out and miss the education - and diploma - they need. No news here. What we are hearing over and over is that it is boredom - not failure - which drives the majority out.
Liam Julian here takes a look at Career Academies and other vocational hands on work solutions to keeping kids in school.
I put this here to tickle your minds and reiterate. This site is not another Wikipedia; it is not about college prep. For one thing, I'm way out of high school and I still don't usually want my history to be "college prep".
Take a simple Bible story. I didn't get them; maybe you didn't either. Yet Wikipedia forces us through a hearing of every anal analyst on the spectrum of whether Shem son of Noah was Archaeologically proveable. That's not the point.
I want to be culturally literate, and so does the dude who wants a small mechanic or landscaping shop. And neither of us wants to slog through tomes just to find out the story.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Can't say the budget will allow us to order this and review it for you, but Barry Hawkins offers his take on Slashdot. This sounds like my kind of book!
Like its forerunner the Head First series, the Head Rush line approaches learning a given technical topic with the principles derived from studies in cognitive science, neurobiology, and educational psychology. It comes as no surprise that the classic approach of turgid, monotonous, visually-fatiguing tomes is not the ideal way to have someone learn a topic. Learning is aided by having variation...
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Does this tell you anything you didn't know? Users read your content from left to right and from top to bottom, with their attention fading out quickly.
They also read headlines and pullout boxes more than other content.
Still, this study of eyeball tracking by Jacob Neilson is getting traction in the blogspere, so our readers get it too!!
Monday, May 01, 2006
Here's an interesting new twist. Markus Szumovski (Austria) has created Wiki software dedicated to timelines.
Now, this implementation is set up for broad world history. But you can install your own copy and cover and period or subject you want.
Meanwhile, customize the original Wiki. In particulr, switch to "People Only" mode. This switches off the labels and events and just lets you see who lived when. While you're there, add Phillip to Alexander's timespace.
The software has some basic work to do...the back button sends you to the start condition, and it's hard to tell how to navigate and zoom. But this makes for some interesting thinking.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Jay Greene is back with an update to the offensive state of graduation in our public schools. You knew it was bad.
For 2003, only 49% of African-American males and 48% of Hispanic males graduated.
This study only brings the news, not the reasons. It's been noted elsewhere, however, that most don't leave because they can't do the work; nor becuse they simply must support a family.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
If the posts here seem to be getting a little scarcer; it partly because business has been busy; partly because Spring has brought new opportunities for lobbying for local hiking, bike, and drive-it-yourself interpretive trails.
It's also because I promised more technical content, and have since walked into a firehose of info on AJAX, DOM-scripting, Ruby-on-Rails, and all the like. I suspect a lot of developers are like that - as we try to riddle out a seemless interface between Flash applications and plain old text.
This week I've been listening again to some conference sessions. The above link is the podcast of the 2006 South By SouthWest festivals. The session that first caught my interest was How to Bluff Your Way in DOM Scripting (MP3). You'll enjoy more, I'm sure.
Why fill your iPod with music when you can listen to Brits expounding on scripting and markup as you tour about?
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Kingdom of Heaven is out on DVD, and appropritely we watched it Easter eve. Among the DVD features, an overlay comments on the historical accuracy of the film, scene by scene. If your interested, and as ignorant as I, do watch is again with the overlay.
On the web, there's more on Apple.com. Also, CBN offers a site The Kingdom of Heaven:The Truth Behimnd the Crusades. Lots of info and links here, including a thorough Flash timeline.
And in the Steven Spielberg Would Be Proud marketing advances department--or the Future of Story Interaction department, as you please: Kingodom of Heaven Mobile, with games, ringtones, graphics and more.