Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Big Budget Events - Slideshows - CNBC.com
While this falls in the class of 'learning from negative examples' when it comes to how to present something, the information here makes it worth bridging up. Be sure to make it to the last slide, and.

How would you improve this interactive?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oh, to be a 2nd grader entering the world of learning about the wide world!

Look at this gorgeous illustration of the carbon cycle:

Its one of many.
(Not that I'd give it to a second grader - but oh to be learning full time with such remarkable resources!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yea!!! Wiki Fixed!!
Phew! After probably months of degraded function, and finally complete failure, the Wiki is back up to snuff. Well, at least as well as a Wiki-Media based wiki can be. At any rate, the content is finally accessible again.

Yes, I should somehow save it, upgrade the MediaWiki software to something approaching current, and then move forward from there. One step at a time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Education | Glogster
This is something I hadn't seen. Its use for education was brought up recently over at Classroom 2.0.

I wasn't a fan of poster making in second grade, so I'm not gonna say how exciting this is now. Still, its another tool, and you don't have to kill trees and get paste in Kylie-Sue's hair, and it seems easy to use.

Glogster the non-educational side is pretty much set up for teen girls. It seems that the edu side is aiming for a broader audience, but perhaps with some restrictions?

Would be interesting to use this for a bit of art history. Map backgrounds, or timelines, with paintings and artists laid on. Rich content, ya know.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Computer Game, Spore, Takes Cues From Evolutionary Biology - NYTimes.com
Just an article on games and scince, but we'll pass it on here.
Unlike the typical shoot-them-till-they’re-all-dead video game, Spore was strongly influenced by science, and in particular by evolutionary biology. Mr. Wright will appear in a documentary next Tuesday on the National Geographic Channel, sharing his new game with leading evolutionary biologists and talking with them about the evolution of complex life.Evolutionary biologists like Dr. Near and Dr. Prum, who have had a chance to try the game, like it a great deal.
Here's the Spore Website. And, a long Wikipedia article.

Monday, October 13, 2008

K12 Online Conference Started Today
In a fully online conference, lots of sessions and intereaction and live fireside chats will be happening over the next couple weeks.
The K-12 Online Conference invites participation from educators around the world interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning. This FREE conference is run by volunteers and open to everyone. The 2008 conference theme is “Amplifying Possibilities”. This year’s conference begins with a pre-conference keynote the week of October 13, 2008. The following two weeks, October 20-24 and October 27-31, forty presentations will be posted online to the conference blog (this website) for participants to download and view. Live Events in the form of three “Fireside Chats” and a culminating “When Night Falls” event will be announced. Everyone is encouraged to participate in both live events during the conference as well as asynchronous conversations.

Technically, it was the Preconference Keynote today, but all the same you can view “It Simply Isn’t the 20th Century Any More Is It?: So Why Would We T...

The full schedule is here. And here the Fireside chats. There are discussion groups around each presentation, and the whole thing will wind up with a live 24 hour When Night Falls

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

HP TouchSmart / Ads
You've probably seen one or more of the ads. Here they all are, for the new HP touchscreen computer.

Gets you thinking doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Open Source Plea
I wrote a plea for help over at Common Core.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

MathMovesU.com: Explore, have fun, and pick up cool math skills!
Have you played with this one?

Have you played with it with kids and a research setup to test its efficacy?

I like this. Who is studying these things to see if they work?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Google Chrome - Download a new browser
After several bad experiences with Google world, we're loath to tell you to run out and use the newest Google offering. However, we've heard some experts say that the underlying Webkit is leaps ahead and on a better path than Gecko (the underlying technology of Firefox).

So, if you're reading this and are a developre, you might jsut download and try.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Why History Isn’t Learned, and How Story Helps Change That | Beyond School
Clay Burell talks about what kids really know at the end of the usual suspect social studies classes, and how to cure that. You'll find such words buried in this site, yet Burell puts them together wonderfully and explains that web media isn't at all essential to the task.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Underground Railroad--History of Slavery, Pictures, Information
This seems familiar and yet not so. Anyway, with Hillary's citation the other night, its an even more appropriate find!

(And I still want to make it to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. This year. Went by once, but too late!)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

To Happy Grounds, Prof. Michalski
I just discovered that the professor who most amazed me, Ryszard Michalski, died of cancer last fall. If you look on my profile for favorite books, Machine Learning: An Artificial Intelligence Approach, is at the top. As a technologist who is better than average with words and long fascinated with logic and the future, no other class quite caught my interest as much as his Machine Learning lectures. I was supposed to be on campus to study business--yet here was this genius teaching the very incarnation of science fiction itself! Artificial machines which could not just deduce, but invent!! How remarkable!

And the underlying math and mechanics! Who knew that there were so many types of logics? That logic might preserve truth--or might not!? That learning itself could be classified and taxonomified?

Alas, I didn't have the CS background to excel in this class, everyone else was in the dept., and I a lone transplant. A certain vocabulary and programming sophistication were assumed. Yet Ryszard was kind enough to respect the desire to learn--his lectures were far more human than most--and still honor the necessities of grading. Most members of the class produced a working ML program of some sort; he left open the option of a final, which probably I alone took. I doubt he needed the extra work of writing and grading it.

Via con Dios, Ryschard Michalski. I wager many, many past students celebrate your excellence.

University Mourns Death of Prof. Michalski - The Mason Gazette - George Mason University

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Monty Hall Problem New York Times
Can't recall now where I first heard this, but it completely engrossed me at the time --and I am not much given to such puzzles. The challenge is one of those non-intuitive results that statistics gives us to a situation we all think to be perfectly obvious: Does it matter if you change your mind once Monty Hall opens a door on Lets Make a Deal?

Here, the times has turned the problem into a cool little animated interactive which lets you play for yourself.

Alas, it doesn't go the step further of doing an interactive with the math behind the problem.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

PBS Impresses Me Steve Harrington
Lot of interesting stuff here on PBS' interactive efforts.

In fact, I labeled this post "Platforms" because that's what PBS is, isn't it?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

International Music Score Project -IMSLP
Not sure how yo may use this on your projects, but an interesting open source resource all the same.

Monday, June 30, 2008

[Copied verbatum from my post on Fireside Learning].
The Newshour this week continues its reports with John Merrow on education, and DC and New Orleans districts. New Orleans before Katrina was one of the poorest districts in the nation, but it also didn't have much of what we recognize as good education practices. DC has long been well funded, but notorious in its waste, and pathetic in its results.

These can likely be viewed in any order, but the most upsetting is probably New Orleans School Chief Pursues Reform, (Feb. 8, 2008) which looks at kids of 15 and 16 who are still in 8th grade, but performing even lower. Booker T Washington High is where they take these street-old but knowledge-young kids to keep them separate from the normal 8th graders. Superintendent Paul Vallas (veteran of Chicago and Philadelphia schools) laments that BTWH is not big enough.
Education Leaders Attempt Reform in D.C. Schools Oct. 01, 2007
Rhee Fights For D.C. School Reform Nov. 19, 2007
Schools in New Orleans Face Tough Road to Rebuild (Nov. 23, 2007)
D.C. Education Leader Faces Resistance Feb. 07, 2008
Schools in D.C. Face a Complex Road to Reform Apr. 02, 2008
New Orleans Education Chief Faces Struggles Apr. 03, 2008
New Orleans School Reforms Target Young Readers Jun. 17, 2008 Some Good News.
D.C. Teachers Struggle to Adapt to School Reforms Jun. 18, 2007

I'll ask you to ask the questions about this. One I have is, can you tell from the videos which schools are going to need new leaders? Is there a certain energy level -physical, not just mental-necessary to transform a school to succeed?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Reputation Patterns Yahoo Developer
Just found this interesting. Maybe not so if you spend most of your time coding or around CS types. Yet here are nine different patterns of how a user in a community can, over time, earn a quantifiable reputation.

They're rather well written.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Secrets of the Dead � Sinking Atlantis | PBS
Secrets of the Dead gave us some of the earliest good examples of using web media to learn history. What's notable here today? The complete lack of any web content whatsoever. There's a trailer--nothing else.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Intelligent Gamer: African Americans and the video game industry
"...only 2% of game developers across all disciplines are black. ...[while]
a study on the demographics of video game players in 2005 found that African Americans are spending more money to purchase games and more time to play them compared to your average gamer.

"So why the disparity when it comes to developers in the industry?"

Unfortunately, much of the discussion here focuses on superficial things like avatar skin tone, and eclipses the hard truth that when one in 2 don't graduate from high school, few will find their way into industrial-strength-brain-powered video game shops.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Education Week: State Tech Grades 2008
How does your state rank in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education? Mine got a "C". But look at California! Home of Silicon Valley and the bay area dotcom incubator, not to mention the cradle of the aerospace industry, and high tech, special effects filmmaking? A "D+"!

Many of these measurements are relative, but one interesting for me is that Ohio fills only 55% of its science teaching positions (grades 7-12) with science majors.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sovereigns of All They’re Assigned, Captains Have Many Missions to Oversee - New York Times
On the other hand, this is some quality reporting. No rich media (sorry). Just good reporting of the kind we needed far, far, far more of o'er the past 10 years.
Iraq 5 Years InNew York Times
Have to include this interactive, as its an important milestone in where we are and where we are not in using web technology to look across time.

That said, remember that the New York Times is now become an extraordinarily bad newspaper whose columnists refuse intellectual honesty and curiosity; and whose news writers and editors can't get that they are not columnists.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Map of Israel by About-Jesus.org
Happy Easter to those of the Christian faith! Today, no bells and whistles, but a nice little Google map mashup of Places that Jesus visited.

Also on this site, Paul's journeys.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Turning Around the Nation's Worst Schools
(Fifty percent of urban and minority students don't graduate).

Tuesday in DC saw a long day of looking at this toughest of questions. Some from people who have done it. ( I didn't get to attend, though I've been in this room oft enough). There's plenty of video--use Internet explorer if you want to skip any; the shortcuts don't work in Firefox. Also audio, but the single file will fill your 80GB iPod Classic.

The day starts with this report of same name from Mass Insight: Andy's slides are here.

Key to the day is the idea of High Performing High Poverty schools (see slide 8). Many ed professors would have us believe there is no such thing, yet there are.

The second speaker is where you really want to tune in. Kevin Johnson escaped Sacrimento's worst public schools with his athletic abilities, eventually playing for the Phoenx Suns. He came back to Oak Park, where his high school was about to be taken over by the state. Instead, he persuaded the superintendent to allow to to be converted to a charter school.

At this point, 20% of 9th graders were reading at grade level. The plan received a standing ovation from teachers--for one day. In the end, a certain union spent $750,000 to oppose reform of a school where 80% of the students could not read.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Amber Around the World PBS/NOVA
Simple rollover map with nice design.
Again...Where's The Audio?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Too Good to Last: the True Story of Reading First
40-50% of urban and Black American students do not graduate; many who do are not educated. Remember that.

Keeping on Tuesday's Sol Stern theme, here's an essay of politics as its practiced, and why good solutions are so hard to come by. A word of warning: back in the Clinton I years, there was no shortage of Republicans who would listen to any tale of evil about Mr. Clinton and those around him. No evidence needed. If you are the mirror image of such people today; one of those "open minded" people who are convinced Mr. Bush is the dumbest of the dumb, surrounded by greedy corporate stooges, skip the report. If you want to actually undo the corporate stooges, read on.

The purpose of this site is to enhance experimentation. When 40-50% of urban and Black American students do not graduate, something is wrong. Most any experiment attempting to remedy this should be given support.

Reading first was such an experiment. It was another clumsy, heavy-handed federal government experiment, but as we said,.... Plus, empirical evidence showed that it worked--at least in the basic reading area.

Find out how the lawyers, career bureaucrats, and big textbook companies shot it down.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Monday, March 03, 2008

South by SouthWest Interactive.
We were supposed to be going, and going in style. No hangin at the Motel 6 seven miles out of town, or attending sessions as another wannabe looking for funding. It looked so good to be there with a room downtown, plenty of beer money, and a live product with good sponsors and a rapidly growing audience!

I'd still trying to convince myself that the gain will be worth the risk of drawing the cash reserves to such a low level. We'd certainly be better off for the incredible learning and contacts that go on there.

Meanwhile, a little treat from the music side of the event.

Banner 2 Banner 1 go!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Happy Birth Day Common Core
(OK, I stole the lead from Education Gadfly.)

So, a year ago, we reported here as being bedside, so to speak, at the conception of a new organization. The goal was an "advocacy" organization to support basic learning of history, art, music, and more. This procreation occurred on the deck of the Washington Hotel, looking out over the White House south lawn, and we were enjoying bit of wine and cheese after a fairly rigorous day of MOVING BEYOND THE BASICS Why reading, math, and science are not sufficient for a 21st century education

After a year under the wing of the Fordham Foundation, the search for a board, director, and staff, Common Core is now born.

More on their first study later, but for now a word on their website: If they're aiming for the support of the snobby New York Times crowd, they've hit the design in spades. Hmmm, wasn't it the snobby New York Times crowd that got us in this predicament?

(Yes, I have a bit of time--could probably help them out).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Yahoo UI 2.5.0 Released Yahoo UI Blog
"Big upgrades to DataTable, new Layout Manager, Flickr-style multi-file Uploader, and more"
This blog post summarizes a major upgrade to the Yahoo user interface toolkit. Wow. Its not been a year since we wandered over to New York to learn about Ajax; its amazing how far these have come. There's still way too much choice, of course. And if you don't have the budget of a major JAVA shop, some of them may be easier said than done. Still, the choices of tools for building a rich web experience are definitely wide!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Adobe - Flex 3 -s Open Source
Oh, yeah. FLEX 3 is now open source.
Adobe's AIR rolloutCNET News.com
Last night I was among many across the world to attend one of Adobe's Air roll-out events. Whether I should have swooned with excitement we're not sure. (Actually I swooned at the thought of all these branded apps clogging up my and my customers systems with malware and brand-ware).

Perhaps it was the monotone verbatim delivery of Adobes Powerpoint slides by their Cleveland user group rep. Maybe it was all the time I've invested in Rails.

Still, there is coolness here. With Air, apps that are too slow to run in the browser can enjoy a certificate process backed by Adobe. Air provides a local SQL service, so your app doesn't have to run to the server to register every user action. It also supports binary transfers for when XML is too slow. And of course options for customizing the UI chrome. It probably fills a gap.

Friday, February 22, 2008

This week on Battle of the JayWalk All-stars, an education major and aspiring teacher (looked over 20),
- Could not identify a picture of John McCain. Is it "Lenti?" "Palenti?" She had never heard the name John McCain.
- Thought "the Italian City famous for its canals" is Paris. Given the clue "Venetian Blind" changed to "Venezuala"
- Could not guess any war that the Invasion of Normandy might have been in. (This for probably the single most significant military event in US experience).
- Thought that Normandy might have been a made up place. Couldn't remotely guess where it was.
- Thought a portrait of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was of Amerosa, of The Apprentice fame.
- Knew that a picture of Al Gore was somebody who "talked about the environment". Guessed it might be "Bush".
- Couldn't guess who a picture of Nancy Pelosi was, even given a first name. (Came up with Nancy Drew, but dismissed it.)
- No clue, even given the hint "bell", who invented the telephone.
- Thought Newton discovered relativity.
- Thought Michelangelo's David was either Eve or Michelangelo's boyfriend.
- Who lives in Vatican City? "The Vaticans" No--He wears a big hat. "Abraham Lincoln?"
- Obviously, didn't know who lost at Waterloo.

The good news is, the education major won this battle of brains.

Maybe, while she was mastering spectral analysis, Schroedinger equations, organic chemistry, and/or financial accounting, she just forgot some of these basics. That can happen in really intense college programs.

Besides, why would her kindergarten students need any of that stuff?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Princeton Review Agrees to Acquire Owner of Ten Franchises Yahoo! Finance
What is the business of testing? How big are these companies? What is their interest in responding to students? Princeton Review is a quarter-billion dollar company, and it's about to get bigger. Worth remembering.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The American West PBS |American Experience
Now here is something. PBS supports its American West series (how did I get this old and educated with no idea who Kit Carson was), with web presentations and the American Frontiers Map.

Starting just down the trail from here, where the French and Indian War began with a young Major named Washington, George, at Fort Necessity; the American Frontiers map is a graphic introduction to a very wide range of resources. Click on "Northwest Territory, you'll see the 5 state area, and be taken to the interactive document page at ourdocuments.gov. Some introduce learners to new sites at the Library of Congress. Many links take you to the topic sites at pbs.org.

Its a wonderful integrative interactive--the kind I wish I'd invented.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Mind Trust: Attracting Supporting and Empowering Educational Entreprenuers in Indianapolis, Indiana
Whew. Submitted the application for the the education entrepreneur fellowship It looked rigorous, and it was!

I gotta tell you, it is so good to see organizations recognizing that help for students may just come from outside the classroom, the ivory tower, or the established approved vendors list. Its an exciting time to be involved in education!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

10 Years of Open Source ONLamp.com
/. has a discussion on the topic. And speaking of Open Source, Firefox 3 beta 3 released yesterday.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Game School
"Soon New York City will be home to a new 6-12th grade public school that will use game design and game-inspired methods to teach critical 21st century skills and literacies. Opening in fall 2009, the school is being created by the Gamelab Institute of Play,

"Gamelab Institute of Play promotes GAMING LITERACY--the play, analysis, and creation of games--as a foundation for learning, innovation, and change in the 21st century. Through a variety of programs centered on game design, the Institute of Play engages audiences of all ages, exploring new ways to think, act, and speak through gaming in a social world. Participants call themselves writers, designers, readers, performers, teachers, and students. We just call them gamers."

Hmmm. Hmm.

If you'd like to be pricipal there, here's the position announcement.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

NCLB 2, Take 2
Meanwhile, the wail against testing has pervaded the land. Last night the President mentioned extending NCLB, and I swear I heard 3/4 of the nation boo. It's tempting to write this off as the ignorance of the general population in re quality measurement and the abysmal performance of our worst schools and classrooms - unacceptable performance which was obvious yet unproven until NCLB came along to shine the analytical light on it.

Yet, the people, as always, are pretty smart. Testing as its done now smacks of 1950's industrialization. There's nothing sophisticated or in-line about how we measure learning accomplishment. Are the replacement utilities here yet? No. For any number of organizational reasons, we're just behind at this. Yet the writing is on the wall. We'd better catch up; testing as it is is going to be tolerated only briefly. Going back to the 1990 status quo is unacceptable; so do lets all dig in and move forward.
Civic Literacy Report - 2007-2008 College Test Scores and Rankings
Apparently I neglected to go ahead and post this last November. The annual version of the American Civic Literacy report came out, and the results were, well,...not that great.

I actually took the entire quiz. Missed a few, but not too shabby. OK, I'll say it, the ones I missed were not well written and should be taken off! Well, except for the one where I though "400 years ago" and picked "the 1400's" or somesuch.

Finding 1:
College Seniors Failed a Basic Test on America’s History and Institutions.

The average college senior knows astoundingly little about America’s history, government, international relations and market economy, earning an “F” on the American civic literacy exam with a score of 54.2%. Harvard seniors did best, but their overall average was 69.6%, a disappointing D+.
Finding 2:
Colleges Stall Student Learning about America.

From kindergarten through 12th grade, the average student gains 2.3 points per year in civic knowledge, almost twice the annual gain of the average college student. Students at some colleges did learn more per year than students in grade school, demonstrating that it is possible.

* Eastern Connecticut State, one of 25 colleges randomly selected for this year’s survey, was the best performer, increasing civic knowledge by 9.65 points. Rhodes College, which increased civic knowledge by 7.42 points, was the best performer among 18 elite colleges surveyed both this year and last. Rhodes was also the best overall performer last year.

Finding 3:
America’s Most Prestigious Universities Performed the Worst.

Colleges that do well in popular rankings typically do not do well in advancing civic knowledge.

* Generally, the higher U.S. News & World Report ranks a college, the lower it ranks here in civic learning. At four colleges U.S. News ranked in its top 12 (Cornell, Yale, Duke, and Princeton), seniors scored lower than freshmen. These colleges are elite centers of “negative learning.” Cornell was the third-worst performer last year and the worst this year.
* Surveyed colleges ranked by Barron’s imparted only about one-third the civic learning of colleges overlooked by Barron’s.

Finding 4:
Inadequate College Curriculum Contributes to Failure.

The number of history, political science, and economics courses a student takes helps determine, together with the quality of these courses, whether he acquires knowledge about America during college. Students generally gain one point of civic knowledge for each civics course taken. The average senior, however, has taken only four such courses.

Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK Parody
I had to think rather hard about puttting this here. In the end, the color and novelty is the real reason; black and white videos of the sixties tend to rule the day today. But also because,... I sure wouldn't mind if some students would get a little traction out of parodying George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Cleisthenes, Charlemagne, Saul. Better parodied than forgotten.

And a little bit because a 25 year old white teacher this fall told me that I and many like me aren't Black enough to be in the conversation about fixing urban education. ...Because I'm highly concerned about 50% graduation rates; yet grateful for the progress of late; and optimistic about the future. And because Bill Cosby is a pretty good hero.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Please Hang a Spammer
Should you wander over to the wiki this week, you'll find that most pages have been protected against editing. Our friends the spammers have been irritating enough over the past two years, but its just become to constant to manage. In the past month, nearly every page has been spammed with rather vile links, many four, five, and more times over. Most are attempts to get you do download a fake media viewer, and most sport rather un-family labels.

So, we had to protect the pages. If you want to edit, just email, and likety-split, you'll be good to go. For the longer term, we're looking at several options. A wiki was never really what we wanted anyway, and there may be a better way to do this. Or, a new platform, or maybe just some mods to the current one. Ideas? Let us know!