Thursday, July 27, 2006

Colr Pickr for Flickr

Colr pickr is a very cool mashup from KrazyDad that lets you select a color from a wheel and then instantly finds and links to a bunch of Flickr photos where that that color is dominant.

(link via eelearning)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Reading Room: JOHO

The new issue of David Weinberger's JOHO (Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization) is available. Of particular note:
  • Why believe Wikipedia?: Simply by appearing in the Britannica, an article has credibility. But that's not true for Wikipedia because you might hit an article a moment after a loon has altered it. Yet, Wikipedia has (and deserves) credibility, in part because of its willingness to acknowledge its fallibility.
  • The end of the story (Or: The tyranny of rectangles): Journalism can't get stories right because the world doesn't fit into rectangles. Be sure to follow the link to info on Jay Rosen's and the link to Jeff Jarvis's piece on "networked journalism."
  • Bogus contest: Challenge to come up with appropriate warning stickers for traditional knowledge authorities

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Artcasting: Museum-a-go-go

In addition to posting virtual museum tours and interactive art educational materials, museums are increasingly making their in-house audio tours - and special audio programming - available as free podcasts. Visitors can use the podcasts to listen on site or off, and subscribers can automatically receive feeds for new shows.

But it doesn't have to stop there, of course.... art educators and students can make their own artcasts to syndicate or use during their own museum visits. (Though some museum sites invite users to create and send in their own artcasts, I'm not quite sure what becomes of most of these.)

Museum podcasts has a nice directory of feeds you can subscribe to individually or all at once.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Now this explains everything...

Ever think that your teachers or colleages were behaving a bit... um... mechanically?

In an article in Wired News this week, we learn about Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro's mechanical double, "Geminoid HI-1," which sometimes takes Ishiguro's place in meetings and classes.

Powered by pressurized air and small actuators, it blinks, fidgets, and copies the voice, posture and lip movements of Ishiguro, who broadcasts sound through a speaker inside the robot and wears a motion-capture system to control its movements.

Howard Reingold Interview

In this zdnet interview, he talks briefly about technological change over the past four years, open access, power, and control. There are links to much much more, of course on his web site. (Incidentally, if you're not already familiar with CooperationCommons, you'll probably want to check it out.)

(via Slashdot)

Insider Art

Pelican Bay State Prisoner Donny Johnson, a lifer, makes his abstract paintings on the back of postcards using paints made from M&Ms and a paintbrush made from strands of his own hair, according to this NY Times article.

(link via BoingBoing)

No-So-Fun Facts

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation -

  • World Population - 6,446,131,400
  • People with HIV/AIDS - 40,300,000
  • People with Tuberculosis - 15,430,000
  • Malaria Cases - 408,388,001

(via the Communication Initiative)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Other Places

A few items from around the blogosphere:

And...If you're in Brooklyn on Thursday between 8-11, stop by Perch for a rare chance to catch the Au Pair minimalist chick jazz duo Christiana Drapkin (vocals) and Stephanie Greig (bass) joined by Michael Kanan on piano in an intimate space. (no cover)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Virtual K-8 Charter School

If approved by the state board of education, the Chicago Virtual Charter School, allowing students to complete about 20% of their work online, will be available to Chicago students this fall. According to this article, the Chicago Teachers Union is not impressed.

(via slashdot)

Digital Generation Data

Some fun facts from survey results reported in this BBC article:
  • One-third of children in the UK use blogs and social network websites; two-thirds of parents do not even know what they are
  • Of the 1,003 children aged 11-16 surveyed, almost half said they could disable parent controls
  • A tenth of the 11-year-olds who took part in the survey said their parents did not know about the people with whom they communicated online
  • 13% revealed they were never supervised while using computers at home
  • 69% of parents thought they knew less than their children about mobile phones
  • A Mori survey of 2,300 11 to 16-year-olds in England and Wales has found that three fifths liked the idea of using computer games in the classroom. Half of those aged 15 and 16 did not

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Categorization Revisited

It's amazing how much my thinking has changed since I characterized tagging as "chaotic and counterintuitive" in a post last October ... now I'm closer to thinking along these lines, which David Weinberger elegantly begins with:
The narrative that tells of the first man and woman encountering the tree of knowledge focuses on its tempting fruit. But after we took the bite, we apparently looked up and got the idea that knowledge is shaped like the tree's branching structure: Big concepts contain smaller ones that contain smaller ones yet. Over the millennia, we have fashioned the structures of knowledge in just such tree-like ways, from the departmental organization of universities (liberal arts contains history and history contains ancient Chinese history) to the hierarchy of species. The idea that knowledge is shaped like a tree is perhaps our oldest knowledge about knowledge.

Now autumn has come to the forest of knowledge, thanks to the digital revolution. The leaves are falling and the trees are looking bare. We are discovering that traditional knowledge hierarchies that have served us so well are unnecessarily restricted when it comes to organizing information in the digital world.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Multiple Me: Integrating my digital self

I seem to be thinking a lot about integration these days, and I'm now trying to find the best way (and the time) to better integrate my online self, even as I find I want more online outlets for different kinds of thoughts and work.

I'm not the most diligent blogger out there, but I've been teaching about blogs in my NYU classes for several years. I first used my old archived movable type blog as a way to start getting comments and thoughts I wanted access to out of the prison of the school's LMS, but I wanted to try and get more than comments to my posts from the group --- it was still a little too much like lecturing.

I started using a collective blog for the class, but it never really seemed to take root. Posts by James Farmer and others suggested better success with individual blogs and gave me the inspiration to give that a try, but the setup and management of all those blogs quickly proved to be too much ... and it kept me in a position of being a centralized source when I was really looking for decentralization.

I couldn't handle two blogs, so I abandoned my old blog when my classes started collective blogging, and I started using Blogger last fall again mostly to support my classes -- I had run across Ulises Mejias's draft syllabus last summer (one of the bases for this article) and wanted to try something similar (though more modestly) in a graduate and a certificate class at NYU's Virtual College. (Incidentally, there's a webcast on the Mejias article scheduled for Thursday.) I felt that I had to change software though -- I was afraid that trying to incorporate RSS feeds into blogs using movable type would have had too high a learning curve -- particularly for the 10-week certificate class.

Using Blogger combined with Bloglines has worked pretty well for classes so far as a way to begin exploring programs like Flickr, Furl and, but now I'm itching a bit to start up my old blog again and post more substantially with a more customizable platform than Blogger affords. ... Of course, that means maintaining two blogs if I want to keep this blog going.

Here's where the multiples problem comes in... I already have a personal site that is languishing, and another that's pretty much a museum of the Web of the mid-1990s -- as well as a site for my consultancy collective, Grafeio that we're too busy working on projects to maintain and expand. (Thank goodness we don't have to rely on the site to bring in business.)

... Not to mention the content and misinformation related to me collecting on other sites that I don't have direct access to -- Just today I noticed that my faculty bio on the NYU SCPS web site is bizarrely incorrect. (How did anyone ever get confused enough to list my occupation as "Typographer"??? especially since I've been teaching and doing instructional design there for years now.)

I don't expect to be able to control everything posted about me out there, but some sort of integrated online presence is in order. Slowly, I'm starting to organize things a bit better and get a more coherent approach working... Having all my feeds and blogrolls linked from blog and to my Suprglu account is a start, but I have a ton of work ahead of me. And once I finish with that, I still have to tackle the problem of dealing with the dozen of email accounts I've accumulated....

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Making Group Work

A really on-target reply from JM of Designed to Inspire to my rant on the lame application of "constructivist" approaches:

... hand in hand with your observation is the overused and abused "group collaboration" element found in all learning experiences (from pre-school through grad school). Now, I regognize that out in the real world we all need to work together to get things done, but then why don't we have a class in 1st grade on Team Work 101 (maybe even offer a few Team Work 200 level classes in college... heck, maybe even offer a PhD in it). But, does it make sense to embed these group lessons in every learning environment?

I sometimes wonder if "learning" of the subject matter (you know . . . the subject matter that is implied in the course title) ever occurs during some group work (busy work?) projects? Or is all that forced peer interaction just a crafty babysitting mechanism (an extended talk among yourselves gimmick)? Also, when we give our group buddy a 5 out of 5 at the end of the semester for "team work" (contributions made to the project), what do we think she "learned" about the subject matter during the process?
This feeds right into the discussions I'm having with the participants in my NYU classes this week on evaluation and assessment.

It's amazing how little is often done to really guide, assess and evaluate group work in actually practice.... one response I often hear from teachers when I ask about how they know what's being accomplished in group work is "I can tell if they're all on task." I have to be skeptical about this...

To me, this sounds just like the "I don't need a rubric; I know an A paper when I see one" approach. Lots of teachers say this, but when I ask them to actually specify and weight their evaluation criteria, they're often surprised by the results.

Then there's the whole "they're interacting, so they're obviously learning something" philosophy. Something, yes, but how do you know what exactly? There are ways to give a group ownership over discussions and activities while doing some evaluation and assessment, too. ... They just take a little planning, thought, and preparation.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I love Constructivism; It's Constructivists I can't stand

rant warning...

I'm a busy person, and my time -- both in class and out -- is valuable to me. I assume that the same is true for every one of the participants in every class I teach.

To me, rule #1 when teaching adult learners is "Don't waste their time." I spend a lot of time and effort thinking about the most efficient ways to manage my own time and my own learning, and I take a lot of care in trying to design activities that are an asset to participants in their efforts to do the same.

Now, I don't always succeed, but it's never for lack of trying.

So why is it that so many academics seem to think that simply calling their approach "constructivist" or "experimental" automatically legitimizes their unfocused - and sometimes, frankly, downright lazy - approach to teaching?

To them I say: Look, people, if you don't want to teach or haven't planned and organized your class, fine. Your students will either drop the class or wait out the semester. Feel free to find some way to make it look like you're doing something during class, but don't assign busywork for the evenings unless you're going to at least pretend there was some point to the effort.

In other words, stop wasting everybody's time. You're giving the rest of us a bad name.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Gliffy: My new favorite Web 2.0 application....

Talk about timing... just as I was beginning to dread having to figure out once again the best way to diagram an ID model to share with a group, I happen across Alan Levine's post about Gliffy, a tool for in-browser creation and collaboration for-- you guessed it -- creating diagrams.

All I can say is "Wow." Simple, fast registration, amazing intuitive interface, share-edit ability, automatic publication to the web, 3 export options, and a library of symbols built in. I built this silly sample about 2 minutes after registration.

Now that's what I call serendipity...

Friday, July 07, 2006

Microsoft and Creative Commons Partnership

Geez ... Looks like I'm the last person on the internet to blog about this, but I'm happy to see that users will now be able to embed a Creative Commons copyright license directly in a Word, PowerPoint or Excel file.

Seems like a step in the right direction....

(Link via ext337)