Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Food for Thought: Links to an assortment of articles and posts about key issues in education

The Attack on American Education
Robert Reich, Wal Street Pit, 12/22/10

In this article, the author provides examples of how many states in the US are cutting back funding for K-12 and higher education. School nurses, psychologists, technologists, counselors, social workers, librarians, special educators will be seen in fewer numbers in many states, in an effort to focus limited funds to support classroom teachers. In many states, teachers will have more students in each classroom, and less support for assisting the growing number of students who are "high risk" or have special needs.

Scholar's School Reform U-Turns Shakes Up Debate (About Diane Ravitch)
Sam Dillon, New York Times, 3/2/2010

The Best (and Worst) Education News of 2010
Larry Ferlazzo, Huffington Post, 12/27/10
(Larry is an English teacher)

(I'll add more to this post soon!)

Somewhat Related

 Larry Ferlazzo's blog post, "The Best Sites for Collaborative Storytelling"

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hans Rosling Interacts with Health Data: 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes

Hans Rosling's enthusiasm for data visualization has increased my appreciation for statistics. In the video below, Rosling interacts with 120,000 data points related to 200 countries over 200 years. I especially like the "Alternate Reality" effect.

"Unveiling the beauty of statistics for a fact based world view"

Hans Rosling is a Professor of Global Health in Stockholm, Sweden, and the Director of the Gapminder Foundation.  The Gapminder World website has a wealth of resources for teachers, students, and anyone who is interested in learning about things through the use of information visualization. 

According to information from the website, "Gapminder is a non-profit venture – a modern “museum” on the Internet – promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.Gapminder was founded in Stockholm by Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund and Hans Rosling on February 25, 2005. Gapminder is registered as a Foundation at Stockholm County Administration Board (Länstyrelsen i Stockholm) with registration number (organisationsnummer) 802424-7721."

Below is a list of annotated links to various Gapminder webpages:
Gapminder Labs: "Gapminder Labs is where we experiment with new features, visualizations and tools. Some of these might later gain a more prominent place on"
Gapminder for Teachers: "This section is for educators who want to use Gapminder in their education. You'll find shortcuts to tools and guides for Gapminder in a classroom."
Gapminder Downloads: This section includes links to downloadable content, such as Gapminder Desktop, handouts, lesson plans, including teacher guides, and a good number of interesting interactive presentations.
Gapminder Videos: The videos include interesting presentations as well as a number of Hans Rosling's TED talks. The material is free to use and distribute under the Creative Commons License.
Data in Gapminder World:  This section includes all of the indicators displayed in Gapminder World.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

SMALLab Update: Embodied and Engaged Learning - ASU researchers partner with GameDesk

SMALLab is an interdisciplinary collaborative project at the Arts, Media and Engineering program at Arizona State University, and includes people from fields such as education, art, theatre, computer science, engineering, and psychology.  The SMALLab provides students with a multi-sensory, multi-modal way of learning concepts in an immersive environment, and uses a motion capture system that tracks the position of the students as they move and interact within the environment.

SMALLab's project lead is David Birchfield,  a media artist, researcher, and educator who focuses on K-12 learning, media art installations, and live computer music performances.  SMALLab researchers have recently partnered with GameDesk to develop a 6th grade curriculum for a GameDesk charter school in 2012. (Information and links related to GameDesk are located in the RELATED section of this post.)

Below is a detailed excerpt from an overview of SMALLab:
"In today’s world, digital technology must play a central role in students’ learning. A convergence of trends in the learning science and human-computer interaction (HCI) research offers new theoretical and technological frameworks for learning. in particular, mixed-reality, experiential media systems can support learning in a way that is social, collaborative, multimodal, and embodied. These systems comprise a new breed of student-centered learning environments [SCLE’s]. Importantly, they must address the practicalities of today’s classrooms and informal learning environments (eg.: space, infrastructure, financial resources) while embracing the innovative forms of interactivity that are emerging from our media research communities (eg: multimodal sensing, real time interactive media, context aware computing)...
...SMALLab is an extensible platform for semi-immersive, mixed-reality learning. By semi-immersive, we mean that the mediated space of SMALLab is physically open on all sides to the larger environment. Participants can freely enter and exit the space without the need for wearing specialized display or sensing devices such as head-mounted displays (HMD) or motion capture markers. Participants seated or standing around SMALLab can see and hear the dynamic media, and they can directly communicate with their peers that are interacting in the space. As such, the semi-immersive framework establishes a porous relationship between SMALLab and the larger physical learning environment. By mixed-reality, we mean that there is an integration of physical manipulation objects, 3D physical gestures, and digitally mediated components. By extensible, we mean that researchers, teachers, and students can create new learning scenarios in SMALLab using a set of custom designed authoring tools and programming interfaces."

Below are a few videos about SMALLab, and information about GameDesk, an organization that is collaborating with SMALLab in California.

SMALLab Learning from SMALLab on Vimeo.

Below is a demonstration of a Smallab learning activity:

Gamedesk Smallab Session from Gamedesk on Vimeo.

SMALLab from SMALLab on Vimeo.

Learning by Playing: Video Games in the Classroom
Sara Corbett, NYTimes Magazine, 9/15/10
People of SMALLab
SMALLab and Related Publications
ASU's SMALLab, a Mixed Reality Learning Environment - Multi-modal and Collaborative 
SMALLab Learning Lab at Quest to Learn School
Embodied Learning, GameDesk

Info about GameDesk, from the GameDesk website:
"GameDesk is a 501(c)3 nonprofit research and outreach organization that seeks to reshape models for learning through game-play and game development. The organization looks to help close the achievement gap and engage students to learn core STEM curriculum. It develops project-based learning with a strong focus on purpose, ownership, and personal value. The organization (originally developed out of research and support at the University of Southern California's IMSC) has now been in development, practice, and/or evaluation for over two years in various schools in the Los Angeles area."-Gamedesk

Gamedesk Concept Chart

Gamedesk People

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Computer Science in Education Week: Videos, Resources, and Links to Promote Importance of Computer Science and Related Fields

This week is Computer Education in Education Week, part of an effort of ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) and CSTA (Computer Science Teachers Association) to promote awareness of the importance of computer science education in K-12 education. CSTA developed a series of short videos to share with students as part of this effort. The videos highlight the multitude of ways that computer scientists impact our world. In my opinion, the videos would be appropriate for sharing with parents, teachers, school counselors, school administrators, and school board members.

Computer Science and Entertainment

Computer Science and the Environment

Computer Science and Communications

Computer Science and Medicine

Computer Science and Empowerment

To dig deeper into this topic, read Running On Empty: The Failure to Teach K-12 Computer Science in the Digital Age (pdf)

CSEd: Computer Science in Education Week
Computing in the Core
Computer Science in Education Facebook Page
Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology
ACM/CSTA's Recommendations
A Model Curriculum for K-12 Computer Science (PDF)
Google: Exploring Computational Thinking
ACM Computing Careers Website

Cross-posted on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog.