Friday, July 20, 2012

ISTE: Infographics and Data Visualization with David Warlick

I've been fascinated by infographics/data visualization and their use in instruction for some time now so I was thrilled to be able to spend an hour with David Warlick discussing this very topic this year at ISTE. Hopefully, you'll all be as inspired as I was to use infographics with students.

Basically, what separates data visualization and infographics is the artist. Data visualization involves a machine (computer,) programmed to take data and show it in a way that makes sense. Spreadsheet generated graphs for example. Infographics involve an artist designing and laying out the same data instead of the machine. The result is the convergence of interest, number crunching and visual design to tell a story. Infographics are a blend of science, math, and storytelling and that's probably why they are popping up all over the internet and in newspapers and magazines. Visual expressions of stories allow readers to grasp complex concepts because they are easy to read.

Infographics can be used in the classroom in several ways:

  1. Content discovery and study in which students use infographics to grasp concepts. Introduce students to infographics by visiting the website Infographic-A-Day and complete the suggested activities and discussions with your students. The Daily infographic is another website to practice reading and analyzing infographics with your students. **When using infographics with students always look at the source information** as not all infographics are created using verifiable and accurate data. Two thoughts:
    1. The power of data visualization is not in the answers the infographic provides but in the power of the questions the infographic generates.
    2. Not all infographics created are meant to be read. Some just look really cool.
    The History Of The World Infographic is a good example of an infographic that generates questions and looks really cool.
    Weight of the world infographic (This requires flash)
    Http:// (This requires flash)
  2. Content creation in which students create their own infographics as they make and convey meaning and understanding of essential concepts they are encountering and learning. Communicate "story" and Teach "telling"
Diana Laufenberg happened to be in the audience and shared with us the steps she takes in her classroom at the Science Leadership Academy to teach storytelling through infographics.

  • Start with a theme, introduce to students
  • Build background
  • Focus on one aspect
  • Work in groups
  • Collaborate
  • Research, struggle with the research
  • Reflect, final conversation
  • Predict what happens next - extend, apply, extend, apply, extend
Creating infographics empowers learners to dynamically create content, especially to uninspired learners.
Tools to create Infographics:
  • Google's data explorer -
  • Stephen Abrahms blog - over 100 incredible tools
  • online tool
  • - lets you create an infographic summarizing your presence online (facebook and twitter.)
  • - Use a template to create an infographic
  • Comic Life - Mac and iPad app for infographic creation and probably the easiest for mac users
  • - Programming language called processing that allows you to create infographics
  • Vector graphics - adobe illustrator, inkscape, art board
  • Thoughts: Turn science fairs into data fairs via infographic
Other blog posts on infographics :
Lastly - What Is An Infographic? by Infographiclabs

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Friday, July 13, 2012

ISTE CEO Don Knezik

We heard a few words from ISTE's current CEO Don Knezik prior to stepping down after 10 years at the helm. Below in bold are the most important lessons learned as the CEO of an organization with 20,000+ members followed by my thoughts in italics.

World class teachers and principals are the most critical inputs to a world class education

Excellence breeds excellence. Higher the best.

Education policy backed by leadership and incentive funding is a game changer

Strong leadership is a must no matter where you are.


Accountability based on needs of previous generations doesnt prepare our learners for the future

Times change and we must be confident and clear about communicating the direction our organizations are headed towards. This paves the road of change.


The most important lessons to be learned are not only inside the four walls of a classroom

Learning has no boundaries and we must begin to recognize and value the learning that is taking place outside of the school building and day.


When organizations collaborate kids win

We are stronger together than we are alone no matter if we are collaborator or competitor.

Monday, July 9, 2012

ISTE Field Trip - Alan November's Digital Learning Farm

Many of us would all agree that students learn best when they have a vested interest, a desire or passion in what they are learning. As educators, we are forever working toward capturing that passion in our students by providing learning experiences that are authentic, challenging and relevant to the lives of those we teach. Alan November would take that one step farther, reminding us about the human need to make community contribution and encouraging us to bring this concept to the forefront of lesson planning. This was the backdrop to his ISTE session: Digital Learning Farms - Students as Contributors and it was amazing. Everytime I hear Alan November speak I walk away with something valuable and this session was no exception.

Creating digital learning farms instead of school classrooms comes from the idea that children used to contribute to the family farm via chores. Everyone on the farm had a job to do and these jobs fullfilled a human need to contribute to the community as a whole, giving purpose to the individuals behind the work. Success of the community was dependent upon each and every individual no matter the age. November suggests designing classroom, or digital farm, roles for students to build on this concept. (Check out his article on November Learning for more detailed information.) The roles are:
  1. Curriculum Reviewers
  2. Tutorial Designers
  3. Collaboration Coordinators
  4. Official Scribes
  5. Researchers
  6. Contributors to Society
Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano published an incredible chart of iPad apps relative to these jobs on her Langwitches Blog

He then went into describing how the first week of school might better be spent teaching the skills needed to perform these functions throughout the year. In other words spend the first week of school building the capacity for all kids to contribute. My notes are chaotic - there was so much good stuff coming out of this man's brain. Below is my attempt at capturing his brilliance.

Notes:  Digital Learning Farms - Alan November
  • Farms - everyone has a role, contributes
  • Wouldn't it be great if schools worked this way
  • Youtube video on Daniel Pink's book, Drive.
  • 3 things to increase motivation- purpose, autonomy and mastery
  • Purpose - work you do must not only be for yourself
  • Autonomy - individual can make their own decisions
  • Mastery - go deep into a subject, develops passion
  • These three things are largely missing from school for children.
  • How to avoid the pitfall - what do i need to do to get an A and then they do no more
  • Put teachers who are passionate about teaching into this type of system that doesn't motivate and then you have disaster on all parts. It isn't the teachers fault.
  • teacher built a library of student designed tutorials. Question - are we underestimating what students can do. None of the tutorials on this website have been graded.
  • NEVER GRADE CREATIVE WORK - It is demotivating
  • Look at prime factorizationAnother kid says I want to learn this from this video and this kid because my teacher explains things like I already know them. Plus, the video has a rewind button.
  • What is going on? Kids will work hours instead of minutes because they have purpose (created for an audience) indicated by the many students who state - thanks for listening
  • Create an opportunity for your work to be valued throughout the world
  • Assign work that allows children to add value to the world
  • First five days of school -
    • Day 1. Build capacity for all kids to contribute- every kid learns how to use a screen casting tool so we can teach children how to design tutorials
    • Day 2. Official scribe for the day by using ipad to take photos and video to document and reflect on learning collaborating on notetaking together
    • Day 3. Advanced research skills - teach how to get the best content from anywhere in the world so students know what quality looks like
    • Day 4. Teach children how to think globally by becoming global researches - teach diigo and contribute to a library of researchers. Diigo is an important source for students to use in this world to think globally. Diigo also avoids the pitfall of every kid out for himself by creating a community of learners building a library of resources
    • Didn't get day 5
    • Teach children how to:
      1. Collaborate on notetaking
      2. Build a database on the best student work created
      3. Make documentaries
      4. Build a library together using DIIGO
  • Flipped classroom - have the kids working harder than the teacher..
  • have videos designed by kids instead of the teacher
  • Every day one student is the official scribe
  • Do everything we can to enhance conversation with one another
  • - best first grade website because it is filled with videos the first graders produce. The kids cant read but they can navigate the internet and listen to youtube videos published by kids
  • Austrailians are buying a laptop for every 6-12 student in their country.
  • Asked teacher - What is the biggest waste of your time? Teacher answers science fair
  • Answer - type in award winning science fair projects in google and show it to your class
  • Use the :sg after the search to find singapore science fair projects
  • Teach kids to go out and find the best examples of student work before they do it themselves, teach the world codes so you teach kids how to search the world for quality
  • This would be a good tech tuesday - google search tips
  • Kid searched iranian hostage crisis. Point out there are no sources from iran. Would you agree there are iranian points of view different from our own. Show kids how to search via country code lists
  • Change the search because iranians wouldnt call it iranian hostage crisis better search : "american hostage crisis":ir
  • You must get the other point of view or you will mess it up, you will never understand what you are doing.
  • It is no longer sufficient to not teach other points of view.
  • Site:k12.*.us. Follow this after a search to find teacher websites
  • We should be teaching kids how to look up stuff
Google Search Tips

Search Operators

Cheat Sheet For Search Operators

Google Guide for Queries

A Google A Day

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

ISTE Playgrounds

I loved being active in the playgrounds at ISTE because if you really want to see what others are doing in schools you can see it here. If cloning myself were an option, I would spend some time in each of the playgrounds just to catch a glimpse of amazing ideas and projects in action. For those interested, each of the playgrounds are sponsored by one of ISTE's special interest groups or SIGs. The wikis associated for each of the SIGs hold resources from several past ISTE conferences and are definitely worth a visit. Take a look at the Media Specialist SIG wiki and check out the 2012 ISTE resources.

ISTE Playgrounds
At the Media Center Playground I spent some time with Linda Doughtery talking about Infographics and then connecting with Jennifer Garcia whom I met several years ago and have since worked with on a few collaborative projects. Jennifer's school wiki is full of terrific resources and ideas for the classroom.

The following day I spent some time in the Virtual Environment Playground. The idea of using virtual environments to teach has always been an interest of mine ever since I dabbled in Second Life for a research project a few years ago. I like the thought of students coming to class, signing on and participating in live discussions taking place in another world because it brings a sort of annonymity to the classroom where preconceived notions and ideas about students and their abilities fade away. I went to learn more and the session I attended was a great way for a begiiner like me to be introduced to the vocabulary and possibilities about using virtual environments in the classroom. My notes are below:
  • Virtual Reality 
  • Prezi on mixed realities
  • Augmented Reality - Think of the first down lines superimposed on the television screen when watching football.
  • Alternate Reality Game - give them a role andd a challenge and have them play the situation out -give them the rabbit hole leave breadcrumbs along the way and then teachers get to be the puppetmasters, leave them challenges
  • TINAG this is not a game
  • Games often don't allow kids to build, only play
  • Machinima - blend of cinema and machine
  • Go into a virtual world and have them so screencaptures for tutoials
  • MOOC massive inline open course - connectivism, social network knowledge construction
  • Mixed realities matter because they are persistant, social based, sense of shared space, rea-time, copressence, interaction, embodiment, immersion
  • transmedia is the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities
  • The ability to adopt alternative identities for purposes of improvisation and discovery
  • Play the capacity to use your surroundings as problem solving, hard- fun( horrible until you get it right)
  • Collective intelligence the ability to pool knowledge and compare noted with others toward a common goal
  • You can augment what students are doing
Virtual Worlds
  1. Second Life
  2. Minecraft
  3. World of Warcraft
  4. Club Penguin
  5. Warhammer online - students made characters and had to defend
  6. Joycadia grid - open sim
  7. Eveonline ( is checking this out)
  • PD - peer tp peer university
  • P2p university is free online university
  • Virtual worlds tour class
  • Machinima online open course
  • ARG academy course
  • Big G games Jim G games for change conference, arizona state university good research on games in education
  • Affinity groups - groups outside the game that do research on a topic
  • Communities of practice - learn how your communitieds talks and behaves
  • ARG prime - july 9 - july 23. Choose edison or tesla, who would you save
  • Games based learning MOOC july 9 five week
  • Tuesday 5:30. - 7:30, machinima fest here at iste in room 5 and in second life
  • Play as professional development
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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Notes From ISTE12 - Where to Start?

Sometimes returning home from ISTE is similar to attending ISTE for the first time. It can be a bit overwhelming in regards to adequately disseminating the information gleamed and gained. There was just so much. Time to dive in and start with an overview.

A few minutes after registerring I went upstairs to the SAILS Pavillion in the San Diego Conference Center. This incredible space hosts the learning playgrounds, information booths, the bookstore and various cafes including my favorite, The Blogger's Cafe. Someone later posted on twitter a 360 degree photo from The Blogger's Cafe asking others - "What if your classroom looked like this?". Small area set up around the room for discussion, learning, quiet reflection and celebration. Notice there aren't any desks yet there was a tremendous amount of work being accomplished.

I purposely attended two learning playgrounds during two separate days at ISTE. These sessions were some of my favorite due to the sizes of the groups. The Virtual Reality playground session was small group (more on that later) and the Media Specialist playground was one on one. And though the furniture was probably a bit more upscale than what one would find in a public school, spare couches and chairs might go a long way in part of the transformation. Getting away from the need to have the same number of desks as students would be a start in freeing up valuable floor space.

Stepping outside of the conference center toward the San Diego Bay and Coranado Island provided the opportunity to capture a bit of southern California sunshine, reflect with others about recent sessions and grab a bite to eat. The entire convention center got me in the mood to learn.

Following a quick look around I attended Social EduCon, a free un-conference that is in its fifth year of running on the day before the ISTE Conference officially begins. It's considered an un-conference because sessions aren,t determined in advance. In stead, participants pitch ideas by writing the topics down on chart paper and then vote by placing checkmarks down beside the idea. Quickly a wiki is established to host a schedule and information regarding the discussions. Some discussions are in rooms, others in the hallways all carry the same theme - dialgue and conversation around the topic. Educators are a passionate bunch and the discussions were filled with sincerity and an intensity that made you want to do as much as you could to be a part of the transformation in education. I felt priveldged to be amongst such genius.

The ISTE conference kickoff was Sunday afternoon followed by the Opening Keynote, a panel hosted by Sir Ken Robinson. Years ago, after I had just joined Twitter I read Robinson's book, The Element. Powerful. He was one of my first folllowers on Twitter and I remember being thrilled. At any rate, I've long been a fan of his work and beleive in his message of the need of transforming education. Following the keynote I attended a question and answer session with Sir Ken Robinson, Marc Prensky and Shawn Covell. Below are my notes from these sessions.

  • Marc Prensky, Brain Gain What do we keep in our heads and what so we let our machines outsource?
  • Cellophane kids - teachers look past kids and see test scores and curriculum only.
  • 1/2 the world is under 25 and all the educational decisions come from people over 25
  • Let kids make these decisions
  • Courage - feel the fear and do it anyway
  • Alternative
  • All use a personalized curriculum
  • Allowing students to teach each other and therefore mastering the content
  • Everyone needs to have their own curriculum based upon interest
  • Find your affinity group where you fit in the top 20percent
  • Lots of room for improvisation within our schools
  • More digital devices than people in this world by the end of the year.
  • Our dollars must go to products that work toward s personalizing education
  • Get rid of the word delivery when we talk about education - lets talk about teaching
  • Don't ride yesterday's horse
  • Coaching students to find what is inside of students and encourage them to make it better. A teacher's role is to become more of a coach and less of a deliverer.
  • Affinity grroups not personalized learning groups
  • Teachers must empower themselves
  • There is much more room for innovation in the system then school officials realize..
  • There is more freedom than teachers often recognize
  • School of one. New york city Every kid in the school has a personal time table
  • 20% rule 4 hours a week people can deliver classes basesd on interest and passion. Can either be taught by teachers or 8 year olds
  • Let technology unleash the schedule
  • If you dont know what kids are interested in... You shouldnt only do what kids are interested in because often they don"t know. Part of our jobs is to expose kids to their interests they didn't know existed.
  • You can teach kids creativity by providing processes which allow them to be creative. ( open ended questions)
  • Howbart school teaching shakespeare - create a sense of common purpose and self-fullfillment
  • People who don't know themselves spend too much time in the noise of the world
  • Three kinds of people: Those who are removeable, those who are moveable and people who move. If enough people move you have a movement.