Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Image of the Day

Pacific Ring of Fire 2004 Expedition. NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration; Dr. Bob Embley, NOAA PMEL, Chief Scientist.

Friday, March 27, 2009

2 + 2 = 5

An article on how technology can not just impede on education, but bring it to a full stop.  

Kids still need to learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and so on - BEFORE they pick up the calculators!  If we start giving them calculators from age 5 on, they're not doing anything but going through the motions - learning which buttons to push.  There's no active construction of mathematical knowledge going on there.  We all should know that: I purposely use calculators because it makes my life easier.  And I pay for it too - after years of having technology do it for me?  I'm a lot slower at simple mathematical operations than I used to be.  

Imagine if this was the only way we ever had done math: how would we ever continue to advance mathematical knowledge?  

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Image of the Day: Signs of Spring

Image by Flickr User Muffet, Licensed Under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Image of the Day

Kelley Elliot, Hidden Ocean 2005 Expedition: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration.

Expect the Unexpected.

Oy!  My little one's been sick and I've gotten buried under work as a result.  Thinking I'm finally making my way out.  

Lots to talk about!  Education speeches, some stories from local schools, and more.  Hoping to get up and running again this week.  Thanks for sticking around!

In the meantime...Twitter.  I tried to get into it but it's not catching on for me just yet.  Not sure why yet.  Lack of a functional cell phone?  Too time consuming?  Maybe just because I'm long-winded and 140 characters is awfully constricting.  But some interesting uses of it nonetheless: Job searching. Police keeping people updated on local crimes.  And the coolest: Getting a peek inside brain surgery.  

Friday, March 20, 2009

Image of the Day

"San Diego County Wildfires."  From Flickr User slworking2. (Creative Commons Licensed.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Image of the Day

Image from Ailsa Craig. CC Attribution 2.0 License.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Image of the Day

Anacapa Island Lighthouse. Photo by Robert Schwemmer, National Marine Sanctuaries Media Library. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Image of the Day

Swimsuit layout from the 1932 Ladies' Home Journal. 
From the George Eastman House's Photostream on the Commons.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Image of the Day

Image from the Biblioteca de Arte-Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian's photostream on Flickr Commons. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Image of the Day

Refugee Camp in Chad. Photo by Flickr User mknobil. (Creative Commons Licensed.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Image of the Day

K.D. Swan, from USDA's Forest Service Photos Historic Photos Collection. Logging Truck, August '47. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Image of the Day

From Flickr User Kingfal.  (Creative Commons Licensed.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Image of the Day

"Echoes of History." From Flickr User Rickydavid. (Creative Commons Licensed.)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Kids Today.

Image of the Day

"Dawn on Robben Island looking towards Cape Town." From Flickr User Paul Watson. (Creative Commons Licensed.)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Image of the Day

The West Fjords in northwestern Iceland.
  Image courtesy of USGS National Center for EROS and NASA Landsat Project Science Office.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Image of the Day

U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Catherine Thompson

Friday, March 6, 2009

Virtual Language Learning.

So I came across this article this morning, describing the need for a higher level of support for immigrants and ELLs, and wondered how technology could aid this process.

I had a friend, back in college, who came over from China.  When he got here, he didn't speak any English at all.  He learned, quickly, from TV, video games, and his friends here.  (Which made for a really interesting lexicon, I might add.)  Another friend of mine, from Puerto Rico, credited much of his success in learning English to TV.  

It seems technology already plays a large role in this process, but what could our newer, advanced technologies do?  

I began to wonder about virtual worlds - if language could be learned through this.  I took over six years of French.  My proficiency in the language is limited to somewhere around "Where is the library?" and "J'ai oublié (I have forgotten)."  Learning a language in a classroom, for less than an hour a day or even less, is a terrible way to learn a language.  Immersion in the language, the culture, seems the obvious way to learn a second language.  We can't do that in the real world, but what about in the virtual one?

I found some sites on the idea.

Most of them differed slightly from what I had imagined, until I found this - a program that's been used in the military.

So, it's out there.  Can we get it into the mainstream?  Is it already there and I'm missing something?  Let me know.

Pause. Rewind. Play. Repeat.

A new study out showed improved outcomes for students who listened to audio recordings of lectures (via ITunes U) versus their traditional counterparts.  

Interesting stuff.  While I generally think lectures should be avoided at the elementary level (and elsewhere, but that's a different story), this research has some useful applications for teaching at the elementary level.  

New concepts explained by the teacher, class discussions, interview sessions, and more could all be recorded and broadcast through various online programs, allowing students (and families!) to go back and listen, re-listen to either the whole thing or parts that interest them.  We could use this for students who have been absent from class or for students who need the extra time going over it one more time, but this allows them to focus on the parts they choose.

Fodder for thought.

Image of the Day

Earth's City Lights.
Data courtesy Marc Imhoff of NASA GSFC and Christopher Elvidge of NOAA NGDC. Image by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon, NASA GSFC.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dive In.

Ok, so bear with me.  All this stuff is well-connected and making sense in my head, but I can already tell it's going to be hard to translate that to the written word.

So, I finished Born Digital from John Palfrey and Urs Gasser.  Lots of good stuff in there, some of which I may write about later, but one thing that struck me was their description of how "digital natives" gather information on the web.  A multistep process:

1. Grazing
2. The "deep dive."
3. The feedback loop - blog posts, vlogs, online commenting, passing along through email, etc.  An interaction with the information. 

I found this to be quite accurate, personally.  The one thing I've noticed though, in my experience in both work and school, is the wide variance between where one person's 'grazing' ends and their "deep dive" begins.  Usually, my grazing is looking about Wikis and Google results, so that by the time I get to my "deep dive," I have an extensive enough background on a topic to know how and what to search for in the deeper parts of the Web.  I'm also fortunate to have several resources at my disposal, including my Ancestry.com membership and the university's library databases (which I plan to keep by staying in school forever).  

So thinking about that "deep net," the area often left unexplored, I stumbled across last week's NY Times article on the "deep Web" and the new technologies popping up around the idea, which led me to more reading on the idea of Web 3.0 and the "semantic web."  

A lot of the articles (including the Wiki) on the idea of the semantic web are too jargon-y for my tastes, but the best understanding I have of the concept is a shift toward making computers more..., well, human - in the sense that the computers will begin to make meaning out of all this information.  (Although I should point out that it seems there are as many different definitions of Web 3.0 as articles on the subject.)  Some say it will be similar to a personal assistant, learning your interests/dislikes/likes/hobbies/etc and assessing and providing information based on that. A more dynamic way of surfing the net.  

It seems to me that much of this is likely to be deeply connected to Web 2.0, with sites like Twine - which work through a combination of human and artificial intelligence. Which, I have to admit, seems pretty cool after watching Iron Man last night and watching him talk to all his computers.  ;)

Image of the Day

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Memory Lane...

An old Newsweek article, from February 1995.  "The Internet? Bah!"
My favorite parts:
Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.
Tell it to the Rocky Mountain News.
What the Internet hucksters won't tell you is tht the Internet is one big ocean of unedited data, without any pretense of completeness. Lacking editors, reviewers or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data.
One word: Tags.
Then there's cyberbusiness. We're promised instant catalog shopping--just point and click for great deals. We'll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet--which there isn't--the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.

Good times.

Old Meets New.

I happen to love anthropology.  And technology.  And so stumbling across this was quite the fun find for me: Kansas State University has a digital ethnography project, headed by Dr. Michael Wesch, a cultural anthropologist interested in the intersection of new media and society.  Fun stuff.  

I came across it through this video, "An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube." (On YouTube, naturally.) It's long - almost an hour - but worth it.  (I've been watching it in bits and pieces all day.)  It's a presentation by Dr. Wesch at the Library of Congress in 2008.

It's fascinating to take a step back from technology for a second and think about what it all really means.  We often are so caught up in the what and how of it all that we fail to really think about one of the most interesting questions: "Why?" "What does it mean?"

It's really quite fascinating, the looks at the reflective nature of YouTube vlogs and the nature of the community and the authenticity/real/fake question and identity.

The last ten minutes (around the 46 minute mark) are incredibly powerful, the part on the den of thieves and copyright, Lessig's words on this age of prohibitions,  the human expression...

Image of the Day

The size of a baseball.  
Aggregate Hailstone - 6 centimeter radius.  NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).

It's All About...


Ancient Innovation.

Absolutely, entirely, mind-blowing.

Coming Attractions...


The speed of it all is...staggering.

Netbooks, Black Holes, and VHS.

I've complained before about the ill-designed school budgets, but looking around the Web these past couple days gives me some hope for the possibility of widespread integrated technology in even the poorest schools. 

Obviously, we're in the midst of a major economic crisis (words which don't seem sufficient descriptors), and it's hitting the schools.  But I tend to think of times like these as often being the springboards for innovation.  We have a chance here, through the combination of the recession [depression], the stimulus, and the moment in time we're living in, technologically speaking.

Netbooks.  Cloud computing.  Open source.  E-textbooks.  

It's a pretty exciting time.  I have a few thoughts, questions, and concerns.  

One, who are the major players in the Netbook market?  What are the operating systems?  Windows and Linux, yes?  Can we expect Mac to work on Netbooks, or do we expect them to stay in the high-end market?  

Two, I wonder about the level of resistance to this type of movement.  In the schools I've observed in and heard about, the level of Web confinement is extremely high - i.e. Web 2.0 is virtually barred.  

My last thought is the old traditionalist in me coming out.  

On 9/11, no one could get through on cell phones.  I was in college.  But everyone, everywhere on campus got the same message: "All circuits are busy."  And like most college kids, most (all?) of my friends were using their cell phones as their only phone.  I was the only one who had the old-fashioned phone line, having inherited my mother's skeptical trust of technology.  Anyway, I ended up being the messenger that day, using my good old-fashioned phone to get in touch with everyone's relatives, etc.  

I've suffered the agony of losing digital photos because your computer crashed in the middle of backing them up.  

And reading about the potential black hole of history created by an increasingly digital world hasn't helped lessen my skepticism.  

Sometimes, "forward movement" in technology is not always better.  I came to the conclusion yesterday that VHS is markedly better than DVDs.  Snowed in, we watched two movies yesterday.  Monsters, Inc, which I love.  Just bought it, maybe six months ago.  Parts of the movies just freeze, skip, and get stuck.  And yes, I'm nice to my DVDs.  Second movie?  The classic Ducktales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp.  The movie was made in 1990.  I suspect that's around the time we bought the VHS.  It still works.  Just fine.  No scratches.  No skipping.  19 years vs. 6 months.  Come on.  We can do better than that.  But I digress.

So.  Back to netbooks and web apps.  If everything we do is increasingly contained within the web, are we safer or more vulnerable to losing all our work, our data, our information?

**UPDATED: Missed this relevant piece.***

Monday, March 2, 2009

Image of the Day

From Flickr User Rickydavid. (Creative Commons Licensed.)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Image of the Day

Construction of the Manhattan Bridge, 1909.  From New York City harbor, rivers, bridges, and waterfront by Irving Underhill, from LOC.  I came across it through Wikimedia Commons.