Inspired by Daring-Do

January 4th, 2011 llcowell Posted in design theory, librarians, social media, teaching & learning 2 Comments »

I absolutely love what Gwyneth Jones does with her blog, The Daring Librarian.  The verve she shares with other professionals has even spilled over into what she shares with her students (see The Daring School Library). Her At-a-Glance Cartoon Tutorials add new appeal to those must-have but often ignored cheat sheets we hand out to teachers and students.  What she does transcends tech connectedness.  Through graphics and style she connects with a studentss where they are now!  I have played with the idea of migrating my own school site into WordPress and wiki formats and her success inspires.

On a side note, I hope to convince our marketing teacher to use Gwyneth as an example of “branding” and marketing oneself.  He’s been frustrated with the same-old-same-old activities where students “advertise” products already released and already branded.  What a powerful exercise this would be.  Check out Gwyneth’s branding adventure here.

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Information At-a-Glance or More?

January 3rd, 2011 llcowell Posted in design theory, information graphics, literacy, LiteracyRemix, multiple literacies No Comments »

I fret with personal frustration over the public’s tendency to ignore facts in favor of sound bytes and trite analysis offered by fevered commentators.  Too often dialogue disintegrates as someone expresses their agreement with the ideas of a given opinion-maker based on some vague (or crudely drawn) graphic presented in tandem with biased claims. And, of course, this happens on both sides of the political aisle.   It seems as if individuals can’t see, for themselves, what the graphics do/don’t say…that the value of the graphic is based simply on it’s composition of arrows and lines (perhaps numbers) and the commentator is believed simply because he USES graphics to make his point.

And isn’t that a sad point to make.   That perhaps people are more impressed with graphics than they are with the information they reveal.  It leaves me wondering if the underlying problem lies in a level of illiteracy we too easily ignore. What if people don’t bother to read the graphics for themselves because they can’t.

Google Public Data Explorer offers “data visualizations for a changing world, and yet it  (and a myriad of other information graphic resources) remains a mostly untapped resource in secondary schools.  I’ve noted that while we may teach students the basics of  create graphic information (i.e. a bit of MS Excel), I have to wonder if we take enough time teaching them to READ it.

As reported in the the UK-based Guardian’s  introduction to it’s new data site,  Tim Berners-Lee, MIT professor and director of the W3C credited with inventing the World Wide Web, recently said regarding the future of journalism:

[Journalism is] going to be about poring over data and equipping yourself with the tools to analyse it and picking out what’s interesting. And keeping it in perspective, helping people out by really seeing where it all fits together, and what’s going on in the country.

“Helping people see where it all fits together?”  Already media moguls are focusing on multi-modal delivery models that include the creation of sophisticated information graphics.  How could they not?  The medium appeals to our visually centered society and succinctly presents both information and analysis in an environment where digital publishing has reduced the size of the reading plane from that of a newspaper spread to that of a laptop screen…and even smaller (think iPad or even phone screen!).

So, if more of our news and information is being presented in this format, why aren’t schools devoting more serious time (curriculum) to decoding and re-using this information.  During research projects, to0 often, I see this type of information skimmed (or simply skipped) over by students in search of the proverbial “quote” on which to hinge their own ideas.  What if these graphics were to be the stuff from which new ideas spring?  The possibilities for deep analysis are…well…deep.

So how do we compel our students to use these rich sources of information. The first step is necessarily moving teachers to see that these are more than “data representations”–that information graphics do, in fact, require analysis, interpretation and creativity in their production and deserve the same in their consumption. We then need to encourage students to use both original and found info graphics to illustrate their thoughts and arguments.  And of course, we need to teach them to cite these as authentic sources of information, rather than a simple addendum.

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A Great Issuu!

July 3rd, 2010 llcowell Posted in design theory, web 2.0 tools No Comments »

Embedding this digital book to showcase the Issuu digital publishing tool.  There is no doubt that Mike Zimmer did a great job in putting this together.  This is an absolute MUST have tool!

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I’m Looking for Hue

July 1st, 2010 llcowell Posted in design theory, visual learning No Comments »

I often create graphic collages for use in marketing my library.  Because my school’s colors are orange and black, I often search for images that in those colors.  I love iDee’s multicolor search engine.  You can enter any combination of colors and zero in on a great selection.

Curricular uses?

  • Have literature/writing students analyze and digitally illustrate a poem or text passage (use movie or presentation software such as Animoto).  Color can reinforce mood and audience interpretation.
  • Students in Family and Consumer Ed Classes locate images that are ideally suited to the color schemes they have used in designing a space.  Or have them locate images to be displayed during a fashion show of garments they have made.
  • Explore how different cultures perceive color, reinforcing this with image searches.
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A Passion for Past and Future Merge!

June 14th, 2010 llcowell Posted in design theory, just for fun No Comments »

How could I not want one of these?  I’ve spent a lifetime collecting (both artifacts and facts) while I embrace the future as it rushes forward.  This is a REMIX…and while it’s practical value is pretty limited, it’s a beautiful inspiration!

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Change is NOT optional!

March 9th, 2010 llcowell Posted in design theory, observations, transtextuality No Comments »

The graphic, from the James Irvine Foundation’s Convergence Report says it all!

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Book Report….and more!

March 1st, 2010 llcowell Posted in design theory, social media 1 Comment »

The video below is interesting on a couple of counts.  Obviously, the message intrigues (perhaps scares) us.  It’s a different world than many professionals (and parents) are immersed in.  While we may facebook, our use is more deliberate…less social than that of the young person who’s grown up in a social media environment.  Then…there is the fact that this is a BOOK REPORT. Can you imagine if our students demonstrated their understanding in this way….non-linear,

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Social Technographics and Scaffolding…

January 19th, 2010 llcowell Posted in design theory, learning spaces, multiple literacies, social media No Comments »

From a blog associated with the new book, GroundSwell, the post Social Technographics: Conversationalists get onto the ladder shows how twitter and facebook status updaters are figuring into the the world of social media. Reminds me alot of Gladwell’s Tipping Point.

Conversationalists are now on the ladder of social media

"Conversationalists" are now on the ladder of social media

The author’s note that these “conversationalists” are an intriguing lot with a definate stake in market trends. I can’t help but come back to my own professional observations of how market and classroom align in today’s marketplace of information and media. Consider the following suggestions offered in the blog:

“Convince your boss this stuff is for real, and that if you haven’t jumped on it, you’re late.”

There is a hum (or drum) in education now pushing administrators to recognize social media not just as a tool that could be harvested, but as a new way of communicating that MUST be engaged if we are to remain relevant in society.

“Profile your customer base, and see what they’re ready for, before planning a project to reach out to them.”

Know your students. They don’t learn the same way we did, even 15 years ago. The dilemma in education? Student’s today are technologically MORE ready than we are! At the same time, they’re social aptitude has slipped they navigate through the online social network “willy-nilly.” Shouldn’t we be there with them…to teach, to model?

“Segment your audience; build different strategies for different segments. (Social is so prevalent now that a single approach for your company is probably too broad.)”

Differentiate your approach to reach different learners. We’ve embraced that in the classroom, but too often we settle for seeing “technology” AS an approach, rather than as a space in need of these differentiated approaches. All said, it comes down to…SCAFFOLDING!

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Google’s Real Time Exposes Real Frustration of Web Searching

January 18th, 2010 llcowell Posted in design theory, learning spaces, search engines, teaching & learning, web 2.0 tools No Comments »

I have to say that while the concept of Google’s “real-time” search results in seductive at first (and a bit awe-inspiring to watch)…it’s real value in the classroom probably lies in its potential for illustrating the rapidly cycling, ephemeral quality of information on the web.  The updates cycle so quickly when “latest” is chosen, it’s difficult to remain oriented.  Considering that orientation with information has proven, already, to be a challenge for learners, I can’t imagine how this is going to make things better.  Some things are just too “gee-whiz.”


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Disney Copyright Video…

September 9th, 2009 llcowell Posted in design theory, multiple literacies 2 Comments »

Disney is well known for it’s jealous protection of their works, even in educational settings.  Using micro-moments from those same works to teach us about both copyright and fair use is both unique and irreverent. Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University’s approach manages to educate, while at the same time offering subtle critical commentary of the most ardent adversary of this remix culture we live in. Original video posting can be found here.

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