Random But Organized Thoughts (7-25-2010)

Great Links
  • The new xkcd cartoon about lack of innovation in TI-calculators  [via Cameron Flint and Wade James].  Just for the record, I basically said the same thing on November 14, 2007 in my Calculator Rant.
  • Twitter Mood Maps reveal emotional states of America  [via @hrheingold] – this reminds me of the website We Feel Fine, which explores human emotion via blog writings through six different interfaces (watch Jonathan Harris’s 2007 TED Talk here).

  • A truly “jaw-dropping” TED Talk is Tan Le: A headset that reads your brainwaves.  It’s only 10 minutes and it’s pretty stunning.  [via @irasocol]  I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say that some days it really seems that we are living in the future.
  • In Newsweek this week, there was an interesting article, The Creativity Crisis, about how U.S. creativity scores are falling.  Basically, creativity scores rose until 1990 and then began to fall, most seriously for those in K-6.  There are so many possible causes, and while the article suggests it could be TV and video games, it also suggests it could be lack of creativity development in schools.  [via @arossett]
  • I think this Taxonomy of Reflection (by Peter Pappas) is dead on.  I’ve been reading The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr and I am worried that we are spending too much time “skimming the surface” and not enough time learning deeply.  By engaging in reflective practices, we can make sure that we do engage deeply, and there are many ways to do this with web tools.  [via @tonnet]  More on this later … I’ve got lots of ideas on this one.

Great Quotes

  • From the LMS Panel at #et4online: “Open source is more like a free puppy than free beer” [tweeted by @kthompso and @gsiemens] followed up by @hjarche, who added “... and proprietary software is more like a free gorilla than a free puppy.
  • As of today, every Facebook petition that gets 1 million people to sign means that 499 mill didn’t sign it. Knock yourself out.” [@barrydahl]
  • Best quote this week? ”... clinging to outdated teaching practices amounts to educational malpractice.” from Reaching the Last Technology Holdouts at the Front of the Classroom, published this week in the Chronicle of Higher Ed.  [via @derekbruff]  It sounds harsh, but ask yourself if you’d go to see a doctor, a lawyer, or even an auto mechanic who had not learned anything new about technology for their profession in the last decade.  You wouldn’t, would you?  On a side note, I have an article coming out in the next issue of EDUCAUSE Review about “Open Faculty” where I develop a model for faculty profiles where where technology can act as a catalyst or a barrier to participation in open education.
  • What we’ve done in human society, through exchange and specialization, is that we’ve created the ability to do things that we don’t even understand… with technology we can actually do things that are beyond our [individual] capability.” from Matt Ridley’s TED Talk: When Ideas Have Sex [via @tonnet]  General takeaway: Individual humans are simply the nodes in the collective global brain. It’s the interchange of the ideas (the nodes) that is causing technological progress.  Sidenote for math teachers: There is a great section in here starting at 5:03 about “why exchange raises living standards” but it reminds me of that classic algebra problem where two people can either work separately or together.

Lessons in digital literacy

On the advice of a friend from New Zealand, I looked for web information about the “Pasta Crop” … a great spoof to teach students digital literacy.  This is a lesson in why you should not trust everything you read on the Internet.

Another great website for digital literacy is the website that teaches about the “toxic” chemical Dihydrogen Monoxide, DHMO.org.  If you’ve never seen that, check it out.


  • The Center for Teaching and Learning at Muskegon Community College is officially changing its name to The LIFT Institute.  LIFT stands for Learning, Innovation, Futuring, and Technology. One of the roles I’ve agreed to take on for this next academic year is that of the “Learning Futurist” at The LIFT Institute.  We’ve got some awesome ideas for programming to really engage faculty and students in all the aspects of LIFT and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

Want Ads

I’m looking for a motivated person (or persons) who would be interested in taking math that I find in magazine/newspaper articles and writing a short post to publish each week on this site.  If left to my own devices, I can collect stacks and stacks of articles that I think could be mentioned in a math class, but I never have the time to go from the articles to any kind of organized collection of lesson ideas for math teachers.  Anyone need to fulfill the “project” requirement of an education class or graduate class?

Note: I am trying to begin using this end-of-the-week twitter summary as a reflective activity at the end of the week, highlighting what I’ve learned and sharing brief insights.  Does this format work for you?  Would it be better to split it up into several smaller posts?  Ideas welcome.

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