I was invited to give two talks at the the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in San Francisco. One was a Ignite presentation (5 minutes, 20 slides set to move at 15 seconds per slide), and the other was an ED Talk (sort of like a TED talk just without the tea). I chose to speak about creativity and technology – though in very different ways in each of these talks. I think both talks went well… While I was preparing for these two talks, I got inspired to create a bunch of new ambigrams. I recently posted four new designs, and now here are three more. I think all three are pretty good, though I am partial to the last one (the 3rd design). Read the rest of this entry »
I just read this wonderful essay by UCLA professor Peter Nonacs titled: Why I Let My Students Cheat On Their Game Theory Exam. In this essay he describes an experiment he recently conducted in his game theory class. This is what he told his students a week before the final exam for the class:
… I told my class that the Game Theory exam would be insanely hard—far harder than any that had established my rep as a hard prof. But as recompense, for this one time only, students could cheat. They could bring and use anything or anyone they liked, including animal behavior experts. (Richard Dawkins in town? Bring him!) They could surf the Web. They could talk to each other or call friends who’d taken the course before. They could offer me bribes. (I wouldn’t take them, but neither would I report it to the dean.) Only violations of state or federal criminal law such as kidnapping my dog, blackmail, or threats of violence were out of bounds.
The current issue of TechTrends (Volume 57, Issue 3, March 2013) is a special spotlight issue, and the spotlight this time around is on the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology Programs at Michigan State University! This special spotlight issue was edited by myself with help from Laura Terry and Danah Henriksen. A special thanks to Abbie Brown (former editor of the journal for starting the process) and Dan Surry and Chuck Hodges for all their help and hand-holding to bring it to fruition. Thanks also to all the authors for being thoughtful and prompt and dealing with our idiosyncratic editorial demands.
Most importantly thanks to all our faculty, staff and students without whose hard work and creativity we would have no programs, assignments, or achievements to write about.
Below please find a listing of TPACK-related papers/sessions that will be presented at the SITE conference in March in New Orleans, Louisiana; at the AERA annual meeting in April in San Francisco, California; and at the ISTE conference in June in San Antonio, Texas. (That’s 61 TPACK-related conference sessions in just 3 months!) Read the rest of this entry »
There was a recent query on the PhD-Design-List regarding sources for designers on how to make good info-graphics and data-visualizations. I am collating the options being put forward by people here, just for the record. Read the rest of this entry »
Welcome to the eleventh edition of the (approximately quarterly) TPACK Newsletter! TPACK work is continuing worldwide, and is appearing in an increasing diversity of publication, conference, and professional development venues. This document contains recent updates to that work that we hope will be interesting and useful to you, our subscribers.
Gratuitous Quote About Technology Is it a fact – or have I dreamt it – that, by means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time?—Nathaniel Hawthorne
The interest in the TPACK framework has led to a upsurge in ways of measuring TPACK development. Matt, Tae Shin and I recently published a survey paper on different ways of measuring TPACK, abstract and title given below. Read the rest of this entry »
I have been a huge fan of Don Norman ever since I first ran into his book on the Psychology of Everyday Things (which he later renamed as The Design of Everyday Things, and the story behind that name change is worth reading as an excellent example of design). Don Norman also was the inspiration behind my collection of examples of good and bad design, something that ended up in the CEP817, Learning Technology by Design seminar.
Over the past few years my scholarly focus has shifted into areas related to teacher creativity and transdisciplinary learning. I see this as being the next step in my research work. Though I have been thinking quite a bit about this, have applied to to my teaching (particularly my course on Creativity in Teaching and Learning), and there have been occasional blog posts about this as well, it has not had much of an impact on my academic writing. A large part of it has to do with the fact that academic writing (writing for journals and edited books) has, by necessity, a longer time-frame than teaching or blogging. Writing and submitting, taking care of changes suggested by editors and reviewers, and then waiting for the actual publication to emerge, all take time.
To cut a long story short, the first article about this new line of work has finally been published. It is a special issue of the journal Educational Technology devoted to Emerging Technologies and Transformative Learning. This special issue was edited by George Veletsianos and Brendan Calandra (thanks for giving us the opportunity) and was co-authored with Matt Koehler (no surprise there) and Danah Henriksen.
Educational Technology had quite stringent word-limits and length requirements, so the final published article is much shorter than what we had originally submitted. And since I had already felt that the original article was shorter than it needed to be… the final version seems more than a bit truncated. For this reason I am providing links below to both the published piece and a longer unpublished version. If I had to choose, I would read the longer version but that need not be your choice.
Abstract: In this article we examine the need for fostering transformative learning, emphasizing the roles that trans-disciplinary thinking and recent technologies can play in creating the transformative teaching and learning of the 21st century. We introduce the Technological, Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework as a starting point for discussing the special kinds of knowledge, skills, and understanding that teachers require in order to become effective classroom mediators of transformative learning experiences. Within this framework, we propose seven cognitive tools needed for success in the new millennium, and describe examples of how teachers can repurpose digital technologies to use these cognitive tools. We explore the implications for research and practice.
Explicitly Addressing TPACK in Preservice Teacher Curriculum, Mia Kim Williams, University of Northern Colorado, USA; Keith Wetzel, Arizona State University, USA; Teresa Foulger, Arizona State University, USA; Todd Kisicki, Arizona State University, USA; Lisa Giacumo, Arizona State University, USA (Roundtable) | Tuesday 2:45–3:45 – Bellmeade
Why Are They Not Using It?: Middle Grades Social Studies Teachers’ Technology Integration (NTLI Fellows Symposium), Caroline C. Sheffield, University of Louisville, USA; Rita Hagevik, University of Tennessee, USA; Patty Stinger-Barnes, University of Tennessee, USA | Thursday 10:15 – 11:15 – Hermitage D
Joke Voogt, University of Twente, Netherlands; Tae Shin, University of Central Missouri, USA; Punya Mishra, University of Michigan, USA; Matt Koehler, University of Michigan, USA; Denise Schmidt, Iowa State University, USA; Evrim Baran, Iowa State University, USA; Ann Thompson, Iowa State University, USA; Wei Wang, Iowa State University, USA; Ghaida Alayyar, University of Twente, Netherlands; Petra Fisser, University of Twente, Netherlands; Douglas Agyei, University of Twente, Netherlands; Bart Ormel, University of Twente, Netherlands; Chantal Velthuis, Edith Stein University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands; Jo Tondeur, University of Ghent, Belgium; David Gibson, Global Challenge, USA | Thursday 10:15-11:15 – Tulip Grove F
(Roundtable), Lisa G. Hervey (North Carolina State University) | Scheduled Time: Sun, Apr 10 – 10:35am – 12:05pm Building/Room: Sheraton / Grand Ballroom E | In Session Submission: Analyzing and Assessing Teacher Knowledge and Practice
TPACK and the Missing Paradigm | [Research Paper: Roundtable], Monday, 6/27/2011, 4:15pm–5:15pm | Professional Learning : Teacher Education (Preservice & Advanced) | Nicholas Lux, Montana State University
The current issue of The Scientist has a story on an interactive film that helps research students and early career researchers to understand and navigate the perils of research misconduct.
Highlights: “The Lab is a choose-your-own-adventure story about an incident of apparent research misconduct. … At the outset, the viewer chooses one of four characters to follow: a grad student, a post doc, a PI, or a research integrity officer. Throughout the story, the viewer makes choices on behalf of this character, affecting the outcome. Make the right choices and misconduct is confronted and dealt with; make the wrong ones, and you’re bound for infamy when the misconduct is uncovered years later.”
The film focuses on one lab in one field, but the issues and choices touch on the challenges of responsible research in many fields.
I spent a bit of time traversing the movie (from the point of view of the Post Doc) and I was impressed. The story line is complex, sophisticated and engrossing. It took a bit of effort for me to tear myself away… But I do think this is an important resource for all budding researchers, irrespective of the field they are in.
The Dubberly Design Office has created a series of models of innovation, play and design. These are terrific resources and I just found out about them by chance. I see these as being quite significant in the classes I teach, including CEP817: Learning Technology by Design; CEP818: Creativity in Teaching and Learning; and CEP917: Knowledge Media Design.
I am including links to a couple of their models – but I do recommend visiting their site to see more…
What makes creative relationships work? How do two people—who may be perfectly capable and talented on their own—explode into innovation, discovery, and brilliance when working together? These may seem to be obvious questions. Collaboration yields so much of what is novel, useful, and beautiful that it’s natural to try to understand it.
The series is an excellent introduction to the research on creative collaboration has most interestingly has a series of case studies of creative pairs. The first pair studied were John Lennon & Paul McCartney and followed their careers over time and how the “push-pull” between these two creative personalities led to some of the greatest music of the 20th Century.
The next set of profiles focuses on Matthew Swanson & Robbi Behr, the couple behind Idiot’s Books. Joshua Shenk inflicts on them “a series of experiments, stunts, and adventures” with the goal of shedding “light on the nature of their collaboration—and on the broader questions of relationships, psychology, and creativity.” So far the couple has been given a battery of psychological tests, tolerated a tour of their home and studio, sat on a couch for a psychoanalytic session, and finally, created a verbal/visual map of their creative process. As Shenk says, “What they came up with turned out to both nicely illustrate how they work and to perfectly embody their Idiocy.” I completely and totally recommend anybody interested in creativity to take a look at this somewhat interactive feature: Idiot Books, Creative Process Diagram.
I have always been interested in what lies at the intersection of science and art. There are of course many different ways of looking at this. There is the idea of scientific creativity being both similar to and different from artistic creativity. And then there is the idea of artistically representing scientific ideas. I have written about this elsewhere in the context of poetry (both scientific poetry / sci-po or mathematical poetry / math-po). I have also argued that this process of “translation” from one medium to another is a very powerful way of both understanding the issues at hand but could also be an interesting teaching tool. For instance see these sci-po’s written by Sean Nash’s students. As I had said before, echoing Sean, in the context of writing a mathematical proof in verse (click here if you are interested), this act of writing a poem about mathematics forces you to truly and deeply understand the idea before you can start playing with it.
Such artistic representations of science can also be a powerful tool for outreach – to communicate often abstruse and complex ideas to a wider audience. One of the best approaches that has received some attention in the past years is Dance your Ph.D. As the Science Mag website says
The dreaded question. “So, what’s your Ph.D. research about?” You could bore them with an explanation. Or you could dance.
That’s the idea behind “Dance Your Ph.D.” Over the past 3 years, scientists from around the world have teamed up to create dance videos based on their graduate research. This year’s contest, launched in June by Science, received 45 brave submissions.
Today, judges—including scientists, choreographers, and past winners—announced the finalists in four categories: physics, chemistry, biology, and social sciences. Each receives $500.
The backstory: I have, for many years now, wanted to create a short video along the lines of the Mastercard “Priceless” commercials. I have had many different ideas, but never really got a chance to do so. So when I came up with the idea of the Radio/Video show for ISTE, I decided this was the time to go do it.
The activity shown here (with tennis balls, flip cams, markers and transparencies) is one that I have actually done multiple times, in venues around the world. This is a simple activity that exposes a fundamental misconception people have about how objects fall. The question I ask is where the tennis ball would fall if dropped by someone in three different conditions: standing still, walking or running. Most people say that the ball would fall at the feet in the first case (right answer), and behind the person in the other two cases (wrong answer). It turns out that the ball always falls at the feet of the person – assuming, of course, that the person keeps moving at the same speed after letting go of the ball. Why the ball does so has to do with Newton’s First Law, something many people can recite back to you, even while getting this question wrong.
After I get all the responses (and it is always amazing to me just how many people get it wrong), I ask people to go and create a video of the actual experiment. I typically give them 45 minutes to an hour to do the entire thing. There is something to be said for being able to see what “really” happens, to go frame-by-frame through it. It better than any physics lesson, this activity exposes people to just how wrong their intuitions were.
There are many layers to this assignment. In some cases I have had people tape a transparency sheet to their computer screens and then track the parabolic path of the ball. You can go ahead and measure the height of the person’s hand knowing the frame-rate of the video, actually calculate the value of g, acceleration due to gravity.
Anyway, that assignment became the core idea behind the video. The entire commercial was shot, narrated and edited one Sunday afternoon. I got a group of my daughter’s friends together and we shot the still frames of them dropping the ball and shooting the video. The script was narrated by my son. Despite multiple takes he could not correctly pronounce the word “pedagogy” so tweaked the script to drop that particular word (which of course meant that Technology and Content were out as well!). The tag line “There is some knowledge you are born with, for everything else there’s TPACK” emerged out a conversation with Matt Koehler.
I just spent a day at MICDS in St. Louis talking with a small but select group of teachers about creativity in teaching, the role of big ideas, the meaning of TPACK, the importance of trans-disciplinary learning (among other things). What a wonderful way of spending the day! This visit was organized by Elizabeth Helfant at MICDS. Apart from the workshop, it was also wonderful to finally meet up with Mr. Nashworld, Sean Nash himself. Sean and I have been blogging buddies for a while now and it was great to finally meet up with him.
As a part of our activities today I had all the participants crate i-Images. I have written about i-Images on this blog before (see here and here).
i-Images are the brainchild of David Wong and you can find his page on i-Images here.
Anyway, here are some of the i-Images created today. I do think they are pretty cool and thought provoking, each in its own way. Click on the images below to see what the workshop participants created. Enjoy.
An interesting challenge that remains has to do with how we reconcile projections of the earth with the actual shape of the earth. For instance the Mercator projection distorts what are straight lines into curves and vice versa. Of course complicating all this is the fact that what we think of as straight lines needs to be reconfigured somewhat to meet the demands of a spherical surface i.e. the whole idea of a great circle.
I recently came across a very cool web site which uses Googlemaps to map a straight walk on the surface of the earth. Check out map.talleye.com
The moment you try this out you realize just how complex a process it is to go from the Mercator projection to understanding the same path on a sphere. This also reminded me of the maps of the earth that show the demarcation of day and night on its surface. Check it out at daylightmap.com.
[More information on the Mercator projection can be found here and on great circles here.]
My friend and colleague Leigh Wolf forwarded me this article on Edward Tufte: The Many Faces (And Sculptures) Of Edward Tufte. I have been a fan of information design guru Edward Tufte’s work for years (decades?). I love his emphasis on clarity and simplicity in presenting information. I love the fact that he designs and publishes his own books (so that he can have full control over each and every aspect of the presentation). What I didn’t know of was his playful artistic side. It turns out that ET (as he is known) is also an artist, crafting giant metal sculptures in his “back yard” (if you can call the hundreds of acres that stretch behind his house a “back yard!”).
Over the past few years I have been thinking quite hard about the idea that creative people are not creative in just one area but rather tend to play within and across multiple disciplines or areas. Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein have in their book Sparks of Genius often talked about how the most creative scientists are polymaths, often having artistic and other interests that go beyond their immediate professional interests. In fact they argue, and I would tend to agree with them, that creativity cannot be forced into one box or domain. Creative individuals are curious about everything and often engage in creative activities in multiple areas, though they may specialize in just one area (usually the domain they are most known for).
This is true for the most creative people I know. For instance, consider Douglas Hofstadter (best known for his book Godel, Escher & Back and is work in Artificial Intelligence) dabbles in everything from mathematics to music, wordplay to art. Similarly Scott Kim (best know as a puzzle game designer) creates ambigrams and composes music, plays the drums and teaches mathematics using dance!
In my own way I have tried to do the same. Everything I do, from creating ambigrams to teaching, from photography to developing keynote presentations, from being a parent to advising students on their research, seems to me to be connected and inter-woven. I think my success as a researcher and scholar (to whatever extent I have been successful) derives from this “dabbling” across disciplines.
What is sad, however, is how much such “dabbling” is frowned upon. Through high-school and college, through graduate school and even as a faculty member, I have been advised, always by by well-meaning people, to focus, to find my niche, to become an expert on one thing. I have resisted it, mainly because knowing just one thing, seems, at least to me, such an impoverished way of being.
And I understand why I have received the advice I have. We live in a specialized world. A world where expertise is valued. And an expert, after all, is someone who knows more and more about less and less. There is no space for dabbling in this world of.
But I wonder about that. I have a friend who is a successful professor of civil engineering. Turns out, that as he was growing up, what he really wanted to be, was a chef! I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about this but I wonder how his vision of being a chef influences what he does as a researcher and a teacher? Does it contribute (in some subconscious manner) to his work? Or has he suppressed it completely?
Either way I see it as a tragedy, in the first case because we haven’t developed a way of speaking of these influences, and in the second case because a possible, fruitful career was nipped in the bud.
The sad thing is that I am seeing school do the same thing to my kids, in fact to most kids I know. NCLB has not helped either. Don’t get me wrong. This is not an argument for some form of dilletantism (dabbling for the sake of dabbling). Not at all. What I am recommending (thanks to the Roob-Bernstein’s for this term) is polymathy. One of my students, Danah Henriksen, is currently working on a dissertation on looking for polymathy in teachers. As she says:
“Polymathy” may be thought of as an informed enthusiasm for more than one field of knowledge or expertise, or excellence in several realms that might seem distant from each other. It has been suggested that what makes polymaths so successful and fluidly creative is an ability to cross-pollinate ideas and information. People who open their minds to, and who learn from, multiple knowledge areas can apply new information and unique ways of thinking from one discipline into another.
This for me is the biggest reason for supporting such playing around in multiple areas. These experiences at the fringes (so to speak) of our professional lives, provide us with newer ways of being in the world. They allow us to see the world in new ways. They allow us to question things the field may have taken for granted. Just as Tufte says at the end of the piece, my goal, is to “make people see a little differently.” Turns out one of the best and easiest ways of doing so is by seeing through different disciplinary eyes.
We need to provide better opportunities for our students to do the same.
In his article Is Google making us stupid? the author Nicholas Carr takes Sergi Brin to task for something he had said in a 2004 interview with Newsweek. Brin is quoted as saying “Certainly if you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.”
What is the relationship of information technology and cognition? What about human creativity? What role does technology play, if any, in getting us to be less or more creative? Read the rest of this entry »
Sean had this wonderful post on his blog (Is this a sluggish strategy?) about this whole scientific and mathematical poetry that is going around. He links to some excellent sci-po’s written by his students (see Pushing Scientific Thought Into Art) and also provides a nice protocol for those who want to apply it in their own classrooms.
It is amazing to me just how this idea has spread. It has en-livened my life, I can say that much. Anyway, I wanted to say thanks to Sean (and his students) – and what better way to say it than in verse. So here is: For Sean & his students
A 5th grade science assignment, transformed. A rant about Mother Goose. A math poetry challenge! How did that come to be? And what does that have to do with loving the Interwebs? Read on…
I had written earlier about how my 10 year-old daughter had been writing poems on science (Scientific Poems or Sci-Po’s for short). It all started with an extra-credit assignment she needed to do for her science class, and a need, I perceived, to keep her blog (Uniquely Mine) up-to-date. She has quite a few written now. For instance here is one about a news item about scientists finding dinosaur eggs (and other dino-stuff) in India (Cluster of dinosaur eggs found in southern India), and here’s the poem:
The Daily Show featured William Kamkwamba, a Malawian high school student who built a windmill by looking at pictures in a book! I have always been a fan of jugaad, the idea of indigenous creativity using the detritus that seems to be a function of our modern world. And this is just an amazing story.
What is both incongruous and amazing is that we live in a world where there can be a terrible famine that a 14 year old has to drop out of school. And this boy finds a book at a library funded by some Western agencies, and looking at the pictures (he couldn’t read English very well) builds a windmill. The story ends up in the newspaper, and then hits the blogosphere. The kid ends up presenting at the TED conference in Africa!… and here is is on the Daily Show! Incidentally, Jon Stewart has a delicate balancing act as he tries to get this story across even while cracking jokes that his guest may not even understand.
Just how far Kamkwamba has come is best revealed by watching the video till the end… Watch for the discussion about Google.
Have you heard of the marshmallow experiment? It is a pretty famous experiment conducted at Stanford back in the 60′s. Walter Mischel a psychologist conducted this experiment on four-year olds in which the children were given one marshmallow and promised a second marshmallow if only they could wait 20 minutes before eating the first one. Turns out that some children could and others couldn’t wait. Following up on this study Mischel and his collaborators found that those who waited were better adjusted, dependable and, on some measures, more successful than those who could not delay gratification. In fact they found that these children scored an average of 210 points higher on the SAT!!
I had read of this experiment a while ago, it had also been the focus of a recent RadioLab segment and then I began running across a video titled Oh, The Temptation. As the director describes it he used, 2 Hidden Cameras, A bunch of Kids, 1 Marshmallow each to create this movie. He agrees that this was “not an original idea, but very fun to make.” And it is great fun to watch…
Two robots made entirely using Lego Mindstorms NXT Retail-kit that can solve Sudoku problems and the Rubik’s Cube! How totally cool is that. LEGO Mindstorms is a line of Lego sets combining programmable bricks with electric motors, sensors, Lego bricks, and Lego Technic pieces (such as gears, axles, and beams). See Wikipedia article on Lego Mindstorms
See the videos below, and check out the website for the project: Tilted Twister
Rubik’s Cube Solver
This is truly amazing… What is also great is that the designer also include directions for making these robots. I gotta get myself one of these