Saturday, October 25, 2014

Huddle Lamp makes sharing information between multiple mobile devices easy

Researchers at MIT developed software that can quickly connect multiple mobile devices and connect them as one giant touchscreen, no matter how they are arranged on a desk.
The setup needs a 'huddle lamp' - a camera mounted above the mobile devices to track the position and orientation of each one. This allows to share documents between devices by swiping or showing fragments of a larger image in each device.
The software and schematics behind the project are being distributed as a free open-source resource.
More information here: A Hacked Lamp Turns Multiple Mobile Devices Into a Single Giant Display

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Characteristics of a competent human being

What are the characteristics of a competent human being, a real man/woman?

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

Or in other words:
“If you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!” 

― Rudyard KiplingIf: A Father's Advice to His Son

Friday, October 17, 2014

Comparing two forms of concept map critique activities

Knowledge Integration Map (KIM)
Source: Wikipedia
Concept maps can be versatile tools for learning and assessment. However, evaluating concept maps can be challenging. What are effective ways to analyze concept maps?

I presented a paper at the 6th international conference on concept mapping in Santos, Brazil in October 2014 (See conference program with links to papers here). The paper introduces a new form of concept map, called Knowledge Integration Map (KIM). Different from Novakian concept maps, KIMs divide the drawing area into discipline-specific sections (see example above). Placing concept in these designated areas elicits how learners categorize these concepts and it highlights cross-links between sections. Cross-links can be seen as particularly interesting as they link concepts in different categories. 

The empirical study presented in the paper compares two forms of KIM activities implemented in biology classrooms. Concept  map  activities  often  lack  a  subsequent  revision  step  that  facilitates  knowledge  integration.  This  study compares two kinds of concept map critique activities embedded in an evolution unit: Student dyads in one group compared their concept maps against an expert map while dyads in the other group conducted a peer-review. Analysis of the concept maps suggests that both treatment groups significantly improved their understanding of evolution. However, the two groups developed different criteria: The expert-map group focused mostly on concept-focused criteria like concept classification while the peer-review group used more link-focused criteria like link labels and missing connections. This paper suggests that both critique activities can be beneficial to making more coherent connections across different topics in biology. 

The paper is available here (as PDF)The title of the paper is 'Comparing two forms of concept map critique activities to support knowledge integration in biology education'.

Making Sense of Concept Maps

Overview of concept mapping analysis methods
(by Beat A. Schwendimann)

Concept maps can be versatile tools for learning and assessment. However, evaluating concept maps can be challenging. What are effective ways to analyze concept maps?

I presented a paper at the 6th international conference on concept mapping in Santos, Brazil in October 2014 (See program with links to papers here). The paper provides an overview of evaluation/ analysis methods for concept maps and identifies powerful indicators that can track changes in students' understanding. The paper is available here (as a PDF). The title of the paper is 'Multi-level analysis strategy to make sense of concept maps' (also see concept map above).

An extended version of the paper has been published as a book chapter: Schwendimann, B. A. (2014). Making sense of knowledge integration maps. In D. Ifenthaler & R. Hanewald (Eds.), Digital knowledge maps in education: Technology enhanced support for teachers and learners. New York: Springer.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Create 3D sculptures using Oculus Rift

VRClay allows to create 3D sculptures in a virtual reality environment using Oculus Rift or Razer Hydra. More information about it here.

Affordable computer kit Kano to teach coding

London-based startup Kano offers a $150-priced computer and coding kit "Kano" that can be used to teach children about computers and coding. The modular "Kano" kit consists of several plug-in components that can be attached to create a fully functional PC. The plug-in components of the Kano computer include a compact 'Raspberry Pi' computer board, an orange Bluetooth keyboard with trackpad, 8 GB memory card, and a speaker. See Kano's website here.

"Kano" uses a custom programming approach, called "Kano Blocks" which is a version of the Linux operating system. Kano Blocks can output real code in Javascript and Python.

Identifying fake physics in videos to teach physics

Popular videos often seemingly impossible jumps, throws, or dunks. Many of these videos have been manipulated.

Physics professor Rhett Allain wrote an interesting post about how you can spot if a video has been manipulated by analysing the physics. Allain's post could by used by physics teachers to teach about physics as well as a resource in a course about video editing. See Allain's post here.