Data Visualizations

I am increasingly interested in finding creative ways to visualize data.  A great example of what I mean is “The Geography of Jobs” (link here) visualization showing job losses and gains from around the country.

Geography of Jobs

This really is an incredible way of showing the impact of local and larger events on jobs.

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Technology and Test Results

I was working with a team of faculty and instructional designers when we debated over the role of technology in education.  It is easy to get caught up in the “newer is better” hype of the latest tech toys but proceed with caution.  We should be viewing technology as a tool and not as a comprehensive answer to improving learning and retention.

The NYTimes ran an article (link here) that discusses this very issue.  Districts investing heavily in “classrooms of tomorrow” are not showing improved student test scores.  I’m not surprised by this for a couple of reasons.

First, too many in education take a “build it, they will come” approach to technology.  Invest and the results will follow.  Failing to recognize the role of the tools in the curriculum simply result in square pegs in round holes.

Second, this technology is new.  It will take some time, and trial, before curricular strategies are aligned with the technologies.  There is terrific research, ongoing, on how technology is changing how we learn.  These ideas will continue to mature and add to the tools’ effectiveness.

Third, some of these technologies simply haven’t lived up to the hype.  As is the case with many first and second generation products, newer isn’t always better.  There are many educators with stories of unreliable and unpredictable technologies that don’t offer the added value in the learning process, especially considering their costs.

Finally, let’s focus on this idea of adding value.  I can fill a classroom with modern technologies and the latest/greatest for student learning.  However, if I don’t have a motivated leader planning for each student’s individual needs and passionately finding creative ways to reach the class, the investment is all for naught.  We need educators to add value to this process.  Some will do so with cutting edge technologies.  Some will find other ways.  There are plenty of tools that can be used, technology and otherwise.

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University of the People- NYTimes article

the New York Times profiled Haiti’s University of the People in a recent article (link here).  This is a terrific example of open sourced, crowdsourced, education that uses technology to efficiently deliver education.  It will be interesting to keep an eye on this, and other models like MIT’s open courseware, to see if they can capitalize and capture an audience.

During a time when US higher education tuition rates are rising to absurd levels, could a state organize and deliver an accredited curriculum in a similar manner?

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