Things you see are not always what they seem

Some end of the year illusions for you:

Watch this section of an interview with Peter Jackson:

Is there a difference between optical/visual illusion and magic?

Can I see a cosmic ray?

For ISOCS Class 4,5 as they begin to investigate changing materials
Streamed live on Dec 19, 2012

There are more videos for this unit on our Changing Materials playlist.

Curating the web

For awhile now I've been collecting "News from the world of technologies to spark the interest of staff and students at ISOCS" on Paper.li.  This is a web site which produces a page once a week with snippits and links to posts, tweets, feeds, etc. that I've chosen. (The site is based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) – Innovation Center in Lausanne, Switzerland)

Recently, Paper.li has campaigned hard for users to upgrade to Pro accounts, and I've had the feeling that the service on my non-pro account has declined somewhat.

So this morning I created a parallel page on Scoop.it, another curation site.  The sources for both pages are the same, so we will be able to compare how the two sites work.  You can subscribe to both pages, or view them on tabs on this blog.

If you do a search for [web curation sites], you'll find lots of information:  what it is, what it's good for, why it's good, why it's bad, how to curate, etc.  I think curation would be a fine tool for students as they investigate a topic, whether for school or for their own interests. Collecting and sorting news, and then editing the page causes you to focus closely on your topic, and your audience.  Because it is almost a daily process, it keeps the topic in the forefront of your mind.

If my class were going to start a curation project, I would have them read this post from Mashable, and then look at a few education-focused Paper.li and Scoop.it sites:
Geography Education
Ancient Civilization
The Medieval World
English Language Teaching Resources
Cathedral AP World History

Careful editing is required on "publication day" - these pages are pulling information based on rss feeds, but also on key words, and sometimes the right word causes the wrong information to be included on a curation page.

How and Why We Read

When you've filled your house with snowflakes (see previous post), you can read!

Published on Nov 15, 2012
In which John Green kicks off the Crash Course Literature mini series with a reasonable set of questions. Why do we read? What's the point of reading critically. John will argue that reading is about effectively communicating with other people. Unlike a direct communication though, the writer has to communicate with a stranger, through time and space, with only "dry dead words on a page." So how's that going to work? Find out with Crash Course Literature! Also, readers are empowered during the open letter, so that's pretty cool.

The Reading List!
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare: http://dft.ba/-shakespearerj
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: http://dft.ba/-fitzgeraldgg
Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger: http://dft.ba/-catcher
Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson: http://dft.ba/-dickinson

Some of these are available from gutenberg.org as free ebooks. You should check that out.

Here are links to online, free versions of these books:

Paper Snowflakes

In case you get snowed in over the winter holiday...or find time on your hands:

Published on Dec 13, 2012
Unusual variations on the paper snowflake.

5 Things Every Presenter Needs To Know

5 Things Every Presenter Needs To Know About People from Weinschenk on Vimeo.

Not just in sales, politics, government, and teaching - students need these skills too for presentations in class!

Looking at eyes

In our Seeing the Un-seeable department:
Screen shot of http://www.surenmanvelyan.com

Click here to go to an amazing page of macro photos of the eyes - human and animal.

Suren Manvelyan is a photographer who began to take pictures when he was 16.
"In parallel to photography, for the past ten years Suren has also enjoyed teaching physics, mathematics, projective geometry and astronomy at the Yerevan Waldorf School. From 1997 to 2011 he served as a scientific researcher at the Institute for Physical Research of National Academy of Sciences.Suren received his PhD in Theoretical Physics from the Yerevan State University in 2001 where his research focused on Quantum Chaos. He received the President Award of the Republic of Armenia next year for his research work in the field of quantum technologies." (link)
And he plays 5 musical instruments.

Stock Images in Google Drive

UPDATE: 17 January 2013: Be sure to read Google Strikes Controversial Licensing Deal with Getty Images
UPDATE 20 December 2012:  Be sure to read Alan Levine's post about this.

Richard Byrnes alerted me to (yet another) new function of Google Drive: When you need to add a picture to a document or presentation you're creating in Google Drive,
  1. choose "insert image"
  2. then choose "search"
  3. then choose "stock"
The stock image gallery has more than 5,000 images that are labeled for re-use. Read about where they came from on the Google Drive Blog, and The Next Web.

How should these images be attributed? Where did they really come from, who is the creator?  Google describes the Gallery:
"Thanks to your suggestions, 5,000 new photos of nature, weather, animals, sports, food, education, technology, music and 8 other categories are now available for your use in Docs, Sheets, and Slides. More than 900 of these photos were selected directly from your submissions -- we really appreciate your help!" (link)
When you select a photo and insert it in your work, there is no indication at all of how it should be attributed.  It's nice to be able to access "photos available for re.use", but they still must carry an attribution.
Screen shot
I searched for a "blue" picture, choose the one of the planet, and then did a Google Image search to see if I could find where it came from.

Screen shot
Several of the result sites offer the photo for sale at varying prices, and in varying formats.

I found this advice on the Wired How To wiki
Most stock image services provide royalty-free images for about a few bucks per high-resolution image.There's no one-size-fits-all attribution for stock images, so you must check the policies of the service you are using to see if and how you need to credit imagery.In general, however, a stock photo used for editorial purposes might be attributed as:©[stock service]/[username of creator]
When using Stock imagess, the IFB blog recommends
Give CreditThese days finding the source of an image can seem impossible. You found something off Pinterest, it links to Tumblr, that credits Weheart.it that was some how sourced to FFFFound!, and that was linked to a blog post from way back in 2010 that linked back to Tumblr. Sound familiar? You can run an image search in Google, by dragging and dropping an image to Google Image Search, and it will pull every time it was used. You’ll still have to do a little digging to see what the oldest entry was, but it’s a good way to verify where the original source is. After running a search, and you’re not certain as to where the image came from, you can always give credit to the place where you found it, but specify that it’s not the original source. But always, always, always give credit where it is due, even when you have permission to use.

(Bold emphasis mine)

So until Google helps us out with attribution suggestions, I'll propose that our students use  ©Google Stock Images, since that's really all we can be sure about, though it's not enough.

Cargo Bridge

This morning the Fractus Learning blog recommended a handful of games; Cargo Bridge caught my eye because the ISOCS MS students are finishing up a unit looking at bridges.

From Limex Games:
"The Cargo Bridge is back! Build a bridge and test your construction skills. Now, there are more levels, more bridge connections, more cargo and more fun! Design a bridge on a blueprint and test it when you are done! Your workers will use the construction to get cargo located at the other side of the valley, and bring it back. Your goal is to collect all items in each level."

You can play the game in the tiny version here, or full screen online, download it, and also find it in the iTunes store (iPad and iPhone).

Google Poetics

Are you a fan of serendipity?  Do you trust fate? Do you like playing with words, and language in general? Do you have a bit of time to invest in a project?
If the answers are "yes",  then you might enjoy a site called  Google Poetics.

This is a website/blog curated by Sampsa Nuotio and Raisa Omaheimo, not by Google itself.  It uses the auto-complete function of Google search pages to suggest phrases to you.  You play with several phrases, and then, if you like your creation, take a screen shot and send it to the blog for inclusion in the month's collection.
"Google Poetics is born when Google autocomplete suggestions are viewed as poems.
Google’s algorithm offers searches after just a few keystrokes when typing in the search box, in an attempt to predict what the user wants to type. The combination of these suggestions can be funny, absurd, dadaistic - and sometimes even deeply moving..."

On the HowTo page, they write:
"Google autocomplete suggestions differ greatly between local Google versions (google.com, google.co.uk, google.it…). Your results also vary depending on whether you are logged in to your Google account or not.
Remember that Google updates the suggestions constantly - no poem is set in stone. If you manage to catch an awesome poem, make sure to take a screenshot right away."
You're invited to follow Google Poetics on Facebook, Twitter, and in a feed reader.

So open a Google search page, and start hunting for a poem. (It's not as easy as you might think!)
Here's my first effort, which I title "December":

Reality is...

Are the things you experience on your phone/tablet real life?

Published on Dec 5, 2012 by 
Can you live without your phone?

We've all become pretty attached to our cellular devices: it's a GPS, a camera, a game console, a social media portal... and half a million other things, all in our pocket! From concerts to meals to our pets, we process and experience the world through our phone. But as we see in so many mobile phone ads, the representations of these moments (whether its instagrams, foursquare check ins or Facebook shares) seem to be taking over and replacing the experience itself. In this brave new world is the mobile phone a tool, or a filter through which we experience a new reality? 

In case you're not subscribing to the wonderful PBS YouTube Channel yet, I'm sharing the latest video here.

Brain Storming

Published on Oct 22, 2012 by 
Does Brainstorming Work?

This is the question psychologists have been baffled by for nearly half a century and we're still on the path of discovering whether brainstorming is a technique that extracts the best out of people or if it's a method that suppresses creativity.

Journalist and author, Jonah Lehrer, argues that brainstorming produces less original ideas than those people who work by themselves. From Alex Osborn, the father of brainstorming, to Charlen Nemeth, Jonah explains why brainstorming just doesn't work.

Charlan Nemeth et al. study

Thanks to Edna Sackson for the link