A “Vision” of Knowledge

File this post under: “Intriguing ourselves to Death”

WikipediaVisionCheck the cool new mashup of Google Maps, Wikipedia and László Kozma’s programming that he calls WikipediaVision. It’s a great illustration of the changing nature of “knowledge.” WikipediaVision provides relatively realtime markers for who just added content to Wikipedia from where and on what topic. Like the search voyeur sites, it’s easy to get caught in the experience. I paused a little while to capture what I thought was an interesting juxtaposition. Here we have someone from Florida adding content to the entry on one of the grand old repositories of knowledge.

Like the last post, I suspect that’s what’s most needed for educational change to not descend into oxymoronic cliche is to re-envision school as a place that fosters the joy of learning that WikpediaVision and most Web 2 apps amply illustrate is alive and well.

Also take a look at flickrvision, the site that inspired Kozma’s WikipediaVision.

Getting Serious about Play

It seems Scotland public schools are in for an overhaul according to a recent BBC News article, School lessons to focus on play.

Schools will still use traditional methods when necessary to teach pupils to read, write and count. But the Scottish Executive also wants teachers to use play-based techniques.

Isn’t this a refreshing change?  I wonder how many students in the US will have to fall on the sword of external motivation and come up swinging or apathetic before the balance shifts toward valuing children over scores?  I continue to  be impressed and influenced by the work of Edward Deci and  Richard Ryan on intrinsic motivation.  Read their paper Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being  (downloadable from their Web site).  While there, view what should be mandatory reading for every politician making educational legislation: The High-Stakes Testing Controversy: “Higher Standards” Can Prompt Poorer Education.

‘US full of Internet addicts’

Okay, so I can say “I told you so…” An article recently making the rounds highlights research at Stanford University that “indicated more than one in eight US residents showed at least one sign of ‘problematic Internet use.'” And I suppose it’s also no surprise that “the typical Internet addict is a single, college-educated, white male in his 30s, who spends approximately 30 hours a week on non-essential computer use.” If these guys are vulnerable, how do we suppose tweenies and teenagers will handle the New WWW (Whatever, Whenever, Wherever) as it comes to their personal device? Informants already say that iPods loaded with pornographic videos are common at schools. This said, I’m one of the biggest advocates for integrating iPods into learning (Stanford on iTunes, anyone?). Maybe we need are Real, Rich and Relevant discussions with kids about about choosing what they want to do with their lives?

Daily Snapshots

A daily sampling of unique images from The Sydney Morning Herald‘s award-winning photographers. These are not “what’s in the news” kinds of photos, but more artistic ones that do involve current happenings, but more in the lifestyle line than hard news. Consider using hypothetical questions with students: if you were from another world and saw only these sample images of earthlings, what would you think about them?

Wikipedia vs. Britannica

WikipediaIn its article Internet encyclopaedias go head to head, Nature magazine’s online version compared 50 entries from the websites of Wikipedia and the Encyclopaedia Britannica. They chose subjects that represented a broad range of scientific disciplines. All entries were chosen to be approximately the same length in both encyclopaedias. Each pair of entries was sent to an expert for peer review. The reviewers, who were not told which article was which, were asked to look for three types of inaccuracy: factual errors, critical omissions and misleading statements.

Of eight “serious errors�? the reviewers found – including misinterpretations of important concepts – four came from each source, the journal reported.

A list of the peer-reviewed encyclopedia entries reveals 162 and 123 flaws in Wikipedia and Britannica, respectively.

Who goes to Wikipedia for “the right answer�? anyway? Aren’t we interested in seeing what the current thinking is on a subject, not the “Truth?�?