Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pen Technologies and the Educause Learning Initiative Annual Conference

This post is a little on the late side and I am trying to play catch-up. I attended the Educause Learning Initiative annual meeting last week in Orlando, Florida, which coincided with the first week of classes at Vassar. I'm just a bit behind. The ELI conference, for those who do not know about it, is a showcase for teaching and learning innovations in higher education. Instructional Technologists, such as myself, flock to this meeting.

I wanted to mention a couple of topics of interest that relate to the usual topics found in this blog. Tablet PCs. Mobility. SmartBoards. And Promethean Pen-enabled White boards. There were loads of talks and presentations on the use of pen-enabled technologies in teaching. On a related topic, there was a lot of discussion on mobile technologies, as well. We use our tablets for their mobility and processing power, but the mobile devices discussed at ELI were more on the line of hand-held PDAs devices and clickers.

The photo above, shows me co-presenting with the Skyping-in Lucy Johnson, Anthropology professor. As I said, classes just started and Prof. Johnson needed to be in Poughkeepsie to teach, but she was a sport and video-conferenced in for our paper on "Technology in the Field: Tablet PCs in Higher Education." Thank you Jim Vanides of HP for the invitation to present our work and to ISTE for funding my travel. Below you can see me, my colleague Cristian Opazo in Orlando, and Prof. Johnson and my colleague Ginny Jones in Poughkeepsie. Great fun.

Another pen-based presentation was called "Active Learning in Field-Based Classes Using Tablet PCs for Collaborative Data Collection and Mapping" given by me, Lucy Johnson and Bob Fritz, from the Biology department. Many people were surprised, I think, at the ease with which one can get up and running with tablets PCs in field-based classes. The software is what one uses on a desktop computer. The major expense are the tablets themselves, of course, but the prices keep coming down.

Here is a PDF version of our poster and below is a primitive view of the poster as it looked in the hall.

Not like some of these conferences you go to and there is a whole section dedicated to vendors, ELI is much more low-key. There were very few vendors and those that were at ELI, were either presenting as a poster or sponsoring and providing the technology needed for the presentations. I met a vendor selling an alternative to SmartBoards. Promethean ActivePanels and Promethean Interactive WhiteBoards sold by Logical Choice looks very promising.

Other talks/presentations of note: "Innovation in Instruction Using Tablet PCs: A Hands-On Session Integrating Tablet PCs in Education" by Dave Berque from DePauw University.

"Using Tablet PCs as Interactive Web-Based Instruction Tools to Enhance Understanding in Freshman Calculus" presented by Marilyn Reba and Barbara Weaver, from Clemson University.

"Mobile Computing and Learning" by Geri Gay from Cornell University.

Finally, the Faculty Innovation Showcase stations (shown in the first picture above) were sponsored by HP, Smart Technologies, Tidebreak, with all the furniture and technology design provided by Herman Miller. All the laptops that I saw where Windows, provided by HP, and were running Windows XP.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mapping Washington DC - One Bar at a Time

In case you are heading to Washington D.C. next week for the Inauguration, and in case you feel like celebrating with a little adult beverage, here's a map of all the DC bars that will be open all day and night. Whew, that's a lot of partying! Please eat some food, too.

Thanks, Dave Lester.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Size of the African Continent

This is an old map and even older news! But a colleague just showed the above map to me and I found it eye-opening, with North America, the lower 48 states of the USA, China, India and other landmasses not filling up the area that is the African landmass. Of course, this is from Strangemaps.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Video Showing Tablet PC Used with GPS

I put up another video on our YouTube channel. This one shows the use of a tablet PC with a GPS receiver plugged into the USB port and how to collect point data in ArcGIS software.

Here's the same video, but a little less grainy, in our Vimeo site.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Visualization Lab at the New York Times

If this blog had a tag cloud, the third on the list would be the New York Times. Mention of the Times tends to find its way into this space because I like to read it and they like to display maps from time to time. Now the Times has put data visualization into our hands with a new on-line tool called the Visualization Lab. From the site:

With Visualization Lab, users will be able to visualize and comment on information and data sets presented by Times editors, share those visualizations with others and create topic hubs where people can discuss specific subjects.

So far the mapping options are lacking, but there are many other ways to visualize data and below is just one example. This is a visualization from Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Click on Visualize and then choose from a variety of ways to analyze text. Here is the tag cloud...notice the predominance of the word Promise.
Thanks, elearnspace.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Mapping the Current Conflict in the Gaza Strip

Sometimes maps can clarify a situation much more than the narrative attempting to explain it. The maps created by UNOSAT illustrating the current Israeli/Hamas conflict in Gaza are an example. Read about it here in a Harvard Middle East blog and here in Ogle Earth. Stephan even went so far as to digitize the PDF of the UNOSAT map and georectify it in Google Earth. Well done! Here is his KML of the above map. Check back to the UNOSAT site for updated maps. The current maps goes to Dec 31, 2008.

Thanks, Ogle Earth.