Learner-Shaped Technology

April 11, 2007

Brief Furman Tour in Google Earth from Geocoded photos

Filed under: data visualization,general,google earth,mapping,technology — Mike W @ 3:46 pm

Man, Furman campus is beautiful in the spring. I’ve been experimenting with a handheld device (ipaq 6900 series) that EES professor Suresh Muthukrishnan has been using in class. It has built-in GPS, so I went out and snapped a few pictures this morning. It was great to have an excuse to walk around campus in the cool air. The latitude and longitude are geocoded into the picture when the GPS is on, so I wanted to see how easy it would be to create a google earth file (kml or kmz) to show a virtual tour of where I’d been. It looks like Google Earth Pro can rip the geocoding information from the picture and create the file, but I can’t spring for the pro version yet.

Instead I used a program called RoboGeo to create the kml file. It looks like the program is very useful if you don’t have a GPS built into your camera as well. It did a good job creating a path from a series of photos. Check out the tour in Google Earth.


In the ‘Places’ window of Google Earth you have to open the ‘routes’ folder and click ‘path’. You can see that it just connects the dots and shows me swimming or boating out to the bell tower 🙂

The trial version throws an error into the latitude and longitude value, so I had to override those manually. That’s why the images are attached where the object is rather than where I was standing when I took the picture. The full version will geocode from the photographer’s location with no kml editing necessary.

I think you’ll also see why I did poorly in photography class.

March 15, 2007

Remember the Milk (and don’t forget to feed the soul)

Filed under: collaborate,general,technology,time management — Mike W @ 10:32 pm

I’m thrilled with Google Calendar. It has really helped us coordinate schedules here at work, and at home, we no longer have to exchange email lists of events, which we previously had to then manually copy to our respective individual calendars. It’s saving a lot of time. Although Google Calendar doesn’t yet have tasks, there’s a cool web app that does – Remember the Milk.

It allows for prioritization of tasks, reminders, and integrates very nicely with Google Calendar. Once you add the Remember the Milk Calendar, you’ll see the following on your Google Cal which links to your tasks. These can be edited inline via Google Cal.


Among other nice features, if you tag your tasks to represent the nature of the to-do item, a tag cloud can be displayed which takes into account priority and due date. So the bigger the tag appears in the cloud, the more likely it is that the task is on your radar to get done.


I’m beginning to feel more and more that there’s a strong spiritual element to time management. The better I prioritize my work and home tasks, the more attention I seem to give to the right things. I really like Covey’s examples using different size rocks to represent important and not-so-important tasks.

My goal is to make sure I have enough tasks on my list that I can tag as spiritual (time for reading the Bible and other inspirational material, doing something nice for someone just because, or adding issues to prayer). Maybe a shrinking spiritual tag will be a flag to focus on prioritization. Remember the Milk is set up so that tasks are private (unless published), so I’m the only one who can see the tags and the cloud.

It’s worth experimenting with, anyway. If technology can help me be more purposeful with my to do list, then I’m all for it.

It took me a while to get used to the interface (lots of AJAX), but by using keyboard shortcuts (like ‘t’ for new task and ‘d’ for assigning due dates), I was able to quickly add tasks and prioritize them.

January 30, 2007

Learning in Retirement Blog Class

Filed under: collaborate,education,general,technology — Mike W @ 6:46 am

Yesterday I taught a FULIR (Furman University Learning In Retirement) class on blogging as part of Dr. Lipscomb’s What’s New in Technology Series. I’m really enjoying the opportunity to get back in the classroom, and this was a great group of folks – friendly and very curious, especially with regards to how this technology fit into the big picture. The initial discussion was fostered with some iClicker questions about experience with blogs and familiarity with the term ‘Web2.0’. After a quick overview, we jumped into creating our own blogs.

The time I spent on Friday creating WordPress accounts (wordpress.com) for each participant was worth it. We quickly started creating posts, and I think everyone enjoyed swapping out themes.


Sample WordPress Theme

I’d like to see WordPress simplify adding pictures to a post. What if by inserting a photo into a post, it was uploaded behind the scenes, instead of having to upload, send to editor, etc..? We got through it, but the challenges highlighted the counter-intuitive user interface.

I think a decent portion of the class may keep blogging, based on the questions I was getting after class. Several wanted to know more about feedreaders, so they could consolidate the blogs they have been following.

A couple of things to do differently next time:

1. Track down some mice for the laptops. The trackpad was a significant barrier at times.

2. Provide more detailed, step-by-step instructions for adding / editing a post, and especially adding an image.

A couple of things to keep:

1. The clickers. This helped get a quick, anonymous gauge of experience level.

2. Directions on how to get to the admin panel. Many of the themes either make this link hard to find or remove it altogether, so having this in the handout really helped.

I really enjoyed this and might propose some classes for the spring!

One person commented as they left that they would explore this more the next time they couldn’t sleep. My blog started one morning when I was tossing and turning. I wonder how many blogs have started during a bout of insomnia??

January 22, 2007

Upstate Schools Consortium Presentation and Clickers

Filed under: clickers,collaborate,education,general,technology — Mike W @ 10:28 am

On Friday I presented at a meeting of the Upstate Schools Consortium which met at Furman University. I got to meet with a great group of talented and enthusiastic K-12 educators from across the upstate. It was a lot of fun!


I talked about our recent and early investigation into clicker technology. We’re piloting these in a handful of classrooms to determine if they’re a good fit and developing best practices. I’ve reviewed a good bit of the research, and it seems like clickers are most effective when they are used to support a constructivist learning environment which makes good sense. A great bibliography of the research is available from Vanderbilt University. If the technology is only going to be used to deliver fairly low-level content questions and not going to be used to modify instruction or engage the student, then I’m guessing we’ll find it’s not worth the investment. I’ve used them in several sessions and feel my initial skepticism waning.

Here’s a link to the question report that was generated from our discussion. Just click on the session summary to see the responses. Each session is actually split in two, so session 1 and 2 are the interaction with the first group and so on. For some reason, the second half of the session with the last group wasn’t recorded.

I split the sessions because there seems to be a bug in iClicker (at least on my machine) where if you add to an existing session, rather than starting a new one, the screen capture breaks.

* The question about Saddam Hussein was to start a very mini discussion about potential advantages of the anonymity that the clickers provide. I wish we had more time to discuss.

* The question about the gorilla required some intro explanation not on the slide. I described the Harvard study in which folks were asked to count the number of basketball passes between two individuals. During the video a woman with an umbrella or a person in a gorilla suit walks through the middle of the scene. 54% of participants reported never seeing the gorilla, so I asked if this intense focus would be a plus or minus in a life or death survival situation. In sessions where there was time, they discussed and recast their votes (Mazur-type of model with clickers).

* The Google Earth Question revolved around the spread of avian flu and asked participants to predict where the early outbreaks occurred (answer C: Southern Asia). The circled regions aren’t visible in the iClicker report, but were visible to participants.

* Oh yeah, the answer to the state insect question is A (Carolina Mantid). This was pretty obscure, but most folks knew it! I sure didn’t. I was hoping to demonstrate that simple content questions weren’t as fun or interactive as the gorilla / discussion type, but this generated a good bit of buzz as well (pun intended ;-)).

I’ll be updating the blog with our iClicker pilot experience. Here’s a link to the session handout. Please comment with your clicker experiences and thoughts in the comments here. We didn’t have enough time to talk, so it would be fun to continue the discussion here.

January 11, 2007

Google Earth and Running

Filed under: data visualization,general,google earth,mapping,running,technology — Mike W @ 10:04 am

mapmyrun.com is a really cool website for runners. It allows you to map your run using Google Maps / Google Pedometer technology, determine distance , share your route with others, and save the route with your profile. You can also put in your time, height, weight, etc.., and it will calculate your pace and calories burned.

If you’re running with a GPS unit, you can upload the data to mapmyrun, and it will automagically map your route. I don’t run with a GPS, so I haven’t tested it yet, but that would save some time.

Another nice feature is that the site will automatically create a kmz file, so if you have Google Earth and open this file, your route is mapped in Google Earth. Here’s my route from Furman to the North Greenville YMCA in mapmyrun and the kmz file for Google Earth.

And to think, I used to get in my car and use the odometer to gauge a route. How early 2000! 😉 Now if they could only add a feature that would map the location of ankle biting little dogs, and it would be perfect!

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress