Archive for March, 2008

We’re #2! … in Advertising?!

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Ad Age counts ITP as one of the top 5 digital media and marketing schools in the country. What an unexpected accolade for our odd little art school.

Live from the Field Museum … It’s a Spider!

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Me and Tarantula

Today I took a trip down to the Field Museum of Natural History to meet with Drs. Mike Draney, Petra Sierwald and Jim Louderman. We did a videoconference using Adobe Connect with students in Milford, Illinois. The students in Milford did a great job of collecting data on spiders and keeping research journals on the process, so our initial plan was to go visit them. That was before we realized exactly where Milford was. I think technology really saved the day in this case, saving us more than 4 hours of travel there and back, giving the students access to the lab with its spiders and letting us record the conference for other students and teachers to see. The recorded video quality isn’t perfect, but I think it does the job.

A special shoutout to my boys Tim Stack and Kim Cavanaugh, who talked me through the Connect setup. It really was as easy as they said it would be.

Illinois Youth Summit

Friday, March 14th, 2008


Today, I gave a presentation to the Illinois Youth Summit Student Advisory Committee and their teachers in some beautiful offices near the top of the Willis Tower. The Youth Summit is an annual project that encourages high school students to debate three controversial topics and present their ideas to the Illinois Senate in Springfield. It’s a fantastic program by the fantastic people at the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Chicago. The Summit students will be using the Collaboratory to share their ideas on topics, so I showed them how to use it for the great work they are doing!

IDNR Illinois Biodiversity Frog and Toad Study

Friday, March 7th, 2008
Not into spiders?  That’s cool, we’ve also got a Frog and Toad Study!  It’s the Year of the Frog according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, due to the startling fact that 50% of approximately 6,000 species of amphibians are threatened with extinction.  So to make us more aware of the [...]

New and Improved! It’s the IDNR Illinois Biodiversity Spider Study!

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

So I relaunched the IDNR Illinois Biodiversity Spider Study. It’s much less time-intensive for the teacher with 18 billion tests to administer. It’s not as data-heavy as the old one and students don’t have to complete research journal every time they collect data. Students can observe a spider at home (instead of only at school) and your class only needs to post one monthly report each month. We have also added four more species of spiders your students can observe! Sign up your class today and let’s start hunting for spiders!


Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Schmap logo

The other day I got a letter from an editor at Schmap Guides:

I am writing to let you know that one of your photos has

been short-listed for inclusion in the fourth edition of

our Schmap Salt Lake City Guide, to be published later this


Wow, really? I hadn’t even submitted my photos for anything. They must have been blown away by my amazing photography skillz. Could it be the picture of the towering mountains? The pretty botanic garden? Or the Great Salt Lake itself?

No, it turned out to be my photo of the unfortunately named Red Butte Cafe. A photo that took zero artistry on my part. In fact, most of the picture is made up of the cars parked in front of the cafe. I just wanted a record of where I ate. I can’t remember what I did eat, but I remember it was pretty darn good.

In any event, the photo is published. And these Schmaps are pretty cool, too. What’s interesting is how they are using the Flickr users that publish photos under CC licenses, asking their permission and providing a very fair contract to illustrate their maps … er, Schmaps. Models like this can make Fair Use for education a lot less hairy.

OLPC and Time

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008


Several weeks ago, I stopped by the Chicago Google offices for the first OLPC Chicago meetup. After playing a bit with the XO owned by a colleague at Northwestern, who was nice enough to let me hang out with it for a weekend, I wanted to see what directions people were taking it. The crowd was diverse with students, teachers, designers and programmers, and I saw some great presentations from people creating time lapse software and using Ubuntu as the OS on the XO. Some students from the Illinois Math and Science Academy were busy putting together a time-teaching piece for the computer, as the computer doesn’t come with the clock ready to go (and setting up the clock is no small feat, fyi). I love that the students are considering teaching time in a “natural” way (with the sun and the moon) as well as the “regular way” (i.e. clocks). I hope they take it further by demonstrating seasons and moon phases. With the bustle of the modern world, we should try and reinforce time’s transformative attributes, to diminish the impact of its bullying ones (listen to Krista Tippet’s great interview with the late John O’Donohue). If there is anything we should learn from the recent WSJ article on those smart Finnish kids is that a regimented day packed with structured activity and regulated by the minute hand on our watches isn’t really the best thing for our students. Time is something that should connect students, not stress them out. Now, if there was a simple computer program that could teach me that, that’d be awesome.

Spiders and Voting

Monday, March 3rd, 2008
I caught up with a lot of old friends and met some new ones at the annual ICE Conference put on by the Illinois Computing Educators this year at Pheasant Run, in St. Charles, Illinois.  I had two poster sessions (back-to-back, which is why you may have seen me scarfing down a veggie wrap at [...]