R&D

April 3, 2008

Teaching Tools

Filed under: Fun, Software, Teaching — krsrk @ 3:22 pm

Tools to teach kids..

With all the intensity and brilliance he is known for, Alan Kay gives TEDsters a lesson in lessons. Kay has spent years envisioning better techniques for teaching kids. In this talk, after reminding us that “the world is not what it seems,” he shows us how good programming can sharpen our picture. His unique software lets children learn by doing, but also learn by computing and by creating lessons themselves.

You’ve never seen data presented like this. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, Hans Rosling[1][2] debunks myths about the so-called “developing world” using extraordinary animation software developed by his Gapminder Foundation. The Trendalyzer software (recently acquired by Google) turns complex global trends into lively animations, making decades of data pop. Asian countries, as colorful bubbles, float across the grid — toward better national health and wealth. Animated bell curves representing national income distribution squish and flatten. In Rosling’s hands, global trends — life expectancy, child mortality, poverty rates — become clear, intuitive and even playful. In a follow-up to his now-legendary TED2006 presentation, Hans Rosling demonstrates how developing countries are pulling themselves out of poverty. He shows us the next generation of his Trendalyzer software — which analyzes and displays data in amazingly accessible ways, allowing people to see patterns previously hidden behind mountains of stats. (Ten days later, he announced a deal with Google to acquire the software.) He also demos Dollar Street, a program that lets you peer in the windows of typical families worldwide living at different income levels. Be sure to watch straight through to the (literally) jaw-dropping finale.

In a lively show, “mathemagician” Arthur Benjamin races a team of calculators to figure out 3-digit squares in his head, performs a massive mental calculation, and guesses a few birth days. How does he do it? He’ll be happy to tell you.

What if Napster stocked textbooks? Engineering professor Richard Baraniuk talks about his vision for Connexions, an open-source system that lets teachers share digital texts and course materials, modify them and give them to their students — all free, thanks to Creative Commons licensing.

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