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found poetry 1

“intercepting sycalls and notifying an exterior sandbox host” Codius

Playing with explorable explanations

I threw together this little project over the weekend to practice my javascript skills and explore Bret Victor’s Tangle, a javascript library for creating explorable explanations. I still have lots more to learn, but Tangle is really easy to get started with and I’d love to explore the possibilities of explorable explanations in more depth. When I get a chance, I’ll write up a step-by-step guide explaining how I built this.

Victor develops the ideas behind Tangle in his essay Explorable Explanations and provides his own extensive example of the library in use with Ten Brighter Ideas.

This concept has real potential. Being able to play with the different data points reinforces your understanding of the subject. In Bret Victor’s aforementioned essay, he discusses how this approach could work well with explanations of policy alternatives. And in an organizational context, you could present business cases or proposals as explorable documents so decision makers could really understand the data underlying their decisions.

Oscillating Yarn

This processing sketch is based on Example 3.7 in Daniel Shiffman’s excellent book, Nature of Code, but I removed the line connecting each ellipse to the centre, added some colour and trails and used my own numbers for velocity and amplitude rather than generating them randomly. The patterns created by the oscillators are sized in relation to one another using the golden ratio.

DNLE Assignment #4: Bloom's Taxonomy

This is part of a series of posts I'm doing related to Designing a New Learning Environment, an online course I'm taking through Stanford University's Venture Lab. You can find all the posts in this series here. This assignment was to find an educational technology that addresses each of the six levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.

The following examples are listed from lower order thinking skills to higher order thinking skills: remember, understand, apply, analyse, evaluate and create.


Tool: Flashcards*


This application can help students memorize, identify, recognize or name items from the curriculum.


Tool: Diigo

Bookmarking a site with the Diigo browser extension

Students can link to pages and add tags to the linked page, which (depending on tag choices) can demonstrate interpreting, summarizing, classifying, exemplifying, inferring and comparing.


Tool: Pinterest


Students can use Pinterest to share and write about examples that illustrate elements of the curriculum.


Tool: Flickr slideshow editor

Flickr slideshow editor

Students can upload images on flickr and organize them into a slideshow to compare, contrast and link various ideas.


Tools: Tumblr, Wordpress, Blogger

Blog commenting on any blogging system

Students can comment on and/ or critique the ideas expressed by other students on their learning blogs. They can also write their own blog post to extend the debate.


Tool: iMovie video editor


Students can plan, produce and distribute a video that explores curriculum in more depth.

DNLE Assignment 1: Compare three learning environments

This is part of a series of posts I'll be doing related to Designing a New Learning Environment, an online course I'm taking through Stanford University's Venture Lab. You can find all the posts in this series here.

1. Codeacadamey

Codeacademy is an online learning environment for learning to code in various programming languages. I completed their core set of javascript courses in a few weeks. There is a set of courses for a given programming language with each course concentrating on a specific aspect of the language (e.g., “Introduction to Functions”). Each of the short courses is divided into single page sections. The left side of the page provides textual explanation followed by some exercises while the rest of the screen is occupied by an code editor. Students use the editor to write and evaluate the code to complete the exercises. The system gives each user badges for various learning achievements.

codeacademy screenshot
An page from Codeacademy's jQuery tutorial.



2. ds106

Inspired by an edupunk philosphy, Digital Storytelling, also known as ds106, is the online hub of a network of learners. ds106 is connected to a program offered at the University of Mary Washington, but allows Open Paticipants, online students, to join the program at any point during the term and participate as much as they want. Each student is expected to build an online identity through his/ her own blog and various social media sharing apps such as Flickr or Twitter. As such, there is no online course software. Instead, the ds106 web page aggregates the work of the students, the lectures and the assignments.

The ds106 home page
The ds106 home page



3. Corporate e-learning courses based on Adobe Captivate

I have taken several of these corporate e-learning courses as a student and worked with vendors to produce two other courses. Adobe Captivate allows developers to use text and other media to explain concepts and then test users through various types of exercises.