How Have I Missed This?

First of all, I want to say out loud how much I enjoyed the EdTech conference in Honolulu, and not so much for the obvious reasons.  Much more because of the genuine and constant kindness that was shared by everyone.  The hospitality that I received there, and everywhere I went in Honolulu warmed my soul. 

During the conference, I did three installments of a session called Personal Learning Networks.  One of the interesting things about this session is that you can take just about any event at a conference and kick off your presentation by saying, “That was part of your personal learning network.”  So why talk about a personal learning network when its about EVERYTHING?  The reason is that your PLN is something that you have to cultivate.  So it’s something that you have to think about as a manageable part of your environment.

I added a section this week called Mining the Conversation.  This included tools for drilling into the participatory web and drawing out information and meaning from people’s information behaviors that may be, but are not necessarily associated with you.  On example is Blogpulse’s (http://blogpulse.com/) ability to generate trend charts illustrating the popularity of terms among bloggers over a period of time.  Another is the ability to generate tag clouds (http://tagcrowd.com/) from URLs, files, and pasted text.

I found another one this morning while looking through one of my aggregators for references to the “E” word and accessed a video that was put together, evidently, by tony Hirst of OUseful Info.  I also traced through a wiki Edupunk Manifesto and a number of other DIY videos expressing Edupunk principles, all laid over ’80s punk music.  Sorry, I just can’t listen to much of that.  I still associate punk with a hood outside a pool hall.

Obama Trend
Searches for obama since the middle of 2003 (click to enlarge)
At OUseful, Hirsh referenced something called Google Trend.  Why hadn’t I heard of this before?  Or if I had, why didn’t I remembered it?  It works like this:

  1. You go to google.com/trends and type in a keyword, such as edupunk.
  2. You get a message back saying that your term does not have enough search volume to show graphs (hmmm), so you try another one, obama
  3. We get a line graph illustrating the frequency of Google searches for obama since the middle of 2003.  The sizable blip in early 2004 was probably his speech at the Democratic Convention. 
  4. It also delivers a ranked list of countries from which the search has come (US, Canada, Australia, UK, Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain)
  5. ..delivers a ranked list of cities (Reston VA, Washington, Richardson TX, Chicago, Austin, New York, Raleigh, Portland OR, Philadelphia, and Pleasanton CA — some of these raise questions)
  6. ..deliveres a ranked list of languages (English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese)
All three candidates
Searches fro all three candidates since the middle of 2003 (click to enlarge)
When we add in clinton and mccain, seperated by commas, it delivers a superimposed lines.  We can also narrow the chart down to specific years, specific months of the last year, and the las 12 months or 30 days.  We can also narrow down to specific cities, countries, or languages.

All Three Candidates - searches from China
Searches for all three candidates in 2008 coming from China (click to enlarge)
The tool also provides drop down menus listing all countries and subregions, so that we can see a trend chart for the three candidates based on searches from China, and labels pointing to specific news stories that provoked the search peaks.

I think that learning about history, science, health, geography, reading, mathematics… they’re all more important today than ever before.  But in a time of rapid change, when communication and cooperation have also become more important than ever before, it becomes critical that we also learn about ourselves, as a society.  It means being able to use a mirror, and this is one of the best mirrors I’ve seen.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.