April 2008 Archives

Banning laptops in the classroom

In March 2008, the Dean Saul Levmore at the University of Chicago Law School announced internet access would be blocked in campus classrooms. According to Inside Higher Ed, Levmore wrote the following in an email to students:

"You know better than I that for many students class has come to consist of some listening but also plenty of e-mailing, shopping, news browsing, and gossip-site visiting. Many students say that the visual images on classmates' screens are diverting, and they too eventually go off track and check e-mail, sometimes to return to the class discussion and sometimes barely so. Our faculty (and I, as well as many of your classmates with whom I have spoken) believe strongly that we need to do everything we can to make Chicago's classroom experiences all they can be.�?

I certainly understand the impulse to ban internet access in the classroom; I have observed classes with students surfing all manner of sites. It is distracting to the students nearby. It limits the depth of discussions you can have in class if students are distracted. Even in a large lecture class, I assume it is also frustrating to the professor. Most of us can tell when our audience is not listening.

Using Google Earth to organize and understand Flickr photos

USC's Interactive Media Division and the Institute for Creative Technologies have created Viewfinder, a program they describe as allowing users to "Flickrize�? Google Earth. As described on the website, the project aims to "craft an experience that is as visceral as Google Earth and as accessible as Flickr by integrating photos into corresponding 3D models (such as Google Earth) so that they appear as perfectly aligned overlays.�?

You can view a movie of Viewfinder to see what it can do.

Viewfinder is reminiscent of Microsoft Live Labs' Photosynth. But Photosynth relies on personal collections of photos, from what I can tell.

Using Flickr for source photos in Viewfinder adds a lot of power to the Viewfinder application. Flickr, as a collection, represents a huge amount of data and understanding of our (collective) surroundings. Flickr is fascinating now, and will be much more so in another 10 years, another 30 years. Adding Google Earth as a layer behind the Flickr collection extends our capacity to interact with and understand photos in Flickr.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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