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Animating Still Life

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs site:  Animating Still Life.  I've re-posted it below. Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers
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I hope you remember reading a post of mine which was published on this site at the end of July this year titled Transforming the meaning of evidence and truth. If not, go have a look, and then watch this video, and read on below.
“What use is there for this technology, you may be asking? Well, with Facebook’s involvement, it is quite possible that users will be able to animate their profile picture and cause it to react to stimuli on the social network at some point in the future.” writes PetaPixel, which is where I learned about this tech.
On their project page, the development team describes their project in their Abstract:
“We present a technique to automatically animate a still portrait, making it possible for the subject in the photo to come to life and express various emotions. We use a driving video (of a different subject) and develop means to transfer the expressiveness of the subject in the driving video to the target portrait. In contrast to previous work that requires an input video of the target face to reenact a facial performance, our technique uses only a single target image. We animate the target image through 2D warps that imitate the facial transformations in the driving video. As warps alone do not carry the full expressiveness of the face, we add fine-scale dynamic details which are commonly associated with facial expressions such as creases and wrinkles. Furthermore, we hallucinate regions that are hidden in the input target face, most notably in the inner mouth. Our technique gives rise to reactive profiles, where people in still images can automatically interact with their viewers. We demonstrate our technique operating on numerous still portraits from the internet.”
(You can download the project paper at this link on the project page.)
Well….let’s say you have pictures of your friends, or students, or teachers, or family, or government….and you have access to this technology, and you also have access to a machine-driven-communication tool, such as the ones described in this post on Medium.com: “Five years from now you won’t have any idea whether you’re interacting with a human online or not. In the future, most online speech, digital engagement, and content will be machines talking to machines…This machine communication will be nearly indistinguishable from human communication. The machines will be trying to persuade, sell, deceive, intimidate, manipulate, and cajole you into whatever response they’re programmed to elicit. They will be unbelievably effective.”
Do you know about Interactive Dynamic Video?
Read about it at this web page http://www.interactivedynamicvideo.com/, and watch the other videos there. “One of the most important ways that we experience our environment is by manipulating it: we push, pull, poke, and prod to test hypotheses about our surroundings. By observing how objects respond to forces that we control, we learn about their dynamics. Unfortunately, regular video does not afford this type of manipulation – it limits us to observing what was recorded. The goal of our work is to record objects in a way that captures not only their appearance, but their physical behavior as well.”
Imagine the possibilities in the classroom! Class discussions without any input from the class!  Oral exams without examiner or students! Or, perhaps, ideas  more useful for teaching and learning like those described below.
The Virtual Holocaust Survivor. The video below shows a hologram, not the technology described above, but the effect on the viewer is somewhat the same – this is an interview with a man who is not there. (You can see more of Pinchas Gutter here and here.)
Highlands Ranch students use virtual dialogue with WWI kaiser to spark interest in history describes a history class which has built an AI Kaiser Wilhelm:  “World history students at STEM School Academy in Douglas County built a historical figure head of Kaiser Wilhelm compete with artificial intelligence that can speak through Google…what (the head) can do is answer students’ questions, debate and even reason with them because its AI is stocked with deep historical background.
“The students researched both primary and secondary sources for information about the causes of WWI and its leaders, using the College Board’s AP World History Curriculum: Stearns’ “World Civilizations: The Global Experience.”
“They also went to reliable websites such as the British Library’s World War I site, BBC news’ “World War One: 10 Interpretations of Who Started WWI,” the World War I Document Archive, and the Library of Congress records on the Great War, Cegielski said.
“The AI, in this case Kaiser Wilhelm, can respond either in frustration, anger or be perfectly agreeable when talking about his role in history. It all depends on the question.”  Read the whole article at this link, and  watch this video from KUSA-TV in Denver to learn more about the why and how of this project.

Written by cats and a hamster

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs site:  Written by cats and a hamster I've re-posted it below. Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers
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F.D.C. Willard's pawprint
It's Extended Essay time in the Northern Hemisphere (perhaps it's always Extended Essay time everywhere), and I'm sure that all students and supervisors are scrutinizing resources very carefully. How careful do you have to be? I thought I'd share these news stories...

In 1975, The American physicist and mathematician Jack H. Hetherington, at Michigan State University, wanted to publish some of his research results in the field of low–temperature physics in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters

A colleague, who was proofreading it, pointed out that he had used the first person plural, the "royal we",  in his text, and that the journal would therefore reject this submission by only one author. Rather than take the time to retype the article using the first person singular, or to bring in a co-author, Hetherington decided to invent one.  The paper in question ,  Two-, Three-, and Four-Atom Exchange Effects in bcc 3He, was an in-depth exploration of atomic behaviour at different temperatures.  

Because typewriters lack the fantastic ability to "find and replace" that we use so often in our word processing software today,  retyping the article would have caused Hetherington a major delay. Much quicker to invent the second author, F.D.C. Willard. Hetherington's Siamese cat was named Chester. Too short a name for a scientific paper; he became  F.D.C. Willard. The “F.D.C.” stood for “Felix Domesticus, Chester.” Willard had been the name of Chester’s father.   Who would know?

How do we know?  In 1982, in  More Random Walks in Science,  Hetherington wrote about his decision: "...Why would I do such an irreverent thing? … If it eventually proved to be correct, people would remember the paper more if the anomalous authorship were known. In any case I went ahead and did it and have generally not been sorry.”   (In 1975 the Chairman of the Physics department invited Willard to become a member of the department.) (Jack Hetherington is currently Professor Emeritus at USM.)
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This is NOT a picture of Bruce Le Catt[
In July this year we read that the Australasian Journal of Philosophy issued an Erratum notice on its web page: Le Catt Bruce 1982. Censored Vision, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 60/2: 158-162.  http://doi.org/10.1080/00048408212340581  The Australasian Association of Philosophy would like to clarify that ‘Bruce Le Catt’, was a pseudonym used by the author David Lewis, to discuss some work published under his own name.
The website Retraction Watch filled in the details. "In 1982, Bruce Le Catt wrote a response to a paper in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy critiquing an earlier article about prosthetic vision.  But Le Catt was no ordinary author. No, he was a cat, the beloved pet of David Lewis, a world-class philosopher who just happened to be the author of the article about which Bruce Le Catt was commenting."

You can read Le Catt's paper at this link. It is thought that Lewis's friends were aware of his using his cat's name as that of the author.  The correction was requested by Michael Dougherty a philosopher at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, who is writing a book about research integrity. "..Not all philosophers are aware of the identity between Lewis and Le Catt, and it is conceivable that many younger members of the profession could read the 1982 article without knowing that Lewis is providing a critique of his own work...." The paper by Bruce Le Catt has been cited four times since its publication; you can read one at this link on Google Books.
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This is NOT a photo of H.A.M.S. ter Tisha
Academia Obscura, writing about animals authoring papers, tells us about ‘Detection of earth rotation with a diamagnetically levitating gyroscope‘. "All looks quite normal, until you see that the second author is H.A.M.S. ter Tisha. i.e. a hamster named Tisha. Author One, Dr. Andrei Geim, is the only academic to  individually win both an Ig Nobel Prize and a real Nobel Prize, and Author Two is his pet hamster. No explanation has been advanced for this, but Dr. Geim, responsible for the aforementioned levitating frogs, is clearly quite a character."  

Dr. Geim won the Nobel Prize in 2010 for "groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene" and the IgNobel Prize in 2000 for "using magnets to levitate a frog." (You can read the paper at this link) ("The hamster contributed to the levitation experiment most directly and later applied for a PhD at the Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands." link)

So, are you supposed to question all the authors of all your resources?  Hardly.  But you might read their names very carefully. How is a student (or a teacher, for that matter) supposed to "Locate, organize, analyse, evaluate, synthesize and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media [including digital social media and online networks]" (link) when some of the research has been authored by cats and hamsters?

Image sources: paw prints from Wikipedia; cat and hamster photos in the public domain.

Searching for the Truth

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs site: Searching for the Truth.  I've re-posted it below. Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers
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Continuing my thoughts and writing about fake news, fake web pages, teaching search skills, and ultimately, trying to find the Truth of a matter, this post brings together for your consideration two web articles which are not new, but which work well together.


The first is Why Students Can't Google their Way to the Truth, by Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew, published 1 November 2016.  
laptop user
Photo in the Public Domain, CC0 Creative Commons
The authors describe their research at Stamford University: "Over the past 18 months, we administered assessments that tap young people's ability to judge online information. We analyzed over 7,804 responses from students in middle school through college. At every level, we were taken aback by students' lack of preparation: middle school students unable to tell the difference between an advertisement and a news story; high school students taking at face value a cooked-up chart from the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee; college students credulously accepting a .org top-level domain name as if it were a Good Housekeeping seal."

Students were asked to determine the trustworthiness of material on two organizations' websites, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Pediatricians. 25 undergraduates at Stanford were asked to spend up to 10 minutes examining content on both sites.  "More than half concluded that the article from the American College of Pediatricians, an organization that ties homosexuality to pedophilia and which the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled a hate group, was "more reliable." Even students who preferred the entry from the American Academy of Pediatrics never uncovered the differences between the two groups. Instead, they saw the two organizations as equivalent and focused their evaluations on surface features of the websites."

When Wineberg and McGrew gave their task to professional fact-checkers, it became clear that these professionals used three strategies that are often unknown to, or not used by average readers:
  1. Landing on an unfamiliar site, the first thing checkers did was to leave it. Fact-checkers use the vast resources of the Internet to determine where information is coming from BEFORE they read it.
  2. Fact-checkers know it's not about "About." They don't evaluate a site based solely on the description it provides about itself.
  3. Fact-checkers look past the order of search results. Google does not sort pages by their reliability. (GoogleSearch presents results in an order it judges to be most relevant. (see How Google Search Works)
Read the full article on Education Week, and read more about Wineberg and McGrew's research at this page from Stamford. An executive summary of the report (Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning) is available here.

In an article on Open Culture, Josh Jones posted Carl Sagan Presents His “Baloney Detection Kit”: 8 Tools for Skeptical Thinking on 11 April 2016. "Sagan... did not hesitate to defend reason against “society’s most shameless untruths and outrageous propaganda." These undertakings best come together in Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World, a book in which he very patiently explains how and why to think scientifically, against the very human compulsion to do anything but." (The full text is available on the Internet Archive. An 4-hour reading of Sagan's book can be heard here. )

In The Fine Art of Baloney Detection, Chapter 12 of the book (p. 189 of the Internet Archive text), Sagan describes his tools for skeptical thinking: "...What skeptical thinking boils down to is the means to construct, and to understand, a reasoned argument and—especially important—to recognize a fallacious or fraudulent argument." The video embedded below gives a quick overview of the tools; Read them all in  Sagan’s full chapter, where he writes:


Carl Sagan with a model of the Viking lander.
Before you read this caption, did the image make you think that
Sagan had been on Mars with the lander?

(Photo in the Public Domain)
 (https://mars.nasa.gov/programmissions /missions/past/viking/)
"...A deception arises, sometimes innocently but collaboratively, sometimes with cynical premeditation. Usually the victim is caught up in a powerful emotion—wonder, fear, greed, grief. Credulous acceptance of baloney can cost you money; that’s what P. T. Barnum meant when he said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” But it can be much more dangerous than that, and when governments and societies lose the capacity for critical thinking, the results can be catastrophic—however sympathetic we may be to those who have bought the baloney."

"In addition to teaching us what to do when evaluating a claim to knowledge, any good baloney detection kit must also teach us what not to do. It helps us recognize the most common and perilous fallacies of logic and rhetoric. Many good examples can be found in religion and politics, because their practitioners are so often obliged to justify two contradictory propositions...Knowing the existence of such logical and rhetorical fallacies rounds out our toolkit. Like all tools, the baloney detection kit can be misused, applied out of context, or even employed as a rote alternative to thinking. But applied judiciously, it can make all the difference in the world—not least in evaluating our own arguments before we present them to others. "

The Rational Wiki has a page about The Fine Art of Baloney Detection which includes a table of  the fallacies listed by Sagan, giving with examples and definitions.  If one were teaching search strategies, or how to sort the "fake" from the "real", or scientific methods, or reading for content, etc., this might be a very useful addition to the class library.

Transforming the meaning of evidence and truth

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs site: Transforming the meaning of evidence and truth.  I've re-posted it below. Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers
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This morning I read a post at Engadget titled Researchers make a surprisingly smooth artificial video of Obama "Their program grafts audio-synced mouths onto existing videos." The post describes the process used by the University of Washington researchers:
"The researchers used 14 hours of Obama's weekly address videos to train a neural network. Once trained, their system was then able to take an audio clip from the former president, create mouth shapes that synced with the audio and then synthesize a realistic looking mouth that matched Obama's. The mouth synced to the audio was then superimposed and blended onto a video of Obama that was different from the audio source. To make it look more natural, the system corrected for head placement and movement, timing and details like how the jaw looked. The whole process is automated save for one manual step that requires a person to select two frames in the video where the subject's upper and lower teeth are front-facing and highly visible. Those images are then used by the system to make the resulting video's teeth look more realistic."
Read the post, and watch the video below to see the result.

"Published on Jul 11, 2017. A new tool developed by computer vision researchers at the University of Washington Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering creates realistic video from audio files alone. In this example, the team created realistic videos of Obama speaking in the White House, using the audio file from a television talk show and during an interview decades ago."
The news story by Jennifer Langston is on the University of Washington's web site, Lip-syncing Obama: New tools turn audio clips into realistic video, and the details of the project are at this link.

A story by Kurt Schlosser at GeekWireUW’s lip-syncing Obama demonstrates new technique to turn audio clips into realistic video goes into a bit more scientific detail about the process. Schlosser writes that "By turning audio clips into realistic-looking lip-synced video, the implication is that a moving face could be applied to historic audio recordings or be used to improve video conferencing."

At Gizmodo, Adam Clark Estes goes straight to the heart of this not-fake news: Insanely Accurate Lip Synching Tech Could Turn Fake News Videos Into a Real Problem. "... the capacity to use easy-to-access technology to create fake images and video is growing by the day. Just last week, security researcher Greg Allen published a cautionary tale of sorts in Wired: “AI Will Make Forging Anything Entirely Too Easy.”  Estes writes, "Of course, there are other teams working on similar problems around the world. And you know what? They’re all getting really good at creating incredibly realistic fake videos, even with low-budget equipment. Last year, for instance, one Stanford team created a method of facial reenactment that could be performed with any cheap consumer webcam. It’s incredibly creepy...Allen sums up the bad news pretty well when he says this technology will “transform the meaning of evidence and truth.” If you thought fake-looking news websites were a problem, just imagine what a completely fake police bodycam video could do."
(Watch the video below, and read the notes on its YouTube page.)

We've written on this blog before about fake and real news and images. (See Can that be real? and Alternative Facts). The news media is full of claims, counter-claims about the "true facts" in almost every area of our lives.  There are TV shows to help you sort out fake from real viral videos, among them Britain's Channel 4's Real, Fake or Unkown: "Of all the intriguing, shocking and extreme videos on the web, how do we know which are real? Real, Fake or Unknown works out how the web's most-watched clips were made."

My guess is that many of you reading this post have already made videos just like the Obama one being discussed above.  Do you have a smartphone?  a pet? a child? a friend?

"You can make this photo do and say whatever you want. The pranking possibilities are endless." with Crazytalk

"Add a photo and speak into microphone, you'll get a lively talking pet in video." with My Pet Can Talk

"My Talking Pet brings photos of your favorite pet to life! Use it for any animal... or maybe someone you know?" with My Talking Pet









Why is this technology important to the IB community? Perhaps a quick reference to the novel "1984" and The Ministry of Truth.
"...Orwell saw, to his credit, that the act of falsifying reality is only secondarily a way of changing perceptions. It is, above all, a way of asserting power." The New Yorker
and to TOK.
"Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past," repeated Winston obediently. "Who controls the present controls the past," said O'Brien, nodding his head with slow approval. "Is it your opinion, Winston, that the past has real existence?" (1984. Book 3, chapter 2.pp. 39-40) "

We'll just check with Mr. Obama about when he said some of the words quoted in the video above. Wasn't it in 1990?

140 Characters in the IB Classroom

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs site: 140 Characters in the IB Classroom I've re-posted it below. Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers
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"Twitter" flickr photo by Uncalno https://flickr.com/photos/uncalno/8537569665
shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The word "Twitter" (as in a certain social media platform) has been turning up more and more in the news recently.  Twitter itself isn't new (if you're interested, you can read the history of Twitter in this post on lifewire), and it isn't new in education.  But as it is being talked about right now, I thought it might be a good time to take a closer look.

First, here are three posts and a video about Twitter basics: How to Use Twitter: Critical Tips for New Users from Wired.com  WikiHow to Use Twitter and from Twitter itself, Getting Started with Twitter.



As with all online sites and media, once you have a Twitter account, to protect yourself you MUST carefully look at your settings and privacy choices.  Read about these at the  online In the Twitter Support pages:
You can also find this information from your own Settings and Privacy page for your Twitter account. You should read through all this, and make your choices about what you want to see, and do not want to see, who can reach you through Twitter, etc. Access all this by clicking on the little circle with your avatar image, in the upper right corner of your Twitter page after you have logged in.  You might also like to read this post on cnet.com about recent changes in Twitter's privacy settings.  Barbara Stefanics recently posted on this blog about how to "Check Your Twitter Settings".

Do you know what you want to do with your Twitter account?  Read this EducationWorld post, Using Twitter for Professional Development , this one at Talks with Teachers, Why Twitter Matters in Education, and this from November Learning, How Twitter Can Be Used as a Powerful Education Tool.


"Twitter" flickr photo by clasesdeperiodismo https://flickr.com/photos/esthervargasc
/9775119174 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
Now, you are logged in, you've checked through your settings,  you have some ideas of what you want to use your Twitter account for, and you probably  want to find Twitter users to "follow".  Here are some possibilities:

The IB has several official  Twitter accounts, and other folks have created IB centered Twitter accounts and lists:
The whole IB organization @iborganization
IB DP @IB_DP
IB MYP @ibmyp  and the #myp #mypchat search results.
IB PYP @ibpyp and the #ibpyp search results
IB Examiners @IB_Examiners 
IB World Magazine @IBWorldmag
@IBConnects PYP | MYP | DP International Baccalaureate Teaching Jobs Posted Daily. Connecting the World - One IB Teacher at a Time!

TOK Teachers is a public list by Larry Ferlazzo which collects tweets from the 23 TOK teachers listed on this page.  (The tweets you read on the list page may or may not have anything to do with education.)
IB DP teachers is a public list of 31 teachers created  by Ilja van Weringh
IB DP Geography Teachers is public list of 48 teachers created by Richard Allaway

There are many individual teachers tweeting, among them Brian Neises, MYP Workshop Leader & Field Rep; science and humanities teacher;  @themypteacher; Paul O'Rourke, Lifelong Learner; IB-Middle Years Program Coordinator; debate/public speaking, soccer coach @Paul_Niagara
This search result for our OSC blog shows many posts with ideas for using Twitter in the IB classroom.

This coetail post, Twitter for the IBDP Student: While Twitter is an amazing tool for building community, microblogging understandings, and organically developing a real-time yearbook, there’s more to be done with everybody’s favorite blue bird by Tricia Friedman, offers a few ways to "tweet like a pro in the IBDP classroom".  The post includes this interesting TedEd video "Visualizing the world's Twitter data" by Jer Thorp.(See the accompanying lesson on this web page.)



TMT, Pecha Kucha, and the Art of Liberating Restraints

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs site: TMT,  Pecha Kucha, and the Art of Liberating Restraints I've re-posted it below. Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers
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 As is often the case on this blog, I am going to write about something I have just read.  EPFL is the  École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, which is a research institute/university in Lausanne, Switzerland, specialising in physical sciences and engineering. I subscribe to their news blog as part of my general reading, and am continually intrigued by what I read.  In today's batch I learned about how Digital birdhouses make studying owls easier ("EPFL students have developed a system that can detect when barn owls fly into and out of their nests, without disturbing the birds. Their invention could soon be installed in some of the 350 birdhouses that biologists have set up in the Swiss region of Broye."),  Astronomers make the largest map of the Universe yet ("Astronomers of the extended Baryonic Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey, led by EPFL Professor Jean-Paul Kneib, used the Sloan telescope to create the first map of the Universe based entirely on quasars."),  A tool for monitoring the biodiversity of Swiss livestock ("EPFL researchers have created an online platform for monitoring the genetic diversity of livestock and the sustainability of animal farming in Switzerland. This project, which was developed in partnership with the Federal Office for Agriculture, could serve as a model for other countries."), Antibody biosensor offers unlimited point-of-care drug monitoring ("A team of EPFL scientists has developed several antibody-based biosensors that have the potential to help healthcare centers in developing countries or even patients in their own homes keep track of drug concentration in the blood."),  Understanding how technology can revolutionize humanitarian work ("A new EPFL course offers students the opportunity to learn more about how new technologies can be used by humanitarian organizations. The students critically assessed new information-sharing methods by conducting a real-life exercise using the app Civique, which was developed by the Idiap Research Institute, an EPFL partner institution.")

But the subject of this blog post is in this story about My Thesis in 180 Seconds: two EPFL students make it to the podium ("Two PhD students from EPFL were among the top three finishers in the Swiss finals of the My Thesis in 180 Seconds competition held last night in Geneva. One of them, Amaël Cohades, qualified for the international finals by coming in second. The 15 finalists, who came from universities all over French-speaking Switzerland, treated the large audience to an exhilarating look at their cutting-edge research.")
After reading the post, I wanted to find out more about TMT (Three Minute Thesis).  "The Three Minute Thesis competition (TMT or 3MT) is an annual competition held in over 200 universities worldwide. It is open to PhD students, and challenges participants to present their research in just 180 seconds, in an engaging form that can be understood by an intelligent audience with no background in the research area. This exercise develops presentation, research and academic communication skills and supports the development of research students' capacity to explain their work effectively." (source)  

A story in TheScientist, Your Thesis in 180 Seconds, from 2013 gives an overview of the competition, and its pros and cons. " 'The benefit of 3MT is that scientists who can already communicate get an opportunity to do so, and get feedback,' said Kent (David Kent, a Canadian postdoc currently studying stem cell biology at Cambridge University in the U.K. and an long-time supporter of outreach activities). 'That’s not a bad thing, but it’s not the same as teaching them how to communicate. ...I’ve got no problem with condensing concise thoughts into 3 minutes, and I think all researchers would benefit from learning how to do that,' he said. 'I just don’t think 3MT teaches you how to do that. The competition would be more useful if courses and workshops were always part of the program, he added.' "(source)

I searched for video samples of TMTs  and found 79,900 (!!!) The first I watched was Dimitrios Terzis, from the Laboratoire de mécanique des sols at EPFL speaking about "Geo-mechanical constitutive model for Bio-improved soils". (The format of his video made me think of TedTalks and how it has influenced presentation and staging.)



Then I sampled Megan Pozzi's presentation. She was the winner of Queensland University of Technology's Faculty of Education 2013 competition and the people's choice winner, speaking about her research on teenage girls and social media identity and status updates.



These TMTs remind me of Pecha Kucha,  a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). The images or slides advance automatically to keep the speaker on time, speaking only about each slide or image while it’s being displayed.   The essence of Pecha Kucha is to intentionally set limits on speakers using slideware (i.e. PowerPoint, Keynote etc.). Pecha Kucha is the Japanese term for “the sound of conversation” or “chit chat.” The format has been used in education for many years, and there is a lot of interesting writing about it. (Do a Google search for [pecha kucha in the classroom] after a few pages, use the Tools option to limit the search to the past year.) Read Pecha Kucha in the Classroom: Tips and Strategies for Better Presentations  by Richard L. Edwards, and perhaps this page for practical advise, if you are new to the format.

The video below (1 hr 25 min) from an IB World School, the International School of Brooklyn was filmed at its 3rd Annual Pecha Kucha evening on Friday, March 10, 2017. "This year there were 12 presentations from the ISB community. Through their short presentations, community members give brief glimpses into their inspiration, their process, and their work! Think of Pecha Kucha as a series of mini TED talks that highlight the amazing talent of our community. "




When next you assign a slide presentation as part of a student assessment, or when next you prepare a slide presentation for a lesson, remember to think of TMT, and Pecha Kucha, and the art of liberating restraints. Be inspired to use one of these frameworks.

Is it fake nature, or is it a story?

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs site: Is it fake nature, or is it a story? I've re-posted it below. Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers.
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First, I'd like to explore the "Is it fake nature" part of my post's title:


"The 1958 Disney documentary into lemmings that won the academy award. Footage of lemmings jumping off cliffs was later found out to be faked. Edited version just showing the fake footage."

My guess is that most of you reading this post are not old enough to have watched the above television show when it was first broadcast in 1958.  (I will admit that I remember it vividly.  It was one of the first colour TV shows I saw as a child on our family's new colour TV set.)  Imagine my surprise and horror (Disney "cheated"???) when it was learned that it wasn't a "real" documentary at all, but that the lemming scene had been faked. (See Lemming Suicide Myth Disney Film Faked Bogus Behavior, The Truth about Norwegian Lemmings, White Wilderness.)

I thought about this recently when I read How Nature Documentaries are Fake: A Filmmaker’s Perspective, by DL Cade, on PetaPixel.  Cade writes:

"When you watch nature documentaries like the BBC’s famous Planet Earth series, do you take for granted that everything you’re seeing is 100% real? We wouldn’t blame you if you did, but as Simon Cade of DSLRguide explains in this video, you’d be wrong....While the amount of “manipulation” that takes place in the cutting room of a nature doc varies with the editor and how far the producer is willing to push the truth, the fact is: every nature documentary is edited to tell a story."  Watch the video below, and read the post, and think about it through the lens of "fake news".



Cade ends with a question: "Is it disappointing that nature docs, even the best ones, are at least somewhat manipulated to help tell a story and engage their audience? Sure. But the music-less 24 hour live stream called “reality” is probably not your idea of the perfect nature documentary either."

Let's check that out with a few nature live-streams. How long can you watch one of  these streams, with no story line, and little/no sound? Nature in motion: live cameras from around the world,  Audubon Top 10 Wildlife Web Cams, Explore,  offer lots of choices.  Some have natural sound, but most are silent. Some are "professional" setups from zoos and sanctuaries, and some or "home-made" setups focused on bird feeders or fish tanks. You'll probably want to choose one in your own time zone, so as not to be staring at a dark, night-time screen from the other side of the world (or, look for nocturnal animals in your own time zone!).



screenshot
To read more about this subject, see  These Are Some Of The Sketchy Ways Nature Documentaries Are Actually Filmed,
'Er, this bit isn't real': New David Attenborough series will tell viewers which shots are faked,
BBC 'fakes wildlife shots all the time': Veteran cameraman claims species 'smaller than rabbits' are filmed on custom-built sets 

And one last video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLpNht6YU2E
" I am shocked that many people cannot see the computer generated imagery in this scene from BBC's Planet Earth documentary. In the past the BBC has been accused of faking scenes in its documentaries. I am not disputing the camera crew was not there, because they was. I'm not saying they didn't film snakes and iguanas, because they did. What I am saying is that this specific chase scene in this video was fabricated using CGI, to enhance the drama and entertainment of the moment. " (link)

What do you think? Is a heavily edited, CGI-ed nature documentary "fake news" using free actors? Should we be looking at them far more critically than we used to? Can we use them in the classroom without very critical analysis? Should such a nature documentary move from a science classroom to the IT lab, as a lesson in how to create digital stories?

Choosing & Using Sources

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs siteChoosing & Using Sources. I've re-posted it below. Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers.
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This morning Nik Peachy shared a free, online or downloadable text book  Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research by Teaching & Learning, Ohio State University Libraries.   Thinking about the IB DP IA and EE work, I decided to have a look.
Cover of “Choosing & Using Sources” by Teaching & Learning, Ohio State University Libraries

“Choosing & Using Sources presents a process for academic research and writing, from formulating your research question to selecting good information and using it effectively in your research assignment. Additional chapters cover understanding types of sources, searching for information, and avoiding plagiarism. Each chapter includes self-quizzes and activities to reinforce core concepts and help you apply them. There are also appendices for quick reference on search tools, copyright basics, and fair use.
Written by Ohio State University Libraries’ Office of Teaching & Learning, this attractive book is targeted to college students and their instructors.” https://library.osu.edu/blogs/choosingsources/  
The book has received many 5 star reviews from college faculty and librarians,  which are  posted on the University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Library page. I share just two paragraphs from among them:
“This text is a comprehensive review of the various types of sources one might need to complete a research project or paper. The book begins with a clear explanation of how to formulate a research question, while the majority of the chapters focus on finding and evaluating sources. The topics in this text are well-chosen and reflect several aspects of academic writing in which beginning researchers might struggle, such as how to do a precision search, understanding biased versus unbiased sources, and how to decide between quoting or paraphrasing. This book is written at a level that undergraduates should easily be able to comprehend, while the content of the chapters gets increasingly detailed and complex throughout the book. There is no index or glossary at the back of the book, but there is a very complete table of contents at the beginning of the text. Readers might find it useful if the chapter titles in the table of contents were in bold, as the detailed breakdown of sections—while helpful—can be overwhelming when one is looking for the main categories of the book.” (Reviewed by Heather Jerónimo, Assistant Professor, University of Northern Iowa, on 2/9/2017.)
“This text is very readable and easy to understand. Concepts are explained clearly. Exercises and examples are provided to help students grasp each new concept. It is written in a casual tone that appears to make an effort to put its readers at ease while giving solid information about how to complete research and writing assignments successfully.” (Reviewed by Jennifer Lantrip, Reference Librarian, Umpqua Community College, on 2/9/2017.)
To give you a feel for the book, here are a few paragraphs and an infographic from Chapter 4, Precision Searching: Why Precision Searching?:
The steps in a precision search
“Starting with a research question helps you figure out precisely what you’re looking for. Next, you’ll need the most effective set of search terms – starting from main concepts and then identifying related terms. Those search terms need to be organized in the most effective way as search statements, which you actually type into a search box.
An important thing to remember is that searching is an iterative process: we try search statements, take a look at what we found and, if the results weren’t good enough, edit our search statements and search again—often multiple times. Most of the time, the first statements we try are not the best, even though Google or another search tool we’re using may give us many results.
It pays to search further for the sources that will help you the most. Be picky.”
“Source evaluation usually takes place in two stages:
  • First you try to determine which sources are credible and relevant to your assignment.
  • Later, you try to decide which of those relevant and credible sources contain information that you actually want to quote, paraphrase, or summarize. This requires a closer reading, a finer examination of the source.
This lesson teaches the first kind of evaluation—how to weed out sources that are irrelevant and not credible and how to “weed in” those that are relevant enough and credible enough.
Because there often aren’t clear-cut answers when you evaluate sources, most of the time you have to make inferences–educated guesses from available clues–about whether to use information from the website or other source.
The clues are factors you should consider when trying to decide whether a source is:
  • A relevant source of information – Is it truly about your topic and from the right time period?
  • A credible source of information – Is there sufficient reason to believe it’s accurate? “
I think this book could be a very useful resource for IB students in both the DP and MYP faced with what for many can be daunting writing assignments.  It could provide a sort of hand-holding comfort for students who are new to academic writing, or for whom a 4000 word research paper seems overwhelming.  It might also be a useful teaching tool to those guiding academic writing assignments.