Saturday, May 12, 2007

More data delight

The data delight continued for me this week as I explored more ITM readers’ suggestions for tools that can help students learn data-analysis, probability, and other important mathematics concepts.

Okay, the word ‘delight’ might not work if you’re not a ‘data enthusiast', but maybe you would be if more people followed the advice of Edward Tufte and mastered the skills to visually represent data. Watching Al Gore’s global warming presentation skills or Hans Rosling’s exciting Ted Talk makes it easy to understand why Visual Literacy has been identified as one of the key 21st century skills according to North Central Regional Educational Lab (NCREL) (Photo Credit)
"Visual literacy is the ability to interpret, use, appreciate, and create images and video using both conventional and 21st century media in ways that advance thinking, decision making, communication, and learning" ... NCREL
While I would never want to see the colorful crayons and markers that Ms. Patterson's students use to produce the graphs that line their classroom wall disappear, the next steps for preparing tomorrow’s leaders could be collaborating using online spreadsheets, publishing or embedding their graphs in a blog, wiki, or web page, and chatting from remote locations about their findings. The addition of graphing capabilities to Google spreadsheet provides an accessible tool for even our younger students to develop these 21st century skills.

Students can create an online graph in 3 simple steps.

(1) highlight data and click on the toolbar’s graph icon
(2) fill out a clean, user-friendly screen that even our younger students can understand (type of chart, labels, and whether you are charting columns or rows (both options --yeah!!)
(3) save and voila your graph appears on your spreadsheet.

Most teachers will easily see that the graph can be moved, edited, and saved as a separate image. If you want to share your charts with a global audience, click on PUBLISH tab, then scroll down to More Publishing Options. Selecting HTML as File Format will Generate a URL that you can paste as a hyperlink in emails or on a webpage. However, selecting the HTML to embed in a web page File Format and clicking Generate URL will actually give you some code that you can paste in a webpage, blog, or wiki. Don’t worry if you don't understand this code, just ask any student who has a MYSPACE account and they can show you exactly what to do with this code. Thank you JR for the tips on how to remove gridlines and the folks at Google for discovering that merged cells should be avoided on spreadsheets with published graphs (until this little 'bug' is fixed) as I added a Google chart to the jumping jacks data collected by by the students at St. Albans City School.

Go ahead, give it a try. Add a new twist to some of the classic Candy and Cereal graphing lessons using Web 2.0 tools to help today’s students meet important math standards. Imagine if the 2002 Skittles Project data had been collected and charted with Google Spreadsheet. (Photo Credit)

Thank you to all the ITM readers who shared their favorite tech tools for creating visual representation of data. Besides those I explored in my last post, readers have also suggested advanced tools (like and ; online productivity suites (like Zoho and ThinkFree); and online spreadsheets (like EditGrid and NumSum and more),

I can’t wait to hear how some of you are redesigning assignments with these tools.