Anyone who has taught at a college or university has experienced the follow scenario countless times: Students come to class on day one and choose their seats. Students sit in those exact same seats for the rest of the semester, even if moving (say, to be with members of a work group) would be more practical or to their advantage in some way.
Just because I am a disruptor at heart, but also because I want them to think about why they are sitting in the same seats over and over and over, I sometimes force my students to sit in a different place. If you really want to have fun in a seminar, arrive early on week four or five and grab someone else’s seat, then watch the discombob-ulation that follows as students enter the room and try to figure out where to sit in the new circumstances.
For years I’ve wondered why students cling so tenaciously to the seat they chose on day one. Now I know. Last night I was doing a teaching observation for a colleague who was teaching about behavioral economics and what the findings from this sub-discipline can teach us about the economic choices people make. It turns out that the behavioralists have a name and an explanation for my students’ behavior–status quo bias.
Now that I know the answer to this question that has puzzled me for years, I’m going to have to go read the book my colleague assigned for last night’s class (Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational) to see what other insights I can glean that will help me understand my students choices when it comes to learning.
Last week I was at the Horizon New Media Consortium 10 Year Retreat – The Future of Education. It was a fascinating glimpse into the world of bright-eyed educators and a few museum people who want the future of education to be something far better than it is now. If that sounds a little utopian, it should.
The Horizon Reports have always made for good reading. I contributed to some of the Horizon.Au reports in and have had a fair number of my projects included over the years as ‘examples’. These reports have more-or-less predicted most of the technology trends over the last decade, even if their timeframes are too optimistic. Their methodology – a wiki-made document compiled by hand selected specialists works especially well and avoids a lot of the traps of most futurist predictions. What is especially useful is that these wikis remain available after the reports are published – so it is possible to read the internal discussions that informed the creation of the report.
Summing up the predictions of the Horizon reports over the past decade was this great chart from Ruben Puentedura. You’ll notice recurring themes and the emergence of the social web, then mobile, then open content in the reports over the last decade.
The retreat, set outside of a stormy Austin, Texas, locked 100 people from several continents in a room with huge sheets of butcher’s paper and some great facilitation. Over two days meta-trends were identified and ideas shared. Thousands of tweets were tweeted on the #NMCHz hashtag, and many productive discussions were had.
Ed Rodley sums up the event nicely – day one and day two – over on his blog. Ed and I spent a fair bit of time throwing around ideas around the role of science museums in the modern world (from his experience at Boston and mine at Powerhouse) which should become the topic of a future blogpost.
For all the talk of digital literacy, educating for megatrends, and the role that museums can play in fostering creativity – all this talk of open content and collaborative learning – these words continue to concern me.
The most valuable aspects of an iPhone, for instance, are its initial design and engineering, which are done in America. Now, one problem with this dynamic is that as one scales up production of Apple products, there are vastly different employment needs across the supply chain. So, it doesn’t take lots more designers and programmers to sell 50m iPhones than it does to sell 10m. You have roughly the same number of brains involved, and much more profit per brain. On the manufacturing side, by contrast, employment soars as scale grows. So as the iPhone becomes more popular, you get huge returns to the ideas produced in Cupertino, and small returns but hundreds of thousands of jobs in China.
Maybe it is just pessimism brought about by having two consecutive winters creeping in.
You can grab the summary ‘communique’ from the Retreat from the Horizon site.
We’ve got another pot of info-design gold to give away – and this time your work might land you on the Guardian Datablog.
Last month we ran our first visualization challenge. And, boy, did you peeps really rise to it.
And here’s our second challenge: MON€Y PANIC$!
The financial system, debt crises, recession fears, Wall St occupation, currency devaluation, collapse of the markets, the END OF THE WORLD! It’s all getting rather mind-boggling.
So we and the Guardian have found some juicy datasets we want you to use to explain what in the world is going on. Clearly. Understandably. Visibly.
Top prize is $2000 for a full design. Non-designers can win $1000 in our sketch-based napkin comp. All winners will feature on the Guardian Datablog.
We might add an interactive/motion-graphics string this time if we get enough entries.
All the info – dates, rules, guidelines, entry details – is over on the Information is Beautiful Awards site.
Now go show Gordon Gecko what you got. (You can take lunch, though.)
Loads of people have emailed asking if we can improve the graphs on the What The Wall Street Protestors Are So Angry About megapost.
Here’s our first stab. A visual about income equality in the USA.
More to follow.
RESEARCH: Alex Lemon | ADDITIONAL DESIGN: Piero Zagami
The Economist updates their Big Mac Index, which as we all know, is the most accurate way to measure the global economy:
It is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), the notion that in the long run exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalise the prices of a basket of goods and services around the world. At market exchange rates, a burger is 44% cheaper in China than in America. In other words, the raw Big Mac index suggests that the yuan is 44% undervalued against the dollar. But we have long warned that cheap burgers in China do not prove that the yuan is massively undervalued. Average prices should be lower in poor countries than in rich ones because labour costs are lower. The chart above shows a strong positive relationship between the dollar price of a Big Mac and GDP per person.
When adjusted for GDP, we can see where Big Macs are actually expensive: Brazil, Argentina, and Sweden. I guess there's a premium on special sauce over there.
An update of our fabled Left vs Right concept map. Written and art-directed by David McCandless. Designed by Stefanie Posavec.
I’ve finally updated this image after lengthy (and sometimes heated) discussion with right wingers. The goal was to smooth out my biases, really. As a left-leaning journalistic type, I had subtly – and unconsciously – biased the diagram to make the Left seem better than than the Right. But taking in feedback – and no small-amount of fireballs in the comments – I’ve refined the wording and changed a few other subtle elements to hopefully rebalance the image.
If you’re curious and beady-eyed, I’ve set up a little spot-the-difference image. There are five differences.
The image is also on the Guardian Datablog today and printed in the paper. There, I’ve gone into a bit more detail about the process of making the image. Enjoy!
I love this diagram. And I’m really happy to offer you a fresh new gorgeous A2 print of it on FSC-certified Munken art paper. Check out the store. (All monies go back into the website, for paying our lovely contributors etc).
Design: Stefanie Posavec
Sources: Encyclopedia Brittanica, Wikipedia, Conservative-Resources.com
Our first animation. Enjoy!
$US version – see the video on youtube
£UK version – see the video on youtube
We’ve been honing our animation skills. Expect more films, motion infographics and ‘info-mations’ in 2011. Follow us on Youtube for more.
If you’re an motion graphics type person looking to collaborate or work with us on similar projects, get in touch!
Animation: Miles Tudor, Dom Del Torto @ Big Animal
Music: Daniel Pemberton
Unique times require unique thinking, right? We’re under the cosh here in the UK with unprecendented public cuts and austerity measures. Is there a potential revenue stream we’re missing? One right under our noses? One that could solve the university tuition fees crisis? And leave around £75M left for a very, very good party. My latest graphic for The Guardian Datablog puts the case.
While on the subject, I wanted to mention a great exhibition in London. It’s called High Society. Curated by writer Mike Jay and the Wellcome Trust, it’s about the influence of (illegal) drugs on society and culture. It’s free. And features a couple of commissioned wall-sized graphics from me, including Drugs World and this Billion Drug-o-Gram.
In the course of preparing and researching the images, we came across a ton of interesting facts and figures about the drugs world. They’re all in this spreadsheet.
Did you know…
- the average purity of street cocaine is now just 27% – link
- most coke in the Western world is now cut with levamisole, a toxic de-worming agent not detected by most street tests for purity (story).
- the US government has spent nearly $2,500 billion dollars on the War On Drugs over the last 40 years (story)
More here: http://bit.ly/drug_deal
Particularly liked the data on which countries like which drugs.