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The Digital Learner’s Bill of Rights

by | Posted February 7th, 2013

In 1776, the founders of our country created the Bill of Rights, a list of rights we have as US Citizens. This collective list of the first ten amendments include freedom of the press, protection from “unreasonable search and seizure,” and right to trial by jury. As students and educators watch education progress from learning and teaching in the classroom to learning and teaching online or through digital technology, wouldn’t it be nice to know we have rights to what and how we learn digitally? Now we do. Thanks to a group of various scholars, technologists, and entrepreneurs, we now have a draft of “A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in a Digital Age.”

Convening in Palo Alto, California on December 14, 2012, the group met to “define, “the rights, responsibilities, and possibilities for education in the globally connected world of the present and beyond,”” even if tentatively. The document received both negative and positive feedback when presented. One positive was that digital learning can “broaden student access to high-quality learning;” a negative was the initial group of draftees didn’t include any “individual learners themselves.”

Online learning is becoming more and more popular (better known as MOOC or, Massive Online Open Courseware), making it possible for, as it states in the Preamble, “anyone on the planet to be a student, a teacher, and a creative collaborator at virtually no cost.” Students and educators deserve to maintain certain rights when it comes to online learning and this “Bill of Rights” hopes to define those, some of which include, “The right to privacy” and the “The right to create public knowledge.”

This Bill of Rights is not set in stone. It can be changed, as co-author Phillipp Schmidt states. “We want lots of people with lots of different groups to remix it, edit it, make it their own.”

From Writer’s Digest: Things Every Blogger Should Know

by | Posted February 6th, 2013

Are you a writer looking to start a blog? Don’t know exactly where to start? Fear not! Writer’s Digest has several tips for you to use. Even veteran bloggers can stand to read these to make their blog even better. Some of them include:

  • Headlines Matter Most
  • You Don’t Have to Write That Much
  • Don’t Blog About Something That’s Already Been Blogged

Be sure to check out the rest and get blogging!

From Brain Pickings: A Yearlong Celebration of Women Who Made a Mark in History

by | Posted February 5th, 2013

Source: thereconstructionists.org

Every Monday throughout 2013, a different woman will be showcased for her work in art, science, or literature. The project is called The Reconstructionists, created by Maria Popova, creator of the web-blog, Brain Pickings. Along with artist, Lisa Congdon, they plan to celebrate the achievements of remarkable women across art, science, and literature, both famous and esoteric, who have changed the way we define ourselves as a culture and live our lives as individuals of any gender.”

Among some of the women showcased so far have been writer Gertrude Stein, artist Agnes Martin, and, one of this weeks’ showcases, animal doctor and expert, Temple Grandin.

The goal of the project hopes to celebrate women who have, according to Popova, “reconstructed, in ways big and small, famous and infamous, timeless and timely, our understanding of ourselves, the world, and our place in it.”

From Pure Michigan Connect: “Put It on Paper at the Michigan Historical Museum”

by | Posted February 4th, 2013

A new exhibit showcasing handwritten manuscripts by Laura Ingles Wilder, a short fiction piece by Ernest Hemingway, and several more, are now on display at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing. The exhibit, “highlighting the various stages of the creative process used by writers, artists, and architects, musicians and designers with a Michigan connection,” is on display from now until August 25, 2013.

To read more about this fantastic exhibit, head to the Pure Michigan Blog and be sure to head to the museum and check it out.

When Computers Fail Us

by | Posted February 4th, 2013

Despite their many capabilities, computers fail writers who need to ascend and alight quickly. The more common terms might be zoom in and out, but I like ascend and alight because they remind me of the phrase, a bird’s eye view. Most birds can ascend to a height at which they see a lot of terrain. They also can descend to alight on some point (a branch, perhaps, or a fencepost) at which they see an area in detail. Many printed texts are designed to allow ascending and alighting. Some can be adapted easily to computer screens, but some can’t.

Consider what you can do with a train timetable. A good timetable allows you to ascend for an overview of all possible routes at once and then to alight almost immediately on a particular detail. You can see all the stops along a line or study the arrival and departure times at one station throughout the day—all with little effort.

While many timetables can be adapted effectively to the computer screen, other documents cannot. Consider the “Partisan and Ideological Map of the United States Congress” created  by Randall Munroe of xkcd.com. By viewing the document as a whole (by ascending), you can see how ideological allegiances in the Congress have shifted over time. But on screen you get the overview at the cost of any detail. To ascend you have to zoom out so far that almost all the print is unreadable. To alight, you have to zoom in, which usually involves not only resizing the document but also repositioning it so that the part you want to read appears within the window.

By noting the difficulty of reading the Partisan and Ideological Map on screen, I’m not criticizing its content. It’s just that the map works better as a poster, which brings us to paper.

As Abigail Sellen and Richard Harper write in The Myth of the Paperless Office, one reason that people continue to use paper is for “laying out paper in space for reading” (21). Writers sometimes need more writing space than a computer screen can provide.  Consider the need to grasp the outline and content of a large-scale, multi-volume document. As the picture shows, a team can use an entire wall to view simultaneously every page of a large publication—in this case, a multi-volume proposal. The wall lets a team rearrange portions of the text, check that pages are visually uniform, and also identify pieces missing from the document. Ascending and alighting happen quickly as people step toward and away from the wall. (more…)

The Beautiful New Typefaces of Winter

by | Posted February 2nd, 2013

As designers and writers, we work with typefaces everyday. Designing a typeface is a tough job, which is why the majority of us are thankful that there are designers that can do it for us, and we can just reap the benefits!

The creator of Type Release, Sean Mitchell, brings us 38 of the most beautiful new typefaces released in the past few months.

A few examples,

Klavika Display, “From extra stuffed to skeletal thing, Klavika Display is a collection of fonts for large sizes and an even larger impact.”

Screen Shot 2013 01 13 at 9.54.41 AM 38 Of the most beautiful typeface designs released this winter

The New Tungstens, “ a set of four different widths, each in eight weights. A compact and sporty sans serif that’s disarming instead of pushy – not just loud, but persuasive.”

tungsten 38 Of the most beautiful typeface designs released this winter

Telefon, “based on the lettering on the original Norwegian phone booths, drawn by architect Georg Fredrik Fastings in the 30’s. a general purpose geometric sans serif in three weights.”

telefon 38 Of the most beautiful typeface designs released this winter

With the font name, a picture, short description, and even a link to download the font, this is one of the best resources for designers and writers who are looking to stay on top of the typeface game. Check out the remaining 35 new fonts, and pick your favorite!

From Los Angeles Times: “Wall of Books”

by | Posted February 1st, 2013

Wall of Books

A book store owner in the small town of Pittsboro, North Carolina has made a wall-sized bookshelf for its residents. Of course, it’s just a mural painted on the side of City Circle Books, but the titles chosen to be a part of the mural closely reflect the actual bookshelf of Myles Friedman, the store owner.

City Circle Books is leaving the mural unfinished for now, and inviting visitors of the shop to chime in on what titles they would like to see added on the tops of the already shelved books. Now that’s a way to bring the community together with books! Check out the full list of titles included, here.

From Design Related: This is Where We Live Animation

by | Posted February 1st, 2013

“It’s the perfect blend of nostalgia, a love of books, and modernity.”

In this post earlier on the website, we talked about making a great stop motion animation. Well how about making a great stop motion animation that also deals with ones true love of books? Apt Studio, with the work of 20 animators and over 1,000 books, made the following video as a tribute 4th Estate’s 25th anniversary, and as a tribute to books in general.

This is an awesome example of combining great stop motion animation with a passion for books. It  also plays to the nostalgia of old, printed books in this technology-enhanced reading age. Check it out!