Profile

Cover photo
James Crook
Lives in Dublin
362 followers
AboutPostsCollectionsPhotos

Stream

James Crook

Shared publicly  - 
 
 
Mathematicians aren't the only ones with nice collections of three-dimensional models of the objects they study...
Model-XI – Thomas Sopwith [1841]. First produced in 1841 Thomas Sopwith's wooden models were some of the earliest three-dimensional representations of Earth's geological strata. Layered, glued, hand carved and polished, his models demonstrate the abilities of a skilled woodworker and ...
View original post
1
Add a comment...

James Crook

Shared publicly  - 
 
The #DragonBox game starts out as a puzzle game, get a box on its own on one side.  As you progress the icons become mathematical symbols, little by little you progress towards "solve for x".  

The game gives feedback in a way that pencil and paper does not.  The feedback helps learners learn that they must "do the same thing on both sides".  After the videos I'm left wondering, why move back to paper and pencil?  Wouldn't it be better to continue working in an algebra environment that gives feedback?

The game does about 50% of what algebra teaching should do.  It practices the algebra manipulative skills.  The other half, how to use algebra on real world problems, in economics, engineering, physics, electronics, construction, these still need input from outside the game to learn.
3
1
Joel Feinstein's profile photo
Add a comment...

James Crook

Shared publicly  - 
 
Reshared from +Pádraig Ó Dubhaigh 
 
Highly-regarded educator Bianca Ní Ghrógain passed away on 6 June, here her friend Mags Almond pays tribute to the edtech champion.
View original post
1
Add a comment...

James Crook

Shared publicly  - 
 
 
A job that I never knew existed: "Metaphor Designer." Here's an essay by someone who does this for a living, about what the job is, how it's done, and why it's important. A good metaphor, as he points out, not only communicates an idea better, but opens up new ways of thinking about a problem. He gives the example of a consultant who was working with a paintbrush manufacturer in the 1960's, as they were trying to figure out why a new brush design wasn't applying paint smoothly. The key insight came in the form of a metaphor: "A paintbrush is a kind of pump!"

While this might seem a little facile, it's actually quite key to how many designs happen. For example, a few years ago I found myself tasked with designing a planet-scale data storage and serving system. A key step was visualizing each datacenter as a seaport, with shipping lanes connecting them in a tree; each local data storage subsystem as a kind of warehouse; and giant armies of screaming customers around the world, each trying to send and receive data. By recasting the problem in terms of shipping logistics, it suddenly became clear how to organize and schedule data transfer (not trivial because storage capacities have grown 100 times faster than transfer capacities over the past few years), and that in turn led to several fundamental design approaches that made handling of data at hitherto-unconceived scales suddenly quite feasible. 

(If you send attachments on GMail or store photos on Google, incidentally, that system is what holds your data)

But hidden in the description above was a second conscious choice of phrasing: "planet-scale storage." I coined the phrase and started getting people at the company to use it when it became clear that our storage systems lived in tiers (disk-, machine-, datacenter-, planet-scale), but also because the term conjures very different emotional responses from, say, "global storage." The latter has an implication of being the largest scale possible; "planet-scale" carries the subtle implication that the next project may well involve the Solar System. Oddly, that change of phrasing changes the way people think about things: it makes them approach problems knowing that there will be something bigger that they will have to ultimately deal with, and that causes people to make systematically better engineering decisions.

Erard isn't an engineer, and in fact most of the people for whom he designs metaphors do something very different: social welfare organizations. These showcase other aspects of the power of metaphor: not simply framing the way we think about problems, but the way we place them into the wider context of the world. 

It also highlights subtle ways in which metaphors can be effective but trigger the wrong additional thoughts: for example, when working on a project to improve childhood resilience, they found a very powerful metaphor of children as orchids and dandelions. Some children are like orchids, thriving beautifully only under a narrow set of circumstances, while others are like dandelions, doing well nearly no matter what. What this ran into, though, was a cultural value that preferred the fragile and the rare (which in turn comes from the fact that the fragile can only be maintained in delicate circumstances, and so is restricted to the nobility): people saw the metaphor, understood it, and didn't see any value in making more dandelions.

This is why metaphor design requires careful testing. (I would have been a terrible test case for this; if you ask me if I'd rather make a dandelion or an orchid, my immediate answer would be that I'd far rather make something robust, and fragility is a pain in the ass, not a virtue, something you do only when there's no other choice. But then again, I'm an engineer)
The metaphor designer isn’t trying to make something beautiful. She wants to change your view on things. Here’s how
40 comments on original post
1
Add a comment...

James Crook

Shared publicly  - 
 
Four videos on the Finnish education system.  Perhaps the most important point is the trust for the teachers.  In turn there is trust for the students.  It is a system based on trust rather than compliance.  Longer projects.  Fewer exams.  Almost no homework.
1
Add a comment...

James Crook

Shared publicly  - 
 
Wow. "The root bridges, some of which are over a hundred feet long, take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional, but they're extraordinarily strong — strong enough that some of them can support the weight of 50 or more people at a time. In fact, because they are alive and still growing, the bridges actually gain strength over time — and some of the ancient root bridges used daily by the people of the villages around Cherrapunji may be well over 500 years old."
Centuries-old bridges, grown from tangled roots
3 comments on original post
1
Add a comment...
In his circles
102 people
Have him in circles
362 people
liam duffy's profile photo
Ciarán McKenna's profile photo
Mary Loftus's profile photo
Bobby MacLaughlin's profile photo
Gisela Lorrenda's profile photo
Na'Kole Oliver's profile photo
Gislei Camilo's profile photo
Sudarshan R (glasstronomer)'s profile photo
Google for Education's profile photo

James Crook

Shared publicly  - 
 
 
Günaydın ⛅🌞🌄🌻 Good Morning
14 comments on original post
3
Add a comment...

James Crook

Shared publicly  - 
 
 
While at a risk analysis conference last week & our network was hit by lightning (again!). We went over all of our past strikes on our 18-acre campus and determined that we're most likely to get hit in buildings built in the 1920's with the switch closet near a power panel. Now onto the investigation if our stuff is properly grounded in those locations. It was like a game of clue for IT team. #chartsforthewin 
1 comment on original post
1
Add a comment...

James Crook

Shared publicly  - 
 
I like the whole mood/ethos.  "Danger Wild Plants!"
 
Our allotments for teenager's under the spectrum alliance is blooming. Come up and have a look for ur self. Its on the grounds of the Ardmore hotel and prospect hill. Herbs vegetable s and lots of information and fun. MPAC
View original post
1
Add a comment...

James Crook

Shared publicly  - 
 
A wonderful info graphic that brings home some of the differences between different cultures.
 
The world's most controversial Wikipedia topics, by language http://econ.st/1FPgeQY #econarchive
15 comments on original post
1
Add a comment...
James's Collections
People
In his circles
102 people
Have him in circles
362 people
liam duffy's profile photo
Ciarán McKenna's profile photo
Mary Loftus's profile photo
Bobby MacLaughlin's profile photo
Gisela Lorrenda's profile photo
Na'Kole Oliver's profile photo
Gislei Camilo's profile photo
Sudarshan R (glasstronomer)'s profile photo
Google for Education's profile photo
Collections James is following
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Dublin
Previously
Dublin
Basic Information
Gender
Male