Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Exploring and Visualizing Data Sets

Big data and how it can be used is one of the topics that my ninth grade students are exploring this month. To that end, this week I introduced them to Google's Public Data Explorer and Google's Dataset Search tools.

Public Data Explorer is a tool that has been around for more than a decade at this point. The tool itself hasn't had any updates in a while. However, the datasets within Public Data Explorer have been updated. This week I'm having my students use it to create visualizations of data from the World Bank's World Development Indicators dataset. After they make the visualizations they have to do a little research to investigate causes of disparities depicted by the visualizations.

Here's a video that I made a few years ago about how to use the Public Data Explorer.



Google's Dataset Search tool is only about eighteen months old. It helps users find datasets that they can then download as Excel and CSV files, Google Earth files, zip files of images, and or collections of documents. Right now I'm having my freshmen visit Dataset Search just to give them a sense of the type of data that researchers collect and how it's organized. Later this month I'll have them create visualizations in Google Sheets from an imported dataset.


On the topic of data, Everybody Lies is an interesting read. 

Homeschool History - A Podcast Series for the Family

About eight years ago there was a BBC podcast series called A History of the World in 100 Objects. It was a good series that featured short lessons about objects in The British Museum. New episodes haven't been added in years, but the series is still available to listen to online. I mention that old series because it did make good companion material for world history lessons. Similarly, the BBC recently launched a new podcast series that offers good history lessons for kids.

Homeschool History is a new BBC podcast series that is made for the whole family to listen to and learn a little history lesson. Each Homeschool History episode is fifteen minutes long. Three episodes are currently available to listen to right here on the BBC Radio 4 website. Those episodes are Mary Queen of Scots, The Space Race, and The Restoration. A new episode about Charles Dickens will be released on Monday.

Applications for Education
This morning I listened to the The Space Race episode of Homeschool History. Even though I knew the content of the episode I still found it nice to listen to the episode.I think that I'd be able to get middle school and high school students to listen to at least five minutes of each episode of Homeschool History.

I'd add Homeschool History to my list of "learning at home" resources to recommend to parents of middle school and high school students.

How to Blur Faces and Objects in Your Videos

One of the topics that I frequently receive questions about is privacy when posting videos online. One option is to post your videos as unlisted or private videos on YouTube or Vimeo. Another option is to blur faces and objects in your videos. YouTube's free video editor makes it easy to selectively blur faces and objects in the videos that you upload to your YouTube account.

I published a video on this topic about five years ago. Since then the way that YouTube's free video editor works changed a bit. In this new video I demonstrate how to selectively blur faces and objects in YouTube videos.


Applications for Education
Many graduation and awards events are being held online this spring. While you can't use this feature to selectively blur during a livestream, you can use it to selectively blur when you publish the recording of a livestreamed event.