Friday, April 8, 2022

The Geography of Baseball Fans

The Major League Baseball season started yesterday. This morning while I was flipping through some highlights of yesterday's games, I was reminded of a neat map that I cam across a few years ago. 

SeatGeek's interactive map titled Where do MLB Fans Live? is an interactive map that shows which teams are the most popular teams in each county in the United States. A few things found through the map were not surprising at all. For example, every county in Maine and New Hampshire the Red Sox are the most popular team. And a few things revealed in the map did surprise me. For example, growing up in Connecticut I always felt like the state was evenly divided between Yankees and Red Sox fans (with a few oddball Mets fans sprinkled in), but according to this map the state is predominantly a Red Sox state.

There are a couple of flaws with the data interpretation on SeatGeek's Where do MLB Fans Live? The data is drawn from analyzing the behavior of shoppers on SeatGeek. So it is entirely possible that a team is more popular in a county than another but the fans of that team are more active shoppers. Another flaw is that the map only shows which team is most popular in the county but doesn't show how much more popular it is than another team. So it is possible that a county could be split 49% to 51% in favor of one team. Most statisticians would not consider that difference to be significant.

Applications for Education
I'm sharing this map because I think that it could be a good tool for introducing students to the nuance of data interpretation and manipulation. The map could also be used as a model for how to represent data through maps or through infographics.

Create Your Own USGS Maps

Earlier this year I highlighted the galleries of free to use and re-use media that the USGS hosts. Earlier this week I was back on the USGS site looking in those galleries when I noticed something new to me. That something is the USGS National Map Viewer

Don't the name fool you, the USGS National Map Viewer is more than just a place to look at a map. The USGS National Map Viewer lets you choose from a huge library of datasets to display on a map. You can view the source information for each dataset. Additionally, you can choose the base map on which the datasets are displayed. If that's not enough to get you to try the USGS National Map Viewer, I should also tell you that you can draw on the maps, measure on the maps, and print your customized map displays. Watch this short video to get an idea of what is possible with the USGS National Map Viewer



Applications for Education
The USGS National Map Viewer could be a great tool for students to use to make visual connections between the information provided in a dataset and the locations referenced in those datasets. For example, in the video above I applied the earthquake faults dataset to the map so that students can see where there is more or less seismic activity in the United States. On a related note, here's a nearly realtime USGS map of the latest seismic activity around the world.

50 Tech Tips and a Tech Tuesday Webinar

Every month this year I've hosted a webinar for people who have purchased a copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips. I'm doing the same again next week. 

On April 12th at 4pm ET I'm hosting A Framework for Technology Integration. Anyone who purchases a copy of my eBook between now and midnight (Eastern Time) on April 11th will get a link to join the webinar. And if you previously purchased a copy and want to join this webinar, just send me a note and I'll register you. 

In A Framework for Technology Integration I'll share my framework for helping teachers use technology in meaningful ways in their classrooms. I'll also provide some examples of how I've done it in the past and how you can replicate them in your school. 

About the eBook:

50 Tech Tuesday Tips was curated from more than 400 editions of The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter 50 Tech Tuesday Tips provides you with ideas for lots of helpful things that you can teach to your colleagues and to students. Throughout the eBook you'll find tutorials and handouts that you can pass along in your school. 

Some of the many things you'll find in 50 Tech Tuesday Tips include:

  • What to do when a web app isn't working as you expect.
  • Building your own search engine.
  • How to create green screen videos.
  • Improving instructional videos. 
  • Streamlining email management.
  • Creating educational games. 
  • DIY app creation.
  • Podcasting tips for teachers and students. 


Get your copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips right here!

No, this ebook isn't free but the tools that feature within it is free to use. Creating something like this takes many, many hours but reading it can save you many, many hours. Purchases of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips make it possible for me to create other free resources like The Practical Ed Tech Handbook that I update and give away to thousands of teachers every year.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Annotate PDFs With Lumin PDF - Free for Teachers

Lumin PDF is a neat tool that I wrote about a couple of years ago when one of my colleagues needed a way for her math students to draw on PDFs that she sent to them in Google Classroom. You can read more about that situation right here

I just received an email from Lumin PDF announcing that all of the premium features are now available to teachers and their students for free! The premium features include merging and splitting PDFs, highlighting (in addition to the normal annotating options), and the removal of banner advertising. And Lumin PDF integrates with Google Classroom. You can register for a free Lumin PDF premium account here


If you're interested in other options for annotating PDFs, I recommend trying the tools built into OneNote or trying Kami. Video tutorials on how to use both of those tools are available here

A Few Good Resources for Learning How Blockchain Works

For the last year or so whenever I watch a sporting event on television there are advertisements for cryptocurrency exchanges. It has even pervaded niche sports like professional cycling (here's one story about a particularly dodgy instance in cycling). Last year one of my students even set out to try to mine Bitcoin. Another of my students dabbled in creating NFTs. The point is, cryptocurrencies and NFTs are now mainstream. And both of those are based on the concept of blockchain. 

Blockchain is what makes cryptocurrencies and NFTs possible. If that seems clear as mud, you should watch Common Craft's video titled Blockchain Explained by Common Craft. The video does a great job of using a concept that we're all familiar with, ownership of physical property, to explain the Blockchain concept.


After watching Common Craft's video about blockchain, watch this video from Financial Post to learn how the blockchain concept is applied to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.



Interactive Blockchain Demo
Blockchaindemo.io and Coindemo.io are interactive websites on which you can see how cryptocurrency transactions take place. 

An Open Course About Blockchain and Money
Once you understand the basics of blockchain you might want to learn more about cryptocurrencies. Blockchain and Money is an open course from MIT. The course was originally taught in the fall of 2018, but all of the materials and lectures are still available for free. All twenty-three lectures in the course can be viewed in this YouTube playlist. It is a graduate course so I don't expect that high school students would be able to understand all of it, but an interested high school student could still glean some good lessons from it.