Monthly Archives: January 2016

Visualising Wikipedia

See also – a collection of our favorite visualizations built on Wikipedia data
This is a collection of our favorite visualizations, infographics, and other projects built on open data from Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, curated by Stephen LaPorte and Mahmoud Hashemi.

I don’t know a great deal about the Wikipedia open data projects, but there are some great data visualisation examples here. One of them even mentions Borges, what more do you want?

More life-after-levels headaches

Slave to the algorithm
It’s tempting to write this off as an isolated case: a naive headteacher who made an error of judgement. More fool them. But this is far from being an isolated case; it’s actually quite common. I regularly go into schools and get shown tracking systems that are awash with red. Loads of children are apparently below ‘age-related expectations’ and are not making ‘expected progress’. Yet, invariably, the headteacher will claim that ‘this is not a true reflection of the pupils in our school’, and ‘if you were to look in their books you’ll see the progress they’ve really made’, which begs the simple question: What is the value of a system that is at complete odds ​with reality?

Difficult times for primary schools, as they try to establish a new framework to replace levels. Here’s a video of how terms can be used to measure progress:

Life without Levels: Measuring attainment and progress in the new National Curriculum
How many schools are measuring progress and attainment from September 2014.

So, what did you have for tea last night?

Felton Annual Report – a eulogy​
Nicholas Felton is able to sell 3,000 of his reports that show his favorite beer and quirks for $30.00 a piece. We couldn’t give away an education report–one of the most important topics–for free to the public. Clearly, we needed a new approach.

Yep, I’ve bought some of those $30 reports and regularly refer back to them. A shame there won’t be any more, but who’s to say what’s next for him.

Here’s another article on his reports, and the changes that have taken place over the 10 years he’s been doing them.

10 years in the making, Nicholas Felton files his final Feltron Report
Over this span, Felton’s commitment to his own data collection resembled an exercise in self-torture. He’s worn noisy pedometers that clicked every time he took a step, built his own iPhone app to bug him through the day to ask what he was up to, spent a year documenting every single conversation he had, and even, at one point, found himself weighing a three-year-old’s birthday cake to track his eating habits.​

If only

PowerPoint should be banned. This PowerPoint presentation explains why.
It is estimated that more than 30 million PowerPoint presentations are given every day. But as PowerPoint conquered the world, critics have piled on. And justifiably so. Its slides are oversimplified, and bullet points omit the complexities of nearly any issue.​

A great PowerPoint about PowerPoint, with examples that really hit the mark. “Make these slides the last ones you ever read”? If only. It’s far too ingrained and we’re far too lazy. And don’t think Prezi’s any better, unless you’re a fan of motion sickness.

“Integrating” and “rationalising”

Pearson, the company behind Edexcel and BTEC, amongst others, are in the news today.

Pearson to cut 4,000 jobs after second profit warning in three months
“Faced with these challenges, we are today announcing decisive plans to further integrate the business and reduce the cost base, rationalise our product development and focus on fewer, bigger opportunities.”

Interesting language there, and a slight clash between it and the headline. Another article runs along similar lines:

Pearson to cut 10% of workforce as it issues profit warning
The company said Thursday it expects to report adjusted operating profit in 2015 of approximately £720 million and adjusted earnings per share of between 69 pence and 70 pence. It previously forecast EPS to come in at the lower end of a range of 70 pence to 75 pence. In October, the company also cut its forecasts.

Watching them, inspecting us

Watchsted – the latest Ofsted inspections
“We created the inspections map for people to visualise the latest inspections schools, children’s centres and early years establishments all over the country. The map contains a simple view of each inspection’s summary grades and a quick link to the provider on the Ofsted website.”

And here’s another approach.

How I track Ofsted
“This is something I used to do for the LA and often end up doing for HTs when they ask me “what are Ofsted up to? Will we be next?”. Obviously we don’t really know who will “be next” but this method has proved to be fairly accurate so I thought it was worth sharing here.”​​​

Data Manager priorities?

A half day in the Life of a Data Manager
“What I wanted to ask was if you were in my situation, where should I concentrate my precious few spare hours here and there in order to get to grips with SIMs, what more it can do for me/the school, and what more my role as a Data Manager should include in your experience?”​

The responses so far seem to boil down to moving away from us analysing the data to encouraging teachers and leaders to analyse the data for themselves, by providing better tools and training. Teach a guy to fish, and all that.

Protecting library privacy

You are not what you read: librarians purge user data to protect privacy
“I was approached years ago at a different library about users who’d checked out certain astrological books,” said Thistlethwaite. The NYPD officer told her he was looking for the Zodiac killer. “Most police investigations are a little smarter than that, but sometimes they’re just not.”

Seems pretty clear to me: ​one of the principles in the Data Protection Act is that data should not be kept longer than is necessary. Admittedly this is a news article from the US, where there’s no direct equivalent of the DPA, but still.