All About Communication

In a stack of papers called Technology.

  • May
  • 31
  • 2006

My interests find me in various spots of the Web. Dabbling in lots of different things means that I have reason to read lots of sites. As I’ve mentioned on here before, my interest in design takes me to a lot of sites that I wouldn’t have visited otherwise. Reading through those sites, I’m always amazed at the connections between the design world and teaching.

It makes sense, really. Design is all about communication. So is teaching, when boiled down to the basics. Teaching isn’t even so much about instruction as it is about communication, especially at the high school level. And there are plenty of reasons that designers and educators would find themselves using similar resources.

On Writing

A List Apart, a primary resource for those of you trying to learn more about how to design and code, has been a weekly haunt of mine for going on 2 years now. I am proud to say that I remember what the site looked like 2 designs ago. Ok, on to why it’s important for a teacher.

The current design of the site has a spot for “Editor’s Choice,” a chance to dig up a gem from the past and promote it on the home page. That would make for a nice plug in for this site. Hmmm…

This month’s Editor’s Choice brings an article from August of 2002 back from the dead: 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web.

Reading that article, I found myself scanning through many tips I give to my students on revision days. Actually, many of those are tips I throw out just about every day and things I have in mind when designing writing units. The latter tips apply directly to my blog experiment, things I have in mind to start with next year.

It’s always nice to see my ideas about the classroom exist in a world outside of education. “See,” I can tell my students. “It’s not just me that’s saying that!” I can only imagine that it’s nice for designers to see their philosophies espoused in the world of education. “See,” they can tell their clients. “It’s not just us saying that!”

If schools are working to create thinkers who take these kinds of things into consideration, these kinds of writing tips and these kinds of relationship skills, more critical media consumption happens. That should make a designer’s job easier as well as more challenging and should work to create better design.

Pimp My Whiteboard

I hate ads and generally don’t visit sites that use them (there are a few Web sites that I respect but don’t visit because of the ads). But Coudal (a site I’ve written about before) started this thing called The Deck, a selective pool of companies advertised on associate sites. Not just anybody can have their ad in The Deck. Quality services promoted through very direct and unobtrusive ads, combined with the selective process it takes to number among the companies promoted there, makes The Deck a more trusted source of advertising.

While reading that article on 10 writing tips, I spotted an ad for scanR in the right sidebar, the space reserved for ads from The Deck. scanR will take that dim photo of your whiteboard, the one with the reflection of the light of your flash, and turn it into a clean, searchable PDF file. It will do the same to photos of documents.

This holds a lot of potential for teachers, at least for those who aren’t concerned about copyright laws. I often operate under the assumption that anything I need falls under the “for educational purposes” clause that I believe exists in everything. Oh, I realize that it doesn’t actually exist in everything, but I like to believe it does. That pirated copy of Microsoft Office? “for educational purposes.” All of my versions of Adobe products, none of which I have paid for? “for educational purposes.” Also, I hope that no one is bold enough to prosecute a teacher for copyright violation when all he was trying to do was address the deep inequities that exist in the system. Maybe I’ll get busted some day. Until then, I plan to take a few photos of some stories I’d like to teach and use scanR to make free copies of that story available to my students online.

Really, many reasons to use scanR exist. I’ve tried to take photos of my whiteboard before and they end up horrible, unusable. To keep the flash from reflecting off the board, I have to stand too far back for the words to be legible. Or it’s too dark in the room. Or there’s a glare from the sunshine streaming in the window. Or something. scanR looks to be able to solve these things. Give it a shot and let me know how it works for you.

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