Posts Tagged 'visualization'

Two perspectives on learning and leadership

Cross-posted at SchoolMatters (East TN, USA)

Our school system is undertaking a search for a new superintendent. Part of that process includes drafting a job description as well as selecting a head-hunting firm.

A 14-page draft of the job criteria is available to the public. Recently I took this text and created a tag cloud. In a previous entry, I posted the tag cloud as well as a short explanation of how I generated it.
SuperCloud

Generally speaking, I’m interested in understanding how we might interpret tag clouds and use them as visual summaries. After reading the superintendent job specs, I was struck by how much it was a reflection of our community — our issues and assets, our values and our priorities — as it was a description of an ideal instructional leader. For that reason, I thought it would make a cool visualization.

But how to interpret it?

Recently at the 21st Century Collaborative blog, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach presented an interesting framework. I invite you to check out her post about “tactical” versus “strategic” perspectives and then take a second look at Knox County’s approach. What are we seeking, stability or change? Where is our focus, inward or outward? What do we value, institutions or people?

What do you think?

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Tag cloud of superindentent specs

I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to play with TagCrowd, a tool that instantly generates tag clouds from text you paste, type, or upload at the site’s home page.

I first learned of the TagCrowd application when I stumbled upon these clouds created from the April 2007 Democratic debates. While the clouds are by no means a substitute for actually listening to the debate or reading the transcripts, they provide a glimpse of the interplay between language and human values.

Recently, as part of its search to identify a new superintendent, the local school system here in Knoxville, Tennessee, released a 14-page “position specification” draft document that outlines the traits of an ideal candidate. I used this document to create a tag cloud.

A few word about how I made the cloud:

  • Out of a suggested range of 10-100 tags, I specified 100 tags to show in the cloud.
  • I also specified that similar words be grouped together, i.e. “learn” and “learning.”
  • The generator does not count common words, such as “a” or “the.”
  • I copied the text from a PDF file and pasted it into the window on the TagCrowd home page; I did not include the cover page or contact information on the last page of the PDF.

So, what do you think? What does the superintendent tag cloud reveal to you? What surprises you? What words are missing that you expected to see? What conclusions, if any, can you draw from the cloud?

SuperCloud

created at TagCrowd.com

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Think on this:

"What if we just ignored the status of students in other countries? That wouldn’t be especially neighborly, but at least we wouldn’t be viewing the gains of children in other lands as a troubling development."

Alfie Kohn


"When I hear people say it's our job to create the 21st century workforce, it scares the hell out of me. Our job is to create 21st-century citizens. We need workers, yes, but we also need scholars, activists, parents -- compassionate, engaged people."

Chris Lehmann

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Classroom 2.0
School Matters (East TN, USA)
Media Literacy