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Tinderbox for Teaching (Read 23198 times)
Amafortas
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Tinderbox for Teaching
Sep 27th, 2009, 12:20am
 
Hello all,  

I have a question about Tinderbox that I'm not quite sure how to phrase, so please bear with me when I fumble it.

I would like to find a way to draw on both the map and outline view of Tinderbox for the same set of data. Unfortuantely, I can't quite figure out how to get the two to "play" nicely with each other. In an ideal world, I could use the map view to organize my hierarchies and the outline view to navigate through them quickly. I realize that the easy way to do with would be to use containers in the map view. Unfortunately, though, the containers for my project would have to have their own sub-containers. Drilling down into the information consequently becomes a bit awkward as I cannot see the whole apparatus at once.

On the other hand, if I organize the files so they "work" at the level of the map view, then the outline is fairly useless as all the information is at the same level of the hierarchy.

I'm sure someone else has asked a similar question and would appreciate both links as well as any feedback you might be able to offer.

Have a good one,

~A
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Mark Bernstein
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Re: Tinderbox for Teaching
Reply #1 - Sep 27th, 2009, 5:38am
 
I think the map and outline views "play" very well together, but each view necessarily makes compromises in order to use a limited space efficiently.

In a large document, we can't show everything at once -- at least not in a small window.  And the more space on the screen we devote to illuminating individual notes, the fewer notes we can fit into our window.

Outlines show relatively little information about each note, so you can see lots of notes.  And outlines hide the insides of containers while giving you three ways -- expanding, hoisting. and opening a new outline -- to reveal the hidden information.

Maps show more information about each note, so you can't easily see as many notes,  And maps also hide the insides of containers, while again giving you was to reveal the insides.  In particular, it's easy to zoom into a container, and zoom out again.

Often, this information-hiding strategy is exactly what you want in teaching, letting you focus on ideas while providing details as required.   In the map, hiding may be reduced by

* using lots of space for containers
* setting their $InteriorScale to a small value, so interiors are drawn near or at full size

Even the treemap view, which is probably about as good at showing lots of notes as can be achieved, cannot show you all the notes in large Tinderbox documents.

In small documents, when you CAN see everything, you may not need hierarchy so much; here. maps views with adornments may be all you need, and outline may not give you much leverage.
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Mark Bernstein
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Re: Tinderbox for Teaching
Reply #2 - Sep 27th, 2009, 11:22am
 
That said, I should also say that this is an area where substantial contributions to computer science might well be made by students, graphic designers, or just about anyone.

So, if you have an idea for a better map view that shows more information more clearly, by all means sketch it.  Draw it on the back of an envelope.  Post it, or email it, or put it in a box and send it.  

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Jean Goodwin
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Re: Tinderbox for Teaching
Reply #3 - Sep 27th, 2009, 5:08pm
 
Hello, A.:  I suspect you already know this, but perhaps the following will be useful to someone.  It would have been useful to me, not long ago!

Separators (in outline view) and adornments (in map view) may allow a sort of "halfway hierarchical" organization.  And since neither is visible in the other view, they don't mess it up.

You can make the adornments very big, and contiguous, so they divide up the whole map into different conceptual regions;  you can also put adornments on top of adornments, "subdividing" them.  Meanwhile, all your notes remain visible.

You can also use separators to cut the outline view into chunks.  To divide these chunks into sub-chunks, you might try playing with OutlineTextSize, badges, or the color of the font (I forget what attribute that is).

These two half-way methods can play together well if you let the adornments set two attributes (like 1, 2, 3 and a, b, c), which you then sort by for the outline view.  One hint I think I picked up on this board is to assign the separator the lowest level of the attribute, so it always appears at the top of the relevant section.

Probably you could improve on this further by playing around with colors, and with OutlineTextSize in outline view and note size in map view.  Still, it's probably not going to work if you have more than maybe 50 notes and/or 3 levels of hierarchy.  Good luck!
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Amafortas
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Re: Tinderbox for Teaching
Reply #4 - Sep 27th, 2009, 10:19pm
 
Jean and Mark,

Thanks for the ideas. I do have a couple of thoughts but should I post them here or in the wish-list since I would be asking for new functionality?

Have a good one,

~A
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Mark Bernstein
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Re: Tinderbox for Teaching
Reply #5 - Sep 28th, 2009, 9:19am
 
New features: best to start a new topic in "Off The Wall", the feature-requests and inspirations section.

ALSO: we've been thinking about "Hypertext and Teaching" in Eastgate HQ, and there's a lot more to be said.  So look for some new stuff on this topic in the next day or two.  Some of it may appear on the wiki or elsewhere, but we'll mention it here as well.
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Amafortas
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Re: Tinderbox for Teaching
Reply #6 - Sep 28th, 2009, 10:46am
 
Mark,

Great, I'll keep an eye out for the posts.

I should probably also clarify that at the moment I'm looking to draw on hypertext to organize my own materials, not necessarily to use it as a presentation method in the classroom.

I have also posted a suggestion for a new feature request in the "Off the wall" section.

Have a good one,

~A
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Stacey Mason
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Re: Tinderbox for Teaching
Reply #7 - Sep 28th, 2009, 11:17am
 
As Mark B. mentioned, we have been focusing quite a bit on Tinderbox and teaching lately.  Look for updated information on the wiki over the next couple of days.

In the mean time, here is a quick link to some posts on Mark's blog which discuss Tinderbox and teaching.  This is just what a quick agent came up with, so some of the posts are slightly less relevant, but it may be helpful:

http://www.markbernstein.org/TbxTeaching.html

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Stacey Mason
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Re: Tinderbox for Teaching
Reply #8 - Sep 28th, 2009, 5:20pm
 
So we decided we were going to add some articles to the wiki, and we already had a bunch of information from the work we've been doing lately.  So I made some adornments for different topics we were thinking about and the starting placing notes based on which topic they related to, with overlapping notes/adornments incorporating all the subjects they touch. The farther out of the adornments a note is, the less relevant it was.



As you can see I have a prototype legend at the top. I used different gradients and color families to represent different sources.  

The outline view was also important, though, since the document also included a To Do list and post listings for the articles I was thinking about.  Since everything is more or less on the same “level” for mapping purposes, I separated common notes with Separators.



You’ll notice also that both of these views do, as Jean suggested, use adornments and separators to create a pseudo-hierarchy.

Also since there is so much information, I'll continue working on this tomorrow.  Hope this helps a bit!
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« Last Edit: Oct 7th, 2009, 1:10pm by Mark Anderson »  
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Rich Shields
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Re: Tinderbox for Teaching
Reply #9 - Sep 28th, 2009, 6:30pm
 
Thank you, Stacey, for this information. I am in the process of designing a graduate program for theological study. This gives me some ideas on how to approach.
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Amafortas
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Re: Tinderbox for Teaching
Reply #10 - Sep 28th, 2009, 7:25pm
 
Stacey,

That is a very cool map. I can see how it allows you make some conceptual observations about the notes. This adds a whole level of complexity that I hadn't considered when I was talking about the map view.

I am having a bit of trouble wrapping my head around the ideas though. What portion of your outline are you showing in the map?

Thanks,

~A
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Mark Anderson
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Re: Tinderbox for Teaching
Reply #11 - Sep 29th, 2009, 4:26am
 
All the items in Stacey's grab of her Outline view, save for the separators and the contents of container "focus on the TBX wiki... pages for:", will be 'visible' in the map view of that data.  However the grab of the Map simply doesn't show the entire map*.  The 3 prototypes at the top of the map will be scrolled offscreen at the bottom of the outline. Conversely, all the items in the 'To Do list' section of outline are offscreen on the map.  We can see all the items in the outline's 'Notes on Teaching' in the centre part of the map. The items at bottom left of the map are the section just scrolling into view at the bottom of the outline. As we'd expect, the map doesn't show outlines and the outline doesn't show adornments

* with maps (vs. outlines) it is less obvious if there is more content off-screen as maps are by design intended to be as big as needed. The best indicator there is more off-screen (Y or X axis) is to look at the size of the scroll bar button, the shorter the button the more travel it has on that axis (in order to scroll as far as the furthest content).

A few more notes below to help you with understanding Outline vs. Map and where things go.....

[rest of answer moved to new thread here].
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« Last Edit: Sep 29th, 2009, 12:53pm by Mark Anderson »  

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Stacey Mason
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Re: Tinderbox for Teaching
Reply #12 - Sep 29th, 2009, 10:03am
 
What you're seeing in the map view is the whole document except for my ToDo list. All of the notes (except the To Do list) keep to the top "level" of the hierarchy.

I personally like to keep my To Do list as a list; the map view doesn't really help me organize my list as well as the outline view on this project, as there's no visualization or mind-mapping necessary for that part, and the list is pretty short.

So for this case, I just moved those notes off to the side. A lot of times in cases like this, I put the "To Do list notes into a separate container just to get them out of the way in my map view.

The part I did want to use the map view for was organizing my ideas and sources for the wiki pages. So for those notes, I used the map view to figure how how they fit together.  For this, I haven't figured out a hierarchy yet, so I just need to kind of keep them separate on the outline view, keeping everything on the same hierarchical level.

Keep in mind, you don't always need to use both views.  For things like a To Do list, sometimes just using the outline view will keep things on track.  Similarly, if you're just mind-mapping something to gather your thoughts, adding too much hierarchy before you need it can be counter-productive. If I find that I am needing more structure as the document gets bigger and I have more and more notes, I can start to drop notes into other notes (thus making containers).  

Sometimes setting up too much hierarchy from the start can really make a complicated mess of things that haven't gotten complicated yet.  Robert Brooks mentioned at TBX weekend London that people often make oil paintings when they want sketches. Start with a sketch and if it turns into an oil painting, so be it; if it doesn't, you probably got the job done faster because all you needed was a sketch.
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peter
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Re: Tinderbox for Teaching
Reply #13 - Sep 29th, 2009, 4:54pm
 
I think I need a drink...
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Stacey Mason
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Re: Tinderbox for Teaching
Reply #14 - Sep 30th, 2009, 4:29pm
 
I added an "Information Gardening" page to the wiki.  This is the basic process I used to create the example I posted earlier.

http://www.eastgate.com/wiki2/wiki.cgi?InformationGardening
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