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Pandora April 24, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.

Pandora   This evening, one of my video podcasts highlighted the web site called Pandora that supposedly had figured out the musical genomes of thousands of songs so that you could create something like a radio station that would play songs that were similar to a particular style you enjoyed.

I created a few stations based on groups like Cowboy Junkies and The Beatles and another couple based on the relatively obscure music of Mark Mothersbaugh and Nick Drake. The resulting stations as determined by their algorithm pulled in some groups and singers I had never heard about before.

So why can we not create something similar in the world of poetry. If I suggest I like the poetry of e. e. cummings I might get some great recommendations, perhaps the poems of Ted Hughes, Wallace Stevens, and Anne Sexton based on thematic treatments, rhythm, length, meter, and style. Why stop there?

Perhaps students could suggest a few favorite people with some great biographies and receive, a few minutes later, a selection of similar biographies based on readability, theme, idealism, and length of book. Why stop there?

Bernice McCarthy created a system called 4MAT for designing lessons. Based on the learning styles of students, the lessons would touch on each of four main learning styles so that everyone in the class would receive equal attention to their learning styles. Those styles, by the way, were Inspiration, Guided Practice, Independent Practice, and Synthesis. Using the same system that Pandora used to find related music, what would stop students from tuning their learning so that the assignments and readings to their learning styles? Teachers could present assignments with vocabulary geared to their reading level and gradually ratcheted up based on their evolving skills.

There actually is very little standing in the way of this happening, only the will of the teachers and school administrators to make it so.



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