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Showing posts from 2009

Beer Fail

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Here's a funny end-of-the-week FAIL image for you all :-) And for those of you who are wondering what the Beer-Lambert Law is, our friends at Wikipedia say: In optics, the Beer–Lambert law, also known as Beer's law or the Lambert–Beer law or the Beer–Lambert–Bouguer law (in fact, most of the permutations of these three names appear somewhere in literature) relates the absorption of light to the properties of the material through which the light is traveling. It sure makes me happy that I wasn't a physics major :-)

From e-learning to We-learning

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OK, this one goes back a while (back to September as a matter of fact!) It's been sitting in my RSS starred items folder for a while waiting for me to do something with it. For the longest period of time I did not know what to do with it. The reason for this is that what the author writes seems so bleeping obvious (with the exception of the made up term "we-learning"). I remember back in the day, when I was a wee MBA student taking a course in Knowledge Management (sidebar: just looked at my transcript - wow, that was Spring of 2006! it seems so long ago), we spoke of these issues of capturing knowledge within the company and how we can capitalize on it, either through formal or informal means. The books and cases we used were anywhere from less than a year old to things that went back a decade (or more). The key thing here is that the idea of using informal learning, looking to your fellow coworker for knowledge, is an old thing and I am surprised that learning sp

The is near (today actually!)

This is it! The end of the semester! All papers are in, all projects are in, classes are no longer in session, and I have no finals! My obligations (academic ones anyway) are over for the semester! I have to say that this was one challenging semester, and I am quite happy it's done! Next semester I am finishing off my MEd in Instructional Design, and with a little luck (and possibly lots of studying) in one year's time I will be done with my MA in Applied Linguistics as well. I've started to slowly read my materials for next semester - yeah I know! The semester is barely over and I am already starting up again? Well, I learned long ago that in Grad School (this may apply to undergrads as well), that the old Greek proverb "Των φρονίμων τα παιδιά πριν πεινάσουν μαγειρεύουν" is very true. The proverb, loosely translated, says "Kids of proper parents cook before they are hungry" - I guess it's sort of like the boy-scout motto "always be prepare

Down to the wire

OK, this is it! All hands on deck (I guess that gives me a grand total of two hands) - projects are due on Tuesday! No commentary for the next week or so on Instructional Design, Linguistics or Academia because research papers are due - but thanks to Steve Kaufman, Cammy Bean and Karl Kapp (and many others!) I have a ton to write about once I am done with my school work. OK, no more messing around - now back to research...

Buzzwords

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Ok, Ok... I was going to start the month off with something more serious (that response to SK for example), but the semester is almost over, my brain power is taken up with more homework/paper related things (i.e. getting them done on time), and it's December first! So here's another little humorous start to your academic month :-) I wonder if Google has indexed all academic articles going back like they've done with books. Perhaps a google trends on articles would be a fun thing to do on spare time...

Happy Turkey Day (for those in the US)

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I was going to wrap up the month (now that I generally post on a Tuesday-Thursday schedule) with some thoughts on Steve Kaufman's semi recent rant on Theorists muddling language education. However, since it is a holiday in the US and I am inclined to post something more light hearted and humorous, here's a recent xkcd comic on the differences between academia and "the real world". I think that some of my friends out there will get a good laugh! Be safe, don't eat too much (those of you who are celebrating thanksgiving), and do spend some time on homework - the end (of the semester) is near!

Cloud Computing in Plain English

I like common craft videos and I was a little disappointed that I had not seen a new one for a while. Well, the good folks over at common craft have created a video for cloud computing. I think that I sense a change in direction here for these videos - previous videos seemed to be more for the layperson-enduser, however this particular video seems to be targeted toward the layperson-manager. Interesting, but not as entertaining as the other ones :-)

Command Structure

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Happy-almost-weekend! I just loved this PhD strip from a week or so ago :-) Everything is predicated on doing the least amount of work, which is work that doesn't waste time hahaha :-)

Busy month!

Wow, this semester is really (REALLY) moving along quite fast. This month is just flying by, and December is going to be quite literally two class sessions. Lots of stuff is due, lots of papers, final projects, critical essays....wow... So what's on my plate? - Observation Analysis + Lesson plan for my ESL methods/materials class - Complete Thematic Unit Lesson Plan for my Foreign Language methods class (yes they are different) - Critical Analysis Essay for my Foreign Language methods class (plus an evaluation of a classmate's Essay) - Evaluation Plan for an eLearning class (see Kirkpatrick for details) - Put the finishing touches on the Academic Integrity Training that I am creating - Finish off the rough draft of my capstone. I guess I don't really have to do my capstone stuff given that I am actually supposed to do it next semester, but I am really into it, so it's hard to put something down when you've got a lot of inspiration for it. On top of all

Multilingualism, please!

I guess that by this point you've guessed that I am a language geek (among other types of geek). A week or so ago I was reading this opinion piece, titled Only English Spoken , on Inside Higher Ed. The author goes through a synopsis of historical liberal arts education, and the role that foreign languages played in it. The general view of the opinion piece (which you should read, by the way) is that if you are only monolingual you are denied access to a lot of inside knowledge. While a lot of information may be available in your native language (English for example in most cases in the US), and a lot of information is available in English (science and technology related information in my case), there is a corpus of knowledge both written and spoken that is not available in English and that knowledge is inaccessible if you don't know that language. I happen to agree with this point of view and I do agree that as college graduates from US universities we should be at least b

Getting that warm fuzzy feeling of "I've been there! Done That!"

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I guess this is one of those self-congratulatory blog posts ;-) I'll try not to be too cocky about it :-) Anyway. Recently a colleague of mine sent me this blog post from the .eduGuru blog . The blog post is interesting to read so you should go ahead and do that. The quick highlights though are these: 1. College wants to do something exclusive for new students 2. College creates online exclusive community 3. College uses Ning to do it. There have been many instances where I've had ideas for things that would make student's lives easier, but this is one idea that I actually grabbed and ran with it - and the result if the UMass ID community on Ning . Of course my goals weren't just to welcome new students. My goal was to create a community of practice made up of current students, newly accepted students to the program and of alumni. People can come and be welcomed by a community of practitioners, they can find information about the program (what they need to do t

Intro to Instructional Design - what should it be? (part 2)

OK, so in the last post I covered the model to be used in an introduction to instructional design class. Now the model should not be the focus of the course. The model should be an overarching theme that can be used to tie other elements together, and to be used in producing a final project in the course. In an intro class I could expect the following: Introduction to some learning theories : Theories like behaviorism, constructivism and so on. Just give people a 30,000 foot view of the theoretical knowledge in the field. Semester Project : This would be a project that would make students think about all the steps required to design instruction. The topic could be something as mundane as making a spanish omelet or a monte-cristo sandwich. The point here is that students will need to think about everything that needs to go into instruction and create the instruction. This would be a group project (no more than 3 members) Mini Research Papers : Nothing crazy, just 2 papers in a s

Intro to Instructional Design - what should it be? (part 1)

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In the past couple of months I've had some interesting discussions with colleagues and classmates about the introduction to instructional design class that we've taken in our instructional design program. It's interesting that people generally tend to fall into one of two camps: the anti-Dick & Carey camp, and the for-Dick & Carey camp. Before I go on, let me just say that our program uses the Dick & Carey model for approaching instructional design. The camp that loves the Dick & Carey model likes it for breaking down the process into discreet steps. They don't like models like ADDIE or ASSURE because they view them as sloppy. On the other camp, the Dick & Carey haters, I've heard arguments that the intro to ID course should not be a course on Dick & Carey; even though Dick & Carey might be a great model to use in real life do you really have time for all those steps? I think that the truth lies somewhere between both camps. I thi

New media is dumb is like txting - waaaaaah!

I really wish I could do an Adam Sessler like video podcast on this (complete with sessler-like sarcasm ;-) ) - Oh well, I think I will keep it to text. I was reading an article on Inside Higher Ed a couple of weeks ago and I was waiting to see what comments this story would bring up. Alas, only about 13 comments. In any case, the blog post here is essentially about collaborative learning using technologies like blogs and wikis in the classroom, and making the knowledge available to the world and having it be accessible after the course ends - something that is currently not done in Blackboard. I've written about this topic before so it's nice to see others picking it up. The story here isn't really the blog post itself, but rather the comments that were left on the story by various members of IHE. What I find AMAZING are comments like these: I spend too much of my time trying to get students to punctuate, capitalize, and, more generally, to not write as if they'

Course offering - some thoughts

I was reading University Diaries on InsideHigherEd the other day and I came across this point-counterpoint Point [C]atalogue copy is prepared yearly (sometimes twice yearly), which means that universities are almost always “lying” about their programs. Let’s say a student applies to a department because it offers a specialty he is interested in, and he arrives to find that the key players — the ones he wanted to study with — departed last month. It’s hard to see why he should have a legal remedy. There is really no one to blame... Counterpoint Has Fish not heard of the computer? Students rarely get course information from slowly prepared print media; everything's online now, including catalogue copy, so there's no reason why it can't be updated rapidly and constantly. Again, I agree with him that legal remedies for complaints about this are absurd; but he's not acknowledging the reality of universities. The problem's not the slow publication of information.

Congitive Overload

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I love SlideShare! You can find some pretty exciting presentations on there :-) Here is a primer on cognitive overload: Chris Atherton at TCUK09 View more documents from Chris Atherton .

Core Principles in Research

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I love the PhD comic strip :-)

Strategies for graduate student success!

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OK, I fibbed, I am not going to give you the magic bullet that will make you an uber-student being able to tackle three graduate classes, a family and full time work! Heck, I don't have those answers to give :-) The situations recently where people tried to tap into the "secrets" I have for being able to manage a full graduate course load plus a full time job made me think of a seminar that I had as an undergraduate called "study smarter, not harder". At the time I was overwhelmed with working two part-time jobs (45-55 hours per week) plus a full course load (4 courses). I was tired, I was stressed and I was looking for a magic bullet. When I went to this seminar I thought to myself "whaaaat? Seriously? Your tip is not not leave things 'till the last minute? WOW! Now THAT is a revelation!" My workflow (i.e. "tips" or "magic bullet") works for me, but it is not a guarantee that it works for everyone and in all situations.

Moodle and Web 2.0

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I cam across this presentation recently on Moodle and Web 2.0 features Web 2.0 tools and techniques View more presentations from Mark Drechsler . Yes, it is quite interesting, but I think that LMS creators are missing the point. The reason why Web 2.0 is popular is because you are not in a walled garden. The content is open to the greater internet using community, and you've got many, many users creating, posting, remixing, tagging and categorizing this information. In an LMS you've got 30 people - max - and at the end of the semester that work is lost to the student, and it's not accessible to new students. In essence at the end of each semester you have a tabula rasa. Web 2.0 will work for education in some instances if the walled garden approach is taken, however it will really fly if we move beyond the mindset of each semester being a separate island if we want to use Web 2.0 tools effectively.

A successful student ?!?!

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I've had a couple of interactions with recent grad students - tapping into my knowledge of 'the system'. There is no doubt that in each person's mind they want to be a successful student - however the definition of what a successful student is varies from person to person. Some people want to be a successful student that takes as many courses as possible in order to graduate as soon as possible. They generally seem to look for courses that are low-impact so that they can get that coveted 'easy A' - I guess this would be the grad school equivalent of speed dating, but instead of partners it's courses, and and the end of the night instead of a name and number your get a degree. In my opinion this isn't being a successful student. In many respects it's probably a short term success and a long term failure. So do grades not matter? Should we take the slow path through grad school? Those are silly questions! No, you should not take the slow path thro

Open Source Textbooks...

File this under random thoughts... So, we've been talking about textbooks in my linguistics classes for the last couple of semesters and how most of them suck when it comes to language learning. My classmates who do teach languages for their day jobs constantly find creative ways of working through the deficiencies of the texts that they are saddled with. On the other side of the fence, in instructional design, we do talk about materials selection, and if there is material that will fit your needs, appropriate it, otherwise make your own (if time and money are not an issue). I happened to read a blog post recently with language learning resources on the web and I was reminded again of wikibooks. This lead me down the path of open source textbooks such as wikibooks and Flat World . The big question here is why don't we do it? Why don't we subject matter experts get together and create language textbooks that don't suck? Get some linguists, some language experts

The Dewey Dilemma?

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Time to put on the librarian hat ;-) Sooooo, I was reading on Library Journal recently and article called "The Dewey Dilemma". For those of you how haven't stepped foot in a public library recently, most books are categorized according to the Dewey Decimal System ( see this wiki article for more info on the DDC ). Now many libraries are trying to make their collections more accessible to the public and they are thinking of either switching to the BISAC system (the one used in bookstores in the US), or having some sort of hybrid system between Dewey and BISAC. As I was reading this article, and as I have followed along with debates on listservs on the issue, I can say that this is not a Dewey system, it's not even a classification issue (how you organize books). Rather it's an issue of how your customers (or "patrons" in library speak) are looking for information. What is the purpose of the library? and How are are people going about their informati

Anyone can do instructional design!

In these past couple of weeks I've seen a number of articles where people talk about Instructional Design as something a laySME (layman subject matter expert) can (or can't) do. First I saw Gina's post about whether someone should be doing ID even though they can. Gina makes some pretty interesting points about whether people should do instructional design even though they think they can. This lead straight to blog posts like Instructional design - pah, who needs it? and A “Hello World” Approach to Teaching Instructional Design . Finally, a good post was Do learners really need learning objectives? I urge you to go out an read these posts, they are pretty interesting. Of course you come where for what I think...so...what do I think? Personally I think that anyone can do instructional design because instructional design jobs are poorly described. An Instructional Design job can be an LMS administrator, a WIMBA or Adobe Connect support person, an educational technolo

καλαμαράς - the penpusher

I was reading a linguistics blog recently on diglossia and a cypriot Greek (or is it Greek Cypriot word? - anyway) came up. The word is Καλαμαράς (kalamaras) which in cypriot apparently is penpusher (you know, a bureaucrat). This word is fascinating! The root of the word is Καλαμάρι (Kalamari) - yes as in calamari/squid. Why? Because that's where ink comes from. In new years carols santa claus (saint Basil actually) brings χαρτί (paper) and καλαμάρι (pen). This is the only instance that I know of where καλαμάρι is used as the word for pen in Greek. The suffix of the word is -ας, a person who deals with whatever the prefix is, so in this case, the person that deals with pens. I suppose that it might also mean a squid fisherman, but penpusher sounds like a better use of the word ;-) It's amazing the things you learn!

Quack! Quack!

I was reading an article on Science Direct on Librarianship Education. I am surprised that there is such a fuss over a name - however in a profession that only accepts individuals who received their degree from an ALA-accredited institution, it makes sense. Personally I think that librarianship, for the purposes of working in a public or academic library, is something that you don't need a Masters degree in Library (or information!) Science. You probably need a degree of some other sort to make you a Subject Matter Expert in something, but things like reference and cataloguing don't require an MLIS. A recent exchange with an MLIS colleague shows this. The comment was that this individual did not want to catalogue because it was mindless - they should hire a paraprofessional for that. If you look at Masters level LIS work in Greece for instance you will see more theoretical work done. Work on international standards, work on theory, work on integrating non-LIS professions an

Studies on multitasking missing the point...

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A few weeks back I starred this article on my google reader. I actually found it interesting because I have been known to multitask (depending on whom you ask you may find me to be a heavy multitasker or a mild multitasker). I found a few quotes necessitated expansion: Perhaps what we are doing [multitasking] has nothing to do with efficiency. I don't operate the way I do with the principal goal of speeding things up. My motivations are much more complex and diffused. [...] I am not trying to speed up how quickly I shift from one thing to another. Instead, I am involved in a stream of activities, in which other people figure prominently, either synchronously through direct discussion (a la Twitter or IM) or indirectly, through their writings and my responses In many cases, I leave activities dangling because I don't know exactly how I feel about them. In some cases, I could resolve my feelings and take some action if I simply stopped other activities and focused solely on

Abilene Christian University - One year later

I was reading this post on Inside Higher Ed , about the findings of Abilene Christian University a year after they started giving an iPod touch or iPhone to each incoming freshman. This was quite an interesting article to read - and partly because of the high success rating from both students and faculty. I wonder how many instructional technologists and how many instructional designers they had on board to prepare for the on-slaught of course conversions (or content additions) to be able to use iPhone as an actual learning tool rather than a gimmick device. One of my favorite tools is ProfCast - which takes PowerPoint and Keynote slides and allows you to narrate them (similar to Adobe's Presenter). The difference is that they are made into podcasts instead of streaming video files. I would take downloadable podcasts over streaming files any day of the week.

The role of theory in Instructional Design

I was reading this article a week or so ago on the role that theory plays in instructional design. Even though the study was very limited (only 7 participants, and in several different industries), I've seen similar results when working with my classmates (I should point out that this post is not meant to criticize my classmates, but to point out observations in the instructional design field as a whole) The researchers in this study found ten themes: Participant desire to use theory and report that they often do. Participants expressed ambivalence toward theory (theories were “viewed as overly abstract, rigid, or complex with relatively little guidance regarding application.”) The range of theories chose are “likely limited to those that practitioners know about, understand how to apply, and find useful in their work.” The researchers then suggested that “practitioners may seldom identify theories that are actually useful in their specific setting, even if a helpful theory

Heard this before...

I was reading an article recently on the Washington Post , the title of which was A Virtual Revolution Is Brewing for Colleges. Quite honestly I've heard this before, and I've been hearing this for the last ten years. Still hasn't happened. Here's an interesting quote: the young students of tomorrow will be growing up in an on-demand, personalized world, in which the notion of a set-term, offline, prepackaged education will seem anachronistic. In my experience, there have been very few prepackaged classes. In all of my undergrad education we've had guidelines about what should be covered, however the classes were anything but prepackaged. We did get off syllabus, we did explore interesting tangents, and the students who were in the class did offer valuable insights. Another interesting quote: soon you'll see more Web sites that make it easy to take classes from a blend of different universities. While this would be interesting, there is a problem of accr

Free food

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With the beginning of the semester behind us, and the opening festivities almost behind us as well, this puts an end to the free food on campus. I guess we're back to "normal" now, as indicated by this PhD comic strip

5 Reasons Microsoft will buy Blackboard

I saw this article on Inside Higher Ed recently. It's an interesting concept, but I don't really buy into it. Blackboard it toxic at the moment. Many people who use it absolutely despise it. Microsoft already has image problems, having one more image problem is not something that they need to fix their brand. If Microsoft were to buy Blackboard, they would probably buy them and end-of-life all current Blackboard products with the exception of Angel - that product seems to be loved by the people who use it, however this is unlikely. Many customers would probably prefer to see upgrades to BlackBoard Vista and CE to make them more intuitive rather than switch to another product altogether since there are course conversion costs (converting existing templates, training people, training faculty, troubleshooting, etc.), and if Microsoft were to kill off the troubled children of Blackboard this could compound on their existing image problems. If Microsoft were to enter the LMS/CMS

I don't get #lrnchat!

It's been a while since I attended PodCamp Boston and met a lot of interesting people :-) One of those interesting people is Gina Minks ( @gminks on twitter) Gina informed me about #lrnchat, on twitter ( you can find transcripts here ) and I eagerly wanted to check things out. What is #lrnchat? #lrnchat is an online chat that happens every Thursday night 8:30-10pm EST / 5:30-7pm PST over the social messaging service Twitter. Participants are people interested in the topic of learning from one another and who want to discuss how to help other people learn. I haven't had a chance to participate in a #lrnchat session because when it's on I am generally tired. The morning following a #lrnchat session I feel as though my twitter stream has been spammed - and spammed badly. I only get one side of the conversation with some quotes that are just like "whaaaaaa?" and others that are awesome pearls of wisdom in an of themselves that can stand without context. Now

Paying students for academic achievement

This months started off with a "show me the money" theme, both for pre-college and college level kids. First we had a story on NRP, asking whether paying for grades cheapens education , and then we had a story from Indiana University's Pressroom on their "incentive grants" for students who do well in school. I fall somewhere in between the two positions of to pay and not to pay. When I was in school I did not get money from my parents for bringing home a good report card, however I did get certain allowances, like being able to play computer games (on my 68040 Performa - no FPU!) and being in a better bargaining position when it came to buying new video games. When I was in college it was expected that I was an adult and I was responsible enough to value the education that I was paying for. Of course what it comes down to is this: Whether in K-12 or in College, we end up paying for education. Nothing is free. If you want to reward kids for doing well in K-

What is an Instructional Designer?

I was reading Inside Higher Ed earlier this week and there was an interesting list (similar to Educause's 7-things lists) about what define a learning technologists. Out of this list these three points are quite interesting to me, and quite possibly define my weltsanschauung with regard to educational technology and my likes at work. We learning technologists share a healthy skepticism towards the dominant commercial CMS, Blackboard. Put another way, our relationship with Blackboard is often ambivalent. Philosophically, I think many of us are drawn to open and community source platforms and business models. There is an important conversation going on in our profession about the advantages of sticking with Blackboard as our campus CMS (which there are many), versus moving in larger numbers to an open source alternative (with Moodle getting the most traction lately). This conversation will continue to dominate our profession. Personally it's not like I hate Blackboard, it

The Learning 2.0 Strategy

I was recently reading a wrap-up post on eLearningTech, which pointed me to an older post that Tony Karrer had written. In this post Tony writes about the key aspects of Learning 2.0 (briefly summarized here): Start Tactical and Bottom Up Avoid the Culture Question Avoid Highly Regulated Content (and Lawyers) Learning Professionals Must Lead Prepare Workers for Learning 2.0 Technology is Tactical not Strategic Avoid the CIO What's interesting about this is that this is the way that I've started building out the Instructional Design network of students and alumni (and other people involved with the Graduate Program at UMass Boston), first with Ning, then adding on a Wiki and other services that can help both students and alumni. What I find interesting is that all the members of the community are learning professionals, or want to be learning professionals anyway, but we are still experiencing the same types of issues that any organization faces: it's a real cul

Barriers to technology accessibility a myth?

I was reading an article recently on the 5 Myths of Mobile Learning . While I somewhat agree with most of what is said, I take issue with the "Accessibility and Cost Myth" This was perhaps one of the stranger myths I encountered, that personal mobile computing devices are inaccessible because of the inherent cost barriers. Looking around me here in India at the amazing rate of adoption of mobile devices (see Mobile Learning in India) and the availability of mobile networks capable of data that now range contiguously across India (see Networks in Rural India), its obvious cost is hardly a factor in the mobile learning equation. Phones today cost far less than they ever did, do far more and are cheaper to use because network usage charges are dropping consistently. These factors contribute to increased technology availability and subsequent adoption. I think that it depends on what the meaning of Mobile is, and even then there are accessibility constraints. Not everyone car

Missing those firedrills

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Aaaaah, First week back to classes after a summer of classes (and lots of rain ) and the beloved fire drills are back Of course I won't be participating in te firedrills because we don't have any in the library building. I remember that as an undergraduate I loved fire drills because it got me out of class. As an employee I hated them because there was always a chance that something would go missing, and now that I haven't had a firedrills on five years I strangely find myself missing them. Odd. Very odd indeed -- Post From My iPhone

I am no good at computers

Well the semester started and I invariably got my first "I'm sorry, I'm just no good at computers" comment from someone at work. This reminded me of a post that I saw on Dangerously Irrelevant a few weeks back. I first started hearing this a couple of years back and ever got it. This quote from Dangerously Irrelevant was really interesting: What does this say about us as educators? As employees of supposed learning organizations who purportedly are all about 'life-long learning?' Is saying "I'm not very good at computers" the modern counterpart to "I'm not good at math" (both typically accompanied by a chuckle and a c'est la vie hand wave as if it didn't matter)? Personally I've never heard of "I'm just no good at math". Granted I am not the best at math, but I still do try, and I do get a correct answer eventually. I've never had a c'est la vie attitude about not being able to do math, and I&#

Post-hoc versus post-doc

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A little Friday humor for you all

Media Literacy for the 21st century

Here's a nice little clip of Rheingold on Media Literacy A quick run down of his literacies: * Attention * Participation * Collaboration * Critical consumption (aka crap detection). OMG he said crap! Personally I would have called it Bullshit detector :-) (or is that a different category?) 21st century media literacies from JD Lasica on Vimeo .

Conversation Simulation Software

While I was exploring the options for conversation simulation software (I am not that skilled with Flash so that would take WAY too long to accomplish), I came across KDSimStudio (via eLearning Learning ). I was really excited to try it out since it seemed straight forward and easy to use, and there was a demo version that I could try. The software looks nice, but I found out that it only supports roman character sets (maybe even just ASCII), so all my Greek looks like gibberish. Too bad because I thought that this software would have been great for language education!

Google for Education

I love the phrase: Collaborating like it's 1999 :-)

What does a D stand for?

Earlier this month I was reading the sinkhole ahead blog post on Inside Higher Ed, which prompted me to read this little rant on the D written by the same author. You know it's funny, I've been a student for quite some time now and I've never thought of the "D" much. One semester in my undergrad I just wanted to get a D in calculus II so that I can pass and move on. Calculus II wasn't required for any subsequent courses, but I had to take it and pass it, and quite honestly I felt like I was being dragged behind a bus. In any case, what is debated is what role does D satisfy? I've always thought about the letter grade system as being things similar to my Greek Elementary school grading A = 'Αριστο = Excellent B = Πολύ Καλό = Very Good C = Καλό = Satisfactory/good D = Μέτριο = So, so (not quite fail, not quite satisfactory, needs work) F = 0 (Zero) Now, one of the blog posts mentions the following D's make some level of sense if you believe t

Getting out of Grading - Seriously?

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Earlier this month I was reading an article on Inside Higher Ed about about a Duke administrator that went back into teaching, how she found Grading so tiresome that she decided to outsource it...to her students! Yes indeed, students in her class also graded each others papers. This professor writes: I can't think of a more meaningless, superficial, cynical way to evaluate learning than by assigning a grade. It turns learning (which should be a deep pleasure, setting up for a lifetime of curiosity) into a crass competition: how do I snag the highest grade for the least amount of work? how do I give the prof what she wants so I can get the A that I need for med school? That's the opposite of learning and curiosity, the opposite of everything I believe as a teacher, and is, quite frankly, a waste of my time and the students' time. There has to be a better way.... I honestly fail to see what's superficial about grading. It's not a beauty contest among the student

The Wrath of Khan

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A little Friday PhD humor for you: I have to say that I've never been that inventive with my project names :-) I just go off swearing up a storm when something does not work ;-)

On ESL and critical thinking - some reactions

I was reading a post titled Language learning, critical thinking and the role of the teacher on the linguist the other day and I was really surprised. Now granted I am not a member of his list-serv, perhaps I should be to get the whole story, even though ESL isn't my immediate field of interest. Now long story short here, it appears that some people have their feathers ruffled because of the belief that critical thinking should (or should not) be included in the foreign language curriculum. Personally I think that critical thinking activities should be part of the curriculum in any language learning situation because when you are learning a language you are also learning about many other things that influence a language - such as culture, history, popular sayings, predispositions of the natives, and so on. Language is not used in a vacuum and simply learning more vocabulary doesn't mean that you will necessarily be getting more comprehensible input. Yousef writes (in the

Should we abolish copyright on academic works?

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...my two cents... I saw this on Techdirt about a month ago and it's been lingering in my Google Reader starred items ever since. I've made a good faith effort to read the original but my brain is a bit fried from this summer (and I would like to save a few braincells for the fall semester) Here's the abstract for the paper: The conventional rationale for copyright of written works, that copyright is needed to foster their creation, is seemingly of limited applicability to the academic domain. For in a world without copyright of academic writing, academics would still benefit from publishing in the major way that they do now, namely, from gaining scholarly esteem. Yet publishers would presumably have to impose fees on authors, because publishers would not be able to profit from reader charges. If these publication fees would be borne by academics, their incentives to publish would be reduced. But if the publication fees would usually be paid by universities or grantors,

Classes | over

Wow, classes are over! I suppose I should pop the cork off some wine or something and celebrate - then again school starts again in a couple of weeks so it will be a short lived celebration :-) This summer went by quite fast. I don't know if it was the crazy weather (mostly gray and rainy), or the fact that I had homework in the summer. Oh well. I still have at least three weeks of homework-free (and Blackboard-free!!!) time to enjoy the rest of the summer :-) Hopefully this time next year I will be done with my Instructional Design degree!

Selecting an LMS

Selecting an LMS is probably not an easy thing for an organization because many different faculty probably have many different requirements for their classes. This exercise in LMS selection then becomes a balancing act between cost, ease of use, and fulfilling as many of the user requirements as possible. Last summer, when I was taking INSDSG 619 we spoke about these issues but at a surface level since that wasn't the focus of the course. I think it would be great to offer a course on LMS selection and administration so that students can get their hands dirty with a few types of LMS before graduating. This of course would require the 800lb gorilla in the room (Blackboard) to work out a deal with the university/department to allow for cheap or free experimentation :-) I came across this small checklist for those who are in the process of thinking of an LMS: click here . In lieu of a full course, it's good enough to get you started thinking about the issues :-)

Depth or Breath?

I was reading this on Slashdot the other day about a person going back to school to complete their computer science degree. Here's a quick quote: I recently went back to college to finish my CS degree, however this time I moved to a new school. My previous school taught only C++, except for a few higher level electives (OpenGL). The school I am now attending teaches what seems like every language in the book. The first two semesters are Java, and then you move to Python, C, Bash, Oracle, and Assembly. While I feel that it would be nice to get a well-rounded introduction to the programming world, I also feel that I am going to come out of school not having the expertise required in a single language to land a good job. After reading the syllabi, all the higher level classes appear to teach concepts rather than work to develop advanced techniques in a specific language. Which method of teaching is going to better provide me with the experience I need, as well as the experience an

The point of college, and other diatribes

This past week I saw an article on the BBC and a blog post on the Brazen Careerist network that go well together - like w(h)ine and cheese. Yes, the bad pun was intended. The BBC article centers around a woman in New York who is a jobless graduate and is suing her college because she's failed to get a job after graduation. As the BBC reports: She is seeking to recover $70,000 (£42,000) she spent on tuition to get her information technology degree and The ex-student, who received her degree in April, says the college's Office of Career Advancement did not provide her with the leads and career advice it had promised. "They have not tried hard enough to help me," she wrote about the college in her lawsuit. Her mother, Carol, said her daughter was "very angry at her situation" having "put all her faith" in her college. On the Brazer Careerist we see yet another pointless article about Personal Branding...or rather the blogger's convic

Death by webinar

I was reading about the deadly online seminar (or death by webinar as I call it) on the cogdogbloy recently. I couldn't help but smile because it reminded me of a Death by PowerPoint presentation that I had created a couple of years ago. I have to say that I echo all of the author's gripes about these types of webinars and it is the reason I generally hate Wimba sessions when we have them. Most Wimba sessions I've been to have been, essentially, a broadcast of information with little input or feedback from the audience (other than the "raise your hand"). It's also really hard to contribute without seeing the face of the people in the room. The paralinguistic features of communication are really marginalized in Wimba.

Digital Natives - are they really natives?

I was reading this article on Inside Higher Ed recently for a case discussion for one of my classes centered around Dr. iCranky. It is a pretty interesting article, and what's more there are some pretty interesting comments. Boiling the Dr. Cranky's letter down, it's about faculty forced to adopt new shiny technology in the name of Millenials (aka digital natives), the new type of student filling the lecture halls and faculty better get on board. I also read this article on first monday. Here's the abstract: Educational technology advocates claim today’s students are technologically savvy content creators and consumers whose mindset differs from previous generations. The digital native-digital immigrant metaphor has been used to make a distinction between those with technology skills and those without. Metaphors such as this one are useful when having initial conversations about an emerging phenomenon, but over time, they become inaccurate and dangerous. Thus, this