These Lectures Are Gone in 60 Seconds –

These Lectures Are Gone in 60 Seconds –

Take a 60-minute lecture. Cut the excess verbiage, do away with most of the details, and pare it down to key concepts and themes.

What’s left? A “microlecture” over in as few as 60 seconds. A course designer for San Juan College, a community college in Farmington, N.M., says that in online education, such tiny bursts can teach just as well as traditional lectures when paired with assignments and discussions.

I found this article very interesting as it really seems to push the limits and ideas of ways to present material in an educational setting. I’d be interested in attending a class with this as the format. Rarely do I read about ways to move beyond our current system of education and this seems intriguing to me. Not that it is perfect, mind you, but it might fit the needs of some learners and some learning contexts well. Another article on this her at the Open Education Blog. Enjoy!

Bridging Differences: Confusing Test Scores With ‘Being Well-Educated’

Bridging Differences: Confusing Test Scores With ‘Being Well-Educated’

This came to me via Tim Lauer’s site today. I sometimes think we can get so wrapped up in the test score that we forget what it means to be well educated. These are conversations that we need to have with each other as educators as well . . . .

The more high stakes the data, the more corrupt become the data—which I’m told is called Campbell’s Law. We poison the well once we promise folks more money for “better data.” When “data” (e.g. test scores) are in the driver’s seat, beware. We also need more independent “juries” to analyze and make recommendations based on independent information. The phrase itself “data-driven,” rather than “data-informed,” gives me the chills.

We also need sensible longitudinal research, to explore the connection between test scores, school models, etc., and “doing better” 10 years out. This is uncharted territory. We might explore, in short, what “doing better” could or should mean in real life.
Being taught early, over and over, that making a predetermined “wrong answer” (out of a predetermined four or five) has serious intellectual and social consequences is dangerous. It leads to bad pedagogy. It’s precisely in school that it’s important to value the exercise of judgment based on evidence rather than being taught how to slyly “guess” at the one “right” answer.

Opinion | Replace the WASL but do it right | Seattle Times Newspaper

Opinion | Replace the WASL but do it right | Seattle Times Newspaper

The article linked above is from The Seattle Times and it is about the idea of replacing their state standardized test, the WASL, with online standardized tests. When I read this piece, I kept agreeing over and over. Some of the choice quotes from the piece:

But the bigger validity question is: Does the test make any difference? Are college professors more pleased with students who have passed the test? Are employers? The answer is a resounding, “We don’t know.” States are afraid to ask this question because, if the answer comes up, “No,” they will be seen to have spent millions, even billions, of dollars for nothing. But informal studies by journalists have yet to turn up a positive instance. So forget all the fear-mongering rhetoric that we need these tests in order to compete with China and in the global economy.

These are the kinds of questions that I continue to ask in terms of our state standardized test, the SOL. What difference do these tests really make in terms of these kids’ lives? Do they really make any difference at all, except for states to say that they have X percent passing at Y level? Another quote:

A passing score tells you only how many kids jumped over the barrier you put in their path. It does not tell you how high they jumped.

Yes! This is something I’ve understood for a while now, as do most educators. Yet, most teachers are being judged on what percentage of their class has jumped over the barrier.

Another issue is what about the students that don’t make the passing score of 400 by one point. What if they score 399 and they’re not in the group of passing students? Are they left behind then? Could it be that they just guessed wrong on one question?

Finally, the author wraps it up by laying out the idea (false idea) that testing is something you do after you’re done teaching. Why? Shouldn’t we have assessments that are relevant and meaningful to the student so that they know what they’ve accomplished or where they’re lacking in understanding? Is a test the only way to assess? Of course not.

Read this one. It’s good.

What works . . . .

This past Monday I ran a 6 hour SmartBoard training workshop for a group of teachers at one school. We focused on the features that are in the new SmartNotebook 10 software mainly. I had quite a range of skill sets and comfort levels in terms of the teachers I was working with, so I approached it in a way that allowed all of the teachers to get something out of the day. Here’s what worked for me:

1. Demonstrate a little bit. I started the day off with some demonstration of the basic tools that are in the new software. This took a little over an hour. My goal was to only take an hour so that I wouldn’t lose their attention and also so that we could have maximum time back in the classroom working.

2. Provide “play” time. I set up the workshop so that the majority of the time was spent with the teachers in their classrooms working with their SmartBoards. My experience has taught me that the one thing teachers need a lot of for learning technology is time. Time to try it out, experiment and play. Doing this allows each teachers to use their own learning style to come away with skills that they need at their own level. We spent 4 of our 6 hours doing this: playing, working, experimenting, creating.

3. Float. I floated while the teachers worked. I went from room to room to try and answer questions during the work time. I also had a portable phone with me so that the teachers could reach me whenever they needed to. This kept me very busy as each time I went into a room with teachers there were questions to answer.

4. Share. At the end of the day, we all came back and I asked the teachers to share something that they learned and discovered. I prepped them for this by letting them know ahead of time that we would have this time for sharing. I encouraged them to share what they learned, even if they thought it wasn’t that significant. The way I see it is that it might not be a significant item to someone else, but it is to them, so why not share with the group? So, we shared. We could have shared more, too, as this group was in a very sharing mood.

This format isn’t one that I will use always, but in this case, it worked very well. It is one to keep in my bag of tricks for doing Staff Development, too. Perhaps this will be helpful to you, too!

Report Finds Online Threats to Children Overblown –

Report Finds Online Threats to Children Overblown –

This doesn’t surprise me. As a matter of fact, I think a lot of educators have already known this from working with their students. Have there been some problems? Sure. Is bullying more of a problem? Yes. It makes me rethink how Internet Safety and the curriculum that is used to teach this is implemented.

Online Literacy Is a Lesser Kind –

Online Literacy Is a Lesser Kind –
When Jakob Nielsen, a Web researcher, tested 232 people for how they read pages on screens, a curious disposition emerged. Dubbed by The New York Times “the guru of Web page ‘usability,'” Nielsen has gauged user habits and screen experiences for years, charting people’s online navigations and aims, using eye-tracking tools to map how vision moves and rests. In this study, he found that people took in hundreds of pages “in a pattern that’s very different from what you learned in school.” It looks like a capital letter F. At the top, users read all the way across, but as they proceed their descent quickens and horizontal sight contracts, with a slowdown around the middle of the page. Near the bottom, eyes move almost vertically, the lower-right corner of the page largely ignored. It happens quickly, too. “F for fast,” Nielsen wrote in a column. “That’s how users read your precious content.”

I read this article recently and it got me to thinking about how we design web sites and pages. I also find this type of research really intriguing and interesting, believe it or not. As we consider how the web is used and how we use the web it is important to consider how people read while online. I wonder if the way we read web pages changes as humans age. In other words, does a first grader read a page the same way a high school student does, or a middle aged person does? Hopefully more research will be done in this area and the evolution of our interaction with online worlds will improve. Now, please go and remove anything located in the lower right corner of your website. No one will notice it, anyways. 🙂

Stormpulse / Hurricane tracking

/ Stormpulse /

via techcrunch-

This is a nice site for tracking the current storms that are poised to hit the Southeastern United States. It’s a good place to take students as well.

School has started–we’ve been busy (read: I’ve been busy). With the end of the summer, came a major slow down on blogging for me, but I will try to pick it back up again! That is the hope anyways. Life is always full, which is a very good thing. Now, it might be time to get out my umbrella or open my home up to my brother-in-law for whom our place is his evacuation point. He lives in Charleston, SC and will probably be required to leave at some point. Spontaneous guests are a good thing sometimes! I look forward to his visit, though not for the reason he is coming up.