28

Compounded Stupidity

So I found this via lblanken on twitter that Obama is disappointing me further. I read these articles and they really beg for satire. So, I am forced to oblige. (italics and footnotes are mine, I removed some portions for brevity, everything else is from the original at this link) ____________________________________________________________ Original By LIBBY QUAID, AP Education Writer Libby Quaid, Ap Education Writer – Sun Sep 27, 3:29 pm ET WASHINGTON – Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama, KIPP, and standardized test makers get their way. Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe. “Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas,” the president said earlier this year. “Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom. After all what will better prepare you for a future we can’t predict than sitting silently in a room doing worksheets in preparation for multiple choice tests?” The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they […]

Wolverine poems and other gifts from the Internet

Picture CC from DuneChaser Four people got to this blog today searching for “wolverine poems.” I hate to leave people disappointed. I’m not sure which wolverine they’re looking for so I’m covering my bases. Wolverine: The Haiku Wolverine is the man with adamantium bones and sharp claws. Wolverine: The Animal Carcajou, skunk bear, you glutton! I call you out as a big weasel. This did inspire me but it also got me thinking about how many fun sources for poetry/writing prompts that are out there just begging to be used. I’d love to do things with Google Trends. Take today’s (at around 9-10 PM Eastern) trending topics- No. 1 with a bullet is “applebees menu1.” I would also be forced to use #44 “goonies 2” Then it’s on to #64 “agent cody banks” and finish it off with #47 “19 pound indonesian baby” and #48 “sycophants definition.” I consulted the Applebee’s menu yet again. It had answers, but not the ones I wanted. I was hungry . . . for knowledge. “Is Goonies 2 an actual possibility? Am I getting my hopes up for an inevitable disappointment?” I wondered again. My mind tends to drift when I am stressed. I tried to relax. I knew Agent Cody Banks was on the case. I had no way of knowing that a […]

25

New(ish?) Exhibit 2.2 API is Sick Fast

OK, the new1 Exhibit API is crazy fast. It still takes a second or so to load but once it’s up and running the selection speed is dramatically improved. DRAMATICALLY2. I’ve been pitching the Simile project3, especially Exhibit, for quite a while for all sorts of educational uses. It really is fairly simple and allows you to create the kind of powerful data-driven interactive websites that would simply be impossible if you aren’t able to write code. You need to create these kind of interactive database sites because they are interactive and allow students to manipulate data and see it in a variety of contexts. That enables, and encourages, all sorts of processing and helps students see connections. David Huynh and the rest of the people who are working on this BSD licensed project have really made some incredible speed improvements. To change to the new API, just replace the original API reference in the header of your page (http://static.simile.mit.edu/exhibit/api-2.0/exhibit-api.js) with http://api.simile-widgets.org/exhibit/2.2.0/exhibit-api.js = instant speed jump4. As a way to force myself to do it, I’m going to take this pretty new API and attach it to this interesting data set on X Box games5. Why? Well, because I can and it’s awesome. 1 How new, I’m not sure. Allison C. from UR mentioned it in relation to the Confinder […]

23

Dog Earns M.B.A. Online: Fires Former Coworkers

Unmuzzling Diploma Mills: Dog Earns M.B.A. Online Original Article By Marc Parry (as always italics and footnotes by me) How’s this for “hounding” diploma mills? GetEducated.com, an online-learning consumer group, managed to purchase an online M.B.A. for its mascot, a dog named Chester Ludlow. Things then took an unexpected turn when Chester was hired as the group’s leader based, in part, on his newly acquired credentials. The Vermont pug earned his tassles by pawing over $499 to Rochville University, which offers “distance learning degrees based on life and career experience,” according to a news release from GetEducated. He got back a package from a post-office box in Dubai that contained a diploma and transcripts, plus a certificate of distinction in finance and another purporting to show membership in the student council. “It was the diploma itself that drove our decision to hire Chester” explained Brian Groom, President of GetEducated.com. “Granted, we’d rather have promoted one of the GetEducated staff. They have so much more experience and demonstrated skill but they just didn’t have the right degrees. You know how it is.” Sadly, Chester was forced to fire the very people responsible for his new degree and subsequent new position. It seems the GetEducated.com crew misused time and company resources during the very stunt that resulted in Chester’s degree. GetEducated.com believes […]

The dark side of George Washington

So I was inspired by this post and came up with the following idea. 1 Basically, you research a historical hero, one of those unimpeachable people students have been forced to memorize facts about since kindergarten. Only this time you’re researching the figure as if you were a reporter for a semi-sleazy tabloid. Let’s keep it semi-sleazy so there’s a core of fact to anything reported. Like Washington marrying for money, in the example, may be true. No real facts either way but some innuendo and some sources I could cite. You could do something simple like creating the cover or make it much deeper and have the class construct a whole magazine analyzing an individual or period. The concept has some depth to it. One, students are analyzing and imitating the writing and design style used in tabloid magazines. Two, they’re researching the historical figure and seeing them as much more of a human. Historical figures tend to become caricatures which are then referred to with great longing and nostalgia. I think it’s really healthy to see these people as having flaws and compare how the media of the day treated them to how we see them now. This goes for whole eras, not just individuals. It opens up a lot of conversations about the media today as well. […]

Why I loathe Portaportal

The following is an attack on an idea and a structure. I am in no way trying to attack you if you use Portaportal but I would like to change your mind. I encourage you blasting back in the comments but if you call me names, I’ll likely cry. Sure, I get a lot of dirty looks from educators when I loathe Portaportal1. Portaportal is, after all, the educators friend. “Look how easy it is!” “I can share links with my students!” “It’s free!” Yes, yes and yes but just about everything is easy and shareable these days. I have two2 main problems with Portaportal. Round One – The Surface I’ll deal with the minor stuff (relatively) first. The thing is hideous. It is appallingly unattractive- everything from the color schemes to the jagged icons. Who in their right mind comes up with a flesh tone and pink color scheme? “But,” I can hear the rebukes, “Craigslist is ugly and look how popular it is.” or “I don’t care what it looks like as long as it does what I want.” First of all, Craigslist is ugly but it’s taking you to free things you actually want. Portaportal, especially in an educational context, is taking you to something you’ve been told you want. That’s a big difference. I’ll put up […]

The technology ninja has migrated

From the Tech Ninja bio page1 . . . The Early Years The Technology Ninja’s mother was a volcano and his father was an accountant from Belarus. His parents always had an explosive relationship and that drove him to leave home at the age of 1. He has wandered the world for centuries doing battle with all kinds of evil. The Technology Ninja has no friends, no family and no college loans. He lives in a shadowy world full of danger, suspense, dramatic music, excessive sound effects and, of course, many, many, many differently colored ninjas. How Technology became his Name-O (as opposed to Bingo) Having defeated all his enemies, the ninja was growing bored. All ninjas need enemies after all. Finding no worthy foe he decided to conquer cyberspace and all the computers of the world. He is winning, of course, but his quest continues to this day. Although many suspect he is simply taking his time so that he doesn’t have to retire and start playing bingo and shuffleboard. (It’s not that he’s against either diversion but I mean, come on, he’s a ninja.) Stupid. I know. But I miss the kind of fun the technology ninja site represents and while not an appropriate persona for everyone it worked for me and for most of the kids at […]

WPMU plugins you ought to have

Here are a few plugins I’ve got in the WPMU install I’m running. Most, if not all, were a result of my sordid association with WPMU cult leader, Jim Groom. He’s likely posted on each multiple times but it’s hard to find them among all the old cartoons and toy posts- besides I had to make a list to send to our people so I figured I might as well post it. These are all installed in the mu-plugins folder. More Privacy Options This let’s users set up additional options in the privacy page for blog admins. You can make sure the blog is visible only to those logged into your WPMU site, only visible to members of the blog, or only visible to admins. User Themes Revisited This plugin gives individual blog admins the ability to tweak CSS or theme templates individually- the edit theme ability in single user. It’s a little awkward at first but really a key plugin for me. Essentially, you copy the theme over to the individual blog and then can edit it without changing things for everyone on the WPMU install. New Blog Defaults This plugin lets you customize how the new blogs are created. You can customize a lot of key elements and do things like putting the initial “Hello World” post in […]

19

Migrating from WP to WPMU

I spent some time the other day helping our ITRTs figure out how to install WPMU and then get their single user WordPress blogs imported into WPMU. I’ll probably make a video sooner or later as this is probably murder without images. So here’s my shot at best practice advice in case you have to move a lot of blogs from WP to WPMU when you’re not the final end user and can’t screw up. 1. Go to your WPMU install and make a new blog. Make the url the same thing as your WP blog but add a 1 and the end (so if it the blog url is http://ego.com/loveme name this one loveme1). We’re doing this so you can import it in while leaving the original blog up until you’ve made sure everything worked the way you wanted. We’ll go over how to drop the 1 from the WPMU url later. The admin here will be whoever is the main user of the blog. You’ll have access no matter what as WPMU admin. 2. Got to your WP blog (the original one) and log in to the admin panel then choose tools>export. This will get all your content out1. Save it on your desktop or wherever in a folder with the same name as the blog. While you’re […]