Even a Duck’s Quack Echos: The Danger of Networks

Ok, so that wasn’t the original TED title but I like mine better (it’ll make sense if you’ve ever gotten one of those “amazing fact” emails). This is an old TED video from way back in 2005 but this one portion really hits home with me. I started to transcribe the notes and then got lazy- so my non exact notes are below and the video clip is embedded. I trimmed it to 3:30 but the whole thing is interesting, especially when looking back at 2005 and thinking how much more enmeshed in networks we have become and how much print journalism has continued to change. duck echos Rough notes for those who will never watch the video It’s easy to believe networks are good. The dark side, the more tightly linked we become the harder it is to stay independent. A network is not just a product of its component parts, it is something more than that. The problem is that groups are only smart when the people in them are as independent as possible- paradox of collective intelligence. Networks make it harder for people to think independently because they drive attention to the things the network values. one of the phenomenons – meme gets going it’s easy to pile on, that piling on phenomenon, that essentially throws off […]

Tilting at Windmills

My bad. image source Turns out my last post attacked a post that was set up to be attacked (his companion piece is here). I could have saved myself some time and read more of the site. The only problem I have with small pieces loosely joined is, for me anyway, it’s easy to lose the overall context of the pieces and you end up with misunderstanding because that context is missing. I subscribe to lots of sites1. It’s a little too easy for me to see the chunks as individual ice cubes rather than pieces of a larger glacier2. Sometimes that matters, sometimes it doesn’t- another way technology has made media literacy a little more complex3. Totally my fault and looking back at it, the post did seem too easy. I’m leaving the post up, both to remind myself to pay better attention and because I still believe the whole rationale for writing the post is true whether the original post was written in earnest or not. I believe our society and education in specifically has attempted to legislate its way out of problems and we have suffered gravely as a result4. From the top down, the choice and intelligence of individuals is stripped from the system. Centralized pacing guides are the mandatory sentencing of the education world. Anyway, […]

I don’t care about filtering . . .

It may seem like lately I’m just attacking everybody. I feel like that’s what I’m doing1 but I keep running into things, unintentionally, that provide perfect ways to talk about some of the things I’m thinking about lately. If you don’t want to read all my nonsense below, I not only understand, but encourage that notion. I would, however, beg you to keep bringing up the following question – “Does rule X address a real problem or simply attempt to mask a symptom caused by a more fundamental problem?” image source: Mr Tickle The following quote is from a post which seems to advocate the continued blocking/filtering of YouTube in schools2. 1. copyright infringement: it’s so easy to get videos that were posted to YouTube illegally. You can’t expect students to do their own work when you showed them a pirated video yesterday. However, I am afraid that the temptation will be too great for many teachers. 2. students waste time: YouTube is the ultimate playground for procrastinators. Students can waste class period after class period wandering through videos. 3. teachers waste time: like we’re any better- have you even been emailed that “must-see” video? Now imagine this stuff streaming into you classroom. 4. sucks up bandwidth: with everyone in the school browsing through video after video, network speeds at […]

Information Fluency Presentation-Old Skills, New Applications – Part 1

We’ve been working a lot with 21st century skills and trying to figure out how to make them make sense to ourselves and to teachers in the classroom. It’s been interesting in some ways and incredibly frustrating as well. Here’s part one 1 my best shot at explaining how both the rate and the way information is created and published changes what we need to teach our students. No doubt some of you will find this rather obvious and boring but it was meant to be presented to teachers as way to encourage reflection in a non-intimidating way and to get a conversation going. By the way, I tend to freestyle my presentations based on audience reaction and interest so the text is just a rough attempt at getting the gist of each slide. image source To get anywhere with intelligence you have to know two things. Where you are and where you want to go. Let’s take a minute and look at where we are when it comes to our world and information. Question to the audience- How has the way you have to deal with information changed in the last ten years? Talk to your partner, you’ve got 2 minutes to come up with ans many differences as you can. I’d then call for volunteers to talk about […]

Why This Doesn’t Work- Bloom’s and Technology Pyramid

I was sent this image earlier today and it is very similar to something I worked on1 with Milobo a while back. This image was made to be “a visual representaion [sic] of a Digital version of the new Bloom’s hierarchy.” I want to explain what I see as a fundamental flaw in how this image is presented and why it matters. In this image the application is static and is represented on only one level. This reinforces the idea that the Blooms level is inherent in the technology rather than a result of its application2. Let’s take Google Earth for example. It’s on the application level in the image. I’d argue that I can use it just as easily as a tool to create3, or to provide data to analyze4 or evaluate. On a lower level, I could use Google Earth to help me remember specific locations and facts about them or to understand how geography plays a role in military decisions at key battles. Google Earth does does not lend itself to that kind of limitation that this image forces. I could say the same thing with something a little less obvious like Twitter. I could use it to create Haikus with added character limitations. I saw it used to create a book with multiple authors. I’m not […]


The real crisis? We stopped being wise. – Barry Schwartz – TED

I loaded up a lot of TED videos for my recent trip. Here’s one which I felt had a number of educational implications. Now, this video starts a little slowly but you’ll see Mr. Schwartz start to get more comfortable and fired up as things progress. Some of these notes are close to quotes but others are rough translations. My own comments are the footnotes. 1 Here are his (and Aristotle’s) two pieces to wisdom. the moral will to do right the moral skill to figure out what right is Things a wise person knows when and how to make an exception to every rule ow to improvise (real world problems are often ambiguous and ill defined and the context is constantly changing)- a wise person is like a jazz musician who uses the notes on the page but dances around them based on the location and the people on hand knows how to use these moral skills in pursuit of the right aims- to serve others not to manipulate them a wise person is made not born- wisdom is based on experience but not any experience time to get to know the people your serving permission to improvise try new things occasionally fail wise mentors Brilliance is not enough. And here is where we really get into some things […]


15 Years

Q Fifteen years. THE PRESIDENT: Fifteen years. Okay, so you've been teaching for 15 years. I'll bet you'll admit that during those 15 years there have been a couple of teachers that you've met — you don't have to say their names — (laughter) — who you would not put your child in their classroom. (Laughter.) See? Right? You're not saying anything. (Laughter.) You're taking the Fifth. (Laughter.) My point is that if we've done everything we can to improve teacher pay and teacher performance and training and development, some people just aren't meant to be teachers, just like some people aren't meant to be carpenters, some people aren't meant to be nurses. At some point they've got to find a new career. And it can't be impossible to move out bad teachers, because that brings — that makes everybody depressed in a school, if there are some folks — and it makes it harder for the teachers who are inheriting these kids the next year for doing their job. So there's got to be some accountability measures built in to this process. But I'm optimistic that we can make real progress on this front. But it's going to take some time. All right? via The White House – Press Office – Remarks by the President at “Open for Questions” […]

Laptops, Education and Common Sense- Really?

This article on laptops from ArsTechnica came to me last night via my dad. It amuses me how hard people are still making certain aspects of computers and education. I’ll start with the K12 focus- The 1:1 laptop programs do seem to help with the students’ ability to use the technology they’re exposed to, and a variety of studies show what might be an unexpected benefit: improved writing skills. Apparently, the ease of using a word processor, along with the ability to go back and modify things that would otherwise have been committed to paper, helps students learn how to write more coherent and persuasive text. So, even with horrific and near sighted implementation plans students are still getting some benefit from laptops? That doesn’t entirely surprise me but it does point towards the resiliency of students and their ability to learn in spite of structures seemingly designed to impede them. Outside of these areas, however, the benefits of 1:1 laptop availability are mixed. Different studies have found changes in math and science test performance that were inconsistent. In general, the authors argue, the benefits of laptops come in cases where the larger educational program has been redesigned to incorporate their unique capabilities, and the teachers have been trained in order to better integrate laptop use into the wider educational […]


Can we all just get along?

People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it, making it horrible for the older people and the kids?…It’s just not right. It’s not right. It’s not, it’s not going to change anything. We’ll, we’ll get our justice….Please, we can get along here. We all can get along. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while. Let’s try to work it out. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to work it out. -Rodney King 1 Found this in the referrer logs – and while she gets the title wrong, she is talking about me.2 * To: LM_NET@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU * Subject: [LM_NET] Gen :Share: blogpost on librarians “When Good Librarians go Bad” – a post today on a blog I’m not familiar with, by someone I don’t know. Please don’t email me about this – I have lots of thoughts, but no time right now to “talk”. Just wanted you to see what a colleague whom I really admire sent me. There are several omissions in his thinking; you may not agree with much; you may get in touch with your inner rage (I’ve got bigger targets right now – Goldman Sachs, are you listening?) and pick apart the whole thing. My […]


Two Bits From NPR This Morning

Apparently old news1 but The world’s data centers are projected to surpass the airline industry as a greenhouse gas polluter by 2020, according to a new study by McKinsey & Co. link to original article It makes an interesting point on how things have changed and was part of a story on why data centers ought to move to Iceland2 The other interesting quote was from Tim Geithner – just replace “capital” with “intellectual capital” or “self-directed learning.” In the same way he’s saying we need banks etc. to be prepared for an uncertain future- to have the capital in reserve to handle the unexpected, we’ve got to have people who have the intellectual capital to change and learn as they have to handle increasing changes and complexity in our world. geihtner-quote-on-capital 1 Article is from May 1, 2008 2 Cool temperatures and cheap, carbon-free electricity – I wonder if those types of geographical moves won’t start to happen.