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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 […]

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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 […]

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The Academic Achievement Team

The Academic Achievement Team is a group of people that have a series of meetings at schools in danger of not making AYP. This movie is an attempt to help individual schools organize these meetings effectively and make sure they’re looking at the right things and having the right type of conversations. Chris Corallo, our director of staff development, was the guiding force behind the whole thing. Academic Achievement Team from Tom Woodward on Vimeo. I have mixed feelings about this video. I think this is the right way to do this kind of meeting, I just worry we’re working hard at doing the wrong things well. I’d really prefer these meetings addressing real learning rather than SOL test scores. The video itself is ok. I’m slowly learning some stuff about Motion but I’ve got a lot to learn on a lot of levels before I make a video I actually like. I would really be happier with a second cameraman. The amount of pre-planning that needs to be done to get this kind of thing right is pretty insane. We had to shoot the interview portion later to provide context for the meeting and then add voice over as well.

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Dear Parents . . .

Dear Parents, Many of you were concerned about the attempt by President Obama to indoctrinate your children. Have no fear. We did not allow students to view this broadcast. We, as educators, are well aware that one time exposures to video can instantly and irrevocably change students. Additionally, politics have never played any part in education and we’ll do our best to make sure they never will. Please also be alert to other possible attempts to indoctrinate your children. Warning signs for indoctrination include the following: your children are isolated from your influence for long periods of time fear, threats and punishment are used as motivators your children are forced to memorize very specific information individuality is suppressed Now in other news, we’ll be extending the school year1 to become more competitive in the global economy. I’m sure you’ll all be for this move unless you’d like to become slaves to the Chinese. Remember 21st Century Skills were laid out by business leaders who have told us exactly what your children should know so they’ll be good workers. Clearly our business leaders know exactly what they’re doing and know exactly what education needs to do. Finally, make sure you’re bringing the school day home! We’ve sent home flashcards and extra homework. Remember, if your child doesn’t pass the state test […]

Celebrity Punnett Squares

Well, not quite. As you can see, the product ended up being more like New Math than a Punnet square but I liked the original title and have no idea what I’d call this post. Anyway, this idea would give students a totally different view of a character if you did it and it would show their understanding of the character (historical or literary) if they did it. Throw in some subtraction, squares or division and things could get a lot more complex. It certainly beats most character analysis/biographical sketches I’ve seen. You can see the progression of my thoughts below. So the original inspiration was this XKCD comic that had been bouncing around in my head for a few days and I woke up one morning with an idea. You could have a lot of fun crossbreeding famous people to get literary or historical characters (or the other way round). And, yes, I do often wake up thinking about crossbreeding famous people for educational purposes. As I looked up Punnet square information (it has been a while) I realized a few things. One, it isn’t spelled punnit square. Two, I’d forgotten that they were either really simple or fairly complex, at least for the limited use I wanted them for. So I scratched that idea but I still wanted […]

I’m a 21st Century Tool!

Suitable for framing, blog badges and t-shirts1. Wear it proudly and let people know you’re preparing kids for the workforce of tomorrow2! 3 Grab the code!!!! 1 Don’t you dare put this on a coffee mug. That totally violates the terms of use. 2 Life. So. Full. Of. Irony. 3 If you do not realize this is a joke or you appreciate this image in ANY way, I cannot help you.