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 […]

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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 […]

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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.

When Librarians Go Bad . . .

I saw this poster in a library the other day and it made me queasy. I like books. I like libraries. I dislike zealots and this kind of garbage. This poster is the kind of reactionary propaganda that does no one any good. The opening quote is below. Libraries are icons of our cultural intellect, totems to the totality of knowledge. To claim, as some now do, that the Internet is making libraries obsolete is as silly as saying shoes have made feet unnecessary. Wow. Icons and totality. He almost makes Internet zealots seem reasonable. To claim that there can ever be a “totality of knowledge” is egotistical and to claim the library somehow embodies “totality” is absurd. Libraries, by their very nature, have to exclude huge amounts of information and make editorial decisions regarding content inclusion. There’s plenty of good and plenty of bad in that. To use the feet/shoes metaphor is equally misguided. Libraries and the internet aren’t comparable to feet and shoes. That would seem to indicate that a library is an organic component of a society, like feet are a part of the body and the Internet is an add-on whose main purpose is to protect, or possibly enhance, the library. Neither is the case. Libraries are places we’ve put information. The Internet is a place […]

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Publishing Google Docs to WPMU

I was looking to have some people in my class publish lesson plans to their WPMU blogs via Google Docs. So I consulting the dean of WPMU, The Right Reverend Jim Groom, and he made it look so easy. Yet, I failed. Feeling stupid I started drinking looked at the differences in our set up. I began to worry it was because I wasn’t using dynamic subdomains. I reached such a depth of despondency that I actually read one of the error messages from Google itself. It said “Hey Dummy, you haven’t turned on XML-RPC publishing for that blog. Why don’t you go turn it on?” I did and everything now works. There’s a video on how to do that below in case it helps. pub2wpmu

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Space Shuttles, Strange Clouds & The Web

I got these photos from Abe Barker. I met him and his copilot (?) at the Congress St. Bridge in Austin TX. They’d flown some people in and were checking out the bats. We got to talking and they mentioned having some crazy shots of the shuttle from 20,000 feet and a really odd white cloud that formed shortly thereafter. It was odd enough that two professional pilots not only remarked on it but took pictures and brought it up in a conversation with a very strange guy taking 100 pictures of bats. Abe was kind enough to email me the photos so I’m putting them up in case they interest anyone else. I found this to be interesting not just because of the unique natures of the pictures but because of the way this whole thing happened. Just about everyone has a camera these days so all sorts of odd things are going to be captured that would have been missed before. These photos are now digital so it’s insanely easy for me to pass them along, put them on the web and let anyone in the world take a look at them. Imagine JFK’s assassination today. Instead of one film, you’d have HD footage from a hundred angles and innumerable high quality still images. That’s not counting all […]

Bucket #3 – Leadership and Creativity

This is the final bucket from the earlier post on creativity. Leaders should talk last in meetings. Often the opposite occurs. The leader will lay out their vision and say “What do you think about that?” This frames the rest of the conversation. Even if you’re disagreeing, your argument is relative to that vision rather than fresh. Everything is now focused around that vision. I can see how this might kill off different ideas, especially odd ideas. I can see this as a good idea most of the time but I can also see times when a leader wants to set that vision and have the conversation be about what they want. If they’re a good leader then they’ll likely know when to do this, if not . . . Reduce “insecurity work.” – “Insecurity work” is all that stuff you do that makes you feel good but doesn’t necessarily do anything good for you. He mentioned checking email, checking web stats etc. This work eats time and interrupts work flow. I think teachers and admins are definitely guilty of compulsive email checking. Our principals and many at Central Office all have Blackberries and it is an epidemic. I’m certainly guilty of checking stats, email, twitter etc. This usually happens when I have unpleasant work to do. I don’t recall […]

All Mobs Are Self-Selected

All mobs are self selected 1 – 2Mobs bully/attack other people3 but they do so because people have gathered strength from finding other people thinking/feeling just like they do. I think the Internet and all the social media tools4 makes it really easy to surround yourself with the echo-chamber, or a self-selected mob, and then it becomes much easier to start doing dumb things while still feeling like your ideas/actions have been vetted and approved by an unbiased crowd. I’ll also say that the Internet and social media allow you to do the opposite. That is you can surround yourself with vastly different ideas and people from very different backgrounds that will challenge your thoughts and ideas and help keep you from doing or continuing to believe stupid/wrong things. I think far more people do the former. It’s human nature. I try to fight it in two ways. One, I try to get lots of ideas from outside what I do. I try to broaden where my information comes from and both the kind of information and the view points on information that I’m exposed to.. Two, I try to find people who make me just a little bit mad when I read them but mad in a way that makes me think. It’s easy to find people that make […]

Encouraging Creativity at SXSW

Sat in a panel on encouraging creativity today. Thinking about it, it was a mix of creativity and productivity from a business view point. I think that’s good when thinking about trying to encourage creativity in the classroom. Both business and education seem to want a consistent, for lack of a better word, organized creativity.1 Here’s the my take on the presentation by Behance.com2 They say there are three buckets that influence the amount of productive creativity going on in a place.3 Bucket One – Productivity Generate ideas in moderation – too many ideas can be just as bad as too few. There might be a point where you want everyone throwing out all their ideas but you also need a culling process to focus things. They recommend having one person who’s job was not to come up with ideas but to look at them critically. Urgent vs Important – make the distinction and act accordingly. If we want teachers to be creative, that’s a big one for schools. They also encourage windows of “non-stimulation” to focus on doing the important things. Think of a teacher’s and administrator’s day. It’s all urgent and creates a kind of harried, unfocused scurrying that gets lots done but often at very shallow levels. I think of our administrators at any meeting. They are […]

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Flight or Invisibility

This clip from Heros would be a fun way to start a conversation about questioning, right/wrong answers etc. with some teachers or students.1 On the technical side, I had no idea you could do this on Hulu. A nice feature. 1 Yes, I know it’s not perfect but it’s a decent start.