Strange Screenshots

I take screenshots of things I think are strange or perhaps illuminate something about the strange world we now inhabit. Think of it as my personal take on The New Aesthetic. All of these images are pulled from my actual life and interactions with former classmates, friends, coworkers etc. There are a blurred out series of iffy pictures down there if you’re easily offended you might opt to skip this post.

Laser toe fungus available now.

Social media makes some really awkward conversations permanent.

I am influential in Zoolander, very, very influential. This happened shortly before I deleted all of my authority.

Some things you shouldn’t tweet from Harper’s Weekly Review(which would also make a great project).

Laptops don’t even make the list any more. Strange times.

The app-ification of education is proceeding at full speed. Reality doesn’t matter much and we’re losing the war of perception.

These four images are someone’s Instagram likes posted in Facebook.I can’t believe he realized this would happen, yet here it is.Social media makes for some really uncomfortable juxtapositions.

Modern day job benefits are not what they once were. Geek desks and monster monitors are pretty attractive to me though.

Someone I follow re-tweeting CNN’s coverage of Greek issues showing up right next to Real Time WWII Tweets also dealing with Greek issues. Everything about that is odd to me.

Buying Instagram friends? I guess you could do that.’s version of Maria Montessori’s The Absorbent Mind seems to have suffered water damage prior to being scanned.I found this hilarious.

The textbook as unreliable narrator


Safe and trustworthy – each resource is selected to be K-12 appropriate, and held to the highest NBC News Standards and Practices.

Washington Post

NBC told this blog today that it would investigate its handling of a piece on the “Today” show that ham-handedly abridged the conversation between George Zimmerman and a dispatcher in the moments before the death of Trayvon Martin. A statement from NBC:

“We have launched an internal investigation into the editorial process surrounding this particular story.”

Great news right there. As exposed by Fox News and media watchdog site NewsBusters, the “Today” segment took this approach to a key part of the dispatcher call:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

Here’s how the actual conversation went down:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.
Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.

The difference between what “Today” put on its air and the actual tape? Complete: In the “Today” version, Zimmerman volunteered that this person “looks black,” a sequence of events that would more readily paint Zimmerman as a racial profiler. In reality’s version, Zimmerman simply answered a question about the race of the person whom he was reporting to the police. Nothing prejudicial at all in responding to such an inquiry.

-Washington Post

These two things came my way at about the same time. I don’t want to overstate things based on this one example but it does exemplify one argument I keep having with people. The “vetted” world comes with its own inaccuracies and biases yet we don’t seem to approach this content in that way. Textbooks, NBC’s media library, statements from members of our government, the content of library databases we provide students etc. are all things that ought to be looked at with the same critical eye we encourage for other less “trustworthy” sources of information.1

I wonder to what extent we’d have a more interesting and involved classroom if we introduced the idea of the textbook as an unreliable narrator. It’d be interesting to see what students would consider worth proving vs what they’d just accept. There’s a lot you could play with there. It’d certainly be a fun book to write.

1 Suspect everyone and follow the money might be a good rule of thumb.


I’m not even sure this article warrants a response. I started to satirize it but it was already so far out there, it was hard to think of anything more ridiculous. If you want something useful, read elsewhere. If you like when I say mean things about poorly conceptualized ideas, this is for you.


1. Digital portfolios for students. Imagine if all students were assigned a QR code at the beginning of the school year—or even the start of their educational career? Every year, instead of putting that student’s assignments or projects into a manila file folder that gets sent home (and oftentimes chucked in the trash) the teacher could upload a few examples of papers, projects, tests and quizzes to the QR code. The code could also include links to student videos, blog posts or other multimedia projects. That QR code-portfolio could then be printed on the student’s report card, so that the grade becomes about more than just one single letter.

Imagine if you were talking about digital portfolios but kept pretending the way you got to the portfolio mattered more than the portfolio itself. Imagine if you could print1 a URL on a report card and get the exact same effect only you would not get to use the scanner app on your phone.

2. Connecting with parents. Teachers could create their own individual QR code that includes links to classroom goals, behavior expectations and other pertinent information, and send the code home with students. The teacher could even include sample questions the parent might want to ask their child about the class, thus equipping the parent with the knowledge she needs to have a conversation with their child about what they’re doing in school. On back-to-school night or during open house, teachers could post QR codes throughout the classroom. Once a parent scans the code, they’d be digitally whisked to explanations of the curricula being used or of student work displayed in the classroom. Sure, the teacher could accomplish all of this with print-outs, but scanning with a QR code is definitely more eco-friendly.

Writers could write whole articles where they talk about websites and keep calling them QR codes. The explanation of student work portion would be an actual use of QR codes because it’s putting access to the information in geographical/physical context with other information that needs explanation. I don’t know why that’s hard to understand. I’d argue that the information you add ought to be richer and possibly contain media that you can’t print out rather than making an argument for the environment.

3. Engaging students. Many K-12 schools ban smartphones, but as their potential as a learning tool starts to be better understood, they could end up working well with QR codes. At both the K-12 and college level, the number of textbooks featuring QR codes is sure to grow. And teachers and professors could hand out an assignment or study guide with a QR code printed on it. Once students scan it, they could be taken to additional resources or activities.

What, other than smartphones, would QR codes work with? Although it is priceless to be talking revolution and then have the great idea of putting QR codes in. freaking. textbooks. Or you could go crazy and print it on a worksheet. We are in the future now. No way URLs would have done this in the past. REVOLUTION. Can I get a Che Guevara tshirt with a QR code that links to his wikipedia page?

4. Easing the transition to college. This year the University of Illinois jumped on the QR code bandwagon and started using them to help acclimate incoming freshman. QR codes are scattered throughout the campus, and when a student scans one, they’re taken to campus maps, videos, and other resources. The codes also connected students to the school’s Facebook and Twitter feeds—a smart move since connected students are less likely to drop out.

Maps make sense. I get that, location based information. I’m not sure what video I’d want to see on my phone as I wander campus as a freshman. Maybe something on dining etiquette from the QR code on my napkin. Anyone who believes the drivel put out by schools on their official Twitter and FB feeds gets anyone to stay in school is likely to be a social media consultant.

Since QR codes are so new, it’s hard to imagine all the ways education institutions will be using them in the years to come. But given the possibilities these black-and-white squares of data present, they just might revolutionize the way we learn.

It is so hard to imagine, the author opted not to imagine anything at all. Nor did she bother to research any remotely interesting uses. I anxiously await the next QR article which will no doubt tout the innovation and creativity QR codes are set to unleash.

I know this is a very unkind response but I’m tired of corporate partnerships polluting the internet with garbage like this and confusing people who might actually want to find out how to use QR codes in education. Articles like these are insulting to educators.

1 I’d ask you why you’re printing it but I don’t want to hurt your head.

It’s All About the PD Baby

lime green gangsta Ben Franklin
Jac de Haan sets me straight regarding how confused I’ve been about the motivation of large corporations to sponsor teaching academies. . .

Regardless of what you believe the motivation behind sponsoring such events may be, these companies are recognizing that many teachers put countless unpaid hours into professional development and investing hundreds of millions of dollars in education.

Oh. Corporations are doing this to recognize unpaid teacher PD. That’s so very kind of them. It all makes sense now.

I take back everything I said about educators being confused about how this whole thing works.

Neuromancer Afterward

I should be able to cut and paste this from the Neuromancer ebook1 I have on my freaking iPhone but I can’t. So here is the hand transcribed passage that reminded me of edupunk and surrounding nonsense. Not sure if the parallels qualify as irony but it’s at least interesting.

…but others (including many who’d never gone near a a science fiction novel before in their lives, nor should they have) took what came quickly, to be called cyberpunk far more seriously that they should have. Nasty remarks pelted like rain on the hard, bony heads of the more oafish supporters and detractors alike, but there was no inconsiderable fun in that. Everyone loves a fight when no one loves the fighters.

The speedy commodification of cyberpunk™ within and beyond the genre, however, was what peeved far many more, notably Gibson, who remembers seeing “Cyberpunk Trousers” advertised in a store window during his first trip to Japan, a decade ago. Countless incompetents and ghastly old hacks keen to cash in on the main chance wasted no time churning out hot jack-in product, ephemeral as toilet tissue, memorable as restaurant flyer. A number of innocents and miscreants gainfully employed in other metiers were inspired as well, God help them, to produce creative work of similar worth in the spirit of the subgenre they perceived to exist.”

Jack Womack
from the Afterward of the 2000 edition of Neuromancer

I thought Jim Groom and a few others might appreciate this.

1 Is that the word? Oddly, I’ve read about 15 or 20 books on the phone in the last couple of months. The price is a rip off but you can’t beat the convenience.

Top 100?

I got an email today passing on “The Top 100 Tools for Learning 2009” list. I know I should have left when some people chose Animoto as their number one choice but I didn’t. I wanted to see what the compiled list from 278 people looked like1.

In order to look at it in a more interactive way, threw the data into Exhibit.
Picture 4

It’s interesting to click around and see the data grouped in different ways. Mostly it makes me think that asking for a top 10 is about 5 items too many.

I also wonder a good bit about what people think of when they list “tools for learning.” Photoshop made it to #35 this year.

1 There are a number of problems I have with the way the whole collection of items works but we’ll ignore that for now.

Laugh or cry

—Because I want to share the voices in my head with others

Footnotes, italics, scare quotes and a few minor deletions by me . . .

Original Article By Tyler Whitley
Published: June 20, 2009

Bowing to pressure, the state superintendent of public instruction has abandoned her proposal to end the third-grade history and social studies Standards of Learning test.

The proposal drew a bipartisan outcry from legislators and objections from parents, educational groups and textbook publishers. And after all, who should know better than these experts in education and parties without any financial interest in continued testing? Does the state superintendent of public instruction think she was put in place to decide what is best for students? Of course not, that’s what textbook publishers are for.

Superintendent Patricia I. Wright said she made the proposal to save about $380,000 a year and because she thought third-graders were being tested too much.

“Poppycock” sneered Ms. Stanflowski, a textbook lobbyist. ” Every study we’ve paid someone to do for us proves exactly what we’ve always said. It is impossible to give expensive multiple choice tests too early, or too often.”

But superintendent Wright said yesterday that she will recommend, at the State Board of Education meeting next Saturday, proceeding with the test and that the board approve a timeline for weaving history-related passages into the elementary reading tests next year after revisions of the reading standards.

“I understand the concerns of the educators, legislators and others who disagreed,” she said. “I had not realized just how broken our system was. Parents are this brainwashed, really? Does anyone know what I could make consulting?”

Lynda Tran, a spokeswoman for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, described the discussion about the SOLs as “healthy.”

Tom Woodward, a spokesman for reality, described the discussion as “vomitous1.”

The discussion sends a signal that “we can expect as a state to continue to lead the way on education achievement,” Tran said. “Because testing equals achievement. It’s not because we’ve totally lost sight of what education is and have fallen to measuring poorly, but often, to satisfy petty bullies who don’t know a damned thing about education.”

Wright’s action was praised by Del. H. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, the House of Delegates majority leader, who joined many of his colleagues in opposition to Wright’s proposal.

“The bottom line is the history tests are a building block to understand how the government and our society works,” he said. “The children need to start at an early age. I am now legislating for in vitro testing. Think of all the things you memorized in 3rd grade that resulted in my election? You think I want to mess up that system?

Griffith also said taking the history and social studies test demonstrates how well a third-grader can read. Griffith then headed back to teaching elementary school and working nights teaching literacy to teachers as he has done for 30 plus years2.

The questions on the test range from geography to architecture to history.

African-American legislators noted that the third-grade test emphasizes African-American heroes, such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson. If the test were eliminated, the first exposure students would have to African-American history would be slavery in the fourth-grade curriculum, they said.

At this point a teacher mentioned that she would still teach about African-American heroes and didn’t need the state test, in fact she would have “more freedom to expand and explore the topic with her students.” The unnamed woman was quickly ejected from this meeting as she had no business being there and was clearly out of touch with reality.

1 As in, inducing vomit or the taste of bile into one’s mouth.

2 Ed. Sorry it turns out Griffith is an attorney with no early childhood literacy experience. I don’t know how we got that so wrong.