Category Archives: Folly

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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.

Archive.org’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

NBCLearn

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.

QR Codes REVOLUTION!!!!

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.