Five Giveaways from Jane McGonigal’s Opening Keynote

For today’s installment, I will be mocking this article summarizing the ISTE keynote speech I could not stomach attending. Think of it as meta-mockery of a summarization. This kind of thing irritates me more and more because it wastes time and energy. People wander off chasing garbage statements (with good intentions) but the keynoters spouting this nonsense make no attempt to connect the dots. It’s all frosting, and a thin layer of sickly sweet frosting at that. I also hold ISTE to blame for furthering nonsense. They ought to know better. 1. There Are Now 1 Billion Gamers Worldwide According to McGonigal, this “critical milestone,” recently reached, encompasses everyone who spends at least one hour a day playing a game on a connected device — be it a gaming console, a smartphone, a tablet or a computer. “When you add it all up,” she said, “that’s seven billion-plus hours a week spent in maximum engagement through games.” 1. There are over 2 million people imprisoned in the United States alone.1 That’s over 7 people in prison out of every 1,000. “When I add it all up,” I said, “that’s 19 billion-plus hours a year spent in maximum incarceration thanks to prisons. That’s got to be a critical milestone or at least a large number which will impress Twitter lemmings.” 2. […]

What Transitionary Personalized Learning Might Look Like

In most English classes the teacher chooses all of the content in addition to all of the assignments. In some classes you’ll get to choose between a few books, assignments, or essay topics that the teacher has provided. The projects tend to tier upward in terms of sophistication and/or length.1 There is essentially one broad common experience for everyone and virtually every structural element originates with the teacher. The student ability to alter the class is limited to asking questions. That leads to a fairly predictable experience built to produce similar products which are easier to compare to one another. English, in particular, seems to beg for a different paradigm for course participation/creation. I talked some about the mechanism for infusing student selected media into a course in the previous post, so I’m doing this backwards to some degree. The lower portion of the image above is a rough conceptualization of what the course itself might come to look like as compared to a traditional course (the upper portion of the image). A chunk of this is colored by how I’ve seen elements of #ds106 play out. I have always loved the idea that participants can submit project ideas. Linking those ideas to the student work created based on them makes it far more powerful and interesting for everyone. It […]

Personalized Learning?

I’ve been thinking about personalized learning a fair amount after hearing it repeated over and over by the hordes of vendors.1 I’m not talking about paprika flavored mush and I’m not talking about a magic fairyland where you chug cherry flavored corn syrup to your heart’s content with no ill effects. My focus is on thinking about how this might work for a teacher with fairly traditional-ized students in a district where success is still defined mainly through standardized tests.2 I am going to make the assumption that these students have a computer and access to the Internet. It’s also evident my thoughts aren’t revolutionary but I think the ability for technology to help make this kind of personalization much more manageable for teachers and students (in a semi-traditional school framework) is a relatively new development. Classroom workflows don’t come up much, if at all, in my wanderings but I think they are important and should be considered. There’s also quite a lot of current hype and focus on flipping/blending/frappéing3 Maybe it has to do with districts finally giving up on providing technology and allowing BYOD. My bet is the BYOD wave will go poorly at scale and will result in fairly trivial surface level “changes” – some googling of answers, clicker assessments, and the ability to check grades/hw on […]

If You Give Bieber A Bike . . .

Mostly Nonsense A Bieber flavored over simplication on the fallacy of hardware creating change. Probably useless but it amused me for the presentation and the audience seemed to enjoy it. My 20 minute presentation ended up being a 90 minute conversation. If you give Bieber a bike will he get home more quickly? It seems like a straightforward question, an easy answer. Of course the bike will get him home faster. But we tend to make a number of assumptions. It could be you’re a Bieber fan and you know where Bieber is now and where his home/homes are, maybe you’re a Belieber and you even know which home he’s going to. Most people don’t. They don’t know where Bieber is nor where he’s going despite general agreement on the definition of “home.” Furthermore, I don’t know if Bieber can drive a motorcycle or if he can drive this motorcycle. If he can drive a motorcycle, how well can he do it? Does he have gas? Is a helmet required? Now if we give Bieber a bike and he can drive it, we have to think about the terrain between where he’s starting and where he wants to go. Maybe there’s a forest in between those two points. A forest without roads or gas stations. This street bike will actually […]

Digital Content – You keep using that word . . .

See more on Know Your Meme Granted, it’s more than possible I have no idea what “digital content” means either. I may also be the guy walking around arguing that water is wet. The White Whale “Digital content” is what everyone wants as we move towards the magical BYOD-Edu-singularity. What that means is likely very different depending on the person saying it.1 I think you can divide what people mean by digital content into a few major categories. Link Lists – the venerable link list divided by your content label of choice (state standard, topic header, novel, etc.). The “new” version would likely be built using a social bookmarking solution and tagging but it’s the same concept. Context for the resources is minimal if it exists at all. PDF/HTML textbooks – no substantial changes in what we’ve always had but in digital format. The rationale usually involves things like lighter backpacks and the ability to update/correct errors.2 It is a sterile environment where you have to take what you get and integrating additional resources fluidly is difficult. Topical content integration isn’t facilitated. Augmented Textbooks – start with a traditional textbook and replace some of the pictures with movies, add self-grading multiple choice quizzes,3 and some links to internal content. Some simple tools may be integrated (think highlighter, light note taking). […]

Derived from Netflix presentation

The Golden Calf of Process and Standardization

Way back in the dim recesses of time, about 2009 to be precise, Netflix published an interesting slide deck on how they structure their business. I remember reading it and I believed it was an interesting and positive way to frame a company culture. I shared it with a few people in our district and life rolled on. The concept has come back to me repeatedly in recent days and it seems to fit a variety of scenarios well enough that I thought it was worth talking about again. Essentially, I see this concept applying at the national, state, district/county, school, and classroom levels. The images below are my slight adjustments to the Netflix slides. All credit goes to them or whoever they got the idea from.   In the beginning . . . Small (often new) organizations have a very high proportion of highly skilled employees1 and as a result don’t need much in the way of processes, rules, regulations, policies etc.  That’s the green area. As organizations grow and complexity increases2, the proportion of highly skilled employees drops.  Things go wrong. People end up in the red area and everyone is unhappy. Often the response to these failures is to implement processes, policies etc. There are a number of reasons I think this turns out poorly in the […]


Virginia Uniform Performance Standards Breakdown

If that’s not a sexy title, I don’t know what is. If you aren’t a teacher in VA it’s likely you should stop reading now. Others may have done this already, but I decided to breakdown the new VA Teacher Standards because I’m helping to look at integrating our multiple rubrics into this framework and hopefully consolidating the various lenses through which we define good instruction. You can see my current work below. I wanted to clarify the statements and really see what they said. I think it led to some semi-interesting discoveries. Standardization 5 of the 7 standards are stated so that the action has a result. You perform action X to get result Y. Professional Knowledge used the phrase “by providing” instead of “to provide.” Additionally, Student Academic Progress uses “results in” in lieu of “to achieve” or something similar. I’m not sure if that matters. They could be restated in the breakdowns but, at least for now, I feel the need to stick as close to the original wording as possible. Only 1 standard appears to vary from the format where all of the initial statements match the end goal(s). Professionalism is the one that feels like it breaks the pattern. The action “maintains a commitment to professional ethics” doesn’t seem to match well with “to enhance […]

Purge/Binge & Some Ephemera

I’m purging my RSS feeds again. The last time I did it completely was 2008. It has been far too long.  Currently I’m sitting at 248 feeds and have been using Google Reader since 2007- roughly 6 years and 203,731 items read. That’s about 93 items a day, every day for 6 years. Clearly, I read most things from 6:00 PM until 11:00 PM.  Getting an iPhone has evened some of the reading time out some. And with that self indulgent surface level data done with, here’s some strange Internet ephemera. That is a terrifying glimpse into someone’s house built in 1724 that happens to be full of partially dismembered mannequins.  My wife found this one. Both of the clips above are just two recent examples of things continuing to move after people have died.  Package deliveries are pretty common (and hopefully positive) but the second endorsement by a man who passed away earlier in the week felt pretty unpleasant.   Sadly, I collect screenshots of odd wireless network names. I don’t know why edtech is fascinated with bananas but it is.  I took this shot at ISTE. This is from my hometown.  It’s pretty much sums up how things went in high school. Hawking. The world is strange. So if a teacher on a social network stumbles across something […]

It Could Be Beautiful: VSTE12 Presentation

This was an Ignite style session where I expressed my own personal frustration with educational technology at scale and attempted to then offer some redeeming alternatives actively being pursued by others. Below are a few of the slides and roughly what I tried to get across. On the left is good education/learning etc. The middle is roughly what we have now, suffering from extensive damage and quite vulnerable to being completely destroyed. The far right is what a lot of technology integration does. It is covering up gaping holes and damage but at the same time utterly destroying what it purports to be protecting and conserving. Not only do we do that but we hold up that distorted monstrosity as best practice. We put it on t-shirts and brag about what we’ve done. We continue to create structures that pretend that a certain level of learning/teaching lives inside a technology without any regard to the instructional context. It depresses me this has been around since at least 2009 and is now migrating to peacocks and umbrellas. Our society is so desperate for educational alternatives that we lionize a man who put video tutorials on the Internet as the second coming of Gutenberg. This Forbes story was shared 15,000 times when I last checked. Not that this is without value but […]

From Dog Food to Drug Dealers to Poetry (or a typical internet search)

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by quiiver WARNING: Many of the rap lyrics in the linked site are explicit. Expect frequent NSFW references and other lines that, while necessarily profane, will offend people. I will also move from something fairly tangible and real into a semi-philosophical discussion which is likely to be less pleasant than any explicit lyrics. While searching for a picture of Alpo dog food to use in a presentation, I noticed that there appears to be a (relatively) well known Harlem drug dealer named Alpo who was referenced in this rap lyric– that happens to be annotated through Rap Genius. Rap Genius is your guide to the meaning of rap lyrics (basically the internet version of the nerd-*** “rap dictionary” dorm-mate you had in college). You can listen to songs, read their lyrics, and click the lines that interest you for pop-up explanations – we have thousands of canonical rap songs explained (2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z – even the beginning of the Torah..) Our aim is not to translate rap into “nerdspeak”,1 but rather to critique rap as poetry. The quality of the critiques vary considerably- some are just restatements in less oblique terms, others actually reference factual elements2, but there are plenty of examples of analysis and research in there that […]