Thursday, December 28, 2006

Firefox 2.0
If you haven't made the switch yet, let me commend it to you. Among other niceties, spell checking is inline--for any form text area you happen to be typing. A blog entry, for example, as the entry above--which I entered via an old Windows ME system with Firefox 1.5 still resident.
The JibJab Year in Review
The guys from JibJab were on the Tonight Show last week to premier their newest production. It looks back over 2006, so we get to call it History here. I won't say it's one of their funniest videos, but if you're not sure if you recall the whole year, they'll help you out. And, it's not that bad an example of how to cover a multi-event period of time.

A word about the title. JibJab was aiming to be a fairly mainstream production. So it prbably says something about the culture and the level of education out there that there are still enough people to find that title funny, and few enough people that might be perturbed.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Charles Dickens was a Behavioral Scientist
Have you seen A Christmas Carol yet this year? We took in the Patrick Stewart version the other night; were reminded again of the joys of seeing Christmas anew.

And were reminded, too, of the oft repeated lesson of "Beyond the Basics" last week. Content matters. Great writers are great because they are more than momentarily entertaining. "A Christmas Carol" changes your life more than 20 episodes of most any TV show. David Copperfield has more to say about the nature of man than six semesters of behavioral science classes.

Which brings up our Christmas wish for the 50% of urban and minority kids who might but probably won't graduate in the coming years. Might would-be teachers and teachers returning for Masters training study far less pedagogy and memorize far more Dickens and Shakespeare.

Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

AJAX Yahoo !finance charts
Yahoo! has gone and made their financial charts all AJAXy (in Beta). Thought you might have to display data one day...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Nineteenth Century Inventions HistoryNow
The quarterly issue of History Now is out from Gilder Lehrman. This time they look at gadgets and the people who brought them. A beautiful interactive timeline lets you learn more.
(Reminds me that I'm way, way overdue to visit our near neighbor, the National Inventors Hall of Fame!)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The “Narrowing” K-12 Curriculum
Is there room in education for a traditional liberal education? For History, Literature, the Arts?

The answer (and, yes, we've had enough driving to D.C. this fall), was a resounding "YES!" from the hundred or so wonks, teachers, administrators, and entrepreneurs gathered in the Hotel Washington Tuesday. Is squeezing it in a challenge? Sure. It can be done, and perhaps not with additional hours to the schoolday. The key (all knew this 50-60 years ago) is to integrate history, arts and literature into the rest of the curriculum.

Among those already doing this are any schools associated with the Core Knowledge Foundation. They take advantage of the substantial "reading" periods from Kindergarden up to spiral in good knowledge. The teachers, by the way, love it.

Similarly, the folk at K-12 are fighting the good fight to get quality material into schools and kids wherever.

Of course, we here at the Open History Project have known this truth for a little while now, and you can find the idea subtly integrated throughout the site. Too bad Speaker Pelosi summoned away the new Chair of the House Education and Workforce committee - or he would have heard it loud and clear too.

I would be remiss if I didn't commend in particular the remarks of Dana Gioia, who led by example with a speech laden with Shakespeare and Byron. He spoke of childhood in the labor town Hawthorne, CA; of how his family of no formal education still gave him poetry and music; and of example low performing students then and since affected deeply by literature, music, and drama.
If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
All this seemed to have worked out OK for Gioia, author, successful executive, and now chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Find the papers and presentations here and the full video (indexed) here.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Virtual reality inducing false memories?
"a recent experiment...tested students' ability to learn how to use a real digital camera by operating a virtual one. Although those students who used the virtual camera found it easier to remember how the camera worked, they also experienced more 'false memories'."
Is the same thing true of any non-reality training (e.g. lectures)?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Survey: M.B.A.s Are The Biggest Cheaters
Shocking. OK, maybe not. Shucks, we would have thought the number much higher. And who knows, maybe B students are simply more honest in surveys, recognizing the need for solid marketing data and all.

At least all these dishonest louts have been good for the career of one Donald McCabe, who has made his profession at Rutgers studying them. His C.V. lists publications, alas with no hyperlinks. Why, there is even an International Plagarism Conference. Here's the Conference Proceedings. Alexander Hamilton, where are you? (Sr. Annunciatta, where are you?).

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The River City Project
One of the excellent people we met Thursday was Ed Dieterle, a Harvard researcher in technology and education. The River City Project is billed as "A Multi-User Virtual Environment for Learning Scientific Inquiry and 21st Century Skills". It looks sweet.
The interactive uses a downloadable client not accessible to the general public. However, our lofty status as educational geeks/wonks/pundits got us a copy and guest account, so ask and you may receive!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Too Hard On Themselves? The View From D.C.
The Fixing Failing Schools session was long...and intriguing. But not at all surprising. All day we heard that
1) Testing is exposing the weakness of our poorest schools, but
2) Sanctions are being applied infrequently and N.C.L.B. public choice is rarely chosen.
3) The biggest positive effects may come from the Supplemental Services portion of the bill. But that too is unevenly available across the districts.

Well, this problem took 100 years to build, and five years is a bit of a short time to turn it around. Especially with fundamental union opposition. Still, every other profession has improved itself using metrics, and this one will too, in its own sweet, and perhaps painfully long time.

If you oppose national government testing, why, jump right in here and help build a movement for a more sane approach to education metrics.