Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Headlining (sort of) the assessment section of the US Dept. of Education's new tech plan was this cool assessment tool. Although it gives educational feedback, the tool is intended for assessment alone; you'll be guessing if you try to learn first through this.

I took a question set on Acceleration (after first making myself a teacher and assigning it!). Herewith the final question, where you really need to understand these concepts and graphs. Since I got it, we'll assume I didn't forget all my pricey degree in physics. And, we'll applaud creater Jim Minstrell for a job well done.

Here's the limitation, though. After completing the assessment, the app had this to say of my mastery of acceleration:
You gave best possible answers on 8 out of 9 of the questions in this set. You seem to have a pretty good grasp of this topic. After completing this set you reported that your understanding of this material was "Great! I feel like I could explain the ideas to a friend."

The following feedback addresses some of the ideas that may cause you trouble. You may have had these problematic ideas while answering the questions in this set.

* You seem to be confusing position data with speed data. Typically you need to work with speed vs. time data to arrive at acceleration. Check the definition of acceleration and be sure you are working with speed time data.
Well, that's not exactly the case.

Monday, November 29, 2010

TimeMaps: The Fall of Rome
TimeMaps software for classrooms are beautifully done dynamic vector maps. They also illustrate both the inadequacies and huge potential of history software.

I'll let you play, with just this one thought: History was meant to be Story. How well does this do storytelling? How well does it draw the viewer into the tale?
edReformer: Rocketship Tour Notes

edReformer jots some notes from a site visit with Rocketship (charter) elementary schools. I've picked out items relating to online ed (but the others are fascinating as well):
School Model:
  • 25% student time on computer-based basic skills learning (non-cert supervision)
Learning lab:
  • Content: DreamBox, Rosetta, Accelerated Reader, Reasoning Mind, Head Sprout
  • embedded assessment of little value
  • big variation in data export ease & transferability
  • common tagging & data management scheme would help
  • Assessment: Promethean and Synaptic Mash
  • little online assessment; questions are read out loud and kids type into online environment
  • looking for philanthropic support for better assessments
Growth plans (and they’re aggressive):
  • Powerschools SIS and Google apps for education
  • PD all focused on traditional instructional strategies

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Teachers' Domain: Regulating Genes PBS Nova
Was searching for interactives promised on last night's Searching for Solomon's Mines (Great program!), didn't find any, but stumbled on this. Not sure I get it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Pivot to Digital Learning: 40 Predictions

"The education sector has not historically been very dynamic, but this year things changed. Despite the recession, we have seen more start-ups and more cool applications than ever before. More investors have joined the space, and the big guys remain acquisitive. The pivot from print to digital learning, classes to students, seat time to competence is on. Here is how it will play out over one, five, and ten years from now.
One Year
2. The Facebook-like ability to create groups, messages, and share content is fueling the rapid growth of social learning platforms, and 2011 will be the breakout year—hitting 5% market penetration—on a rapid growth curve.
4. A state and a handful of urban districts will stop buying print textbooks in 2011 and will shift to customizable digital texts and open education resources.
Five Years
6. The Common Core and Web 2.0 platforms will boost 2011-2012 venture and philanthropic investment in digital content, yielding innovative, engaging, and adaptive content libraries and related mobile apps.
8. Widget-rich social interfaces will dominate personal digital learning platforms (what replaces LMS).
9. The instant feedback from content-embedded assessment, especially learning games, simulations, virtual environments, and MMOs (massively multiplayer online games), will be widely used in formal and informal learning and will build persistence and time on task.
10. Adaptive content will result in more time on task (in some cases, two times the productive learning time over the course of a year), and better targeted learning experiences will boost achievement, particularly among low-income and minority students.
12. Most learning platforms will feature a smart recommendation engine, like iTunes Genius, that will build recommended learning playlists for students.
22. All of these five-year advances will be made possible by a dramatic increase in learning venture investment,including foundations joining the ranks of impact investors. Learning will no longer be a cottage industry.
23. Second-generation online learning will replace courseware with adaptive components in a digital content library (objects, lessons, units, and sequences).
Ten Years
26. With nearly a decade of data, second-generation recommendation engines will drive tutoring applications more effective than one-on-one tutoring.
27. Most high school students will do most of their learning online and will attend a blended school.
28. More than one-third of all learning professionals will be in roles that do not exist today; more than 10% will be in organizations that do not exist today.
31. The U.S. K-12 instructional materials and related technologies segment of the K-12 market will double in size despite slow top-line growth.
33. Blended high-tech/high-touch school models in every urban area will leverage community resources, including museums, theaters, and parks.
35. As online options expand, a three-year highschool experience including college credit will be common. Early college pathways to degrees/certifications in emerging industry clusters will be common.
The pivot to personal digital learning will change the world—and you have a chance to be part of it."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Things Start to Get Interesting: Samsung GALAXY Tab tablet.
Have you seen the new Samsung Fascinate? Sure looks like an iPone to me, only with the Android operating system. Today cometh Samsung's Tab tablet. True, it looks more like Dell's wee entry, only a seven inch screen. But, people do like their Kindles so it's probably not a bad idea for Samsung to aim for that before fully taking on iPad.

For students and schools, it means more choices, of course, for good or bad. It also means costs must start to come down. Competition does that. 

For developers, here's yet another worry. Your app that came in a 10"iPad, 3"iPhone, 3"Android, now must be scaled to a 7" version. (Maybe those ubiquitous Flash 640x480 apps were right all along.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fred Belmont: Obama's New Digital Learning Plan: A Killer App
Tuesday was the release of the National Education Technology Plan. A notable math teacher reviews it here. We'll be looking at this more.
Earmarks Everywhere: How Does Your State Stack Up? | PBS NewsHour
I love these little data interactives. They're simple and clean and invite you to ask your own questions.
Earmarks Everywhere: How Does Your State Stack Up?

In this one for example, one is curious if Montana's status holds up over a 5 year period, or if its a one year spike. Of course it would be good to know what this money actually went for.

Having aimed for some earmark money myself, and also run the normal grants processes, I'm not 100% clear that one path is inherently more evil than the other. Yet data interactives like these make it easier to expose the abuses of any govenrment spending, so let's open up the source code and make many more.

...Wait. Someone has. There are 75,000 such visualizations at IBM's Many Eyes project.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rocketship Education Presentation 3 (of 3)
Worth a look to see how this EMO thinks about technology, teacher specialization in elementary schools, and the use of "para-educators"--something other licensed professions understand they couldn't live without.

Here's an interview over at EdReformer (with another video). And Rocketship's own site.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Webrangers Activity: Powder Monkey
Speaking of the National Parks, here's some old friends, expanded along the way.

It's tempting to dismiss the core educational value of these. And we'll admit, it's hard to state where exactly these might fit in a solid curriculum. Let's explore this.

An educated person has a huge reservoir of words and mental images they may draw on. Some in this interactive are berth, wardroom, sickbay, bilge, bow, aft, starboard, port, wheel, mast, cannon, and even deck are all words which might make their way into a fictional story, an inspiring and lyrical story, or (importantly!) an editorial piece educating people on the benefits of one policy or leader versus another.

If you're of the Kennedy clan, these terms and mental pictures are part of early childhood. If you're even Ed, raised in rural Ohio, but with a yearly visit to the shore, having a cousin with a sunfish class sailboat, and parents who read to you constantly, you'll get some of these.

If you're born in central Chicago, to a 17 year old parent raised in Cabrini Green, these may not be part of your vocabulary, may not be among the mental pictures you can summon when reading a book or opinion piece, hearing a speech or debate.

Thumbs up then, for at least the Powder Boy interactive. Tomorrow we'll look at how to make learning a bit more efficient.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

How Divided We Remain II
Click on each of these maps to go to the interactive. I love these type of simple interactives (OK, maybe not so simple to produce, but not an epic game, either!) It is so cool to be able to zoom in at will to get more detailed data.

So, I asked some questions. Like,... what's up with this map being so red?

Remember, Democrat candidates took 44% of the races. That's a lot.
To make even more unbalanced than they appear visually, something like 10 of the 192 blue districts make up, what 65% of the blue land area? So what's going on here?

Remember, this was the 2008 Presidential election map by county--even with the big Obama win:

Monday, November 01, 2010

How Divided We Remain
This week, Oprah Windfrey and producer/friend Gayle travel to Yosemite National Park; Ranger Shelton Johnson invited and welcomed her: National parks have room for all races - CNN.com
Some readers may be stunned to learn that this well-traveled celebrity had never before visited a national park. Most people of color won't be.
As the only African American permanent ranger in Yosemite National Park in California, I often lament that I'm more likely to meet visitors from Japan or France than I am to see an African-American family from nearby Sacramento or Oakland.
Think about that for awhile. Think about what Oprah, and too many Black Americans, have missed.

Never visited Gettysburg National Military Park, premier monument to the battle and war that eliminated slavery.