Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hope Springs?

Call me crazy, but this article from MindShift got me feeling hopeful about what could be possible.
Could teachers actually matter?
What do you think?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bots, anyone

This is a just a quick post as a placeholder for a longer discussion.

I am about to start teaching a high school computer programming course, really an introduction to Python, for the first time. So I have been thinking a great deal about the advantages of having adolescents developing programming skills and problem solving, etc..

Then, I came across this blog piece by Audrey Watters, which then referred me to one by Dave Lester about software bots.

I think their points are well taken and I am now trying to figure out how to incorporate these into my new course.

More as it happens.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Notes on Blogging

I am currently co-teaching a course at Pace University's Doctoral Program for Education Professionals called "Social Networking: Opportunities and Challenges."

One of our first topics is blogging, and so it seemed appropriate to capture my notes here, on an active blog.

Things to Consider
1. Blogging platform
2. Goal of your blog
3. What should your blog look like (look & feel).
4. Posting (talking to other people)
5. Comments (letting other people talk to you)
6. Allowing the blog to develop over time

0. What is a blog?

Just in case you don't know or are not sure, it is worth watching this video from Common Craft.

1. Blogging platform
The two most widely used blogging platforms are Google's Blogger and Wordpress. Both are pretty easy to set up and manage. Blogger plays nicely with the Google ecosystem. Wordpress has lots of features and is expandable in lots of ways.

Other things to consider in choosing a blogging platform is how it connects to the rest of your social media lifestyle/workflow. Certainly, both Blogger and Wordpress allow you to easily share to the various key social networks (Facebook, Google +, and Linked In) as well as other services, like Twitter. Since a blog is typically a part of a larger social media experience, this is something worth thinking about before you get started.

2. Goal of your blog
It is definitely worth taking some time to figure out what the goal of your blog is: what do you want to say and to whom do you want to say it?
It can also be helpful to publish the goal of your blog on your blog.

3. What should your blog look like
Since, in a very real sense, your blog is an extension of you, you should also give some thought to the look and feel of it. Both Blogger and Wordpress have tons of options for templates. You can find even more by searching the internet machines.

You may also find yourself wanting to change the look of your blog from time to time.

4. Posting
Now that your blog is set up and looking all bright and shiny, it is time to post something. Both Blogger and Wordpress have tools for producing nicely formatting and media rich posts. It is easy to insert links to other websites, upload images, and embed videos and other media.

The harder part, as with any other type of writing, is to decide on a topic, the appropriate length, and how often you want to post.

One of the biggest benefits of a blog is the ability to have conversations with others. Commenting is the way this happens.

Via settings on your blogging platform, you will have the ability to control the structure of the conversation: allowing commenting on certain posts or not; allowing anonymous comments or not; allowing comments to go live right away or not.

6. Allowing the blog to develop over time
Since a blog is a conversation, and, typically, a reflective one at that, your blog will probably change and evolve over time. This is a good thing.

And so it begins! Have fun with your new blog!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

"What models of education?"

I was just reading this great piece by Audrey Watters in her great blog, Hack Education.

She is discussing the wrongness of the predictions she made for Educational Technology for 2012, and blames her failure on having used inaccurate models for education. We seem to have, she argues, better models for things like weather patterns or political polling.

I loved this quote:
What models are we building for education (and why)?  Who are the experts we trust in ed-tech and why? What are their interests in making predictions or even -- and I am implicated here too -- in identifying trends? 
What models, indeed.