I have an intensive course this week and had my first session today. The group of 16 is great because it is small, and nothing else is going on at the university. Thus it is more relaxed. I am using Socratic Circles as a discussion tool for this Speaking and Listening class. (pdf). Also called Socratic Seminars. After preparation, the discussion is like a fish-bowl with some observing and taking notes. I have found that 2 observers for each discussant is the best ratio. So I made 3 groups of 5, each a different topic, then we will have 3 different fish-bowl discussions. Follow-up feedback after each session.

And you thought the SAT Test was to measure college readiness. It’s been refurbished and is trying to shape the college prep curriculum (i.e. high school) to focus on two “codes”, computer programming and the US Constitution. Last week I was amazed to hear the head of ACT say that he was not worried about reduced market share because they were moving into prep instead of measurement. Are we seeing the first shift into irrelevancy for college entrance exams? Lots to discuss here.

This interactive map of humans making sounds of emotions has me thinking. Can I use this to teach descriptive words about emotions? After getting students to listen and match sounds in English, the idea is to pull out Japanese equivalents (or better new ones) of emotions in YouTube, and make a database of those in the class.

Remember Basra? From the Iran-Iraq war? Marshes full of oil? Mostly destroyed? Well, it is coming back, and the Marsh Arabs have a lifestyle like no others. An historical perspective (Noah’s Flood).

I have been listening to The Innovators, by Walter Isaacson. In the introduction, he says he was distracted by the book he wrote about Steve Jobs, and that this gives a better perspective. It starts with Lady Lovelace and Charles Babbage, and goes through the complete arc of the Digital Revolution. A great compliment to Steven Levy’s The Hackers.

Sometimes I wonder if everything I learned in college is wrong. Now we are seeing that constant stress of poverty can actually change people’s genetic makeup of their cells. In my undergrad psych classes we studied Luria and his wiring of bull brains, but now we see that animals have much different cognition than we thought. (Atlantic)

This series of half a dozen articles about games for learning makes me feel good about all those hours with that controller clutched in my hands, red eyes the next morning. But really, it is true, and we need to get it right. The balance is the key. (EdSurge) My favorite was about using a MOO (text-based MMO back in the day. This guy got rich and famous in an industry that dwarfs movies playing LamdaMOO, then Zelda, then Final Fantasy.

Kashmir Hill gives up the 5 most important silos on the Internet and tries to live her life without them. The crisis comes when her daughter has a meltdown and she needs the key to her hotel room, but has forgotten the code. She is braver than I. We are now officially addicted to our tech. Time for a camping trip this summer.

A good literature review of (49 studies of) educational technology leadership 2013-2017. Get the pdf. Wish there were something like this for CALL (tech in language learning). This is supposedly the 5th wave, maybe.

A beautiful website (as it should be) about the Laws of User Experience (UX). Find out quickly what is important to design an interface that works. Learning CSS is a little like learning and language and you should no longer have to worry about memorizing too much stuff. Get a good connection to what is happening in the world of CSS with an old tool, one of my favorites: An RSS Reader (I use feedly) to link to good resources. That is building your own learning tool.

Nice 9-minute video of Shenzhen and how the sleepy fishing village is now 13-million strong at a hyper tech speed for creating new devices. Talk about a rich innovation culture.

I have been watching the Netflix show Cable Girls (or rather, Las Chicas del Cable) in Spanish about the 20’s in Madrid. Great story about women and their struggles for liberation. Also great is the music, which is R and B mostly. I especially like the Title cut (Salt, by B. Miles), and never forward through the Intro each episode. Get the playlist on Spotify.

Nice tool to get your students to research something, then make an infographic, then do a poster presentation. I have been using poster presentations for years now. I find that about 1/4 of the students presenting at the same time is a good ration (3 to 1 audience to presenters). Got the idea from a project based book Widgets Inc, which now has a second edition, which I will be using with my business students at Keio. Zanifesto.

It is easy to give short shrift to the planning part of a writing exercise. This tool may help some students get their ideas in order. A Semantic Environment Map is a fancy alternative to a mind map.

I am a big believer in Peer Grading, and if I weren’t using the Workshop Module in Moodle, I would definitely be using PeerGrade. Here is a short video on how to set up your first assignment. Related research article.

Tech tool: Visual Studio has been around forever, and got too bloated for me more than a decade ago. But it looks like it is worth another look. Microsoft is really surprising me this last year with so many innovations. They have learned to live in the new digital environment.