Probably the most remarkable content this week was an interview (45 min) with Rob Blair on his (and many others’) course on Democratic Erosion (syllabus). This was all part of the online course I am taking for #openlearning19 at the Open Learning Hub.
This is team teaching on a whole new level. It is team learning. It is collaboration between students, professors, and institutions. It works because faculty, starting at Brown University, then expanding last year to more than a dozen universities, were all able to work together on a common syllabus, then sharing comments and produced work. This year there are over 25 universities involved.
Do watch the interview. Gardner Campbell covers the issues, starting with the technical, then moves on to design and administration. They get into the nuts and bolts of how the program was set up. It was enlightening. It is revolutionary. It breaks down the classroom walls and tasks students with creating relevant materials for distribution to a real audience. The content is now being collected by graduate researchers who will use it to synthesize into a body of work useful to the outside work. This is a truly relevant audience.
I floated the idea of working together within our department, and it went nowhere. I am now considering how to adapt this framework to my language classes here in Tokyo. There is a lot of potential.
A collection of things I have read this week, and some tools for tech and/or learning new stuff, especially languages. Your first comment is checked, after that you are free to comment.
Learning: Laura Ritchie writes about making web pages and online courses. Matching the message to the audience is the key. Or maybe finding an audience for your message. Reminds me of the definition of a politician, one who gets in front of a line and makes noise. But this is different.
Language: Research papers often have impenetrable jargon-laden language with obtuse grammatical structures. Read about the movement to write in simpler language. I really like MIT Media Lab because they already make at least a version of much of their research in language comprehensible to the layman. A good example is one I am using next semester in my class, to teach about reading research papers. The ideas are all there, but the language is easier to understand. This one is about children learning from robots.
Tech: Inspiration for when I retire in a few years. An 83-year-old becomes a game developer. Gets well enough known that Tim Cook from Apple met her. Right here in Japan, too. (CNN)
Politics: Sad, sad story from Myanmar and China. Kachin (NE Myanmar) women sold into sexual slavery to Chinese men because there is a shortage of women in China because of the one-child policy years ago. Once the Kachin women have a kid, they can return home, but without the kid. (Guardian)
Research: I just finished an article where I had an embarrassingly rich amount of data, and a great way to analyze it, but could not find any significant relations among groups. Maybe that was not so bad. Researchers are taking a look at what really is statistical significance. (Vox)
A really good list of things to do to increase your privacy online. Get Firefox, install some extensions, use StartPage as your search engine, use DNS 184.108.40.206. Start form the first one and work your way up. But don’t wait.
Open Learning is on the table and in a MOOC for the next three weeks. Perfect timing as we had graduation yesterday and will have Entrance Ceremony in early April.
Economics are much more important than we give them credit for. The interface with politics is especially fraught, especially these days. But the quest for Economic Dignity is something we all need to consider. My father taught economics in high school and a big supporter of unions. I remember his strike as a small child. Now my daughter is considering whether to strike as a grad student. Seems it happens more often than most think. (Democracy Journal)
Neat study on how kids interact with robots for learning. (MIT). Also neat is that the article is in plain English, making it great content for my classes. The author even makes a Spearman’S Correlation understandable. Spoiler: The more the kids related to the robots socially, the more they learned.
We have a new project in my zemi next year, and I am getting cranked. Raspberry Pi (appropriate for just after pi day), is a small computer that costs about $40. Our zemi has book money every year, but last year I spent it on 4 of those, with kits to build lots of different stuff. I have never tried it before with students, but last year the 3D printer was a success, so onward and upward. Sony also uses these little computers to help around the factory. Pretty good recommendation. (Forbes)
Interactive Fiction took a great leap forward with Bandersnatch on Netflix. The multiple-path (Choose-your-own-adventure) story took a few experiments they did with short animations last year, to a whole new level. And now they seem to be doubling down on that commitment. Can’t wait. I will be using a tool for writing IF called Twine, the same tool they used before they developed a new tool that works with video. (Variety)
All you Talking Heads fans out there, this is a must listen from a musician from Benin. Great adaptation of Once in a lifetime, by Kidjo. She does the whole album if you like that one. Check out her rendition of Summertime. (BoingBoing). Speaking of music, I knew that Shazam will find a song playing on the speakers, but I discovered that
As the police killed Eric Garner in Staten Island for selling cigarettes, they did not consider people filming them, as they were the early days of citizen surveillance. But beware. There are consequences. Read about Ramsey Orta. Most whistleblowers end up regretting it, so we have to celebrate their courage. (Watch these movies). Also, being on a jury can have some long-term consequences when the system is screwed up. You can’t fix the conviction, even after the broken law has been turned over. Long read at Slate. Guilty.
My brain goes too fast sometimes. To slow it down I watch some Netflix and play spider solitaire at the same time. I read a lot of Ian Bogost (pretty much everything with games in the title, starting with his best and most theoretical, Persuasive Games). He created a game called Cow Clicker as a joke. All you do is click on cows. Turns out, it has become popular. Kind of like my solution for a slower brain. Anyway, get the skinny on these kind of worthless attention-sucking games. (AVClub). Do you dare click the cookie?
A list of tools for “instructional coaches” (I think she means teacher trainers, but with tech thrown in.) Here is some good presentation software that goes beyond powerpoint. The blog is rich with this kind of post; laden with jargon, lots of tools, and connections to sponsored content. Some posts are better than others. (Class Tech Tips).
Google Docsare becoming a standard part of education in the US. Here are 7 ways to use it for writing for bilingual students. The teacher also talks about RSS feeds as sources for writing prompts. On the other hand, I guess Google Docs are becoming popular in grade school classrooms as a way to pass notes. Rock on for all except control freaks.
Over at Moodle I am helping (a little, with feedback) on a new social network for teachers. It is a federated network (kind of like franchising for restaurants) so there is no central computer where all the data is kept. The first I heard of this was a Twitter replacement I have been using for a couple of years, Mastodon. Here is how to get started on Mastodon. I will let you know when Moodle.net is ready.
Any developers out there might be interested in a great tool, recommended by Nik Peachey. Raptivity. Especially good for language teaching as it focuses on interactions.
I was reading Stephen Downes’ RSS feed (oldaily) when I came across another cMOOC. His last one was so good I cannot pass up the opportunity to try another one. (Even though I have contributed to many, starting with CCK08).
Now that I am on “spring break” with graduation tomorrow and the party on St. Pat’s, I will have time to devote to this curious idea that has become a lot more relevant lately. Namely, Open Pedagogy. Looking forward to it.
I have been wailing away on research about extensive reading. I was able to collect data from 232 students over the course of a year. Because they used a software platform (Xreading) to access their books, I was able to get very specific data such as how many words they read, reading speed, the level of difficulty of the books, even when they logged in to read. But trying to see if there is any relationship between that and a measure of general language (TOEIC) is difficult. Almost nothing is significant, lots of noise. My main problem is the TOEIC scores, which vary widely among the 3 times students took it that year, especially the reading portion. It’s like trying to hit a moving target.
But I have discovered a great new way to analyze the stats. JASP is open-source software that allows you to look at many different relations, from correlations to regression all the way back to simple descriptive statistics. The only word that comes to mind is flexible, you can use the data in so many different ways, so easily, and then port the results into already formatted tables in your article. It is light years better than using SPSS or Statistica. Try it out.
The Proceedings of that great conference I went to at MIT last August is now out. The Connected Learning Summit brought together groups in education, technology and gaming. I keep remembering the presentations I went to. Now I can refer back to their specific content.
Another conference I just got back from was Moodle Moot Japan (a moot has something to do with a meeting in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, I think). But here it is an annual conference. This year founder Martin Dougimas spoke and it blew me away. I have been using Moodle for about 20 years, and it keeps improving. This year he showed new directions for Moodle Workplace (adapting to corporate learning) and use in NGOs across the world, from Germany to Cambodia. It is a great example of open-source software and the people helping to make it better. Certification is coming soon for training. I am considering doing the courses to become a trainer as a way to keep my hand in after I retire in a few years. I am also helping in a small way with feedback their new Moodle.net social application where teachers, admins, users can get together online. Think of it as Facebook for Moodle, but in a much better light.
It pays to read the fine print. One woman did and discovered that she had won $10,000 (NPR). Light bulbs have gotten a lot more efficient, and you can see how much (NYTimes), unlike leaf blowers, whose 2-stroke engines continue to pollute the air and with noise. James Fallows shows through local political work, the gas versions can be banned, better to use the electric versions (Atlantic). Good in-depth coverage of Huawei and why it is such an important company. The scientific paper is obsolete (Atlantic), use online notebooks instead, like Jupyter, an open-source alternative to Github. Opinion in the NYTimes about the oppression of the supermajority in the US. Government is broken. Wait a minute..Walmart and socialism? Will one lead to the other? A book, on my reading list (BoingBoing). Praxis, kind of like curiosity in your professional field. Never stop learning (blog).
Google slides is great for more than just making presentations. You can make a choose-your-own-adventure story or make a jeopardy game. Learning vocabulary is easier with a system. Here is one. I think it needs an extra step at the beginning where you decide whether the word is worth learning (Ferlazzo). Measuring motivation: Use this manual (pdf)as a basis. There are ones specific to language learning, but this you can apply in more areas. A good resource on how students search for information online, important for Connectivism. Another about Connectivism applied to EFL (pdf) (English as a Foreign Language) in Iran.