Weakly Post #22

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.

Over the semester hump, all materials set and ready to go, coasting into finals at the end of the month. Then 2 weeks of limbo (bike trip? conference? Writing?) and then on to Alaska, Seattle, Denver and Des Moines for the summer. I should try to live in the moment so will mention it has been gloriously rainy and cool here in Tokyo.

Very much excited about taking a self-publishing course from Dorothy Zemack at itdi. Still not too late if you are interested. Will keep you updated. Looks like we have a great group of very highly qualified people ready to create some ebooks for the ELT market. Big motivation.

Tech: Use a smart phone and link it to some neural network (machine learning) to see what the coaches are telling the players with their “secret” language of signs. (via flowingdata).

As and antidote, build yourself a robot to skip rocks, and learn about the scientific method in a fun way.

Tech: You’ve heard of facial recognition, and finger-print ID, and maybe even cameras that can tell who you are by how you walk. But what about your heartbeat? (via Technology Review)

Tech: Line, the social network, is big in Japan. Bigger than Facebook. I use it for coordinating with students. They are wokring on expanding into a lot of different areas. One is Social Credit Scores, where you get a personal rating on your actions online (and sometimes offline). Line takes pains to note that this is opt-in, unlike China, who is experimenting with a required system, and which reminds me of the episode of Black Mirror I show my Digital Literacy students most often, Nosedive, season 3 opener). (via The Verge)

Tech: Cory Doctorow on How to fight The Man. Not the government (well, yes, them too, they are colluding), but with online corporate power. Technical, but good for communications studies. Adversarial Interoperability. Use open standards, not proprietary ones. (EFF)

Tech: Quantum Computing figures large in my current sci-fi read, Neal Stephenson’s Fall; or, Dodge in Hell. A brain can only be uploaded to the cloud because of this superfast, super-efficient computing. IRL (In Real Life) it is looking very similar, and Elon Musk is turning his attention away from rockets and cars and tube-borers to fund QC, and use it to give him and some partners an edge in global trading.

History: Police really weren’t needed very much until the new tech of cars became prevalent. Now I understand Bonnie and Clyde and John Dillinger. (via Boston Review)

Japan: Interactive Fiction is a cross between a book and a game. You get to make choices which determine your outcome. This 240,000 word (huge) IF is probably written by a digruntled Eikaiwa (conversation school) teacher. You can have a free look if you are interested. Cheap if you want to carry it around on your device. A Sensei’s Story. (via Choice of Games)

Writing: Speaking of Interactive Fiction (IF) you can find the standard patterns in Choice-based games. Reminds me of a complicated version of Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories.

EdTech: Tony Bates writes a chapter for this book and gives it a surprisingly tenuous review. He is retired, so has nothing to lose. I believe him. Edited by a prof at International Christian University (ICU) here in Tokyo. Open and Distance Education Theory Revisited.

Tech: A peek into a very dark corner of the internet, and how it got that way. We really need a way to create a healthier environment, and that starts with the real world, as you will see. The internet is a reflection. Destroyer of Worlds. About 8chan.

Culture: Will Harris writes a new book about biracial people. Mixed-race Superman. Includes Keanu Reeves. On my reading list.

Learning: Read Dave Courmier’s book about Rhizomatic Learning. He carves out a space between Connected Learning and Constructionist Learning.

EdTech: Both China and India are really moving ahead in the EdTech market. Lots of development. Reminds me of 3rd world countries leapfrogging landlines for cellular networks. Watch out.

Tech: Proof that DRM does not work. Microsoft closes down its unsuccessful ebook store and everyone who bought a book there loses it. This month. Sorry, Charlie. Back up your ebooks (and everything) after you crack the DRM (digital rights management, a software lock on the file.)

Media: Watching the news on TV (not cable) may be good for your neutrality. (Mother Jones)

Consciousness: A new way to think about thinking. Geometry. Barbara Taversky.

Politics: As a boomer myself, I can agree with this. Don’t Blame Boomers, Blame their Parents. (Mother Jones)

Do your students (or you) watch YouTube videos on a Chrome browser? You can get an extension that helps you take notes.

Too difficult for my students (linguistically and culturally) this is a good critical thinking exercise that has been proven to work. Get Bad news.

The Best Books to Read at every Age, from 1 to 100. How many have you read?

Songs to use in class, already prepared. You just need Spotify or similar. From ELTBuzz

Excellent set of Jigsaw listening videos, with slides, to present in class. About smartphone use.

Weakly Post #21

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.

Back from almost a flawless trip with the students to the beach, where the other teachers decided the only time students could escape the compound was to clean the beach for 2 hours one morning. No sunsets, no sunrises, no runs or walks along the water. Damn shame. Otherwise, things went well. This was my 36th trip like this, and a total of around 150 days over the last 28 years. Can you imagine almost 6 months like that? Exhausting.

A collection of 50 drawings that demonstrate differences between Japan and the US (and Singapore or other countries). (BoredPanda)

Canada outlaws captive dolphins and killer whales. I struggle each year to avoid our local SeaWorld on the way to our study trip. This year we replaced it with “German Village”.

Police. We didn’t really need them until cars were in common use. An unintended consequence.

An update on using AR (Augmented Reality) in schools.

Here is one for chuckles. American news media complaining about the “tyranny of the metric system.” People really are that stupid.

Umair Haque on Why the US is the first poor rich country in the world.

You can’t get any more standardized than this. Genre fiction. Novels written to be simply representative of the genre. (BoingBoing)

Why regulating Big Tech will not work. Competition is the solution.

Painting with light. Making a movie, the Gaffer is the person who sets up the lights, and it has to fit the story. Great 9-minute video.

This one is for Ted. He is a member, and maybe even a priest in the Church of the SubGenius. Now they have a Salvation Pack. (BoingBoing)

Spotify is now gauging what moods people are in and selling the data. What gets sold to depressed people?

ESL Video is a good tool for self study, but teachers can monitor use too. A selection of videos with quizzes. Teachers can ask students to send a code for proof. (Larry Ferlzzo)

Storytelling is more important than grammar. I couldn’t agree more. (The Guardian)

Weakly Post #20

Getting ready for our annual “study trip” where 300 women go next to the beach and spend 4 days on a really tight schedule so they rarely get to the actual beach. For the 4th year, I lead this group, along with 12 other teachers. The “height” of the year. It was designed to teach how to live together and cooperate. Needed now much more than before.

For the Critical Thinking bin. Spending money on prisons and schools in the US. The best food in Japan, where? This video title about misleading titles is misleading, but watch the video anyway (it’s 3 tricks, not one). Also, Moral Relativism. The soul should be included here, and nobody better to poem about Moral Beauty is Robinson Jeffers. (yes, I made poem a verb.)

On the theory of knowledge (or epistemology): Do we need Knowledge any more? Is perception just a part of a regular ongoing hallucination that we are able to control?

Japan Corner: What do young people think about Japan? Fewer young Japanese want to travel or live abroad. Some reasons.

MOOCs: Friend Charles pointed me to a very interesting MOOC on Digital Humanities, which uses data to give a picture of things we usually study in books. Tools below. Another I have been finishing up this week is a look into Japanese Subcultures, mostly manga, but other stuff too, by 4 profs at Keio University through FutureLearn. Variety is good, but a little too much in the style of literary criticism.

Planting trees and empowering women, I had the pleasure of seeing Wangari Maathai at an event at my university about a decade ago.

Tech News: Who is out to get tech, now that it hasn’t turned out to be the silver bullet we thought it would be. Also, how the regulators are clueless.

Language learning: I guess adults CAN learn languages as well as kids, they (we) just take longer.

Find out where tourists take pictures in 135 cities worldwide.

Use tools like Voyant to analyze text in lots of ways. I am still exploring in conjunction with the Digital Humanities MOOC above. Expect follow-up soon.

See Nick Ellis, my favorite psycholinguist, in Tokyo (Rikkyo U, near Ikebukuro) July 19 (Fri) at 6:30. He is giving an overview of his work. Put on by JALT Tokyo.

Research-based language learning tools (vocabulary and pronunciation) by the keynote speaker at JALTCALL2019 last weekend. Linguatorium.

Curation, such as blog writing, is a real important skill.

Sutori looks like a good way to organize projects for students to increase collaborative learning. Looks a bit more organized than StartSole, which are Self Organized Learning Environments.

Weakly Post #19

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.

Recovering from some bad bug, a fever and lots of hacking. A friend I had lunch with a couple of weeks ago has a similar thing. Not sure if there was some transmission going on, or which way. Anyway, I have been limited to work and home for the last couple of weeks, and am finding it kind of refreshing. With the reduced stress, I am finding myself healthier in spirit if not in body, and that is coming along.

Revised summer plans. My daughter (24) has a vacation from her grad school that lines up with mine. She is in Chicago, and a conference I have been looking at for years is near there (TSLL in Ames Iowa). So my original plans to go to Belgium for EuroCALL have been postponed for a year. I find it hard to spend $600 for registration for 3 days, plus airfare, plus accommodations.

Important life skill: How to cheat at a coin flip. (Video 6 min). No more jan-ken (rock paper scissors).

Why writing classes are taught the way they are. A survey of the main writing formats in academia. I just wonder, with 95% of my students not going into graduate school, why we are teaching academic writing and not other types.

Free Solo is a documentary about climbing one section of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park in California. The tenacity of the main climber is amazing. A true hero. (Netflix). But you can use it as a metaphor for so many other things, such as the economy.

Something to pretty easily fall into. Motivation porn. Similar to Inspiration porn.

Buy something at Amazon? Anywhere else? Use Gmail? Google harvests every purchase you make and puts it into your profile. They say they only use groups for stats to sell your data. Right.

Let the Cookie Monster help you get some self-control. Video 5 min.

I have come to realize that the most important 21st century skill is Attention. Mary Oliver, the poet, warned us about looking without noticing. (Atlantic)

An interesting thought experiment. If you could time travel, but only had control about the direction (future or past) but could not set when or where, which would you choose?

Why books don’t work. Like how lectures don’t work. For learning. They still work in the outhouse.

A look at the backlash against technology in an effort not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. In defense of tech. (Wired)

Are headphones necessary for your sanity these days? Especially for younger people? (Atlantic)

Rivet, an online library of 2,000 free books for kids.

This is one to order for the library. Developing Critical Thinking in EFL Classes. The Infusion Approach looks like something between CLIL and content-based teaching. I’m skeptical (critical thinking), but still curious.

Editing podcasts or other audio just got a lot easier.

Supplementary material for my grad class on Materials Development, the chapter on Adapting Materials.

A 6-minute video about relationships. Perfect for the section on Gender in my Society Today class. Haircut. (Gender is such an inaccurate word. I agree with Steven Pinker. Use sex.)

Quick and easy card game that is also lots of fun. The 8-minute video is also a good exercise for listening.

Good for the critical thinking bin on Health. Japan’s vaccination policy. Con and Pro.

How to do Peer Review of student writing. The right way.

If you have an iPad or MacBook, these materials are good guides for Apple- software in the classroom.

Weakly Post #18

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.

Golden Week is over, and the follow-up meant a week chock full of work. The most remarkable thing was observing teachers. For the vast majority, flying colors. I even learned a couple of new techniques. I made it a point to talk to the teachers after observation to get their take on it, and make a few comments. I have discovered that my positive comments work a lot better, most already knew what they wanted to improve on. But there was one teacher in whose class I felt in a time warp. Monotone lecture style with powerpoint, students sitting the back of the class scribbling notes (when they weren’t updating their calendars). Absolutely no interaction. I was flabbergasted. I felt like it was 1999.

I am liking the Baffler, an online magazine, more and more. This one is about white male privilege, and rule by tantrum. Another look at why the Cavanaugh confirmation hearings were business as usual, not something out of the ordinary. Teenage Pricks. (Baffler)

One of my favorite thinkers is Marilynne Robinson. In her (longish) essay she writes about economics, and humanism, and why most people live on subsistence wages. She quotes George, a 19th century economist who argues that the value of labor should be connected to the value of the things produced. Capital just sees labor as an impediment to creating more capital.

“Why, in spite of increase in productive power, do wages tend to a minimum which will give but a bare living?”

She works in Marx, George, Beecher and other older commentaries (curiously, not Piketty), along with social Darwinism and de-skilling. She takes a long hard look at where our society is going as we automate. Is Poverty Necessary? (Harpers)

It’s time to break up Facebook. Also, do you have a problem with anger? Here is how to take care of it.

Jake Adelstein takes a look at the dark underbelly of the new Reiwa Era.

Emily Short talks about classical literature and how it has influenced the ways she creates games. One of special note isn’t really a game, but different ways to translate four lines of Homer’s Odyssey. A real insight into the translation process. She also has an article in WireFrame magazine about her new translation adventure game Ancient Astronauts. Bonus content is a tutorial for Twine, the interactive fiction text engine. This is the one I will be teaching in my new Global Liberal Arts class (love those vague names, I can do pretty much anything.) Also, a view on the place of storytelling in game development. Also, how Dungeons and Dragons helps build a better learner.

Kottke loves maps. Here he points us to a video (9 min) on how New York developed. Amazing to see how slow it was at first, then in the mid-1800s, boom!

Back to conference going this year. Planning for EuroCALL in Belgium at the end of August. Went to a very nice presentation yesterday on life-long-learning at Gakushuin U. (Missed ExciteELT today.) But Thursday, I am going to a presentation at the Venture Cafe for innovators on Digital Transformation. A whole new crowd will have to bring my meishi.

Well, poo. Even moderate drinking is probably bad for you. But then, wine used to be prescribed for illnesses. What is one to think? Here is one for the critical thinking pile. Eat more rice to lose weight. Really? Also, Wolves are more friendly and altruistic than dogs.

Apple has easily accessible books on how to use photos, drawings and videos (and more) in their Everyone Can Create series. So if you are a maker, and use Apple products, these may be a help. They are free.

Most of us probably give too much homework. Min of Edu here in Japan suggest 45 mins of HW for 1 credit (besides the 90-min class). I am making a concerted effort to pare that down. Here is a tool to estimate. I double it for my students who are still learning the language.

A look at language learning apps and what they can and can’t do.

There is a special part of your brain designed for Pokemon. You just have to plug it in at the right time. Kind of like language learning. Also, some unusual “games” (more like experiences) of Angela He. Sorry to say that Letters-a written game will not be available until 2020. Can’t wait.

I am stoked to use Edji for collaborative reading in my class. Easier to use than Hypothes.is, I will let you know how it shakes out. Both these tools let a group of people highlight and comment on a common article or webpage.