Here an infographic of the most popular twitter hashtags that pertain to education. When we're tweeting out vialouges or NLT articles, we might receive more exposure if we use the more widely used hashtags. Here's the infographic:
I found something that might interest some people here in the EdLab since most of us love or hate infographics. We're always interested in knowing what information is the infographic is suppose to give and then try to figure the difference between that and data visualization. Below is a simple explanation of infographics presented by my favorite toy as a kid, LEGOS. Does LEGO explain what an infographic is well? You decide.
Subtext is an iPad app that allows teachers and students to have a classroom discussion within the pages of a digital book. They can highlight passages and start a new, meaningful discussion right then and there! Subtext also allows teachers to post content from the web that is relevant to the reading material as well as create assignments and quizzes. Students can share ideas and collaborate to better understand what they are reading, and to draw their own ideas about the reading material.
The great thing about Subtext is that it allows for a classroom discussion within a digital book, in or out of the actual classroom itself. Teachers can create their own “closed groups” where they can invite all of their students to read and interact with a digital book. This allows for a classroom discussion to occur within a protected and secure environment, a top concern of all educators. Navigating through the app is seamless as the layout is refreshingly simple and straightforward. This can save educators a lot of time in having to explain how to navigate the app to their students. Signing up is easy since the app allows users to sign up with either their Google or Facebook account.
There is the concern of availability of technology in the classroom due to budget constrictions. Not many schools can afford to purchase iPads for all of their students; but, hopefully the rise of mobile technology will encourage more affordable options to become available.
Subtext is another example of an app that allows for mobile discussion around a particular medium; in this case it's digital books. This is much like our own Vialogues, except you would need to substitute digital books with video. One very awesome feature of this app is the points system-- you can receive points by doing various things like starting a discussion, endorsing another member's note, etc. When a user has racked up enough points they can trade them in for extras like authors notes. It's just a small gaming element that can potentially keep users investing in Subtext, something that might set it apart from other similar educational technologies.
Subtext could be a great addition to the Better Learning Technology Database. It would be very interesting to see what actual teachers and students think about the learning capabilities of this app, and how it fits into a teacher's curriculum.
Just finished reading this article from Cnet about Eric Simons, the creator of Classconnect (read the EdLab Review here). It was an interesting read about how he was basically living off the AOL building in the Silicon Valley, eating, showering, and sleeping there. It's inspiring to read about what lengths he went through to save money for his creation, and not to mention his hard work. His product is pretty interesting too and hopefully he'll be able to make it grow, especially now that he has $50,000 in seed funding from Ulu Ventures and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Paul Sherer. But after reading about how hard a worker he is, I'm sure he'll go far. But even that might not be enough, as he's going to have to work smart as well.
I'm proud to say that we have completed our new and up-to-date subbasement archive inventory. A big thanks to Danny, Duncan, Oumar, Khalil, and Jeffery for all their help in actually taking inventory of Teachers College's archival materials. Actually the inventory was completed a while back but what I have been working the past three weeks on assigning each box in the subbasement with a meta-collection name, a collection name, and a sub-collection name and organizing the inventory by the collections. By doing this the archival documents will be grouped together under categories such as: Department documents, Faculty, Alumni, Administration, Centers, Institutes, Programs, and Students. This will make it easier for a librarian to find archival materials to fulfill patron requests. This will also bring some order to the subbasement, since we haven't had a correct inventory list until now.
Unfortunately we're still using spreadsheets for this inventory but hopefully this inventory can evolve into something more visually pleasing. I believe we can make a visual data map out of this inventory and apply it to the PocketKnowledge browsing section. But I'll have to do a bit more research and the subject, and see if it is even worthwhile to pursue in the first place.
Eventually the library's goal is to have all these archival documents digitized and uploaded to PocketKnowledge, allowing the historical documents of Teachers College to be all online. This will allow us to show off our archival materials to more people around the world and have them available for researchers, and anyone else who's interested. The completion of this inventory is the first step to this goal.
A recent article from the New York Times depicts the consequences of trying to remove your child from a private school. The article describes two scenarios where parents had to pull their children out of private school. The first was because the parents could not afford the school; the second was because the family was moving to a different city. Both scenarios had the same response from the private school when the parents tried to remove their children: they were told that they had to pay the remaining tuition for the rest of the year. The parents had expected that they would lose their deposits— they didn't consider the possibility that they would end up owing the schools, despite the fact that their children would no longer be receiving an education from their institution. In both situations, the parents and the private school battled in court and the parents did not have to pay the tuition.
So there's a moral to this story... if you're going to enroll your child into private school, make sure to keep them there. Private schools are sort of like the mob where you can get in, but it's hard to get out. Parents should be aware of this and they should always read their contracts and assume that the school will enforce the terms at all times. Though, it should be noted that private schools enforce the contract for a reason: to prevent parents from quickly switching between schools. If a child drops out of a private school, tuition money, which would go towards paying teachers and running the school, is lost. Even so, sometimes events happen that are out of the parents' control. Even in those circumstances, should private schools still force parents to pay for education their child will never receive?
This article from Wired describes how the National Security Agency (NSA) has begun moving into Bluffdale, Utah where they have built super computers capable of storing a massive amount of data. This area is called the Utah Data Center. The Utah Data Center is designed with the sole purpose of intercepting, deciphering, analyzing, and storing massive amounts of data of communication from people around the world, meaning that the data center has records of personal phone calls, email, texts, etc. But wait there's more, the Utah Data Center does more than store an extraordinary amount of data, it can also break codes! Pieces of data from the financial, military, and political sectors would be heavily encrypted, so it would make sense for a super spy computer to have a code breaking ability to view these pieces of information. This definitely sounds like something from a James Bond movie.
Receiving, organizing, and storing data is becoming a more valuable skill to have in many fields including education. But should this type of data storage be legal? It seems that ever since 9/11, the privacy of a citizen doesn't matter. Do we have to give up so much of our private communications and information for the sake of security. The article goes into great detail about the power of this spying data center, but just because we now have the technological power to store the world's data, does that mean we must do so at the cost of privacy? With great power comes great responsibility, do you think the NSA is being responsible?
It all started with an April Fool's prank from the National Public Radio (NPR), who printed a story on April 1st about how Porsafillo Preschool Academy applicants are required to submit a DNA analysis of their children. According to this New York Times article, before NPR had a chance to say “April Fools!”, parents were already getting a DNA analysis for their preschool application; some parents went so far as to get the analysis while their child was in the womb! This story definitely tells the reader what kinds of lengths new parents will go to in order to ensure that their children start their education career at an elite preschool.
If new parents even think about sending their child to a good preschool then they had better be prepared because the competition is going to be extremely fierce. It sounds like they would need to start looking into preschool before the child is even born! This is good news for elite private preschools as they'll be able to hike up their prices because of the competition, but bad news for the parents who can not afford the rising prices. It seems that competitive preschools and wealthy parents are the winners of this situation. Just because a preschool is “elite” it doesn't mean that students would necessarily learn more than the more affordable schools. Thankfully, applicants won't need to submit a DNA analysis... at least not until DNA tests can predict academic achievement.
ClassConnect is a web-based application that helps teachers build lessons online and share them with their students. Teachers can also look at and share lessons posted by other teachers. The story behind the creation of this website is an interesting; you can read it on their about page.
The site itself is very easy to use and users can get plenty of help on navigating the site and performing several tasks. The help isn't simply text-only; it feels like your own personal guide is walking you through the site and its features. The search feature is very useful for finding lessons and, when you perform a search and receive a list of results, you can filter the results by grade level & subject, Common Core standards, file types, and instructional type. The site encourages collaboration among teachers, a feature that many teachers would want to have.
The New York Times recently ran an article with a very ominous warning regarding the nation's security and the economy. According to a panel led by former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and former chancellor of the New York City's school system, Joel Klein, if America does not reform education, our country's security and economy will collapse! Does this warning seem too dramatic, or not dramatic enough? This may seem like a no-brainer to those who know all too well that our school system is still designed for the industrial age and that the system needs to “adapt or die”, but do we need this stern warning from the panel to convey this thought to the general public, to those who have no idea about the outdated school system in need of a good fixing?
Well, first off, who is this panel that has Rice and Klein leading the charge? It's a 30 member committee organized by the Council on Foreign Relations, which is a New York based research and policy organization. The committee believes that today's school system is not preparing enough students to qualify for the military and this is what is threatening our national security. However, they suggested several solutions to this problem. The three main proposed solutions are the following: 1) Adopt the Common Core standards and expand them to include science, technology and foreign languages, 2) Give students more of a choice when selecting schools, especially for students in poor schools, and 3) Governors, along with the federal government, should develop and deploy a national security readiness audit for all schools.
Do you think these solutions will actually help students become better qualified for the military and improve the school system? Is the general public going to take more notice of the issues regarding the school system now that we have this official warning about national security?