Francis Galton [...]

A Victorian polymath, he is best remembered in educational history for founding the field of psychometrics, a subfield of Galton’s larger interest in anthropometrics.Francis Galton in the 1850s

He invented the use of percentile grades for showing distribution of phenomenon. The height charts that you saw as a kid (at age three 25% of children are above x inches, 50% of children are above y inches, etc.) are a Galtonian invention. This method was a simple but useful way of showing normal distributions.

While Galton’s work in measurement and data visualization was groundbreaking, it also represents the beginning of the Eugenics Movement. Galton himself coined the term after his studies indicated that many desirable traits were hereditary in nature.


For a complete treatment of the history of statistics, see History of Statistics.

Galton is also known for Galton’s Distribution, more commonly called the Log-Normal Distribution.

Galton’s Anthropometric Laboratory at The 1884 International Health Exhibition was an early intersection of data collection and entertainment. [http://www.galton.org/galton/essays/1880-1889/galton-1884-anthro-lab.pdf pdf]

How Wikity Works [...]

Much of software development is open, meaning that anybody is allowed to take code that someone else has written and modify it for their own purposes. This is similar to the idea of open content in education: open textbooks, open educational resources, open pedagogy. When someone performs a modification of this type we celebrate it as a success, and call it a “fork” (based not on the utensil, but on the idea of a fork in the road).

Open education is different from software development, however, in that the most commonly used tools in software make it trivial to fork and revise content content from others. In open education we have generally focused on the rights that individuals have to remix content, while not providing or using publishing tools that make it easy to fork content in ways that make sense to non-programming communities.

Wikity attempts to apply the tools and logic of forking to WordPress, the world’s most popular web content platform. Content published in Wikity is easily forked to new sites while maintaining an attribution trail and keeping track of past versions. So sign up for an account. Then:

  • Write up a list of the best indie albums of the 1990s. Watch as someone forks that content and turns it into their best of list. Watch as readers now can browse a connected set of divergent lists.
  • Write an explainer of how the refugee application process works. Watch as others fork your material and improve it with additional references, or pull it into their own site.
  • Post an interesting video you found, along with a summary. Watch as others fork it into their course spaces.

Want to get started? Sign up up for a site by plugging your desired name in front of “wikity.cc”.

For instance, going to http://myname.wikity.cc will prompt you to enter your email and claim that site.

Once you get your site, login and read the document on Wikity Syntax, and make sure you understand the Free to All document. And you’re good to go!

Prophetic Imagination [...]

In Our Band Could Be Your Life, Micheal Azerrad uses a line from the William Blake poem,  “Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion,” as his epigraph:

I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s.

When one searches for this poem, a link appears to the William Blake society connecting a reader to a campaign to preserve his cottage.

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(source)

The people behind this project remind us:

Poets transform reality. They are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

By saving this cottage, they describe their vision:

The Cottage is to be an exemplar of a way to live a life through courage and creativity. We are inviting support from everyone who is strengthened by the knowledge that somewhere in the world such a place exists; a home for the prophetic imagination in England’s Green and Pleasant Land.

The Cottage will be a refuge for everyone who asks great questions – the outsiders, the prophets and the visionaries.

People will be able to stay in the Cottage and in turn the Cottage will emanate their creativity back into the world. Its programme may include a space to function as a House of Refuge for persecuted writers. It will offer Blakean events and it will also welcome visitors.

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A Landmark Moment [...]

“Through the Glass Ceiling and Beyond! Sally Ride’s Feminist Legacy” (source) is a short book review about a new book for young adults about Sally Ride, a member of the first class of female astronauts. Here is a quote from the book:

At a time where women earned roughly 9,000 of the 72,000 engineering bachelor degrees (and only 483 physics degrees, Ride’s main area of study), Ride’s first space flight in 1983 was a landmark moment for the women’s movement. As a member of the five-person crew of the space shuttle Challenger, she was the first astronaut to maneuver a robotic arm–a device she helped engineer–in order to retrieve a satellite. She also was, and remains, the youngest astronaut to ever go into orbit.

Below is a photo of Ride with two other feminist pioneers Billie Jean King and Gloria Steinem.

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(source)

Sally Ride is quoted in 2009:

The world and our perceptions have changed a lot, even since the ’70s, but there are. If you ask an 11-year-old to draw a scientist, she’s likely to draw a geeky guy with a pocket protector. That’s just not an image an 11-year-old girl aspires to.

See also: A Giant Step For Gender Equality (source)

 

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A Giant Step For Gender Equality [...]

Elizabeth Yuko writes a short yet detailed history of women in space programs in “America’s Forgotten Female Astronauts” (source). Yuko blends historical information about women in space programs with an affectionate reference to women’s shoes:

The experiments were grueling and sometimes bizarre. One test required them to swallow three feet of rubber tubing. In another, a researcher injected ice water into their ears. Researchers noted that all of the female testees complained significantly less than their male counterparts. Many of the women scored as highly—if not higher—than the men. At the end of it all, 13 of the 20 female pilots passed the tests. The women were called the Mercury 13, though they also went by First Lady Astronaut Trainees—or FLATs, reflecting not only their pioneering status, but conveniently, also a type of sensible shoe.

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(source)

In addition, she makes an interesting connection between Cold War politics and its influence on erasing opportunities for women in space programs. She writes about President Johnson’s concern of appearing weak as compared to the Soviet space programs and thus had a hand in halting progress for women. Yuko writes:

At the height of the Cold War, when a primary goal of the space program was for America to appear stronger and more resilient than their Soviet counterparts, many argued that sending a woman to space would send the wrong message – comparable to putting a chimp in space, Amy Foster, a space historian, explained in Makers. If a woman—or chimp—could make it in space, some thought, it really was not that great of a feat; for that to be the case, it had to be done by a man.

What’s interesting to note is the introduction of this article cites an interview with Russian women who are training for a recent space mission. In the article Yuko cites, there is a play on Neil Armstrong’s famous quote when he stepped onto the moon (source):

Despite the mission being presented as a giant step for gender equality, the women—who wore red jumpsuits—found themselves fielding questions at a press conference about how they would cope without men or makeup for eight days.

“We are very beautiful without makeup,” parried participant Darya Komissarova.

 

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Danke Frost Moon [...]

To our ancestors, this was the Beaver Moon, or the time of year to sew furs for warmth during the winter. Well before we could turn just stand up, dial up the thermostat, or put on another sweater so easily.

Link tweet source here.

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Welcome Gnome [...]

Bill Monroe sang about finding a home in “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” Any old place to hang my hat, he sang, is home sweet home to me.

image
Photo Credit: me, PDX

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Workforce Shift [...]

Ann Larson writes a powerful post on adjunct labor (source). There are many sources cited that may help researchers bridge an understanding about adjuncts, gender, and student learning.

image
photo credit: me

She writes:

We can better understand the relationship between graduation rates and workplace precarity by noting that women are also overrepresented among the ranks of adjunct faculty. According to the Modern Language Association, women are now “the majority of non-tenure-track faculty members across all types of institutions.” Though women are earning more PhDs than ever before, they are more likely than men to work on part-time or on year-to-year contracts. In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Kate Bahn identified this trend as “the rise of the lady adjunct.” What do we make of this workforce shift?

This post may be useful to writers interested in adjunct labor, feminism, and socioeconomic status.

See also (links about adjunct labor here) and (fix links in this post)

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Her House [...]

Edith Macefield, 1921-2008.

Ballard, city of Seattle, WA. A woman who held her ground.

Macefield said: “I went through World War II, the noise doesn’t bother me,…They’ll get it done someday.”

Macefield’s stubbornness was cheered by Ballard residents who were tired of watching the blue-collar neighborhood disappear. Her house became a symbol of sorts.

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 11.34.33 PM
photo credit: (source)

 This blog explains more (source)

 

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A Pipeline [...]

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(source)

The hardest thing about writing, in a sense, is not writing. I mean, the sentence is not intended to show you off, you know. It is not supposed to be “look at me!” “Look, no hands!” It’s supposed to be a pipeline between the reader and you. One condition of the sentence is to write so well that no one notices that you’re writing.

~James Baldwin from (source

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Time [...]

6773131021_1d7f094d6a.jpg
(source)

Alice: How long is forever?

The White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.

~Lewis Carrol

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Clock Hours [...]

The unit with which we measure student credit for learning is based on an idea originally conceived as a way to substantiate teacher pensions (source).

Andrew Bryk writes:

Early in the twentieth century, the industrialist Andrew Carnegie established the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to create a pension system for the nation’s college professors. The introduction of this pension system proved an ingenious educational reform. At the time, American higher education was a largely ill-defined enterprise with the differences between high school and colleges often unclear.

To qualify for participation in the Carnegie pension system, higher education institutions were required to adopt a set of basic standards around courses of instruction, facilities, staffing, and admissions criteria. The Carnegie Unit, also known as the credit hour, became the basic unit of measurement both for determining students’ readiness for college and their progress through an acceptable program of study. Over time, the Carnegie Unit became the building block of modern American education, serving as the foundation for everything from daily school schedules to graduation requirements, faculty workloads, and eligibility for federal financial aid.

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(source)

This notion of time raises meaningful questions in the 21st century. In other words, how does the Carnegie Unit align with learning and asynchronous teaching?

When the Carnegie Unit was established, the asynchronous style of learning did not exist. So, what now?

Educational policy makers need to consider how to both honor student achievement and faculty labor outside of the constraints of the clock.

How we do this effectively in order to meet the needs of non-traditional college students?


See also [Many Paths To & For Personalized Learning]

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New Pathways [...]

In How To Stay Sane by Philippa Perry, there is a section titled “Learning” where she discusses neural plasticity, differing levels of stress, and psychotherapy. “Good stress” and “moderate levels of stress” promotes “the neural growth hormones that support learning” according to Perry (p. 75). She goes on to describe her work with a client:

To work at this level we cannot be too comfortable, because then new learning does not take place; but nor can we be too uncomfortable, for then we would in the zone where dissociation or panic takes over. Good work takes place on the boundary of comfort. Some psychotherapists refer to this place as ‘the growing edge’ or ‘a good-stress zone’…The good stress zone is where our brains are able to adapt, recon-figure and grow. Think of the brain as a muscle and think of opportunities to flex it. The more we flex it, the better our brain functions (p. 76).

Environmental stimulation, Perry emphasizes, is an important part of learning and “brain building.” She reminds us that what we are comfortable learning may feel like it’s keeping our brains active, but it’s actually the things we are curious about that increases our brain’s capacity for learning. She writes,

We must be doing something genuinely new, and must pay close attention, be emotionally engaged and keep at it. New pathways will form if two or more of these conditions are met, but we will ideally meet all four at once (p. 83).

8106410440_d216efaafb   (source)


See also (source).

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Suicide Clusters [...]

Suicides are not purely stochastic events — one suicide can (and does) often influence others.  Influence can extend not only to probability but also method of execution.

A recent example has occurred in Palo Alto, where a cluster  has taken the lives of four students in the Palo Alto Suicide School District. All four died by suicide along the Caltrain corridor. A previous cluster of five suicides happened in Palo Alto in 2008-09.[http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/12/the-silicon-valley-suicides/413140/ cite]

Cluster suicides are responsible for between 1 to 5% of all suicide deaths.[http://bit.ly/1PR9Qyo cite] Adolescents are most at risk.


The fact that this happened in Palo Alto twice within ten years makes it a rare incidence of an Echo Cluster.

Goffstown NH in the 1990s provides another example.[https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=jWAgAAAAIBAJ&sjid=umUFAAAAIBAJ&pg=3670%2C4182297 cite]

While most people think of suicides as the result of long reflection, the vast majority of sucides are impulsive. See Most Suicides Are Impulsive

A related issue is suicide contagion, which includes Media Influence on Suicide.

Weird Twitter

Student Control of Learning [...]

In “Older Workers, Rising Skill Requirements, and the Need for a Re-envisioning of the Public Workforce System” By Maria Heidkamp, John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Rutgers University (source), the writers summarize some considerations for policy makers.

From the introduction: 

The lingering aftermath of the Great Recession that commenced in December 2007 has shown that despite the efforts of the traditionally under-resourced public workforce system to serve more job seekers than ever before, far too many job seekers have been unable to reconnect to the labor market. Though the economic news is slowly improving, unprecedented and extreme long-term unemployment has become a reality for many individuals, including many low-skill and older workers.

Later in the article under the heading “A Vision for the U.S. Public Workforce System” are useful questions:

How can the broader U.S. public workforce system better respond to the demographic changes of an aging labor force? How might limited public workforce system resources be reallocated to better serve the growing number of older job seekers, trying to reconcile the unique needs of older and midcareer job seekers with the need for a universally designed system that must serve a wide range of clients at different points throughout their careers?

A program created by the AARP and New York State are mentioned which emphasize personalized learning methods using a variety of technologies to virtually connect with students using discussion groups, telephone, email, etc.

This hybrid approach allows an efficient use of technology and self-directed activity blended with access to more personalized assistance as needed.

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(source)

A similar sentiment about personalizing learning is reflected in the interview with Maya Richardson featured in the blog post “The Importance of Student Control of Learning, Especially For Working Adults” (source).

The personalized learning part of it is taking ownership. I think it motivates. As an adult learner, it’s really important to find that you have some control over—when I go in, I know what I want to learn. I hope I know what I want to learn, and I hope I learn it at the end.

See also Just Tell Me What To Do (source), The Five Pillars of Motivating Instruction (source), & Guided Pathways & Professional Development (source)

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Genesis of the OER Term [...]

The idea of open educational materials goes far back, and in fact predates most of the technology we associate with the movement today. The use of the particular term “open educational resources” however, has a more recent provenance, and can be traced to a 2002 UNESCO resolution. But what about the initialism “OER”? Where does that come from?

The initial UNESCO report does not mention the initialism. Here is the core of the resolution:

Participants then adopted a Final Declaration (Annex 6) in which they “express their satisfaction and their wish to develop together a universal educational resource available for the whole of humanity, to be referred to henceforth as Open Educational Resources.” [http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001285/128515e.pdf source]

At the same time, the Hewlett Foundation was looking at the ways in which technology had and hadn’t impacted education and educational practice.  Under the leadership of John Seely Brown and others a new strategic initiative: Using Information Technology to Increase Access to High-Quality Educational Content. This project also used, initially the full term. However, by 2007 the term OER was prominent enough that it formed the title of their report: A Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement.[http://www.hewlett.org/uploads/files/ReviewoftheOERMovement.pdf cite]

The impact of Hewlett funds was quick and visible in the Open Education world. To give a sense of scale, between the initial report at the end of 2002 and 2007, a period of five years, Hewlett invested $68 million in OER projects, and it is likely their use of the term had broad impact.

Additionally, early debates tended to pair off OpenCourseWare with Open Educational Resources — explaining that Open Educational Resources was the larger lens. It’s likely that the constant use of the OCW initialism invited a parallel use of OER.


Report: Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries (Paris, 1-3 July 2002)   [http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001285/128515e.pdf pdf]

Paris Declaration on OER (2012). [http://ru.iite.unesco.org/files/news/639202/Paris%20OER%20Declaration_01.pdf pdf]

See also The Hewlett Wave

 

Seat Time [...]

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(source)

Competency-based education and mastery learning are often used interchangeably, but there is a fundamental difference when you consider the needs of the students.

In competency-based education, a student, who may be an adult returning student, may have skills that can help her accelerate in a degree program. If that same student needs to slow down to learn new material, mastery learning principles–and the software that supports it–will help justify that necessary extra time for her learning.

In “Moving Ahead with Competency” by Paul Fein, he writes the following about the CBE pilot degree program in Washington State  (source).

A key reason for the degree’s creation was research showing that there are 1 million people in the state with some college credits and no degree. Broughton said many of those people need a flexible form of higher education to go back and earn their degree. “We saw that we need to serve learners who are not with us now,” she said. “The goal is, eventually, every college can do this.”

Both competency-based education and mastery learning raise questions about traditional perspectives concerning “seat-time” for students.

 

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Elegant In Themselves [...]

A Venn Diagram visually communicates how ideas overlap with shapes not words. A quote from John Venn, inventor of the graphic used to teach people about similarities: (source)

We endeavor to employ only symmetrical figures, such as should not only be an aid to reasoning, through the sense of sight, but should also be to some extent elegant in themselves.~John Venn

Alicia Lu writes adapts the Venn Diagram in her post about the impostor syndrome (source). She describes two perspectives of failure:

…[a] characteristic that’s somewhat unique to programming is that it consists of near constant failure. Unlike learning other skills where one can expect to be reasonably competent after sufficient practice, programming largely consists of constantly failing, trying some things, failing some more, and trying more things until it works. One of the biggest differences between experienced and novice programmers is that experienced programmers know more things to try.

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(source)

 

 

A Quotation [...]

image

“Most people are just people. Their thoughts are somebody else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” ~Oscar Wilde

photo credit: me
artwork: Vallee & Valandani

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Pathways to Collaborative Pedagogy [...]

The following is a list of notes used to create a workshop titled:

Creating an Instructional Design Team: Pathways to Collaborative Pedagogy (source).

From the workshop blurb: The presenters of this workshop will explore instructional design roles and strategies. Using the framework of dramaturgy, the audience will create a working definition of instructional design for their institution.

The presenters cited “The Images Before Us: Metaphors for the Role of the Dramaturg in American Theatre” by Geoffrey S Proehl, who assigns the dramaturg several roles (source):

Substitute “dramaturg” for an instructional designer (ID), “play” for course, and we may have a useful working definition of an ID’s role in education. ID’s as:

miners of images (p. 128)

keeper of the text (p. 128)

conscience of the theatre (p.130)

critic in residence (p. 130)

smart kid or good kid in class (p. 130)

fixer (p. 132)

play doctor (p. 133)

lion tamer, middle manager, hell-raiser, and institutional figure (p. 133).

Another useful point about instructional designer working with teachers or subject matter experts:

Good dramaturgs, so the conversation almost always goes, will be able to intuit the playwright’s or the director’s vision and serve it (dramaturg as servant). Less often are they expeced to have their own visions of the play (p. 129).

—See also Instructional Designer as Dramaturg (source)

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First Women-Directed Theaters in Paris [...]

By the early 1920s it became common for women to act as directors of theaters in France. Sarah Bernhardt and the comic actor Gabrielle Rejane were two of the first, but others soon followed. The following note is from a Charlotte News article from 1921, titled “Parisian Women in Business Do Well”:

07Rejane_1856-1920PARIS, July 18.—The entrance of women into the field of directing French theatrical enterprises has taken on the aspect of real invasion. Mme. Sarah Bernhardt and the late Mme. Rejane were the first French women to direct their own theatres. Today Mlle. Rolle directs the Dejazen theatre. Mlle. Cora Laparcerie, who formerly directed the Bouffes-Parisians, is now at the Renaissance. Mlle. Constance Maille directs the Marigy and Mme. Rasini the Ba-Ta-Clan, besides supervising numerous revues. Jane Renonardt’s new theatre is nearing completion and Maud Lott is about to assume the directorship of the Imperial.

To date most of the enterprises conducted by women have been quite successful.[link t=”Newspaper Article. Subscription Required” l=http://www.newspapers.com/image/62011789/?terms=The%2Bentrance%2Bof%2Bwomen%2Binto%2Bthe%2Bfield%2Bof%2Bdirecting]


Under Mme. Ragini the Bata clan produced a play by Jean Cocteau. See Cocteau’s Bataclan Play

Avec Vous [...]

It is difficult to write about anything tonight. The peace sign that looks like a sketch of the Eiffel Tower is all over the Internet. Is it The Real Banksy? Jean Julien? Another artist?

During a moment like this, attribution seems pointless.

Le paix soit avec vous.

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A Time of Useful Consciousness [...]

At the end of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s  Time of Useful Consciousness (Americus, Book II), there is a notes section at the end of the book (source). From the notes section:

Time of Useful Consciousness,’ an aeronautical term denoting the time between when one loses oxygen and when one passes out, the brief time in which some lifesaving action is possible.

Here is another excerpt from earlier in the book:

The jazz-age Pickle populated for starters by Wobblies, old Haymarket rads, Bughouse Square soapboxers, anarcho-pacifists, newshounds and booksellers and lecturers on serious subjects, con artists and cops, hoodlums on the lam and pols on the make, prostitutes and printers…

Studs Terkel, with Eugene Debs saying “The master class has always declared the wars, the subject class has always fought the battles”–for which he got ten years in the slammer but told the judge “While there is a lower class I am in it, while there is criminal element, I am of it, while there is soul in prison, I am not free.

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(source)

Here is a poem:

L’heure bleue on the Strip/where time does not exist/except on the wrist of the dealer/and all that glitters is not gelt/and “behind the tinsel is the real tinsel”

And another historical stanza:

In the Trieste Caffe the original beat hangout/where Gert Rude Stein/never said to J. Kerouac “You are all a beat generation”

See also Time of Useful Consciousness (source).

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No Longer The Damsel in Distress [...]

For teachers who are looking for open educational resources for a 100 level film introduction course with a theme about gender, the offerings are remarkably scarce. For upper-level and graduate level courses, on the other hand, faculty have it easier when trying to find theoretical essays and articles.

A great place to start is Wikipedia (source) which begins with defining the trope concept:

A common plot line in many horror films is one in which a series of victims is killed one-by-one by a killer amid increasing terror, culminating in a climax in which the last surviving member of the group, usually female, either vanquishes the killer or escapes. According to Clover, the final girl in many of these works shares common characteristics: she is typically sexually unavailable or virginal, and avoids the vices of the victims like illegal drug use. She sometimes has a unisex name (e.g., Laurie, Sidney).

Occasionally the final girl will have a shared history with the killer. The final girl is the “investigating consciousness” of the film, moving the narrative forward and, as such, she exhibits intelligence, curiosity, and vigilance.

(source)
Read this! (source)

One of the basic premises of Clover’s theory is that audience identification is unstable and fluid across gender lines, particularly in the case of the slasher film. The final girl is no longer the damsel in distress.

The trope of the “Final Girl” is taken up by Erik Piepenburg “In Horror Films, the ‘Final Girl’ Is a Survivor to the Core” (source). He writes:

Rooted in grindhouse cinema, the final girl, as she’s known to fans, is the feisty character who’s left to face the killer in a horror movie. To cheers from the audience, she usually wins the climactic combat with weapons and wit, providing a cathartic end to the gore and gloom.

Piepenburg cites a blogger, Stacie “Final Girl” Ponder, who has published an eBook on this genre which may be an enjoyable reprieve for students taking on a complex topic such as gender in film studies (source). Ponder gives her readers useful examples and a lot of film suggestions using a comic book sketch format. It’s interesting to note that Ponder’s text teaches her readers frame by frame much like film.

Another potential thematic discussion for this film course could be to examine gender stereotypes in film (source). Or perhaps students can take a more complex look at what Natalie Portman, the actress, said which may challenge the popularity of the “Final Girl.” Portman said in an interview:

The fallacy in Hollywood is that if you’re making a “feminist” story, the woman kicks ass and wins. That’s not feminist, that’s macho. A movie about a weak, vulnerable woman can be feminist if it shows a real person that we can empathize with (source). 

Like any introduction to film course, the avenues of inquiry with students are plenty. Open educational resources on this thematic film studies topic, however, are lacking in availability.

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An Abandoned Building [...]

In his memoir, Detroit: An American Autopsy, Charlie LeDuff opens with the story of dead man found by police in an abandoned building in Detroit, Michigan. A reporter by trade, LeDuff blends his personal history along side the legacy of deindustrialization in Detroit.

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LeDuff dissects the dead man’s body to include a different version of history. He writes:

The neck bone is connected to the billionaire who owns the crumbling building where the man died. The rib bones are connected to the countless minions shuffling through the frostbitten streets burning fires in empty warehouses to stay warn–and get high. The hip bone is connected to a demoralized police force who couldn’t give a shit about digging a dead mope out of elevator shaft. The thigh bone is connected to the white suburbanites who turn their heads from the calamity of Detroit, carrying on as the human suffering were somebody else’s problem.

See also Blue Collar Defeat (source).

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Censoring Dragonology [...]

In “What Do Batman and The Onion Book of Known Knowledge Have in Common? Censorship, the ACLU, and Arizona Prisons. Read in” by Corrina Reginer (source), she makes a useful connection between Banned Books Week, the Pell Grant for Prisoners, and censorship.

Here are some books that are currently banned by the Arizona prison system:

  • Sketching Basics
  • Batman: Eye of the Beholder
  • Rand McNally Family World Atlas
  • E=MC2: Simple Physics
  • Acupressure for Emotional Healing
  • Arizona Wildlife Views
  • The Onion Book of Known Knowledge
  • Merck Manual of Medical Information: Home Edition
  • Mythology of Greece and Rome
  • Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons

These and hundreds of other titles were banned in Arizona prisons just last year, the ACLU learned this summer through a public records request. They join the ranks of countless books, magazines, and other printed materials barred from prisons and jails across the country through processes that lack transparency and allow for dangerous levels of subjectivity – perhaps the most dramatic example being a South Carolina jail that effectively prevented prisoners from receiving all books, magazines, and newspapers except for the Bible, until challenged by the ACLU.

The First Amendment protects our right to access information and ideas, even while incarcerated. So how can this happen? The problem stems from an overbroad and poorly monitored federal regulation, upheld by the US Supreme Court in Thornburgh v. Abbott, allowing prison officials to censor material that is “detrimental to the security, good order, or discipline of the institution” or that “might facilitate criminal activity.” Such a regulation is understandable when you consider the potential risks of books that, say, instruct readers on the manufacture of weapons or methods of escape. But it’s hard to see how the above list of books could be placed in such a category.

See also Books To Prisoners & Codified Censorship (source)

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Books To Prisoners & Codified Censorship [...]

Back in July 2015, Arne Duncan, revived a conversation about prison education in the United States. In the following NPR broadcast, “The Plan To Give Pell Grants To Prisoners” (source), an outline for a potential return-on-investment for tax payers is provided:

The cost-benefit of this does not take a math genius to figure out,” Duncan said. “We lock folks up here, $35-40,000 every single year. A Pell Grant is less than $6,000 each year.”

Here’s a bit more math that Duncan uses to make his case: Of those 700,000 prisoners released each year, more than 40 percent will be back behind bars within three years.

Duncan’s plan involves persuading colleges and universities to run classes inside prison and giving prisoners Pell Grants to help pay for it all. The pilot will last roughly five years and focus on prisoners due to be released in that time. Many other details have yet to be worked out, including what colleges and prisons will participate and how many prisoners will benefit.

As the national conversation begins again about the value of prison education and reducing recidivism, it is worth noting that several small groups in various states have been working together to volunteer for this effort for decades.

Books To Prisons (BTP) was founded in the early 1970s and is sponsored by Left Bank Books (source). As one of the largest and oldest prison book projects in the country, BTP works in conjunction with other agencies that support prisoner literacy and promote social justice. BTP has three associate organizations – Portland Books To Prisoners, Books To Prisoners Olympia, and Bellingham Books To Prisoners.  These sister groups assist in answering letters, mailing packages, and soliciting book donations.

Sometimes their efforts are thwarted by censorship. As a group, they maintain that criminals need broad access to a variety of topics. On the BTP website, they list banned book lists from several states, including some of the rationale by prison management for their policies (source).

Our hope is that one day these restrictions will be lifted. We need to challenge these overly inclusive lists as what they really are: Codified censorship for a vulnerable population. 


See also Censoring Dragonology (source)

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The Hirschsprung Family [...]

Numerous people have tweeted and blogged this 1881 family portrait as “People Ignoring People Before Cell Phones”. It was rather difficult to track down details on it, so we capture them here.

the-hirschsprung-family-1881.jpg!Blog

It was painted by Peder Severin Kroyer, a famous Dane known for painting scenes of 19th century Danish life.

It was commissioned by Heinrich Hirschsprung, a tobacco manufacturer and patron of the arts at that time. He became good friends with Kroyer, and Kroger would have known all of these family members he painted quite well. The painting was meant to show a happy engaged family for which he had a deep affection. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Hirschsprung cite]


Idea for future page: It strikes me right now that the big sin that people are reacting to with cell phones is not engagement with something else among others, but engaging with distant others, over the people in front of you. This violates the “natural order of things”, in a way that interacting with knitting, newspapers the view do not.

Analytics of Empathy [...]

Can data science be used to encourage better user behavior? A number of experiments with League of Legends show perhaps it can:

But Beck and Merrill decided that simply banning toxic players wasn’t an acceptable solution for their game. Riot Games began experimenting with more constructive modes of player management through a formal player behavior initiative that actually conducts controlled experiments on its player base to see what helps reduce bad behavior. The results of that initiative have been shared at a lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and on panels at the Penny Arcade Expo East and the Game Developers Conference. (post)

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The first change they made was to turn off cross-team chat as a default. This dramatically reduced negative chat while keeping use of cross-team chat stable.

The second thing they did was to compile dictionaries of words the negative players would use that were not used by positive players. “It turns out that if you use the dictionaries, you can predict if a player will show bad behavior with up to 80 percent accuracy from just one game’s chat log,” Lin said.

The third thing they did was make the banning process more informational, showing banned members precisely what they were banned for, and what level of agreement was shown on the ban by the judges. This allowed people to use temporary bans as a learning opportunity, knowing the specific behavior that triggered it, as well as helped them understand it was not a single opinion that led to the ban, but a majority opinion.

Of the remedies, the change to internal group chat as a default is the most interesting. It means that players who wanted to say something to the other team would have to explicitly think “This is meant for the other team”.  That small difference is apparently enough to cause teams to filter language, and a testament to the power of defaults (and the importance of making certain things in UX less frictionless).


Open networks can be strangely polarizing. See Streams Don’t Merge

Making bannings more transparent is an application of the Fair Process Effect

The Love Bench is an example of this in architecture.
 

Inherent Archive [...]

Together, As Always (source) is an interesting example of curation using print materials with digital tools. Anyone who has ever purchased a used book that somebody else inscribed with a message to another person can relate. This may also be of interest to people who are in the process of donating books with messages from friends and loved ones.

Julianne Aguila, the artist, describes her work:

Together, As Always is an archive and exploration of handwritten inscriptions found inside second-hand books. It is easily browsable, searchable and is updated frequently. This project explores the internet as both an inherent archive and a new way of presenting art to the public by way of social network. The inscriptions are grouped by tag to find trends in theme and occasion. As trends emerge, viewers are able to browse by tag, which include holidays, names and dates.

…These patterns represent not all inscriptions as a whole, but those that found themselves in thrift stores, and inferences can be made as to how they got there. Many were obviously part of an estate of the deceased; some were addressed to children who would now be adults, suggesting a purging of childhood keepsakes. It’s also obvious from the briefest inscriptions that the gift-giver and recipient were not close, and as such the books were not considered sentimentally valuable.

(source)
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An interesting fact of these inscriptions is that no attempt was made to remove or cover this sometimes very personal note. As such, I also have not made any attempt at censorship of names, dates or addresses. The fact that these intimate details remain is part of what makes these inscriptions so endearing.

It is what also makes these people and events permanent, and serves as a reminder that they are real, and these objects once belonged to them.


See also Rain-bowed Slick of a Bubble (source)

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Legitimize Open & Flexible Time For Teacher Collaboration [...]

In “Massages in the Library: Running a Course Design Spa for Faculty” by Karla Fribley (source) she has a few quotes that help legitimize the idea that if we are going to create institutional and systemic change for online education, faculty need open and flexible time to collaborate with other teachers.

Perhaps if we can substantiate the need for this time for faculty, it will be eventually be easier to make this case for student learning.

Quote 1:

Ask any faculty member about their biggest challenge today, and many of them will say, “There’s never enough time!” Studies have shown that faculty work longer hours than their predecessors, and feel stress from their workloads.

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While librarians and other campus support staff are eager to sit down with faculty and talk about resources or offer help designing assignments, unfortunately many faculty feel pulled in so many directions that they don’t make time to seek help from campus support offices.

Quote 2 as it relates to consultants (think Instructional Designers):

Knowing that a lot of our departmental names are mysterious to users (“How does Instructional Technology differ from Media Services?”), we chose to ask faculty about the types of help they might like, rather than which departments they’d like to work with.

Quote 3:

One wonderful part of this is that a faculty member often ends up getting help in areas they hadn’t anticipated.

Quote 4 concludes the article by summarizing the main reflections of faculty development planners and teachers (stakeholders, if you use that language):

The unstructured aspect of the day makes it easy for faculty to choose the help that interests them most, at the time that interests them. For the event planners, it provides an excellent opportunity to collaborate one-on-one with faculty on their courses.

See also Guided Pathways & Professional Development (source)

See also Faculty Spa Day (source)

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Guided Pathways & Professional Development [...]

In What We Know About Guided Pathways by the CCRC (source), researchers have created a useful report about systemic change to promote academic success for community college students. A major strength of community and technical colleges is the ways in which students can select their courses as “a buffet.” This freedom of choice is especially useful for adult returning students exploring new learning opportunities and citizens interested in life-long learning.

For students who are trying to transfer to a four-year university or complete a certificate program, however, this freedom–especially for first-generation college students–can be unnecessarily confusing and challenging. Students make costly mistakes and lose momentum with their education.

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The CCRC propose the following:

Making the kinds of institution-wide changes called for in the guided pathways reform model is challenging and requires committed leaders who can engage faculty and staff from across the college.

In terms of faculty professional development, they identify the current status quo for faculty:

  • Learning outcomes are focused on courses, not programs. 
  • Instructors are often isolated and unsupported. 
  • Metacognitive skills are considered outside the scope of instruction.

Focusing on meaningful professional development for faculty would include the following:

  • Faculty collaborate to define and assess learning outcomes for entire programs.
  • Faculty are trained and supported to assess program learning outcomes and use results to improve instruction.
  • Supporting motivation and metacognition is an explicit instructional goal across programs.

In addition to useful theory and statistics, they give examples where this style of systemic change has been implemented at the program level with a blend of state-funded support and institutionalized faculty collaboration:

The Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) model was developed by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges to help adult basic skills students enter and complete certificates in career-technical education (CTE) programs. Consistent with the design principles for guided pathways, the program integrates the teaching of foundational basic skills with instruction in college-level technical content and enrolls students in a prescribed, wholeprogram schedule of courses that are aligned with job requirements in related fields.

 See also Legitimize Open & Flexible Time For Teacher Collaboration (source) and The Five Pillars of Motivating Instruction (source)

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The Five Pillars of Motivating Instruction [...]

In Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching All Adults, Raymond Wlodkowski (2008) gives his readers examples on how to enhance the motivation of adult learners. In the beginning of the text, he explains new developments in neuroscience and social science as it relates to educating adults.

The definition of adult for the purpose of his project is a person with a “life responsibility such as full-time work or dependents” (p. 32).

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For instructional designers, his teachings on the “five pillars of motivating instruction–expertise, empathy, enthusiasm, clarity, and cultural responsiveness” are particularly useful when working with subject matter experts (p. 93-94).

A basic way for an instructor to use the motivational framework is to take the four motivational conditions from the framework and to transpose each into questions to use as guidelines for selecting motivational strategies and learning activities for a lesson plan.

1. Establishing Inclusion: How do we create or affirm a learning atmosphere in which we feel respected by and connected to one another?

2. Developing Attitude: How do we create or affirm a favorable disposition toward learning through personal relevance and learner volition?

3. Enhancing Meaning: How do we create engaging and challenging learning experiences that include learners’ perspectives and values?

4. Engendering Competence: How do we create an understanding that learners have effectively learned something they value and perceive as authentic to their real world?

See also (source).

See also Just Tell Me What To Do

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Just Tell Me What To Do [...]

In “Engendering Competence Among Adult Learners” a chapter in Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching All Adults by Raymond Wlodkowski, he gives readers interested in education tips on how to engage adult learners.

Many students, especially adult returning students, have limited time for their studies. Wlodkowski reminds us:

In some instances, adult learners need courses and training not so much because they them but because they need jobs, the promotions, and the money for which these learning experiences are basic requirements. This is the reality for many adults, and it may be one about which they feel they have little choice. “Just tell me what to do” is their common refrain. The realize the highly controlling nature of some corporate environments is beyond their political or personal influence (p. 312). 

Much of this text is to remind educators about the importance of empathy when many students have not had the experience of controlling, thus succeeding in education. In addition, he tries to give educators strategies for helping their adult students who are often burdened by their additional responsibilities.

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He writes,

The strategies that relate to the motivational purposes of respect, self-efficacy, expectancy for success, and deepening engagement and challenge are most effective in this regard (p. 312).

Much of his advice is based on the face-to-face model of teaching yet the advice is transferrable and meaningful to online course designers and faculty.

See also The Five Pillars of Motivating Instruction

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A Very Rare Art [...]

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In the Natural Navigator: The Art of Reading Nature’s Own Signposts, Tritan Gooley (source) writes about the lost art of being able to read one’s environment for way-finding. He makes many claims about how technology is erasing this skill. He goes so far as to call it a lost art. Gooley writes:

Not every journey has a grand purpose. Rather, there is a strong human tradition of impetuousness, spontaneity, and adventure (p.5). 

Natural navigation is the art of finding your way by using nature. It consists mainly of the rare skill of being able to determine direction without the aid of tools or instruments and only by reference to natural clues including the sun, the moon, the stars, the land, the sea, the weather, the plants, and the animals. It is about observation and deduction (p. 1).

The way we use our senses and mind to answer the question, “Which way am I looking?” can lead to thoughts, connections, and ideas that are as exciting as any journey that follows. You are about to catapult yourself into the top 1 percent of natural navigators in the world. Welcome to a very rare art indeed (p. 14).

See also A Rare Art (source).

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Fastest Known Time [...]

“On the Longest Hiking Trails, a Woman Finds Equal Footing” by Jennifer Pharr Davis (source), she explores questions of gender and physical advantages with endurance exercise using well-known endurance athletes Scott Jurek and Ann Trason. She concludes her article with the following:

Regardless, the one thought that remains apparent to me is that athletes who are pushing the boundaries of human endurance have more in common mentally than what separates us physically.

Scott Jurek is a common name among long distance endurance athletes, yet rather than focusing on his well-publicized recent record on the Appalachian Trail, Davis raises some questions about men, women, and exercise by comparing his time to Heather Anderson’s relatively unknown similar accomplishment.

It’s interesting to note that the author, Pharr Davis, is an athlete in her right and Jurek beat her fastest known time (F.K.T). She interviews Jurek in this article and writes:

I was not shocked that Jurek broke my record; I was surprised that he beat it by only three hours. And after rethinking every five-minute pause that I could have eliminated on my hike, I was left with a larger question: How could I — a woman who has never won an ultrarace — compete with Scott Jurek? So I asked him.

Jurek did not appear to be surprised at the 0.3 percent difference in our finish times. “The gender gap diminishes and disappears over distance,” he told me. “When you’re traveling over 2,000 miles, it doesn’t matter if you are male or female. Superhuman powers are superhuman powers; they know no gender, no age.”

Jurek did say, however, that in traditional ultrarunning distances of 50 kilometers, 50 miles or 100 miles, he believed men still had a physical advantage.

(Source)

Ann Trason is often compared to Jurek since she is one of the most decorated female ultra-runner-athletes. At the midpoint of the article, Pharr Davis transitions from the physical differences between sexes to the mental attributes that could contribute to one’s success as an athlete.

Trason admits to experiencing self-doubt when she raced against men who were supposed to be faster than her, yet she speaks about competition in terms of challenging herself not just competing with others. Pharr Davis again:

When I asked her about these gender issues, Trason said: “Why would I compete against anyone except myself? I think people should be the best they can be. Ultimately, it comes down to the individual.”

Pharr Davis poses a question about pain and suffering in competition:

Jurek and Trason emphasized that when you are pushing your body to the brink of endurance, mental fortitude is likely to be a bigger factor than gender. Which raises the question: Does gender impact mental fortitude?

This reading raises future possible research questions about the intersection between physical pain, mental endurance, and competition.

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Data With Heart [...]

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 9.10.00 PM
     

In Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World by Naomi S. Baron, she uses the following quote from Michael Dirda as her epigraph for Chapter 1 (link).

E-books resemble motel rooms—bland and efficient. Books are home—real, physical things you can love and cherish and make your own, till death do you part. Or till you run out of shelf space. 

The quote above is taken from an interview with Dirda “Washington Is a Terrific Place If You’re a Serious Reader” (link).

He compares book ownership and personal libraries:

Books are more than just texts. A personal library is a reflection of who you are or the person you’d like to be. Owning an e-book reader is like having a library card—you can check out almost anything, but the book somehow never quite seems your own.

According to The New York Times (link). :

E-books’ are declining in popularity which may signal that publishing, while not immune to technological upheaval, will weather the tidal wave of digital technology better than other forms of media, like music and television 

One of the main companies that promoted the e-book is Amazon.com which has announced they will open a physical bookstore in Seattle, WA (link).

Book lovers often see stores as a piece of their community. And some blame Amazon, and online retail more broadly, for the slow demise of independent booksellers.

Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, is careful to say the store won’t be stocked solely on data.

“It’s data with heart,” she said. “We’re taking the data we have and we’re creating physical places with it.”

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Opioids, Alcohol, Suicide [...]

In contrast to every other major demographic, death rates for middle aged whites are rising, and rising fast. While part of this is attributable to increasing suicide rates, stunning new research indicates much of the increase is due to drug and alcohol abuse. The effect is centered in the poorest populations, and seems to be related to increased use of various legal and illegal drugs to curb pain. (nyt)

(source)
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Analyzing health and mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from other sources, they concluded that rising annual death rates among this group are being driven not by the big killers like heart disease and diabetes but by an epidemic of suicides and afflictions stemming from substance abuse: alcoholic liver disease and overdoses of heroin and prescription opioids. (nyt)

The researchers note that the magnitude of the increase is almost unprecedented: “the mortality rate for whites 45 to 54 years old with no more than a high school education increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 people from 1999 to 2014.”

The only precedent for this rapid a rise in death rates in a demographic? AIDS.

While the ramifications of the finding are enormous, the finding was discovered primarily by accident, during research into increases in the suicide rate.

Despite middle-aged mortality in the U.S. being one of the most studied demographic phenomena in recent history, the pattern had been largely missed. While many had looked at the data, no one had happened on the right slice to show the pattern:

Dr. Preston of the University of Pennsylvania noted that the National Academy of Sciences had published two monographs reporting that the United States had fallen behind other rich countries in improvements in life expectancy. One was on mortality below age 50 and the other on mortality above age 50. He coedited one of those reports. But, he said, because of the age divisions, the researchers analyzing the data missed what Dr. Deaton and Dr. Case found hiding in plain sight. (nyt)

Kevin Drum notes that why the headline is about middle-aged whites, the truth is that the trends are evident in all age groups:

But the paper is being misreported. It’s not just middle-aged whites. It’s all whites. The chart below tells the real story:every age group from 30 to 65 has shown a steep increase in mortality. So why focus just on middle-aged whites? “The midlife group is different only in that the sum of these deaths is large enough that the common growth rate changes the direction of all-cause mortality.” In other words, the midlife group makes for a more dramatic chart. But every age group has shown a similar trend.

To support this he shows his own chart of increases in white mortality at different age groups from the Opioids, Alcohol, and Suicide trend:

Mortality of Americans by age group (source)
Mortality of Americans by age group (source)

In fifteen years death by overdose, suicide, and liver conditions associated with drug and alcohol abuse have doubled in the white American population. So much so that they have changed the shape of all-cause mortality in middle age, but they are impacting other age brackets in profound ways as well.


The suicide trend among middle-aged white men is well known. See Suicide Belt, and Rising Suicides

“More than half of Americans now report a personal connection to painkiller abuse, 16 percent know someone who has died from an overdose, and 9 percent have seen a family member or close friend die.” [(Link)](http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/most-americans-now-have-personal-experience-painkiller-addiction quote)

By 2002, the trend was already terrifying and visible. See Opioid Increase 1997-2002

Standards bodies were involved with the increase. See JCAHO and the Opioid Epidemic

Online Talking Circle [...]

First Nations Pedagogy Online provides many resources for educators seeking to have an inclusive course design for all students. From the About Us Page:

Aboriginal learners enrol in BC college and university mainstream programming, as well as programs designed specifically for learners working in First Nations communities. There are special programs in place to ensure success of these learners, recognizing that a supportive environment will contribute to a positive educational experience. However, online delivery of courses specifically targeting aboriginal students is relatively new in British Columbia and is on the increase.

The question of what this means in terms of course design, instructional strategies, and building supportive learning communities, remains a challenge to many instructors. The First Nations Pedagogy for Online Learning project has been undertaken to address this gap.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 5.34.55 PMMany of the resources on this site help guide educators on how to integrate respect for oral traditional practices into their online courses.

Some may see this as a form of netiquette that honors First Nations traditions. The handout seen to the right gives a teacher a resource to track who has spoken. Every student takes a turn speaking. Every student listens to his/her classmates.

A student’s turn is signified by their possession of a talking stick, which in an online setting would be an image.

Only the person who receives the stick graphic contributes all the rest read and reflect. 

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Fourth Wall of the Web [...]

In Life, Interrupted: The 100 Day Project by Suleika Jaouad, she describes her writing practice of keeping a journal during her time of illness. Now that she has healed, she is going on a road trip to meet the strangers who responded to her writing while she was ill.

In the following quote she uses the imagined fourth wall in reference to the web. Usually readers will see references to the fourth wall in theatre, film, and/or television and not about human relationships that begin using social media. This calls to mind, IRL, which is an acronym for In Real Life. 121346608_3a2e36a0bb

Now, I’m taking the time to respond to some of the people who wrote to me when I was I was sick — not online or by snail mail, but in person. I want to know more about their stories. I want to know what happens when the fourth wall of the web is broken, when the shiny screen that protects us from actual human interaction is lifted. And more than anything, I want to say thank you. I suspect there is a lot I can learn from them as I try to pick up the pieces of my own life.

See also Writing With Strangers and Becoming Attached to the Presence of Strangers

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The Work Will Come To Us [...]

Matt Novak, in The Late Great American Promise of Less Work provides useful links on American labor as it relates to technological promises of the 2oth century. In this short excerpt, Walter Cronkite gives a tour of the home office of the future which would be the domain of men telecommuting.
Cronkite informs viewers:
Technology is opening a new world of leisure time. One government report projects that by the year 2000, the United States will have a 30-hour work week and month-long vacations as the rule.

For what the future work domain of women looked like in 1957, see also Tiny, Typical, or Tall

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