Ideas of “wants” and “haves” [...]

The title above and the quote below are from Adam Croom’s blog post (source)

We spent a lot of time asking them a ton of questions about who they were and what college was like. Who are you? How did you get here? What is a normal class like for you? How do you manage “life?” What are the most meaningful moments for you? What does assessment look like?

And a theme emerged about relationships. Office hours with faculty. Instructors who related classroom discussions to life lessons. Advisers who helped them decided on a major. Bosses who were also mentors. And the lack of relationships. Seniors who were just now understanding the system. “If only I had known that I had the option to put together an interdisciplinary degree.” These were conversations about people. And these questions aren’t able to be answered by Siri. You can’t build an algorithm and you can’t automate it. It requires human interaction Any technology that deals with these problems needs to be augmented by humans.

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The Right Next Step Is Fuzzy [...]

The title above and the quote below are from a blog post written by Adam Croom:

Our community benefits most from a deep literacy embedded in our local institutions. We have to continue to educate our students, faculty, and staff to understand the complexities of both data and technology. One of the main ways to combat the notion that technology will usurp higher ed is to make sure everyone is knowledgeable about the affordances and freedom that technology can supply while also recognizing its real limitations. We can do this by creating (or supporting the creation of) tools that our communities can utilize to develop, manage, and better understand themselves and their identities. This is going to require a commitment towards education, development, and broad sharing of strategies and practices to the community. (source)

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Frequency Cutoffs and Evolution [...]

Creatures have varying ability to hear some frequencies but not others. All creatures see some wavelengths of light and not others. These “cutoffs” for different species can change due to evolutionary pressures.

Bees can see ultraviolet light, which helps guide them to pollen rich areas of flowers after the disorientation of a landing.[http://www.pnas.org/content/98/24/13745.full.pdf cite]

Insects that are prey to bats, for example, often have auditory systems that can detect the high frequencies of bat echolocation.[http://www.life.umd.edu/faculty/wilkinson/SFT/Miller01.pdf cite]

Evolution does not just increase sensory sensitivity; it decreases it as well. The insect that is listening for bats might only be distracted by lower tones. The human listening for the crack of a twig, or the sound of a voice might find ultra-high frequency sounds a burden.

(source)
(source)

A creature’s survival is best served by hearing as many noises that are relevant as possible, and as few irrelevant noises as possible.

What happens, however, when human development interrupts the evolution of a species? Are they any examples where human urban developments have helped species?

Exercises

  1. Do some research on the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas [http://www.batcon.org/index.php/our-work/regions/usa-canada/protect-mega-populations/cab-intro cite]. In what ways has this site impacted evolutionary pressures?

  2. Research the differences between human vision and bat vision. Why would humans not develop bat vision? Can you think of any drawbacks to bat vision in everyday life?

May also be related: Sensory Adaptation and Inattentional Blindness

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Category theory [...]

According to Jim Holt in the New York Review of Books (reviewing Michael Harris, Mathematics without Apologies), category theory comes to us from the 1940s.

The purpose of category theory is to explore the ways that often abstract qualities of likeness enable disparate mathematical objects to play together. Their resemblances (the example given is donuts and coffee cups, both of which are round with holes) enable them to expose and explore the properties they share. Mathematically they can become one another.

And here’s where it gets interesting: the play in one category—say the category of surfaces—might be subtly mimicked by the play in another—say, the category of algebras. The two categories themselves can be seen to play together: there is a natural way of going back and forth between them, called a “functor”. Armed with such a functor, one can reason quite generally about both categories, without getting bogged down in the particular details of each. It might also be noticed that, since categories play with one another, they themselves form a category: the category of categories.

Holt identifies Saunders Mac Lane and Same Eilenberg as the inventors of category theory, and notes that it was initially treated as “abstract nonsense” by mathematicians.

Why is this useful? It helps to see how we make sense of the world by exploring the play between things, as much as by the properties of the things; and it helps to see that precise developments in a discipline, that history judges kindly, can often have tricky early histories in terms of group acceptance.

It also draws attention to category overlap: the play between categories themselves, and the category of categories.

We use categories not only to feel our way around things, but to convey to others how those things became meaningful to us. Categories are a fundamental presence in human communication, that taxonomic practices reveal to be exquisitely idiosyncratic while claiming to be scientific.


The source of this article is a print copy of the New York Review of Books, December 3 2015, p51

See also Elegant In Themselves

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The Upside of Distraction Note [...]

In the “Upside of Distraction,” a chapter in How We Learn by Benedict Carey, he cites Graham Wallas who

…was known primarily for his theories about social advancement, and for cofounding the London School of Economics. In 1926, at the end of his career, he published The Art of Thought, a rambling meditation on learning and education that’s part memoir; part manifesto. In it, he tells personal stories, drops names, reprints favorite poems.

An excerpt from The Art of Thought;

Mental habits should vary with the natural powers, the age, and the subjects of study, of the thinker; and management of habit is specially important for thinkers who are teachers or journalists. The daily conflict between the stimulus of habit-keeping and that habit-breaking, is only part of the larger problem of regularity and adventure in the life of a create thinker.


May also be related:

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 9.42.17 PM
see http://wikity.cc/

The Policeman’s Beard Is Half-Constructed [...]

Book cover
Book cover

This book is freely available as a pdf. (pdf)

Book of prose and poetry completely written by a computer, using the Racter program. It was an early example of computer generated poetry and prose and claims to be the first computer-generated book.

It appears to have used more of a “mad libs” approach to text production than other approaches. (wikipedia)

Some selections from the work below, including the beautiful illustrations by Joan Hall.

“Helene spies herself in the enthralling conic-section yet she is but an enrapturing reflection of Bill. His consciousness contains a mirror, a sphere in which to unfortunately see Helene. She adorns her soul with desire while he watches her and widens his thinking about enthralling love. Such are their reflections. “

“Many enraged psychiatrists are inciting a weary butcher. The butcher is weary and tired because he has cut meat and steak and lamb for hours and weeks. He does not desire to chant about anything with raving psychiatrists but he sings about his gingivectomist, he dreams about a single cosmologist, he thinks about his dog. The dog is named Herbert.”

Sample page layout:
Sample page layout: “Can maids know galaxies and even stars…”

Also related from other notes on this text from other readers.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 9.12.02 PM
Forking Content: A Memoir


Joan Hall is still a working artist and has a site for those interested in her art. (site)

In 1984, William Chamberlain said the program and ones like it might put hack writers out of business. See Grade-Z Computer Fiction

The question of whether algorithms can be art is well-studied. See Computational Creativity

Some of these illustrations are reminiscent of the graphic novel Asterios Polyp

Newer methods of computer writing are more sophisticated. See Philip Parker.

via The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed.

 

 

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Bubble Up [...]

According to Benedict Carey, in How We Learn, studies show:

The brain does not store facts, ideas, and experiences like a computer does, as a file that is to be clicked open always displaying the identical image. It embeds them in networks of perceptions, facts, and thoughts, slightly different combinations of which bubble up each time. And that just received memory does not overwrite the previous one but intertwines and overlaps with it. Nothing is completely lost, but the memory trace is altered and for good.

As scientists put it, using our memory changes our memories (p.20).

(source)
(source)

Wikity Syntax [...]

Most formatting in Wikity is done with the WordPress editor. You can add pictures, indent blockquotes, bullet lists, and soon (if we can figure out how to do it safely) embed content from places like YouTube.

However there are a few differences in Wikity syntax, especially around linking, and these differences are crucial to understand. If you don’t follow the special Wikity method of linking, your content will not be easily reusable by others and may even break our federated web. So read up and follow these simple rules.

  • Use Double Brackets for Wikilinks
  • Don’t Put External Links in Paragraphs
  • Use Cite Keyword for External Footnoting
  • Use Four Dashes to Create an Annotations Section

Use Double Brackets for Wikilinks

Link to other pages on your own site and other Wikity sites by using the standard wiki syntax like so:

Use Brackets

To make a new page, the easiest way is to make a link to the non-existent page and click it. This will prompt you to create a new page with that name.

It is really important that you link to other wiki pages in this way, and not by using traditional hyperlinks. Hyperlinks will break fork-ability. Breaking forkability is bad.

Don’t Put External Links Inside Paragraphs

This is less important than than the wiki link advice, but still important. When people browse wiki, the assumption is that links internal to paragraphs, like this one to Free To All, link to other wiki pages. This is an established wiki style. Browse Wikipedia for a bit and you will see what we mean. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Contract_with_God wikipedia]

Wikipedia style actually doesn’t allow any external links until the references section. We’ve come up with a compromise. If you really need to link to something external that is referenced in a paragraph, link to it at the end using Single Bracket Syntax. Here’s an example.

source htm

Here’s what that would look like in context.

Screenshot 2015-12-05 at 6

That syntax is a left bracket, a URL, and then a single keyword followed by a right bracket. You can use the keyword however you like, but it should be a single word. Since the paragraph preceding it generally explains the context, and a hover shows the destination, we often use the keyword to indicate what sort of resource it goes to — a pdf, an HTML document, a Google Books citation. But if you want to link it as (bavatuesdays), knock yourself out.

Use Cite Keyword for External Footnoting

Sometimes you may want to get an external reference closer to a clause, for instance when citing a disputable fact. Here’s an example of how to do that.

Screenshot 2015-12-06 at 6

Note the style here is the same as the single bracket external link syntax, but here we’ve used the keyword “cite”. Using the cite keyword instead of something like html, pdf, or bavatuesdays creates a little degree symbol superscript. This functions semantically as a footnote, signalling that support for this statement can be found by clicking the degree symbol, but it’s not necessary to understanding.

Here’s what that looks like in practice:

Screenshot 2015-12-06 at 6

Use Four Dashes to Create Annotations Section

Wikity pages, by convention, are split into two sections. The first is the “article” — a tight treatment of a single idea or subject. The article should be relatively self-sufficient: someone should be able to read the article and learn something without having to click around and see what the context of the article is.

The bottom section, which we are currently calling “annotations and associations”, suggests places to continue your journey. Here we put links to related articles on wiki, as well as links to external resources. Occasionally we also put notes on the page’s content, things like “To do: check claim about gun violence, and add link if true.”

To create the annotations section, place four or more dashes on a single line at the bottom of the page, like so:

Screenshot 2015-12-06 at 7

To the reader this will look like this:

Screenshot 2015-12-06 at 7

We’ve found that having this separate section for annotations is important to the culture of federated solutions like Wikity — it allows people a low-stress way to contribute to an article without having to touch the body of it. Annotations and Associations on your page also help guide readers to other things that might help them.

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How to Use Wikity [...]

Wikity is meant to be used more like a wiki than a blog.

You can do most of you formatting in Wikity with the WordPress editor, but there are some very important exceptions. See Wikity Syntax

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Coins Lost By Mermaids [...]

Sand dollars have five points not six and they are not shellfish, they are sea urchins.

3001254157_c996418e39_m 2
(source)

Sand dollars connect to folk lore in the following ways:

A variety of imaginative associations have been made by idle beachcombers who run across the bleached skeletons of dead sand dollars.

The tests are sometimes said to represent coins lost by mermaids or the people of Atlantis. Christian missionaries found symbolism in the fivefold radial pattern and dove-shaped internal structures.

“Aristotle’s lantern” has been discerned in the distinctive perforations of keyhole sand dollars.

 

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Stormy Skies [...]

image
Photo Credit: me

From Rabindranath Tagore:
Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.

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Limitless Spectacle of Everyday [...]

Here is a remixing of this artist’s ethos (source):

From architectural interventions to delicate paper constructions, [this] work invites an intimate engagement with the phenomenal world, exploring the interconnections of time, materiality and experience through an awakening of the senses.

Individual works rely on interaction and embody change, often their own dissolution over time. Transparent media play on the limits of visibility, creating conditions for discovery and reflection while revealing the limitless spectacle of the everyday.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 10.32.53 PM
(source)

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Finish A Thought [...]

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 11.10.22 PM

This blogger was inspired by a Brain Pickings post about Phillipa Perry’s book, How To Stay Sane (source), so she drew this picture and wrote this lovely short blog (source).

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The Warp & The Weft [...]

In a search for an image to explain the warp and weft in fabric, a simple image appears from wikipedia:

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 10.06.40 PM.png
(source)

An artist named Kumi Yamashita also appears in the same search (source). She removes part of the warp and the weft in fabric to create something new.

She describes her delicate and precise art:

Sometimes there is something beautiful about things falling apart. Undoing one thing while simultaneously creating another.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 10.13.54 PM
(source)

See also Many Paths To & For Personalization (source).

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Meaning Over Randomness [...]

In How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens  by Benedict Carey, he reminds us:

The brain is not like a muscle, at least not in any straightforward sense. It is something else altogether, sensitive to mood, to timing, to circadian rhythms, as well as to location, environment. It registers far more than we’re conscious of and often adds previously unnoticed details when revisiting a memory or learned fact.

It works hard at night, during sleep, searching for hidden links and deeper significance in the day’s event. It has a strong preference for meaning over randomness, and it finds nonsense offensive.

It doesn’t take orders so well, either, as we all know –forgetting precious facts needed for an exam while somehow remembering entire scenes from The Godfather or the lineup of the 1986 Boston Red Sox.

If the brain is learning machine, then it’s an eccentric one. And it performs best when its quirks are exploited.

10802382006_c40d910aff
(source)

Carey’s book makes no mention of absolutes in the introduction. He writes:

Cognitive science …clarifies how remembering, forgetting, and learning are related.

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Many Paths To & For Personalization [...]

In “Competency-Based Online Programs Address Needs in New Industries” (source) By Ian Quillen, he has a useful quote to explain a relationship between CBE programs, students, and employers:

Employers don’t want the C student – they don’t even want the B student..They want the student who can work through something over multiple revisions, multiple steps of input, and actually come up with something better.​​​​

In addition, George Veletsianos posted a blog today “Personalized learning: the locus of edtech debates” with interesting questions, questions, and categories about educational technology (source). Here are some questions from his post:

Does it mean different pathways for each learner, one pathway with varied pacing for each learner, or something else?

How do we balance system and learner control?

What is the role of openness is personalized learning?

Both sources cited above examine different pathways for teaching and learning using educational technology. When we want to improve the conditions for teaching and learning, it’s important to remember that there are many paths to the same goal.

15617213732_e1eb456f7b
(source)

See also [Pathways], [New Pathways], [Clock Hours], [Student Control of Learning], [Seat Time], [Pathways to Collaborative Pedagogy], [Legitimize Open and Flexible Time For Teacher Collaboration] Guided Pathways & Professional DevelopmentThe Five Pillars of Motivating Instruction,  and Just Tell Me What To Do from this blog.

See also NotYetness, Invention, and The Dream/Reality WhiteboardMentoring New-ish Faculty, [Chihuahuas Among the New Foundlands: The Need For Communities of Practice 2.0 #dLRN15] from another blog (source).

See also Systemic Change in the Consortium and Final Faculty Learning Community 2015 Report from the SBCTC FLC blog (source).

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Pathways [...]

According to the Wikitionary (source) the definition of the word pathway has two meanings:

  1. A footpath or other path or track.

  2. (biochemistry) A sequence of biochemical compounds, and the reactions linking them, that describe a process in metabolism or catabolism.

Wikipedia has several references to the term, and this one is connected to community colleges and federal education policy initiatives via Career Pathways:

Community colleges coordinate occupational training, remediation, academic credentialing, and transfer preparation for career pathways initiatives.

Career pathways models have been adopted at the federal, state and local levels. Given their cross-system nature, states often combine multiple federal streams to fund different elements of career pathways models.

Pathways bring to mind hiking, garden walkways, and, perhaps an emphasis on choices leading to serendipitous discoveries. When is one’s career path ever linear?

2589304595_d704e14cdb
(source)

What are the most effective career pathways for community college students?

See also [other links about educational policy here]

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Yesterday & Tomorrow [...]

From the Dalai Lama about change and time:

There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called Yesterday and the other is called Tomorrow. Today is the right day to Love, Believe, Do and mostly Live.

7227886422_7032ab51a6
(source)

See also [other posts about time here] and [here]

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#LearningTimeBank [...]

When you search for “time” and the word “vintage,” Buddy Holly appears (source):

Someday, return to: (source).

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Open definition of a word [...]

open (adjective)–a reformatting of (source)

from the Old English open means

not closed down, raised up (of gates, eyelids, etc.), also exposed, evident, well-known, public

often in a bad sense,

notorious, shameless

22439786149_0554613717
(source)

from the Proto-Germanic

*upana, literally put or set up  (source).

as related to an open road

(1817, American English) originally meant a public one; romanticized sense of ‘raveling as an expression of personal freedom’ first recorded 1856, in Whitman.

open, in the early 13c. meant,

an aperture or opening, from (source) adj.

also defined as

public knowledge [as in] out in the open is from 1942, but compare Middle English in open (late 14c.)

Open up means

cease to be secretive from 1921.

 

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The Ground Truth [...]

In “UW Researchers Estimate Poverty and Wealth from Cell Phone metadata” by Peter Kelley (source), the author cites a recent study from the Information School and Computer Science and Engineering Department.

Joshua Blumenstock, the lead author who is an adjunct, states:

What we show in this paper, and I think fairly clearly, is that phone data can be used to estimate wealth and poverty…

For those thousand people, we know roughly whether they’re rich or poor. That’s the ground truth that anchors the data to reality

They examine habits of cell phone users to determine the divide between the rich and the poor by looking at how people pay for time and when the calls are made throughout the day.

5306578890_4dd3b8a558
(source)

What is interesting to note is how cell phones are used between friends:

[They examine] The degree to which a person is more likely to make than receive phone calls. Since in Rwanda the caller pays for the call, poorer people tend to receive more calls than they make.

This also reflects a phenomenon called “flashing,” where a poorer person calls a wealthier friend and quickly hangs up, thus sending the signal that they should call back.

The researchers conclude this type of data could be used in policy decisions and may be an alternative to expensive census reports.

The questions were designed to learn where those individuals fell on the socioeconomic ladder and what the “signature” of wealth is in the metadata — that is, what cell phone habits are particular to those who are relatively wealthy.

“For those thousand people, we know roughly whether they’re rich or poor. That’s the ground truth that anchors the data to reality,” Blumenstock said.

Broader applications for this type of research could be to examine student use of cell phones–for those who lack consistent Internet access–for completing or not completing online classes.

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Goals & Objectives [...]

Goals and objectives are often used interchangeably, but if you consider the etymology of the words, you’ll see a meaningful similarity.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary (source), here is the etymology of the word Goal:

in 1530s, [it meant the] “end point of a race,” of uncertain origin. It appears once before this (as gol), in a poem from early 14c. and with an apparent sense of “boundary, limit.” Perhaps from Old English *gal “obstacle, barrier,” a word implied by gælan “to hinder” and also found in compounds (singal, widgal). That would make it a variant or figurative use of Middle English gale “a way, course.” Also compare Old Norse geil “a narrow glen, a passage.” Or from Old French gaule “long pole, stake,” which is from Germanic. Sports sense of “place where the ball, etc. is put to score” is attested from 1540s. Figurative sense of “object of an effort” is from 1540s.

It is interesting to note the list of definitions associated with the word Objective (source).

Here is a short etymology of the word:

from 1738, “something objective to the mind,” from objective (adj.). Meaning “goal, aim” (1881) is from military term objective point (1852), reflecting a sense evolution in French.

4016402849_7681925cdb
(source)

Some may say that you can differentiate between goals and objectives simply by remembering that objectives are measurable, while goals may be intangible.

In teaching and learning, sometimes the target–or what we want people to learn–changes in a course, much like the connotation or denotation of a word over time.

See also (source)

Read also the “Who did this?” page. Here is an excerpt:

Etymonline is a can-opener, an imaginary labyrinth with real minotaurs in it, my never-written novel shattered into words and arranged in alphabetical order. I knew poor students and poets would use it, and writers of historical fiction (and stoners). I did not anticipate ESL learners, but I can see how someone already arrived at an adult understanding of the world and learning a new language would look at the third dimension, history, as an aid. The most astonishing thing to me has been the use of this material in classrooms by students as young as elementary age. I never anticipated still working at it daily ten years later, but it’s been a marvelous ride. I hope you have as much fun using it as I do making it.

 

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Wearing a Dress and Heels [...]

In “The Professor Is A Drag Queen,” by Domenick Scudera, he discusses a course and a conference presentation (source). It is worth noting that this teacher has tenure and writes about many worthwhile points  for further investigation.

Here are three quotes:

1.

Drag, a distinct art form, brings into focus issues of identity, authority, agency, gender variance, and masculine/feminine constructs. Judith Butler states that “Drag fully subverts the distinction between inner and outer psychic space and effectively mocks both the expressive model of gender and the notion of a true gender identity.” By viewing drag through this lens and by exploring the diverse and fascinating history of drag performance, students are challenged to question a gender binary and to break through social norms.

11125348744_2a75b75427
(source)

2.

RuPaul says that “We’re born naked, and the rest is drag.” Upon reflection, the question at the symposium made me realize that the clothes I wear to be a professor are a sort of drag. They are my “professor drag,” so to speak. I am dressing for my interpretation — or my performance — of what a professor should be. Is wearing a suit and tie to teach any different than wearing a dress and heels?

3.

I have been more open with my students about my drag life, and other aspects of myself. Revealing more about my experiences builds a different, stronger trust between us.

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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.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 10.34.28 PM
(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.

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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 [...]

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(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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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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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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Seat Time [...]

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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 [...]

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“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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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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(source)

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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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.

(source)
(source)

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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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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Tiny, Typical, or Tall [...]

Audrey Watters shared the following link The Week in Robots where we are reminded twice that you will be able to bake a cake in three minutes in the kitchen of the future.

The planning center also predicted the future capabilities of a cell phone like a calendar reminder to “call the butcher.”

In “Yesterday’s Concepts for Today’s Lifestyles,” the narrator shows us an early proto-type of a “personalized” sink for women who may be tiny, typical, or tall.

The narrator, by swiping her hand across surfaces to trigger the function of the robot, she establishes credibility with her fellow female kitchen users.

In this kitchen of the future, “The things women don’t like to do are done automatically:”

The narrator shows us the laboratory of kitchens of the future which is the domain of women. See also The Work Will Come To Us 

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How Fleeting Trivia Can Be [...]

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 1.55.41 AM    In The New York Times, “Buzzr Presents the Evolution of Game Shows and Ourselves,” reviews what we can learn about society by watching a shows and commercial on a new retro-television network.

Watch a sampling and, besides enjoying some quirky nostalgia, you’ll almost certainly conclude that we humans are much quicker to adapt and innovate than we used to be…

Watch this kind of fare and you realize just how much of the game-show universe is built on a few slender sticks, chief among them the knowledge of trivia. And you sometimes realize just how fleeting trivia can be. On the pilot for “TKO” (Tuesday night), a show that never made it to series, the questions include, “In the popular TV commercial, whose voice and image are currently seen as the newest, hottest California raisin?” The answer:Michael Jackson.

In what ways does trivia trigger nostalgia? In what ways do we discount education as trivia?

According to Wikipedia the etymology of the word trivia is actually quite different yet very similar to how we use the term today:

 The ancient Romans used the word trivia to describe where one road split or forked into two roads. Trivia was formed from tri (three) and via (road) – literally meaning “three roads”, and in transferred use “a public place” and hence the meaning “commonplace”.[1] 

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Rain-bowed Slick of a Bubble [...]

E.L. Doctorow writes in The Book of Daniel:

I worry about images. Images are what things mean. Take the word image. It connotes soft, sheer flesh shimmering on the air, like the rain-bowed slick of a bubble. Image connotes images, the multiplicity of being an image.

When computer animation allows for movement of the once two-dimensional image, the “rain-bowed slick” of multiplicity becomes easier to imagine. The following video is credited to the book collector and graphic designer, Shawn Hazen.

He describes his book collection on his blog Book Worship:

For the most part, these are graphically interesting, but otherwise uncollectible, books that entered and exited bookstores quietly in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

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Empowering The Node & #MYOS [...]

Tim Klapdor shares slides and a useful video about his talk at #dLRN Empowering the Node & Avoiding Enclosure.

He reminds us we are renters of own information and that we should think of users as people…not by recreating or developing new systems, but by redesigning the underlying models. By moving to a more distributed model, one that harks back to the original conceptualisation of the web.

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“Younger Hipper Fat Cats who are driven by profit motives.”

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Principles of #MYOS:

  1. You are in control
  2. Data is yours
  3. Connections are negotiated
  4. Enhance and enable diversity

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The Tale Tell Heart Animation [...]

The UPA production of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart” is the first cartoon to be certified as unsuitable for adult audiences.

According to America’s Film Legacy: The Authoritative Guide to the Landmark Movies in the National Film Registry, “The Tale Tell Heart” was distinct from mainstream animation because it attempted to tell a serious story in serious manner, without jokes or humor (p. 480).

Here is an excerpt from Poe’s short story:

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture—a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees—very gradually—I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded—with what caution—with what foresight—with what dissimulation I went to work!

 

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Big Bad Dragon Notes [...]

In Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World by Yong Zhao (2014), governmental policy concerning standardize testing is discussed from both the American and Chinese perspective.

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  Harry Clarke’s Faust

“The damage done by authoritarianism is far greater than the instructional time taken away by testing, the narrowed educational experiences for students, and the demoralization of teachers…

High-stakes testing is America’s Faustian bargain, made with the devil of authoritarianism. Under the rule of authoritarianism, which gave birth to high-stakes testing in the first place, disrespect of teachers as professional colleagues and intrusion into their professional autonomy are praised as characteristics of no-nonsense, tough leadership with high expectations” (p. 5).

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